Below you will find a chronological list of research projects in the Studies Program. You can search by issue or region by selecting the appropriate category. In addition to this sorting control, you can search for specific subjects within the alphabetical, regional, and issue categories by choosing from the selections in the drop-down menu below.
Each project page contains the name of the project director, a description of the project, a list of meetings it has held, and any related publications, transcripts, or videos.
February 1, 2002—June 30, 2003
The Japan Roundtable Series examines the nature of Japan’s economic and political challenges, the viability of the current set of proposed reforms, and the likely impact of the reforms’ successes or failures for the country and the broader Asia-Pacific region. In general, this series aims to understand the nature of Japan’s financial problems; examine reforms and their implications; and anticipate and prepare for the effects of the reforms or a continued lack of corrective action.
The discussions and ideas generated will contribute to a larger project examining the problems in Southeast Asian countries stemming from Japan's economic crisis and proposed measures for structural reforms. The project will look at how a decade of low economic growth, chronic deflation, and a recent recession, in combination with proposed corrective reforms will have an impact beyond Japan's borders. Specifically, the questions to be addressed include:
• Why are structural reforms necessary?
• What are the critical elements necessary for Japan to promulgate and implement them?
• What are the possible policy implications if structural reform does or does not occur?
• Are Japan’s problems political or economic: What does the United States need to know and understand about changes likely to occur as Japan pulls out of a decade-long recession and struggles with its one-party system?
The project director expects to hold seven sessions of this series throughout the 2002-2003 program year.
July 1, 2000—November 1, 2002
April 1, 2001—December 1, 2001
The importance of China’s environmental practices both for its domestic stability and the resolution of global environmental problems is growing. This study group will address three core questions that U.S. policy makers should consider. First, how are the environmental challenges in China leading to the establishment of new political institutions, actors, and alliances that may challenge the political system? Second, with which Chinese actors should the United States engage in dialogue and cooperative ventures? Finally, what do these domestic political changes suggest for China’s interest and capacity in responding to the U.S. environmental priorities, such as global climate change? Elizabeth Economy will produce a book to assess environmental trends within the broader context of China’s political and economic reforms and its expanding linkages to the outside world. The analysis will also serve as the basis for a set of policy recommendations for U.S. officials as they negotiate Sino-American relations.
September 1, 1996—June 30, 2001
October 1, 1996—June 30, 2001
The Hong Kong Forum seeks to promote the exchange of ideas and information between scholars and policymakers world-wide, and to foster better communication between the United States and China. As such, the Asia Studies program has formed a partnership with the Forum, through which six Council fellows speak to their membership in Hong Kong each year on relevant topics. Elizabeth Economy, Adam Segal, and Stephen Flynn are among the most recent fellows who have spoken for the Forum.
June 1, 1999—June 30, 2001
The Indian nuclear tests in 1998 underscored the deep rift in the relationship between the United States and India. As a new century of America’s economic and strategic interests in Asia begins, it is difficult to see how the United States can pursue its ambitions in the region without involving India. In an effort to examine the potential for improving U.S.-India relations, the Council on Foreign Relations and the Asia Society have convened a set of participants from various fields, bringing fresh perspectives on U.S. goals and strategies for future relations with India. Three fundamental questions were examined during the roundtable series. What are the basic assumptions, both U.S. and Indian, underlying the relationship? Where do these assumptions converge and diverge? How can leaders formulate better policies to address the areas of divergence and to build on the areas of convergence? The roundtable produced a detailed memorandum of policy for President Clinton for his March visit to India, and its co-chairs participated in the president's briefing by experts. Op-eds were published in the Los Angeles Times and India Today. The co-chairs also took charge of or participated in a range of briefings for the press and academic and business audiences. It will continue to work on developing policy advice for the next administration.
