13 September 2012 - 15 September 2012

Security and prosperity in East Asia

Chair: Ambassador Christopher R Hill

This was a timely and stimulating discussion on a crucial area of the world. Economic power and potential were clouded by political tensions and competing territorial claims. Rising nationalism was a particular worry, with history weighing heavily on emotions. Popular cynicism about governments was a common feature across the region, with the influence of the social media growing all the time.

The US/China relationship occupied much of our discussion. Strategic mistrust had not yet been removed on either side. Greater mutual openness about strategy and interests would help, together with Chinese transparency about its military efforts. Neither side could dominate the other and this needed to be accepted. Peaceful co-existence between an established power and a rising one was never easy, but was essential.

On the security side, Taiwan was currently less of a preoccupation, but North Korea remained a major concern. The status quo on the nuclear side was untenable and needed to be addressed urgently. There were disagreements about how this should be done. Should China be using her undoubted influence more aggressively or should we be trying to understand and reassure the North Koreans more about their own security? One way forward was to look together at where the potential end-states might lie. Meanwhile tensions about the various disputed islands also needed to be contained urgently to avoid the risk of events spiralling out of control. There was no room for complacency here. Practical mechanisms to prevent escalation, accidental or otherwise, were desperately required. It was worrying in these circumstances that there was still no multilateral security architecture worthy of the name. A multi-layered approach was needed, and institutions which included both the US and China.

Economically, the prospects continued to look reasonable, but the world context was unhelpful, and systemic and cultural constraints also had to be addressed if growth levels were to remain high. Economic interdependence was now a fact of life, within the region and more widely, but prosperity could still be derailed by political instability. Again better, more inclusive regional institutions were needed, not just bilateral deals. Demography and rapidly ageing societies was the other huge challenge.

We identified a number of recommendations to tackle these issues, with the particular aims of improving the quality of dialogue between the main actors, pre-empting disputes, and building confidence. The risks of nationalism and political disruption to economic progress were otherwise unacceptably high.

Cheered by autumn sunshine, and encouraged by our knowledgeable and dynamic chairman, this was a lively and fascinating conference.  Its topicality was assured by the news of continuing and rising tensions over rival claims to islands in the region, with dramatic demonstrations in Beijing against Japan as we met. It would have been good to have more, and more senior, North East Asian representation round the table, but the participants were nevertheless diverse in nationality and attitude, guaranteeing some sparky exchanges.

Political background

The region was seen as the most promising in the world in many ways. Hundreds of millions of people had already been lifted out of poverty. The economic prospects for the future were still bright. But this picture was clouded by political tensions and uncertainties. Continuing economic progress needed a stable political environment. Perhaps the biggest question was whether the forces of economic integration would prove a bigger driver of future developments than those of political division. No-one wanted to kill the goose that laid the economic golden eggs, but that did not mean it could not happen.

Meanwhile the spectre of political transitions was hanging over the feast, with the impending changing of the guard in China a particular uncertainty (Xi Jin Ping reappeared during the conference after an unexplained two-week absence), elections in Japan and the Republic of Korea on the horizon, and the US Presidential election in two months.  These coming changes implied a pause in positive moves towards resolving some of the problems we identified.  But participants feared that there might be no time to lose to stop certain situations degenerating.

Many round the table pointed with urgent concern to rising nationalism in China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (and perhaps the US too).  Although there were differences in each case, the risk of nationalism getting out of control was a common feature.  Governments who seemed to be both stoking nationalist sentiment and trying to control it were playing with fire, particularly when the digital world was full of hyper-nationalist sentiment, particularly but not only in China.  The danger of sowing the wind and reaping the whirlwind was very significant.

The assumption that governments could control their citizens and their own reflexes when they chose, and that the island disputes were in the end not about big enough territories to make conflict justified or attractive, could prove dangerously complacent.  History loomed large in the minds of the people of all three major North East Asian states, and remained an important and emotive factor.  It could not simply be wished away.  While there had been progress in tackling some grievances from WW II, including Japanese acknowledgement of wrongs and compensation payments, the process of reconciliation and apology had not gone anything like as deep as it had in Europe, between France and Germany. Provocative gestures still seemed irresistible to many politicians.

