The Williamsburg Conference 2003

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


  • 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


  • 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
Foreign Affairs
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


  • 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


  • 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


The Asia Society and The King Prajadhipok’s Institute held the 31st Williamsburg Conference in Bangkok from February 28 to March 2, 2003. The meeting, the first to be convened in Thailand since Chiangmai in 1990, brought together 83 leaders in government, business, academia, civil society, and journalism from 19 countries and economies on both sides of the Pacific. Bangkok’s first Williamsburg Conference ever served as a precursor to APEC meetings in the Thai capital in October 2003.

Last year in Kuala Lumpur, discussion centered on the global economic downturn, the prospects for a new generation of leaders in Asia, the role of the United States in the region, and most specifically the issue of terrorism. This year’s conference took place amid increased global and regional concern over the possibility of a U.S.-led war with Iraq and continued worries about the direction of the regional and global economies. Against this backdrop, delegates analyzed the economies of Japan, China, and the United States, the role of regional institutions such as ASEAN, U.S. policy and Asian reaction, and the growing relationship between Southeast Asian countries and China. For the first time, the Williamsburg Conference devoted an entire session to transnational and social issues, with a specific focus on HIV/AIDS in Asia.

Williamsburg coconvenors Carla A. Hills of the United States, Tommy T. B. Koh of Singapore, and Minoru “Jack” Murofushi of Japan enlisted a superb group of conference participants and set forth a sharply focused yet thorough agenda. Each then chaired their sessions with great skill and impartiality, as did session chair Richard C. Holbrooke, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Asia Society. In addition, our local host, The King Prajadhipok’s Institute, ably led by Noranit Setabutr, graciously hosted the opening dinner. His institute made all the local arrangements for the conference with the utmost professionalism. Though Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was unable to attend the opening night’s festivities, we were grateful that Deputy Prime Minister Korn Dabbaransi took his place and gave a skilled and substantive performance. Also, special thanks are in order for Sukhumbhand Paribatra, who hosted our closing dinner.

Following the conference, Hills, Koh, Murofushi, Holbrooke, Setabutr, and Asia Society president Nicholas Platt undertook a number of different efforts to ensure that the conference discussion reached a broader audience. First, they all took part in a press briefing immediately following the last session on the final day. Later, Platt briefed members of the Asia Society’s New York President’s Circle on the Conference. This report will further extend the reach of the Williamsburg discussions.

Special thanks go to the entire staff of the King Prajadhipok’s Institute, led by Panaros Malakul Na Ayudhya and Sadudee Sawegwan, for all of their excellent work. From the Asia Society, Allen Thayer, a newcomer to the conference, masterfully handled the logistics that made the conference run like clockwork. Elizabeth Lancaster, now a seasoned Williamsburg veteran, ran the Secretariat, and helped manage the sessions. Mike Kulma developed the agenda, organized the lead discussants, and ably served as conference rapporteur. Thanks as well go to Hee Chung Kim for her work delivering invitations to delegates before taking time off to deliver her beautiful daughter Elizabeth into the world. Karen Fein deserves credit for her hard work in bringing this report to print, as does Lai Montesca for her work in its layout.

A special mention is in order for Pote Videt, Managing Director, Private Equity Thailand, Lombard Investments, and International Council Member of the Asia Society. Mr. Videt worked tirelessly to bring the Williamsburg Conference to Thailand. Without his efforts, this year’s conference would not have happened. We thank him for his commitment to Williamsburg and the Asia Society.

The coconvenors and we are most grateful to the conference funders, whose names are listed in the back of this report, as well as to the Hotel Plaza Athénée, which provided the distinguished location for the meeting. Their support made the 31st Williamsburg Conference possible.

Nicholas Platt Robert W. Radtke
President Vice President, Policy and Business Programs
Asia Society Asia Society


Economic Prospects

With the world on edge about impending war in Iraq and the continued downturn in the global economy, the 31st Williamsburg Conference opened with a focus on economic prospects for the region. This session was broken down into three subsessions on regional growth, regional organizations, and corporate governance.

Regional Growth
Most of the discussion in this subsession focused on three countries: Japan, China, and the United States. In addition, participants talked about regional growth and one delegate brought the three decades of Williamsburg economic discussions into focus.

Although some participants expressed concern regarding Japan’s economy, others pointed out that Japan had taken some steps in the right direction and that there were reasons to hope for an economic turnaround. Participants spoke of a dichotomy in thinking between those who believe Japan needs to experience a crisis to make the fundamental changes necessary to turn around the economy, versus those who believe more standard measures will prove equally effective. Participants also struggled with whether Japan has and should continue to aspire to great-power status, or begin to think of itself as among the middle powers of the world.

No matter which assumptions they started from, participants saw a number of economic, political, and social issues that concerned them as Japan moves forward in trying to address its economic difficulties. On the economic policy front, there were three main areas of concern. First, delegates expressed some degree of anxiety over Japan’s persistent and expanding unemployment, which has moved beyond affecting mid-career professionals to the realm of graduating students who are increasingly confronted by joblessness. Second, the issue of Japan’s nonperforming-loan problems continued to be a concern among participants. Questions were raised as to why things were taking so long to resolve and why Japan did not follow the model of other countries, like the United States, in trying to resolve these issues. Finally, some also expressed a degree of trepidation that Japan might move into a state of deflation, further compounding its current problems.

Political concerns focused on Japan’s decision-making process, its lack of leadership, its accounting practices, the pace of policy implementation, and the possibly systemic nature of its economic woes. Delegates generally agreed that the slow process of decision-making in Japan makes for difficulties in a globalizing world that demands quick action. Participants further suggested that even after Japan makes decisions, the pace of implementation is a further hindrance. Old ways of doing things, like remaining faithful to accounting standards that are incompatible with global standards or trying to adhere to a lifetime-employment system, were seen as obstacles to growth. Some participants mentioned that Japan was beginning to see a breakdown in the lifetime-employment system, which is a good sign. Most believed something needed to be done to facilitate the policy process and move from old practices to new. A perceived lack of leadership in making the decisions necessary to bring about real change was seen as further compounding the problem. Finally, someone voiced concern that Japan’s problems may be systemic and not cyclical, which could mean Japan needs to settle into a Great Britain, middle-power type role in international economic affairs.

