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York Centre for Asian Research Update                         Issue 16, Friday, June 10, 2005

York VPRI meets Henan university training delegation

On Thursday, June 2, Stan Shapson, Vice-President Research and Innovation (VRPI), met with several members of the Asian Business Management Program's (ABMP) Henan University training delegation. 

Left: VPRI Stan Shapson (centre rear) with Maire O'Brien, Director of the China Management Training Program (on right) and the Henan University delegation.

The 30 member delegation representing 26 post-secondary institutions in Henan Province, China have been in Toronto for the past six weeks receiving executive development training in post-secondary administration and management. In their meeting with Stan Shapson the group was very interested in discussing the environment and future plans for research at York University.

CCSEAS conference programme/panel committee meets at YCAR

Annamaria Piccioni and Sonya Garbin from the Canadian Asian Studies Association (CASA) Secretariat came to Toronto from Montreal on June 7-8 to discuss the logistics arrangements for the Canadian Council for Southeast Asian Studies (CCSEAS) Conference on Revisioning Southeast Asia: Conflicts, Connections and Vulnerabilities at York University from October 14-16, 2005.

Right (l-r): Philip Kelly, Peter Vandergeest, Annamaria Piccioni and Sonya Garbin.

Panel presentations are planned to focus on three main themes: (1) War, conflict and regional politics including the Cold War/Indochina War, urban conflicts, social movements and democratic governance; (2) Economy and ecology encompassing environmental conservation and nature protection, food and agriculture, and agrarian transformations; and (3) Revisioning Southeast Asia including popular art and culture, SEA migration and transnationalism, indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities, as well as gender and migration.

For more information about the conference, please visit the CCSEAS website at

York graduate student participates in Forest Trends workshop in Beijing, China

Keith Barney, York PhD graduate student in Geography, attended a planning workshop in Beijing, China from June 4-7 in preparation for the Phase 2 of a research project on Transforming China’s Forest Impacts In the East Asian Region: Advancing Pro-Poor Policy and Market Reforms for Sustainable Livelihoods and Forests headed by Forest Trends based in Washington, DC.

Left: Keith Barney eating jiaozi (dumplings) in a local market in China.

The project is investigating China's forestry imports, and the corresponding implications for forests and forest-dependent communities the East Asian region and is funded by the Swedish SIDA and the UK DFiD. Other participating organizations include the: Centre for Chinese Agricultural Policy, Beijing, China; University of British Columbia Faculty of Forestry; Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) Bangkok, Thailand; Regional Community Forestry Training Centre for Asia and the Pacific (RECOFTC) Bogor, Indonesia; University of Papua New Guinea; and World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) based in Kunming, China. Keith is an IDRC Doctoral Research Awardee and is currently participating in an IDRC-funded YCAR research project on Enhancing Community-Based Natural Resource Management Research and Networking Capacity of the National University in Laos.

Southeast Conference (SEC), Association for Asian Studies (AAS), Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia, January 20-22, 2006

The Program Committee for the 2006 Southeast Conference of the Association for Asian Studies (SEC/AAS) invites proposals for the January 2006 meeting. The committee is especially interested in panels and papers that engage the question "What's Asian about Asia?" Is Asian Studies is valuable framework for research and teaching? Is Asia a productive framework for discussing politics, history, literature, society, and culture? Should we, as Rhoads Murphey exhorted in his 1988 AAS Presidential Address, seek to become "complete Asianists," exploring the commonalities of Asian culture? Or is Asia, as Lewis and Wigen argue in The Myth of Continents, an awkward and unfortunate abstraction?

The following list of topics is presented as suggestive, rather than exhaustive:
1) If there is an "Asia culture" what are its defining qualities? Do the cultural boundaries of Asia coincide with physical and spatial boundaries? Where are these boundaries?
2) Has modernity attenuated "Asianess"? Or is there a unique Asia modernity?
3) If we must subdivide Asia, where are the internal boundaries? What defines South Asia? Where does East Asia end? Should we see oceans as boundaries, which divide cultures, or as basins, which connect cultures? How are Asia's internal boundaries historically situated and historically constructed?
4) Can we speak of an "Asian" diaspora? What makes Asian-American communities "Asian"? How are Asian diasporic communities within Asia different from those in the Americas, Africa and Europe?