As against that, the economic and other ties between the three main countries of the region had grown hugely.  Economic interdependence was now a reality, and mutual tourism was on a scale never seen before.  These links should be major counterweights to any temptations to adventurism.  The snag was that greater mutual familiarity did not seem to bring higher comfort levels or real friendship. 

We also detected worrying levels of popular cynicism about their leaders and governments across the region, though this was a global phenomenon too. Social media were hugely and increasingly important in the region, and information flows could no longer be controlled by governments. It was hard to be sure where this would lead, but it did not look like a factor favouring stability.

While relations between the three big local players were clearly crucial, the relationship we could not get away from was that between China and the US.  It was not all about this, just as the region was not all about China, but discussion kept coming back to both.  What we heard was not entirely reassuring.  Although each side said it was ready to accommodate the other, and to work together for mutual benefit, the expression which recurred most often to describe the relationship was strategic mistrust.  Neither side was really confident about the intentions of the other.  The Chinese thought the US continued to have a cold-war, zero sum game, mentality about China, had difficulty accepting the scale and speed of China’s re-emergence, and was seeking to contain China through coalitions with its neighbours.  They were inclined to see the so-called pivot in that light.  The Americans saw China as increasingly throwing its weight around with its neighbours in unacceptable ways, untransparent about its military capability, unwilling to tolerate the role the US had long played in Asia, and unwilling to say what role it wanted to play itself in the global community.  The pivot was a natural response to the desire of China’s neighbours for reassurance about the US’s continuing commitment to its traditional security role, and their concern about China’s recent behaviour over territorial issues, rather than an aggressive move.
At the same time, links between the two countries were now astonishingly rich and diverse.  Economic/financial interdependence was a fact of life, however uncomfortable either side might find it, and however unbalanced the commercial relationship might be in some respects.  Official policy on both sides was constructive.  The Americans recognised the need to make international space for China, acknowledge her security concerns, and continue dialogue in all areas, while improving its quality.  Military contacts had begun to resume.  The Chinese accepted that the US had a huge stake in the region and many friends and allies there, and could not and should not be left out.  But there were domestic pressures on both sides to be less constructive and more confrontational.  Such siren voices should be resisted, or the risk of drift into an adversarial relationship was high.

The US was not a ‘residential’ power in Asia.  Nevertheless its commitment to its role in the region in the short and medium term could not be doubted.  In the longer term, the ability and willingness to maintain this commitment would depend on the restoration of US economic strength.  But the US could certainly not be pushed out of the region when so many countries in Asia continued to want it to play an important role, or regarded it as a declining power in some way.

One way forward was for both sides to be more explicit not only about their strategies, but also about their interests – which could legitimately diverge. This kind of openness could help build trust, and create a new kind of relationship between the two big powers which did not resemble the old US-USSR cold war stand-off – there was no reason for the same kind of ideological battle or mutual fear which had characterised that relationship, even if political systems remained very different.  Countries could treat others with respect without abandoning their values. At the same time Asia did not need a solar system with two ‘suns’, where the circling planets of other countries were buffeted unpredictably this way and that by two huge competing forces. A stable galaxy where everyone could find their secure place should be the objective.

Regional security threats

We spent relatively little time on Taiwan.  There was a consensus that the dynamics between Beijing and Taipei had changed dramatically for the better, politically and economically, in recent years, and that the issue looked manageable for now.  But its final resolution would still be immensely difficult, and underlying tensions had not gone away.  There was therefore no room for complacency.

The biggest current threat, by common consent, came from the Korean peninsula.  The continuing nuclear ambitions of the DPRK were a source of huge concern to the rest of the international community and had to be addressed, since the status quo was unsustainable and unacceptable.  The Six Party talks were the obvious way of doing so, and the DPRK needed to be brought back to the table.

Consensus tended to end there.  There was disagreement on how far China could and should exert influence on the DPRK to make it change its behaviour.  Chinese voices pointed to the fact that they did not control the DPRK government, and the North Koreans had to be brought to the table voluntarily, because they saw it as in their interests to negotiate and believed their own security concerns could be addressed.  Others argued that the DPRK could not survive without China, which clearly gave China influence she was choosing not to use.  There was also disagreement about how far the DPRK had justifiable concerns about its own security which needed to be met before the nuclear issue could be resolved; and about the sustainability of the present regime and the likelihood of meaningful reform under the new leader.  Uncontrolled collapse was not thought to be imminent, or indeed desirable, but it was not clear whether incremental internal reform, if there were any, could make enough difference to the regime and its behaviour.

