Asia Society presents; 59
He's also resigned. This is a series of interviews with experts on Asian affairs designed to strengthen our understanding of Asian people and ideas. Your host on this transcribed series is the noted author around the world winning broadcaster Graham. Here now is Mrs. Graham our guest on this program is the most accomplished person and I think the age society is fortunate that he has become a new vice president of this is Sidey. In fact he will be in charge of a Washington Center that the society has opened recently. His name is Robert W. Barnett. And Mr. Barnett has a background which is most impressive I couldn't begin to tell you all of it but suffice it to say that he was deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs in 1963 until 970. He was born in China and has lived many years in Asia and will tell us I think another thing which will enhance our understanding of that still mysterious part of the world.
Mr. Barnett Why do we speak so often of Southeast Asia as a frontier. This is Graham. The topic that we took for today was fun tears of development in Southeast Asia and this topic appealed to me because it is nary in which we are seeing a progression from colonialism to independence on the part of almost all of the countries in the area. This is a frontier for them. It's an area in which to pass on is beginning to re-enter a part of the world which at one time it dominated the military way an area in which there are painful memories of the past. It's an area in which the Japanese are piercing new frontiers in their effort to regain an important position.
In world affairs. It's a frontier too in the sense that countries that have not had to to work together are moving towards regional cooperation. It's a frontier also in the sense that countries are able to give and have done so in the past on a bilateral basis. Are beginning to consider ways to extend this kind of assistance multilaterally. It's an area in which new ideas are being explored to forestall need less military spending. So in many respects Southeast Asia is an area where new things are being tried and new experiences are being begun by. A number of very interesting and important countries. When we speak in particular of Southeast Asia as being a front of development and we thinking of economic development specifically I
think we're thinking of economic development but also development politically. Culturally and technically. So far as political is concerned I think we should recall that. This was an area which was dominated by colonial powers for several hundred years in fact only Thailand of the countries of Southeast Asia has had an extended period of experience of independence over the past 200 years or so in Southeast Asia we see Burma which was under the subjection of the British. Singapore and Borneo as well. We see Indonesia which was a colony of the Dutch the states of Indochina were controlled by the French. And the Philippines having been under the domination of the Spaniards for. A very long period of time
has been a possession of the United States for a long time to Southeast Asia. Of course we find also the Portuguese in places like like Timor and the coast of China on the coast of India. This colonial pattern. Was the main fact of life for Southeast Asia for. Most of the 20th century up until World War Two. From 1941 to one thousand forty five Imperial Japan reduced to shambles the whole colonial structure of this part of the world stimulated and set loose all kinds of nationalist forces. But it did not have the foresight. Or the resources perhaps. To make its own row. Japan's own own role one of support of these national forces. Instead the Japanese
experience was one of exploiting these countries. For this reason after the end of World War Two we found a very complicated situation in Southeast Asia. In which there was a revulsion with the Japanese occupation. And a dislike of the restoration. Of. Our Western European. Colonial administration. And a very long period of civil war. In fact the Philippines became independent and one hundred forty six million fifty seven Singapore and 65 Indonesian forty nine Burman 1047 Indochina in 1054 and now in 1970 we find in Southeast Asia. For the first time and in this sense we must think of Southeast Asia fund as a frontier area as well. A new generation of
leaders and a new generation of followers who for the first time can begin to consider their own problems without a too acute recollection of either the European colonial administration or the Japanese occupation. Mr. Barnett although we want to talk about Southeast Asia I think nevertheless the idea of making some comparison between the colonial tradition in Southeast Asia and Africa might be paid at this point. I think one difference is that countries of Southeast Asia though under colonial domination each had a rich. And proud cultural tradition of its own. Languages and literature or religions and philosophy that they fiercely defended as having quality and importance to themselves and perhaps for
others. Notwithstanding what they considered to be the military and economic domination of outsiders. There was not I think in in Africa. The same feeling of pride. Yes that I suppose is a basic difference but would you say there is any difference then in the attitude as you've observed it on the part of Asians towards the white colonial man and of the attitude of Africans I think they're very similar in that respect there is a similarity. Could we just go back to that point of culturally You said that this is an affront to your culturally as well as economically. Really it's that Southeast Asia the Asians as you pointed out have a great pride in their culture what development they have along these lines except perhaps to become more electronic. I think that Asians do have a pride in their culture. I
think that. I recognize the advantages of technology as it can be financed from outside and capital has invested in industry and economic infrastructure generally. I think too that the Asians knowing that they live in a world where communications bring them very close together. And transportation as well. Believes that they must find in their own cultural traditions. Certain common elements that will contribute to a feeling of community amongst countries that live close together. Geographically. But have not always felt that. Cultural. Traditions were either the same or even compatible necessarily and therefore they are entering into a period where. They do
