CFR Presents

Asia Unbound

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

Anwar and Malaysia’s Unfortunate Downturn

by Joshua Kurlantzick Monday, February 8, 2010

When has any potential success story fallen as far and as fast in recent years as Malaysia? Sure, Iceland’s economy has collapsed, after its banks made such risky loans they made American financial institutions look like paragons of virtue – but Iceland was a wealthy, developed nation before the crisis, and it will remain one afterwards. Greece faces a massive debt morass, but it was never viewed as some example of economic success – it has always struggled to match its more prosperous European neighbors. Thailand? Argentina? Mexico? Read more »

What happened to India as a Science Power?

by Adam Segal Thursday, February 4, 2010

We have seen a lot of stories recently about China’s emergence as a science super power–“China’s scientists lead world in research growth” in the Financial Times, blog posts at the New Yorker, and the New Scientist warning us to “Get Ready for China’s Domination of Science”–and that’s not even counting the story on how China is going to lead the world in clean energy that the New York Times seems to run every other week. Read more »

The U.S. and China Have at it Again; but it’s much ado about nothing

by Elizabeth C. Economy Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Everyone is in a tizzy over the supposed downturn in U.S.-China relations. (See here, here, and here.) The rhetoric is heating up on both sides, and new issues of contention appear to pop up daily. Our disputes over Copenhagen, Google, Taiwan arms sales, the Dalai Lama and Iran are all front page headlines. Are we indeed headed for an open rift in the relationship that could imperil future cooperation on a range of important, pressing global matters? Read more »

Lessons for Haiti from the Asian Tsunami

by Joshua Kurlantzick Tuesday, February 2, 2010

In the rush to save as many of the injured from the Haiti earthquake and to provide basic social services in Port-au-Prince, there has been less focus on how to prevent the tragedy’s aftermath from being exploited. But as the 2004 Asian tsunami showed, Haitians and foreign donors will need to move quickly to ensure that areas of Haiti damaged by the earthquake are not quickly snapped up by speculators, forcing people from ever returning to their homes. Read more »

Stakes Rise for U.S.-ROK Nuclear Energy Talks

by Guest Blogger for Scott A. Snyder Monday, February 1, 2010
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and the UAE president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan watch as Korea Electric Power Co president Kim Ssang-su  and chairman of Emirates Nuclear Energy Co Khaldoon Khalifa al-Mubarak sign a contract in Abu Dhab (Handout/Courtesy Reuters). South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and the UAE president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan watch as Korea Electric Power Co president Kim Ssang-su and chairman of Emirates Nuclear Energy Co Khaldoon Khalifa al-Mubarak sign a contract in Abu Dhab (Handout/Courtesy Reuters).

Miles A. Pomper is a Senior Research Associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Washington, DC.

When South Korea and the United States negotiated their last nuclear cooperation agreement in the early 1970s, the talks were a low-key affair. As a poor economy lagging behind its Northern neighbor, South Korea did not have a single operating nuclear power plant, let alone piles of spent nuclear fuel. It seemed impossible that a South Korean company would one day be able to design and export nuclear reactors.U.S.nuclear nonproliferation efforts remained in their infancy. The United States had not yet attempted to clamp down on sales of sensitive fuel cycle technology and supplied most of the world’s enriched uranium. Pyongyang and Seoul had not yet pledged not to pursue uranium enrichment or spent fuel reprocessing—which can be used for nuclear weapons or nuclear energy—and Pyongyang had yet to violate that agreement. Iran was still a U.S.ally. Not surprisingly, little political attention or concern was attached to the U.S.-South Korea nuclear pact. Read more »

The China Factor in Southeast Asia’s Arms Spree

by Joshua Kurlantzick Monday, February 1, 2010

On the surface, Southeast Asia in 2010 appears relatively peaceful. The saber-rattling between Thailand and Cambodia over a disputed border temple appears to be dying down, and internal conflicts in Papua and southern Thailand, though hardly dormant, have at least seen the level of bloodshed decrease over the past year. Yet as highlighted in a long article Thursday in the Financial Times, many Southeast Asian nations have gone on arms-buying sprees. Vietnam last year bought new submarines and fighter jets from Russia, which has re-emerged as a major arms seller in the region. Thailand recently bought its own new stock of fighter jets, from Sweden. Burma’s junta plans to buy a new round of fighters and attack helicopters from Russia. Read more »