About us

The EAP program's core group and Chair of the Advisory Board, Peter Wallensteen.

(From left to right: Holly Guthrey, Isak Svensson, Elin Bjarnegård, Kristine Eck, Peter Wallensteen, Erik Melander, Joakim Kreutz, Stein Tönnesson)

The East Asian Peace Since 1979: How Deep? How Can It Be Explained?

During 2011-16, Professor Stein Tønnesson (PRIO and the Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University), leads a program with support from Riksbankens Jubileumsfond under the following heading: "The East Asian Peace Since 1979: How Deep? How Can It Be Explained?"

In the first three decades after World War II, the world's worst civil and international wars occurred in East Asia (Japan, North and South Korea, Mongolia, Eastern Siberia, China with Hong Kong and Taiwan, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Brunei, and East Timor). More than three out of four people killed in war were killed in that region. Since 1980 it has been relatively peaceful. East Asia s share of global battle deaths from 1980 to 2008 was less than five percent. This transition from widespread intensive warfare to relative regional peace has not yet been subject to any serious research effort, although the East Asian peace - and the question of its sustainability - are being more and more hotly discussed. Our research program seeks, first, to establish the depth of the East Asian peace since 1979 by mapping conflicts, peace processes and other factors: To what extent is peace just due to stalemates, conflict avoidance or government repression? To what extent has it been entrenched through trust, consensus-seeking culture, mutual dependencies, respect for the rule-of-law and legitimate governmental and inter-governmental institutions? Have political opposition movements perhaps shifted from armed to unarmed strategies of protest and rebellion? Second, our program will explore various possible explanations for the East Asian peace by testing realist, liberal and constructivist approaches, and developing hypotheses and theories of our own, with possible implications for general theory.

Program structure and participants

The program has a core group, which in addition to Tønnesson consists of Erik Melander, Elin Bjarnegård, Isak Svensson, Kristine Eck, Holly Guthrey, and Joakim Kreutz (all Uppsala University). Timo Kivimäki (Copenhagen University) was part of the core group until 16 July 2012. Holly Guthrey also serves as the program coordinator for EAP. The Advisory Board, which takes care of quality control, has the following members: Peter Wallensteen (Uppsala University), Bates Gill (SIPRI), Thommy Svensson (Stockholm China Alliance and Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, Copenhagen), Börje Ljunggren (former ambassador to Vietnam and China and co-ordinator, Stockholm China Forum), Moon Chung-in (Yonsei University), Robert S. Ross (Boston College), Wang Yizhou (Beijing University) and Kevin Clements (University of Otago, New Zealand). The following research associates will work on time-limited projects under the program: Miriam Coronel-Ferrer (Philippines), Allan Dafoe (US), Anders Engvall (Sweden), Benjamin E. Goldsmith (Australia), Linus Hagström (Sweden), Hoang Anh Tuan (Vietnam), Andreas Jarblad (Sweden), Jong Kun Choi (South Korea), Rex Li (United Kingdom), Liselotte Odgaard (Denmark), Paul Staniland (US), Ren Xiao (China), Song Yann-huei (Taiwan), Henrik Urdal (Norway), Wang Dong (China), Jessica Weiss (US), Mikael Weissmann (Sweden) and Zou Keyuan (United Kingdom).




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.