July 1, 1998—July 31, 2000
U.S.–Japan economic relations face growing friction. Japan’s trade surplus with the United States, always a political problem, is at record levels. Yet these two economic colossi are becoming ever more integrated, creating systemic friction because of differing regulatory systems and philosophies about markets. Based on the experience of the Bush Administration’s Strategic Impediment Initiative and the Clinton Administration’s Framework talks, this study group sought to develop a new paradigm for U.S.–Japan economic negotiation, focusing on macroeconomic issues, regulatory reform, sector-specific problems, and a political dialogue. Bruce Stokes published a short paper informed by the group’s deliberations.
January 1, 2000—July 1, 2000
Conventional wisdom suggests that factional politics and leadership maneuvering in Beijing are a key source of China’s approach to the rest of the world. Indeed, U.S. policy toward Beijing is based in part on a set of assumptions about the role internal politics plays in Chinese foreign policy making. This study group reviewed that conventional wisdom and those assumptions in an effort to assess the validity of the existing framework for understanding the connection between Chinese politics and foreign policy. Key topics that were explored include the parameters of the Chinese political spectrum, the relative weight to assign leadership politics among the factors influencing Beijing’s foreign policy decisions, and the efficacy of policies toward China that are based on the conventional wisdom. The final product was a Foreign Affairs article by Paul J. Heer.
September 1, 1998—June 1, 2000
Some of the principal issues in international politics in the next century will be how powerful China becomes, whether its military capabilities will develop commensurately with its economic output, and what challenges Chinese power will pose to regional and global order. Launched in January 1999, this study group held meetings in New York and Washington, D.C., to discuss the interrelationships of political, economic, and military developments in the evolution of Chinese power. Special attention was devoted to considering what might be learned from the experiences of other rising powers, the roles of other major powers in Asia (Japan, Russia, India), and problems in translating economic progress into modern military effectiveness. Richard K. Betts and Thomas J. Christensen are producing an article that draws on the discussions.
October 1, 1999—April 1, 2000
The purpose of the roundtable is to identify the most salient issues that might be suitable for in-depth examination by a Council task force on this subject. This series addresses a range of issues, including security, economic, environmental and social issues, affecting individual states in the region, the region as a whole, and major extraregional actors such as China and Japan, as well as American policy concerns, relating to those issues. Each meeting addresses its theme against the backdrop of U.S. policy and highlight current and prospective issues and challenges for American policymakers.
October 1, 1998—April 1, 2000
While the rhetoric of U.S. policy toward Asia increasingly highlights a new "strategic partnership" with China and an "alliance" with Russia, U.S. strategy for the Asia-Pacific region in the next century will only be as credible as the alliance the United States sustains with Japan. Despite close bilateral ties, Washington remains unsure how Tokyo might react to a China-Taiwan conflict, an American confrontation with Iran, or a further deepening of the Asian financial crisis.
This study group worked with a similar Tokyo-based group to review case studies that focus on contemporary aspects of Japanese commercial, strategic, cooperative, and financial diplomacy, including: Japan’s role in Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group, Japan’s Eurasian diplomacy, the emerging dynamics of Sino-Japanese security relations, and Japan’s policy toward the Korean peninsula. Each case study assessed factors such as the domestic determinants of Japanese policy, the role of the United States in Japanese policy making, the points of bilateral divergence, and the lessons for the United States and Japan in terms of policy objectives and coordination. The study group culminated in a book by Michael Green analyzing Japanese foreign policy and its impact on U.S. interests in Asia.
May 1, 1998—March 1, 2000
This study group analyzed the impact of Asia’s burgeoning energy demand on global energy markets and regional security dynamics. The study group assessed the energy strategies of, and competition among, China, India, Japan, Korea, and ASEAN countries over the next quarter century and identifying the relevant foreign policy challenges for the United States. Robert Manning has written a book, The Asian Energy Factor: Myths and Dilemmas of Energy, Security, and the Pacific Future, which examines the issues raised in the group’s meetings and draws relevant conclusions and recommendations for the policy community.
June 1, 1998—February 1, 2000
This ongoing roundtable series brings together leading specialists on China and nuclear weapons to assess China’s nuclear doctrine, strategy, perceptions, and modernization strategy and their implications for the U.S. and the region. These issues will be assessed with a view toward the prospects of nuclear arms reductions. A written analysis of the conclusions derived from last year’s roundtable sessions was produced.