This led to the question of when and how change might come in the end, and what could be done to encourage it.  Some thought the regime only understood pressure, and should be treated accordingly. Others believed that desirable change would become more possible if the regime could be convinced that regime change forced on it from the outside was not the international community’s sole aim. We needed to make a bigger effort to understand their psychology. It was good that the party seemed to be re-imposing its authority on the military. The new leader might still surprise us. The example of Myanmar was much cited, where dramatic change had come from within, to most people’s surprise.  Indonesia had also undergone a dramatic and successful transformation from military to civilian rule.  One suggestion was that Mongolia should host a quiet meeting for representatives of North Korea, Indonesia and Myanmar to see whether any common ground could be established.

Another possible way forward was to convince China that the collapse, radical change or eventual disappearance of North Korea in its present form need not be a loss for her.  US troops would certainly not want to go north of the 38th parallel, and no-one wanted to see developments which would be in any way threatening or detrimental to China’s interests.  Much greater transparency about possible end-states for the Korean peninsula would be highly desirable. 

The other issue which preoccupied us greatly was the various disputes about island territories.  We tried to avoid discussion of the individual issues, since emotions were running high, including at times round the table, and there was in any case little or no immediate prospect of resolving any of the sovereignty questions.  We looked instead at how the tensions arising from the disputes could be best managed.  Here the problem was how to put the genie back in the bottle.  Previous attempts to park or freeze the issues had failed and, whoever had been responsible for reopening them, or provoking the other side in any given case, it was not easy to see how an effective Code of Conduct could be reintroduced and be respected.  One obvious way forward was to put the sovereignty issues to one side and agree on joint development of whatever resources were there.  But the nationalist sentiments aroused could not be easily controlled.  Moreover in issues where China was one of the claimants, other claimants tended to believe that freezing the claims would only favour China, given her growing military capability.

Although the worrying news during the conference was about the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands dispute between China and Japan, there was a feeling that this might in some ways be easier to deal with than the claims in the South China Sea, where there were multiple claimants.  In these cases, ASEAN should first sort out the claims of its own members, which would make subsequent efforts to manage the problems with China more manageable. Meanwhile China believed that her previous passivity had encouraged other claimants to be provocative, while others Chinese responses as worryingly aggressive and punitive, and bound to have a negative effect on her reputation and influence in the region and more widely, whatever the short term gains.

There were real fears that nationalist emotions about some of these claims might escalate out of control, in a vicious circle of reaction and counter-reaction.   Unfortunately, periods of elections and leadership transitions were not helpful from this point of view, since leaders were less able to promote solutions involving compromises.  This increased the importance of finding immediate ways of reducing tensions and building confidence.  One urgent need was to put measures in place to deal with accidental clashes or incidents, particularly at sea, where things could escalate quickly on the basis of mistaken responses or bad local tactical decisions.  Working hotlines, and mutual acquaintance of the key players, were essential in putting out such fires quickly.  Agreements on the distances which should be maintained between ships, and for example reactions to being illuminated by the other side’s radar, were essential. Dealing with deliberately decided provocations or escalations was obviously more difficult, but even here better mutual knowledge on the part of principal actors could only help.

Regional security architecture

This led us straight to one of the main issues, at least as seen from the outside: the lack of any meaningful multilateral security architecture in the region, and the ineffectiveness from a security point of view of the existing institutions. Tried and tested mechanisms to deal with problems were lacking. All the weight was therefore on tricky bilateral relationships.  North East Asia was currently an odd mixture: simultaneously the focus of 21st Century globalisation, and of 19th Century sovereignty and balance of power attitudes.

No-one around the table thought there was a single silver bullet to fix this problem.  No one institution, existing or future, was likely to provide an effective answer.  A multi-layered network would be a more realistic and effective response. One important consideration in this was to promote institutions and mechanisms which included both the US and China, and which were structured in such a way that neither one felt isolated or outnumbered.  One such grouping could be the six powers of the Six Party Talks, particularly if the Korean peninsula issues themselves could be sorted out. Groups of the so-called like-minded were to be avoided.