In the realm of Japan’s socioeconomic concerns, participants focused on generational differences. Whether it was concern over an aging society and the resultant commitments of the next generation or whether there were cultural obstacles to getting young Japanese to become entrepreneurs, delegates looked to get at the heart of what was keeping Japan down economically. Explanations for these phenomena, if not solutions, were to be found. For example, some conference goers said that the lack of young entrepreneurs could be attributed to a deep-seated condemnation of both failure and success in Japanese society. Participants agreed that the aging of Japan’s population, combined with a decrease in its birth rate, would result in a shrinking population, the effects of which are still largely unknown. It was pointed out that Japan has realized the importance of the aging issue and is trying to establish a number of measures to overcome this growing problem.

But all hope was not lost for Japan and its economy. Delegates pointed to a number of dramatic shifts in the way Japan is doing business both at home and abroad. First, members of Japan’s younger generation are increasingly changing jobs, which suggests a breakdown in the lifetime-employment system and a move to more modern labor-force participation. Second, Japan is undertaking economic experiments at the regional and local levels. Relatedly, certain private companies are beginning to experiment with Western-style business models, which might help improve efficiency and transparency. Third, Japanese universities are beginning to understand their country’s need for a long-term strategic vision of how the country should be run. In addition, evaluation systems are being put into place. Fourth, economic stagnation and unemployment in Japan have freed some young talent to head to the UN and various nongovernmental organizations. This younger generation will eventually return to Japan to plant new ideas and ways of thinking. Finally, in the private sector a number of movements are underway. For example, major banks are in the process of strengthening Japan’s capital base, which should then allow them to address the nonperforming-loans issue, while many private corporations are increasing dividends after having cleaned up their bad debts, a sign of economic recovery.

The discussion of China focused on the good, the bad, and China’s neighbors. On the positive side, participants seemed pleased with China’s efforts to enact required regulations since joining the WTO, suggesting that China has been quite good at implementation, drafting new laws, and lowering tariffs. However, there were some concerns in the area of intellectual property rights, as in this realm conference goers perceived some problems with implementation of WTO rules. Delegates appreciated the Chinese government’s efforts to focus greater manpower and monetary resources on combating infringement on intellectual property rights and investing in inland areas, where two of the new leaders, President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, have extensive experience.

On the negative side, participants mentioned two areas to watch over the coming year. First, concern continues about China’s state-owned enterprises and the related issue of how China is dealing with its nonperforming loans. On the one hand, China’s continued efforts to shrink the portion of its economy controlled by state-owned enterprises leads to concerns of massive layoffs and unemployment and the possibility of social unrest. On the other, nonperforming loans are a multibillion-dollar burden to China’s economy and how they are dealt with continues to be of concern. Further, a brief discussion of U.S.-China economic relations led one delegate to remark that we should not be surprised to find China’s trade surplus with the United States eventually coming to the fore when issues in other realms (e.g., Iraq and North Korea) calm down a bit. When nontrade issues dominate the national scene, trade is usually left by the wayside.

Finally, participants discussed the possibility for economic prosperity in the region in terms of China and its relations with its neighbors. On the positive side, we have seen a major increase in trade between China and ASEAN countries over the course of the last decade. These enhanced economic ties should pave the way for continued peace and prosperity in the region. Nevertheless, countries in the region still express a degree of concern over China’s rapid growth in both the economic and security spheres. In order to promote peace and security for all in the region, China needs to be aware of and seriously consider this concern as it continues along the developmental curve.

Conference participants discussed the U.S. economy’s standing and importance in the region and its overall health. They saw the emergence of China’s economy and an increase in intraregional trade as leading possibly to a reduction in the importance of the United States to countries in the region. Participants agreed that while fundamentals still appear strong, a number of vexing issues exist, including a jobless recovery, sluggish manufacturing, tax cuts, and pension funds. Because fear of war with Iraq—resulting in limited spending, hiring, and new projects—had already hurt U.S. companies, participants suspected that an actual war would affect the U.S. economy.

In addition to discussions about Japan, China, and the United States, this subsession provoked thoughts on other aspects of regional economic growth. These thoughts focused on positive aspects, trends, and country-specific ideas for growth. Most delegates expected to see regionwide growth of 5 to 6 percent in 2003, with the second half of the year seeing better growth than the first. This would be the case at least partly because the region was now more insulated against external problems; within ASEAN, trade has increased to the point that 50 percent of Asian trade is carried out within Asia. Further, one delegate suggested that the region was moving to an intraindustry model of trade and recognized the need to find markets in neighboring countries, which would help to promote regional cooperation and integration. Participants also saw a trend toward increased bilateral trade agreements, which were on the rise as were regional financial arrangements, in an effort to reduce exposure to exchange-rate risks. The result of these efforts, however, remain to be seen.

Finally, country-specific comments focused on the Republic of Korea and Thailand. South Korea’s economy faces two uncertainties. One involves North Korea and the path down which the current crisis may take all involved actors. The second concerns the new South Korean administration and its economic policies. A delegate familiar with Thailand thought that it could serve as a source of regional growth as it attempts to strengthen its economy from within and without. From within, we see Thailand attempting to diversify its economy and moving toward micro solutions to economic problems through village funds, microcredit projects, and enterprise support for small- and medium-sized companies. From without we see Thailand increasingly opening to the outside world.

One conference participant familiar with the history of economic discussions at the Williamsburg Conference attempted to bring things into historical perspective. He said that in the 1970s, participants attacked Japan for its increasing economic prowess and predicted a U.S. decline as the result of its failure in Vietnam. By the 1980s, discussion moved to the normalization of U.S.-China relations, the rise of the “Four Tigers” (South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore) and the continued growth of Japan. In the early 1990s, the United States was still in trouble, China was rising, and Japan was still strong. Today, we talk of a Japan looking for its place in a world dominated politically, economically, and militarily by the United States, and faced with a rising China.

Regional Organizations
Discussion in this subsession focused on the roles of regional organizations in Asia, with a major focus on ASEAN, its subsidiary agreements, and APEC. Other organizations were also briefly mentioned. Participants saw China’s role as critical to greater regional cooperation and Chinese leadership in free trade area (FTA) discussions as important to increasing regional cooperation.

Discussion focused on the efforts participants thought necessary to make ASEAN more viable in the years to come. (They furthered and expanded upon this discussion on the second day of the conference, in the fourth session.) First, delegates perceived a need to sort out ongoing sources of friction between member countries. For example, countries of the region need to discuss the future of water resources as water moves from a free resource to a valued commodity. In addition, and especially in light of recent problems between the two over territorial disputes, Thailand and Cambodia need to work together to resolve any outstanding issues and to prevent future disruptions in relations. Second, ASEAN needs to work more closely with China, Japan, and India in order to promote economic growth and regional peace and stability. Some suggested that hope for such efforts was bright, as ASEAN has already initiated FTA discussions with China and Japan. Third, one participant mentioned a recent ASEAN competitiveness study, which delineated the need for ASEAN economies to use a sectoral approach for growth and for member countries to create stronger institutional structures to help institute such efforts. Finally, participants said ASEAN needed to enlarge and deepen the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) by adding agreements on investment and intellectual property rights and services, and speeding up implementation of agreed terms.