The program committee is especially interested in panels that cross the boundaries or regional and disciplinary specialization and enable conversations across our many specializations. Submissions are encouraged for roundtable discussions or entire panels, although individual papers proposals are also welcome. Only one paper per participant will be accepted. When submitting an entire session, include an abstract that outlines the purpose of the session and please designate one panelist as the contact person. Each paper proposal, whether individual or in a session, should include a 1) one-page abstract, 2) a brief c.v., and 3) contact information, including phone, and email

The Program Committee assumes all listed individuals have agreed to participate. A full paper/panel submission form, along with all the latest information on the conference, can be obtained from the SEC/AAS website at Proposals should be submitted by October 1, 2005, to the Program Chair, Mark Ravina, by e-mail or post (see addresses/numbers below). Earlier submissions and submissions by e-mail are strongly encouraged. Send proposals to:

Mark Ravina
Director, East Asian Studies Program
Institute for Comparative and International Studies
1385 Oxford Road , Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322,  phone 404 727 4025 , fax 404 727 4959

Note that dues do not cover the cost of conference registration, $50 for regular members and $25 for student members. Please send conference registration fees, also payable to SEC/AAS to:

Susan M. Walcott, Associate Professor
Department of Anthropology & Geography
Director, Asian Studies Center/Graduate Director, Geography
Georgia State University, 33 Gilmer Street, MSC IA0315, Atlanta, GA 30303-3081

Attention graduate students! SEC/AAS will make available five grants of $200 to ease the cost of participation by graduate students presenting papers at the conference. Indicate graduate student status and whether you would like to be considered for an award along with your personal information when submitting your proposal. Preference in the awards will be given to graduate students traveling from beyond the immediate region of the conference location who will be notified of acceptance. One final typed copy of accepted papers must be sent to the discussant(s) and one copy and an abstract sent to the Panel Chair before December 31, 2005.

A small macroeconometric model of the Philippine economy - by Geoffrey Ducanes, Marie Anne Cagas, Duo Qin, Pilipinas Quising and Nedelyn Magtibay-Ramos

This Asian Development Bank Economics and Research Department (ADB-ERD) Working Paper describes a small quarterly macroeconometric model of the Philippine economy. The model consists of sectors of private consumption, investment, government, trade, production, prices, money, and labor. The model is used for forecasting and guiding policy formulation of the Medium-Term Development Plan of the government. Three types of simulations were done which showed (1) the importance of maintaining a low interest rate regime in the country, (2) addressing deficit and debt problems is vital for the Philippines to achieve and maintain growth of Philippine economy, and (3) vulnerability of the Philippines to external shocks (i.e., oil price changes). For those interested in reading more about this matter, the paper can be downloaded from

Asia Op-Ed: Wisdom for an aging world - The Japan Times, June 8, 2005

In the 21st century, the world faces a dual demographic problem. First, the world population will continue to grow, increasing from about 6 billion in 2005 to more than 9 billion in 2050. Second, by around that time, the waves of an aging society now enveloping the developed countries as a result of declining birthrates and longer life spans will reach the shores of developing countries. The process is expected to accelerate on a global scale.

The latest U.N. world population estimate makes it clear that humankind is likely to face a situation that it has never experienced before. A major issue for the current century will be how to pool our wisdom in response.

The ratio of elderly people aged 65 or over, which stands at 7.4 percent at present, is forecast to rise to 16.1 percent by 2050. When the elderly ratio exceeds 7 percent, society is said to be aging. When the ratio surpasses 14 percent, it is called an "aged society." In other words, the world has already entered the era of an aging society, and will enter the era of an aged society in 2040, when the elderly ratio is projected to reach 14.3 percent.

In 2050 it is estimated that there will be 320 million elderly people in the developed countries and 3.6 times that number, 1.14 billion, in the developing countries. Life spans are getting longer, too. The average maximum age (for men and women) is forecast to rise from 74.6 years in 2000-2005 to 81.7 years in 2045-2050 in the developed countries and from 62.8 years to 73.6 years, respectively, in the developing countries.

In addition, the number of people aged 80 or over -- that is, the "oldest old" who tend to have a greater need for care -- is forecast to increase 4.5 times on a worldwide scale from 87 million today to 394 million in 2050.

Furthermore, as a consequence of the declining birthrate, the ratio of children under 14 in the total population is expected to drop from 28.2 percent today to 20.2 percent. The population pyramid, therefore, is going to change from the shape of Mount Fuji to that of a jar.

The speed of aging also deserves attention. The doubling of the elderly ratio used to occur at a moderate pace. In the developed countries, it took 105 years in France, 85 years in Sweden, and only 24 years in Japan. In all of these countries, the phenomenon happened at a time of economic development. In the developing countries, the elderly ratio is a low 5.5 percent at present, but is forecast to rise to 7.5 percent in 2020 and 14.6 percent in 2050. In other words, their elderly ratio is forecast to double in around 30 years.

The problem of declining birthrates and an aging population is particularly acute in Japan. According to statistics released recently by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the fertility rate (the number of children on average that a woman gives birth to in her lifetime) reached 1.29 in 2004 -- an all-time low if the numbers are taken to the third decimal point.

