Welcome to the East Asian Peace Program

The East Asian Program was finalized on 31 May 2017, so from then this website will not be further updated.

The East Asian Peace program aims at explaining the East Asian peace and establishing its depth. The program, funded by the Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, is led by Stein Tønnesson at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University.

Praise and Criticism of Our Books

Nils Petter Gleditsch (Peace Research Institute Oslo) and Jo Inge Bekkevold (Institute of Defence Studies, Oslo) praise and criticise our two new books in postings on the PRIO blog.

Nils Petter Gleditsch does not agree that the peace is so uniquely East Asian as our program has claimed. Instead he sees a global peace trend, with the Middle East as an exception. He also criticizes our choice to develop rival theories to explain the East Asian Peace instead of forming a comprehensive theory, combining several causal factors.

Jo Inge Bekkevold agrees with what he sees as the three main messages in the Debating Peace volume, although he does not find them groundbreaking. He praises Tønnesson’s “developmental peace” theory for accentuating the role of Japan, but criticizes Tønnesson for underestimating the importance of security. It is only possible for a government to prioritize economic growth if it enjoys a basic level of security. Therefore, 1971-72 was just as important as a turning point for China as 1978-79: the security gained by Sino-US rapprochement made Deng Xiaoping’s market economic reforms possible. And today, the security in the region is threatened by a fundamental change: China has become a seapower in addition to a continental power. This is not sufficiently emphasized in Tønnesson’s monograph.

Along with these two critical blogs you will also find program leader Stein Tønnesson's blog "Can the East Asian Peace Survive?" https://blogs.prio.org/2017/05/can-the-east-asian-peace-survive/

Our two books, Stein Tønnesson, Explaining the East Asian Peace and Elin Bjarnegård & Joakim Kreutz, eds, Debating the East Asian Peace were launched on 5, 9 and 11 May at events in Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm. Both books have been published by NIAS Press in Copenhagen.

Launch of film about East Asian Peace

The Swedish TV journalists Thomas Heldmark and Rolf Wrangnert have produced a film for Uppsala University about the East Asian Peace. It seeks to explain how a whole region with more than 30 per cent of mankind, could make a transition from widespread warfare to what some call a "surprising peace". The film features conflicting views as to how deep or sustainable the regional peace has become. See the film here or find it on YouTube. You can choose the EnglishChinese or Japanese version of the film!

The Sixth Annual EAP Conference in Uppsala/Stockholm, 15-16 June 2016

Our 6th and final conference, titled "Regional Peace: Lessons from East Asia" was held in Uppsala 15 June and in Stockholm (hosted by the Swedish Institute of International Affairs) on 16 June. Kristine Eck gave the keynote address "The Price of Peace: State Repression and Quiescence in East Asia” We had panel discussions about "Predicting China", "Peace Processes in East Asia", and "Power Shifts and Peace",  presented the main findings from the program, and Advisory Board member  Thommy Svensson reflected on how the program should be followed up after it ends on 31 December 2016. We also launched a film about the East Asian Peace (in English and Chinese) and a book-length monograph in Swedish, published for our funder, Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, by Makadam förlag <http://www.rj.se/Boken/2016/den-ostasiatiska-freden/> For the full conference program, click here.

EAP members featured in Global Asia special issue, The East Asian Peace: How It Came About and What Threats Lie Ahead

The seven core group members, Stein Tönnesson, Erik Melander, Holly L. Guthrey, Kristine Eck, Elin Bjarnegård, Joakim Kreutz, and Isak Svensson as well as Advisory Board member Börje Ljunggren engage with explanations about the existence of the East Asian peace, as well as questions about its depth. Read more about these contributions here.

The 2015 Fifth Annual EAP Conference in Singapore

The fifth annual conference was hosted by the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore from 6–8 November 2016. Professors Miriam Coronel-Ferrer (Manila) and Dan Slater (Chicago) served as keynote speakers, and altogether papers were presented at panels. You find the conference program here. After the conference the Swedish Vetenskapsjournalisterna produced a short film from the conference, which you can see here. It gives a vivid impression of the vibrant scholarly debates unleashed by the program through its multi-national composition.

