CFR Presents

Asia Unbound

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

What China Needs to Learn From India

by Elizabeth C. Economy Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Labourers are silhouetted against the setting sun as they work at the construction site of a residential building in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad on October 5, 2012. (Krishnendu Halder/Courtesy Reuters) Labourers are silhouetted against the setting sun as they work at the construction site of a residential building in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad on October 5, 2012. (Krishnendu Halder/Courtesy Reuters)

In discussions and writings about the Asia Pacific, India often seems to get short shrift—despite its size, record-breaking economic growth, and growing regional and global influence. Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to pose some questions to the renowned economist—as well as Columbia University professor and my CFR colleague—Jagdish Baghwati about his terrific new book with Arvind Panagariya on India, Why Growth Matters: How Economic Growth in India Reduced Poverty and the Lessons for Other Developing Countries. Read more »

Watershed Election in Cambodia?

by Joshua Kurlantzick Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Sam Rainsy, president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) makes a point as he addresses reporters at his party's headquarters in Phnom Penh on July 29, 2013. Cambodia's main opposition party CNRP rejected election results given by the government, which said long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen's party had won, and called for an inquiry into what it called massive manipulation of electoral rolls. (Pring Samrang/Courtesy Reuters) Sam Rainsy, president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) makes a point as he addresses reporters at his party's headquarters in Phnom Penh on July 29, 2013. Cambodia's main opposition party CNRP rejected election results given by the government, which said long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen's party had won, and called for an inquiry into what it called massive manipulation of electoral rolls. (Pring Samrang/Courtesy Reuters)

Last week, in advance of Cambodia’s national elections, I noted that the election was a foregone conclusion, given that the long-ruling Cambodian People’s Party, led by increasingly autocratic prime minister Hun Sen, had awarded itself so many advantages in advance of the actual voting day. The opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party managed to overcome many of these obstacles, and the tally of fifty out of 120 parliamentary seats that it has won—the tally of CNRP seats that the government’s spokesman admitted the opposition won—is shockingly high, given the huge barriers placed in its way. These barriers included possible CNRP voters simply being turned away from registering to vote, hundreds of thousands of people deleted from the voter rolls, state media devoting almost no time to anyone but the CPP in the run-up to the election,  attacks on CNRP supporters, and much more thuggery. Read more »

Blair Rapalyea: Brazil, Internet Freedom, and Foreign Surveillance

by Guest Blogger for Adam Segal Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff reacts during a meeting of the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia on February 6, 2013. (Ueslei Marcelino/Courtesy Reuters) Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff reacts during a meeting of the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia on February 6, 2013. (Ueslei Marcelino/Courtesy Reuters)

Several previous posts have covered China’s reaction to PRISM, the NSA’s surveillance program revealed by Edward Snowden. While Brazil usually falls outside of Asia Unbound’s coverage, this guest post by Blair Rapalyea, an intern for the Cybersecurity and Cyberconflict Initiative at the Council on Foreign Relations, shows how another emerging Internet power is reacting. There are some notable similarities—a focus on domestic technology and a look to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to play a greater role in Internet governance—but also some important differences as Brazil champions individual and Internet rights. Read more »

Aldrich, Platte, and Sklarew: What’s Ahead for Abe’s Energy Agenda?

by Guest Blogger for Sheila A. Smith Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Workers check solar panels at a solar power field in Kawasaki, near Tokyo July 6, 2011. Workers check solar panels at a solar power field in Kawasaki, near Tokyo July 6, 2011 (Toru Hanai/Courtesy Reuters).

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) won a major victory in the Upper House election on July 21, and gained control of both houses of the Diet together with its coalition partner New Komeito. The LDP has been historically pro-nuclear and may push more strongly for nuclear power after the election. However, power sector reforms, renewable energy development, and uncertainty over plutonium use may dampen the LDP’s ability to push an overly pro-nuclear energy policy. Read more »

The Return of Japan

by Joshua Kurlantzick Monday, July 29, 2013
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe accepts a gift from Win Aung, the chairman of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI), at a Myanmar-Japan business seminar at the UMFCCI premises in Yangon on May 25, 2013. (Stringer/ Courtesy Reuters) Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe accepts a gift from Win Aung, the chairman of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI), at a Myanmar-Japan business seminar at the UMFCCI premises in Yangon on May 25, 2013. (Stringer/ Courtesy Reuters)

When I was doing research in the mid-2000s for my first book, Charm Offensive, on how China was becoming more influential economically and diplomatically in Southeast Asia, I came into the project wondering whether Beijing was, at that time, benefiting from the U.S. being largely absent from Southeast Asia, focused on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and unable to get any trade agenda through Congress. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of July 26, 2013

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, July 26, 2013
China's former Chongqing Municipality Communist Party Secretary Bo Xilai looks on during a meeting at the annual session of China's parliament, the National People's Congress, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, on March 6, 2010. (Jason Lee/Courtesy Reuters) China's former Chongqing Municipality Communist Party Secretary Bo Xilai looks on during a meeting at the annual session of China's parliament, the National People's Congress, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, on March 6, 2010. (Jason Lee/Courtesy Reuters)

Sharone Tobias and Will Piekos look at the top five stories in Asia this week.

