The U.S., Europe, and China

(BGF) – Will Europe have a strong enough voice in resolving disputes in the East Asia, or just leave it to the U.S? The Harvard professor Joseph Nye, member of the Boston Global Forum’s Board of Thinkers, shared his view in the course of BGF’s one month length conferences aiming at building a framework for peace and security to the Pacific.

The U.S., Europe, and China

By Joseph S. Nye, Jr.

How is Europe responding to the rise of China? As one columnist put it, there is nothing much European governments can do in East Asia save serve as marketing managers for their domestic businesses. They have neither the diplomatic weight nor the military heft to make an impression in the region. Better leave the heavy lifting to the Americans.

If this is true, what will it mean for U.S.-European relations –particularly now that the Obama Administration has announced a “pivot”toward Asia? Since 1941, the United States has privileged its relations with Europe; but now Europe will recede in priority as it sits on the sidelines and follows a solely commercial logic in its relations with Asia. Moreover as Europe sells high tech dual use products that complicate the American security role in Asia, friction is bound to arise between the United States and Europe. Pessimists portray an erosion of the Atlantic partnership that has been crucial to geo-political stability for nearly three quarters of a century.

Fortunately, this picture is unduly dire. For one thing, the Obama Administration has rejected the word “pivot”(which implies turning away) in favor of “rebalancing”toward Asia. That policy reflects the increased economic role of Asia in the world economy without rejecting the importance of the European Union which remains the largest economic entity in the world, as well as a fruitful source of economic innovation as well as cultural ideas and values including human rights.

The recovery of Asia represents one of the great power shifts of this century. Before the industrial revolution, Asia represented more than half the world’s people and more than half the world’s economy. The latter shrank to 20 percent by 1900, but with rapid industrialization, Asia should return to “normal”proportions of half the world’s population and economy by the latter part of this century. This is good news because it represents the rise of hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. But there could also be bad news.

Historians often warn that the rapid rise of new powers like China can create fear and uncertainty that could trigger serious conflict such as Europe experienced a century ago when Germany passed Britain in industrial production. Moreover, unlike Europe where a profound reconciliation occurred within the European Union after World War II, Asia is still riven by territorial claims and disputes over history. Maintaining a stable security balance is not easy in such circumstances.

When the Clinton Administration considered how to respond to the rise of China in the 1990s, some critics urged a policy of containment before China became too strong. Clinton rejected such advice for two reasons. First, it would have been impossible to forge an anti-China alliance since most countries in the region wanted (and still want) good relations with both the U.S. and China. Even more important, such a policy would have unnecessarily guaranteed future enmity with China.            Instead Clinton chose a policy that could be called “integrate and insure”. China was welcomed into the World Trade Organization, but the U.S.-Japan security treaty was revived to insure against China becoming a bully. If a rising China throws its weight around, it drives neighbors to seek to balance its power. In that sense, only China can contain China. (And some would say that its recent actions on the Indian border and in adjoining seas are doing just that.) An American naval presence helps to shape the security environment to encourage responsible behavior. While any country’s wish list may be infinite, most tailor their appetites when prices are on the menu.

Where does Europe fit in this picture? First, as indicated above, it should monitor and restrain sensitive exports to avoid making the security situation more dangerous for its NATO ally. Even in trading terms, Europe has an interest in regional stability and secure sea lines of communication. But equally important, Europe can contribute significantly to the development of the norms that also help shape the environment. For example, China follows an idiosyncratic interpretation of the UN Law of the Sea Treaty. Europe, even more than the U.S. (which has still failed to ratify the treaty) is better placed to reinforce the norm. Europe is an important source of the acceptance and multilateral legitimacy which China seeks.

Some analysts see China as a revisionist state eager to overthrow the established international order as its strength increases. But China is not Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. China has benefited greatly from and is not eager to destroy existing international institutions such as the UN, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization –as well as others where European governments play a major role. Here again Europe can help shape the environment to encourage responsible behavior.

In addition, technological and social changes are adding a number of important transnational issues to the global agenda such as climate change, pandemics, terrorism, organized crime, and cyber crime. These issues represent not a transition of power among states, but a diffusion of power away from governments. Coping with these global threats will require increased inter-governmental cooperation that includes China, Europe and the United States.

Finally, there is the question of values. No-one knows how China will evolve as it becomes a middle class nation. We do know that political change tends to occur when countries reach per capita incomes around $10,000. Thus far, Europe and the US have stood together in resisting Chinese (and Russian) demands for greater control of free speech on the internet. And European countries like Norway and Germany have been willing to pay some price for standing up to China on human rights issues. Whether an increased Chinese economic interest in an impartial rule of law (as opposed to rule by law) will lead to greater protection of individual rights remains to be seen. Only China will decide, but again Europe can play a role.


Joseph S. Nye, Jr. is a professor at Harvard and author of The Future of Power; member of the Boston Global Forum’s Board of Thinkers.

South China Seas and the Paracel Islands

(BGF) – The U.S. Ambassador James D. Bindenagel believed that the resurgence of nationalism past which lurks behind modern leaders’ mind is the truly root of  the world’s current conflicts and imposes dangerous challenge to the liberal international order that exists today. It also explains the China’s acts in the East and South China Sea. He also summed up results of the Boston Global Forum Initiative’s online conference which was on July 2 aiming at building a framework for peace and security in the Pacific, and suggested  the Scenario model to deal with conflicts. 

South China Seas and the Paracel Islands

Quan Dao Hoang Sa — Hsi-sha Ch’ün-tao

Risks of Unresolved Territorial Conflict: The Challenge to Turn Enmity into Amity

By James D. Bindenagel

James D. BindenagelPhoto: From Left to Right, Governor Michael Dukakis, Australia’s PM Kevin Rudd, BGF’s Editor-in-Chief Nguyen Anh Tuan, and Ambassador James D. Bindenagel.

Burgeoning conflicts in the Western Pacific have captured world attention. Ever-more combative conflicts over competing claims between Japan and China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea have led to confrontation—challenges in the air and on sea between rival naval military forces.

There is an ominous trend, that China and Japan seem so determined to go toe-to-toe with each other. Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, recently likened the tensions between Japan and China to the relationship between Germany as a rising power challenging the United Kingdom 100 years ago, when the arms race over the Dreadnaughts helped lead to the First World War. People throughout Asia must nervously reflect on the hard lessons the Europeans learned from 1914-1991. Europeans are revisiting the Great War on the 100th anniversary of its outbreak in August 1914, after Gavrilo Princip, a local terrorist in Serbia– not one of the major treaty powers that became belligerents– assassinated the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and unleashed a devastating global war that wiped out a generation. The failure of European leadership a century ago brought calamity to Europe.

Lurking behind modern leaders are the ghosts of nationalisms past. Resurgent nationalism, which had such terrible consequences in Europe as recently as the breakup of Yugoslavia, is a dangerous challenge to the liberal international order that exists today. Even now, the Europeans are again seeing the rise of ethnic nationalism linked with the use of force by Russia in Ukraine. Russian action in Ukraine recalls the tragic and bloody disintegration of Yugoslavia. World leaders will also look to China/Japan as those countries work to manage their interwoven history: China suffered humiliation at the hands of Imperial Japan, and Japanese apologies have been inadequate to gain acceptance from neighboring countries and move beyond historical grievances. Nationalism is now a quick but highly risky device for leaders to try to drum up domestic support. And abroad, nationalism increases fear and animosity in reaction.

In China, failure by Japan to acknowledge the historic wrongs during the conquest of Nanjing, and the controversial visit by Prime Minister Abe to the shrine at Yasukuni remain significant symbols of a deficit of justice for China. Japan and China seem caught in a vortex of each country’s cultural vortices, where in Japan apology is associated with shame, and in China, the wounds of the Second World War sow seeds of new nationalism.

Nationalism has had a resurgence recently in Europe as well. Russian President Vladimir Putin is aggrieved with the outcome of history and the demise of the Soviet Union – in his mind, the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century”. He now seeks to reverse the effects of history by making an effort to shape current events to recover what he thinks Premier Gorbachev lost in territory and influence. He may be completely misguided, but it is important to understand what motivates him. After all, the sense of affliction and the appeal of ethnic nationalism are not just in his mind, but in the minds of many Russians.

It is apparent that President Xi is promoting a return to the Chinese Nationalist past, for example, by giving recognition of to the contributions to culture and history by Confucius. There is increased interest in traditional Chinese culture, a part of a political effort to stabilize the country in the aftermath of great economic growth and change. Promoting nationalism at the cost of rule of law and collaboration with neighbors takes the country in the wrong direction. President Xi has set out to achieve “a Chinese dream” of a “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” The first three priorities, according to him, are: restoring Taiwan to China, regaining the Diaoyu or Senkaku islands from Japan; and “taking back sovereignty of the South China Sea,” a maritime territory that is disputed by more than 10 countries. China is pressing its claims backed by force and undermining its peaceful rise to global power status.

The South China Seas confrontation is dangerous. Recent unilateral placement of a deep-sea oil rig by the Chinese National Overseas Oil Company (CNOOC), to assert Chinese claims to the disputed Paracel Islands, has alarmed the United States, Vietnam and others in East Asia. Although there has been a public groundswell of anti-China sentiment, and Vietnam has a compelling desire to defend its maritime territory, the smaller country has few good options. So, it has to choose a course carefully. Hanoi knows it needs stable relations with China, and it looks to the United States (ironically given 1968-1975 war with the U.S.) to support stability in the region. China’s neighbors may be forced to seek outside assistance and military cooperation to counterbalance a more aggressive China.

Defusing Conflict in the South and East China Seas

China is moving forward with unilateral energy exploration in the South China Sea and is using the placement of a deep-sea oil rig to assert its claims to the disputed Paracel Islands. The move has concerned Vietnam and other regional powers, which also claim territorial rights over the waters and islands in that area. The United States is concerned over regional stability, international global commercial sea lanes, and legal status. Beijing’s decision will likely prompt Vietnam to deploy its coast guard or naval vessels to assert its own claim to the area and accelerate its efforts to draw in foreign partners for oil exploration and production. But Beijing is calculating that Vietnam will be unwilling and unable to make any serious attempt to stop the Chinese drilling.