In their discussion of APEC, delegates distinguished between the organization’s political usefulness and its programs. In its infant stages APEC was a purely economic institution. Now, however, some delegates believed that APEC is more politically than economically useful. This rationale holds that APEC is the closest thing the Asia-Pacific region has to a meeting of its leaders, giving them useful opportunities to discuss political issues. Limited input from the business community, which results in little to no dialogue between practitioners and policymakers, may be further changing APEC’s focus. Others disagreed, suggesting that APEC still functions as an economic organization, considering its efforts against protectionism and in favor of free regional trade, and its bringing together finance ministers on a regular basis. In sum, APEC is important, but its best utility is debatable.

There was significant discussion on the role of bilateral versus multilateral trade agreements in the region. Was one a priority over the other? Was one being pursued to the detriment of the other? People were of two minds. On the one hand, some saw bilateral agreements (e.g., Malaysia-Japan and U.S.-Singapore) as the first step to larger and more comprehensive regional agreements, with all agreements held to WTO standards. In addition, those holding this viewpoint believed that the possibility existed for competitive liberalization in such efforts, as the consummation of bilateral agreements had the potential to pressure multilateral efforts into proceeding more quickly and being more comprehensive. On the other hand, some delegates saw the proliferation of bilateral agreements as evidence of exasperation with slow progress on multilateral fronts. Those delegates who held this perspective believed that the proliferation of bilateral agreements made such exasperation a self-fulfilling prophecy, as a world full of bilateral agreements may no longer be conducive to multilateral efforts.

Corporate Governance
Discussion of corporate governance focused on a topic near and dear to the hearts of both Asian and American delegates alike. Just one year ago, discussants would have mainly solicited suggestions on how Asia needed to change its business practices, but in a year of major U.S. corporate scandals, participants aimed comments at both sides of the Pacific. In fact, some delegates went so far as to suggest that the foundations of corporate governance have collapsed around the world and what we have seen is a sheer rise in greed and incompetence in capital markets in Asia, with restraint seemingly not part of the lexicon.

To participants, corporate governance meant a number of different things, which together might present a cohesive definition. To some, corporate governance was about fairness, transparency, trust, and long-term thinking. To others, it was about obeying the law and overcoming greed and insecurity. To still others, corporate governance was not a luxury but a necessity. Data suggest that good corporate governance equals good business, and well-governed corporations receive better valuation in the capital markets than less well-governed ones. While the definition may differ, corporate governance was something that all participants agreed needed further attention.

One participant put forward a list of correctives, which a large majority of conference participants supported. These suggestions included:

  • Restoring auditor purity and independence;
  • Ensuring the independence and competence of external directors;
  • Reducing the gap between regulatory oversight and corporate practice;
  • Enhancing internal mechanisms to prevent corporate abuse;
  • Increasing levels of disclosure;
  • Making integrity and respectability fashionable;
  • Instituting harsh punishment of offenders; and
  • Making remuneration correspond with fairness, transparency, and accountability.

Most still saw the United States as setting the standard for corporate governance. Participants mentioned many lessons learned from the U.S. handling of its crisis including fast decision-making, vigilance, rule of law, government restraint, faith in institutions, and the swift enactment of punishment. Quick decisions were crucial to restoring business confidence, but the United States must remain vigilant because other collapses may follow, for example, in the area of pension funds.

Transnational / Social Issues

For the first time the Williamsburg Conference devoted a session specifically to transnational and social issues. Previously, these issues had been talked about in the context of other session topics. Discussion revolved around three main areas: AIDS in Asia; terrorism and religious extremism; and environmental and natural resource concerns.

AIDS in Asia
AIDS is as important an issue as any the Williamsburg Conference has covered and the Asia Society, through its Asian Social Issues Program (ASIP) and other programming efforts throughout the world will continue to make this a major topic of discussion. The subsession on AIDS in Asia focused in large part on the major inroads against AIDS made by our host country, Thailand. Participants made additional comments on the growing problem in other parts of the region.

In 1990, Thailand was faced with an AIDS epidemic, which if left unattended could have led to the loss of countless lives and 20 percent of the country’s GDP. The government denied the extent of the problem, and there seemed little hope for addressing this coming calamity. However, due to the efforts of a local nongovernmental organization led by Dr. Mechai Viravaidya and the political leadership of former Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun this crisis has been largely averted and Thailand has seen a 90 percent decline in new HIV/AIDS cases since 1991/1992. How did they do it?

As a delegate intimately familiar with the details of Thailand’s actions suggested, initial efforts bore little fruit. Dr. Mechai had come up with a plan of action and public education, but the government was unwilling to work with him by providing radio or television ads. As a result, he approached Thai businesses, many of which agreed to promote greater awareness while also promoting their companies. Despite the involvement of the business community, the government failed to address the matter, so Dr. Mechai went to the military, which provided some degree of television and radio access. Eventually, Mr. Anand became Prime Minister, appointed Dr. Mechai as a minister, became chairman of the national AIDS committee, and instructed all provincial leaders to learn about AIDS and to implement related government programs. From that point forward all sectors of society and government began to come together in an effort to address Thailand’s AIDS crisis. All sectors of society were approached to help in the campaign to fight AIDS, from policemen to religious leaders, from radio and television commentators to movie stars, from businesses to schools and universities, from villagers to taxi drivers, all in a massive effort focused on prevention, treatment, and providing for people with HIV/AIDS and others affected by the disease. The combination of personal and political will, coupled with the involvement of all sectors of society, helped Thailand to contain the epidemic. While there has been a slight decrease in government funds for these efforts since the initial push, work is still underway.

This case study brought with it many questions and concerns from conference participants about the applicability of Thailand’s methods to other Asian countries with diverse levels of economic development, political systems, and cultural mores. Some thought countries in the region could copy Thailand’s efforts, but that most countries had simply not made HIV/AIDS the priority it had been in Thailand. However, others thought applicability would be difficult as the disease was being spread in different ways in different places. Furthermore, others wondered how one could get conservative countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia to even start the most basic of discussions on this issue, let alone getting these issues into the mainstream discourse. This might be accomplished in a number of different ways, from electronic media coverage of the issues to discussing such issues in the lifestyle sections of newspapers. Additionally, while the Thai business community stood up in support of such efforts, participants suggested that business support for such efforts in the rest of Asia was largely lacking.

