Tom Plate

Tom Plate

Tom Plate is a university professor and a veteran columnist focused on Asia and America. This Distinguished Scholar of Asian and Pacific Studies at Loyola Marymount University has orchestrated live interactive seminars with major universities across Asia, as part of the LMU’s path-finding Asia Media International Centre. He is also the author of 13 books, including the bestsellers “Confessions of an American Media Man” (2007), four volumes in the “Giants of Asia” series, and three In the 'Tom Plate on Asia' book series. He is vice-president of the Pacific Century Institute, in Los Angeles. Educated at Amherst College (Phi Beta Kappa) and Princeton University (Public Policy), he lives in southern California.

Latest from Tom Plate

Opinion | Why US arrogance, not the Russia-China relationship, is the biggest barrier to peace in Ukraine

Peace pleas directed at the Kremlin must be extended to Washington: its ‘mission creep’ tendencies and hostility towards Beijing – whose influence with Moscow might have made all the difference – threaten to extinguish hopes of a near-term diplomatic solution in Europe.

Peace pleas directed at the Kremlin must be extended to Washington: its ‘mission creep’ tendencies and hostility towards Beijing – whose influence with Moscow might have made all the difference – threaten to extinguish hopes of a near-term diplomatic solution in Europe.

17 May 2022 - 3:28AM
Opinion | Threat of Russian nuclear attack shows why China’s no-first-use policy should be global standard

While nuclear weapons use is often labelled unthinkable, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, that option now seems to be on the table. China has long had a clear no-first-use policy, but the US does not commit to this, stressing nuclear deterrence instead.

While nuclear weapons use is often labelled unthinkable, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, that option now seems to be on the table. China has long had a clear no-first-use policy, but the US does not commit to this, stressing nuclear deterrence instead.

3 May 2022 - 3:01AM
Opinion | Singapore, reluctant US-China go-between, should continue to be useful to both

Talks between Lee Hsien Loong and Joe Biden reflect Singapore’s role as interlocutor for the US in Asia, which can only be good news for a conflict-weary world. Dismissed by some for its size, Singapore boasts a strategic location, high GDP, and a demonstrated ability to work with China.

Talks between Lee Hsien Loong and Joe Biden reflect Singapore’s role as interlocutor for the US in Asia, which can only be good news for a conflict-weary world. Dismissed by some for its size, Singapore boasts a strategic location, high GDP, and a demonstrated ability to work with China.

19 Apr 2022 - 1:00AM
Opinion | US-China relations need ‘planetary realism’ to avoid geopolitical and ecological apocalypse

Former California governor Jerry Brown has turned his attention towards trying to improve US-China relations in the name of global stability. For both countries to survive and thrive, they must find a way to cooperate as well as compete.

Former California governor Jerry Brown has turned his attention towards trying to improve US-China relations in the name of global stability. For both countries to survive and thrive, they must find a way to cooperate as well as compete.

5 Apr 2022 - 4:11AM
Opinion | Ukraine crisis calls for China to take part in a daring diplomatic intervention

China has staked out a position ambiguous enough to allow quick movement away from the perception of complicity with Moscow. Clear thinking by Beijing is of the utmost importance to end Russia’s shelling of Ukraine and to keep the world from tipping into nuclear catastrophe.

China has staked out a position ambiguous enough to allow quick movement away from the perception of complicity with Moscow. Clear thinking by Beijing is of the utmost importance to end Russia’s shelling of Ukraine and to keep the world from tipping into nuclear catastrophe.

22 Mar 2022 - 3:27AM
Opinion | Ukraine invasion: China may be world’s best bet for brokering peace between Russia and the West

The threat of nuclear force calls for greater attempts at negotiation and a willingness by the West to make concessions to provide Putin with a way out. Beijing’s relations with Moscow, plus its core principles of non-interference and ‘no first use’ of nukes make it an ideal mediator.

The threat of nuclear force calls for greater attempts at negotiation and a willingness by the West to make concessions to provide Putin with a way out. Beijing’s relations with Moscow, plus its core principles of non-interference and ‘no first use’ of nukes make it an ideal mediator.

