The maritime environment in East Asia contains both promise and peril. The Indo-Pacific region is host to some of the world’s most important shipping lanes, facilitates huge volumes of regional trade, and boasts abundant natural resources. Competing territorial claims, incidents between neighboring countries, and increasing militarization, however, raise the possibility that an isolated event at sea could become a geopolitical catastrophe. This is all occurring against a backdrop of relative opaqueness. Geography makes it difficult to monitor events as they occur, and there is no public, reliable authority for information on maritime developments.
The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative seeks to change this. AMTI was conceived of and designed by CSIS. It is an interactive, regularly-updated source for information, analysis, and policy exchange on maritime security issues in Asia. AMTI aims to promote transparency in the Indo-Pacific to dissuade assertive behavior and conflict and generate opportunities for cooperation and confidence building. Because AMTI aims to provide an objective platform for exchange, AMTI and CSIS take no position on territorial or maritime claims. For consistency, all geographic locations are identified using the naming conventions of the United States Government as determined by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names.
The foundation of AMTI is the integrity of the information we present. AMTI aggregates information from news sources, as well as specially designated research and nonprofit organizations, public sector institutions in Asia, and individuals. There may be rare instances where AMTI will be asked to keep the source of a particular piece of information confidential. We will do so in select cases provided the information passes our rigorous vetting process and serves the interests of the project.
Before posting any material, the AMTI team will scrutinize all information using a multistage vetting process. That process will be guided by the following four questions:
- Is the source of the information credible? Could they reasonably know what they claim to know?
- Is there corroborating evidence? Do other reliable sources provide similar accounts of the same event or occurrence?
- Does evidence exist that is directly contradictory to this account? If so, how credible is the source of that evidence, and can it be corroborated by additional sources?
- If contradictory but credible accounts of the same event exists, how do scholars with deep knowledge of the countries involved interpret the events?
There may be circumstances when AMTI cannot confidently de-conflict contradictory but credible accounts of the same event. In such cases, we will be guided by our advisory board as to whether to post the event showing multiple, plausible accounts, or await further information.
The editorial contributors to AMTI conduct their analysis in their personal capacity using the judgment and expertise they have acquired as scholars and officials. All contributors have complete intellectual independence in their commentary, and have been invited to share their personal and national perspectives. The goal of AMTI is not to promote a particular point of view, but to serve as a clearinghouse for divergent views that are based on the same set of facts.
AMTI is made possible by Asia Program internal funding as well as a start-up grant from the Brzezinski Institute on Geostrategy. CSIS is in the process of soliciting funding for the initiative from governments in Asia, as well as corporate and foundation support. We will update the list of funders in the months ahead. To learn more about how to support AMTI, please contact us.
For more information about AMTI, please contact the Initiative Director, Gregory Poling, at AMTI@csis.org.
Dr. Michael Green
Senior Vice President for Asia and Japan Chair
Michael Jonathan Green is senior vice president for Asia and Japan Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and an associate professor at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.
Gregory B. Poling is director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative and a fellow with the Southeast Asia Program at CSIS. He oversees research on U.S. foreign policy in the Asia Pacific, with a particular focus on the maritime domain and the countries of Southeast Asia. His research interests include the South China Sea disputes, democratization in Southeast Asia, and Asian multilateralism.
William Colson is a research associate with AMTI and the Japan Chair at CSIS, where he manages projects that focus on East Asian economics, security, and U.S.-Japan relations.
Christopher K. Johnson, Senior Adviser and Freeman Chair in China Studies, CSIS
James A. Lewis, Director and Senior Fellow, Strategic Technologies Program, CSIS