ASEAN was seen by all as an important player, and as showing the way towards genuine regional cooperation and integration in the wider region.  Outgrowths such as the Asian Regional Forum had disappointed so far but should not be abandoned.  The ASEAN Defence Ministers Plus Forum might be promising. Nevertheless ASEAN had not yet become as effective as many had hoped: turning up to meetings still seemed to be mostly what was demanded of its members, with all the risks of lowest common denominator agreements.  It was also clearly much more serious as a collective force when well-chaired by a strong member such as Indonesia.

The establishment of the basis of tripartite cooperation between China, Japan and the ROK was clearly important, and should be built on, but tensions between each of the participants severely limited its usefulness for now.

A difficult question for institutions in this area was whether the rules should be established before the institutions, or vice versa.  Most participants thought the rules should come first, along with clear penalties for breaching them.

One obvious way forward to help create trust and build confidence was to increase cooperation and institution-building in areas which were less obviously sensitive: trade, the environment, energy, and disaster management were examples where habits of working together and tackling problems successfully could be established, then built on over time.

Economic prospects

The experts among us thought that growth prospects for the region were reasonable – certainly not as high as we would have expected five years ago, but not the hard landing some feared either.  But the clouds on the horizon – and the near horizon at that – were significant.  The rapidly rising economies were by no means immune to the global slowdown, particularly the effects of the Eurozone crisis.  The much-talked of rebalancing of the regional growth model towards consumption had hardly happened at all so far, despite many promises. China’s continuing high dependence on investment- and export-led growth was particularly worrying.  The shift to domestic consumption was no doubt difficult because of the strength of vested interests, including on the part of politicians, in the current model, in China and elsewhere.  But it was unavoidable. 

The other big question in China was how far the overall system needed to evolve, politically and socially, for growth to continue at the high levels we had all become used to.  Most participants thought the system would have to change significantly to avoid the ‘middle income trap’ and encourage greater innovation, though not necessarily towards anything resembling western-style democracy.  Popular cynicism about corruption at high levels and resentment of large income inequalities could otherwise explode at some point. In these circumstances China needed to realise that what happened internally was of huge significance for the rest of the world, and that internal and external developments could not be kept separate as they had been before.

Japan remained the world’s third largest economy, with enviable levels of prosperity and well-being, but breaking out of the current economic stagnation still looked a big challenge.  The necessary measures to help achieve this were known to the leadership but difficult to carry through politically.  The recent rise in consumption tax (VAT equivalent) was nevertheless an important step in the right direction.  Japan’s debt to GDP ratio was very high, and the durability of the supposed safety from the fact that most of the debt-holders were Japanese was far from certain.

South Korea, like Japan and China, needed to move away from over-reliance on exports for its growth.  There were also structural issues in the economy – oligopolies of various kinds – which inhibited reform and dynamism.  But the economy had demonstrated its resilience, and had good prospects overall.

All three countries faced a massive demographic challenge because of their rapidly ageing populations.  Competitors such as India and ASEAN countries could still look forward to a demographic dividend, on the other hand, although this produced its own challenges of finding jobs for hundreds of millions of young people.  Dealing with the demographic cliff successfully would mean major changes, in Japan as well as China.  Japan would almost certainly have to relax its rules and attitudes on immigration, and on labour force participation by women and the elderly.  China would have to move much faster than now to create social welfare safety nets, particularly for the elderly with no-one to support them.

Trade and integration

Economic interdependence and cooperation should help foster and protect political collaboration and regional stability.  But it was not clear that they really were having this effect as hoped, in the face of security threats and rising nationalism.  It did not help that regional economic institutions had shallow roots, while the multilateral underpinning of regional prosperity was relatively weak.  APEC was seen as a waste of time by many.  China was suspicious about the East Asia Summit, and had so far refused to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership train, which otherwise looked like a promising initiative (though the bar for joining was set high).  China seemed to prefer for now to focus on negotiations in a purely Asian context, for example with Japan and South Korea, and with ASEAN. Building stronger economic institutions with wide membership was therefore a major objective.

