CFR Presents

Asia Unbound

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

The 18th Party Congress and Chinese Cyberpower

by Adam Segal Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Chinese President Hu Jintao delivers a speech during the opening ceremony of 18th National Congress of Communist Party of China at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 11, 2012. Chinese President Hu Jintao delivers a speech during the opening ceremony of 18th National Congress of Communist Party of China at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 11, 2012. (Jason Lee/Courtesy Reuters)

China will announce its new leadership slate this week and the rest of the world will start scrambling, trying to figure out what the lineup means for the prospects of economic and political reform as well as the direction of Chinese foreign policy.

It is hard to know what, if any, impact the political succession will have on Chinese cyberspace policy. Read more »

Is Democratic Government in Decline?

by Joshua Kurlantzick Monday, November 12, 2012
Supporters of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra clash with riot police during a protest against the government outside Parliament in Bangkok December 30, 2008. Supporters of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra clash with riot police during a protest against the government outside Parliament in Bangkok December 30, 2008 (Kerek Wongsa/Courtesy Reuters).

In my forthcoming book Democracy in Retreat,  I examine how, contrary to public perception in the wake of the Arab Spring, democracy has in reality become weaker, less effective, and less supported by the public around the developing world over the past decade. The book examines how middle classes in many nations have turned against democracy, how “elected autocrats” have manipulated democracy to essentially entrench authoritarian rule, how technology has failed to help combat democratic regression, and how failed democracy promotion policies by the United States have contributed to the democratic decline. Read more »

Counterproliferation and Global Korea

by Guest Blogger for Scott A. Snyder Friday, November 9, 2012
South Korean soldiers in protective gear take part in an nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons (NBC) exercise at the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) Air Interdiction Exercise in Chitose, Japan. (Issei Kato/Courtesy Reuters) South Korean soldiers in protective gear take part in an nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons (NBC) exercise at the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) Air Interdiction Exercise in Chitose, Japan. (Issei Kato/Courtesy Reuters)

Scott Bruce is a project manager for the Partnership for Nuclear Security at CRDF Global.

Counterproliferation efforts are an important test of South Korea’s “Global Korea” policy. When it comes to combating proliferation, one way of assessing how “global” the Global Korea policy is to look at the efforts that are centered on North Korea versus those that go beyond the Korean peninsula.  As explained in CFR’s new ebook Global Korea, South Korea’s counter and nonproliferation efforts were traditionally driven by the U.S.-ROK security alliance and threat of North Korea. Read more »

Dams on the Mekong Continue, Under or Over the Radar

by Joshua Kurlantzick Thursday, November 8, 2012
A man casts a fishing net on the banks of the Mekong river. A man casts a fishing net on the banks of the Mekong river (Samrang Pring/Courtesy Reuters).

Reports this week that Laos has decided to continue building the Xayaburi Dam on the Mekong river, despite massive protests and many studies showing detrimental environmental impacts, reveals once again that, when it comes to the Mekong, the governments involved pay little attention to popular or scientific opinion. The U.S. government this week openly, and unusually bluntly, criticized Laos’ decision to continue with the work, but I doubt this critique is going to have any impact either. Read more »

Hu Jintao’s Legacy of Danger and Opportunity for Xi Jinping

by Elizabeth C. Economy Thursday, November 8, 2012
China's President Hu Jintao talks to Vice President Xi Jinping after the closing ceremony of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 13, 2009. China's President Hu Jintao talks to Vice President Xi Jinping after the closing ceremony of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 13, 2009. (Alfred Cheng Jin/Courtesy Reuters)

Now that the U.S. presidential election has concluded, the world’s attention is turning to China. November 8 marks the opening of the 18th Party Congress, China’s version of a political convention at which all the top Communist Party leaders will be announced. While we won’t be treated to the sight of hundreds of millions of Chinese turning out at their local schools and senior citizen centers to vote—although the American Embassy in Beijing did host an invitation-only mock U.S. election for Chinese citizens—the suspense is almost as great. Read more »

Assessing the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) and the Sustainability of South Korea’s Contribution

by Scott A. Snyder Tuesday, November 6, 2012
South Korea's president Lee Myung-bak delivers a speech at an inaugural meeting of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) in Seoul. (Courtesy Reuters) South Korea's president Lee Myung-bak delivers a speech at an inaugural meeting of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) in Seoul. (Courtesy Reuters)

When South Korean president Lee Myung Bak first offered to serve as a bridge between developing and industrialized countries on climate change issues in a speech August of 2008, it seemed implausible that South Korea, as a smaller country in the global climate change discussion, could have an influence on either group. In fact, the speech ultimately seemed more targeted at a domestic rather than an international audience, since it spawned the establishment of a Blue House-led Green Growth Committee tasked to reform national energy policy across all sectors (including the National Asssembly’s adoption of an emissions trading scheme) and to promote policies of adaptation through enhanced energy efficiency and promotion of Korean development of renewables. Read more »

The 18th Party Congress: A Setback for President Hu?

by Yanzhong Huang Monday, November 5, 2012
China's President Hu Jintao claps as he arrives for the opening ceremony of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing March 3, 2011. (Jason Lee/Courtesy Reuters). China's President Hu Jintao claps as he arrives for the opening ceremony of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing March 3, 2011. (Jason Lee/Courtesy Reuters).

