2016 Annual Report
Our mission is to inform and strengthen policy in the Asia-Pacific. NBR conducts advanced research on politics and security, economics and trade, and health and societal issues. Drawing upon an extensive network of the world's leading specialists, and leveraging the latest technology, NBR bridges the academic, business, and policy arenas.
NBR’s 2016 Annual Report presents highlights of our work from 2015 to the present. We are enormously grateful to our generous supporters for their conviction in these important endeavors.
Letter from the President
Bringing integrity and truth to bear in a chaotic and sensitive political environment is what NBR is all about. This is not always the most remunerative approach, but in the end, from our standpoint, over the long term there should be no other way.
In 2014 the New York Times (NYT) examined the role of foreign, and especially foreign government, money in influencing some American think tanks and through them United States policy. This year the newspaper published another major investigative report on funding and think tanks, this time on the role of corporate support. The principal concerns in this recent article were the magnitude of corporate support; think tank research agendas that reflect specific company interests; corporate-funded think tank studies with preordained conclusions in particular companies’ interests; specific companies closely guiding and vetting studies prior to their publication; think tank-placed op-eds and think tanks’ electronic media supporting specific corporate interests; and corporate lobbying of legislatures and government administrations under the guise of think tank “neutrality” and prestige.
The NYT has singled out some think tanks (excluding NBR). It has not aimed at universities too, as it might have. The role of donors and educational institutions is as old as, well, donors and educational institutions. What matters are the standards and procedures of institutions, which will determine the integrity of research no matter the funding sources, be they government agencies, companies, foundations, or individuals. There is no lack of “interest” in virtually any funder. Integrity is achieved through a recipient’s handling of donors, either by not accepting money due to standards or by accepting money and handling donor relations in accordance with standards and procedures that ensure research independence.
At NBR we spend a good deal of our time deepening the commitment we made at our founding to produce the most advanced and objective, nonpartisan research. We achieve objectivity as best we can (I like to say that our “niche” is the truth) through reaching out to the best specialists in the world and making it clear to donors from the outset that we will choose the researchers, that we will not allow donors to edit or approve any study, and that all our studies will become public. Armed with research that meets these standards, we are proud to disseminate our work in every appropriate, effective way to the decision makers who matter.
As I said at the outset, and is pointed out to me frequently, it’s harder to raise money when conflict of interest is a huge value, and, therefore, you can’t do some things. We won’t promise research outcomes. We don’t take on projects that are at variance with our mission. We refrain from accepting donations from particular sources for specific (or, in come cases, any) purposes. At the same time, we’re realistic, knowing that there is no absolute guarantee that we won’t make a mistake, or that we’ll be treated fairly in a press report regardless of our standards, procedures, and performance. First and foremost, we focus on our job, which is to produce the highest quality and most effective products in a legitimately sensitive and nationally important enterprise.
Richard J. Ellings
Centers and Chairs
John M. Shalikashvili Chair in National Security Studies
Named for an extraordinary leader in U.S. national security, the Chair upholds General Shalikashvili’s legacy by contributing to NBR’s national security initiatives.
General Shalikashvili, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is recognized for his 39 years of military service to the United States, years of extraordinary leadership on the NBR Board of Directors, and his role as Senior Advisor to NBR's Strategic Asia Program.
In March 2016, NBR named Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert, who served as the 30th Chief of Naval Operations in the U.S. Navy from September 2011 to September 2015, as the third holder of the John M. Shalikashvili Chair in National Security Studies. As the new Shali Chair, Admiral Greenert will lead high-level initiatives and discussions to inform and strengthen the understanding of U.S. policymakers on critical current and long-term national security issues related to the Asia-Pacific.
Admiral Tomohisa Takei, chief of staff of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), and Admiral Greenert discuss the JMSDF’s approach to dealing with a full spectrum of maritime security issues as part of a panel discussion featuring an international group of navy chiefs and commanders.
