CFR Presents

Asia Unbound

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

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of February 28, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, February 28, 2014
Journalists and editors from Ming Pao hold up front pages of their newspaper during a protest against violence in Hong Kong February 27, 2014, after Wednesday's attack on their former chief editor Kevin Lau. (Bobby Yip/Courtesy Reuters) Journalists and editors from Ming Pao hold up front pages of their newspaper during a protest against violence in Hong Kong February 27, 2014, after Wednesday's attack on their former chief editor Kevin Lau. (Bobby Yip/Courtesy Reuters)

Lauren Dickey, Darcie Draudt, Charles McClean, Will Piekos, and Sharone Tobias look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. Hong Kong editor attacked. Kevin Lau, former chief editor of Ming Pao Daily News, was slashed three times in his back and legs by an attacker and accomplice on a motorbike. The attack on Mr. Lau sparked protests and an offer of a one million Hong Kong dollar reward from Ming Pao for any information leading to the arrest of the attacker. Mr. Lau was the center of controversy last month when removed from his editorial role. Hong Kong journalist associations are concerned that Mr. Lau’s removal, alongside the firing of a radio talk show host, are encroachments upon press freedom. Read more »

China’s New Small Leading Group on Cybersecurity and Internet Management

by Adam Segal Thursday, February 27, 2014
China's Politburo Standing Committee member Liu Yunshan (R ) and China's Vice Premier Li Keqiang attend the opening ceremony of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 3, 2013. (Jason Lee/Courtesy Reuters) China's Politburo Standing Committee member Liu Yunshan (R ) and China's Vice Premier Li Keqiang attend the opening ceremony of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 3, 2013. (Jason Lee/Courtesy Reuters)

China announced the first meeting of a leading group on Internet security and informatization earlier today. The group is chaired by President Xi Jinping, while Premier Li Keqiang and Liu Yunshan, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau and the director of the Propaganda Department, serve as the group’s deputies. There have been reports of a leading small group on cyber issues meeting in the past, but this is the first public meeting in at least four years. The announcement of this new group is significant. Read more »

Thailand Headed for a Violent Ending

by Joshua Kurlantzick Thursday, February 27, 2014
Thayakorn Yosubon, the father of a pair of siblings killed in Sunday's bomb blast near an anti-government protest site, mourns as he hold a photograph of his children during their funeral at a Buddhist temple in Bangkok on February 24, 2014. (Athit Perawongmetha/Courtesy Reuters) Thayakorn Yosubon, the father of a pair of siblings killed in Sunday's bomb blast near an anti-government protest site, mourns as he hold a photograph of his children during their funeral at a Buddhist temple in Bangkok on February 24, 2014. (Athit Perawongmetha/Courtesy Reuters)

Clashes in Thailand between anti-government protestors and security forces have intensified. This past weekend, unidentified gunmen sprayed bullets at anti-government protestors in eastern Thailand and killed a five-year-old girl, and someone apparently launched two grenade attacks in Bangkok. Since this current round of demonstrations started last November, 21 people have been killed and hundreds injured in Thailand. The country has basically functioned without an effective government now for months, the once-teflon economy is sputtering, and Thais are preparing for the violence to get worse. Read more »

India’s Stakes in the Middle East

by Alyssa Ayres Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud (L) shakes hands with India's Vice President Hamid Ansari upon his arrival at the airport in New Delhi February 26, 2014 (Adnan Abidi/Courtesy Reuters).

The Pew Research Center just released a superb infographic drawing on World Bank remittance data that makes it possible, with just a few clicks, to instantly see how remittances flow from source to recipient countries. It might not be a surprise to anyone that the United States is the number one source country, with more than $123 billion in remittances flowing to countries all over the world in 2012, the most recently available year. And it might not be a surprise, either, to learn that India is the number one recipient country, with $69 billion coming in during 2012. But how many people would guess that even though the United States is the number one source country for outflows worldwide, it isn’t the largest source of remittances going to India. That would be the United Arab Emirates (UAE). More than $15 billion was remitted to India from the UAE during 2012, compared with $11 billion from the United States. Read more »

Piekos and Tobias: China’s Place in ‘House of Cards’

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Cast member Kevin Spacey poses at the premiere for the second season of the television series "House of Cards" at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles, California on February 13, 2014. (Mario Anzuoni/Courtesy Reuters) Cast member Kevin Spacey poses at the premiere for the second season of the television series "House of Cards" at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles, California on February 13, 2014. (Mario Anzuoni/Courtesy Reuters)

Will Piekos is a program coordinator and Sharone Tobias is a research associate in the Council on Foreign Relation’s Asia Studies program.

Warning: This blog post contains spoilers for House of Cards.

