CFR Presents

Asia Unbound

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

Not Gone, Not Forgotten

by Joshua Kurlantzick Friday, September 10, 2010

A policeman stands guard at a polling station in Bangkok July 25, 2010.

After a summer of repression, much of the fire of the red shirt protest movement in Thailand appears, on the surface, to have evaporated, though some red shirts have been holding symbolic protests every Sunday, and getting a small crowd. The fact that the ruling Democrat Party won a recent by-election and local elections in Bangkok have been touted by much of the domestic press in Thailand as evidence that the Democrats, and Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, have won the public trust once again. Strong recent economic growth reports have added to the improved mood in Bangkok.

But this positive narrative is patently false. The Democrats already were strong in Bangkok – remember, the middle class supports the Democrats in Thailand, and the middle class lives in Bangkok – so it was hardly surprising that the Democrats took the Bangkok elections and a by-election for parliament in Bangkok. And in that by-election, the candidate of the red shirts’ party, who was in jail on charges related to the protest, still only lost by a relatively narrow margin. That’s right – he was in jail during the campaign – that kind of makes it tough to promote his positions to the electorate.

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The DPJ’s Leadership Contest

by Sheila A. Smith Thursday, September 9, 2010

No two candidates could present such a different image for the identity of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ). The citizen activist-turned-bureaucratic reformer-turned-party president has been challenged by the former political wheeler and dealer of the LDP-turned-political reformer-turned-electioneering marvel—two visions of the party, and a divided band of loyalists within the party. Next Tuesday’s leadership election is make or break for the DPJ.  

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As India “Looks East,” a Little Problem of Economics

by Evan A. Feigenbaum Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Thanks to its fabulous editor, Sanjaya Baru, I’ve begun writing a regular column, “DC Diary,” for India’s leading financial daily, the Business StandardAn inaugural piece on Monday offered Indian readers a well-intentioned warning from America’s experience in a changing Asia.

What’s the warning?  Put bluntly, it is that economics, not security, still defines the essential strategic reality of Asia today:  China is fast becoming the central player in a new economic regionalism.  The U.S. and India are each enhancing their political and security profiles—albeit for different reasons and in different ways.  Yet both risk being left out as Asian economic integration tightens.

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Avoiding a Tempest in the South China Sea

by Joshua Kurlantzick Thursday, September 2, 2010

Two Chinese trawlers stop directly in front of the military Sealift Command ocean surveillance ship USNS Impeccable in South China Sea

Over the past two months, the South China Sea, which always has the potential to be a flashpoint between China and nations in Southeast Asia, has indeed become a flashpoint – between China and the United States. Yet the tensions over the sea are more than a short term problem. Resolving the competing claims in the South China Sea will be a critical test of China’s emerging power and its ability to deal with its neighbors, as well as the United States’ ability to work with Southeast Asian states to manage China’s rise.

See my new expert brief on the South China Sea here.

(Photo: Ho New/courtesy Reuters)

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U.S.-ROK Strategic Alliance 2015

by Guest Blogger for Scott A. Snyder Wednesday, September 1, 2010
U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hold a joint news conference with South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan and Defense Minister Kim Tae-young for their bilateral 2+2 meeting in Seoul July 21, 2010 (Kim Jae-hwan/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hold a joint news conference with South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan and Defense Minister Kim Tae-young for their bilateral 2+2 meeting in Seoul July 21, 2010 (Kim Jae-hwan/Courtesy Reuters).

Major Tara O is an Assistant Professor at the United States Air Force Academy. The views expressed in this essay are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the U.S. Air Force, Department of Defense, or the U. S. Government. Read more »