Kenneth B. and Anne H.H. Pyle Center for Northeast
The Pyle Center serves as the organizing institution for NBR's initiatives on Northeast Asia.
Named in honor of NBR’s founding president and his wife, the Pyle Center was established in 2006.
The Pyle Center has a dual mission:
(1) to conduct forward-looking research that analyzes topics of importance for the medium- and long-term future of Northeast Asia,
(2) to enable the region’s emerging scholars, analysts, and policymakers to engage in dialogue and network-building opportunities to develop relationships, while increasing mutual understanding of their counterparts’ perspectives.
Slade Gorton International Policy Center
The Gorton Center advances the ideals of freedom and democracy inspired by former U.S. Senator Slade Gorton's legacy of public service to the State of Washington and the United States by sponsoring public policy programs and inspiring the next generation of leaders.
The Slade Gorton International Policy Center will be the living legacy of Senator Gorton’s values and extraordinary contributions to the nation and Washington State.
In NBR's Seattle headquarters, the Gorton Center serves as a recognizable courier of public forums on significant policy issues. The Global Leaders Program, the Center's signature "next generation" initiative, is a nine-month leadership development program for undergraduate, graduate, and law students. In October, the Center announced the 2016–17 cohort of Gorton Global Leaders.
In July, Mariana Parks became president of the Gorton Center, succeeding Creigh H. Agnew, who became president emeritus. Ms. Parks will direct the long-term strategic planning and development, and programs of the Center. The 25th-anniversary celebration of Senator Slade Gorton saving the Seattle Mariners, held in May, was a successful fundraising event hosted by the Seattle Mariners to honor Senator Gorton, the Slade Gorton International Policy Center, and U.S.–Japan cooperation.
Twenty-five years ago, Senator Gorton, John Ellis, and Nintendo's Howard Lincoln created a plan for investors to purchase the Mariners. Senator Gorton was honored for his key role in the effort, which overcame widespread opposition at a nadir in American views of Japan and prevailed over anti-foreign ownership sentiment among Major League Baseball owners.
People's Liberation Army (PLA) Conference
NBR’s annual flagship PLA Conference provides a venue for advanced research on strategic developments in China’s military, taking into consideration implications for the United States and the Asia-Pacific. The program brings together leading experts on the PLA from the government, think tanks, and academia.
The 25th iteration of the conference took place on October 21–23, 2016, in Carlisle, PA, and was co-hosted by the U.S. Army War College, the U.S. Pacific Command, and the Department of the Army. Conference presentations will be published as an edited volume in 2017.
Left to right: David Lai (U.S. Army War College) and Roy Kamphausen (NBR) are co-editors of most recent PLA conference volume, The Chinese People's Liberation Army in 2025. The release event for the volume was held on October 23, 2015, at the National Press Club.
The PLA Conference is made possible through the generous support of the U.S. Army War College, U.S. Pacific Command, and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.
Maritime Awareness Project (MAP)
NBR and Sasakawa USA partnered to create the Maritime Awareness Project to examine the complexities of the maritime domain through an interactive and analytical website.
Vice Admiral Robert L. Thomas, Jr. (Director, Navy Staff, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations) provided the keynote address at the MAP launch event.
The MAP portal (www.maritimeawareness.org) combines exciting, interactive mapping technology with analyses from an international group of distinguished experts to serve as the authoritative resource on maritime issues.
NBR and Sasakawa USA launched the MAP web portal at a public event on April 14, 2016, in Washington, D.C., with an initial focus on the Asia-Pacific. During the event, the leadership of MAP and several members of the International Expert Panel gathered to both demonstrate the web portal and engage in discussions on pressing maritime issues in the region.
Project leadership and experts speak at the launch event for the MAP portal.
Pacific Energy Summit
This annual, invitation-only event convenes leading policymakers, experts, and industry representatives from across the Asia-Pacific to develop practical solutions to the dual challenges of rising energy demand and global climate change.
