Resolving the Senkaku/Diaoyu Island Dispute: The Limitations of International Law

Pacific Prospective features the research of graduate students.

Memo #272

By  Keshav Kelkar – keshav.kelkar [at]

Among the many issues causing friction in Sino-Japanese relations, none has as great a potential for generating armed conflict as the dispute over the Senkaku, or Diaoyu Islands. And in attempts to resolve the impasse, international law has if… Continue reading

Migrant Labour in Asia: Singapore’s Recent Riot

Memo #260

By Wajihah Hamid – wajihah.hamid [at]

Riot, angry mob? Surely unheard of in Singapore? But on Sunday, December 8, 2013, a fatal traffic accident involving a migrant worker in Singapore’s Little India sparked an angry reaction from the area’s low-waged migrant workers that morphed into a riot.

Temporary labour migration is the most… Continue reading

China’s Turn Against Law Fuels Rising Social Unrest

Memo #246

By Carl Minzner – cminzner [at]

Over the past decade, central Chinese leaders have changed course with regard to legal reforms they had pursued in the late twentieth century. This has eroded earlier state progress towards improving citizens’ access to justice, a reality that is fanning the flames of social unrest.

Over the… Continue reading

Thailand Increases Controls on Cyberspace Through Use of Archaic Laws

Memo #193 – Laws meant to protect the monarchy from “defamation” are increasingly being used to suppress free speech and discussion of politics in Thailand, particularly on the Internet. In the last six years, there has been a surge in prosecution of these “lèse-majesté” cases – some estimated as high as 1,500 per cent. Continue reading

Asia in the Governance of Outer Space

Memo #154 – In 2011, the United States Secretary of Defense and the Director of National Intelligence called global attention to the congested, contested, and competitive nature of outer space activities. All space powers, including in Asia, continue to struggle with the safety and security of assets that undergird their modern economies, militaries, and societies. The practical issue is how to achieve national objectives, some of which are only possible in collaboration with others. Continue reading

Indonesia’s Draft Law Exacerbates Religious and Ethnic Tensions

Memo #141 – Conflicts between religious and ethnic communities in Indonesia last year raised fears that communal violence might again erupt across the archipelago, as it did from 1999 to 2001. Disputes between Muslims and Christians led to the burning of several churches, the bombing of a church in Central Java, and the displacement of 7,000 people in Maluku. Continue reading

Why do Chinese Migrants Have to Pay so Much to Work Overseas?

Memo #135 – Unskilled workers from China have to pay exorbitant costs to work abroad in Japan, Singapore, and South Korea, their top three choices. Fees, averaging 8,000 USD, are not charged by human smugglers but licensed employment intermediaries. In fact, transnational labour migration through legal channels costs significantly more than illegal migration. This is not unique to China. Across Asia, the percentage of legal migrants is increasing – more than 800,000 Chinese by the end of 2011 compared to less than 60,000 in 1990. Why is the cost increasing? Because Asian states rely on intermediaries. Continue reading


Memo #135 – 日本,新加坡和韩国是目前接纳中国非技术劳工最多的三个国家;中国人去这三个国家打工,要付8,000美元的中介费。这些钱不是给人贩子,而是给有正规执照的中介机构。事实上,通过合法途径出国打工的成本要明显高于非法迁移。这并不是中国特有的现象。在亚太地区,合法移民的比例在增加——2011年底有80多万中国人在境外就业,大大高于1990年的6万人——但是成本也大幅度增加了。其原因就在于,亚太国家依赖于中介机构管理跨国劳动力流动。 Continue reading

Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge Tribunal – Victims’ “Right to a Remedy”

Memo #129 – Case 002 of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) is underway, more than three decades after the genocide that killed 1.7 million Cambodians. On trial before a hybrid United Nations/Cambodian judiciary are the three alleged most senior remaining leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime. They face charges of crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, genocide, homicide, torture, and religious persecution. Continue reading