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«Comprehensive Security: Challenge For Pacific Asia♠ James C. Hsiung New York University Abstract This study identifies the origin, components, and ...»

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1999 with amendments that include sanctions against sexual harassment, many Japanese companies still maintain the separate-track personnel management system.78 Despite the nation steep population decline and acute labor shortage, the same practice dies hard. Keeping women sidelined like this is not just a deprivation of their human security; it has economic costs that have been felt acutely only during the country 13 years of economic stagnation. A study presented to the Labor Ministry estimates that the lack of women full economic participation may be shaving 0.6 percent off Japan annual growth. In 2003 the World Economic Forum ranked Japan number 69 of 75 total member nations on empowering women. As Mariko Bando, an aide to Prime Minister Koizumi, remarked to reporters, apan is still a developing country in terms of gender equality.” 79 Similar problems confront women rights elsewhere in Pacific Asia, but they may not necessarily all result from indigenous culture. In some cases, the problems may be traced to an unfinished chapter in colonial legacy. One of the two last places to exit from Western colonial rule in the region is Hong Kong, which may offer an example. In this former British colony, sexual discrimination against women continued to exist even after the New Territories ordinance that had deprived women of land inheritance rights was amended in 1994 under the departing colonial government. According to an authority on the subject, the practices of discrimination against women resulting from the lack of equal opportunity protection by law hat is, practices that have been abolished in other Chinese societies ere rozen in time by colonial ordinances” in Hong Kong.80 I might mention the long-standing colonial policy of tolerating concubinage as one of the things rozen” in time. Additionally, even after the enactment of the Bill of Rights under the British post-1989 campaign to democratize on the verge of their 1997 departure, 50 existing (colonial period) laws were inconsistent with the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights, to which Hong Kong became a party as a British colony. Likewise, many colonial-age laws ran afoul of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CDAW), which became applicable to Hong Kong after 1976.

Whatever was not rectified under the outgoing British rulers devolved upon the post-handover government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) Hsiung, Twenty-First Century World Order, p. 106.

Quoted in the same New York Times report, 25 July 2003, p. 3.

Anna Wu, ong Kong Should Have Equal Opportunities Legislation and a Human Rights

Commission,” in Michael Davis, ed., Human Rights and Chinese Values (London and New York:

Oxford University Press, 1995), at p. 194.

after 1 July 1997.81 Regardless of their origins, native culture, or vestiges of colonial neglect, injustices against women rights are a formidable challenge to a very real part of human security in Pacific Asia.

Environmental Security in Pacific Asia Strictly speaking, Pacific Asia is much broader in the geographical expanse it covers than East and Southeast Asia. Geographically, the Pacific region is vast; the Pacific is the world largest ocean, studded by thousands of islands grouped into about 30 political territories. The Pacific islands are usually associated with high levels of iophysical vulnerability,” or the potential for loss from natural hazards, environmental variability, and change. One of the most widely popularized environmental threats to the region is contamination from nuclear waste dumping and weapons testing. The testing of thermonuclear weapons in the region (by the United States) began in 1946.82 During the Cold War and well into the postcolonial period, the Pacific region remained of strategic military significance to the United States. It is of continuing strategic importance in terms of access to international transport lines, seabed resources, fisheries, and natural resources. Conflicts over resources and the environment may intensify because of expanding interests from Asian governments and private companies offshore.83 For our discussion here, four issue areas warrant special attention on the environmental security of the Pacific Asian region at large. They are (a) threats of sea-level rises, caused by global warming, to the archipelagic and island states and the littoral states with long coastlines; (b) the future of shared resources; (c) air pollution and recurrent forest fires; and (d) growing terrorism and maritime piracy.

According to the 1984 UK-China agreement on the return of Hong Kong, the urrent system” (including the existing legal system) shall remain in place for fifty years. Cf. James C. Hsiung, Hong Kong the Super Paradox (New York: Palgrave, 2000), pp. 318-319.

AVISO Issue No. 1, 1998, p. 5. nvironmental Change, Vulnerability, and Security in the Pacific,” online publication series of the Global Environmental Change and Human Security, University of

Michigan, Woodrow Wilson Center, and Canadian International Development Agency, at:


J. Anthony, onflict over Natural Resources in the Pacific,” In L. Ghee and M. Valencia, eds., Conflict Over Natural Resources in South-East Asia and the Pacific (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990).

First, except for landlocked Laos, the countries in East and Southeast Asia are surrounded by the ocean; Indonesia and the Philippines are archipelagic states. 84 Japan is made up of four major islands and other lesser islands. Singapore is a tiny island city-state. China, Malaysia, Vietnam, and, to a lesser extent, Cambodia and Thailand, have long coastlines. On a global scale, our ecosystem climate temperature is steadily rising because of increased concentrations of carbon dioxide and other gases trapped in the atmosphere. The threatened rise in sea levels due to global warming, therefore, poses hazards for all of Pacific Asia. As noted above, if the rates of increase in trapped gases continue, the sea level is expected to rise by up to one meter by 2100.85 It is mind-boggling to imagine the effects of rsuch a rise in sea levels on residents and businesses near the shorelines in these archipelagic and littoral states, and in such other places as Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong, resulting from the consequential flooding and intrusion of salt water into estuaries and groundwater, not to mention the inundation of beaches and water-front properties. Infectious diseases, from the dengue epidemic to bird flu (which haunted the Hong Kong area in 1999), the latter causing one million chickens to be slaughtered, were additional grave reminders of the effects of environmental degradation and that the environment could be a real threat to the region security. As if to warn that such effects know of no territorial or temporal limit, the return of the nipah virus in 1999 killed more than 100 people and led to the slaughter of more than one million pigs both in peninsular Malaysia and, of much more worry, in the Borneo state of Sarawak,86 about 400 miles across the South China Sea from Malaysia. The most recent epidemic to hit the Pacific Asian region was the SARS virus, which broke out in the spring of 2003, disrupting international travel and inflicting untold damages on the region economy, as already noted.