9 Mar 2022 - 1:47PM
Opinion | Ukraine crisis: is there reason to be optimistic about peace?

On the matter of Russia and Ukraine, Beijing has been notably careful not to endorse any invasion. It is Washington that should stop taking a dim view of countries with national interests different from its own.

On the matter of Russia and Ukraine, Beijing has been notably careful not to endorse any invasion. It is Washington that should stop taking a dim view of countries with national interests different from its own.

9 Mar 2022 - 1:54PM
Opinion | Is China’s tilt towards Russia in Beijing’s best long-term interest?

Trying to outflank the US by gaming geopolitically with Putin is a risky business, given the Russian president’s image abroad. For its part, the US needs to show greater selectivity about when and where to try to plant the American flag or export the American way.

Trying to outflank the US by gaming geopolitically with Putin is a risky business, given the Russian president’s image abroad. For its part, the US needs to show greater selectivity about when and where to try to plant the American flag or export the American way.

8 Feb 2022 - 5:30AM
Opinion | Power game: Ukraine’s fate will be shaped by decisions from Russia, China and America

Russia is seeking to influence Ukraine while Washington keeps a close watch on both Moscow and Beijing. The Biden administration is on shaky ground domestically and needs a foreign-policy win after the Afghanistan fiasco.

Russia is seeking to influence Ukraine while Washington keeps a close watch on both Moscow and Beijing. The Biden administration is on shaky ground domestically and needs a foreign-policy win after the Afghanistan fiasco.

25 Jan 2022 - 5:44AM
Opinion | Deteriorating US-China relations threaten an Asian arms race. It’s time for a reboot

US-China relations have been on a downward spiral since the end of the Clinton administration. Today, a US foreign policy that requires the choosing of sides has little future. This should be obvious when Asian countries like the Philippines feel the need to buy missiles.

US-China relations have been on a downward spiral since the end of the Clinton administration. Today, a US foreign policy that requires the choosing of sides has little future. This should be obvious when Asian countries like the Philippines feel the need to buy missiles.

11 Jan 2022 - 2:06AM
Opinion | Crumbling US has no business telling others what to do with their statues

In the US, the urge to bury the past is part of a widening political and class divide that threatens to tear the nation apart. A society that feels the need to put statues into storage ought not to criticise others for dealing with their history.

In the US, the urge to bury the past is part of a widening political and class divide that threatens to tear the nation apart. A society that feels the need to put statues into storage ought not to criticise others for dealing with their history.

28 Dec 2021 - 1:58AM
Opinion | To understand US-China conflict, start with recognising its animal nature

In arguing against human exceptionalism, environmental philosopher Melanie Challenger observes that we respond to status threats as if they were existential challenges. With the US afraid of losing its pre-eminent status and China aiming to regain it, a clash seems inevitable, but is eminently avoidable.

In arguing against human exceptionalism, environmental philosopher Melanie Challenger observes that we respond to status threats as if they were existential challenges. With the US afraid of losing its pre-eminent status and China aiming to regain it, a clash seems inevitable, but is eminently avoidable.

14 Dec 2021 - 3:15AM
Opinion | All hope is not lost for US-China relations despite the tensions and tepid virtual summit

The appearance of progressive, level-headed analysis in a publication like Foreign Affairs suggests movement in US policy towards China. Even though the US-China virtual summit produced little of note, there are still ways to bridge the growing gap between the two countries.

The appearance of progressive, level-headed analysis in a publication like Foreign Affairs suggests movement in US policy towards China. Even though the US-China virtual summit produced little of note, there are still ways to bridge the growing gap between the two countries.

30 Nov 2021 - 1:30AM
Opinion | The case for drafting in Barack Obama to help heal US-China relations

The former US president’s keynote speech at COP26 showed he still has the ability to unite and inspire a crowd to action. Obama can speak to the issue of Beijing-Washington relations as a special citizen of the world, and China should welcome the idea.

The former US president’s keynote speech at COP26 showed he still has the ability to unite and inspire a crowd to action. Obama can speak to the issue of Beijing-Washington relations as a special citizen of the world, and China should welcome the idea.

