CFR Presents

Asia Unbound

CFR experts give their take on the cutting-edge issues emerging in Asia today.

Where Are All the Women in China’s Anticorruption Campaign?

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Lu Xiwen is seen on her way to work in Beijing, May 13, 2014. Lu, a deputy Communist Party boss in Beijing, and the vice mayor of Shanghai in charge of its experimental free trade zone are being investigated for suspected "serious breaches of discipline", the party said, using its usual euphemism for corruption. Picture taken May 13, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer Lü Xiwen is seen on her way to work in Beijing, May 13, 2014. Lü, a deputy Communist Party boss in Beijing, is one of the three highest-ranking female officials to have been investigated and punished for corruption during Xi Jinping’s ongoing anticorruption campaign. She was expelled from the Chinese Communist Party in January 2016. (Stringer/Reuters)

Rachel Brown is a research associate in Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

A glance through ChinaFile’s recently released visualization of individuals investigated in China’s ongoing anticorruption campaign to “swat flies and hunt tigers” makes one thing clear: the only place where tigresses are rarer than in a Siberian reserve is in the ranks of Chinese officialdom. Among the 1,462 officials whose cases were announced by the Chinese government, only sixty-nine are women. Of those women, only three are considered “tigers,” those who have at least a deputy ministerial or deputy provincial-level rank; women make up just over 2 percent of the “tigers” brought down by corruption. Read more »

Off-Label Use of Drugs and Access to Medicines for All: A Thailand Example

by Yanzhong Huang Tuesday, February 9, 2016
A worker makes his way on a bridge at Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche plant. Roche is the manufacturer of Avastin, a cancer medication used for off-label treatment for macular disease in place of the more expensive Lucentis. (Christian Hartmann/Reuters) A worker makes his way on a bridge at Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche plant. Roche is the manufacturer of Avastin, a cancer medication used for off-label treatment for macular disease in place of the more expensive Lucentis. (Christian Hartmann/Reuters)

Several years ago an Indonesian girl named Widya posted a message on my blog. She asked where she could obtain the drug Sorafenib for her father, who was terminally ill with liver cancer. Her family had already spent a significant sum on her father’s healthcare and could not afford further treatment. I forwarded the message to a pharmaceutical executive in Jakarta, who responded that Sorafenib was available in Indonesia but a month’s dosage would cost around $4,500 (the average monthly salary in Jakarta is about $1,180). “I hope the patient has health insurance coverage, otherwise the family will have to pay out of pocket,” he said.

Read more »

U.S. Assessments of North Korean Missile Capabilities Since 2011

by Scott A. Snyder Sunday, February 7, 2016
Missiles are taken on trucks past a stand with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during the parade celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, in Pyongyang October 10, 2015. Isolated North Korea marked the 70th anniversary of its ruling Workers' Party on Saturday with a massive military parade overseen by leader Kim Jong Un, who said his country was ready to fight any war waged by the United States. (Courtesy REUTERS/James Pearson) Missiles are taken on trucks past a stand with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during the parade celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, in Pyongyang October 10, 2015. Isolated North Korea marked the 70th anniversary of its ruling Workers' Party on Saturday with a massive military parade overseen by leader Kim Jong Un, who said his country was ready to fight any war waged by the United States. (Courtesy REUTERS/James Pearson)

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea) announced that it successfully launched the Kwangmyongsong-4 satellite at 9:30 am on February 7, 2016. But the United States regards DPRK satellite launches as thinly-veiled efforts to advance its long-range ballistic missile capabilities. Secretary of State John Kerry condemned the latest launch as “a flagrant violation of UN Security Council Resolutions related to the DPRK use of ballistic missile technology.” This compilation of statements by U.S. government officials over the past five years shows U.S. assessments regarding North Korea’s ballistic missile capabilities. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of February 5, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, February 5, 2016
India-Supreme-Court-gay-rights Gay rights activists celebrate after the Indian Supreme Court’s decision to review a colonial-era law that criminalizes homosexuality in Mumbai, India, February 2, 2016. (Danish Siddiqui/Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Ariella Rotenberg, Gabriel Walker, and Pei-Yu Wei look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Indian Supreme Court scheduled to review discriminatory law against India’s LGBT community. In a win for LGBT activists, the Indian Supreme Court agreed to take another look at Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which effectively criminalizes India’s LGBT community. After the Delhi High Court ruled in 2009 to strike out Section 377, a relic of British colonial rule, it was overturned by the Indian Supreme Court in 2013. On Tuesday, the court decided to hear a “curative petition” to the 2013 ruling. Read more »

