This year’s conference cut several paths through a wide field of issues. Having been described first as a rising power, then as an economic superpower in the more than three decades since the first Williamsburg Conference, Japan was mentioned more than once as something approaching a middle power. Most participants believed that while the events of September 11, 2001, and the subsequent war on terrorism improved U.S. relations with countries in the region, the war with Iraq threatened these closer ties. This year’s Williamsburg Conference was the first to have a session devoted specifically to transnational/social issues and the first to devote a significant portion of that time to a discussion of HIV/AIDS in Asia, which suggests a growing awareness in the region of the importance of such issues. Finally, participants engaged in a healthy discussion of issues related to China, the most suggestive of which was a debate between Southeast Asians who believe that China poses a series challenge or even a threat to their interests versus those who think countries in the region should view China as an opportunity.
The 31st Williamsburg Conference was held in Bangkok, Thailand from February 28 to March 2, 2003. The conference, hosted by The King Prajadhipok’s Institute of Thailand, was convened by Carla A. Hills of the United States, Tommy T. B. Koh of Singapore, and Minoru Murofushi of Japan.
Friday, February 28
Opening Reception and Dinner
Keynote Speech by H.E. Deputy Prime Minister Korn Dabbaransi
Saturday, March 1
SESSION 1: Economic Prospects
Minoru Murofushi, Chairman, ITOCHU Corporation
- What are the prospects for economic growth across the region?
- What role will the development of domestic markets (Korea, China, India, Thailand) play in Asia’s economic future?
- Who will be the engines of growth for Southeast Asia? Northeast Asia?
- What role is China playing in the economic development of the region?
Masahiru Katsuno, Manager, International Affairs, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI)
Kanthanthi Suphamongkhon, Thailand Trade Representative, Member of Parliament
- What are the prospects for regional organizations or agreements, for example, APEC, ASEAN+3, AFTA, the Asian Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) and other regional Free Trade Agreements?
- How can these efforts help Asia’s economic development?
- What role should bilateral trade agreements and multilateral (the Doha Round) efforts play?
Rohana Mahmood, Director General, Pacific Basin Economic Council
- What can the United States and Asia learn from each other as a result of their respective corporate governance crises?
Narayana Murthy, Chairman & Co-founder, Infosys Technologies Ltd.
SESSION 2: Transnational / Social Issues
Richard C. Holbrooke, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Asia Society
- What strategies have proven successful in drawing attention to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Asia?
- How can this overlooked issue find its way into the U.S.-Asia dialogue?
- What available solutions to this crisis can build a collective response that includes effective leadership, sustainable treatment and prevention programs, and committed research, training and education to effectively stem the spread of the disease in Asia?
Mechai Viravaidya, Founder and Chairman of the Board, Population and Community Development Association Ben Plumley, Executive Director, Global Business Council on AIDS
- What are the conditions that lead people towards religious extremism and religious-based terrorism in South and Southeast Asia?
- How are governments addressing these domestic fringe elements?
- How might governments cooperate to address the transnational nature of these extremist and potentially violent movements?
Chandra Muzaffar, Political Scientist & President, International Movement for a Just World
Sidney Jones, Director, Indonesia Project, International Crisis Group
- What are the key environmental, water resources issues and what roles are civil society organizations and political institutions playing in helping Thailand, the rest of Southeast Asia, and China?
- What is the appropriate role for the private sector in addressing these and other social and transnational issues? What kinds of partnerships between civil society organizations and the private sector are possible?
Christine Loh, Chief Executive Officer, Civic Exchange
Randy Howard, President, Unocal Thailand Ltd.
Sunday, March 2
SESSION 3: Regional Security: Implications
for U.S.-Asia Relations
Carla A. Hills, Chairman & CEO, Hills & Company
U.S. POLICY TOWARD ASIA
- What are the major tenets of U.S. policy with respect
to potential crisis areas
in Asia (e.g., the Korean Peninsula, the Cross-Straits, and Kashmir)?
- Has the war on terrorism altered US relationships
with key players in the
region (e.g., China, Japan, Russia, South Korea, Southeast, and South Asia)
and if so, how does that affect security in the region?
Ralph L. Boyce, Ambassador, U.S. Embassy in Indonesia
Darryl N. Johnson, Ambassador, U.S. Embassy in Thailand
ASIAN REACTION TO U.S. POLICY AND THE POLICY POSITIONS OF KEY PLAYERS IN THE REGION
- What concerns, if any, do nations in the region have regarding U.S. security policy? How are hotspots in East Asia (e.g., the Korean Peninsula, Cross-Straits) being managed by key players in the region?
- How are the hotspots in South Asia (e.g., Kashmir) being managed by key players in the region?
Shekhar Gupta, Editor-in-Chief, The Indian Express
Javed Jabbar, Chairman, South Asian Media Association
Jong Thae Yang, Director, American Affairs Department, Ministry of
Lee Hong Koo, Chairman, Seoul Forum for International Affairs
Ni Shixiong, Dean, School of International Relations and Public Affairs, Fudan University
Vincent Siew, Chairman, Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research
THE WAR ON TERRORISM AND REGIONAL STABILITY
- How do Asian nations see the war on terrorism affecting relationships that are critical to stability in the Asian region?
- Has it raised or lowered tensions among the key players, and, if so, to what effect?
Amando Doronila, Editorial Consultant & Columnist, Philippine Daily Inquirer
Meidyatama Suryodiningrat, Managing Editor, Van Zorge, Hefferenen & Associates
Simon Tay, Chairman, Singapore Institute of International Affairs
U.S. DOMESTIC POLITICS
- What is the impact of U.S. domestic politics on U.S.-Asia policy?
- Have these changed since 9/11?
- Did the 2002 mid-term Congressional elections influence U.S. foreign policy and what are the prospects for the coming Presidential primary season?
Norm Ornstein, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
SESSION 4: Thailand and Southeast Asia / ASEAN
Tommy T.B. Koh, Ambassador-at-Large, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Are there lessons to be learned from Thailand about democracy and development by the rest of the region?
- What are the prospects for further democratization?
- What are the necessary elements for the development of democracy to continue?
- How is Thailand’s role in Southeast Asia/ASEAN changing and developing? What will be the impact of Thailand’s hosting of the 2003 APEC meeting on Thailand’s leadership within the region?
- What is the future of ASEAN as an organization?
- What can be done to strengthen the organization and to revitalize it?
Ong Keng Yong, Secretary-General, ASEAN
Sukhumbhand Paribata, Member of Parliament, Democrat Party, Chairman, Chumbhot-Pantip Foundation
U Thet Tun, Director, Tun Foundation
Michael Richardson, Senior Asia-Pacific Correspondent, International Herald Tribune