Recent Issue – Vol 82, No 4 – Winter 2009

The Limits of International Engagement in Human Rights Situations: The Case of Sri Lanka

By Bruce Matthews

The final three years of Sri Lanka’s civil war precipitated much concern about human rights violations. Late in 2006, a Presidential Commission of Inquiry (the Justice Udalagama COI) was charged with re-examining 16 problematic cases where initial investigatory procedures had failed or were inconclusive. An unusual invitation was extended to a small body of foreign observers whose task was to confirm whether the COI was meeting accepted international standards. With this initiative, the government of Sri Lanka could also show the world community that human rights issues were being taken seriously. This essay analyzes various challenges that arose from that experience. It argues that there are critical cultural and technical limitations to international external engagement in situations where human rights are in question.

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Thin Rule of Law or Un-Rule of Law in Myanmar?

By Nick Cheesman

The rhetorical force of the rule of law is acknowledged through offi cial discourse in Myanmar just as it is in other countries across Asia and around the world. Given that Myanmar manifestly does not conform to substantive models of the rule of law, which are associated with democratic government and individual liberties, might it conform to a minimalist one? Is there in Myanmar a thin rule of law to which the military government can lay claim, one compatible even with grave abuses of human rights? Or is there only “un-rule of law”? Beginning with some theoretical concerns, this article passes briefl y through a review of law and rule-of-law rhetoric in the country’s modern history before arriving at the present day. It recounts a court case
arising from a recent historic event, the September 2007 antigovernment protests, to query whether or not a thin rule of law can, in Myanmar at least, be said to coexist with authoritarian rule. It concludes that it cannot. But if the army in Myanmar has succeeded in overwhelming the courts at cost of the rule of law, ironically in doing this it may also have averted a worse scenario, one in which the denial of fundamental rights for which it is well known could be even greater than at present.

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Overtime Activists Take on Corporate Titans: Toyota, McDonald’s, and Japan’s Work Hour Controversy

By Charles Weathers, Scott North

This paper describes how small union and social movement support for plaintiffs in recent court cases has helped shape public discourse regarding excess work hours in Japan. Analysis of lawsuits involving two prominent Japanese corporations, Toyota and McDonald’s Japan, brings to light seven common strategies Japanese fi rms use to extract uncompensated “service” overtime and links them with violations of labour laws and damage to worker health. These cases reveal the alignment and relative strength of forces in Japan’s work-hour controversy, highlighting the role of civil society groups such as community unions and labour rights groups in supporting plaintiffs, and in keeping issues and their broader social consequences before the public. However, the cases also show the limits of activist pressure. Judges issued clear decisions favouring the plaintiffs, and the cases garnered considerable public sympathy. But even as the outcomes became front-page news, employers countered by attempting to re-legitimize the very overtime practices that had caused worker injury. Without the support and resources of major unions, political parties or government, campaigners for shorter work hours appear destined to struggle to transform overwork from a private problem into a public issue.

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Re-locating Politics at the Gateway: Everyday Life in Singapore’s Global Schoolhouse

By Jean Michel Montsion

Over the past 20 years, Singaporean state authorities have increasingly presented the city-state as a gateway between East and West. In the education sector, the Global Schoolhouse project represents a state platform for the gateway concept. It functions as a strategic business project that allows for state authorities to not only profi t from the international education business but to meet national objectives, notably in terms of recruiting foreign talent to fuel local industries. As part of Singapore’s move towards biculturalism, the Global Schoolhouse platform tends, however, to limit state understanding of Chinese culture in Singapore, which is becoming gradually more China-centric and homogenous. In light of Michel de Certeau’s work, it is my contention that new light can be shed on Singapore’s Global Schoolhouse based on how people in their everyday lives appropriate and contest this state construction of a gateway. By sharing the stories of two individuals involved in Singapore’s Global Schoolhouse, it will be stressed that the signifi cance of gateway initiatives in international matters can be better framed through the particular trajectories of people living at the gateway. In their everyday lives, people connect state initiatives to various transnational and local social processes no matter what the state objectives
may be. They give particular meaning to initiatives like the Global Schoolhouse and show us how they relate to other dimensions of their lives, notably by incorporating them into transnationalized household strategies of survival.