In addition to the miraculous efforts undertaken in Thailand, participants spoke of a number of other Asia-based initiatives to help prevent the further spread of HIV/AIDS. For example, ASEAN has been talking about this issue for quite some time and in fact, has devoted a task force to it. ASEAN-country participants mentioned the need for increased public education, briefings of relevant government leaders by leading regional activists in the fight against the disease, and having the issue addressed from the perspective of its economic impact, as this is what first hits home for political leaders. Participants thought these efforts might be most urgent in China and were heartened by the fact that the leadership in China was now aware of the magnitude of the problem and was making efforts to better implement HIV/AIDS programs. One conference goer mentioned the efforts underway in Pakistan, which is at the beginning stage of dealing with this problem. Four to five years ago, Pakistan started a public education program to encourage the use of condoms. Lastly, one delegate spoke about U.S. efforts in combating AIDS in Asia, mentioning Center for Disease Control (CDC) involvement with the Ministry of Public Health in Thailand, ongoing work with the Thai military, and USAID efforts to help share the Thai model with other Southeast Asian nations.

From this healthy initial discussion of AIDS, delegates drew a number of different conclusions. First, it was important to note that AIDS was not just an African issue. While many African nations face crisis situations, delegates believed that with 50 percent of the world’s population, if Asia does not further open the discussion on this topic, the potential for an epidemic of catastrophic proportions remains very real. Second, participants suggested that AIDS is not just a health crisis, but is a country-specific and transnational crisis with the potential to affect all realms of society. Third, business does have a role to play, as was shown in the case of Thailand. Finally, the governments of Asia must step up to the plate and do more to address these problems.

Terrorism and Religious Extremism
Terrorism and religious extremism were discussed mainly as issues of social identity in Asia. It was suggested that a lack of identity could create numerous problems, including: identity conflicts, such as those between India and Pakistan or Israel and Palestine; attacks against hegemony, which was seen as threatening identity; and reinforcement of certain conditions (poverty, hunger, and despair) that support terrorism and extremism. On the other hand, a complete identity can also create problems of its own, for example those families that have second- and third-generation terrorists.

So, what is to be done to address the identity issues that create the conditions in which terrorism takes root? Suggested solutions ranged from those focusing on Muslim nations, to those focusing on policies of the United States and the greater global community. Participants believed that in Muslim communities intellectuals and activists must take a clear position against acts of terror. In addition, such communities need to promote multireligious societies and representation. They must further take a tougher approach to religious militias. Countries in the region should not look to the military in addressing the issue of terrorism; instead local police should take the lead role. Also, the war on terrorism must not attack the wrong people, like the huge migrant labor forces in Asia. Finally, Muslim nations need to pay greater attention to the spillover effect of Middle Eastern tensions to other areas.

Further, participants had ideas as to how the United States and the global community might make changes to prevent terrorist attacks. It was suggested that the United States should not go overboard enacting legal restrictions, which might create biases and hatred against the United States among those most restricted. Second, the United States and Western powers need to re-examine the phenomenon of U.S. power in the world, thinking of its best uses. Also, while most participants were generally supportive of the positive economic outcomes of globalization, they also suggested that more attention needed to be turned to addressing the ugly side of globalization.

Finally, delegates mentioned two other issues needing further discussion. First, conference goers wondered what should be done about terrorists or terrorist groups that are not strict ideologues? The example given was the Bali bombings, which seemed to be more a case of revenge and less a case of religion. Second, one participant said that the issue of terrorists versus freedom fighters can be distinguished by looking at actions versus the overall movements.

Environmental and Resource Issues
The discussion of environmental and natural resource concerns at the conference reflected their growing importance throughout the world and in Asia. Delegate dialogue focused on areas of greatest concern, hopeful initiatives underway, and what is still needed to solve the problems.

In the realm of greatest concerns participant conversation revolved around the environmental and resource challenges of a return to economic growth; the transnational nature of environmental problems; and China as the major cause of Asia’s environmental concerns. First, the return to growth in post-1997 Asia presents a number of environmental challenges, including increased pollution levels, public health problems, and resettlement issues stemming from mass migrations. Second, participants mentioned that pollution and the abuse of resources did not affect only the abusing country. For example, deforestation in China is leading to major dust storms in Korea and Japan. Indonesian slash and burn forest techniques have had detrimental effects on the entire Southeast Asian environment. Finally, as China continues to grow at breathtaking speed, it is creating and facing major environmental crises and degradation. To help contain these problems, it was suggested that China needs to better share information on its environment, build capacity among different segments of society to deal with and understand environmental issues, and institute better evidence-based policies and institution building. Leaders at China’s Sixteenth Party Congress put forward the idea of quadrupling the economy in the next twenty years, but one conference participant wondered if poor environmental conditions and a lack of resources could put some limit on that projected growth, making it important to consider environmental and resource policies now.

Some delegates suspected that recent policy changes suggest that China may be making serious efforts to address its problems. For example, one participant told of a 2002 liberalization plan for the energy sector, which seems to be making the overall environmental picture better, creating business opportunities (the move from monopoly to competition may be in part driven by concern for the environment), and increasing power plant efficiencies. In addition, leaders in many Chinese cities seem to realize the importance of protecting the environment and sustainable development and are trying out new ideas and methods to do so.

Two other hopeful trends in the region were also mentioned. First, people believe that as Asian countries continue to develop, they can skip old, resource-depleting technologies. Second, natural-resource sharing between countries is catching on with such efforts already underway in the Mekong subregion.

Finally, talk turned to what needs to be done at all levels of government and by all sectors of society. Most importantly, countries and their leaders need to understand that all sectors of society have a role to play. The business community can provide capital and know-how, the government can provide rules for investment, and civil society can work to bring problem areas to light. Players are becoming increasingly aware of these multisector cooperative possibilities and old hostilities are beginning to go by the wayside as civic organizations and businesses begin to work together to make things better. Second, we need to see more state-to-state cooperation, in order to address the transnational nature of these issues. Last but not least, a participant mentioned the importance of cross-agency frameworks in addressing environmental problems.

Regional Security: Implications for U.S.-Asia Relations

The third session was divided into four subsessions, which built progressively upon one another, resulting in comprehensive coverage of regional security. These subsessions included: U.S. policy toward Asia; Asian reaction to U.S. policy and the policy positions of key regional players; the war on terrorism; and U.S. domestic politics.

U.S. Policy Toward Asia
Experts on U.S. policy in the region outlined the major tenets of U.S. policy generally and with respect to specific potential crisis areas. They noted that prior to 9/11 many in Asia wondered whether the United States wanted to stay engaged in the region, whereas today few question its interest. This subsession on U.S. policy toward Asia focused on the war on terrorism, Pakistan-India relations, China-Taiwan relations, and the Korean Peninsula.

