CFR Presents

Asia Unbound

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

Shoals Ahead for the United States and India?

by Evan A. Feigenbaum Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Jason Reed

Manmohan Singh has come and gone, but his visit to Washington last month leaves several questions unanswered about the future of U.S.-India relations. Comparisons to Singh’s 2005 White House visit were inevitable—and that would have been a tough act to follow, by any standard. In 2005, Singh and George W. Bush launched the civil nuclear negotiation that cleared away perhaps the highest hurdle to closer U.S.-India relations. Obama and Singh did nothing so dramatic. But the good news is that both leaders recommitted their governments to an expanded U.S.-India partnership. As Sanjaya Baru, editor of India’s Business Standard, has put it, the joint statement that came out of this summit “was about all the other paragraphs” of the 2005 Bush-Singh statement—that is, “other than the famous paragraph on the nuclear deal.”

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Green Innovation

by Adam Segal Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Two good new articles–Evan Osnos in the New Yorker and Shai Oster in Wall Street Journal– address the question of China’s innovative capabilities in green technologies. Both come out at about the same point, one that I am highly sympathetic to (and, shameless plug, make in my forthcoming book). Essentially, China is excelling at bringing the price down of a number of important technologies used for solar, coal, and wind, but breakthrough, cutting-edge innovations are rare. Read more »

North Korea’s H1N1 Watch: Isolation Vs. Contagion

by Scott A. Snyder Monday, December 14, 2009

For a country that appears to be so isolated from the outside world, North Korea seems to have been on edge for months regarding the possible impact of swine flu (H1N1) on its population. These rumors of North Korean anxiety have been underscored by an unusual admission last week of nine confirmed cases of swine flu in Pyongyang and Sinuiju (The WHO has reported that all nine have recovered), but these cases may be the tip of the iceberg. North Korea’s admission has prompted a South Korean offer to supply 500,000 doses of Tamiflu to the North and an unusual North Korean acceptance of the South’s offer on Thursday, December 10. Read more »

The China Divide

by Elizabeth C. Economy Monday, December 14, 2009

Last week at a dinner in Washington, D.C. with a number of China experts, retired U.S. government officials and businesspeople, the table largely concluded that we should be “cautiously optimistic” about the state of affairs in the U.S.-China relationship. The reasoning was clear: we are talking to each other on the full range of geo-strategic issues, opportunities to do business in China are expanding, and our two economies are ever more fully and deeply integrated. Read more »

Getting Past Captain Renault

by Adam Segal Monday, December 14, 2009

Sunday’s New York Times reports that the United States has entered into talks with Russia about cybersecurity.

Given the large number of attacks and probes that seem to come from Chinese IP addresses (for an overview, see the U.S.-China Security Review Commission report, Capability of the People’s Republic of China to Conduct Cyber Warfare and Computer Network Exploitation), you have to think that the Obama administration would like to engage Beijing in similar discussions, if it hasn’t already done so. Read more »

Futenma = Alliance?

by Sheila A. Smith Friday, December 11, 2009

What a difference a week makes. Going into last week, there was little indication that Japan’s prime minister would effectively end the bilateral effort to find a solution to the Futenma replacement challenge by year’s end. There seemed to be traction with the working group created to handle the consultations, and even though much work remained, no one expected Prime Minister Hatoyama’s abrupt change in tack on Futenma discussions. Read more »

Here we go again?

by Adam Segal Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that China has announced new rules for the government procurement of high technology products. According to the rules, posted on a website in October but not publicized, if a high tech product is to be included in the government catalog, it must be certified to include “indigenous innovation.”  The government is a massive customer for high tech products in China so this is no idle threat. The WSJ quotes Bryan Ma of IDC as saying that government procurement is responsible for 14 percent of the forty million PCs sold in China annually, for example. Read more »

Dispatch From Pyongyang: An Offer You Can’t Refuse!

by Scott A. Snyder Tuesday, December 1, 2009
The Ryugyong Hotel  in Pyongyang which Esquire magazine once dubbed "the worst building in the history of mankind", has come back to life with help from Egyptian company Orascom Group (The Korea Sharing Movement/Courtesy Reuters). The Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang which Esquire magazine once dubbed "the worst building in the history of mankind", has come back to life with help from Egyptian company Orascom Group (The Korea Sharing Movement/Courtesy Reuters).

Every North Korean seems to have been mobilized for an all-out push to mark their country’s arrival as a “strong and powerful nation” in 2012, which marks the hundredth anniversary of Kim Il-sung’s birth, Kim Jong-il’s seventieth birthday, and the thirtieth birthday of Kim Jong-il’s third son and reported successor, Kim Jong-un.  Pyongyang citizens have cleaned up the city during a one hundred fifty-day labor campaign, followed by a second hundred-day campaign now underway.  The Ryugyong Hotel in the middle of Pyongyang, unfinished for over two decades, has been given a face lift courtesy of the Egyptian telecommunications firm Orascom, which expects to have one hundred thousand mobile phone customers in Pyongyang by the end of the year.  But it is still difficult to shake the feeling in Pyongyang that one has walked onto a movie set in between takes.  Or that the used car looks good on the outside, but you really don’t know what you might find if you were able to look under the hood or give it a test drive. Read more »