CFR Presents

Asia Unbound

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

U.S. and India Tackle Cyber Cooperation

by Adam Segal Tuesday, November 30, 2010
President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

Cybersecurity was one of the nineteen issues listed by the White House that the United States and India would and could cooperate more closely on as they build their “strategic relationship” (Interestingly, despite the tendency of some, myself included, to clump them together, cybersecurity was listed as a separate issue from defending the common domains of space, air, and sea; sources in Delhi suggested that the U.S. side was resistant to identifying cyberspace as a commons).

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China’s Call for Six Party Talks: Cynical or Naïve?

by Scott A. Snyder Monday, November 29, 2010

China’s response to North Korea’s artillery shelling of South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island last week has been relatively rapid compared to the slowness of its response to the sinking last March (it took three weeks for the Chinese government to express its condolences in response to the sinking of the Cheonan). But, as underscored in Sunday’s New York Times Week in Review and Aidan-Foster Carter’s article in Foreign Policy, it is unlikely to satisfy American expectations. China’s proposal of an emergency session of the six parties is a non-starter that confuses form versus substance. Resumption of Six Party Talks would be a way of affirming what President Obama called last June China’s “willful blindness” toward North Korea by perpetuating the illusion that diplomatic efforts to deal with North Korea have not failed.

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China’s Mixed Message on North Korea

by Elizabeth C. Economy Monday, November 29, 2010

China's Vice Foreign Minister and top envoy on North Korean nuclear disarmament talks Wu Dawei speaks during a news conference in Beijing November 28, 2010. China said on Sunday it wants emergency consultations among six governments involved in talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear programme, adding that the consultations would not amount to a full restart of the stalled negotiations. REUTERS/Grace Liang
My colleague Evan Feigenbaum hopes that China is embarrassed by North Korea’s recent unprovoked shelling of a South Korean island near the two countries’ border. The attack left several South Korean soldiers dead and injured more than a dozen civilians. I hope that China’s leaders are more than embarrassed; with the sinking of the Cheonan still fresh in everyone’s minds, this second North Korean attack should force a strategic rethink in Beijing.

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Asia’s Unstable States Worry their Neighbors

by Joshua Kurlantzick Monday, November 29, 2010

Chinese soldiers, invited by Mexico's Defense Ministry, take part in a military parade in culmination of bicentennial celebrations in Mexico City

In this week’s edition of Newsweek international, I have an article on the increasing military spending of many nations in Asia, which dates back to around 2005. In some regions, like Southeast Asia, spending is up nearly one hundred percent over the past five years. In significant part, this rise in military spending is due to Asian democracies’ fears of the region’s most unstable states, where military leaders are becoming ever more powerful.

(Photo: Eliana Aponte/courtesy Reuters)

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WikiLeaks, Google, and the Politburo

by Adam Segal Sunday, November 28, 2010

There are a good number of cables about China in State Department documents just released by WikiLeaks.  China is the fifth most often mentioned country, with 8320 records, trailing Iraq, Turkey, Iran, and Israel.  There are almost 4000 cables from the U.S Embasssy in Beijing, about the same from the American Institute in Taiwan, and slightly more from the U.S Embassy in Tokyo. Read more »

North Korea Provokes … Again

by Evan A. Feigenbaum Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Incidents between North and South Korea in the West Sea are not uncommon. The two countries dispute claims and rights around the Northern Limit Line—a sea border, drawn up by the United Nations Command in 1953, that Pyongyang often violates and does not recognize. But the North Korean artillery attack on Yeonpyeong island Tuesday is serious indeed. Ahead of the attack, North Korea complained strenuously through North-South military channels about South Korean naval exercises in the vicinity. So this attack, in the wake of those complaints, suggests North Korean premeditation. The incident is also serious because past events have essentially involved incidents at sea, not the targeting of population centers or land.

Why did North Korea do it?

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Chronicle of a Disaster Foretold

by Joshua Kurlantzick Monday, November 22, 2010

Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Suu Kyi is greeted by supporters at her National League for Democracy's party headquarters in Yangon

With Aung San Suu Kyi now out of house arrest and promising to travel through Burma to meet people and resuscitate her political party, her decision raises the question of whether her stint of freedom is going to end in disaster again. And, if it is, what precautions can she and her supporters take?

In its Banyan column this week, The Economist, like other outlets, theorizes that the junta will likely only allow Suu Kyi a bit of freedom before locking her up again – or worse. The Irrawaddy, in a new interview with the democracy icon, actually poses this question to her, asking her whether she has been just put into a larger prison, rather than house arrest.  After all, the last time Suu Kyi was let out by the junta, hardliners in the regime allegedly orchestrated a massacre of her supporters on a rural road. She herself survived only because of the sharp thinking and skillful maneuvering of her driver.

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What China Says about the United States

by Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, November 19, 2010

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) reacts while reading a local English newspaper before conducting a Web chat with Chinese internet users at the U.S. embassy in Beijing February 22, 2009. REUTERS/China DailyOur media are filled with pieces about China—China’s currency, Chinese human rights, “China goes green”, and on and on. Soon they will be even more clogged with predictive pieces about President Hu Jintao’s state visit to the United States, now just two months away. Scholars, journalists, and bloggers (myself included) will all attempt to draw verbal Venn diagrams to figure out what the Chinese want, what we want, and where the two circles might overlap. It can be a fun (for a short while)—if not a terribly useful—exercise. Read more »

China Hijacked the Internet, Maybe

by Adam Segal Wednesday, November 17, 2010

People use computers at an Internet cafe in Changzhi, Shanxi province February 22, 2010. A senior Chinese military officer has called for a new national body to enforce Internet controls, while China faced fresh claims on Monday about the source of hacking attacks that hit search giant Google. REUTERS/StringerToday, a new report was released by the U. S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. The Commission, created in 2000 to monitor the security implication of trade with China, publishes an annual report to Congress that covers eight mandated areas: proliferation, economic trade, U.S. capital markets, regional security, bilateral relations, energy, WTO compliance, and free expression. So far, the press has been most interested in the report’s section on free expression, particularly regarding China and the Internet.
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Sengoku38: Villain or Hero?

by Sheila A. Smith Tuesday, November 16, 2010

As Washington discusses the Obama Asia tour, Tokyo remains consumed with the politics of the Senkaku incident. Last week, I reported on the unauthorized release of video clips of the Chinese trawler’s collisions with the Japanese coast guard. It turns out that the mysterious sengoku38, the author of the video leaks on YouTube, is a 43-year old coast guard officer. Thus, the debate now centers on who bears responsibility for the loose handling of the secret tapes, and indeed over the definition of what constitutes a state secret in Japan.

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