Meanwhile the momentum towards more Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), both between countries of the region, and between them and outsiders, was significant.  This could provide large bilateral gains. However it would not aid wider integration much unless there was a more multilateral focus as well.  This would ideally be in a WTO context, but new deals outside the WTO structure could still help if they were regional in scope. 

Galvanizing the G20 to make it more effective and action-oriented in the economic and trade area would also be valuable.  This could be helped by making it clearer that China had an automatic seat at the global economic table, and also that Chinese investment in the US and Europe was genuinely welcome, which it needed to be.

It was important in this context to avoid politicising economic, trade and exchange rate issues. There was absolutely no room here for zero sum game approaches. As in the security area, working together on common challenges could help to build habits of cooperation, dialogue and joint problem-solving – areas like water, the environment and tackling the current economic crisis were potential examples. Climate change was arguably a bigger threat for this region than for any other.

The role of the EU and other outside powers

The question was raised at different times and in different ways of how the EU and European countries could play a more effective and constructive role in the region.  European countries were obviously interested in commercial and investment gains, but seemed to leave the strategic and security issues to the US.  This was not sensible from any point of view.  Of course the EU did not and would not have security assets in the region comparable to those of the US, but Europe had a strong interest in Asian stability as well as prosperity.  The US wanted to work more closely with Europe in this area.

On the economic front, the EU was moving to build on its successful FTA with Korea by doing the same with Japan, though this would be far from easy.  More widely, many participants thought Europe should have a clearer vision of what she wanted to see in the region, and ways of getting across her messages accordingly.  But not everyone agreed with this.  Some suggested that, given the colonial history, European countries were better off continuing to take a back seat.

Other key players were Russia and India, though we were not able to spend much time on their individual roles. Australian views were also important, and should not be seen exclusively through the prism of the US marine presence in Darwin.

Outsiders in general had no interest in or motive for taking sides in regional disputes. Their only concern was to see them settled peacefully. If they could help achieve that, they would be ready to do so.

Conclusions and recommendations

Overall we were concerned that managing regional tensions and disputes might prove more difficult than often assumed, including those over the islands.  Governments in the region needed to recognise fully the risks of stoking nationalism, and exploiting/manipulating history.  This would require vision and wise leadership from all concerned.  The biggest single risk was of increasing misunderstanding and rivalry in the US-China relationship.  Obvious distrust of the intentions of the other, by either side, could quickly become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Mindsets had to change on all sides in order to arrive at the necessary but historically challenging situation where an established power and a rising/re-emerging one could co-exist peacefully and cooperatively.

The following recommendations emerged, explicitly or implicitly:

  • The US and China should be more explicit and honest with each other about their strategies and interests.  Greater transparency could increase mutual trust.

  • China should make even clearer that she did not contest the US security role in the region, would not bully her neighbours, and accepted that she had to share global responsibilities.

  • The US and the EU should make even clearer that they were not seeking to contain China or build coalitions against her, and had no problems giving her the international space and status she needed and deserved.

  • The risks of the status quo in DPRK should be fully recognised by all concerned, and urgent efforts made to resume the Six Party Talks.

  • China should seek to use her undoubted influence on the government of the DPRK to bring her to the negotiating table and to initiate meaningful internal change herself.

  • A quiet Mongolian-sponsored meeting about how regimes can change, involving representatives of DPRK, Myanmar and Indonesia, would be worth a try.

  • Politicians on all sides needed to damp down nationalist fires, find ways of parking the territorial disputes on a no-prejudice basis, and build habits of dialogue and cooperation wherever they could.

  • More attention should be paid to preventing and pre-empting disputes and conflicts, rather than firefighting. This meant hard diplomatic spadework on all sides to build confidence.

  • Measures and mechanisms to stop accidental escalation of incidents around sensitive territories were urgently needed.  The situations were not comparable, but the Cold War might nevertheless offer some useful precedents.

  • New attempts to build an effective security architecture were urgently needed.  Institutions and mechanisms needed to include both the US and China.  ASEAN was an essential building block for many of these.

  • On the economic side, stronger regional institutions were also needed, with wide membership, again including both China and the US wherever possible.

  • Economic, trade and currency disputes should not be politicised.