February 1, 1999—April 1, 1999
This series of three roundtable meetings was designed to explore competitive impulses and mutual perceptions between China and Japan, and the resulting implications for the United States -- particularly in the fields of U.S. national security and diplomacy in Asia. The first two sessions looked separately at Chinese and Japanese perspectives on these issues. The third session explored the results of and prospects for a bilateral Chinese-Japanese security dialogue and trilateral dialogue including the United States. Speakers and commentators in this series included Bonnie Glaser, Mike Mochizuki, Patrick Cronin, Bates Gill, James Przystup, and Ronald Montaperto. Discussions provided background for a paper written by Neil Silver.
October 1, 1998—April 1, 1999
To date there has been no examination of the implications and opportunities involved in the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC’s) political transition for either the success of China’s economic reform program or overall U.S. interests. The foreign policy community in the United States needs a more complete picture of the evolving social and political dynamics that will ultimately shape the China that emerges in the 21st century. This group filled in this gap by examining the political reforms underway in the PRC, their implications for the success of economic reforms, and the opportunities for U.S. actors (government, business, and NGOs) to influence this process. Topics explored included: grassroots democracy, center-provincial relations, the evolution of the rule of law, the People’s Liberation Army and nationalism, and the rise of the entrepreneurial and middle classes. Elizabeth Economy’s analysis from the study group proceedings was the foundation for an article, titled "Reforming China," that was published in the journal Survival (Autumn 1999).
February 1, 1997—June 1, 1998
Asia is an increasingly important center of world power. With Hong Kong reverting to Chinese rule, tensions between North and South Korea increasing, and the United States and Japan reinvigorating their alliance, relations between the United States and Asia will be undergoing change. Individual sessions of the Roundtable examined the implications of these changes in a sociopolitical, economic, and security framework.
September 1, 1986—June 1, 1998
The Project on East-West Relations takes an in-depth look at areas and issues of central importance to the United States and from which large-scale conflict could arise. Since it inception in 1987, the project has produced twelve books. The most recent book, The New Diasporas of Eastern Europe, explores the past, present, and future of four national groups—Hungarians, Serbs, Russians, and Albanians—scattered uneasily among several sovereign states in postcommunist eastern Europe. Edited by Michael Mandelbaum, the book includes chapters by Aurel Braun, Bennett Kovrig, Susan Woodward, and Elez Biberaj. The project's previous book, The New Russian Foreign Policy, features essays by Leon Aron, Sherman Garnett, Rajan Menon, and Coit Blacker.
February 1, 1998—April 1, 1998
This study group addressed the forces and constituencies likely to emerge in Indonesia in the post-Suharto era. Can the United States work with the International Monetary Fund and international community to help Indonesia recover economically while simultaneously urging Indonesia to reform its political system? Organized into four sessions on challenges facing Indonesia--including the economic crisis, religion and ethnicity, politics and civil society, and the role of the military--the study group assessed dynamics within Indonesia to develop a forward-looking framework for U.S. policy on Indonesia. A book, The Politics of Post-Suharto Indonesia, was released in April 1999.
December 1, 1996—February 1, 1998
Through an ongoing series of roundtable discussions, this project explored the scope of regional and global environmental threats emerging from industrializing Asia. Participants discussed issues such as the preservation of biodiversity in the tropical forests of Southeast Asia; compliance with international environmental treaties in India, China, and Japan; the environmental impact of the Three Gorges Dam project; and the environmental records of China and Japan.
January 1, 1998—February 1, 1998
The Asia Energy Roundtable surveyed the energy needs of China, India, and the Asia-Pacific countries, whose choices are destined to shape world markets, security dynamics, and environmental concerns in the 21st century. The roundtables addressed three axes of the energy picture: commercial and security issues in the period to 2020; oil, gas, and nuclear power; and East Asian countries as major drivers of demand. The meetings defined the focus of an ensuing study group that is exploring in more depth the various aspects of the Asian energy and security picture against a background of environmental considerations.