Bambang Susantono (Asian Development Bank) delivered an address at a 2016 Summit session on the future of energy demand.
The 2016 Pacific Energy Summit, “Energy and Environmental Security in Times of Transition,” was held in Singapore from June 22 to 24, drawing participants from twenty countries. The Summit addressed how countries in the Asia-Pacific can embrace the opportunity provided by energy abundance to deepen cooperation toward collaborative and sustainable energy and environmental policies for the long term. Bringing together a high-level group of leaders from policy, industry, and academia in Singapore, the 2016 Pacific Energy Summit shed light on the opportunities, as well as potential pitfalls, facing decision-makers in these times of transition.
Left to right: Satya Widya Yudha (House of Representatives, Indonesia), Li Junfeng (National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation; Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association), Edwin Khew (Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore; The Institution of Engineers, Singapore), Arthur Hanna (Accenture), and Younkyoo Kim (Hanyang University) are escorted by Laura Schwartz (NBR) prior to their Summit panel discussion on implications of low oil prices on post Paris climate ambitions.
NBR thanks the following sponsors and collaborators for their support of the 2016 Summit: the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Chevron, ExxonMobil, the Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore, the Center for Energy Governance and Security at Hanyang University, the Energy Studies Institute at the National University of Singapore, the US-ASEAN Business Council, and the Singapore Tourism Board.
The 2015 Pacific Energy Summit gathered key stakeholders from around the globe in Beijing to discuss outlooks for energy and environmental security and offer transnational approaches to developing market-based energy policies.
Energy Security Program
Now in its twelfth year, the Energy Security Program examines developments taking place in Asian energy markets and assesses the implications for geopolitics.
The 2016 Energy Security Program "Asia's Energy Security amid Global Market Change" examined major shifts in global oil and LNG markets, the implications for Asia’s future energy security, and recommendations for strengthening energy and environmental policymaking across the Asia-Pacific. The 2016 program includes a high-level workshop that was co-hosted by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars on July 8 and a Capitol Hill launch event for this year’s Energy Security Report, which will be held in the fall.
Left to right: Mikkal E. Herberg (NBR), Edward C. Chow (Center for Strategic and International Studies), and Meghan L. O'Sullivan (Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University) at the 2016 Energy Security Workshop.
NBR’s Energy Security Program is made possible thanks to the generous support of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Hanyang University’s Center for Energy Governance & Security, and the Korea Energy Economics Institute (KEEI)
NBR uses a demand-driven, high-trust, nonpartisan approach to reach out to Congress and cultivate relationships with many members of the House and Senate on both sides of the aisle. NBR interacts with policymakers on Capitol Hill through frequent meetings, partnerships with study groups and caucuses, and substantive briefings, as well as facilitating congressional testimony by its executive staff and network of experts.
Congressional Outreach initiatives include:
Engaging Asia is a comprehensive initiative that encourages integrated high-level discussion of U.S. interests in the Asia-Pacific by convening experts from the government and academic arenas to provide analysis and policy recommendations for future U.S. engagement with the region.
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), and Matt Salmon (R-AZ) speaking at Engaging Asia 2015, a public discussion on how Congress should approach U.S. engagement in the Asia-Pacific over the coming year.
Bipartisan Chiefs of Staff Foreign Affairs Study Group
NBR and the Council on Foreign Relations have organized exclusive, private dinner discussions for all Senate chiefs of staff. These events allow for in-depth conversation about foreign policy issues with top experts.
U.S.-China Working Group
Since its founding in 2005, NBR has led the scholars of the Academic Advisory Group for the House U.S.-China Working Group, which is co-chaired by Representatives Darin LaHood and Rick Larsen. NBR also hosts monthly briefings for the Working Group and organized a series of policy interviews with top experts on China.
A congressional briefing co-organized by NBR in conjunction with the U.S.-China Working Group.
