Minxin Pei Named NARP Research Associate

Minxin Pei, director of the Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies and the Tom and Margot Pritzker ’72 Professor of Government at CMC, has been selected from a field of 140 nominees as a research associate with the National Asia Research Program (NARP).

NARP, whose formal title is the National Bureau for Asian Research (NBR), is a national research and conference program designed to reinvigorate and promote the policy-relevant study of Asia. The organization is well acquainted with Pei, who has written two scholarly papers for the organization, the earliest dating back to 1997.

“I know its senior leadership and the organization’s activities quite well,” Pei says.

The two-year research associate position comes with a $5,000 stipend to cover activities through the program’s first year. In June, at the Asia Policy Assembly in Washington, D.C., one of the research associates will be awarded the Scalapino Prize, named after renowned Asia Scholar Robert Scalapino.

“I have a lot of flexibility in what I want to do,” Pei says about his research activities. “NBR wants research that has practical and policy-relevant importance, so I will be focusing on China’s domestic trends that will affect China’s relations with the outside world, especially with the United States. These trends may include economic development, civil society, human rights, policy-making processes and so on.”

Pei says that the newly established Research Associate Program requires its associates to write essays or reports that will help policy-makers gain a deeper understanding of the political, economic, and social contexts in various Asian countries.

“These reports will be widely disseminated to the policy community,” Pei says. “In addition, we will participate in various events sponsored by NBR that target the policy-making community. We cannot guarantee that our findings will have an actual impact on policy, either in the United States or in Asia, but that is certainly our hope.”

According to Pei, CMC was allowed to nominate one scholar specializing in Asian studies to NBR, which had an independent selection committee. The committee then picked 35 (25 of them research associates) to participate in the program.

“It must have been a quite competitive process,” notes Pei. “The roster of the research associates includes well established scholars in Asian studies, and I am very honored to be part of the group.”

The most important and difficult challenge facing future U.S.-China relations, in Pei’s view, is philosophical: the lack of strategic trust. “And that has a lot to do with the differences in the nature of the political system in each country,” he says. “As long as these differences exist, they will cloud each country’s threat perception, trust, and assessment of each other’s intentions.”