According to Stratfor analysts, Beijing continues to rely on its growing military and technological capabilities to test its asserted nine-dash line expansionary claims over maritime boundaries in the East and South China Seas. Along with responses and reactions from neighboring countries and outside parties, China’s reliance on the military, a potentially destabilizing factor, will continue to shape the region’s security environment, even though Beijing is maneuvering carefully to avoid outright conflict while exerting its authority.

China took control of the Paracel Island chain by force in the 1970s, but it did not begin to formally enforce its claim until the late 2000s, when it undertook a broader, more aggressive maritime expansion plan. Beijing stepped up its military presence in and around the islands and established the Sansha administrative region, which encompasses the Paracel Islands, Spratly Islands and the Macclesfield Bank, and falls under the jurisdiction of Hainan province, as a symbol of China’s de facto control.

The case of the Paracels is just one example of how Beijing is firming up its presence in the South China Sea and gradually eroding other claimants’ ability to challenge its supremacy. But even as Beijing ambitiously claims the entire South China Sea, bounded by the so-called nine-dash line, it has no real presence on any island (besides a few atolls and reefs) in the distant Spratly Island chain. In addition to China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Taiwan have claims in the island chain. China’s navy is not good enough to overcome the logistical challenges such distances present, so its ability to project its dominance throughout the maritime sphere is limited.

Instead, Beijing’s strategy seems to consist of three steps. First, it uses the nine-dash line as a historical justification for its intrusions into disputed waters. Second, it enforces its claim in tactically advantageous areas where it has an actual presence, such as the Paracels and the Scarborough Shoal, which it seized from the Philippines in 2012. Third, it continues to develop its military and technological capabilities to carefully push its maritime boundaries farther without antagonizing all of its neighbors at once. (Stratfor, May 8, 2014 “China Uses Deep-Sea Oil Exploration to Push Its Maritime Claims”)

The escalation of Chinese engagement in the Paracel Islands and off the coasts of Vietnam and the Philippines calls for options to defuse the conflict and avoid armed conflict.

Despite growing nationalisms, within and in reaction to China’s rise, which threaten peace, efforts should be made to work cooperatively with China — not to contain it.   Japan, China, and others (Vietnam, Philippines) should set aside the unresolved issues and turn to joint management of national interests in fishing, energy and resource development. Codes of conduct in the East and South China Sea are necessary to manage maritime operations. Joint maritime policing, adherence to the Law of the Sea and maintenance of the freedom of the seas for shipping, could also help to avoid political miscalculation and military confrontation. Most important, the Chinese, Japanese and regional leaders should set aside the use of force to resolve tension, such as those over the Paracels, Senkaku/Diaoyu, and other Islands.

The Boston Global Forum should convene and craft a framework for dispute resolution, including a conference on the issues and a dialog that could address engagement among the parties.

 What practical engagement steps could break the stalemate and avoid conflict?

There are three dimensions that generally surround conflict. Adam Kahane outlines them in his book “Solving Tough Problems:” dynamically, generatively, and socially complex. The current challenges in Southeast Asia involve problems that are dynamically complex stemming from history where cause and effect are far apart in space and time. Other elements of the conflict are generatively complex as tension unfolds in unfamiliar and unpredictable ways. And difficulties are socially complex because people see the problems differently and the problem has become polarized and stuck.

Professor Ezra Vogel’s frames five questions in the South China Seas challenge. First, prevent explosive conflicts; 2) deal with practical issues of environment, maritime management, resource development; 3) develop Asian “ownership” of the issue through International Court of Justice; 4) create new structures; 5) defuse emotional issues of history, especially WWII reconciliation.

As the State Department has noted, States have the first level of responsibility to prevent explosive conflicts. And there is high level involvement in regional meetings as well as efforts for institutions to take on practical mechanisms for cooperation, especially in maritime capacity building and trust/confidence building measures. Solutions and components of the Boston Global Forum Framework for governments to address include developing deeper cooperation and collaboration by:

– Agreeing on rule of law for resolution of disputes is a primary commitment not to use force to resolve disputes. Adhering to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and implementing international law and conventions about territories and skies as well as the Code of Conduct and an international convention/ law on cyber and data security.

– Building international structures for consultation, negotiation and cooperation that have enough power and rights to judge and re-enforce countries respect laws and conventions. States can build and are building on the East Asian Summit, ASEAN, ASEAN Regional Forums, and ASEAN +3 (China, Japan, South Korea) with observers from U.S., India, Australia and New Zealand. China, Japan and South Korea could create a Trilateral Group to address regional issues in East and North East Asia.

There are many issues to be addressed including, enhancing transparency in government policies, granting information rights/data protection of people in all countries, and managing jointly large marine ecosystems.

– Integrating Asian economies into the global economy through the WTO, International Financial Institutions (IFIs), and regional economies as well as agreeing on the Transpacific Partnership (TPP) and rules of global governance. Cooperation among states can also improve rights, safety, and life conditions of workers and promote Corporate Social Responsibility.

– Assuring regional security calls for the United States presence not to undermine China’s peaceful rise. Building a multilateral framework for security discussions such as the Munich Security Conference or the German Marshall Fund Brussels Forum offer models. The U.S. remains a Pacific power and will be engaged with all the parties in the region to play its role in maintaining peace and security. The Financial Times (May 2, 2014) reported that the “US president’s approach is clear enough. Washington’s response to China’s rise has been to engage and hedge – to seek to draw Beijing into the international system while refurbishing its own regional alliances. More recently, Chinese assertiveness in the East and South China Seas has led US policy to tilt towards a sturdier “engage and compete”.

– Assisting in reconciliation, especially for historical grievances, is a pre-condition for regional security Unresolved conflicts are the seeds of nationalism and new confrontation such as those on-going over the Senkakus, Paracel, Spratley Islands and the Scarborough Reef. US and European efforts on World War II reconciliation projects have contributed to the regional peace in Europe for 70 years. The BGF Framework should include regional structures where bi-lateral disputes can be discussed. Exchange programs for culture, music and art between countries face-to-face and through the Internet . In addition to young leaders, the countries’ leaders should prepare a white paper on each one’s understanding of their historic relations and contributions to peaceful relations since 1974. The Gulf of Tonkin-Hainan agreement between China and Vietnam is one example of a common approach can grow form shared historical narratives that can lead to better understanding,

The Boston Global Forum could have several roles. First, as in planned in Vietnam, BGF is providing a platform for international discussion of these issues and can influence the governments involved. Second, as Ambassador Shinji Yanai noted BGF could meet on a Track II or Track 1.5 basis face-to-face and address some of these issues as Tom Patterson outlined – China and the new Asia-Pacific security structure; what support the U.S. could give to smaller countries without upsetting China; and what role should smaller countries play. Third, I would suggest national/multinational scenario projects to create visions of the outcomes of the political developments with the aim not of predicting the future but to influence the outcome, to create possibilities and avoid resignation into powerlessness.

Scenarios to Shape the Future

The scenario model I suggest is based on Adam Kahane’s work with several countries, notably the South Africans in their peaceful transition avoiding the racial war so many predicted. Elements of such a long-term project include:

–        Inviting leaders (mid-level) from business, academia and government to create scenarios.

–        Call for Scenarios address a threatening problem

–        Key perspectives are represented

–        National leaders endorse the project

–        Workshops for scenarios/stories of what the group wants in the future

–        Discussion among participants on what is plausible, not that the scenario can’t happen

–        Retreat atmosphere with free time for sharing thought

–        Sub-teams created for expanded discussion over 3 months

–        Presentations to political leadership with competing scenarios

–        National conversations

A similar process hosted by the Aspen Institute Berlin in the 1980’s brought together mid-level participants involved in key decisions shaping the post-Berlin Wall world and they rose to policy making positions.


Efforts should be made to work cooperatively with China — not to contain it, while taking care not to engage in nationalistic antagonisms. Japan, China, and others (Vietnam, Philippines) should set aside their unresolved issues and turn to joint management of national interests in fishing, energy and resource development. Codes of conduct in the East and South China Sea are necessary to manage maritime operations. Joint maritime policing, adherence to the Law of the Sea and maintenance of the freedom of the seas for shipping, could also help to forestall political miscalculation and military confrontation. Most important, the Chinese, Japanese and regional leaders should take the use of force off the table to resolve tension, such as those over the Paracels, Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, Scarborough Reef and other disputes.

Japan has a special role to address post WWII reconciliation and “could and should have done much more to give real substance to its apologies, as the Germans have done. At least since 1970, Germany has taken a comprehensive and credible approach to atoning for its Nazi past, fully acknowledging its horrors in school curricula, graphically commemorating them in museums, monuments, and ceremonies, and employing official discourse that has been unfailingly contrite.” (Lionel Barber, FT)

There is no denying that China suffered humiliation from the Japanese Imperial Army invasion in the Sino-Japanese Wars, and China is particular bitter about the rape of Nanjing. Little wonder, given the absence of acceptance of the apology from Japan, that the Second World War continues to feed Chinese anger. The longer term challenge, in Europe, involving Russian ethnic nationalism or in Asia with Chinese nationalism, is how to turn enmity into amity. Then as now, the best way to proceed is to begin with small steps in the resolution of many disputes. And this is where Japan’s Prime Minister must do much more than (implicitly) point the finger at China.

The parties should engage with each other in clarifying narrative to promote mutual understanding and prevent angry populisms and xenophobic nationalism that can rebound to destroy leaders and countries. The United States should provide needed leadership among parties to create and share historical narratives that can lead to better understanding.