Senate India Caucus
NBR provides support to the Senate India Caucus, co-chaired by Senators Mark Warner and John Cornyn. This includes interviews with top experts on issues affecting the U.S.-India relationship.
House India Caucus
NBR provides academic and policy assistance through briefings and publications.
Bridge Award Fellowship Program
This program provides opportunities for Boren Fellows to work at NBR immediately following their return from the National Security Education Program Boren Graduate Award overseas.
The program seeks to equip returning Boren Fellows with the analytical and practical skills helpful to pursuing public sector careers in Asian affairs. As a Bridge Award Fellow with the Political and Security Affairs group, Jessica Drun has provided research and logistical support for the People’s Liberation Army Conference, the Strategic Asia Program, and the U.S.-China Relations in Strategic Domains Project.
The launch event for Strategic Asia 2015–16: Foundations of National Power in the Asia-Pacific.
Visiting Fellowship Program
This program aims to promote scholarly exchange and expose participants to the importance of bridging the gap between academic research and policy work.
Resident Fellow Sungkyu Lee
Fellows come from the academic, business, and public policy sectors to conduct policy-relevant, independent research on contemporary issues affecting U.S.-Asia relations. Participants are senior/mid-career experts, civil servants, and businesspersons who are on sabbatical or who have recently left a position and whose work focuses on the Asia-Pacific. In 2016, Sungkyu Lee, a Research Fellow and Head of the International Information Analysis Division at the Korea Energy Economics Institute (KEEI), joined NBR's Seattle office as a resident fellow.
U.S.-China Relations in Strategic Domains
Addressing one of the most important relationships in the world today, NBR brings together U.S. and Chinese scholars to jointly examine U.S.-China relations in the nuclear, maritime, space, and cyberspace domains as well as through military-to-military, and people-to-people exchanges.
U.S.-China Relations in Strategic Domains is a 24-month joint project between NBR and the Institute for China-US People-to-People Exchange and the Institute of International and Strategic Studies, both at Peking University. This project is made possible by the generous support of the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Support for our Chinese partner is provided by the China–United States Exchange Foundation. The initiative seeks to produce a forthright examination of the challenges in establishing greater trust and cooperation in U.S.-China relations in strategic domains and bilateral exchanges. At a Washington, D.C., launch event for the final report, leading experts, including former U.S. and Chinese officials, addressed the potential for conflict and cooperation between the United States and China on critical issues in bilateral relations and international governance.
Maj. Gen. Yao Yunzhu (PLA Academy of Military Sciences), pictured above, and report authors (left to right) Adam Segal (Council on Foreign Relations), Travis Tanner (100,000 Strong Foundation), and Elbridge Colby (Center for a New American Security) were among those participating in the report launch at which Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III (ret.), former Commander of U.S. Pacific Command, delivered the keynote address.
New Silk Road Economic Corridor: Political and Strategic Implications of a Chinese-led Regional Infrastructure Project
As China takes the first step toward the creation of a Eurasian economic corridor, NBR is engaged in an extensive study on how this move is altering regional geopolitics.
Commentary on China's "New Silk Road" by NBR Senior Fellow Nadège Rolland (at right) has appeared in U.S. and European media outlets.
The final report will assess reactions from China’s neighbors to the New Silk Road, as well as the potential political and strategic implications of this ambitious Chinese project for the region, the United States, and U.S. partners and allies in both Europe and Asia. Support for this NBR initiative comes from the Smith Richardson Foundation.
Critical Mass: Asia’s Nuclear Future
In a multipolar nuclear era, lessons of escalation, deterrence, and assurance based on dyadic relationships no longer provide sufficient models for effective policymaking.
This initiative considers the implications of multipolarity for U.S. strategy, and recommends conceptual and policy adjustments to account for this emerging reality in the Asia-Pacific. The project produced a monograph and held a launch event, a government briefing, and Track 2 workshop. NBR is grateful to the MacArthur Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York for their generous support of this important analysis.