Two days after the U.S. presidential election, 2270 delegates will gather in Beijing for the Chinese Communist Party’s 18th Congress. The meeting will not only select a new generation of leaders but will also endorse the Party’s new political agenda. After being hit by a slew of scandals, the Communist Party is doing all it can to make sure all “unstable elements” are nipped in the bud. Security is tight not just in Beijing but also in other parts of China.  I heard stories of the police stopping cars in a southern province to search for knives. When one of the drivers dared to ask why, he was simply told “shiba da” (18th Party Congress). Read more »

Review: ‘A Contest for Supremacy’ by Aaron Friedberg

by Joshua Kurlantzick Friday, November 2, 2012
In ‘A Contest for Supremacy,’ Aaron Friedberg portrays the United States and China as almost fated to wind up in conflict, and suggests Beijing is already lapping Washington in preparing for such a fight (Aly Song/Courtesy Reuters). In ‘A Contest for Supremacy,’ Aaron Friedberg portrays the United States and China as almost fated to wind up in conflict, and suggests Beijing is already lapping Washington in preparing for such a fight (Aly Song/Courtesy Reuters).

In the spring of 2010, after years of relative quiet in the South China Sea —the strategic body of water separating southeastern China from Southeast Asia, and including regions disputed by at least five claimants including China, Vietnam and the Philippines, tensions suddenly seemed to explode. Beijing announced that the Sea was a “core interest,” putting it in the highest pantheon of Chinese policy issues, alongside Tibet and Taiwan, on which China brooks no interference; China also increasingly pushed its claim that it controlled the territorial waters of nearly the entire South China Sea. It had warned other countries not to explore for oil and gas in the Sea, and had warned Western multinationals as well. Chinese ships would cut the lines of other countries’ fishing vessels operating in the Sea, while nationalist Chinese publications warned that other countries claiming even tiny portions of the water would lead to war. Read more »

The Daunting Challenges Ahead for U.S. Policy Toward Asia

by Scott A. Snyder Friday, November 2, 2012
Georgetown University professor Victor Cha (center) discuss U.S.-Asia Policy with former and current assistant secretaries of state for East Asia and Pacific Affairs (from L to R) Winston Lord, Kurt Campbell, Richard H. Solomon and Christopher Hill. (Courtesy Elizabeth Leader) Georgetown University professor Victor Cha (center) discuss U.S.-Asia Policy with former and current assistant secretaries of state for East Asia and Pacific Affairs (from L to R) Winston Lord, Kurt Campbell, Richard H. Solomon and Christopher Hill. (Courtesy Elizabeth Leader)

Georgetown University hosted four current and former assistant secretaries of state for East Asia and Pacific Affairs—Richard H. Solomon (1989-1992), Winston Lord (1993-1996), Christopher Hill (2005-2009), and Kurt Campbell (2009-present)—on November 1 for a wide-ranging discussion of their views, experiences, and challenges as the senior officials responsible for managing U.S. policy toward Asia during their respective administrations.  The discussion provided a tour d’horizon of the recent history of U.S. engagement with Asia, in addition to showcasing the impressive diplomatic, analytical, and communications skills that each man brought to the job.  I drew the following takeaways from the conversation: Read more »

South Korean Navy: “To the Sea, To the World”

by Guest Blogger for Scott A. Snyder Thursday, November 1, 2012
South Korea Navy's Lynx helicopter leaves from the destroyer Choi Young during a military drill in the West Sea of South Korea. (Pool/Courtesy Reuters) South Korea Navy's Lynx helicopter leaves from the destroyer Choi Young during a military drill in the West Sea of South Korea. (Pool/Courtesy Reuters)

Terence Roehrig is professor of National Security Affairs and director of the Asia-Pacific Studies Group at the U.S. Naval War College.  

The Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy welcomes visitors to its website with the headline, “To the Sea, To the World.” Over the past two decades, South Korea has been building an ocean-going, blue water navy that is capable of extended operations in waters beyond the peninsula. After the sinking of the Cheonan, the Navy scaled back plans to build a blue water navy to focus attention on more immediate defense needs around the peninsula. Last week, the ROK Navy announced a plan to resume the expansion of its blue water fleet with a new line of submarines, more Aegis-class destroyers, and twenty frigates.

Read more »