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East Asia Responds to the Rise of China: Patterns and Variations

By Jae Ho Chung

How is East Asia responding to the rising China? Pertinent literature suggests that explicit balancing or containment has been rare and engagement, if not appeasement, appears to be East Asia’s modus operandi. Yet, this study argues that certain, though subtle, variations are nevertheless discernible among the regional states in their responses to China’s ascent. Focusing on 15 East Asian states for the period of 2004- 2007, the article first presents a bird’s-eye view of East Asia’s responses to the rise of China. More specifically, inter-state variations are empirically demonstrated and four principal patterns—bandwagoning, hesitant hedging, active hedging and balancing—are distilled from the key responses of these 15 nations. The article then examines the sources of these inter-state variations, and argues that they are conditioned largely by three factors: alliances with the United States, regime characteristics and territorial disputes with China. The article concludes with some observations as to East Asia’s complex responses to the rise of China and their security implications for the region as a whole.

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Getting Global China Right
Review Article

By Paul Evans

Books Reviewed In This Issue

Asia General

PARTY POLITICS IN EAST ASIA: Citizens, Elections, and Democratic Development. Edited by Russell J. Dalton, Doh Chull Shin and Yun-han Chu.
Reviewed by Andreas Ufen

Reviewed by Robin LeBlanc

CATCH-UP INDUSTRIALIZATION: The Trajectory and Prospects of East Asian Economies. By Akira Suehiro. Translated by Tom Gill.
Reviewed by John Ravenhill

Reviewed by Reinhard Drifte

Reviewed by Takashi Terada

ASIAPACIFIQUEER: Rethinking Genders and Sexualities. Edited by Fran Martin, Peter A. Jackson, Mark McLelland and Audrey Yue.
Reviewed by John Whittier Treat

China and Inner Asia

IMAGINING GLOBALISATION IN CHINA: Debates on Ideology, Politics and Culture. By Nick Knight.
Reviewed by Timothy S. Oakes

THE VITAL TRIANGLE: China, the United States and the Middle East. By Jon B. Alterman and John W. Garver.
Reviewed by P.R. Kumaraswamy

CHINA’S GREAT ECONOMIC TRANSFORMATION. Edited by Loren Brandt and Thomas G. Rawski.
Reviewed by Victor D. Lippit

CHINA’S MONETARY CHALLENGES: Past Experiences and Future Prospects. By Richard C. K. Burdekin.
Reviewed by Carsten Herrmann-Pillath

HAINAN: State, Society and Business in a Chinese Province. By Kjeld Erik Brodsgaard.
Reviewed by David S.G. Goodman

RELUCTANT RESTRAINT: The Evolution of China’s Nonproliferation Policies and Practices, 1980-2004. By Evan S. Medeiros.
Reviewed by Jing-dong Yuan

CHINA: Fragile Superpower: How China’s Internal Politics Could Derail Its Peaceful Rise. By Susan L. Shirk.
Reviewed by Yongnian Zheng

ZHAO ZIYANG AND CHINA’S POLITICAL FUTURE. Edited by Guoguang Wu and Helen Lansdowne.
Reviewed by Marc Lanteigne

SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED: Work, Community and Politics in China’s Rural Enterprises. By Calvin Chen.
Reviewed by Susan Whiting

CHINA’S NEW CONFUCIANISM: Politics and Everyday Life in a Changing Society. By Daniel A. Bell.
Reviewed by Ruiping Fan

Reviewed by David A. Palmer

PERFORMING GRIEF: Bridal Laments in Rural China. By Anne E. McLaren.
Reviewed by Ellen R. Judd

Northeast Asia

DECIPHERING STRATIFICATION AND INEQUALITY: Japan and Beyond. Edited by Yoshimichi Sato.
Reviewed by David B. Grusky

JAPANESE-RUSSIAN RELATIONS, 1907-2007. By Joseph P. Ferguson.
Reviewed by Nobuo Shimotomai

THE KURILLIAN KNOT: A History of Japanese-Russian Border Negotiations. By Hiroshi Kimura. Translated by Mark Ealey.
Reviewed by Peggy L. Falkenheim Meyer

FIGHTING FOR FOREIGNERS: Immigration and Its Impact on Japanese Democracy. By Apichai W. Shipper.
Reviewed by John Lie

Reviewed by Patricia Boling

THE CINEMA OF NARUSE MIKIO: Women and Japanese Modernity. By Catherine Russell.
Reviewed by Jeffrey A. Dym

