|Editor||Stephan HaggardUniversity of California, San Diego|
|Book Review Editor||Yves TiberghienUniversity of British Columbia|
|Managing Editor||Hayeon LeeEast Asia Institute|
Introduction to the Journal of East Asian Studies 21, 1.
Stephan Haggard, Editor.
Issue 21,1 of the Journal of East Asian Studies is now out, showcasing the variety of work we publish in both international relations and comparative politics. Two pieces address issues of China’s foreign economic relations.
Yuleng Zeng takes up the contentious issue of whether spending under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) buys friends. Zeng makes use of a well-known machine-coded dataset on sentiment between countries derived from press coverage. While BRI spending does marginally improve cooperation and mitigate lower-level conflict, that effect is conditional on geography: an increase in cooperative sentiment is driven by neighboring countries only. However BRI spending does not have any apparent effect on higher-level conflict. A possible implication: that contrary to liberal expectations, China’s expanded presence on the world economic stage does not necessarily presage less conflict.
Wei-Ting Yen, Kristine Kay and Fang-Yu Chen present related findings on cross-Strait relations and that the benefits of trade with China do not fully offset Taiwan’s respondents’ strategic concerns. Rather than trade policy preferences with China being driven by standard cui bono economic factors, the authors find that national attachment on the part of Taiwanese is a more important predictor; the stronger the national attachment to the Taiwanese project, the less support for deepening cross-Strait economic ties. The paper contributes to our understanding not only of Taiwan’s unique relations with China but also how publics in other smaller countries may respond to China’s rise.
The study of international political economy has now fully incorporated attention to migration, moving beyond more conventional studies of trade, foreign direct investment and other financial flows. Yujin Woo uses an original survey to address a question of crucial policy as well as theoretical interest. As Japan’s population continues to age, how will the public respond to the inevitability of greater in-migration? Woo hypothesizes that the Japanese public distinguishes among different types of migrants, and places particular weight on assimilation. The bad news is that Japanese are more hostile to economic migrants, precisely the kind of workers that Japan will need going forward. However Woo also validates an hypothesis associated with so-called “contact theory”: that coexistence with migrants does not improve Japanese views of migrants but actual contact does. Building bridges to migrant communities will thus be crucial to avoid the potential politicization of immigration in Japan as migration increases.
Two articles in the current issue on the Koreas revisit topics on which the JEAS has published before. We pride ourselves on work on North Korea that brings novel data to the table (see our virtual special issue on North Korea here). Peter Ward, Andrei Lankov and Jiyoung Kim bring an institutional economics perspective to bear on the relationship between the state and private sector by studying North Korea’s fishing industry. Drawing on unique defector interviews, they explain why some segments of the fishing supply chain remain in private hands, while others have been subjected to closer scrutiny by the state. The paper provides insight into the increasingly mixed North Korean economy, in which private and state actors co-exist in a precarious equilibrium.
The Sewol ferry disaster was without question one of the most painful events in South Korea’s history. How do we explain it? Earlier contributions on the issue by Jong-Song You and Youn Min Park considered the role played by corruption. Kyong Jun Choi and Jonson Porteux, by contrast, look at the role played by privatization and subsequent failure to fully regulate the privatized sector. Given the scale of the tragedy, this is a debate that is likely to continue.
The JEAS continues to publish cutting-edge work on the politics of both the new democracies in the region and authoritarian regimes. Two pieces show how focused attention on a single election can yield wider insights. Nathaniel Gratias Summaktoyo exploits the 2017 gubernatorial election in Jakarta to get at the role of ethnic and religious sentiment in Indonesian politics. The election was of interest because it included a candidate-- Basuki Tjahaja Purnama or “Ahok.” Ahok is both Christian and ethnic Chinese, highly popular but nonetheless lost the election. Using both experimental and correlational evidence, Summaktoyo shows that that Muslim voters were more opposed to Ahok than non-Muslim voters, but that this opposition was driven more by Ahok’s ethnicity than his religion. The piece challenges important assumptions about the role of religion in Indonesian politics and the lingering role of ethnicity.
Finally, Nhu Truong draws deeply on the contentious politics literature in providing insight into Vietnam’s self-nomination movement in the 2016 election, a movement that sought to feilld candidates who would challenge Communist Party nominees. Truong shows that that relative success of this movement was not only due to changes in the political opportunity structure. Rather, participation in social contention and civil society organizations built up repertoires that appealed to voters. The work draws deeply on interviews with participants and shows how the environmental movement and anti-Chinese protests fed into the stream of independent candidates. The study has wider implications for how oppositions play the political game in competitive authoritarian regimes, and provides an excellent example of theoretically-informed qualitative research.
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