U.S. policy experts pointed out that many regional commentators believed that the war on terrorism strengthened U.S. relations with most countries in Asia. They noted that since 9/11 we were seeing closer cooperation and stronger ties between the United States and a number of nations, including China, India, and Pakistan. The Bali bombing demonstrated that terrorism could strike anywhere and have devastating effects, both economic and political. As a result of the bombing, Bali alone had lost some 60,000 jobs and 1 to 2 percent in its projected economic output, which combined to push 3 to 4 million additional people below the poverty level. Other countries in the region have also felt the effects of the Bali bombing and other terrorist activities. In response, Southeast Asian nations, including Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia, have all taken steps to combat the threat of terrorism, including: a joint U.S.-ASEAN declaration against terrorism and agreement on specific efforts to combat the financial aspects of terrorism at an ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Ministerial meeting. As the war on terrorism continues, discussants cautioned that the United States needs to understand that it must also work hard to assure its friends in the region that it is still committed to pre-9/11 goals of democracy and human rights.

Discussants familiar with U.S. policy in South Asia expressed concern about India-Pakistan tensions over Kashmir. They generally rated the possibility of nuclear war low, but were concerned about increased infiltration of arms over the line of control particularly with spring and warmer weather approaching; increased infiltrations would inevitably lead to heightened tensions. They basically saw three possible scenarios for how the India-Pakistan relationship might play out: armed conflict; a continued cold war with few open lines of communication; or reduced tension and resumed dialogue. They strongly urged concerned governments, including the United States, as well as independent parties to take steps to prevent the first and encourage the third. Ideas mentioned included sponsorship of conferences that would bring the parties together and serious discussions regarding regional trade liberalization.

Discussants familiar with U.S. policy on China and Taiwan emphasized that the United States continues to be committed to a “one China” policy and continues to seek a peaceful resolution of the differences between Taiwan and China. They pointed out that the U.S. position with respect to China and Taiwan has been consistent since the signing in 1972 of the first of three communiqués that made clear that the United States would assist with and facilitate a resolution of the differences between the parties, but that the parties must develop the solutions between themselves. Several delegates expressed the view that China and Taiwan ought to take steps to facilitate ease of contact among their people through transportation, trade, and communication, including student scholarships, believing that such increased contacts could help to reduce tensions.

The discussants familiar with U.S. policy made clear that the United States was seeking a peaceful resolution of tensions on the Korean Peninsula and has no intention to invade North Korea. It does not see the problem of nuclear weapons on the Peninsula as an issue between North Korea and the United States alone, but rather as an issue between North Korea and the world. The United States looks to South Korea, China, Japan, and Russia to participate in finding a peaceful outcome to tensions on the Korean Peninsula. It is U.S. policy that any solution must include North Korea visibly and verifiably dismantling its nuclear-weapons capability. The United States is prepared to provide economic assistance when the nuclear issue is resolved.

Asian Reaction to U.S. Policy and the Policy Positions of Key Players in the Region
This subsession opened with views from India and Pakistan and about India-Pakistan relations. One participant said that India sees U.S. policy in the region in 2003 quite differently from the way that it did in 2002. In 2002 Indian commentators saw the United States as very involved in the region, citing several visits from high-level U.S. officials. Further, the United States played some role in helping to contain problems in the region. In contrast, in 2003, India saw the United States as focused exclusively on the war against Iraq. While many in India understand the U.S. change in focus, India is nevertheless concerned about the short attention span of the United States. Many in India believe that the United States lacks a long-term plan for South Asia. Some discussants expressed concern that with elections fast approaching in India, it will be difficult for any Indian government to take a soft stance on Pakistan, particularly if there is any provocation.

While at the state level Pakistan’s relations with the United States have improved, the people of Pakistan are much more wary. The United States must understand that Kashmir is a complex issue of territory, religion, and identity. Many in Pakistan believe Americans, particularly members of Congress, are woefully ignorant about Pakistan, and more particularly about the facts underlying the Pakistan-India tensions.

Some discussants suggested that both Pakistan and India should accept an independent commission to investigate acts of terrorism between the two countries. The media is doing a much better job than either government in investigating acts of terrorism. Many participants suggested that greater dialogue between the two countries is desperately required.

Following the discussion regarding India and Pakistan, talk turned to the Korean Peninsula. The lead discussant giving the North Korean perspective suggested that the United States had violated the 1993, 1994, and 2000 agreements by not fulfilling its obligations and that government-to-government relations should be based upon respect for sovereignty. More specifically, it was stated that the United States had systematically violated the Agreed Framework, which was at least five years behind schedule in providing the promised light-water reactors to North Korea. If the United States had been on time, according to this view, then IAEA inspections could actually have occurred. The lead discussant remarked on North Korea’s progress in improving relations with other countries in recent years. The DPRK wants direct state-to-state negotiations with the United States.

Discussants familiar with the South Korean perspective stated that North Korea’s nuclear project is unacceptable, and that the South Korean government would like to solve the problem by peaceful means. South Korea thus would welcome either bilateral or multilateral talks. Delegates said that the challenge is to bring North Korea into both the regional and global communities. Some participants thought that multilateralism would have a role to play in resolving the tension, but the involvement of so many actors may make developing a cohesive policy more difficult. Many expressed the view that the consequences of a continued North Korean nuclear program could be devastating for security in the region. Several worried that in such a scenario, Japan would come under increased pressure to develop a nuclear arsenal. Faced by a nuclear-armed Japan, China would in turn increase its nuclear arsenal. Such events would force South Korea to decide whether or not to create its own nuclear weapons. Concern was widespread that we have potentially the beginnings of an arms race. Several discussants considered today’s situation on the peninsula to be much more urgent than it was in 1994 during the last crisis, when some have suggested that the United States came very close to war with North Korea because of the speed with which North Korea could go nuclear and the current shakiness in the U.S.-ROK alliance. Some delegates wished that a “President Carter-like figure” would step in. Still others believed that certain nations, including Japan, might contribute to North Korea’s economic development if other issues could be worked out.

Turning their attention to China and Taiwan, participants presenting the Chinese perspective on U.S. policy in the region thought that in developing and implementing its Asia policy, the United States should consider the diversity, dynamics, development, and difficulties of the region. The Taiwan issue is controllable and now relatively quiet, resulting in part from improved U.S.-China relations and in part from rapidly increasing economic and social ties between Taiwan and the mainland. More than 500,000 Taiwanese are in South China, and Chinese universities have increasing numbers of Taiwanese students. Two things need to happen now to ensure stability (1) the United States needs to reduce arms sales to Taiwan, in order for China to reduce missiles targeting Taiwan and (2) China and Taiwan need to resume their dialogue, which, according to one view, China has been more actively pursuing than Taiwan.