EAP Research Associate Miriam Coronel-Ferrer Awarded Hillary Rodham Clinton Award for Advancing Women in Peace and Security 

Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, a professor of political science at the University of the Philippines and EAP research associate, has worked as a chief negotiator of the Philippine government in the recent Mindanao peace talks. She is the first female to head peace negotiations for the Philippines. More about the award can be found here and for a transcript of her acceptance speech, follow this link

The 2014 Fourth Annual EAP Conference in Beijing, China

Participants at the Fourth Annual EAP conference at Peking University. 

The EAP Fourth Annual conference 2014, "Peace and Interdependence", jointly organised by the School of International Studies Peking University was held at Peking University in Beijing, China from 29 October – 1 November. Over 35 international scholars participated from the United States, Europe, Asia, and the Pacific. More information can be found here.

Mid-term Evaluation Conducted by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond a Success

The EAP program submitted a comprehensive report of our activities since the beginning of the program in May 2014. The report was reviewed by a panel of experts, including Jeffrey Kingston (Temple University, Japan) and Jack Snyder (Columbia University, New York), and culminated with an oral defense at Riksbankens headquarters in Stockholm. EAP was represented by program leader Stein Tönnesson, deputy program leader Erik Melander, and core group members Kristine Eck and Holly Guthrey. We received excellent feedback on our work and plan to run full steam ahead until the end of the program in December 2016. A copy of our report can be found here

Publication by Song Yann-Huei & Stein Tönnesson: The Impact of the Law of the Sea Convention on Conflict and Conflict Management in the South China Sea

Research associate Song Yann-Huei and  EAP Program leader Stein Tönnesson publish their article "The Impact of the Law of the Sea Convention on Conflict and Conflict Management in the South China Sea" in Ocean Development & International Law, Vol. 44, No. 3 (September 2013).

The article, which builds on a paper presented at the Securing Maritime Peace in Asia workshop, organized by EAP Research Associate Zou Keyuan at the University of Central Lancashire in April 2012, examines the impact of the UN Law of the Sea Convention on conflict behavior and management in the South China Sea during four periods: during its negotiation (1973-1982); from its signing to the entry into force (1982-1994); from then until the China-ASEAN Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (1995-2002); and from the setting of a timeline for outer limits of continental shelf submissions to the events following the 2009 submissions (2003-2013). Ambiguous effects were found. On the one hand, the Convention has generated or exacerbated conflict by raising the stakes, failing to resolve key legal issues, and encouraging overlapping zone claims. On the other hand, it has provided obligations, language, and techniques for conflict management and resolution. The conflict-enhancing impact was found to have been more substantial than the peace-promoting effects. Nevertheless, the balance has shifted toward more emphasis on conflict management and also some utilization of the Convention's peacemaking potential. If this long-term trend continues and the Convention is more rigorously respected and applied, the Convention may in the end be found to have contributed to regional peace.

EAP Program workshop 6-8 June 2013

From l. to r.: Elin Bjarnegård, Joakim Kreutz, Isak Svensson, Börje Ljunggren, Thommy Svensson, Erik Melander, Stein Tönnesson, Susanne Schaftenaar, Yongwook Ryu.

The EAP Program held its third program workshop titled "the Depth of the East Asian Peace," 6-8 June 2013, in Uppsala. The workshop was attended by nine participants. Apart from the EAP core group, Dr Yongwook Ryu (EAP research associate, Australian National University), Dr Joakim Kreutz (EAP research associate, Uppsala University), and EAP Advisory Board members Dr Börje Ljunggren and Dr Thommy Svensson participated. During the workshop, the participants discussed several works in progress as well as the proceedings of the EAP Program.

Meeting about Future Cooperation with Prince of Songkla University

From l. to r.: Dr Bussabong (Prince of Songkla University), Dr Ram (Prince of Songkla University), Dr Elin Bjarnegård (EAP Program), Dr Erik Melander (EAP Program) and Dr Srisompob (Prince of Songkla University).

EAP core group members Elin Bjarnegård and Erik Melander attended a meeting at Prince of Songkla University in Thailand where they discussed potential future cooperation. They met with Dr Bussabong (Prince of Songkla University), Dr Ram (Prince of Songkla University) and Dr Srisompob (Prince of Songkla University).

Securing Maritime Peace in East Asia: The Role of International Law

Participants of the workshop "Securing Maritime Peace in East Asia: The Role of International Law."