Netflix’s original series House of Cards returned with a second season on Valentine’s Day this year. Read more »

Sean Connell: Korea’s Creative Approach to Economic Competitiveness

by Guest Blogger for Scott A. Snyder Monday, February 24, 2014
park-at-davos President of South Korea Park Geun-hye advocated her “creative economy” vision during a session at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos on January 22, 2014 (Denis Balibouse/Courtesy Reuters).

Sean Connell is a recent POSCO Visiting Fellow and Japan Studies Fellow at the East-West Center, and director of trade and economic development of the Snohomish County Government, Washington State.  This post draws on the author’s paper “Creating Korea’s Future Economy: Innovation, Growth, and Korea-U.S. Economic Relations,” which appeared in the East-West Center’s AsiaPacific Issues, No. 111. The views expressed are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of any organization with which the author is affiliated. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of February 21, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, February 21, 2014
Michael Kirby, Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea holds a copy of his report during a news conference at the United Nations in Geneva February 17, 2014 Michael Kirby, Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea holds a copy of his report during a news conference at the United Nations in Geneva February 17, 2014. (Denis Balibouse/Courtesy Reuters)

Lauren Dickey, Darcie Draudt, Charles McClean, Will Piekos, and Sharone Tobias look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. UN releases report on North Korean human rights violations. The United Nations Commission of Inquiry (COI) on human rights in North Korea, established in March 2013, released its findings on February 17, 2014. Led by former Australian high court justice Michael Kirby, the commission was tasked with investigating “systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights…with a mind in view to ensuring full accountability, in particular for violations which may constitute crimes against humanity.” Read more »

A Divided Family Reunification Bonanza in Korea?

by Scott A. Snyder Friday, February 21, 2014
korea-family-reunions South Koreans on a bus bid farewell to their North Korean relatives after the November 2010 inter-Korean family reunions at Mount Kumgang resort in North Korea. This week’s reunions are the first held since they were suspended in 2010 following increased tension between the two Koreas. (Kim Chang-Gil/Courtesy Reuters).

A few lucky Korean family members from North and South will meet loved ones that they haven’t seen for over sixty years at the snowy, virtually abandoned Mount Kumgang tourist hotel complex, which itself is an apt backdrop for an uncertain “breakthrough” in inter-Korean relations. Fueled by parallel New Year’s speeches and resolutions by South and North Korean leaders last month (Kim Jong-un pledged to seek inter-Korean rapprochement; Park Geun-hye called reunification a daebak, or “bonanza”), North Korea has actually lived up to National Defense Commission declarations and pledges to set aside slander (for now) and possibly even to ignore the annual U.S.-ROK training exercises set to start on February 24 so that these inter-Korean family meetings can go forward. But on the rare occasions when inter-Korean relations ease, such circumstances always engender doubts about how and when the other shoe will drop. Read more »

Behind Pattern of Global Unrest, a Middle Class in Revolt

by Joshua Kurlantzick Thursday, February 20, 2014
Policemen hold their weapons ready as they pull back during clashes with anti-government protesters near the Government House in Bangkok on February 18, 2014. (Damir Sagolj/Courtesy Reuters) Policemen hold their weapons ready as they pull back during clashes with anti-government protesters near the Government House in Bangkok on February 18, 2014. (Damir Sagolj/Courtesy Reuters)

For months now, protesters have gathered in the capitals of many developing nations—Turkey, Ukraine, Thailand, Venezuela, Malaysia, and Cambodia, among others—in demonstrations united by some key features. In nearly all of these places, protesters are pushing to oust presidents or prime ministers they claim are venal, authoritarian, and unresponsive to popular opinion. Nearly all of these governments, no matter how corrupt, brutal, and autocratic, actually won elections in relatively free polls. And in nearly all of these countries the vast majority of demonstrators hail from cosmopolitan areas: Kiev, Bangkok, Caracas, Istanbul, and other cities. The streets seem to be filled with very people one might expect to support democracy rather than put more nails in its coffin. Read more »

Kerry and the Diplomatic Dead End With North Korea

by Scott A. Snyder Wednesday, February 19, 2014
kerry-in-beijing U.S. secretary of state John Kerry walks off after a news conference in Beijing on February 14, 2014. Kerry urged the Chinese to use “all of the means of persuasion that they have” to achieve a denuclearized North Korea (Evan Vucci/Courtesy Reuters).

Secretary of State John Kerry’s first visit to Northeast Asia last April was consumed with near-term crisis management since it coincided with the peak of regional tensions driven by North Korea’s provocative rhetoric. In contrast, his second visit to the region last week occurred against the backdrop of apparent easing of inter-Korean tensions and afforded a better environment for long-term coordination toward North Korea. Unfortunately, the visit appears to have illuminated the dead ends the administration faces on denuclearization of North Korea rather than showing a way forward. Washington has placed its bet on pressure from Beijing as the best hope for turning Pyongyang back to denuclearization, but Kerry’s conversations in Bejing raise questions about whether this route can really succeed. Read more »