want to create a greater sense of community amongst themselves. Well now that this part of the world is being led by Asians and leaders have a reason in various countries to do the best they can. What are the special challenges they face as Asians. Rather if you want to compare them to the challenges that European leaders face to occupied Asia well maybe some of the challenges are the same but let's survey some of the challenges that they do face. For 20 years they have. I had the option of being aligned or non aligned in the great power confrontation between the United States and the USSR. Or shall we say between a communist and non communist world. The spectacle of Vietnam has been very
conspicuous on the horizon for all of them. And. So one of the challenges that they face is. Should they in plotting their future. Do so in close association with one side or the other aligned as it were as allies with one side or another. In a world where to the two they regarded as divided What should their attitude be towards war and got to stand aside support it or oppose it. Another challenge they face is with respect to economic growth. I think all of these countries realize per capita income of something like eighty two hundred fifty dollars a year per capita is grossly inadequate. In order to raise this. Per capita income from for that people there's an acute and immediate need for foreign capital. Know the
challenges they face are for is to what extent. Can they attract and absorb large infusions of foreign capital without in the process losing their souls. Or abandoning certain decision making processes that cause them to feel that they are being dominated by some other power. Than the powers that are organized around their own governments. Although Japan is not exactly a part of Southeast Asia she is a part of Asia and perhaps the leader. And no doubt the leader industrially and economically in that part of the world. What role can Japan play. Do you think she might begin to assume such an important role that it will not be necessary to have Western aid and support in Asia. The needs of the area for a lively expansion of trade and for. Heavy investment are so great. That I think the question of one
or the other an either or formulation of this question is false in fact. It is very important for all concerned. I believe that. The participation in the growth processes of the. Countries of Southeast Asia be as broadly based as possible and perhaps we can come back to this question a little later on. In asking what role can Japan play however. It is not so much as. What should it play what will it pay what will it be permitted to play in that part of the world. It is now the. Most important or the second most important country in the economic life of every country of Southeast Asia. It is already important as a partner in the ongoing economic processes of each of these countries as a source of imports or as a market for exports.
Japan is trading its investing and its granting increasing amounts of aid. Now there are certain mutual problems that depend on the countries of Southeast Asia face. In this ongoing process. One is a memory of the war the Japanese war experience in Southeast Asia or was it was one that left many many scars. The Japanese remember this and so did the Southeast Asia. The second is a fear of domination. And I think in fairness to the Japanese the Japanese are as fearful of seeming to be in a dominating position as a Southeast Asians are of having to power and move into that relationship. Another mutual problem is that the Japanese are really comparatively inexperienced in the field of foreign aid.
And there have been incidents. Produced needless friction between Japan wanting to be helpful and Southeast Asian countries wanting to be helped not just to Japan's capacity to be helpful. There is no doubt at all. It's already the third largest country in terms of the strongest country in terms of GNP in the world and within a very few years it's likely to be the second country after the United States it spends so little on its defensive apparatus that Japan does have the resources to extend very substantial concessional assistance to developing countries around the world. If you compute it for instance that 1 percent of the GNP which is a goal the Japanese are setting for They're getting programmed by 1975. They may have in excess of four billion dollars that can be used in development programs
in Southeast Asia and elsewhere. So the question is really for Japan and for those who would like to be helped with by Japan. What are the best techniques for the transfer of these resources. And I consider one of the most fascinating frontiers of intellectual activity in the world today. The efforts of the Japanese I'm making in trying to think through a strategy for making the operation of their economy and the surpluses that will become available to their country useful in a constructive development of. Southeast Asia. Mr. Barnett among the various interesting points you've been making is this one that struck me at the moment. You said that you feel full of appearing to dominate as the countries surrounding here might you think
they have to worry about being dominated. What evidence do you have of that. Well there have been a number of times when Japan could have put money into a project at the risk of making that project appear to be a creature. The Japanese government I have in mind for instance the Asian Development Bank. This is located in Manila and its members are made up of virtually all the members of the Economic Commission for Asia in the Far East. The initial capital of this bank there was a billion dollars and efforts have been made to supplement the initial capital with contributions of money that can be made available to the bank management for grant our soft loan purposes. The Japanese had indicated a wish to give a great deal more in saw so-called soft money to the Asian Development
Bank. Then they are actually giving it but have been reluctant to do it because they would like to have contributions to the soft funds come from the United States from Holland from Germany from Great Britain from Australia from other. Donor countries so that when the Asian Development Bank which incidentally has a Japanese President administers its funds it can plausibly be said that it's being administered by an Asian institution not just a creature of Tokyo. A very tactful approach. Well it's represents a strategic calculation of great importance to Japan because one way for Japan to avoid some of the irritations of bilateral relationships in which its resources are fed into the local requirements of one country another is to interpose international institutions on the Asian Development Bank is one which all of us regard as very promising.
