Dear NBR Board/Chairman’s Council/Advisors/President’s Circle Members,
As I write this, we have just concluded our annual NBR and the China Strategic Focus Group, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, 2023 People’s Liberation Army Conference at the Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia. This year’s conference assessed how Beijing perceives its external security environment and how that perception is likely to shape its use of the PLA as a tool of national power over the next decade. Watch for the forthcoming release of the volume from the 2022 PLA conference, which evaluated how PRC actions in crisis scenarios are evolving along with the PLA’s modernizing military capabilities and increasingly assertive international behavior.
Earlier in the quarter, during a March 23 public discussion on Taiwan’s defense needs and capabilities, Admiral Philip S. Davidson (ret.) thanked NBR for hosting the delegation that he and NBR Vice President of Research Alison Szalwinski led to Taiwan in early February and noted that members of the Taiwan government with whom they met “believe the security environment that they have observed in the last two years is the most severe that they have seen in 70 odd years.” A panel discussion following his remarks explored the role that the United States and Japan can play in supporting Taiwan’s defense and deterring conflict in the Taiwan Strait.
As part of our engagement in South Asia, at the Clean EDGE Asia Conference in Dhaka I had the privilege of meeting with Shahriar Alam, Bangladesh Parliamentary State Minister for Foreign Affairs (introduced by NBR Advisor Ambassador Tariq Karim). Minister Alam shared his perspectives on Bangladesh’s development and economic success over the last fifteen years, growing regional leadership roles, and U.S.-Bangladesh relations in the run-up to next year’s elections in Bangladesh.
At our April Board and Chairman’s Council dinner Ambassador Paul Myler, Deputy Head of Mission at the Australian Embassy in Washington, D.C., offered his insights on Australian perspectives on AUKUS and perceptions of Quad developments as well his observations on the war in Ukraine, drawing on his prior ambassadorship to the Russian Federation. On May 30, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Camille Dawson, with the Department of State’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, joined our President’s Circle dialogue to discuss the role of public diplomacy in advancing the Biden administration’s Indo-Pacific priorities as well as the role of groupings such as the Quad, AUKUS, the Partners in the Blue Pacific. I look forward to offering more candid discussions with policy leaders and influential experts on U.S. affairs in Asia and deeply appreciate the participation of Chairman’s Council and President’s Circle members in these forums as well as their financial support toward NBR’s mission.
Below please find my quarterly NBR Impact Update for the period from March through May 2023. Please share this quick reference on NBR’s impact with your own networks.
⇛Bipartisan engagement on the Hill
- NBR hosted Tami Overby (Dentons Global Advisors-Albright Stonebridge Group) and Andrew Yeo (Brookings Institution) for a briefing in coordination with the House Foreign Affairs Committee to inform congressional staff of key issues in U.S.-Republic of Korea relations in advance of President Yoon Suk-yeol’s state visit marking the 70th anniversary of the U.S.-ROK alliance.
- NBR’s director of congressional affairs Josh Nezam hosted a congressional PACRIM study group dinner with Deputy Assistant Secretary of the International Trade Administration Pamela Phan and RAND political scientist Jeffrey Hornung on U.S.-Japan relations in light of Japan’s new national security and national defense strategies.
- To inform the 118th Congress on significant and emerging challenges to U.S. interests, NBR released a curated series of briefs synthesizing insights on key issues—from PRC coercion to energy security to digital authoritarianism—and response options for Congress.
⇛Informing U.S. trade policy
“Over the past 10 years, the IP Commission, working closely with the nation’s leading IP experts, has put forward numerous recommendations to address the grave economic, technological, and national security implications of theft of American IP. While significant progress has been made, there is still more to be done to ensure the innovative potential of U.S. businesses, entrepreneurs, and inventors is fully protected. The IP Commission will continue to do its part in developing recommendations to better secure American IP from infringement.”
Admiral (ret) Dennis Blair, IP Commission chair and member of NBR’s Board of Advisors
- May 13, 2023, marked the tenth anniversary of the release of the groundbreaking Report of the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property. Over the last decade, the IP Commission’s research and recommendations have been an essential resource to policymakers on how to address IP theft, shaping legislation from the 2015 NDAA to FIRRMA and PAIPA and informing successive administrations’ approach to IP protection.
In March, NBR hosted a visiting delegation from Keio University, led by Motohiro Tsuchiya, Vice-President for Global Engagement and Information Technology at Keio University. The delegation was made up of several senior researchers from Keio, including a former member of advisory committees to the prime minister and the deputy head of mission from the Embassy of Japan in Libya. Tsuchiya-san told NBR that he envisions deeper collaboration between a new strategy and policy center at Keio and NBR.