The East Asian Peace Program has jointly organized an international workshop titled "Securing Maritime Peace in East Asia: The Role of International Law" in Preston on 23 -24 April 2012. Legal scholars and specialists in other academic disciplines such as political science, history and peace and conflict research discussed the topic at hand.

The programme's workshop partners were Lancashire Law School, University of Central Lancashire, United Kingdom and the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, China. 

East Asian Peace Highlights 2011

Participants of the EAP First Annual Conference: 
From front to left: Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, Wang Dong, Hoang Anh Tuan, Wang Yizhou, Zou Keyuan, Peter Wallensteen (behind), Isak Svensson, Moon Chung-in, Susanne Schaftenaar, Thommy Svensson, Stein Tønnesson, Erik Melander. Standing from left: Mei Shanshan, Jong Kun Choi, Tang Chih-Mao, Ryu Yongwook, Anders Engvall, Bates Gill, Thomas Nielsen, Robert S. Ross, Mikael Weissmann, Elin Bjarnegård, Timo Kivimäki, Börje Ljunggren.

The East Asian Peace (EAP) program has passed its first year. Every January from 2012 to 2017 we shall pick a highlight of last year’s achievements. It must be a strong contribution to either explaining the EAP or gauging its depth and sustainability. 

Among our several publications, the 2011 highlight is Isak Svensson and Mathilda Lindgren’s article ‘From Bombs to Banners,’ which appeared in Security Dialogue. This article adds a plausible explanatory factor that we did not consider when we submitted our program proposal to Riksbankens Jubileumsfond in 2010. We thought only about state behaviour. However, we did not restrict our research proposal to international peace, but also included internal or ‘civil peace’ in what we set out to explain. Civil peace does not only depend  on governments, but also on rebel behaviour. What Svensson and Lindgren suggest is that there has been a change over time in rebel behaviour from rural guerrilla struggles to city-based un-armed revolts: from ‘bombs to banners’ or from ‘People’s War to People Power.’ This has now become an essential part of the EAP research agenda. Another strength in Svensson and Lindgren’s article is its comparative framework. It speaks not just of East Asia, but asks if there is a global trend away from armed violence in rebel behaviour. Just as the article went to press, events in the Arab world put the thesis to a test. Tunisia confirmed the trend. Egypt too, at first. Libya and Syria did not. Svensson and Tönnesson will follow up with a paper for the International Studies Association convention in San Diego in April 2012, comparing rebellions in East Asia and the Middle East.

Other EAP achievements in 2011 were to organize the first Annual Conference in September, establish Susanne Schaftenaar’s program office at Uppsala University, enter into contractual relations with all of the program’s 22 researchers and research associates as well as the eight members of theAdvisory Board, and engage in heated scholarly discussions over hypotheses that shall prove their value in the coming years. We also organized two panels on the ‘capitalist peace’ at the AAS-ICAS convention in Honolulu in May, where program leader Stein Tönnesson proudly received the 2011 ICAS book prize in the Humanities for his Vietnam 1946: How the War Began.  




Daniel Finnbogason & Isak Svensson (2017): "The missing jihad: Why have there been no jihadist civil wars in Southeast Asia?", The Pacific Review, DOI: 10.1080/09512748.2017.1325391 (published online 15 May)


On 2 May 2017, the Danish ThinkChina published a policy brief by Stein Tønnesson: Can the East Asian Peace Survive? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZLQ0vmxi68)


Sino-Russia relations

EAP Program Leader Stein Tönnesson and Research Associate Pavel Baev publish "The Troubled Russia–China Partnership as a Challenge to the East Asian Peace" in the Fudan Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences. 


South Korea-US relations

EAP Research Associate Jong Kun Choi was interviewed in an article titled "Korea should avoid getting stuck between US, China" in the Korea Herald.


Can the East Asian Peace Survive under Trump?

Norwegian public radio interviewed program leader Stein Tønnesson about this question on 5 January 2017, together with Dr Eirik Torsvoll, (PluriCourts program, University of Oslo), and  Professor Nils Petter Gleditsch (Peace Research Institute Oslo, PRIO). Professor Gleditsch has recently published a book in Norwegian, entitled Towards a More Peaceful World? During the discussion, Stein Tønnesson presented findings from the East Asian Peace program and predicted a crisis in Sino-US relations but he also saw some win-win opportunities in connection with a reset of Sino-US terms of trade. He thought the East Asian Peace would hold - because everyone knows how catastrophic  the alternative could be.