One way to better understanding can come from scenario building or storytelling, which are powerful tools. Scenarios should be built for Japan, Vietnam and China identifying young leaders from politics, business and academia to come together frequently to present their narratives and share comprehensive discussions on a broad range of issues to strengthen mutual understanding and cooperation.


In an Era of Accelerating Attention to Workplace Equity: What Place for Bangladesh?

In an Era of Accelerating Attention to Workplace Equity: What Place for Bangladesh?

(BGF)  – Rana plaza collapse in April 2013 waved a wake up call for improving the working conditions in Bangladesh. to the issue in the year of 2013. Mr. Arnold Zack provided BGF his views on dealing with the issue, to which the Boston Global Forum has organized several conferences to seek for solutions.

In an Era of Accelerating Attention to Workplace Equity: What Place for Bangladesh?

Reflections on the Bangladesh Development Conference 2014 at Harvard University

 By Arnold M. Zack, Senior Research Associate, Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School

When Mohammed I. Yousuf asked me to participate in the June 14, 2014 conference on Globalization and Sustainability of the Bangladesh Garment Industry, I doubted whether my experience in mediation and in designing labor dispute resolution systems would have much applicability in that country and that industry. But a review of the history of worker and public concern for worker conditions in developing countries shows a trail that leads us to what’s now happening in Bangladesh.

In the 1970s and 1980s when European and American Brands began sending abroad for assembly of garments, there was a protest over the loss of the jobs at home where our workers had previously made those clothes. Then, when it became apparent that those garments were being made in countries where wage rates were but a fraction of what textile and garment workers were paid in North America and Europe a new round of protests against the brands arose over the unfair conditions under which those garments were made. When the universal practice of contracting out that work to factories owned, not by the brands but by others who in turn subcontracted their work to even smaller factories, the public outcry shifted from the brands to the countries that enabled factories to engage in such unfair practices. Brands were uniform in proclaiming their endorsement of fair labor standards in widely publicized Codes of Conduct, while shifting the onus onto the presumably unscrupulous factory owners(with whom the contracted for garments), and by asserting they did their best to routinely monitor the situation to uncover and prevent worker exploitation.

During that period, I accepted the bona fides of the brand assertions although I should have realized that self monitoring such as was done by GAP, Disney and other mega manufacturers, could uncover or prevent little when their few monitors had responsibility for monitoring more than 5,000, 10,000 or in the case of Disney 15,000 factories making their logo products in more than 50 different countries. My doubts were intensified when the brands hired outside, self-proclaimed neutral monitoring outfits, which they paid to do the monitoring. Although that appeared to ensure more thorough and objective monitoring, I was and continue to be puzzled over how such a monitoring organization, dependent on the brand for its work and its funding could reasonably be expected to critically report back to its “employer” that the latter was in violation of ILO conventions 87 and 98 by failing to allow the employees of the factories it used, to exercise their right of freedom of association or their right to engage in collective bargaining. In China, where so many subcontracting factories make so much of what we consume, and where there is only one legal government controlled and employer funded labor union, the All Chinese Federation of Trade Unions, it is difficult to see how so many brands can be given plaudits for their upholding the Core ILO conventions while worker exploitation continues and rank and file workers are jailed for protesting unfair conditions.

This evolution of scrutiny of overseas working conditions is quite relevant to where we presently find the Bangladeshi garment industry. Brands continue to farm out their work to local factories throughout the developing world, and primarily in southeast Asia. The brands set fixed prices for the local factories to manufacture and deliver their finished garments, the factories are able to enhance their profit most easily by cutting into the entitled earnings

of their workers by failing to pay them on time, by imposing mandatory overtime at straight time wage rates, by restricting their time for toilet breaks and healthcare necessities, and yes, by putting too many workers into factory buildings that can not bear the weight, or by renting factory buildings the owners of which shave costs by shoddy construction and by evading building and safety code requirements for exits and stairways.  One would think that local governments would police these factories to assure compliance with national law. Too often the laws are weak and the government officials so underpaid that bribes and corruption are more often the rule than the exception.

Unfortunately there is no international law that mandates fair workplace conditions. The International Labor Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations, has since 1919 proclaimed as international norms a series of Conventions to which worker, employer and government groups from its member states have agreed to be fair, such as a work week of 40 hours with overtime paid for hours worked above that nor. When national governments ratify those Conventions, they become national law and many of the Southeast Asian countries have ratified most protective conventions. But not all national governments exercise the same measure of diligence in policing factories for violations and furthermore in many countries where violations are found, the integrity of the players does not prevent bribes and favors to protect the violating factory owners as they continue without apology their exploitative practices

The focus of consumer and NGO protest over these exploitative conditions has been on those developing countries where the media report the most newsworthy awful conditions; the mass tragedies at coal mines, in baby formula milk and living and working in toxic neighborhoods and factories and the suicides at Foxconn in China have all captured consumer attention, and raised red flags at the brands which are fearful of the adverse impact such reports have on their sales.

In China at least, these worker protests although occurring without the approval of the ACFTU, have led to substantial increases in wages and the factories owners there, Chinese, Taiwanese and Korean, look elsewhere for places where they can continue to produce for the brands with less scrutiny, with less governmental pressure and with assurances of slightly greater profit than they can earn in countries where workplace conditions are under ongoing scrutiny.

Increasingly those factory owners have migrated to Bangladesh. With the lowest wages in South East Asia the prospects for profit from factories were indeed greater than in those neighboring countries where monitoring was more effective, government scrutiny of building safety stronger, and where wages had begun to climb.

The enhanced profits that were attainable in Bangladesh proceeded largely under the do-gooders radar until the fires, and building collapse and the sudden glare of media scrutiny placed the Bangladesh garment industry under the microscope, and from my perspective spread concern from the narrow issue of factory safety to the broader issue of awareness of the deplorable working conditions of garment factory workers, and in turn, I guess, became the driving force for the Saturday seminar.

There were at that crowded session, open and frank expressions from the wide gamut of players in the current scene. Many of the declarations in the fast moving exchanges were self-serving. Brands and others management types shifted responsibility elsewhere for conditions that prudent investment and management required their knowledge of. Others proclaimed that the rapid rise of wages over the past few years has exacted too heavy a toll on the factory owners to justify their paying any more for the present while the international agency and NGO representatives proclaimed these events were essential as a wake up call to the business community to pick up more of the burden, indeed to picking up their fair share to enhance the living conditions of Bangladeshi workers to ensure the long term prosperity of the country.

I too, see this as a wake up call, but one that will improve conditions and contribute to prosperity for a larger community, the workers in factories in Bangladesh and among its neighbors.

Those ILO Conventions are not merely government hand-outs making their sponsors and agreeing governments feel relieved that they are meaningful partners in the international labor community. They are protections for those workplace partners who haven’t the clout to demand and achieve them on their own. When, perchance workers try to do so, through efforts to create unions or strike for better pay or to seek employer conformity with contribution requirements to government pension schemes, they are fired, they are arrested and they are penalized for trying to achieve what the world body, the ILO has held out as world wide norms. Not the best in the world, but indeed the minima that even governments and employer groups agree is the worker entitlement. Conformity to those norms cost employers money and squeeze the profit margins of the factories which know that a demand to the brands for higher payments will mean the loss of that and other orders to other countries. Those countries have factory owners who don’t feel such pressure from government and worker groups and can thus make acceptable profits under unwavering prices paid by the brands. It is indeed difficult, if not unreasonable for NGOs and others to expect the factory owners to voluntarily match ILO standards, or even national legal requirements if the cost of such compliance will drive them from business and eradicate the jobs of those they employed. It is also a fools errand to expect the brands to insist on factory compliance with national laws when it is clear that they can readily move their orders to factories in a neighboring country where the brand can continue to proclaim the importance of adherence to its code of conduct when it knows its hired gun monitor, or its self monitoring or even a gift to a overly curious government inspector, will exonerate it from any wrongdoing within the factory making its garments.

Until the Rana Plaza collapse, Bangladesh was in many cases the beneficiary of efforts elsewhere at code compliance and ILO convention adherence. The brands readily moved their orders to factories in Bangladesh where wages were lower than elsewhere in Southeast Asia, and where there was much less risk of government officials and very low paid labor officers coming after them as is the case in less corrupt countries. Given that background it was natural that the participants at the Harvard Seminar would try either to keep the clock from advancing by pointing out how much wages had risen in recent years while trying to protect status quo on worker protections. Despite the horrors of the fire that were so directly traceable to under code construction and disregard for safety of garment workers, many of those who found themselves pressured into paying restitution turned to the least objectionable and least costly program to get the whole mess behind them. The American companies, which were the supporters of the Alliance, unlike the mostly European companies endorsing the Accord, even sought to limit their liability through a fixed sum maximum total liability.

I viewed the conference as an exciting opportunity to meet and hear those who truly are the movers and shakers in the garment industry in Bangladesh, and if not Bangladesh based, are from the even more powerful institutions that seek to shape a positive future for Bangladesh in this most crucial area. How to do this?

In my view the brands do exercise a positive role in pressuring the factories to improve safety and workplace conditions to meet ILO and national statutory standards. Prior to Bangladesh coming under international scrutiny the brands have had the assurance of being able to move their orders to a lower cost countries such as Bangladesh, when there has been less blowback from disgruntled factory owners who bristle at accepting what the brands offer to pay. The factory mangers act have acted reasonably in their self-interest by trying to maximize their profit, even if off the backs of their employees when the brands routinely reject their pleas for higher payment. The workers of course, when they seek to assert their self interest in asking for more, even when it means having the factory live up to its statutory requirements, routinely expect to be suppressed, if not punished for seeking to speak up and are stuck as the dubious beneficiaries of continued work at factories opting to continue in business rather than pulling up stakes from their leased equipment to move themselves to neighboring countries with less commitment to providing fair workplace condition. The bottom line is that the country of Bangladesh and its factory owners benefit from brands moving their orders to its factories. It could be argued that the workers too benefit from the fact that they at least have jobs which they would not, had the brands continued to send their orders to factories in other countries. This downward spiral might well continue as brands seek ever-lower paying countries to which to move their orders. Beyond South East Asia, it seems feasible that they could move orders to Africa and elsewhere where wages are low, governments are cooperative and factory owners are present or are quick to arrive. But geography argues for that work remaining in South East Asia where all the competing countries border the water over which all of this merchandise is shipped by freighter. Thus it could be argued, that Bangladesh is indeed the last stop for the bargain hunting brands.