  • Bilateral and free trade deals were worth pursuing, but the more they had regional or wider multilateral application/focus, the better.

  • Chinese outward investment into western economies should be welcomed more clearly, without artificial or unnecessary obstacles.


This Note reflects the Director’s personal impressions of the conference.  No participant is in any way committed to its content or expression. 


CHAIR: Ambassador Christopher R Hill (USA)
Dean, Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver (2010-).  Formerly: US Diplomatic Service; Ambassador to Iraq (2009-10); Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, US Department of State; Ambassador to the Republic of Korea; to Poland (2000-04); to the Republic of Macedonia (1996-99); Special Envoy, Kosovo (1998-99); Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Southeast European Affairs, National Security Council.

Mr Peter Jennings

Executive Director, Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), Canberra.  Formerly: Deputy Secretary for Strategy, Department of Defence; First Assistant Secretary, International Policy Division, Department of Defence; Chief of Staff to the Minister for Defence (1996-98); Director of Programmes, ASPI.

Professor David Goodman FASSA

Academic Director, China Studies Centre, University of Sydney; Professor in the School of Social and Behavioural Studies, Nanjing University; PRC Ministry of Education Distinguished Overseas Academic.  Formerly: A Member, Australian Foreign Affairs Council.

Ambassador Joseph Caron

Founder, Joseph Caron Incorporated, Vancouver; Distinguished Fellow, Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada; Special Advisor for Asia Pacific, Heenan Blaikie.  Formerly: Canadian Diplomatic Service (1972-2010); High Commissioner to India and Ambassador to Bhutan and Nepal (2008-10); Ambassador to Japan (2005-08); Ambassador to China (2001-05); Assistant Deputy Minister (Asia Pacific and Africa), Ottawa (1998-2001).

Dr Wendy Dobson
Professor and Co-Director, Institute for International Business, Joseph L Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto (1993-); Chair, Pacific Trade and Development Network.  Formerly: Associate Deputy Minister of Finance; President, C D Howe Institute.  A Member of the Board of Directors, The Canadian Ditchley Foundation.

Professor Paul Evans
Director, Institute of Asian Research, University of British Columbia (2009-); International Council Member, Asia Society, New York; Editorial Board Member, The Pacific Review, Pacific Affairs,The Chinese Journal of International Politics.  Formerly: Co-CEO and Chairman, Executive Committee, Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada (2005-09); Acting Director, Liu Institute for Global Issues, University of British Columbia (2004-05); Visiting Professor, Asia Center, Harvard University (1997-99).

Mr Stephen Rigby
National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister, Privy Council Office, Ottawa (2010-). Formerly: President, Canada Border Services Agency (2008-10); Associate Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (2008).

Dr Gong Keyu

Deputy Director and Senior Researcher, Center for Asian-Pacific Studies, Shanghai Institute for International Studies.

Mr Hu Zhangliang
Political Counsellor, Embassy of the People's Republic of China, London.  Formerly: Divisional Director, African Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Beijing; Deputy Mayor of Rushan City, Shandong province; diplomatic postings to Kenya and Sierra Leone.

Professor Wang Haihan
Senior Research Fellow, China Institute of International Studies; Vice-Chair and Secretary General, China National Committee of Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific (2012-).  Formerly: Diplomatic Service of the People's Republic of China (2000-12).

Mr Pierre Jaffre

Executive Vice President Asia Pacific, EADS (2011-).  Formerly: Senior Vice President Asia (2008-11), Vice President ASEAN (2005-08), Managing Director Malaysia (2001-05), EADS; Regional Attaché for South East Asia, General Directorate for Armament, Embassy of France, Bangkok (1998-2001).

Ms Manjeet Kripalani

Founder and Executive Director, Gateway House: The Indian Council on Global Relations, Mumbai; Board Member, International Centre for Journalists, Overseas Press Club, USA, and Indian Liberal Group, Mumbai.  Formerly: Press Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations, New York (2006-07); Staffer, US presidential primaries campaign of Steve Forbes; Staffer to Meera Sanyal, independent candidate for India's Parliament; India Bureau Chief, BusinessWeek.