Democratic Regression and the Rise of Islamic State-Linked Militants in Southeast Asia

by Joshua Kurlantzick Thursday, February 4, 2016
indonesia-terrorism-southeast asia Indonesia Muslim youth salute during the ceremony of defending the country against terrorism, radicalism and drug in Jakarta, on January 17, 2016. (Beawiharta/Reuters)

Read Part 1 here

Part 2

After Jakarta’s initial successes against militants such as those from Jemaah Islamiah, a new generation of Islamists began to emerge in Southeast Asia in the late 2000s and early 2010s. Some had been students in schools set up, in the 1990s and 2000s, by earlier generations of radicals, while others had taken part in plots and attacks in the 1990s and 2000s and had survived the region-wide crackdown on Jemaah Islamiah and other militants. Read more »

Podcast: The China-Pakistan Axis

by Elizabeth C. Economy Thursday, February 4, 2016
The-China-Pakistan-Axis-Andrew-Small

Books on China’s relations with Pakistan are not usually at the top of my reading list, but I decided that it was time to delve into the topic when I encountered Andrew Small’s new book, The China-Pakistan Axis: Asia’s New Geopolitics. Maybe it was the creative and colorful cover that drew me in, but whatever the reason, Andrew, a transatlantic fellow with the Asia program at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, has converted me to a follower of the relationship. Read more »

Tough Choices in Afghanistan

by Guest blogger for Alyssa Ayres Wednesday, February 3, 2016
U.S. Marines begin to form up their convoy at a staging area near Kandahar, Afghanistan, as they await orders to begin their trek to Kandahar to take control of the airfield on December 13, 2001 (Dave Martin/Reuters). U.S. Marines begin to form up their convoy at a staging area near Kandahar, Afghanistan, as they await orders to begin their trek to Kandahar to take control of the airfield on December 13, 2001 (Dave Martin/Reuters).

Robert M. Hathaway is a public policy fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC, where he is writing a book on leverage in foreign policy. Previously, he was director of the Wilson Center’s Asia program for sixteen years. Prior to joining the Wilson Center, he served for twelve years on the professional staff of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, focusing on South and East Asia. Read more »

Southeast Asia’s Democratic Regression and the Rise of Islamic State-Linked Militants

by Joshua Kurlantzick Tuesday, February 2, 2016
indonesia-islamic state Antiterror police walk as one carries a box with items retrieved from the house of a suspected militant involved in an attack in Jakarta, in Sampit, Indonesia Central Kalimantan province, on January 16, 2016. (Norjani/Antara Foto/Reuters)

Part 1

On January 14, militants struck in one of Jakarta’s busiest shopping and office districts. At around 11 am, one attacker blew up a suicide bomb at a Starbucks. Then, a group of attackers grabbed foreigners from the area, started firing wildly into the street, and drove a motorcycle toward a nearby police station and attacked that. The surviving militants then engaged in a running gun and bomb battle with Indonesian police, leaving a total of eight people dead, including five of the attackers. After the attacks, it quickly emerged that the purported ringleader, an Indonesian man named Bahrun Naim, had been living in the Islamic State’s “capital,” Raqqa, where he had reportedly organized the Jakarta violence. Read more »

The Japan-Korea Comfort Women Deal: Proper Implementation Is What Matters

by Scott A. Snyder Monday, February 1, 2016
A statue of a girl that represents the sexual victims by the Japanese military is seen during a weekly anti-Japan rally in front of Japanese embassy in Seoul, South Korea, December 30, 2015. (Courtesy REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji) A statue of a girl that represents the sexual victims by the Japanese military is seen during a weekly anti-Japan rally in front of Japanese embassy in Seoul, South Korea, December 30, 2015. (Courtesy REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji)

This post was coauthored with Brad Glosserman, executive director at Pacific Forum CSIS.

The cycle of negativity surrounding Japan-South Korea relations since the Abe-Park era began in early 2013 has at times eclipsed North Korea as a source of angst among observers of Northeast Asia. Even the modest improvements that accompanied commemorations of the fiftieth anniversary of diplomatic normalization in June 2015 were tinged by frustration over the two governments’ failure to move forward on the comfort woman issue. The main problem involved the acknowledgement of Japanese responsibility for the coercion of girls and women to provide sexual services to the military in imperial Japan, and this disagreement spilled over into other issues in the two countries’ relationship. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of January 29, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, January 29, 2016
Rajib-speech Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak delivers a speech at the opening of the ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur, November 21, 2015. (Olivia Harris/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Gabriel Walker, and James West look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Malaysian prime minister evades corruption charges. Malaysia’s attorney general announced Tuesday that Prime Minister Najib Razak did not commit a crime in accepting a $680 million donation from the Saudi royal family in 2013. Najib has been under investigation for corruption since July, when investigative journalists unearthed documents alleging the prime minister had taken $680 million from a state development fund he had created. Read more »