16 Nov 2021 - 2:36AM
Opinion | COP26 climate talks: too much hot air for cooler heads to prevail

Sadly, a global consensus on a problem does not equate to global action on the solution. Governments are simply not going to let people freeze no matter how rational the negotiated carbon reduction goals.

Sadly, a global consensus on a problem does not equate to global action on the solution. Governments are simply not going to let people freeze no matter how rational the negotiated carbon reduction goals.

2 Nov 2021 - 4:25AM
Opinion | Can Asia lead the global fight to cure the poverty pandemic as the US lags behind?

Some leaders in the region are showing signs of a new, collective economic conscience. While Fumio Kishida and Xi Jinping head efforts towards a more equal society, Joe Biden’s attempts to do likewise are crumbling in Congress.

Some leaders in the region are showing signs of a new, collective economic conscience. While Fumio Kishida and Xi Jinping head efforts towards a more equal society, Joe Biden’s attempts to do likewise are crumbling in Congress.

19 Oct 2021 - 3:12AM
Opinion | US foreign policy needs a script rewrite under Antony Blinken and Joe Biden

The problem with US foreign policy right now is not its secretary of state but its continuing ways of thinking about the rest of the world. A happy ending without seemingly inevitable US-China conflict is out there, but the US should start by rewriting its own playbook.

The problem with US foreign policy right now is not its secretary of state but its continuing ways of thinking about the rest of the world. A happy ending without seemingly inevitable US-China conflict is out there, but the US should start by rewriting its own playbook.

5 Oct 2021 - 4:28AM
Opinion | North-South divide: only Koreans themselves can find a way out of the impasse

Thoughtful ideas from Koreans north and south of the DMZ are the best remedy for the tensions. Outside powers claim to want to help fix the problem, but almost 70 years after the Panmunjom armistice, reconciliation is no closer.

Thoughtful ideas from Koreans north and south of the DMZ are the best remedy for the tensions. Outside powers claim to want to help fix the problem, but almost 70 years after the Panmunjom armistice, reconciliation is no closer.

21 Sep 2021 - 4:44AM
Opinion | Is the euphoria over China’s new US ambassador justified amid the dreary diplomatic realities?

There are no poetics in our politics these days as we look for role models of peace in the wrong places. Classical music offers a welcome alternative to the secular sirens of contemporary politics.

There are no poetics in our politics these days as we look for role models of peace in the wrong places. Classical music offers a welcome alternative to the secular sirens of contemporary politics.

7 Sep 2021 - 3:30AM
Opinion | Afghanistan and beyond: China must learn from US hubris and blunders

The tragedy of Afghanistan has made clear that the US is no longer the ‘indispensable nation’. Let’s hope that China, which so resents being lectured by the US, won’t make the same arrogant mistakes overseas as America.

The tragedy of Afghanistan has made clear that the US is no longer the ‘indispensable nation’. Let’s hope that China, which so resents being lectured by the US, won’t make the same arrogant mistakes overseas as America.

24 Aug 2021 - 2:03AM
Opinion | Why US ‘certainty’ about the China threat is a danger in itself

Americans’ insistence on seeing China as an increasingly assertive power affects their judgment and undermines needed reflection. Let’s hope China and its leaders are too smart to play the role that has been marked out for them by the West’s fearmongers.

Americans’ insistence on seeing China as an increasingly assertive power affects their judgment and undermines needed reflection. Let’s hope China and its leaders are too smart to play the role that has been marked out for them by the West’s fearmongers.

10 Aug 2021 - 2:30AM
Opinion | Who can save the waning United Nations? Not the US, but China

The US cannot save the world by itself, as much as it wants to. America must accept that China, while so different and deeply competitive, must pitch in. On China’s part, with a population on the decline, it must seize the hour if it means to prove it is exceptional.

The US cannot save the world by itself, as much as it wants to. America must accept that China, while so different and deeply competitive, must pitch in. On China’s part, with a population on the decline, it must seize the hour if it means to prove it is exceptional.