My position is clear, as I noted at the seminar. Workers have a reasonable expectation in seeking to work under conditions the world has in effect promulgated in the ILO conventions particularly the Fundamental Eight to protect against forced and child labor, to assurance of work in an equitable and non discriminatory workplace and to be free to exercise their right to organize and to bargain collectively. Factory owners have a right to maximize their profits but not by exploiting their workers or violating local protective laws. Brands have a right to achieve the highest profit in contracting garment production to local factories, but they too have a moral obligation, or good business sense to assure that the garments they sell are made under reasonable fair labor standards such as delineated by the ILO conventions. Regardless of whether their hired monitors announce their violation of laws or norms or code declarations, it is their responsibility to assure that the factories making their garments do so under fair conditions free of worker exploitation.

So is there a way out of this profit-chasing circle? I think there is and I further think that Bangladesh is the lynch pin that can bring an end to the bottom feeding shopping the brands practice. If the government of Bangladesh were to take the position that it expects factory owners within the country to adhere to ILO standards and joined in prohibiting workplace exploitation I believe that would bring an effective end to the brands threatening to take work from factories in one country to move them to a factory elsewhere where the factory owner can get away with the worker exploitation. If all factories in Southeast Asian countries were to take the same position that they are complying with Code requirements by paying more in wages, in worker benefits and protections, it might indeed force the brands to pay the factory managers more when there is no lesser paying country to which it could move its orders.

What, you ask, is that fair standard to which factory managers and owners can be expected to operate; what is that level playing field? What has happened in Cambodia provides the promising answer. In 2002 the Cambodian government under the multi-fiber agreement, as a condition of securing a larger import quota into the US, agreed to having the ILO come into the country to monitor its garment factories. Instead of its factories having to spruce up for periodic inspections from every one of the brands for which it was producing garments (often a dozen or more), the ILO undertook the monitoring function, periodically making unannounced visits asking 500 questions of factories and their employees to assure workplace fairness. The government agreed to allow workers to organize and engage in collective bargaining, and to the creation of the Arbitration Council, an independent body of local lawyers selected by the parties serving as arbitrators to resolve questions of violation of collective agreements or law. It was expected that on December 31, 2004, the expiration date of the multi-fibre agreement, that the 250 factories employing some 250,000 garment workers would close. They didn’t. Instead they expanded. Today there are some 350 factories employing some 700,000 employees, and factories from other countries including China with its higher wages are moving to Cambodia subjecting themselves to ILO inspections and oversight as preferable to the conditions under which they operated before where cronyism and corruption often permitted greater profits and a continued supply of work orders from the brands. It has not all been clear sailing. Cambodia has had its problems, there has been a rash of now-legal strikes and conflict among trade unions and regional associations competing to represent workers. But structures are in place to help cope with them.

If all the Southeast Asian countries banded together to provide employment in compliance with ILO standards or under enforced national laws their factories would have a stronger defense against the country shopping engaged in by the brands. The brands would have to reconsider the strictness of their pricing in letting out contracts to the factories even though that might result in raising their prices. But since all their competitors would be making their garments in the same factories under the same constraints, that competitive disadvantage would be dissipated. And the evidence shows that consumers in Europe and the US are willing to pay somewhat more for garments made under fair working conditions.

I offer no guarantees that this proposal will fully resolve the problem of workplace fairness, will prevent the race to the bottom, or will even ensure that Bangladesh will retain and expand its garment trade. But I offer it as a measure for improving workplace safety and enhancing worker rights in Bangladesh now, which all at the conference claimed to be their unanimous goal. It would also provide assurance of a safer base line in the competition among countries elsewhere in Southeast Asia shifting competition to improved workplace competitive efficiency instead of that competition being based on who pays the lowest wages and who bribes the government officials the most to effectively to avoid enforcement of safety and workplace standards.

Those at the conference all professed unwavering dedication to the lot of the Bangladeshi workers. This might be a good place to start.

Far Eastern Promises

Far Eastern Promises

Change your perspective: A worker cleans the windows of a building in Beijing’s central business district, April 4, 2007. (Reinhard Krause / Courtesy Reuters)

By Kurt M. Campbell and Ely Ratner, published on Foreign Affairs

The United States is in the early stages of a substantial national project: reorienting its foreign policy to commit greater attention and resources to the Asia-Pacific region. This reformulation of U.S. priorities has emerged during a period of much-needed strategic reassessment, after more than a decade of intense engagement with South Asia and the Middle East. It is premised on the idea that the history of the twenty-first century will be written largely in the Asia-Pacific, a region that welcomes U.S. leadership and rewards U.S. engagement with a positive return on political, economic, and military investments.

As a result, the Obama administration is orchestrating a comprehensive set of diplomatic, economic, and security initiatives now known as the “pivot,” or “rebalancing,” to Asia. The policy builds on more than a century of U.S. involvement in the region, including important steps taken by the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations; as President Barack Obama has rightly noted, the United States is in reality and rhetoric already a “Pacific power.” But the rebalancing does represent a significant elevation of Asia’s place in U.S. foreign policy.

Continue reading on Foreign Affairs.


Building the Framework: Professor Kosaku Dairokuno on Peace and Security in the Pacific

Building the Framework: Professor Kosaku Dairokuno on Peace and Security in the Pacific

 (BGF) – Kosaku Dairokuno, Professor of Comparative Politics from Meiji University, Tokyo shared his thoughts about Building a Framework for Peace and Security in the Pacific during the BGF’s online conference of July 2, 2014. He expected the U.S to be an active member in the Convention on the Law of the Sea, and a “Framework for Peace and Security” needs to be built in various regional get-togethers such as the East Asia Summit, APEC, ASEAN plus Three, etc.

In dealing with the conflicts in the South China Sea, he also expressed the need to get China to understand that “it will be in its own interest to pursue the common interest among the neighboring nations” and to get China involved in the talk of peace and security in the Pacific.

Building the Framework: Professor Kosaku Dairokuno on Peace and Security in the Pacific

July 2, 2014 | By Kosaku Dairokuno, Professor of Comparative Politics, Meiji University, Tokyo

Under the UNCLOS framework, when two or more countries have disagreements regarding their legitimate territories, EEZ, or the mid-line between them, countries concerned ought to resolve the differences through negotiations. If they cannot settle the disagreements, either one of the parties can take this to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea or to the International Court of Justice for judgment only if the other parties agree to do so.

But, such agreement is not usually so easy; the country that desires the third party judgment will ask for arbitration instead, because the arbitration process does not require a prior agreement between the parties to bring the disagreements to the Court. In this case, however, any decision by the court is not necessarily respected by the party which has not agreed to bring the issue to the court.

This is likely the case for the Philippines asking to the International Tribunal for Law of the Sea for arbitration between China over the disputed territory in the South China Sea. China seems not to be interested in responding to this arbitration process, and is not likely to provide its case to the Tribunal. In this case, the Tribunal may come to a conclusion probably in favor of Philippines. But, politically speaking, this decision actually cannot resolve the conflict between the two nations. The Tribunal’s decisions are not enough, although not morally ineffective, when the issue is concerned with the claim over territories.

Therefore, we have to find some kind of multinational framework for conflict resolution that is much stronger than the Code of Conduct currently implemented among the nations surrounding the disputed areas in the South China Sea. I would like to see the US ratify the Convention on the Law of the Sea, and become an active member of the treaty, which has long been overdue. And, it may be good idea to have a “framework for peace and security” in various regional get-togethers such as the East Asia Summit, APEC, ASEAN plus Three, etc.

We need to get China to understand that it will be in its own interest to pursue the common interest among the neighboring nations, since their economies have become closely inter-dependent with each other. Therefore, it is not a good idea to take too much assertive action that makes other nations baffled about the real intention of the country. In the short term, we have to set up as many opportunities as possible to talk about peace and security in the Pacific, with China. At the same time, we have to build mutual trust by encouraging the exchange of students, scholars, and business men; as well as open discussion about the common future, although it surely will take a long time. The closer relationships we build between the peoples, the more difficult it will be for any country to be engaged in openly assertive actions. In fact, there are many other economic, environmental, and political issues and problems we have to tackle together in order to keep forwarding prosperity in this region.

Thank you for attending July 2 Conference

Boston, July 3, 2014

Dear friends and fellow,

On July 2, 2014, the Boston Global Forum hosted its opening session in a month-long series that will engage various political and thought leaders on the crises in Asia and how to build a framework for peace and stability in the region.

The Boston Global Forum is grateful for the participation of Governor Michael Dukakis, Professor Ezra Vogel, Professor Thomas Patterson, Professor Kosaku Dairokuno, Ambassador Shinji Yanai, Ambassador JD Bindenagel, Professor Jonathan London, Deputy Assistant Secretary Michael Fuchs, and Bui Viet Lam of VietNamNet for their insightful and engaging contributions to the important discussion.

Given yesterday’s success, the Boston Global Forum is confident that as it continues engaging scholars and political leaders over the next month, it will be able to make a meaningful contribution to the crises in Asia.

Boston Global Forum Staff


(BGF) – China has being seen as a third world country where the U.S and Western countries lay their manufacturing factories. And the real fact is, most of them are underestimating China. The world did not realize the truly danger of Chinese extreme nationalism which has been sticking into Chinese leader’s mind. This spirit is the root for all provocation actions that China is taking against its neighbors in the South China Sea. 

In a commentary, Vietnamese professor Tran Kinh Nghi shared with Boston Global Forum about the Five mistakes that the world has committed in dealing with China. 


