South Asia

Myanmar After the Coup

The February 1st coup launched by Myanmar's military effectively put an end to the country's tentative transition to democracy as civilian political leaders were imprisoned and the results of the 2020 elections annulled. During an event sponsored by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation and moderated by HKS Professor of Public Policy Tarek Masoud, Pwint Htun, Non-Residential Myanmar Program Fellow at the Ash Center, and Derek Mitchell, president of the National...

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Myanmar Descends Back into Military Rule

Myanmar Descends Back into Military Rule

February 1, 2021
As Myanmar’s military launched a coup, imprisoning many of the country’s political leaders including Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who heads the country’s largest political party, the National League for Democracy, we spoke with David Dapice, a senior economist with the Ash Center’s Myanmar Program.
Disciplining of a Society: Social Disciplining and Civilizing Processes in Contemporary China

Thomas Heberer, August 2020

In this paper, we specifically focus on the social disciplining process in China since 2012, i.e., in the Xi Jinping era, although we also briefly touch upon historical aspects of disciplining (Confucianism, Legalism, New Life Movement” in the 1930s political campaigns in the Mao era, etc.). The approach adopted in this paper is to conduct an analysis of the disciplining/civilizing top-down project of the state.
 
We argue that the function of the current Chinese state as a disciplining and civilizing entity is the connecting link tying policies such as the state’s morality policies, its anti-corruption drive or the so-called “social credit system” together under a specific governance logic: to discipline and civilize society in order to prepare the people to become modernized. In fact, modernization and modernity encompass not only a process of economic and political-administrative modernizing but concurrently one related to the organization of society in general and the disciplining of this society and its individuals to create people with “modernized” minds in particular.
 
Our principal research questions in this paper are twofold: (1) How should disciplining and civilizing processes in general and in contemporary China in particular be understood? (2) What kind of policies and tools does the Chinese state use to pursue and implement its disciplining objectives?
 

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Transparency for Development Team, June 2019 

This paper assess the impact of a transparency and accountability program designed to improve maternal and newborn health (MNH) outcomes in Indonesia and Tanzania. Co-designed with local partner organizations to be community-led and non-prescriptive, the program sought to encourage community participation to address local barriers in access to high quality care for pregnant women and infants. This paper evaluates the impact of this program through randomized controlled trials (RCTs), involving 100 treatment and 100 control communities in each country, and finds that on average, this program did not have a statistically significant impact on the use or content of maternal and newborn health services, nor the sense of civic efficacy or civic participation among recent mothers in the communities who were offered it.

Greater Mekong Basin

What role can China play in promoting transboundary cooperation in the Greater Mekong Basin to coordinate development, strengthen water governance, and enhance environmental sustainability?

Few of the world’s transboundary river systems are managed well, or sustainably, and the Greater Mekong Basin (GMB) is an example. Cooperation among the six countries that are home to the Mekong River—China (Yunnan province), Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam—is dampened by long histories of colonialism, conquest and...

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Shabbir Cheema, November 2018

This policy brief explores how democratic processes in local governance affect access to urban services in Asian cities, especially for marginalized groups. It is based on research conducted by a group of national research and training institutions in nine cities in five Asian countries as well as regional dialogue hosted and facilitated by East-West Center with the support of the Swedish International Center for Local Democracy (ICLD). Governance process variables investigated were local government resources and capacity; mechanisms for local participation, accountability, and coordination; use of information and communications technology (ICT); implementation and replication of good practices; and management of peri-urbanization. This brief outlines research findings that are applicable across countries at the city level.

Transparency for Development (T4D)

Can communities play a role in strengthening service delivery? Does empowering citizens to engage in transparency and accountability activities have the potential to improve health, education, and other development outcomes?

Tony Saich, August 2017

This analysis argues that the period of easy reforms in China has ended, and the time of difficult reforms that touch core political interests has begun. The resulting challenges facing the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) general secretary Xi Jinping when he is confirmed for another five-year-term span political, economic, and international spheres. This leadership must both maintain a domestic focus to strengthen economic growth and avoid the “middle-income trap,” while also engaging in a host of regional and global actions to cement China’s position on the world stage.

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