Second, disputes over the control of shared resources (such as shared water of international rivers) may lead to conflicts, and renewable resources (fish stocks, for example) may be depleted because of conflict. In the larger Pacific Asian region, at least three areas of shared resources exist, one of which is the South China Sea, with its rich fishing grounds and oil and gas deposits. The other two are the international Mekong River and the sea lanes connecting Northeast Asia, through the Taiwan Strait, the South China Sea, and various hoke points” in Southeast Asia, to the An rchipelagic state” is defined in Article 46 of the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention as State constituted wholly by one or more archipelagos and may include other islands.” Brown, et al., State of the World 2000, p. 6.

Simon Elegant, he Virus That Wouldn Die,” Far Eastern Economic Review (17 August 2000):

pp. 16-17.

Indian Ocean and points beyond.87 The salience of the sea lanes is tied to the region 60 percent dependence on Middle Eastern oil. A mitigating circumstance, though, is China deliberate reliance on oil and gas from Central Asia and its vast resources in Xingjiang under development. Consistent with the same policy, during President Hu Jingtao visit to Moscow in May 2003, China and Russia signed an agreement under which the Russians will transport oil from Western Siberia to China Daqing Oilfield, to the order of 5.13 billion barrels annually from 2005 through 2030.88 The South China Sea is the best-known hotbed of disputes of the three areas, ostensibly because two internationally-contested outlying island groups are located in its waters. The Paracels are claimed by Vietnam and China, which have fought two wars over the islands, in 1974 and again in 1988. To the Spratlys, the other outlying island group, seven parties, including China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Taiwan, and the Philippines have laid overlapping claims.89 Although much of the existing literature on disputes in the South China Sea approaches the disputes from a geostrategic point of view, I would, in the present context, call attention to the contested shared resources as a crucial factor behind the disputes. For instance, an occasion for a Sino-Vietnamese verbal skirmish was the announced signing by China of an agreement with Creston Energy Co., a Denver-based U.S. company, for oil exploration in the South China Sea (New York Times, 18 June 1992). Immediately ***Author: Immediately after what?***, the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry issued a statement denouncing the move as contravening Vietnamese sovereignty, because Vietnam also claims the same area covered by the Chinese agreement.90 Another instance of dispute was that arising from Malaysia arrest of four waters in August 1988.91 Taiwanese fishing vessels for illegal fishing in Malaysia In these and other cases, if disputes lead to armed conflicts, they would likely inflict

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irreparable damages to the contested shared resources at stake, hence leading to a breach of the region environmental security.

The long, meandering stretch of land traversed by the Mekong River is an area where potential disputes may lead to similar consequences. The Mekong runs a course of 2,600 miles, from southern China through Myammar (Burma), Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia to Vietnam, where it exits into the South China Sea. Conflict potential is especially high where the river forms the border between Myammar and western Laos, and later between Laos and Thailand. From the ecopolitical point of view, that belt is the site of potential future conflicts, for it is home to 230 million people, many living in poverty. Already, the ASEAN has a developmental project known as the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) program with more than 100 riority projects,” including the construction of highway and railway links and dozens of hydroelectric dams on the Mekong and its tributaries, at a projected cost of up to $1 billion (The Economist, 7 September 1996, pp. 31–32).

For China, the Mekong offers a link with Southeast Asia and a chance to develop Yunan, one of its poorest provinces. But for the poorer countries, GMS offers a dream of prosperity, although the poorest, Laos, is rightfully the most cautious, ever fearful that its natural wealth will be carved up by overbearing neighbors. The potential for both mutual benefit and suspicion is seen most clearly in the ASEAN plans for the river. Although the river affords much hope for hydroelectric power generation, those countries with the biggest demand for electricity are not necessarily the ones with the biggest hydroelectric potential. For instance, Thailand has the greatest need for electricity but the least hydroelectric potential (see chart in The Economist, 7 September, 1996, 12). Many environmentalists, already horrified, warn of problems ranging from the intrusion of salt water into the delta to the loss of fish and rare mammals. China, thus far, is damming the main stream of the Mekong. The anxiety of the downstream countries is clearly understandable. If disputes over sharing of water resources and control of water pollution along the Mekong river, as elsewhere, cannot be peacefully worked out by its riparian states, conflict is a most likely staple in the relations among the nations involved.

A possible solution to these and other similar disputes involving shared resources and environmental control is to follow a precedent set by China and Vietnam in 1993.

In October of that year, the two countries reached an agreement whereby they pledged to suspend, without prejudice, their respective claims to the Paracel Islands in the interest of joint peaceful exploration of its resources (China Daily, 21 October 1993).92 Conceivably, the same formula could be used in the resolution of disputes

See discussion in Shee Poon Kim, hina Changing Policies,” p. 79.

over the Spratlys and other sites such as the oil-rich Tiaoyutai/Senkaku island, a long-standing source of friction between Japan and China.

Third, although air pollution such as that caused by industrial waste, tailpipe emissions, and the like is a universal problem, the Asian region has had more than its share of the problem. In Hong Kong, one of Asia richest cities, for example, wealth has begotten waste, and lots of it n an average day, about 16,000 tons of garbage go to landfills.

Diesel-powered taxis and trucks rumble through the city streets, leaving pedestrians cupping hands over mouths, trying not to inhale the air. Polluted air is blamed for 2,000 premature deaths a year. ome in Hong Kong Are Fed Up With Smog,” ran a headline in the Asian Wall Street Journal Weekly (July 3–9, 2000, p. 1).

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