Discussants giving the Taiwan perspective stated that both China and Taiwan are in political and economic transition. China’s new leaders will be focused on continued economic reforms, and Taiwan’s leaders will be focused on democracy, freedom, human rights, and an economic transition to high-tech industries. Mechanisms that foster economic cooperation and increased trade would increase stability, because this approach would help build each party’s confidence in the other. The parties could agree on the areas of their common economic and social interest and “agree to disagree” on other issues.

Other discussants from the region thought that China had recently been the more flexible of the two, espousing a more pragmatic and conciliatory line; China for the first time in September 2002 mentioned a loosened definition of “one China” and has pushed for the opening of the three direct links: trade, transportation, and postal services. There was consensus that overall, the China-Taiwan relationship seemed to be on more stable ground than in the past. Of the three issues (China-Taiwan, India-Pakistan, and the Korean Peninsula) on the table for discussion, participants noted that the chances for conflict were the lowest with respect to China-Taiwan.

Regional Stability and the War on Terrorism
The discussion of regional stability and terrorism focused on countries most affected by the war on terrorism, with emphasis on the Philippines and Indonesia. Discussants pointed out that the Philippines has supported U.S. activities against terrorism from the beginning. The Philippine government confronts serious problems with rebels in the South and their links to Al-Qaeda. The United States has already sent 1,300 troops to the Philippines for joint exercises. The United States needs to be careful not to push too hard, as public opinion could quickly turn against a U.S. presence if the United States becomes too actively involved in solving Philippine problems.

Discussants familiar with the Indonesian situation pointed out that prior to October 2002, Indonesia was generally seen throughout the region as the weak link in Southeast Asia in the war on terrorism. Some viewed it as lacking the political will to address the problems it faced. This lack of will stemmed from two factors: (1) perception by government officials that the threat was not any higher than in the past; and (2) the country was in transition, with weak and ineffective political institutions. However, the government’s reaction to the Bali bombing has been swift, due to the terrible nature of this incident and the resultant international pressure for action.

More generally with respect to Southeast Asia, one discussant suggested that there were basically three types of domestic responses to 9/11 and the war on terrorism: (1) “ambulance chasers”—who used 9/11 to accomplish their own goals, the Philippines was put into this category, for using 9/11 to accomplish their own goals of addressing the separatist movement in the southern Philippines; (2) “opportunists” —Indonesia was put into this category for largely having ignored potential problems with terrorism before 9/11; and (3) “the wait and see” group, who would wait and respond only if terrorism arose in their own country (Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand were put into this category). In addition, it was suggested that ARF has not sufficiently addressed terrorism; instead Southeast Asian nations have individually done so.

Discussants suggested that the Iraq issue would continue to have impact upon Southeast Asia and the region’s relationship with the United States, because public opinion was largely against the war, and the view in the region was that U.S. policy was becoming unilateral and unifocal. Participants expressed some support for the idea that the region needs its own initiatives in developing regional security structures. Some noted that it appears that Southeast Asian nations confront a catch-22 in dealing with the United States. They all want U.S. attention, but when they get it they are wary. The attention is regarded as too little or too much. It is a question of balance. In addition, people in the region perceive the United States as backsliding on its traditional emphasis on human rights; one example cited was the perception that the United States has been changing its rules and regulations on the issuing of visas.

U.S. Domestic Politics
The segment dealing with U.S. domestic politics and how they affected Asia policy turned into a discussion of the presidency of George W. Bush, the impending war with Iraq, the domestic political agenda of the president and the Republican Party, and the next election.

President Bush should not be confused with his father. He is much more ideological and aims to transform the United States by reducing the role of the federal government in the lives of ordinary Americans. He is a risk taker both at home and abroad-—witness his proposal for huge tax cuts and his foreign policy, which allows for preemptive action. He believes that he has learned from his father’s mistakes in coasting on postwar hype in the lead-up to the election.

At the time of the conference the issue shaping both the domestic and international agendas was the impending war with Iraq. Since the end of the conference and the writing of this report, delegate concerns with war have been borne out and the statements by participants now appear that much more relevant. If the United States were to win the war quickly, reaction would more likely be positive both within Asia and around the world. While U.S. public opinion was not very high favoring war with Iraq, it was suggested that once war began, public opinion would rapidly move to support the president and U.S. troops, so America watchers should not be misled by polls or antiwar marches. Some in the region believed that the U.S. need for oil was driving the war effort, while others suggested that U.S. oil companies had no desire for a war, as it would wreak havoc on international oil prices. Finally, many expressed concern about U.S. policy in a postwar Iraq, suspecting that the United States would drop out of efforts to rebuild Afghanistan in the aftermath of war.

Participants pointed out that President Bush and the Republican Party face greater challenges in other areas. Only 40 percent of Americans thought he was doing a good job on economic policy, which meant his ability to get things done is less than it was even a few short months ago. Less support equals less power to accomplish any goals he has set, such as getting tax cuts through Congress. It also suggests that controlling power in both executive and legislative branches may not be all it is cracked up to be, because those in power have to shoulder the blame. In addition, the surprising Republican victory in the midterm elections has motivated the Democrats. Democrats are more unhappy with this president than with any Republican since Richard Nixon. However, the Democrats have some way to go in presenting a feasible alternative. While they are increasingly united on the domestic front, they are not united on foreign affairs, a problem that has plagued them since the September 11 attacks.

Finally, the next presidential election is already kicking into gear with a number of Democratic Party members entering the contest. If the American public thinks President Bush deserves another four years, it does not matter whom the Democrats field as their candidate. If not, many other issues, such as the economy and security, will become important. Also important will be the major advantage the Republicans hold in fundraising. That is in part the result of the Democratic Party’s need to continually support labor, putting a drag on its ability to support free trade, for which business would provide campaign support.


Thailand and Southeast Asia / ASEAN

The final session of the 31st Williamsburg Conference focused on Thailand and Southeast Asia/ASEAN. The lead discussants and the subsequent discussion concentrated on four issues: ASEAN’s prospects; Thailand’s democratization experience; Thailand’s relations with its neighbors; and relations between Southeast Asia and China.

