Our Scholarly 'Pivot To Asia'

Xu, Weiai Wayne

  • Published : 2019.07.22


During the Obama administration, America made a shift in its foreign policies to re-focus on Asia. The strategy, known as 'Pivot to Asia', was used to contain a rising China. In this editorial note, I appropriate the geopolitical term to call for a scholarly refocus on Asia (and the broader Asia Pacific region). JCEA started as an area journal. While it has become more technology-focused and less geographically-bounded in its coverage of topics, the journal recognizes the centrality of the region's political economy and technological forces in setting (and upsetting) global norms and rules. The Asia Pacific contains the world's freest economies as well as the most oppressive regimes. It breeds both technology giants and laggards. As new geopolitical tensions loom, it is where the digital iron curtain is drawn, and where the vice and virtue of innovations debated. Social scientists in the English world, who lend extensively on European and American cases, can benefit from studying the Asia Pacific by testing whether and how local experience conforms to or confronts with universal theories. Very likely, western-centric norms and models become morphed and entangled in the grounded local particularity, reflecting many shades of this diverse place. In my arguments below, I highlight the Asia Pacific as a site of contradiction, as well as a site of contention and negotiation. My emphasis is that regional particularity holds the key to answer concurrent debates in the West concerning governance and accountability in the digital age.