Left to right: The principal investigator Matthew Kroenig (Georgetown University) listens to Christopher Twomey (U.S. Naval Postgraduate School), one of the senior advisors, speaking at the report launch.
Space, Cyberspace, and Strategic Stability in the Asia-Pacific
NBR is conducting a study on the effects of emerging dynamics in space and cyberspace on strategic stability in the Asia-Pacific.
Through Track 1.5 dialogues involving scholars and officials from the United States and key countries across the Asia-Pacific (China, India, Japan, Russia, and South Korea), the initiative seeks to build a multinational cohort of experts to provide a better understanding of the cross-domain linkages between nuclear and conventional domains.
The first round of funding for this initiative was provided by the Project on Advanced Systems and Concepts for Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (PASCC) at the Naval Postgraduate School. Future funding is provided by the U.S. Air Force.
This three-phase initiative seeks to identify ongoing and future security challenges affecting the United States, Japan, and South Korea.
The initiative will propose recommendations for strengthening the trilateral relationship and promote increased discussion of trilateralism within the U.S., Japanese, and South Korean policymaking communities. The first phase culminated in a report in which experts from the United States, South Korea, and Japan offered critical insights into both the past and future of trilateral cooperation and provide recommendations for leaders in all three nations to move the relationship forward. The second phase, featuring a Pacific trilateralism commission of regional and functional experts, is ongoing. NBR wishes to thank the Korea Foundation and the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission for their support of this work.
Left to right: Pacific Trilateralism project experts Yul Sohn (Yonsei University), Daniel Sneider (Stanford University), and Yoshihide Soeya (Keio University).
Trilateral Partnership Initiative
There is a growing recognition on both sides of the Atlantic that a revitalized and sustained dialogue among North American, European, and Asian partners can serve an important role in supporting peace and security in the Asia-Pacific.
Toward this end, the Trilateral Partnership Initiative aims to promote a dialogue among officials, academics, and analysts from the three sides focusing on the political and diplomatic, economic, and security domains.
U.S.-Korea Next Generation Leaders
The NextGen Leaders initiative aims to deepen U.S.-South Korea ties through ongoing dialogue between current and future leaders across the policy field.
NextGen Leaders is an educational program designed for emerging and established policy leaders in the United States to visit the Republic of Korea, develop a rich understanding of U.S.-Korea policy issues, and form close and continuing ties with each other and the Korean policymaking community. NBR is grateful to have the support and cooperation of the Korea Foundation on this program.
Mapping Pakistan’s Internal Dynamics
This initiative analyzed Pakistan’s internal security landscape and external geopolitical environment.
In partnership with the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) and with the generous support of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, NBR convened international experts from the research and policymaking communities. An international team of experts provided a comprehensive mapping of Pakistan’s internal security landscape and external geopolitical environment and assessed the implications for both regional stability and U.S. interests in Asia. The initiative produced the final report, "Mapping Pakistan’s Internal Dynamics: Implications for State Stability and Regional Security."
Strategic Assistance: Disaster Relief and Asia-Pacific Stability
This collaborative initiative between NBR and the Japan Center for International
Exchange (JCIE) developed a better coordinated and more strategic bilateral approach to HA/DR operations in Asia, a concept the initiative termed Strategic Assistance.
Over its two-year lifespan, the initiative identified the policies, capabilities, and strategies necessary for enhancing U.S.-Japan cooperation and coordination on HA/DR in the Asia-Pacific. The final report, "Preparing for Future Disasters: Strategic Assistance and the U.S.-Japan Alliance," examines the challenges posed by major disasters in the Asia-Pacific and argues that the United States and Japan need to elevate HA/DR to be a key component of their combined regional security strategy. The report is also available in Japanese.
NBR thanks the Sasakawa Peace Foundation and the Center for Global Partnership (CGP) for their generous support for this initiative.
India’s IP and Innovation Policies
This initiative examined India’s IP and innovation policies and highlighted recommendations for strengthening public policy in the United States, India, and globally.