ASEAN’s Future
All participants agreed that ASEAN has been a force for good for the past thirty-five years. ASEAN has enabled peace to prevail in the region. ASEAN has enriched its agenda and expanded it from politics to include economics and security. ASEAN has endured many trials and tribulations and has bounced back stronger from each adversity. ASEAN also has a good track record of generating growth and reducing poverty, of trade liberalization, of welcoming foreign investment, of being open and outward-looking, and of managing a great diversity of languages, religions, and cultures.

These positive aspects of ASEAN’s past did not deter participants from making suggestions and observations concerning ASEAN’s future. First, in the realm of trade liberalization, delegates believed ASEAN should go beyond goods to cover services, agriculture, common investment rules, intellectual property rights, and non-tariff barriers. Doing so would make the organization and its member countries more competitive in global and regional marketplaces. Second, participants suggested that ASEAN should strengthen its macroeconomic coordination and surveillance mechanism. Third, ASEAN should work harder to close the wealth gap between the six original members (the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, and Thailand) and the four new members (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar). In doing so, ASEAN would help prevent the emergence of a two-tiered power structure.

Fourth, ASEAN should strengthen its institutions including the Secretariat. The present mandate provides too little power for decision-making and enforcement. Other suggestions for reform included a greater willingness to criticize member countries and to accept criticism, soften the focus on consensus in decision-making, and encourage trends toward democratization and egalitarianism. Finally, delegates said that ASEAN should pay greater attention to its social problems (drug and sex trafficking, organized crime, and the spread of HIV/AIDS) and to the sustainable use and management of its natural resources.

Thailand and ASEAN’s Democratic Future
Thailand’s ongoing experiment with democracy and its transition from military- dominated politics served as a case study in democratic transitions for a region comprising almost as many types of government as countries. One participant shared with the meeting the lessons he has learned from Thailand’s experience with democratization. They were:

  • Democratization is not a linear process. There are many bumps on the road.
  • There is not a direct relationship between democracy and economic performance.
  • Popular opinion is fickle and will not always support the process of democratization.
  • Institutions are key, and it is therefore important to strengthen political parties and to professionalize the armed forces.
  • The costs of creating democratic institutions can be quite prohibitive.
  • Democracy can lead to discord and make a country more difficult to govern.
  • Democracy is important if regional cooperation is to be sustainable.

Thailand and Its Neighbors
The meeting discussed briefly Thailand’s relations with its two neighbors, Myanmar and Cambodia. One participant said that although Thailand and Myanmar have experienced some difficulties in their relations recently, the two countries were very close historically and culturally. This bespeaks the hope for more harmonious relations between the two. This delegate urged the two countries to focus on their many commonalities instead of their few differences. Recent territorial animosity between Thailand and Cambodia came up as a topic of discussion. To address the concerns of both countries, one participant proposed the creation of an eminent persons group made up of individuals from both countries.

Southeast Asia and China
Finally, participants engaged in a robust discussion on China’s relations with Southeast Asia. Such debate was not without precedent at a Williamsburg Conference, having been discussed in some depth at last year’s conference in Kuala Lumpur. Two perspectives dominated. Some participants argued that China’s growing prosperity was good for Southeast Asia. China is importing more from Southeast Asia, investing more in Southeast Asia, and sending more tourists to Southeast Asia. Furthermore, proponents of this way of thinking suggested that China wanted good relations with Southeast Asia, as evidenced by China’s interest in negotiating a free-trade agreement with ASEAN.

However, other participants were less sanguine and warned that China poses a number of challenges for ASEAN. First, Southeast Asia is being swamped by Chinese exports. Chinese companies produce these goods more efficiently and less expensively in China. Second, China is taking in much of the investment that would otherwise be flowing into Southeast Asia. If even a small percentage of that money were going to the poorest Southeast Asian nations, it would be a great help. Third, China’s appetite for natural resources is encouraging the countries of Southeast Asia to exploit their natural resources in an unsustainable way. Finally, it was suggested that China is in a position to out-compete ASEAN in almost all sectors of manufacturing. If this is indeed the situation, delegates expressed concern about the future growth of ASEAN economies.

The 31st Williamsburg Conference had as large and as diverse participation as that seen in recent memory, resulting in a similarly varied discussion of issues. However, a number of overarching themes seem to have presented themselves. First, U.S. foreign policy was an area of continued concern to countries in the region, whether discussing the economic situation in Asia, the war on terrorism, the war with Iraq, transnational and social issues, or regional security. Whereas most believed in 2002 that the war on terrorism had improved U.S. relations with Asian nations, many of these same people are now concerned that the attention span of the United States may prove short and that it may be moving away from pre-9/11 goals of supporting democracy and human rights. Second, participants spoke hopefully of continued economic growth in the region and pointed to China as a partner for increased trade and economic opportunity. This said, there were still concerns in the economic sphere over issues of corporate governance, deflation, unemployment, nonperforming loans, competition from China, and trade imbalances. Third, the transnational nature of all conference discussions stood out. It became obvious that the decisions of one country impact the decisions of others, not only in the dedicated session on transnational and social issues and its discussion of HIV/AIDS, but also in the sessions concerning terrorism and religious extremism and the environment and resource issues . Finally, there was a growing discussion about the efficacy and relevance of multilateral agreements/organizations and bilateral ones, which may suggest a particular preference toward one or the other in years to come.


Miles Kupa, Ambassador, Australian Embassy in Thailand
Hugh M. Morgan, Chief Executive Officer, First Charnock
Michael Richardson, Senior Asia-Pacific Correspondent, International Herald Tribune
Richard Woolcott, Founding Director, Asia Society AustralAsia Centre

Timothy Ong, Co-Chairman, Asia-Inc.

Paul Evans, Professor, Institute of Asian Research and Liu Centre for the Study of Global Issues, University of British Columbia

Ni Shixiong, Dean, School of International Relations and Public Affairs, Fudan University
Pan Guang, Director and Professor, Shanghai Center for International Studies
Yang Jiemian, Deputy Director, Shanghai Institute for International Studies

Jong Thae Yang, Director, American Affairs Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Joseph Lian, Member, Central Policy Unit, The Government of Hong Kong, SAR
Christine Loh, Chief Executive Officer, Civic Exchange
Michael Vatikiotis, Editor, Far Eastern Economic Review

Shekhar Gupta, Editor-in-Chief, The Indian Express
Narayana Murthy, Chairman & Co-founder, Infosys Technologies Ltd.