1. Bo Xilai indicted on corruption charges. Former Chinese Politburo member and party boss of Chongqing Bo Xilai was charged with corruption, abuse of power, and accepting bribes on Thursday, according to state media. He was indicted by prosecutors in the eastern city of Jinan, where the trial will be held; a final judgment is expected within the month. One newspaper estimated that Bo was accused of bribery and embezzlement amounting to $4 million, and analysts suggest he might face a prison sentence of fifteen to twenty years. Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, was given a suspended death sentence last year for the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood. Read more »

The Korean Armistice: Sixty Years of “War By Other Means”

by Scott A. Snyder Thursday, July 25, 2013
A South Korean soldier stands guard as he faces the North Korea side at the border village of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas. (Wally Santana/courtesy Reuters) A South Korean soldier stands guard as he faces the North Korea side at the border village of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas. (Wally Santana/courtesy Reuters)

This weekend President Obama will commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the end of the war fight on the Korean peninsula. But in so doing, he will have no choice to acknowledge that the war has not ended despite dramatic changes in both the international context and local conditions on the Korean peninsula. In my own thinking about the significance of an enduring armistice alongside dramatic changes surrounding the Korean peninsula, I found Sheila Miyoshi Jager’s new book Brothers at War particularly useful. Read more »

Asia’s Weakening Economies – How Concerned Should the World Be?

by Joshua Kurlantzick Thursday, July 25, 2013
A child sits on a bag of milled rice at a mill in Suphan Buri province, north of Bangkok on March 11, 2013. Thailand was set to sell half-a-million tonnes of rice on world markets at a loss, to offload a record stockpile deteriorating in quality in warehouses filled with grain bought under a government scheme. (Chaiwat Subprasom/Courtesy Reuters) A child sits on a bag of milled rice at a mill in Suphan Buri province, north of Bangkok on March 11, 2013. Thailand was set to sell half-a-million tonnes of rice on world markets at a loss, to offload a record stockpile deteriorating in quality in warehouses filled with grain bought under a government scheme. (Chaiwat Subprasom/Courtesy Reuters)

The latest reports on developing Asia’s economies seem more and more unsettling. The Asian Development Bank recently cut its projections for 2013 growth for Asia’s developing nations, as well as its growth projection for 2014. Other monitoring groups including the IMF, HSBC, and others have warned of weakness in Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, India, and of course China. Read more »

The Elephant in the Room During President Sang’s Visit

by Joshua Kurlantzick Thursday, July 25, 2013
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry offers a toast with Vietnam's President Truong Tan Sang before a luncheon at the U.S. State Department in Washington on July 24, 2013. (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry offers a toast with Vietnam's President Truong Tan Sang before a luncheon at the U.S. State Department in Washington on July 24, 2013. (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters)

The president of Vietnam, Truong Tan Sang, is visiting Washington, only the second visit by the top leader of the country to D.C. since the end of the Vietnam War, even though Washington and Hanoi have had close relations for nearly a decade now. In part, this avoidance of public visits to Washington is because leaders of Vietnam do not like having to face vocal complaints from congresspeople, journalists, and some American officials about Hanoi’s horrible human rights record, which actually has gotten worse in the last year, with a growing number of arrests of bloggers, activists, and religious figures. Read more »

Okinawa and Tokyo Today

by Sheila A. Smith Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Governor of Okinawa Hirokazu Nakaima (Issei Kato/courtesy Reuters) Governor of Okinawa Hirokazu Nakaima (Issei Kato/courtesy Reuters)

My visit to Okinawa two weeks ago provided the opportunity to think about what has happened there over the past seventeen years, as the U.S. and Japanese governments have struggled to find a replacement facility for the Futenma Marine Air Station. Yet is it also important to recognize that national politics have changed considerably over this time, as have regional security dynamics. Today, the government in Okinawa faces new decisions, with as yet uncertain consequences for the effort to close Futenma. Read more »