CFR Presents

Asia Unbound

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

Robert S. Spalding III: Being Firm With China

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Monday, December 30, 2013
Honour guard troops march during a welcoming ceremony for visiting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on May 6, 2013. (Petar Kujundzic/Courtesy Reuters) Honour guard troops march during a welcoming ceremony for visiting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on May 6, 2013. (Petar Kujundzic/Courtesy Reuters)

Robert S. Spalding III is a military fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

The Air Defense Identification Zone recently announced by the Chinese was most likely not hastily done. The Chinese do not do anything hastily. It is part of a return to preeminence for a nation that feels slighted by history. Assailed on all sides by invaders and conquerors, China has had to bide its time while it rebuilt its devastated economy. While still a work in progress, Beijing now feels sufficiently confident about the future to assert its military rise. It’s important to remember, however, when it comes to its military rise, China is not evil, nor is China good. China is merely pursuing its own national interests. Read more »

Abe’s Yasukuni Visit: The Consequences?

by Sheila A. Smith Monday, December 30, 2013
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (C) is led by a Shinto priest as he visits Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo December 26, 2013 Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe (C) is led by a Shinto priest as he visits Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo December 26, 2013 (Toru Hanai/Courtesy Reuters).

On December 26, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made an official visit to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, drawing harsh criticism from Japan’s neighbors and a public rebuke from the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. Now that he has done it, what are the likely policy consequences? Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of December 27, 2013

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, December 27, 2013
abe-visits-yasukuni-shrine Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe follows a Shinto priest during a visit to the Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo on December 26, 2013. Abe’s visit to the shrine for war dead has angered China and South Korea (Toru Hanai/Courtesy: Reuters).

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

1. Japanese prime minister pays his respects to Yasukuni Shrine. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe paid his respects at the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, which honors 2.5 million Japanese war dead, including over a dozen “Class A” war criminals. It was the first visit to the Shinto shrine by a serving prime minister since 2006, when Junichiro Koizumi went. Abe tried to play down the visit, saying it was an anti-war gesture, but Abe’s actions were widely and swiftly condemned; the Yasukuni Shrine is seen by the region as a symbol of Imperial Japanese aggression. China called the visit “absolutely unacceptable to the Chinese people”; South Korea expressed “regret and anger”; and the U.S. embassy in Tokyo said in a statement that it was “disappointed” and the prime minister’s actions would “exacerbate tensions” with Japan’s neighbors. Read more »

Top 10 South Asia Stories of 2013

by Alyssa Ayres Friday, December 27, 2013
southasia-topten-2013 Voters wait inside a polling station to cast their vote during the state assembly election in New Delhi on December 4, 2013 (Adnan Abidi/Courtesy: Reuters).

In a year of many tumultuous events, these ten developments stood out—in my personal view—as the most consequential stories for India and South Asia. It was a year of many elections, of protests, and of change. Herewith the list, with a few links for further reading: Read more »

Suu Kyi Faces Growing Criticism

by Joshua Kurlantzick Thursday, December 26, 2013
Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi looks on as she leads a news conference at the foreign ministry in Rome on October 28, 2013. (Max Rossi/Courtesy Reuters) Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi looks on as she leads a news conference at the foreign ministry in Rome on October 28, 2013. (Max Rossi/Courtesy Reuters)

Just a short blog item to think about over your holiday season; Asia Unbound will be back in force in the new year.

Over the past two years, as Buddhist-Muslim violence in Myanmar has spread from western Arakan/Rakhine State to other areas across the country, few leading Burman Buddhist politicians have been willing to criticize the Buddhist paramilitary groups responsible for starting most of the violence. President Thein Sein, to his credit, has on occasion condemned the violence, though his government has done little to address the root causes of the unrest. But Aung San Suu Kyi has, over the past two years, been even more reticent to comment on the unrest than Thein Sein or other top government officials. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of December 20, 2013

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, December 20, 2013
India's Deputy Consul General in New York, Devyani Khobragade, attends a Rutgers University event at India's Consulate General in New York on June 19, 2013. (Mohammed Jaffer/Courtesy Reuters) India's Deputy Consul General in New York, Devyani Khobragade, attends a Rutgers University event at India's Consulate General in New York on June 19, 2013. (Mohammed Jaffer/Courtesy Reuters)