Mr Hemant Luthra
President, Mahindra Systech; Member, Group Executive Board, Mahindra & Mahindra; Chairman, Mahindra Aerospace and Mahindra Engineering; Trustee, 'Save the Children' Foundation.  Formerly: Finance Industry Head, IBM India; CFO and COO of an Industrial Conglomerate; Founder and CEO, one of India's first Private Equity Funds; CEO, Essar Telecom (prior to merger with Hutchison).

Mr Haris Nugroho

Minister Counsellor for Political Affairs, Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia, London.

Mr Shogo Ishii

International Monetary Fund (1981-); Director, IMF Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Tokyo (2010-).  Formerly: Mission Chief to Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam; Senior Resident Representative in Thailand; Adviser, Export-Import Bank of Japan (1989-92).

Mr Noriyuki Shikata
Japanese Diplomatic Service (1986-); Political Minister, Japanese Embassy to the United Kingdom (2012-).  Formerly: Deputy Cabinet Secretary for Public Affairs, Director of Global Communications, Office of the Prime Minister of Japan (2010-12).

Professor Hitoshi Tanaka
Chairman, Institute for International Strategy, Japan Research Institute Ltd; Senior Fellow, Japan Center for International Exchange; Visiting Professor, Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Tokyo.  Formerly: Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs (2002-05); Director-General, Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau (2001-02).

Dr Chikako Ueki
Professor, Graduate School of Asia Pacific Studies, Waseda University, Tokyo; Visiting Scholar, Security Studies Program, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2012-13).  Formerly: Member, Prime Minister's Council on Security and Defense Capabilities (2009); Senior Research Fellow, National Institute for Defense Studies (2000-07); Visiting Scholar, Peking University (1998).

His Excellency Mr Choo Kyu-Ho

Diplomatic Service of the Republic of Korea; Ambassador to the United Kingdom (2010-).  Formerly: Professor, Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT) (2009-10); Commissioner, Korean Immigration Service, Ministry of Justice (2007-09); Spokesman for MOFAT (2005-07); Minister, Embassy of the Republic of Korea to Japan (2004-05).

Dr Tang Siew Mun

Director, Foreign Policy and Security Studies, Institute of Strategic and International Studies, Kuala Lumpur; Member, Executive Committee of the Malaysian Japanese Studies Association.  Formerly: Senior Lecturer, School of History, Politics and Strategic Studies, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

His Excellency  Mr Bulgaa Altangerel

Mongolian Diplomatic Service (1979-); Ambassador to the United Kingdom (2008-).  Formerly: Director General for Legal and Consular Affairs (2003-08); Ambassador to Turkey (1997-2003); Director, Foreign Relations Directorate, Secretariat of the Parliament of Mongolia (1992-97).

Professor Dmitry Streltsov

Head, Afro-Asian Studies Department and Professor, Moscow State Institute of  International Relations, Moscow; Research Fellow, Center of Japanese Studies, Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences.

Professor Joseph Liow

Professor of Comparative and International Politics and Associate Dean, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore; Co-Editor, Asian Security Book Series (Routledge); Editorial Board Member, South East Asia Research; Editorial Team Member, Asian Security; Author.  Formerly: Visiting Scholar, Walter H Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University (2011).

Professor Kerry Brown

Director, China Studies Centre, and Professor, Modern Chinese Politics, University of Sydney (2012-); Team Leader, Europe China Research and Analysis Network (ECRAN) (2011-).  Formerly: Senior Fellow and Head of Asia Programme, Chatham House (2005-12); HM Diplomatic Service (1998-2005).

Mr Edward Carr
Foreign Editor, The Economist (2009-).  Formerly: Business Affairs Editor, The Economist (2005-09); News Editor, The Financial Times (2000-05); Science Correspondent, The Economist.

Mr Roderick Gow OBE
Chairman, The Asia Scotland Institute, Edinburgh (2012-); Co-Vice Chairman, Cubitt Consulting, London (2010-); Chairman and Founder Canongate Partners Limited (2011-);Vice Chairman International, Prudent Capital Partners; Board Member, British American Business.  Formerly: Chief Executive, Asia House; Founding Chairman, Gow & Partners; Deputy Chairman, Amrop International; Chief Executive, GKR; Vice President, Barclays Bank; Captain, British Army.

