CFR Presents

Asia Unbound

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

Whac-a-Mole Technology Policy

by Adam Segal Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Photo courtesy of flickr/sa_ku_ra

The reported adjustment of Chinese procurement policy is good news for U.S. and other foreign technology companies, as far as it goes. Published in 2009, though not formally announced, the policy said that all products included in the government’s procurement catalog must have Chinese intellectual property and that the IPR should be completely independent of the IPR of foreign owners. Given how much R&D is now collaborative and global, it is hard to imagine how any product could be deemed completely independent of technology from outside of China. For foreign technology companies, the worries were clear–more demands for technology transfer and more difficulties in operating in the Chinese market. Read more »

India Is at the Top Table. Now What?

by Evan A. Feigenbaum Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Jason Reed

On Sunday, China and India enlarged their seats at the top table of international relations.  As part of a general increase in capital, rich countries agreed to give up 3.1 percentage points of voting shares in the World Bank and to give China, India, and other emerging economies greater voting power.  The Bretton Woods table is hardly the only one that matters in international relations.  But the agreement makes China the number three shareholder in the Bank, while India—at number seven—now has greater voting power than Russia, Canada, Australia, Italy, and Saudi Arabia.  That’s an arresting fact.  And when you combine it with the decision taken at last year’s Pittsburgh G20 meeting to supplant the G8 with the more inclusive G20, the trendline becomes clearer still.  China and India are sitting at the top table.

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Reality Check on Futenma Relocation

by Sheila A. Smith Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

Government officials in Washington and Tokyo are working to come up with a new package of options that would allow U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to be shut down. Many thought that a compromise package reached in 2006 after years of deliberation would be implemented. Yet last fall, in the final stages of negotiation with the government in Okinawa, Japan’s new national government sought to review the decision making. Read more »

What is Lee Myung-bak Doing That I’m Not?

by Sheila A. Smith Thursday, April 22, 2010

Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Tim Chong

President Lee Myung-bak did steal the spotlight last week at the Nuclear Security Summit, even though I argued strenuously that it was Japan’s Moment to Shine.  Sigh.  So South Korea is the favorite Asian ally. And yes, I will admit to being somewhat jealous that it wasn’t my Asian ally sitting next to President Obama. My friends who are South Korean experts were clearly tickled  on Tuesday judging from the emails I received. One sent me a note saying it was hard for Japan to shine since Lee Myung-bak was “hogging the spotlight”! Read more »

China’s Friends Indeed?

by Evan A. Feigenbaum Thursday, April 22, 2010

Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker

Back in December, I argued on this blog that the United States (in both the Bush and Obama administrations) had positioned itself squarely at the center of efforts to reform the international architecture to reflect today’s realities of power and capacity.

In an interesting blog post today, my colleague Liz Economy goes in a somewhat different direction.  Liz argues that China is, in some ways, holding together a series of “informal alliance[s]” that will create a “new brand of geopolitics.”  And she writes about this evocatively:

(1) “China has decided its new best friends forever are going to be Brazil, Russia, South Africa, and India.”

(2) They are “tackling the tough issues of the day, including reforming the global financial system, sanctioning Iran, and combating climate change.”

(3) And at least some of their “initiatives seem dedicated only to limiting these countries’ broader responsibilities to the global community.”

Of course, Liz is joking about “best friends forever.” And, as Liz argues persuasively, “these countries possess radically different political systems and in some cases have long-standing rivalries and mistrust between them.”

But I’d go further–and broaden the argument on all three counts.

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China’s New Best Friends and Their New Brand of Geopolitics

by Elizabeth C. Economy Thursday, April 22, 2010

After a long romance with the G-77 and being courted by the United States, China has decided its new best friends forever are going to be Brazil, Russia, South Africa and India. Presidents Hu, Medvedev and Zuma, along with Prime Minister Singh, are busy meeting first in one capital city and then the next to try to forge common positions on a number of critical global challenges. The BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India, China) countries are working on climate change, the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) countries on global financial issues, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) on regional security concerns. (China, interestingly, is the only country common to all. )

Left to right: Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev, Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, China's President Hu Jintao, and India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the Itamaraty Palace in Brasilia, April 15, 2010. (REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes)

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Northeast Asian Public Views: Isolated North Korea; Good Vibes Between Japan and South Korea

by Scott A. Snyder Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The latest BBC/World Service Poll conducted in January and released earlier this week has some results in Northeast Asia that offer some food for thought—at least for anyone who thinks that public views are a potentially decisive influence on foreign policy.  The two most notable results in Northeast Asia are the precipitous rise in negative Chinese (and Russian) views towards North Korea and the strikingly positive feelings that exist between the South Korean and Japanese publics toward each other on the one hundredth anniversary of Japan’s annexation of the Korean peninsula. Read more »

Central Asia’s Little Problem of Governance

by Evan A. Feigenbaum Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Vladimir Pirogov

Today’s New York Times and Christian Science Monitor pretty much argue that Kyrgyzstan is coming apart at the seams.  “Security vacuum!” screams the Monitor, which quotes Russian experts to the effect that there is now “an open invitation to chaos or Islamist extremists.”

Actually both papers are in good company.  Russian president Dmitry Medvedev argued last week that “the risk of Kyrgyzstan splitting into two parts—north and south—really exists.”  “Kyrgyzstan,” Medvedev said, “is on the threshold of a civil war” and “terrorists and extremists of every kind will rush into this niche.”  Medvedev’s punchline?  “Instead of Kyrgyzstan we get a second Afghanistan …”  And he’s hardly alone in that view.  Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan Nazarbayev (who just played a central role in extracting the deposed Kyrgyz president, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, from that country) argues that Kazakhstan’s diplomatic efforts averted a Kyrgyz civil war.

Frankly, all this breathlessness leaves me a little cold.  We’ve been hearing dire predictions about Central Asia for two decades.   And nineteen years after independence, it’s worth recalling that some analysts believed these five countries wouldn’t make it even this far.

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