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

1. Fury erupts over Indian diplomat’s arrest in New York. Anti-American protests have erupted across India after Devyani Khobragade, India’s deputy consul general in New York, was arrested for allegedly underpaying a domestic worker and lying about her wages to obtain a U.S. visa for the woman. Khobragade claimed that she paid the women $4,500 per month, but the worker in fact received less than $600 per month, or approximately $3.13 per hour in wages. Khobragade said that she was handcuffed and faced a cavity search despite her diplomatic immunity; U.S. officials countered that she received preferential treatment, was allowed to keep her mobile phone, and did not face a cavity search. India lodged a formal complaint with U.S. ambassador to India Nancy Powell, and Indian politicians have refused to meet with a congressional delegation. A senior Indian diplomat also said that the government could retaliate against gay partners of U.S. diplomats. Read more »

Watch Out for the H10N8 Avian Flu

by Yanzhong Huang Friday, December 20, 2013
Employees dispose of uninfected dead birds at a treatment plant as part of preventive measures against the H7N9 bird flu in Guangzhou, Guangdong province on April 16, 2013. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) Employees dispose of uninfected dead birds at a treatment plant as part of preventive measures against the H7N9 bird flu in Guangzhou, Guangdong province on April 16, 2013. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

SARS, H5N1, and H7N9. Over the past 10 years, China has earned its reputation as the epicenter of major disease outbreaks. Now, while the country is still concerned about the return of H7N9, another virus has emerged. On Wednesday a 73-year-old woman from the landlocked southeastern Jiangxi Province, who died of respiratory failure on December 6, was confirmed by the China CDC to be infected with the H10N8 avian flu. Read more »

Thailand’s Political Crisis—Not so Unique

by Joshua Kurlantzick Thursday, December 19, 2013
An anti-government protester holds a placard as she gathers with others during a rally at a major business district in Bangkok on December 19, 2013. (Athit Perawongmetha/Courtesy Reuters) An anti-government protester holds a placard as she gathers with others during a rally at a major business district in Bangkok on December 19, 2013. (Athit Perawongmetha/Courtesy Reuters)

As Thailand heads into the new year, which will mark four months of political crisis, one of the most persistent—and dangerous—concepts in Thai politics remains this idea that Thailand is somehow unique. According to this popular theory, Thailand’s history, politics, and potential political solutions are completely unique, untethered from the experiences of any other developing nations. This Thailand-as-unique narrative clearly comes across in the rhetoric of the anti-government protest movement and its quest for rule by a few good men, in the weakness of studies of comparative politics in the kingdom, and in the denunciation of foreign academics and journalists who write about Thailand. Read more »

Chinese Predictions for Cyberspace in 2014: Intense Competition and National Conflict

by Adam Segal Thursday, December 19, 2013
An officer of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) uses a string to ensure that the soldiers making up a guard of honour, stand in a straight line before an official welcoming ceremony for Afghan President Hamid Karzai outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on September 27, 2013. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Courtesy Reuters) An officer of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) uses a string to ensure that the soldiers making up a guard of honour, stand in a straight line before an official welcoming ceremony for Afghan President Hamid Karzai outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on September 27, 2013. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Courtesy Reuters)

The U.S.-China cybersecurity working group recently met for the second time during the first week in December. There have been no public reports of what was discussed or what progress, if any, was made. As with many of these dialogues, one of the main goals is not concrete deliverables, but reducing mistrust between the two sides. Yet some recent articles suggest that mutual understanding is going to be hard to find, and that some in China see cyberspace as increasingly antagonistic and dangerous. Read more »

Some Background for the Khobragade Case

by Alyssa Ayres Thursday, December 19, 2013
Supporters of Rashtrawadi Shiv Sena, a Hindu hardline group, shout anti-U.S. slogans during a protest near the U.S. embassy in New Delhi December 18, 2013 Supporters of Rashtrawadi Shiv Sena, a Hindu hardline group, shout anti-U.S. slogans during a protest near the U.S. embassy in New Delhi December 18, 2013 (Ahmad Masood/Courtesy Reuters).

Since the arrest last Thursday of India’s acting consul general in New York, Devyani Khobragade, U.S.-India relations have hit turbulent waters. Dr. Khobragade has been charged in the Southern District of New York with visa fraud, specifically with falsifying a statement about wages in the contract for her domestic worker in order to successfully receive a visa to bring her to New York. This is considered a criminal matter, and U.S. attorney Preet Bharara issued a statement along with the unsealed complaint in which the allegations are detailed. Late Tuesday, press reports stated that the U.S. Marshals confirmed they had arrested her, taken her to a holding cell, and strip-searched her. She was released on bail later that day. The Government of India immediately expressed outrage, and took several steps on Tuesday to express extreme displeasure with the way Dr. Khobragade’s arrest was handled. Read more »