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The Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations (HPAIR) Conference, Taipei (24-28 August 2

Sponsored by the Chennai Centre for China Studies (C3S) and part funded by the organizers in Taipei, two C3S members, Mr. D.S.Rajan and Mr. R.S.Vasan attended the conference mentioned above. The HPAIR was founded in 1991, by the undergraduate students at Harvard University; since then, it has regularly being holding conferences on Asia and International Relations; 20 so for in places including Beijing, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Singapore. The event returned to Taipei after 20 years and therefore had special significance for the organizers.

The overall objective behind the HPAIR initiative is stated as “Engaging the Harvard students in dynamic forms with world leaders in the fields of Government, Business, Academic and Arts. “Among the key persons behind HPAIR work are Prof. Ezra E .Vogel of Harvard University and Prof. Se – Hwa Wu, President, National Cheng Chi University (NCCU) Taiwan. Associated in the past with the HPAIR are the former President, of South Korea Kim Dae –Jung, former Prime Minster of Malaysia Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Peking University President Zhang Weiying and the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon.

The theme of the 2012 HPAIR conference was” Changes and Prospects: Envisioning Global Transformations”. 500 delegates including from the student community and faculty members from Harvard and NCCU, as well as Business and Government leaders from several nations in Asia took part in it.

The organizers of the Taipei conference had set up four panels to discuss several topics of current interest for Asia, for e.g. Security in Asia, Emerging Market in Taiwan, Private –Public Partnerships, Sustainable Investment in Asia, Entrepreneurship in Asia, Situation in North Korea, Taiwan’s Mainland Policy and U.S- China Relation.

The theme of the panel on security in Asia had the theme of “Shifting Poles: Transition and Security”. Mr.D.S.Rajan and Mr. R.S.Vasan made their presentations in the panel, on the assigned topics of “Security Challenges in India – China relations”, and “Regional Maritime Security” respectively. Mr. Travis Nels, MBA Class of 2013, Harvard Business School was given the opportunity to be the moderator. The audience consisted of more then 50 scholars from different parts of the world, including the US, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Japan and India. The paper of the two CCCS members were received well and the Question and the Answer session which followed was lively. There were concerns about the aggressive posturing of China vis-à-vis its neighbours . Some in the audience wondered who really were friendly with China besides Pakistan, North Korea and a few other smaller nations.

The conference was very well conceived and conducted over five days. This included visit to the University, site visits, cultural evenings and other activities to bring together the delegates both professionally and socially. The C3 S members were not able to attend all the events except the inaugural evening on the day of arrival.

The biding process for selecting the next HPAIR conference venue is scheduled for mid April and a decision is likely to announced in November 2012. On return a separate briefing was provided to the members of C3 S on the visit. The issue of bidding jointly with another university was discussed. However, due to time constraints (the bids were to be forwarded by mid October) it was decided to pass on the details to Madras University who could take up the case for hosting the event in India. It was also highlighted that some of the major institutions in India had not been successful in the bid for conducting the event this year.

Some of the China scholars, whom Mr.D.S.Rajan & Mr. R.S.Vasan met are Prof. Seiichiro Yonekura of Hitotsubashi University, Japan, Dr.Teng Chung –Chian, Department of Diplomacy, NCCU,Dr. Jeffrey R.Willams, Harvard Centre, Shanghai, Dr. Chen Sheng J.Yen, Institute of International Relations, NCCU, L.P.Yau, Editor in Chief, Ming Bao, Hong Kong, Ms Mu Hsiang Yu, Research Fellow, Taiwan Institute of Economic Research, Dr. Wong Pak – Nung Bryan, College of Literal Arts & Social Sciences, Hong Kong, Dr. Tang Siew Mun, Institute of Strategic and International Studies, Malaysia, Dr. Mignonne Chan, Taiwan Institute of Economic Research and Dr. Eiichi Katahara, National Institute for Defence Studies, Tokyo.

At the side lines of the conference, Mr.D.S.Rajan had the opportunity of meeting Taiwan vice- foreign minister Vaneesa Y.P. Shih. Along with Mr. R.S.Vasan, Mr. D.S.Rajan also called an Mr.P.K.Rawat, Director General, India – Taipei Association, Taipei.

Assessing overall, the Taipei conference has provided an useful occasion for the two C3S scholars for interacting with some renowned China scholars & policy practitioners who came from the US& several Asian countries. In that process the latter could gain a background on the activities of the C3S as a think tank in India, specializing on China studies.There was a lot of interest expressed by the participants in the activities of C3 S.

( C3S members ,Mr. D.S.Rajan and Mr. R.S.Vasan contributed to this report.

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