If you understand Norwegian, you may listen to the discussion here.


War or peace in East Asia?

Stein Tönnesson will participate in a seminar titled "War or Peace in East Asia?" at NIAS-Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, University of Copenhagen. More information can be found here.


US-Asia relations

EAP Advisory Board member Bates Gill publishes "Can Trump keep his balance in Asia?" in the Pacific Forum newsletter published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies


The East Asian Peace: Can it Last?

EAP Advisory Board member Börje Ljunggren will give a talk titled "The East Asian Peace: Can it Last?" Co-sponsored by the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies and the Harvard University Asia Center. More information can be found here. 


Our film screened in Cambodia

Our 16 minutes film East Asia's Surprising Peace  was screened at the 5th Annual Peace Practitioners Research Conference in Siem Reap, Cambodia, on 25 November 2016.

Afterwards, Stein Tønnesson gave a keynote address about the East Asian Peace and how it can be made more viable. The artist Chan Wai made the drawing here, summarizing the main points. It includes an illustration used in Japanese schoolbooks from 1947 onward to show Japan's renunciation of war.


Trust and Distrust in Sino-American Relations

Professor Steve Chan will give a talk titled "Trust and Distrust in Sino-American Relations" at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University. The talk will be held in Sal. 2 from 15:15-17:00 on 23 November.


The East Asian Peace – in Swedish!

Stein Tønnesson, Isak Svensson and Elin Bjarnegård gave a 30 minute presentation of the East Asian Peace programme at the Göteborg book fair on 22 September 2016, emphasizing the disagreements among themselves as to how the peace may be explained, and whether or not the region can be considered peaceful. See their presentation here.


Is the East Asian Peace threatened?

The 4th of July 2016 China Day at the annual Swedish Almedalen week in Visby, Gotland, includes a panel at 1 pm about the East Asian Peace, where program core group members Joakim Kreutz and Isak Svensson, and Advisory Board Member Börje Ljunggren discuss (in Swedish) if the East Asian Peace is under threat. For the full program of the China Day, see: https://www.facebook.com/events/1712190189030851/


South China Sea

On June 3, 2016 the EU Institute for Security Studies (EUISS) published online the report Sense and sensibility: adressing the South China Sea disputes, edited by Eva Pejsova. It includes chapters by two of the East Asian Peace program’s researchers: Liselotte Odgaard, “How to defuse Sino-US tensions in the SCS?” (pp. 17-23) and Stein Tønnesson, “UN Compulsory Arbitration: A tough test for China” (pp. 25-30).


Conflict in East Asia

EAP Program leader Stein Tönnesson publishes ‘Will Nationalism Drive Conflict in Asia?’ in Nations and Nationalism journal. 


EAP-Can it last?

EAP Program leader Stein Tönnesson participated in a roundtable discussion titled "The East Asian Peace: Can it Last?" at NIAS-Nordic Institute for Asian Studies in Copenhagen on 26 April. 



EAP Program leader Stein Tönnesson publishes "Myanmar’s ethnic minorities marginalised more" in East Asia Forum with Marte Nilsen.


EAP Advisory Board member Börje Ljunggren publishes "Växande oro för Kinas framtidsdrömmar" in Svenska Dagbladet. 



EAP Research Associate Ashley South publishes "Schooling and Conflict: Ethnic Education and Mother Tongue-based Teaching in Myanmar" with Marie Lall. 


China-Taiwan relations

Scott L. Kastner publishes "Is the Taiwan Strait
Still a Flash Point? Rethinking the Prospects for Armed
Conflict between China and Taiwan"
based on EAP Fourth Annual Conference paper in International Security. 



EAP Core Group member Isak Svensson publishes "Manufacturing Dissent: Modernization and the Onset of Major Nonviolent Resistance Campaigns" in the Journal for Conflict Resolution with Dr Charles Butcher.


North Korea

EAP Research Associate Jong Kun Choi publishes "The Perils of Strategic Patience with North Korea" in the Washington Quarterly journal.