- With the United States hosting APEC 2023, NBR launched a year-long series of publications examining U.S. and regional priorities for this year’s meetings. The April commentary by Nigel Cory of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation provides recommendations for an effective U.S. digital agenda and was promoted by the official U.S. State Department APEC team on social media.
⇛Assessing renewable energy in South and Southeast Asia
“For Bangladesh to achieve a just energy transition, it will require contributions from business, government, and civil society. This will not happen overnight. It will take years to accomplish. But we can accomplish it faster if we work together through initiatives like Clean EDGE Asia.”
Ambassador Peter Haas
(Remarks at the Clean EDGE Asia Conference in Dhaka)
- In March, NBR staff and researchers traveled to Thailand and Cambodia for field research with government officials, U.S. embassy officers, and local policy researchers on Southeast Asia’s energy transition plans. The delegation met with another Clean EDGE Asia Resource Center, Chulalongkorn University’s Energy Research Institute, as well as Dr. Poonpat Leesombatipiboon, Executive Director of International Affairs of Thailand’s Ministry of Energy, and Victor Jona, Under Secretary of State in Cambodia’s Ministry of Mines and Energy.
- In May, NBR held its first in-region, in-person Clean EDGE Asia Conference in Dhaka. The conference featured keynote remarks from Bangladesh’s Energy Advisor to the Prime Minister Tawfiq Chowdhury, Foreign Secretary Ambassador Masud Bin Momen, Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee at the Ministry of Power, Energy, and Mineral Resources Waseqa Ayesha Khan MP, and Secretary (West) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ambassador Shabbir Ahmad Chowdhury. U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas also delivered a keynote speech (covered in Bangladeshi media) in which he emphasized the significant opportunities that U.S. private investment can provide.
⇛Informing government officials and analysts on Indo-Pacific security issues
“The opportunity to hear, first-hand, from renowned experts on the PLA and engage with them was invaluable for overall enhanced knowledge regarding the PLA.”
PLA Executive Education Course Participant
- From April 12 to 14, NBR hosted the fifth iteration of its Executive Education Course on the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). With former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for China Chad Sbragia serving as senior mentor, the course featured in-depth lectures, discussion sessions, and a scenario exercise that examined the PLA’s posture and strategy vis-a-vis Taiwan. The sixteen participants represented a diverse range of backgrounds and nationalities, including the Singaporean Ministry of Defense, the United Kingdom Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Defense of the Netherlands, and the Danish Centre for Cyber Security.
- NBR held the second iteration of the Pacific Islands Strategic Dialogue in Nadi, Fiji. The Track 1.5 dialogue, supported by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s Strategic Integration Directorate, Strategic Trends and Effects Department, Strategic Trends Division (SI-STT), convened high-level experts and government officials from Australia, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Solomon Islands, the United States, and Vanuatu in a hybrid format. Over the course of the two-day dialogue, 29 participants took part in the dialogue, including keynote speakers Siddharth Mohandas, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia, and Ambassador Marie Damour, Ambassador to the Republic of Fiji, Kiribati, Tonga, Nauru and Tuvalu. In March, NBR released a report based on the inaugural 2022 Pacific Islands Strategic Dialogue held in Guam.
- In March, NBR hosted a day-long interactive workshop with the Australian Department of Defence in Canberra, Australia, in which top international experts shared their insights on the future of geopolitical competition in the region and used the distinctive research framework of the Strategic Asia Program to develop new perspectives on Australian defense policy.
⇛Training the next generation
“I think the experience…demonstrated the importance of why we study IR and also the integrity of public service in the field…. [The fellowship] inspired me to pursue a career in the intersection of academia and U.S. foreign policymaking.”
Christine Liu, 2021 Ellings-Korduba Research Fellow
- While Chinese Language Fellowship Program 2022–23 fellows begin wrapping up their intensive language training in Beijing and Taipei, NBR is preparing to welcome a new cohort of PhD and prospective PhD-level fellows in July.
- In May, NBR welcomed its third cohort of fellows in the Undergraduate Diversity Fellowship Program.
- In June, the tenth class of Gorton Leaders Program Fellows will finish their six-month policy leadership fellowship in Seattle and celebrate their accomplishments by attending a baseball game in honor of Senator Gorton’s role in saving the Seattle Mariners.
- This summer, NBR will again host the annual NBR Summer Seminar: The China Challenge. As a part of this intensive, interdisciplinary seminar, we will welcome professional and student participants, as well as fellows from both the Ellings-Korduba Research Fellowship Program and the Japan Studies Research Fellowship Program.
With gratitude for your ongoing support of NBR’s Next Generation programs and work on the critical issues that today’s leaders—in America and beyond—need to understand,
Roy D. Kamphausen
President, The National Bureau of Asian Research