Dr James Hoare
Research Associate, Centre of Korean Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

Lord Powell of Bayswater KCMG
Member (Non-Party), House of Lords; Chairman, UK Asia Task Force; Director: Caterpillar, Tektron, LVMH, Hong Kong Land, Mandarin Oriental Hotels.  Formerly: Chairman, China-Britain Business Council and Singapore-Britain Business Council; Private Secretary and Foreign Affairs Adviser to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

The Rt Hon Hugo Swire MP
Member of Parliament, Conservative, East Devon (2001-); Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (2012-).  Formerly: Minister of State for Northern Ireland (2010-12); Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport; Shadow Minister for the Arts (2004-05); Chairman of the Conservative Party; Opposition Whip; Director, Sotheby's (1997-2001); Deputy Director, Sotheby's (1996-97); Head, Development Office, National Gallery (1988-92).

Dr Steven Tsang
Professor of Contemporary Chinese Studies; Director, China Policy Institute and Director of Research, School of Contemporary Chinese Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Nottingham (2011-).  Formerly: St Antony's College, University of Oxford: Professorial Fellow; Dean; Director, Asian Studies Centre; Director, Taiwan Studies Programme; Director, Pluscarden Programme for the Study of Intelligence and Global Terrorism.

Mr Peter Wilson
HM Diplomatic Service; Director, Asia Pacific, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) (2010-).  Formerly: Political Counsellor, British Embassy, Beijing; Political Counsellor, British High Commission, Islamabad; Head, Strategic Policy Team, Directorate for Strategy and Information, FCO; Head, European Parliament Section, UK Permanent Representation to EU, Brussels (1999-2002).

Her Excellency Mrs Karen Wolstenholme
HM Diplomatic Service (1980-); HM Ambassador, Embassy of the United Kingdom to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (2011-).  Formerly: First Secretary and Deputy UK Permanent Representative to Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, The Hague.

Dr Michael Auslin

Resident Scholar in Asian and Security Studies and Director of Japan Studies, American Enterprise Institute, Washington DC (2007-); Columnist, The Wall Street Journal.  Formerly: Associate Professor of History, Yale University (2000-07).  Author, Pacific Cosmopolitans: A Cultural History of US-Japan Relations (Harvard University Press, 2011).

Mr John Brandon
Director, International Relations Programs and Associate Director, The Asia Foundation, Washington, DC.

Dr Kurt Campbell
Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, US Department of State (2009-).  Formerly: Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, Center for a New American Security (2007-09); Director, Aspen Strategy Group; Senior Vice President, Henry A Kissinger Chair in National Security and Director, International Security Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington DC (2000-07); Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asia and the Pacific, The Pentagon.

Ms Bonnie Glaser
Senior Fellow, Freeman Chair in China Studies and Senior Associate, Pacific Forum, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Washington DC; Member, IISS; Consultant for the US government on East Asia; Board Member, US Committee, Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific; Member, Council on Foreign Relations.  Formerly: Senior Associate, CSIS International Security Program (2003-08).

Dr Paul Heer
National Intelligence Officer for East Asia, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Washington DC  (2007-).

Mr Joshua Huck
US Diplomatic Service; Special Assistant to Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, US Department of State.  Formerly: Deputy Director, Office of Korean Affairs; postings to Japan and China.

Professor Balbina Hwang
Visiting Professor, Georgetown University; Adjunct Research Fellow, Institute for National Security Studies, Seoul, Korea.  Formerly: Senior Special Advisor for East Asian Affairs, US Department of State (2007-09); Senior Policy Analyst for  Northeast Asia, Asian Studies Center, The Heritage Foundation.

Dr Jamie Metzl
Partner, Cranemere LLC, New York; Senior Fellow, Asia Society, New York.  Formerly:  Executive Vice President, Asia Society; Deputy Staff Director and Senior Counselor, US Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, US Department of State; Director, Multilateral and Humanitarian Affairs, National Security Council; Human Rights Officer, United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (1991-93).

Mr Ashley Tellis
Senior Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington DC.  Formerly: Senior Adviser to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, US Department of State; Senior Advisor to the Ambassador, US Embassy, New Delhi; Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director, Strategic Planning and South West Asia, National Security Council.  A Member of The Advisory Council, The American Ditchley Foundation.