June 27, 2014 | By Tran Kinh Nghi, Independent researcher from Hanoi

For years, international opinion says a lot about mistakes made by China in its conspiracy and scheme to occupy and monopolize the East Sea (international known term: South China Sea), but has not mentioned about the world’s mistakes in dealing with China. Actually, the situation in the East Sea would not like what we see it today if the world has not committed too many mistakes in dealing with China in the whole process. Below is a brief summary of five major mistakes.

ban-do-vung-luoi-boDescription of the “cow tongue” China wants to impose in the East Sea (South China Sea).

First mistake – The world used to see China as a backward populous poor country that needs help rather than precaution and prevention. That perception defined the way the world, especially European countries and the U.S. lived up with China during the past half-century since the PRC State came into in 1949. In reality, there was a period when the U.S. and the West opted against China but only because of fear of communism rather than fear of the danger of Chinese nationalism to become the most frightening thing. After China started to implement the “open-door policy”, the whole world jumped to help it like the rich helping the poor. Thanks to the flow of capital investment and science and technology inputs from the United States, EU and Japan and the generosity of international financial and trade institutions, China has quickly gathered enough conditions for the realization of its long cherished expansionism and hegemonism. One of the first measures that the Chinese leadership particularly focused on was to build its modern navy forces to bully the littoral small states around the East Sea in attempt to occupy and monopolize this sea as “core interest” of China.

Second mistake – When Beijing officially announced in 2009 the U-shaped line (also known as ” 9-dotted line” or “cow tongue”), which was randomly  sketched  by a general of  the Chiang Kai-shek  regime, the world thought it totally ridiculous without realizing it as a real danger so as to do something to remove it right in the bud. Only until recently when ones see Chinese mighty forces ramping threatening peace and stability in the East Sea, people become surprised or frightened. The “cow tongue”  that they thought as a childish-like joke has now that become evident in the world map with even some “bones” in it running  from Sanya military base south of  Hainan Island to the so-called “Sansha City” coming down Johnson reef in the mid-sea and surely be down further to the Strait of Malacca sooner or later.

However, until now the world has not reached any collective measure to cope effectively with this dangerous scheme of China. While ASEAN grouping 10 regional countries directly affected by the “cow tongue” continues to be divided, the UN seems to be hypnotized.

Third mistake – Most countries fail to envision a day when the East Sea become “internal waters” of China and all foreign ships will have to ask for permission and pay fees for the Chinese authorities. The Ironical fact is that, in spite of the vitally important role of these shipping lanes to the whole world, most countries tend to consider them only disputes between  a few regional states with China while some even want to take advantage to “fish in trouble water” by separate relations with China.

Fourth mistake– The world system of rules and mechanisms for international cooperation, including the two massive bodies such as the UN and WTO have been standing helpless before the blatant absurd actions of one member country – China, no matter what Chinese activities in violation of the Law of the Sea, environment law, human law, weapons laws and so on so forth.  How ironical that the U.S., EU and Russia often try their best to mobilize international resources to intervene in the internal affairs of other states here or there, but there have been no similar action for the China case. Everything they have done so far are just lip service.

Fifth mistake– The World accepts China as a superpower without requiring it to meet primary qualities of a superpower. China always acts like bandits using strength despite of laws, morality and humanity. All the same fighting against Vietnam, but  the U.S. knew how to respect the right or wrong, anyway, while  China just shows barbaric brutality and bastard tricks ready to change white and black. China’s behavior made ​​one think of a kind of extreme nationalism like what the Nazi did before the World War II.

Above is a summary of 5 main mistakes that the world has made in dealing with China in general and in East Sea disputes in particular.  As long as the international community fails to form consensus unity and take concrete measures in dealing with the Chinese hegemonic and expansionists plots,  long term peace and security of Asia and the world at large  will continue to be threatened by China. Vietnam and the Philippines are just the first victims.


LIVE STREAMING: Building a Framework for Peace and Security in the Pacific

LIVE STREAMING: Building a Framework for Peace and Security in the Pacific

(BGF) – On July 2, we had an international online conference to build a Framework for peace and security in the Pacific as an effort to ease tensions in the East and South China Sea. The conference was moderated by Governor Michael Dukakis, three-term Governor of Massachusetts, 1988 Democratic Presidential nominee, and Chairman of the Boston Global Forum. In addition, the event featured contributions from Michael Fuchs, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S Department of State; the Harvard university professors Ezra Vogel and Thomas Patterson; former ambassador to U.S, Shinji Yanai, from Japan; Professor Kosaku Dairokuno from Meiji University in Tokyo; Ambassador JD Bindenagel from Chicago; Bui Thi Viet Lam, Political editorial manager of VietNamNet in Vietnam ; and Professor Jonathan London fromCity University of Hongkong

Watch the full conference here:

For your convenience, the transcript is provided below.

photo 4

(Photo: From left to right – Governor Michael Dukakis, Professor Ezra Vogel, Editor-in-Chief Nguyen Anh Tuan)

Governor Michael Dukakis: Hi, I’m Mike Dukakis, the former governor of Massachusetts, now a professor at Northeastern University here in Boston, and the chairman of the Boston Global Forum. Let me tell you a little bit about the forum itself.

About a year ago, thanks to the leadership of Tuan Nguyen, who was the founder of VietNamNet, and now spends a good deal of his time here in Boston we created something we call the Boston Global Forum which is an effort to tap into both intellectual horsepower of so many great minds here in Boston area and at the same time involve good people, interested people from all over the world in trying to help solve some of the pressing challenges we face internationally. And we decided we’d begin by picking a particular topic, and focus on that topic for a full year.

We began with international occupational safety and health standards after the disasters in Bangladesh, and have been deeply involved in that issue. And now we will wanna move to a very pressing and challenging issue which I am sure all of you recognized, and that is how we create a Framework for Peace and Security in the Pacific. I’m sure I don’t have to tell any of you about what’s been going on in Asia. A conflict’s not just over islands but conflict over interests, and rivalries which in some cases go back many, many decades if not centuries.

But we think that the current situation there is simply unsatisfactory and unless we can create a Framework for Peace and Security and an International Framework for Peace and Security in the Pacific. And for that matter, in other troubled regions of the world, we’re gonna continue to be plagued with these disputes, these arguments over who owns what in ways which we don’t think are contributing to world peace nor to the peaceful resolution of these issues. And so, we’re going to begin this search for a Framework for Peace and Security in the Pacific on Wednesday July 2nd, at 8 o’clock Eastern Standard Time, U.S. Time, and have invited a large number of people all over the world as we have in our past online forums to join us.

The only thing in the world that we don’t know, the only new thing in the world is the history we don’t know and the great leaders study history. And it is a new world; I think it may be a promising one. And my hope is that the Boston Global Forum will help involve in generating peaceful resolution to not just the immediate issue, but a process, a framework in which peace and security is guaranteed for the long run for the Pacific and several parts of the world.

Now we’re very fortunate that we had in our conferences, Michael Fuchs, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Department of the State, to join our today’s conference together with the East Asia and Pacific Bureau involve in. And also in Boston, we have not only Tuan Nguyen who devotes his time as the leadership and we’re very fortunate to have participations of great professors from the Harvard Kennedy School, Professor Thomas E. Patterson and Professor EzraVogel, someone I’ve admired for a very long time becoming part of the forum.

But I want to turn first to getting to the Deputy Assistant Secretary, Michael Fuchs. Mike, if you could just give a State Department perspective on this at this point, maybe some suggestions as to how you think of the forum may help the Pacific region?

Deputy Assistant Secretary Michael Fuchs: Well, first, thank you Governor Dukakis and I also wanna thank the Boston Global Forum for convening this discussion. I think it’s very timely important and I’m glad that we’re able to organize such a great group of folks to discuss this very timely important subject. I think that you know I could go on for a little while and explain the USG view of our policy in the region, what we think is going on in the region right now.

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(Photo: Michael Fuchs, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S Department of State)

We, as a government, have made a sort of renewed commitment to engage with the region. The US rebounds to the Asia-Pacific begun by the Obama administration which has a number of different lines of effort. I think the most fundamental point here for us is that we have renewed our focus on the region very much in part because of some of the issues that you were pointing out, Governor Dukakis, because we see so much going on in the region, economic dynamism that’s happening in the region but also some of the challenges and threats we see to peace and stability and prosperity in the region.

The key focus for US policy in the last few years and which I think we believe very strongly has the potential at least in the coming years and decades to be a key pillar of enabling the countries in the region to address the issues that you were talking about at the very beginning, whether it’s about maritime disputes, nonproliferation, or other threats to peace and stability in the region. Obviously, there are a wide variety of institutions…..thus any one of them in particular but we’ve focused really in the last few years on strengthening our engagement and strengthening these institutions themselves with all of them starting with the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and its affiliated groups, the ASEAN Regional Forums, the East Asian Summit, the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus. And we believe that these institutions while right now I think in a growth stage have a lot of attention. The foreign ministers, the leaders of all the countries in the region annually invest time and energy in engaging in these forums.

And so these are the right places I think for us to come together as a region to try to tackle the key problems. So I’d just mention two things we believe that these institutions can be helpful in addressing some of the issues that you and Governor Dukakis were putting on the table at the beginning in two different ways.

In addressing these tough challenges in the region whether again maritime disputes, nonproliferation, or anything else, we need a multilateral framework to be able to help deal with these problems. And we see investing in these regional institutions especially ASEAN and the ASEAN related institutions as important for two main reasons.

First is that they provide a natural forum for frank and open dialogue amongst all the relevant countries in the region. And again as I mentioned before, you have investments in these institutions from the highest levels of all the governments in the region, from foreign ministers to the presidents and leaders of these countries. And so for that very reason, this is a natural place, I think, for everyone in the region to come together put on the table the key issues that are at stake here and agree to come to the table with ideas and solutions and frank views on how best to address these issues. That’s the first point.