Aside from Japan's assistance in Southeast Asia other examples of regional cooperation or is it merely something that is discussed at conferences but so far not worked out well. That's a very good question Mr. Graham. The Nixon doctrine makes a great deal of regional cooperation. I've just mentioned Japanese interest in. And promoting co-operative institutions that can somehow stand between them and the recipients of their aid. Under President Johnson Eugene Bloch made trips through the area in which one of his main purposes was to stimulate. An interest in moving towards regional cooperative undertakings. I would say this as to the main thrust of your question. As to whether this is a regional cooperation is Rio our conference start. I do not regard regional cooperation as the
most important thing on the minds of Asians themselves with Southeast Asia and these countries are thinking mainly about their own national problems. However over the past year or two there has appeared in Asian Development Bank in various educational cooperative ventures in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and in certain conferences that the Japanese in the Southeast Asian ministers of economics have a real candor and. Willingness to make some concessions of national interest among Southeast Asian countries so I would say that here again we're on the threshold of something rather significant. A final question. In your opinion can we afford to be optimistic about Southeast Asia's efforts to cope with these huge problems not just feeding themselves. Checking population growth peace and so forth.
Well pessimism I think is an intolerable state of mind. The only thing that is lost tolerable as is gross self-deception. So one should be careful in answering a question like yours. The performance of countries in Southeast Asia is uneven. So I think. We can speak differently about one or another of these countries. The grounds for optimism about the area as a whole however I think fairly clear the FAA always just reported that food production in this part of the world is commensurately higher than anywhere else in the developing world in fact whereas had been a 1 percent drop in food production per capita worldwide. There's something like a 5 percent improvement for this part of the world. All the countries of Southeast Asia now have family planning programs and this I think is also. A great advance for them. As to peace it's not entirely in the hands
of the USSR China. The United States and Japan all have a bearing on whether that can be war or peace conflict or cooperation in this part of the world. And I think that they have a Southeast Asians have a right to expect something special from the United States as well. I think they should expect us not to export into that part of the world powers that are private to us and not important to them. They should expect us to export some of our resources for their development needs. They should expect us to talk sense and if possible talk modestly and hopefully to lessen quite carefully to the things that are foremost on their mind. Mr. Viner we all thank you for the privilege of being able to hear your views there are many so called authorities on the subject of Asia but. There is no doubt about your qualifications. First you were born in China you've lived there many years you were deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and
Pacific Affairs in the State Department from 1963 until 1970 and as our audience was told at the beginning Robert W. Barnett is a new vice president of the Asia Society and is in charge now of a Washington Center for the Asia Society which was recently established. Thank you very much and goodbye. That concludes tonight's edition of the Asia Society presents with Lee Graham list series comes to you through the cooperation of the Asia Society. If you would like to comment on tonight's program or would like further information about the society and how you can participate in its many interesting activities please write to Mrs. Graham at WNYC New York City 100 0 7. I make a note to join us again next week at this time for another edition of the Asia Society presents. This is the national educational radio network.
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- Asia Society presents is a series of programs from WNYC and The Asia Society. Through interviews with experts on Asian affairs, the series attempts to strengthen listeners understanding of Asian people and ideas. Episodes focus on specific countries and political, cultural, and historical topics.
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