KOREA CONFRONTS GLOBALIZATION. Edited by Chang Yun-shik, Hyun-Ho Seok and Donald L. Baker.
Reviewed by Do-Hyun Han

MIN YOXNGHWAN: The Selected Writings of a Late Choson Diplomat. Translated and annotated by Michael Finch.
Reviewed by Eugene Y. Park

South Asia

LANDSCAPES AND THE LAW: Environmental Politics, Regional Histories and Contests over Nature. By Gunnel Cederlof.
Reviewed by Ajit Menon

THE SOUTH ASIAN DIASPORA: Transnational Networks and Changing Identities.
Edited by Rajesh Rai and Peter Reeves.
Reviewed by Kaveri Harriss

Southeast Asia

PIRATES, PROSTITUTES AND PULLERS: Explorations in the Ethno- and Social History of Southeast Asia. By James Warren.
Reviewed by Stefan Eklöf Amirell

MAKING MODERN MUSLIMS: The Politics of Islamic Education in Southeast Asia.
Edited by Robert W. Hefner.
Reviewed by Trevor W. Preston

UNCULTURAL BEHAVIOR: An Anthropological Investigation of Suicide in the Southern Philippines. By Charles J-H Macdonald.
Reviewed by Barbara D. Miller

TEARING APART THE LAND: Islam and Legitimacy in Southern Thailand. By Duncan McCargo.
Reviewed by Robert B. Albritton

LOST IN TRANSITION: Malaysia under Abdullah. By Kee Beng Ooi.
Reviewed by Diane K. Mauzy

HOUSES IN MOTION: The Experience of Place and the Problem of Belief in Urban Malaysia. By Richard Baxstrom.
Reviewed by Seng-Guan Yeoh

KUALA LUMPUR AND PUTRAJAYA: Negotiating Urban Space in Malaysia. By Ross King.
Reviewed by Terry G. McGee

GOVERNANCE, POLITICS AND THE ENVIRONMENT: A Singapore Study. By Maria Francesch-Huidobro.
Reviewed by Daniel P.S. Goh

Reviewed by Judith Nagata

CHALLENGING THE SECULAR STATE: The Islamization of Law in Modern Indonesia. By Arskal Salim.
Reviewed by Robert W. Hefner

FROM REBELLION TO RIOTS: Collective Violence on Indonesian Borneo. By Jamie S. Davidson.
Reviewed by John F. McCarthy

THE FOURTH CIRCLE: A Political Ecology of Sumatra’s Rainforest Frontier. By John F. McCarthy.
Reviewed by Freek Colombijn

Australasia and the Pacific Region

THE LAST WHALE. By Chris Pash.
Reviewed by Kate Barclay

NEW ZEALAND – NEW CALEDONIA: Neighbours, Friends, Partners. Edited by Frédéric Angleviel and Stephen Levine.
Reviewed by Nathalie Mrgudovic

EMPIRE, BARBARISM, AND CIVILISATION: Captain Cook, William Hodges and the Return to the Pacifi c. By Harriet Guest.
Reviewed by Andrew E. Robson

TELL IT AS IT IS: Autobiography of Rt. Hon. Sir Peter Kenilorea, KBE, PC Solomon Islands’ First Prime Minister. By Peter Kenilorea; Edited by Clive Moore.
Reviewed by Jaap Timmer

HELL’S ISLANDS: The Untold Story of Guadalcanal. By Stanley Coleman Jersey;
foreword by Edward W. Snedeker.
Reviewed by Norman Hurst

Books Included in Review Article

“GETTING GLOBAL CHINA RIGHT” Review Article written by Paul Evans

CHINA SHAKES THE WORLD: A Titan’s Breakneck Rise and Troubled Future and the Challenge for America. By James Kynge.

THE NEW ASIAN HEMISPHERE: The Irresistible Shift of Global Power to the East. By Kishore Mahbubani.

CHINA’S ASCENT: Power, Security and the Future of International Politics. Edited by Robert S. Ross and Zhu Feng.

CHARM OFFENSIVE: How China’s Soft Power is Transforming the World. By Joshua Kurlantzick.

CHINA’S RISE: Challenges and Opportunities. By C. Fred Bergsten, Charles Freeman, Nicholas R. Lardy and Derek J. Mitchell.

THE THREE FACES OF CHINESE POWER: Might, Money and Minds. By David M. Lampton.

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