The second point is that, as we build up these institutions over the long run, they also need to be capable of taking on and implementing practical cooperation in key areas. So, once institutions identify key substantive areas and challenges for discussion, they need to also be able to come up with ideas and it’s not solutions to the problems themselves but at the very least come up with practical mechanisms for cooperation so that countries and relevant officials and individuals and agencies from government across the region can come together in a key area and find ways to practically cooperate with one another. Maritime space, again, is a prime example of this and there are a number of different things that we’re doing, there’s a number of different countries in the region to build capacity in the countries and to bring together maritime law enforcement agencies, militaries, defense establishments, civilian officials and so forth to build habits of cooperation in the maritime space to build trust and to build again this sort of dialogue amongst those officials dealing with these issues on a day-to-day basis which again I think is a necessary part of addressing these issues over the longer term. So I know that we have limited time here today so let me perhaps stop there, and turn it back to you, Governor Dukakis.

Governor Dukakis: Mike, thanks so much. As an old friend and analyst with me, whether you might have some thoughts, questions for Mike in connection with all of this because I know you’re heading to the department soon.

Prof. EzraVogel: Well, I think what you’re trying to do here is trying to get issues on the table and I thought what I might do is to lay out what I think are sort of the issues this group could work with. I think there’s so many things going on actually in between all of countries, states, and departments; there are numbers of activities, and numbers of exchanges in all kinds of areas. And I think that the broad ranges of issues that we are confronted with, I’ll put it in five different issues.

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(Photo: from left to right – Professor Thomas E. Patterson, Governor Michael Dukakis, Professor Ezra Vogel)

The first is how we’re concerning now is the explosive conflicts warming up and there are a lot of people working on this. There have misunderstandings between the Chinese and the Vietnamese, and the Filipinos, and the Japanese, and the Americans, about things to do to avoid accidents and whether we can find ways to get off the tense situation we are in now since both sides hold back relations. Well that’s one range of issues.

The second thing is, since the tension is not going away, how do we deal with the practical issues that our State Department friend, Mike, was talking about. How do we deal with the issues of keeping up economic relations, how do we keep up concern with global environment issues, how do we work on health issues? There’s natural disasters but the whole range of issues of practical issues that Mike was talking about, how do we keep those going despite those things?

Number three, how do we resolve some of the big issues that have to do with the ownership? Are there some ways that we could get one side to another to the International Court of Justice or are there certain principles that we can put in motion that would at least get an agreement that we could put on the show for a long period of time to resolve those issues.

The Fourth, I think we need a vision and a new structure in Asia. The structure we had in a whole world is over and the United States is not gonna have as much strength as we had in the past around the globe. China is gonna have a bigger role and from the Chinese point of view, it’s intolerant that they have foreign planes and foreign ships come right up to their borders; it’s intolerantthat they have to put up with the Taiwan division. and we have to come up with the structure that is realistic over a five to ten year framework that is something that provides security and provide a balance between particularly assets in China and some of the other countries in the region, provide long term stability.

And the fifth, I think we have to find ways to deal with emotional issues on this side that have to do with history. The Japanese, I think, they need to do a great deal more to explain in a broad way the problems they created through their imperialism and through their World War II. Other countries have historical problems too but the Japanese particularly did a great deal to educate their public. They show a great sense of publicity of issues and problems that they’ve caused. The Chinese do a great deal so that their children understand in the Chinese people, all of contributions and dependence is made Chinese modernization in the early part of the 20th century and in the 1980s and the Koreans it’s the same way.

So those are the broad range of issues that I see that people like us from the outside would try to help and frame the issues and help mobilize opinion. And those are the range of issues that I see.

Governor Dukakis: And Mike, I’d like you to come back into this with us. Mike suggested that ASEAN was one of those institutions, which is a great forum for discussion. What do you think?

Prof. Vogel: Well, I see. I think ASEAN is a great forum special for discussion. It does have its own group. It’s not sufficiently united, and strong like Europe, we can expect for that role. But I think ASEAN has been a wonderful forum for getting the big powers to meeting, to discussion of the major issues and it’s sufficiently neutral so the Chinese don’t have to feel that the United States is behind it or that Japan is behind it. It’s sufficiently neutral although now there is a new tension between particularly the Philippines and Vietnam over the Chinese issues, but it’s still a wonderful area, locale, for having those discussions.

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(Photo: from left to right: Professor  Kosaku Dairokuno, Ambassador Shunji Yanai)

Governor Dukakis: Mike, can you talk to us a little bit about that? I mean, as we look ahead, is that the regional institutional organization that you can see as the place where over time we can develop this framework that we’re talking about? So where is the U.N. in all of this? And APEC, too. Where are these institutions? How do you see this playing out over the course of the next four, five, six, eight years? Mike?

Ambassador Shunji Yanai: Well good morning, my name is Yanai, the president of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. But I’m not talking in that capacity, I’m talking in my individual capacity. And it’s nice to see you, Professor Vogel. You remember me?

Prof. Vogel: Yes!

Ambassador Shunji Yanai: I was in the forum office for many years and I am former ambassador to the United States and I was very much involved in Asian affairs. Mr. Dukakis, I know your name but it’s the first time that I see you and I’m very nice to meet you. I think I was not able to follow the beginning of your talks because there was some technical problem but I think you are talking about possible institutions in Asia to build up confidence and I was very much involved in the Asian Regional Forum which is not just ASEAN, but the United States, Japan, Russia, and some other countries also members that is one institution.

And to a limited extent, I think I’ll contribute to how trust among states concern, but it has not been very successful. There are other forums such as APEC which is more limited to economic margins. but of course, economic exchanges can has confidence among states. I was also involved in trilateral Track 2 or Track 1.5 process among the United States, Japan, and Russia, and we also tried the same thing between Japan, China, and United States. I don’t know what happened to those institutions but perhaps, in addition to the big forum like ASEAN Regional Forum, perhaps trilateral forums like that; major players in the Asia-Pacific region could be useful to build up confidence in this region. So perhaps, you may have a better idea that is some comments that I wanted to make based on my own experience.

Governor Dukakis: Thank you, I think that’s Rock next to you, right?

Prof. Kosaku Dairokuno (Rock): Thank you very much, Governor Dukakis. Well, I’m pretty much agree with the former ambassador to the United States and that we are talking at the Japanese, and about trying to establish some kind of institution to get all the major players in to build the trust among China and the ASEAN countries and Japan.

Well, I’m not sure what kind of forum, what kind of fuction this type of institution will take? However, it is very clear we have to have some kind of institution to resolve the differences. Because one would think, I don’t know exactly, about why China has become very assertive in recent years. Well, I really don’t understand it, whether it’s a matter of the leadership or it’s a matter of the domestic problems. I’m not sure about that but however it is very clear that we have to have some kind of mutual trust building organization in this region. Otherwise, in a while, just the little things in a click don’t create much trigger, and it will accidentally lead to more escalation of the conflicts. I’m really worried about that, and also, maybe it is a greater idea to have many different forums of mutual trust building, maybe business people, scholars, even the students. It’s a long-run strategy; however, it is important to pursue long-run strategy as well as the short term institutional response to the problem. Thank you very much.

Ambassador Shunji Yanai: Well, if I may just add a few more words to what I said earlier. I talked about trilateral forum between Japan, United States, Soviet Union in those days, during the Cold War period and also I talked about trilateral forum between Japan, China, and United States. But I refer to Track 1.5 that means that even government officials or even military people participating in that kind of consultations in private capacity, because if you participate representing your own government, you’re bound by your government’s instructions, so to give certain flexibility to participants. It’s useful for participants to make a statement or launch ideas in private capacity, but at the same time, if the governments concerns are not involved then nobody can carry out any policy so it’s good to have both government representatives and private people and even the government representatives are allowed to make statements, make proposals as individuals. So that is what I mean by Track 1.5.

Governor Dukakis: Can I ask you both this question though. To me, the Japanese Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday. How the multilateral decision making is made? It seemed to me that the answer it suggested was more military alliances?

Ambassador Shunji Yanai: Well, I chair a panel of experts which presented report to Minister Abe and the panel started its work seven years ago, and then Mr. Abe stepped down but he came back to the administration. so he resumed this process. So I chaired the panel twice and in May we presented a second report to Prime Minister Abe, in which we proposed to change to some extent the interpretation of Article 9 of the Constitution. Because the past interpretation was too restrictive and according to which although Japan has the right of collective self-defense under international law, according to the old interpretation, the Japanese constitution behave according to Article 9 does not allow Japan exercise this right of collective self-defense, so the main idea is that we should have reliable Japan-US alliance and in order to do that, Japan has to contribute more to the strengthening of the alliance and in order to do that, the panel thinks that Japan has to revise the interpretation of Article 9 so that Japan can exercise the right of collective self-defense. For instance, under the old interpretation of Article 9, if there is any conflict or if the United States and Japan are acting together and if somebody or some country attacks, for instance, the US Navy ship, and if Japan Navy ship is nearby. If Japan is not attacked, Japan is not allowed to help the US Navy under attack. That is not really acceptable. So in order to strengthen our alliance, we propose that the exercise of collective self-defense has to be allowed under the Constitution and we think that, that can be done. So yesterday Mr. Abe administration accepted some of our ideas, not the whole thing but some of the ideas to relax the two restrictive interpretations of the Constitution. And in that Cabinet decision, it was proposed that a series of laws concerning security for the self-defense forces should be revised to strengthen the self-defense capability and also to strengthen the alliance between Japan and the United States. That is to prevent conflict, that is to enhance the tolerance to prevent disputes from deteriorating. So that is the idea.

Governor Dukakis: Mike, I’d like to add a comment on yesterday. From a personal standpoint, it couldn’t seem to me that that was contributing to this goal of creating a framework for security in the Pacific. What’s the State Department’s take on this, and where do we go from here with the kind of institution building you were talking about?