Over the course of 2014–16, NBR convened workshops and dialogues in Washington, D.C.; New Delhi; Tokyo; Seattle; and Brussels that engaged more than 250 representatives from across the Asia-Pacific and Europe. The initiative resulted in several major papers and policy briefs by U.S. and Indian experts, including the NBR Special Report "Innovate in India."
Left to right: Subir Gokarn (Brookings India; former Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India) and Clara Gillispie (NBR) at a public event in New Delhi that was co-hosted by NBR and the Institute of Economic Growth (IEG).
The Globalization of China’s Life Sciences Sector
NBR is conducting a two-year research initiative examining China’s evolving approach to the life sciences sector. The study seeks to analyze implications for scientific innovation and international harmonization around new drug approvals, clinical trials, and related regulations, as well as the broader impact on U.S.-China relations.
The NBR Special Report "The Rise of Chinese Innovation in the Life Sciences" examines China’s efforts to create a globally competitive environment for life science innovation and assesses the implications for industry and policy.
NBR's annual Strategic Asia volume combines the rigor of academic research with the practicality of contemporary policy analyses by incorporating economic, military, political, and demographic data and by focusing on the trends, strategies, and perceptions that drive geopolitical dynamics in the Asia-Pacific.
The program’s integrated set of products and activities includes:
- an annual edited volume written by leading specialists
- an executive brief tailored for public- and private-sector decisionmakers
and strategic planners
- briefings and presentations for government, business, and academe
that are designed to foster in-depth discussions revolving around
major public-policy issues
The sixteenth volume in the Strategic Asia
series examines how the region’s major powers view international politics and the use of military force. The November 2016 release of Strategic Asia 2016-17: Understanding Strategic Cultures in the Asia-Pacific
will be followed by briefings for the policy and corporate communities.
Left to right: Richard Ellings (NBR), Admiral Dennis Blair (Sasakawa USA; NBR Board of Directors), and Aaron Friedberg (Princeton University) at the launch event for Strategic Asia 2015–16: Foundations of National Power in the Asia-Pacific.
NBR’s peer-reviewed scholarly journal presents policy-relevant academic research on the Asia-Pacific that draws clear and concise conclusions useful to today’s policymakers
In 2016, Asia Policy
organized roundtables on the maritime disputes in the South China Sea, Sino-Indian rivalry in the Indo-Pacific, and the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus. The journal also published peer-reviewed essays and articles on a range of issues, including South Korea’s security dilemma, the PLA’s expeditionary capabilities, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership in Japan.
To extend the reach of Asia Policy
, NBR established a consortium of leading Asian research institutions and universities. In January 2016 the Australian National University joined the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore as a member of the growing consortium.
NBR Analysis and NBR Special Reports
The NBR Analysis is a publication series that provides thought-provoking essays and briefs on the most important economic, political, and strategic issues in the Asia-Pacific. NBR Special Reports is an occasional paper series that disseminates expert research and findings on special topics.
The following NBR Special Reports were published in 2015–16:
- U.S.-ROK-Japan Trilateralism: Building Bridges and Strengthening Cooperation
Approaching Critical Mass: Asia's Multipolar Nuclear Future
U.S.-China Relations in Strategic Domains
The Rise of Chinese Innovation in the Life Sciences
Mapping Pakistan’s Internal Dynamics: Implications for State Stability and Regional Security
Taiwan's Strong but Stifled Foundations of National Power
The Dilemma Confronting the U.S.-Thailand Relationship
Strengthening Transatlantic Policy Coordination on Asia
- Indonesia: A Regional Energy Leader in Transition
- Preparing for Future Disasters: Strategic Assistance and the U.S.-Japan Alliance
- U.S., Japanese, and Asian Energy Security in a New Energy Era
- Innovate in India: Global Perspectives on the Continuing Evolution of India's IP Policy