An optimistic analysis indicates that the margin of difference is getting smaller and that the rate has hit or is about to hit bottom, but the fact that elderly persons aged 65 years and over now account for 19.5 percent of the total population is more evidence of the speed with which the phenomena of declining birthrates and aging are progressing.

The majority of the more than 1 billion people in the world that must survive on less than one dollar a day live in developing nations, where conditions of health and hygiene are hostile to human welfare. As well as tackling the important issues of economic development and the elimination of poverty, these nations will have to deal with the problem of aging.

The second United Nations World Assembly on Aging, which was held in Madrid in 2002, adopted an action plan for countries to follow, emphasizing such issues as promoting the participation of the elderly in society and development, building an environment in which the elderly can work, and providing opportunities for education and training for the elderly. Japan's domestic performance in achieving these targets is not particularly good. Solutions to the problem of aging demand worldwide efforts and wisdom. (C) All rights reserved.

The yuan might shift; the imbalances won't  by Clyde Prestowitz, The Boston Globe, JUNE 1, 2005

American pressure on Beijing to revalue the yuan is now dominating the news, but China is following Japan as a manifestation of a much bigger problem. Globalization is broken. As now structured, it is undermining U.S. productive capability and becoming unsustainable.

Without fundamental change in the rules of globalization, any conceivable yuan revaluation now won't have much impact on world economic imbalances. Remember that in the 1980s economists said a revaluation of the Japanese yen between 20 percent and 30 percent would balance trade. But the yen has more than doubled since then, and Japan still maintains a large trade surplus both globally and with the United States, as do all of the world's major economies.

The real problem is that globalization is a different game for many countries than it is for America. While China's peg of the yuan to the dollar is now the focus of criticism, most Asian countries have long managed their currencies to keep them weak against the dollar in order to stimulate their exports. Japan has spent over $300 billion in currency intervention in recent years to keep the dollar up and the yen and export prices down. In addition, many countries offer tax holidays, financial incentives and protected markets to attract new facilities in "strategic" industries that no one expects to move just because currencies fluctuate. These actions follow from policies specifically aimed at accumulating large trade and dollar surpluses as a matter both of stimulating growth from exports and of assuring national economic sovereignty by avoiding dependence on foreign lenders.

While U.S. state governors extend financial incentives to attract investment, they have only peanuts to offer compared with foreign countries and of course, do not control their own currencies. The federal government has long shown no interest in attracting foreign factories to its shores or keeping U.S. factories there. Rather, America's emphasis is entirely on consumption-led growth. Banks aggressively offer credit cards to students with only part-time jobs. Home equity loans with tax-deductible interest payments are used to pay for vacation trips. Not only does the White House call for tax cuts in war time, but tells consumers it's their patriotic duty to buy more. Americans at all levels really do believe that debt and deficits don't matter.

The confluence of America's consumerism with the strategic, export-led growth policies of many other countries has produced a world with one net consumer, the United States, which now consumes about $700 billion a year more than it produces. All other major economies are net sellers, depending directly or indirectly on U.S.-bound exports for much or all of their growth. Because America consumes more than it makes, it must borrow from abroad to finance its excess consumption. In a kind of vendor finance program, a few foreign central banks provide the financing by buying U.S. Treasury bills and other U.S. assets. Thus, globalization has evolved into a kind of pyramid scheme. To maintain global growth, the United States must consume and borrow ever more while foreign banks buy ever more U.S. Treasuries so their producers can export ever more.

America has long been ambivalent about this situation. Consumers love the low import prices, U.S. chief executives love the foreign tax holidays and the U.S. government loves the foreign lending that helps keep U.S. interest rates low. But the chronically overvalued dollar and the foreign investment incentives also cause a steady transfer of production and technology abroad while putting downward pressure on wages and building large foreign claims on future U.S. income. This results in political pressures and U.S. charges of unfairness against trading partners with big surpluses. In the past, cosmetic fixes like "voluntary" export restraint agreements were used to relieve pressure while the fundamental forces kept operating until the next fix.

Now the sustainability of the system has been put into question by the entrance of three billion new players from China, India and the former Soviet bloc at a moment when the Internet and global air express have negated time and distance along with the long standard economic assumptions that labor, capital and technology don't move between countries.

These new players are unusual. While having the low wages of developing countries, several hundred million of them have first-world skills. That they are effectively next door and also planning to grow by exporting to U.S. markets dramatically increases the pressure on an already stressed system. Even for America there are ultimate limits on consumption and borrowing. U.S. borrowing already absorbs 80 percent of the world's available savings. At 100 percent, the global economy will be in deep crisis. The only way to avoid that is to insist that the globalization game be played the same way by all its players. Sure, China needs to revalue, but without other big changes, globalization as we know it will be on life support.

(Clyde Prestowitz is the author of ''Three Billion New Capitalists: The Great Shift of Wealth and Power to the East.'')

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