Deputy Assistant Secretary Michael Fuchs: With respect to your question, Governor, I think that we do believe very much to your earlier question that the ASEAN centered institutions in particular when it comes to the political and security issues are the place to invest time and energy in the region when it comes to a multilateral frame if we’re dealing with these issues. I also agree that, frankly in some ways, the more the merrier when it comes to institutions, trilateral mechanisms and other forums for dealing with specific issues, I think those are all to the good.

I think that obviously our administration has made a huge investment in APEC on the economic forum. The trans-Pacific partnership itself is a negotiation that’s came out of APEC discussions and in APEC itself. There has been a number of significance, I think, advances on the environmental front and other fronts as well. But, in the political security realm, again I think, ASEAN is the top game in town when it comes to being a structured organization that has political buy-in. And again I agree with Professor Vogel that there may be imperfections with ASEAN and the ASEAN institutions, but they themselves are united, have common goals, and again, they have the political buy-in, I believe, from not just the ten countries of ASEAN but from all of the rest of the countries in the region as well, from us, Japan, China, Australia, and all the other big countries and others around the neighborhood. And so I think for that very reason, alone that again, you’ve got political buy-in, you’ve got political buy-in at the highest levels, in particular I know the East Asia summit which is relatively new forum that’s created out of ASEAN just in the last eight, nine years. But just in the last two to three years, you’ve had participation from the leader level, the United States as well, and so we think again, Governor Dukakis, you mentioned the timeline of the next four, five, six, eight years out, I would say in that time frame, but also honestly beyond that I mean, we’re talking about a long term effort here where results are sometimes slow but if we’re gonna make headway, I think, on any of these issues you’re talking about, in a structural way in a long-term and lasting way. I think what we need to do is build on these institutions and a number of these already exist from East Asia Summit to the ASEAN Regional Forum. There are other institutions again that are very new, that are being created to handle more specific issues with the same membership. There is something called the expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum which has the membership of East Asia Summit which handles specifically maritime security and cooperation related issues. Also, as I mentioned before, the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus which is defense establishments and militaries getting together to discuss things like humanitarian and disaster relief, and so from our view, yes, the answer simply is yes that these are the places where time and energy should be spent trying to create a framework to address the more complicated issues in the region. But it will take time, I think.

Governor Dukakis: Well, clearly this is one of the topics that we really oughta get into. We have others for subsequent meetings, Mike, thank you so much for being a part of this, and I hope we can keep you deeply and actively involved in this because it’s so important. Really we have somebody in Chicago who’s joined us and I’d like him to introduce himself, and then comment on what he’s heard and maybe some of the suggestions he has as we move forward now in dealing with this very important topic.

Ambassador JD Bindenagel: Thanks, Mike. I’d like to first of all introduce myself, I’m also a former ambassador, I spent most of my career in Europe and of the five issues that that Vogel has pointed out, the emotional issues are most important and reconciliation probably is the fundamental issue to address the others that come. But I’d like to take Mike’s point about what we can do in the Boston Global Forum, that is what kind of forum would make sense to bring together for a longer period of time, what Mike talks about and the government is certainly capable of working with the institutions, he’s talked about how we can build support for those institutions, for those structures over a longer period of time?

I would argue that would be probably the best thing that we could do is to convene the right people at the next level down speaking, as the ambassador from Japan noted, on a personal basis to address issues over a longer period of time. For instance, bringing in businessmen, academics, government officials to address specific issues in maritime issues or reconciliation issues or environmental issues, national co-operations so that you would have with all the partners that you would provide that is the business interests, the academic interests as well as the regional interests at the table. This is a very successful model that we used in Berlin at the Aspen Institute office in Berlin for years. We have a two-year project with fifteen people of a diverse group of people and a separate other group of people working over the years and frankly those of us who were mid-level officers at the time went on to be those people who were going to the meetings that Mike has talked about going to the meetings in the Defense Department, going to the meetings at ASEAN and the East Asian Summit. By the time we get to those positions of decision, we’d actually developed relationships between various Europeans and with the Russians as well.

So you build the issues and contribute at the same time to the people you’re working for, that is, if you choose the right people, they will advise as informally or formally what discussions are happening at the next level down. This kind of forum, I think, is something that Boston Global Forum could really contribute in this Track 2 or Track 1.5 method that has been very effective with the East-West Center in New York as well as others.

My actual most recent conflict resolution in conflict management has been dealing with the conflict reconciliation issues of World War II. I was a negotiator and ambassador for Holocaust issues and forced labor for World War II, unpaid insurance claims, and such Nazi confiscated art, as well as the negotiator for blood diamonds, for banning the use of the diamonds, and financed rebels in Africa. Those kinds of efforts really only work if you’d have the business community, the civil society, and others in that discussion, not necessarily in the negotiations that is not what governments like, but have them in the discussion. The same can be said in my most recent discussions on the Trans-Atlantic trade and investment partnership and the Trans-Pacific partnership and the president of the Pan-America society here in Chicago.

Having a civil society or having an open dialogue with the people who are not in the negotiation but have concerns and interests are very important. That I think will bringing those interests around a forum as Mike had suggested, that has the participation of not the most senior but those people who have access to the senior people in their companies, in the government and in the academia that we can actually make a difference

Governor Dukakis: That’s very helpful Mr. Bindenagel, and I hope you stay with our discussions as we go forward. Now I think we have somebody from Vietnam who will also be making a contribution. Can you introduce yourself from Vietnam, and also where you are, and give us your comments and that will be helpful.

Ms. Bui Viet Lam: Hello everyone, it’s my pleasure to join with this online conference and I thought because it’s not so good to hear all of the ideas but I found that they are so interesting and one thing that I just wanna add. I think that this initiative is great idea. And we understand that now the problem is that there is a lack of mutual trust among the South China Sea claimants but we observe now I think that this initiative cannot work with, we cannot engage China in those forums. And you know that as someone mentioned there are a lot of multilateral forum initiatives such as the ASEAN Regional Forum and the East Asia Summit but the problem for China now that they let do the unilateral talking. They refuse to talk to anyone; they just use the technique of coercion against Vietnam. So I just wonder how we can engage China into that and to improve the enforcement and to enforce, to push China to follow the UNCLOS and to the international laws? And another thing we, Vietnam, care more about what role the United States can play in this issue? You know that the United States mentioned a lot about the US pivot, about the rebalanced strategy, but with this replacement now in Vietnam that we raise a lot of concerns and doubts about the feasibility and the reliability of the US pivot. If the United States just mentioned about the US pivot but no real action and you cannot do anything to stop the China’s bad behavior. That is very bad for the regional countries and you send a very negative message to the regional countries about the US rebalanced strategy so I love to hear more idea from the Mr. Governor Michael Dukakis and from Mike Fuchs about the US government and how this forum can engage more the United States government in this forum. Thank you so much

Governor Dukakis: Mike, how do we get the China more deeply involved in multilateral? They seem much to prefer this bilateral stuff, and the consensus that we’ve heard on community to resolve these problems has to be because all of these nations and leaders participate. Is there any indication that China is prepared to do that in a way that we haven’t seen up until this day?

Deputy Assistant Secretary Michael Fuchs: Well, I again as I said I think that this is a long term effort and I think that the multilateral piece is an essential piece of it, but it’s not the only piece. But when it comes to the multilateral piece which I’ll stick to for the moment, there are a couple of points. First is, China is at the table right, and I think that’s one of the most important aspects to this which is that you want China along with everybody else in the region to be at the table for these discussions. The idea behind the EAS (East Asia Summit) and the ARF (ASEAN Regional Forum) and the rest of them is that you take the rules of the road, internationally recognized norms and laws, and you try to find ways to apply them to significant issues in the region and so I think that there are a few things when it comes to the territorial disputes as our colleague was just talking about.

There are a few different things. One is that I think that first and foremost the countries of the region and the claimants to in the South China Sea as well as all of ASEAN’s have agreed including China to negotiate a code of conduct in the South China Sea. Now, those negotiations are going very very slowly but I do think that the multilateral place again already has agreement from China, not to mention the other countries that this is the mechanism, one of the main mechanisms through which we must deal with this issue. And so I think that the multilateral forum can play a couple of different roles here. One is that I think they can provide a venue for that practical discussion that frankly needs to move a lot quicker.

The second is also is that, I think that China needs to hear from the entire region that this is an issue that everyone has a stake in. This has been the position of the United States for a long time now, that we have a national interest in how these disputes are addressed and so do the other countries in the region and they have also made very clear publicly to China and to everyone that we all have a stake in how these issues are addressed because they do get to those broader questions that we’ve been discussing of regional stability and security. And so I think that one of the main roles for the multilateral forum here with again China at the table along with everyone else is to make this point very clear. But it needs to come from everybody and so I think that that’s one of the primary roles that these institutions can play in again bringing China and again they’re at the table and helping them along with everyone understand that this is something that affects everybody in the region, and needs to be addressed. And so again, each meeting is another opportunity to have that discussion to get that point across and again to foster some of the cooperative solutions that frankly are on the table and there are ideas that are on the table for addressing the issues and again China is at those meetings so again I think that’s one of the main reasons why you need the multilateral piece to help address the broader structural issues that we’re talking about here.

Governor Dukakis: It sounds to me that oughta be one of the major issues we focus on in our conference on the 4th of August. Before we wrap up, I’d like to have Thomas Patterson summarize to some extent some questions that we’ve been getting from many folks in the affected regions and we’ve had people from the Philippines, certainly from Hong Kong, and number of other places sending in suggested questions and we have somebody now Johnathan introduce yourself and a brief comment before we go to Thomas.