Dewi Fortuna Anwar, Director for Program and Research, The Habibie Center
Meidyatama Suryodiningrat, Managing Editor, Van Zorge, Hefferenen & Associates
Jusuf Wanandi, Co-founder and Member, Board of Trustees, Centre for Strategic & International Studies

Masahiro Katsuno, Manager, International Affairs, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI)
Minoru Murofushi, Chairman, ITOCHU Corporation
Tsuyoshi Noro, President, Mitsubishi Company (Thailand)
Yoshio Okawara, President, Institute for International Policy Studies
Peter Y. Sato, Advisor, Tokyo Electric Power Company
Yasuhisa Shiozaki, Member, House of Representatives
Yoshihide Soeya, Professor, Faculty of Law, Keio University; Faculty Fellow, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI)
Keiji Tachikawa, President and CEO, NTT DoCoMo
Roberto Togano, President and CEO, Nifco Thailand, Inc.

Mirzan Mahathir, President, Asian Strategy & Leadership Institute
Rohana Mahmood, Director General, Pacific Basin Economic Council Malaysia
Chandra Muzaffar, Political Scientist & President, International Movement for a Just World
Karim Raslan, Senior Partner, Raslan Loong
Michael Yeoh, Founder, Executive Director & CEO, Asian Strategy & Leadership Institute

U Thet Tun, Director, Tun Foundation

Imran A. Ali, Dean, Social Sciences Department, Lahore University of Management Science
Javed Jabbar, Chairman, South Asian Media Association
Najmuddin Shaikh, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Amando Doronila, Editorial Consultant & Columnist, Philippine Daily Inquirer
Michael Mastura, Founding President, Sultan Kudara Islamic Academy Foundation

Chung Oknim, Special Commentator, Korea Broadcasting System
Han Sung-Joo, Professor, Department of Political Science and Director, Ilmin International Relations Institute, Korea University
Hyun Hong-Choo, Senior Partner, Kim & Chang
Kim Kyung-Won, President, Institute of Social Sciences
Lee Hong-Koo, Chairman, Seoul Forum for International Affairs

Melissa Aratani Kwee, Director, Office of Development, United World College of Southeast Asia
Arun Mahizhnan, Deputy Director, The Institute of Policy Studies
Chan Heng Wing, Ambassador, Singapore Embassy in Thailand
Steve Chia, Member of Parliament
Tommy T.B. Koh, Ambassador-at-Large, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ong Keng Yong, Secretary-General, ASEAN
Simon Tay, Chairman, Singapore Institute of International Affairs

Paul S.P. Hsu, Senior Partner, Lee & Li Attorneys-at-Law
Vincent Siew, Chairman, Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research

Narongchai Akrasanee, Chairman, Seranee Holdings Co., Ltd.
Thanong Bidaya, Vice-Chairman, Council of Economic Advisor to the Prime Minister
Prommin Lertsuridej, Deputy Prime Minister, Government House
David Lyman, Chairman and Senior Partner, Tilleke & Gibbins International, Ltd.
Sukhumbhand Paribatra, Member of Parliament, Democrat Party; Chairman, Chumbhot-Pantip Foundation
Surakiart Sathirathai, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Noranit Setabutr, Secretary General, King Prajadhipok’s Institute
Thanpana Sirivadhanabhakdi, Executive Director, T.C.C. Cosmo Corporation
Kanthathi Suphamongkhon, Thailand Trade Representative, Member of Parliament
Vichit Suraphongchai, Director & Chairman, Executive Committee, The Siam Commercial Bank, PCL
Suvarn Valaisathein, T.C.C. Cosmo Corporation
Abhisit Vejjajiva, Deputy Leader, Democrat Party; Member of Parliament
Pote Videt, Managing Director, Private Equity Thailand, Lombard Investments
Mechai Viravaidya, Founder and Chairman of the Board, Population and Community Development Association
Borwornsak Uwanno, Inspector General, Office of the Prime Minister

Ernest Bower, President, US ASEAN Business Council
Ralph “Skip” Boyce, Ambassador, United States Embassy in Indonesia
John Bussey, Deputy Managing Editor, Wall Street Journal
Barbara Crossette, Writer on Foreign Affairs
Carla A. Hills, Chairman & CEO, Hills & Company
Richard C. Holbrooke, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Asia Society
Randy Howard, President, Unocal Thailand Ltd.
Darryl N. Johnson, Ambassador, United States Embassy in Thailand
Sidney Jones, Director, Indonesia Project, International Crisis Group
Leslie John Mouat, AIG Senior Executive for Thailand, AIG Thailand
Raymond Offenheiser, President, Oxfam America
Norman Ornstein, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
Nicholas Platt, President, Asia Society
Komal Sri-Kumar, Managing Director, Chief Global Strategist & Chairman, Comprehensive Asset Allocation Commitee, Trust Company of the West
John S. Wadsworth, Jr., Honorary Chairman, Morgan Stanley Asia

Nguyen Duc Hung, Assistant Minister and Director General, Americas Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Panaros Malakul Na Ayudhya, Director, Training, Disseminations & Public Relations
Termsak Chalermpalanupap, Special Assistant to the Secretary-General of ASEAN
Sherman Chow, Assistant to the President, ITOCHU Corporation
Vishakha Desai, Senior Vice President, Director of the Museum and Cultural Programs, Asia Society
Carol Herring, Vice President, External Affairs, Asia Society
William Ichord, Vice President, Washington Office, Unocal
Shinji Ishii, Assistant to the Chairman, ITOCHU Corporation
Satoshi Ishimoto, Assistant to the Chairman, ITOCHU Corporation
Jong Tong Hak, Chief Desk Officer, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, DPRK
Mikio Kato, Executive Director, The International House of Japan
William F. Kerins, Managing Director, Lombard/APIC (HK) Ltd.
Hiroshi Kitamura, President, ITOCHU (Thailand) Ltd.
Elizabeth Lancaster, Executive Associate, Asia Society
Kati Marton, Author & Journalist
Katherine Mok, Assistant to the Chairman, ITOCHU Corporation
Sheila Platt, Director for External Relations, Community and Family Services International
Ben Plumley, Executive Director, Global Business Council on AIDS
Anthony Pramualratana, Executive Director, Asian Business Coalition on AIDS
Robert W. Radtke, Vice President, Policy & Business Programs, Asia Society
Sadudee Sawegwan, Human Resources Development Specialist, King Prajadhipok’s Institute
Sukonta Sinthop, Training Officer, King Prajadhipok’s Institute
Thomas J. Smith, Managing Director, Lombard Investments
Vivien Stewart, Vice President, Education, Asia Society
Takayuki Suzuki, Manager, President’s Office, NTT DoCoMo
Allen C. Thayer, Program Officer, Southeast Asia, Policy & Business Programs, Asia Society
Surachart Thienthong, TCC Group

Michael G. Kulma, Senior Program Officer, Northeast Asia, Policy & Business
Programs, Asia Society