ASEAN Summit’s China Tilt Portends a New World Order

The South China Sea quandary continues. In summer of 2016, the international Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague issued a ruling in a case brought by the Philippines, rejecting China’s claims to most of the sea along with construction of artificial islands. The Philippines, under Rodrigo Duterte, refused to embrace the ruling – instead moving closer to China in the hope of trade deals. So it’s no surprise that other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, during a 50 anniversary meeting in Manila, backed away from a statement criticizing China for failing to respect members’ claims under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, explains author June Teufel Dreyer, professor of political science with the University of Miami. In turn, the United States has halted freedom-of-navigation exercises in the South China Sea. “Capitulation to China’s wishes does not necessarily translate into friendship,” Dreyer warns. The United States, ASEAN and other nations must clarify foreign policy to stand up for international norms. Or, the world must adjust to a new regional order, with China firmly in charge of the South China Sea.

Program Empowering Leaders in Tropics Receives $4.9 Million Grant from Arcadia

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The Environmental Leadership & Training Initiative (ELTI), a Yale-based program that makes the latest tools and research in forest restoration and sustainable management accessible to the people who manage tropical landscapes, has received a $4.9 million grant from Arcadia, a charitable fund of Peter Baldwin and Lisbet Rausing, to continue its work.

Through field-based training, leadership support, innovative online instruction, and open access information, ELTI since 2006 has reached more than 5,000 individuals — including landholders and farmers, practitioners and policymakers — across tropical Latin America and Southeast Asia.

ELTI provides targeted and open access resources that have helped individuals and groups develop local capacity to conserve and restore forest and tree cover that, in turn, supports biodiversity and livelihoods in regions that have endured deforestation and land degradation.

Resurgent Russia Joins Great Game in South Asia

With joint military exercises, weapons sales and multilateral conferences, Russia is reclaiming a role as a key powerhouse in Central and South Asia that it held during the Cold War. With a more isolationist administration in Washington, Moscow is also joining with China to fill a power vacuum in South Asia. “In recent years India has grown concerned about Russia’s growing closeness to China and especially the overtures to Pakistan,” notes Harsh V Pant. “Any new power equation in the region will have long-term implications.” The new strategic relationships provoke the ire of India – a strong ally for Russia during the Cold War that has since improved relations with the United States. Indeed, India is troubled by Russia’s recent decisions to appease extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan – initially hosting a conference on Afghanistan’s future with only Pakistan and China while excluding Afghan and US representatives. Additional countries were invited to subsequent meetings, but Russia has established itself as a leading powerbroker for Afghanistan’s future. Russia has a dual goal of constraining US influence while expanding its own, and Pant predicts that “regional theaters like South Asia are likely to face the brunt of this geopolitical competition.” – YaleGlobal

Yale General Internal Medicine hosts Vietnamese and Thai health leaders at addiction medicine symposium

On March 20, 2017, the Yale Section of General Internal Medicine hosted a delegation of medicine and public health professionals from Vietnam and Thailand for a symposium on addiction medicine.

On March 20, 2017, the Yale Section of General Internal Medicine hosted a delegation of medicine and public health professionals from Vietnam and Thailand for a symposium on addiction medicine. The delegation included senior faculty and academic leadership from Hanoi Medical University in Hanoi and the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and from Chiang Mai University in Chiang Mai.

The meeting was led by Patrick G. O’Connor, M.D., M.P.H,, chief and Dan and Amanda Adams Professor of General Internal Medicine, and Jeanette M. Tetrault, M.D., director of the Yale Addiction Medicine fellowship and associate professor of medicine. Both O’Connor and Tetrault have traveled to Hanoi as part of a collaborative effort to enhance addiction research, education, and patient care efforts in Vietnam. The symposium, which included Yale faculty experts on addiction medicine and addiction psychiatry, focused on Yale’s efforts to build innovative programs on research, education, and patient care in addiction, and how those programs might inform program development internationally.

The visitors were sponsored by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration as part of an international effort to support capacity building in the areas of addiction and HIV disease.

Yale-NUS College’s next president, Tan Tai Yong, has already left mark on community, curriculum

Tan Tai Yong, executive vice president for academic affairs at Yale-NUS College, has been named as the college’s next president by the Governing Board, following an extensive global search.

Tan, who will take up his new post on July 1, succeeds Pericles Lewis, the college’s founding president. Lewis will return to Yale to assume the combined role of vice president for global strategy and deputy provost for international affairs in the fall.

The announcement of the new president-elect was made March 14 by the co-chairs of the Presidential Search Committee: former Yale president Richard C. Levin, now chief executive officer of Coursera, and Tan Chorh Chuan, president of the National University of Singapore (NUS).


Sea Change Awaits Trump in Thailand

During the US election campaign and since, President Donald Trump and other members of his administration issued tough statements about China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea and promised to bulk up the US naval fleet. Thailand, both bilateral and multilateral treaty ally for the United States, may not be reassured. To be fair, as noted by author Benjamin Zawacki, Trump inherited cooling ties with Thailand from his predecessor who failed to secure a sustainable policy pivot to Asia. Thailand has been gradually improving relations with its neighbor China over the past two decades. Since the 2014 coup, China has become Thailand’s leading trade partner and the second largest source of foreign investment. Thailand joined the China-led Asia Infrastructure and Investment Bank, and the two nations have expanded joint military drills. “In January, Thailand announced intentions to develop a joint weapons and defense industry to facilitate increased procurement of Chinese arms,” Zawacki writes. Other nations are run by their own nationalist leaders. If crisis strikes over the South China Sea or another issue in Southeast Asia, the Trump administration could discover that allies could play an oppositional role. – YaleGlobal

A major collection comes to the Yale University Art Gallery

The Dr. Walter Angst and Sir Henry Angest Collection of Indonesian Puppets

Ruth Barnes, the inaugural Thomas Jaffe Curator of Indo-Pacific Art, is pleased to announce that Yale University Art Gallery recently received the largest collection of Indonesian puppets and related material ever given to a collecting institution: 166 complete sets of wayang puppets from Java, Bali and Lombok are coming as a donation to the Gallery. Each set has between 50 and 250 individual puppets. The exact number still needs to be assessed, but it is likely to exceed 20,000. There are two main groups, wayang kulit (kulit = Indonesian/Javanese for ‘skin, hide’), which are played in the famous shadow puppet performances, and wayang golek (three-dimensional puppets with wooden heads and arms and stick bodies covered by clothing), used in open stage narrative enactments. A small third group consists of flat wooden puppets (wayang klitik). Sweeping in scope, the collection contains all elements needed to perform complete narratives such as the Ramayana and Mahabharata stories and represents regional iconographic variations found throughout western Indonesia. Bringing the collection to Yale University immediately creates the potential for a center for cultural and academic research related to wayang, which is at the core of Western Indonesian cultures. The collection will become a draw for scholarly research and heritage preservation of one of Indonesia’s most cherished performance traditions.