Prof. John London: Yeah sorry, sorry to all of you due to the technical difficulties and I got called away for some urgent business so apologize. I actually am from Cambridge, Massachusetts and I’ve managed to find myself in this part of the world then become something of a scholar of Vietnam, so I tend to view these problems, these issues through a Vietnamese prism and I am now struggling to figure out exactly what the path might be for Vietnam. I think that Vietnam itself is really struggling with this issue for the reasons that have just been discussed and it’s nice to hear some voices of optimism or at least vision of the types of things that need to happen. But I am struck by the difficulty in finding ways, and I suppose you know all means necessary will have to be employed in order to find ways of getting real engagement and constructive engagement. So far, the level of discussion and rhetoric is downright depressing, not to mention scary and irresponsible. And I think discussions like these are absolutely vital for finding a way to advance the discussion to a more sane level because I think as we’d all agree, the way things happen going contribute to increase tensions, have fueled a regional arms race, and a great disservice to the region certainly but in respects to the broader world. And so you know, I am particularly interested in hearing views and discussing further the modalities by which we can achieve more meaningful exchanges because we understand so much of what has been said in one way, not truly a dialogue but rather a series of monologues combined with types of behaviors on the high seas that are dangerous. I just wanna share one thought with you that builds on the point of the last speaker. I recently read an interesting piece in the Jakarta Post that was talking about the space for informal diplomacy, not necessarily this sort of people’s diplomacy that people speak wistfully of, perhaps romantically of, but of meetings among the states people, among diplomats informally as a way of kick starting discussions and as a way of reducing the pressure. So in the context of difficulties, for example, in engaging with Beijing, if you had groups in the region, and perhaps other interested parties such as the United States and Australia engaging in informal dialogues, even Taiwan for that matter, it is a way, not necessarily the way of at least stirring the pot and getting some creative discussion going towards the types of imaginative solutions and possibilities that will be part of any long term solution to this. So once again, sorry for jumping in late, and thank you for allowing me to share my two cents.

Governor Dukakis: Great comment certainly beats water cannons. I want to wrap up and turn to Patterson who received a lot of suggested questions to set the stage for our conference in August. So Tom, talk to us a little bit about it, some of those questions, summarize them if you can and then I would hope that our participants and lots of other people will be thinking over the course of the next month or so as to how we structure our conference in August and how these particular questions can create a longer discussions. Tom, you’re on.

Prof. Thomas Patterson: Hello, we’ve received a lot of questions and I’d like to remind our listeners that even though we’re gonna have conference on August 4, there will be an online discussion of these issues that is implemented on the Boston Global Forum website, so please feel free to participate in that discussion because it will help the forum as will this session decide what we’re talking about on August 4th. The questions are kind of all over the place but let me introduce three of them, and I have to see if anyone wants to respond to them.

A lot of questions had to do with China’s intentions and one of the questioners noted that China’s leader had recently called for “a new architecture of Asia-Pacific security cooperation that is open, transparent and equal” and then he went on to say that “notion of foreign policy belongs to a different age and that is doomed to failure currently”. The question is “Does this statement signal the change in China’ stake?”

And then some other question that came up relating to what the US and Japan can do relative to some of the smaller Asian nations, what kind of support they can give them that wouldn’t be interpreted by China as somehow beingdone to combat China’s influence and then series of questions around what smaller countries like Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore, what role they can play, not just what role China can play in resolving the regional conflict, but what role some these smaller countries can play to resolve these conflicts?

Governor Dukakis: That sounds like a pretty good agenda. Let me bring this to a close folks. First by saying thank you all of you for joining us today, for giving us, I think what are lots of good ideas but, a general framework for what we can focus and do in August. At some point, we hope we’ll have lots of ongoing discussion online between now and then. Please send us your suggestions, your ideas. We want the August meeting to be a very good one and a constructive one.

And I must say that I’m encouraged to some extent by what I’ve heard today, but I think it’s so important to move ahead and attempt to create these institutions so that it will not end up not only in water cannon fights in the middle of the sea, but in ways that we can build confidence and as somebody pointed out, there is unnecessary to have an arms race in the Pacific. Arms cost money, precious money. These are resources that oughta be productive, a lot more constructive things than that. So I hope that part of this will help deescalate the ongoing conflict that we’re getting in sufficient reassurance in countries that they can receive and invest a lot of their resources in a more constructive way. In any event, thanks to all of you, special thanks to those who participated and contributed. And I hope we can welcome you back in a month time for what I hope is going to be a constructive online conference with lots and lots of good people and this is beginning of series of recommendations. Thanks to all of you and I look forward to meeting again in about one month time

Ambassador Shinji Yanai: Thank you very much, if I may, say just a few more words. I quite agree with your side that confidence building process takes long time. It is a long term process. at the same time I’d like to say that multilateral consultations dialogue should be built up on different layers. By that I mean that we need multilateral consultations at working level and also middle-leadership level, high level leadership, and also at the summit. So we need several layers, and of course, this kind of framework involves all the interested countries and especially China. And I very much appreciate today’s discussions like this, but it’s always difficult, a bit difficult to talk on the screen so perhaps we can’t meet very often but perhaps once in a while, once in a year, for instance. I would like to suggest that we meet physically together somewhere.

Governor Dukakis:What if we have meeting in Tokyo

Ambassador Shinji Yanai: You’d be most welcome.

Governor Dukakis:  and have a hands on discussion at that time. And don’t you disagree that it’s going to take time. Remember what John Maynard Keynes said, “In the long run, we’re all dead.” And as I have now celebrated my eightieth birthday that statement is becoming more and more relevant, so I hope that we can help the process move forward with all deliberate speed because it would be good to see these issues all resolved. Thank you all very much.

Governor Michael Dukakis introduces BGF Online Conference to resolve conflicts in the Pacific

Governor Michael Dukakis introduces BGF Online Conference to resolve conflicts in the Pacific

(BGF) – In the light of current conflicts in the East and South China Sea, the BGF launched an initiative to help ease the tension on July 2, which seeks to build a Framework to Peace and Security in the Pacific. Governor Michael Dukakis, three-term Governor of Massachusetts, 1988 Democratic Presidential nominee, and Chairman of the Boston Global Forum, introduced more about the purpose and plan of the program.

For your convenience, the transcript is provided below.

Hi, I’m Mike Dukakis, the former governor of Massachusetts, now a professor at Northeastern University here in Boston, and the chairman of the Boston Global Forum. Let me tell you a little bit about the forum itself.

About a year ago, thanks to the leadership of Tuan Nguyen, who was the founder of VietNamNet, and now spends a good deal of his time here in Boston we created something we call the Boston Global Forum which is an effort to tap into both intellectual horsepower of so many great minds here in Boston area and at the same time involve good people, interested people from all over the world in trying to help solve some of the pressing challenges we face internationally. And we decided we’d begin by picking a particular topic, and focus on that topic for a full year.

We began with international occupational safety and health standards after the disasters in Bangladesh, and have been deeply involved in that issue. And now we will wanna move to a very pressing and challenging issue which I am sure all of you recognized, and that is how we create a Framework for Peace and Security in the Pacific. I’m sure I don’t have to tell any of you about what’s been going on in Asia. A conflict’s not just over islands but conflict over interests, and rivalries which in some cases go back many, many decades if not centuries.

But we think that the current situation there is simply unsatisfactory and unless we can create a Framework for Peace and Security and an International Framework for Peace and Security in the Pacific. And for that matter, in other troubled regions of the world, we’re gonna continue to be plagued with these disputes, these arguments over who owns what in ways which we don’t think are contributing to world peace nor to the peaceful resolution of these issues. And so, we’re going to begin this search for a Framework for Peace and Security in the Pacific on Wednesday July 2nd, at 8 o’clock Eastern Standard Time, US Time, and have invited a large number of people all over the world as we have in our past online forums to join us.

These forums are particularly interesting, because it means we can invite so many of you to participate actively from where you are, in what is effectively an international discussion. We had some extremely good results when we were dealing with occupational safety and health standards, and we hope the same can happen in the course of our effort to explore, and create a Framework for Peace and Security in the Pacific.

We’ll begin on Wednesday July 2nd. We’ll be inviting a number of key people from all over the world, from governments as well as experts, journalists, and others, to help us set the stage for a second conference which will take place on August 4th, and then we planned two more in September and November. Our hope’s being that by November, thanks to the participation of so many of you, in what we hope will be a growing consensus around just how we handle these kind of issues, whether they involve who owns what island, or who can do what in what part of the Pacific, can be done in a peaceful way under the aegis of international law and international institutions. So we hope we’ll be able to involve a great many of you in this and at the same time, especially if it’s more convenient for you, give you an opportunity if you can’t be present at the online conferences, to provide statements, explanations, analyses which we’ll be happy to film and tape in advance and then incorporate in our forums and we’ll be reaching out to representatives of all of the affected governments in the Pacific. Many of whom will be participating with us on the 2nd of July, and again on the 4th of August, others of whom perhaps may not be able to be there physically present, but will be able to participate through comments, analyses, suggestions, which they will make and which we can tape, record and then incorporate them in these conferences.

We’re very excited about this and we think it is very, very important. We’re not resolving these issues very effectively these days, and by the way I don’t just focus on the Pacific. I don’t have to tell you what’s been happening in the Middle East, or for that matter in Europe, and especially in Eastern Europe. So we hope that in inviting you to participate actively in these discussions, and in these online forums, we can come up with an approach to resolving these conflicts.

In any event, we’re very excited about this, and we believe that involving so many of you actively in this, we can make a real contribution to a peaceful solution. Now I don’t have to tell you what’s going on in the Pacific, but perhaps a process of internationalizing the resolution of these disputes, which will not only avoid armed conflict, but which will make it possible for good people, reasonable people, thoughtful people, as I think the vast majority of human beings are, to come together, have good, thoughtful, reflected discussions and then come up with some real solutions to some of these problems. And in that way, we hope the Boston Global Forum can make a real contribution to world peace, and world stability, into a world in which its discussion, debate, and consensus that makes a difference, not armed conflict. So we welcome you, those of you who will be participating in the 2nd of July; welcome more of you, we hope will be with us on the 4th of August and those of you who perhaps could not be with us on those days, but will be participating through taped discussions, and taped statements which we will then try to incorporate in our forums.

Thanks for listening, and we look forward to inviting you to participate actively in this effort.