Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Blurring Borders: National, Subnational, and Regional Orders in East Asia

Blurring Borders: National, Subnational, and Regional Orders in East Asia

Date : Mon., June 01, 2015 8:30 am to 3:30 pm Category : FPRI in D.C.

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East Asia

In 2014-15, diverse developments around the world raised anew doubts about the “the state of the state.” East Asia has not faced such dramatic threats to the state-centric status quo but subnational and transnational challenges pose significant questions about the future of the region.  

Some issues involve subnational entities with special international status and transnational ties: 

  • Beijing’s August 2014 decision about the terms for the first universal suffrage election for Hong Kong’s Chief Executive triggered pro-democracy protests and raised concerns about the future of the “one country, two systems” model.
  • Okinawa remains a focus of long-running controversies, including recently heightened disputes over the large U.S. military presence and small-scale but long-simmering ethnic nationalist and pro-independence sentiments. 
  • In Xinjiang, ethnic and religious unrest have been rising, prompting Chinese national authorities to assert links to international terrorism and to press forward with anti-terrorism legislation.

Other questions concern existing or prospective supranational regional arrangements include –

  • new uncertainties about North Korea and relations on the peninsula;
  • “history questions” that complicate Japan’s relations with its neighbors;
  • divisions within ASEAN that stem in part from the increasingly fraught disputes over the South China Sea;

In Japan and China, resurgent nationalism has reinforced the political importance of the region’s most powerful nation-states, fed international tensions in the region, and created additional challenges for U.S. policy.

U.S. policy toward the region must grapple with these developments.  Key components of Washington’s agenda—the “pivot” or “rebalance” in security affairs and the pursuit of the Trans-Pacific Partnership in economic affairs—have the potential to rearrange substantially the patterns of cooperation and conflict in the region.  Many discrete issues are implicated here, including the reinvigorated alliance with Japan, new security cooperation with Singapore and Vietnam, shifting assessments of Taiwan’s place in U.S.-China relations and the regional order, and the possibility of a growing U.S.-China rivalry focused in part on the multilateral arrangements that both great powers are building.  To review these issues, FPRI and the Wilson Center will assemble some of the nation’s leading specialists at a day-long conference at the Wilson Center on June 1.

Topics and Speakers

Registration and Continental Breakfast

06/01/2015 - 08:30am to 09:15am

Keynote Address: Transnational Challenges in East Asia and State Responses

06/01/2015 - 09:15am to 10:15am
J. Stapleton Roy

Woodrow Wilson Center

Former Ambassador to China

Panel 1: Sovereignty, Identity, and Culture in East Asia: It’s Not Just Nation-States

06/01/2015 - 10:30am to 12:00pm

FPRI and the University of Pennsylvania

Dru Gladney

Pacific Basic Institute and Pomona College

Christine Kim

Georgetown University

Mike Mochizuki

The George Washington University

Felix K. Chang




06/01/2015 - 12:00pm to 12:45pm

Panel 2: The Evolution of Regional Economic and Security Architectures in Asia

06/01/2015 - 12:45pm to 02:15pm
Richard C. Bush

The Brookings Institution

Satu Limaye

East-West Center

Gilbert Rozman

FPRI and Princeton University

Shihoko Goto

Woodrow Wilson Center

Panel 3: The American Rebalance in an Unbalanced Region: The US Response to Identities, Orders, and Allegiances in East Asia

06/01/2015 - 02:30pm to 03:30pm
Sheila A. Smith

Council on Foreign Relations

Robert Sutter

The George Washington University

Robert Daly


Woodrow Wilson Center



Wilson Center

1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW DC Washington 20004

Registration links

Register for the Conference

Register Deadline

Mon., June 1, 2015

Related Program(s)

Asia Program

This conference is free and open to the public, but reservations are required.

To RSVP, click here