27 Jul 2021 - 4:05AM
Opinion | Why Japan should focus on making friends and money, not interfering in Taiwan

Asia needs a progressive geo-economic evolution led by a friendlier, outward-looking Japan, not further remilitarisation. Japan does best and offers neighbours its best when it keeps its military on a leash while unleashing its impressive entrepreneurial powers.

Asia needs a progressive geo-economic evolution led by a friendlier, outward-looking Japan, not further remilitarisation. Japan does best and offers neighbours its best when it keeps its military on a leash while unleashing its impressive entrepreneurial powers.

13 Jul 2021 - 5:03AM
Opinion | America’s knee-jerk reaction to China: just shoot the bad guy

Viewed calmly, the new world order is simple: China is back, so just deal with it. But to a Washington in cold war mode, Beijing can do nothing right.

Viewed calmly, the new world order is simple: China is back, so just deal with it. But to a Washington in cold war mode, Beijing can do nothing right.

29 Jun 2021 - 2:29AM
Opinion | Why the US can’t afford to overhype the China threat

A new report that takes a holistic view of the China challenge acknowledges the Chinese dream as a driving force behind Beijing’s strategic decisions. Biden and his team should take note, and direct their attention to rebuilding America.

A new report that takes a holistic view of the China challenge acknowledges the Chinese dream as a driving force behind Beijing’s strategic decisions. Biden and his team should take note, and direct their attention to rebuilding America.

15 Jun 2021 - 2:27AM
Opinion | US-China tensions: an America all too experienced in war must take stock

Joe Biden is pulling the plug on the Afghanistan conflict, but unwisely taking a hard line against China. The situation around the East and South China seas is making the world nervous, and Beijing, for its part, must not misread Washington.

Joe Biden is pulling the plug on the Afghanistan conflict, but unwisely taking a hard line against China. The situation around the East and South China seas is making the world nervous, and Beijing, for its part, must not misread Washington.

1 Jun 2021 - 4:00AM
Opinion | China’s rise: US must be a better version of itself to accommodate the re-emergence of a major power

Suspicions of Beijing’s intentions must give way to a more realistic assessment of the impact on the world as a once-sleeping giant awakens. Respect for an ancient civilisation like China must go hand in hand with humility, recognising America has its own problems to fix.

Suspicions of Beijing’s intentions must give way to a more realistic assessment of the impact on the world as a once-sleeping giant awakens. Respect for an ancient civilisation like China must go hand in hand with humility, recognising America has its own problems to fix.

18 May 2021 - 1:56AM
Opinion | Why a US foreign policy aimed at obstructing China won’t succeed

India, grappling with a coronavirus resurgence, will not be pushed to take the US side against China. Washington’s move towards a cold war with Beijing, amid frosty relations with Moscow, will only drive the two nuclear powers closer.

India, grappling with a coronavirus resurgence, will not be pushed to take the US side against China. Washington’s move towards a cold war with Beijing, amid frosty relations with Moscow, will only drive the two nuclear powers closer.

4 May 2021 - 3:30AM
Opinion | US-China relations: a good-versus-evil world view does no one any good

Broadly speaking, America needs a new path, rethinking its assumptions about itself and foreign policy, before dealing with Beijing and Moscow. The Biden administration’s possible choices for US envoy to China, and the decision to leave Afghanistan, seem steps in the right direction.

Broadly speaking, America needs a new path, rethinking its assumptions about itself and foreign policy, before dealing with Beijing and Moscow. The Biden administration’s possible choices for US envoy to China, and the decision to leave Afghanistan, seem steps in the right direction.

20 Apr 2021 - 2:21AM
Opinion | US-China relations: don’t let Taiwan fall prey to madness of war from either side of the Pacific

A Taiwan embroiled in war would pump uncertainty into the world economy as it is an important exporter of semiconductors. Wrap it up in war and you choke the global electronic supply chain just as the world is starting to recover from the pandemic.

A Taiwan embroiled in war would pump uncertainty into the world economy as it is an important exporter of semiconductors. Wrap it up in war and you choke the global electronic supply chain just as the world is starting to recover from the pandemic.

6 Apr 2021 - 3:24AM