CFR Presents

Asia Unbound

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

Thai Junta Plans Election for Autumn 2015

by Joshua Kurlantzick Monday, June 30, 2014
Prayuth Chan-ocha Thai Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha speaks during a meeting with Thai ambassadors at the Royal Thai Army Headquarters in Bangkok on June 11, 2014 (Chanat Katanyu/Courtesy: Reuters).

Over the weekend, Thailand’s junta leader, Prayuth Chan-ocha, announced a firmer roadmap toward civilian rule than the army had previously revealed. Prayuth went on Thai television and announced that a drafting committee will write a new permanent constitution, to replace the 2007 version the army junked in its May coup. The committee will finish drafting by the middle of next year, Prayuth announced, and then by the fall of 2015, Thailand can hold national elections again. In the meantime, Thailand will operate under an interim constitution that the junta draws up. The junta will pick some civilian ministers to help run the country. Read more »

Ashlyn Anderson: In Iraq, Modi Finds His First Foreign Policy Test

by Guest blogger for Alyssa Ayres Monday, June 30, 2014
Relatives hold up photographs of Indian workers, who have been kidnapped in Iraq, after their meeting with India's Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi on June 19, 2014 (Adnan Abidi/Courtesy: Reuters). Relatives hold up photographs of Indian workers, who have been kidnapped in Iraq, after their meeting with India's Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi on June 19, 2014 (Adnan Abidi/Courtesy: Reuters).

Ashlyn Anderson is a research associate for India, Pakistan, and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) stunned the world with its recent victories over the Iraqi army, seizing large swaths of territory, including the cities of Fallujah, Tikrit, Mosul, Al-Qaim, and three other western Iraqi towns. But ISIS’s violence has affected countries well beyond Iraq’s borders, including India. With its large expatriate population in Iraq, unquenchable energy needs, and the threat of spillover into South Asia, India is grappling with its first foreign policy crisis. Read more »

Susan Hubbard: East Asia Regional Cooperation on Global Health

by Guest Blogger for Yanzhong Huang Monday, June 30, 2014

Susan Hubbard is a senior associate at the Japan Center for International Exchange where she focuses primarily on global health and human security issues.

In the spirit of the current World Cup mania, I am reminded of the historic decision that Korea and Japan made to combine their competing bids to host the 2005 World Cup. By doing so, they successfully won the bid, and the World Cup was cohosted by two countries for the first and only time in its history. The idea for combining the bids was originally proposed in 1995 at a meeting of the Korea-Japan Forum, a track 2 dialogue organized by the Japan Center for International Exchange and the Korea Foundation. The decision came at a time when the two countries were in a fierce battle over issues dealing with history and territory. But the games allowed the people of both countries to turn their attention away from geopolitical tensions and focus instead on their shared interests. Read more »

How China Becomes a Cyber Power

by Adam Segal Monday, June 30, 2014
Employees work inside a LCD factory in Wuhan, Hubei province, on May 8, 2013. Chinese flat screen makers, once dismissed as second-class players in the global LCD market, are drawing envious looks from big names such as LG Display Co Ltd and Samsung. (China Daily/Courtesy Reuters) Employees work inside a LCD factory in Wuhan, Hubei province, on May 8, 2013. Chinese flat screen makers, once dismissed as second-class players in the global LCD market, are drawing envious looks from big names such as LG Display Co Ltd and Samsung. (China Daily/Courtesy Reuters)

One of the justifications for the creation of the Chinese leading group on cybersecurity and information technology was the need to move China from a “big” network country to a “strong” cyber power (从网络大国走向网络强国). While China has the world’s largest number of Internet users and a vibrant domestic market, policymakers and outside analysts seem to have significant concerns about Beijing’s technological prowess, the coherence of its international strategy, and its ability to respond to the growing sophistication of cyberattacks. It is one thing to be big, it is another to be powerful.
Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of June 27, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, June 27, 2014
U.S. President Barack Obama is welcomed to Sukiyabashi Jiro restaurant by Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe while in Tokyo on April 23, 2014 (Larry Downing/Courtesy: Reuters). U.S. President Barack Obama is welcomed to Sukiyabashi Jiro restaurant by Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe while in Tokyo on April 23, 2014 (Larry Downing/Courtesy: Reuters).

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

1. Abe fires the “third arrow” of his growth strategy Abenomics. Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe announced the “third arrow” of his economic reform policy this week. The third arrow, experts say, is important but difficult, and seeks to address issues of tax reform, population decline, and immigration, as well as trade and agricultural reform. This phase follows the first (a fiscal stimulus) and the second (massive quantitative easing to provide a monetary boost). “Abenomics” claims to address the large challenges threatening Japan’s economy, including one of the biggest debt-to-GDP ratios in the world and an ageing society. Read more »

Prabowo, Jokowi, and Foreign Policy

by Joshua Kurlantzick Thursday, June 26, 2014
indonesia-second-presidential-debate Indonesia's presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto (far right) speaks as his opponent Joko Widodo looks on during the second presidential debate in Jakarta on June 15, 2014. Indonesia's two presidential candidates met again at the third debate on June 22, ahead of July's election (Beawiharta/Courtesy: Reuters).

The third debate between Indonesian presidential candidates Joko Widodo, or Jokowi, and Prabowo Subianto, held over the weekend, was supposed to focus on foreign policy and defense policy. At least that was the idea. It made sense that two men who want to be the president of the biggest power in Southeast Asia, and one that has become increasingly assertive on the world stage, would need to offer their views on Jakarta’s foreign policy. Read more »

Getting Back on Track Economically with India

by Alyssa Ayres Wednesday, June 25, 2014
A fisherman prepares to cast his fishing net in the waters of the Vembanad lake as a container ship is seen docked in the background at a port in Vallarpadam, in the southern Indian city of Kochi on February 11, 2014 (Sivaram V/Courtesy: Reuters). A fisherman prepares to cast his fishing net in the waters of the Vembanad lake as a container ship is seen docked in the background at a port in Vallarpadam in the southern Indian city of Kochi on February 11, 2014 (Sivaram V/Courtesy: Reuters).

India’s new government, led by business-oriented Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has emphasized the importance of restoring India’s economic growth to higher rates, along with restoring India’s place in the world as a great trading nation. It will be important for the United States to advance policies responsive to a more open Indian approach on trade and investment matters. I argue, in a new Policy Innovation Memorandum released today, that a good way to begin revitalizing the U.S.-India economic relationship, currently beset with animosities, will be for the United States to support India’s long-pending bid for membership in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC). Read more »

China Should Be Concerned by Overuse of Cesarean Sections

by Yanzhong Huang Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Yang Huiqing looks at her baby after a cesarean section in Ruijin Hospital in Shanghai Yang Huiqing looks at her baby after a cesarean section in Ruijin Hospital in Shanghai (Carlos Barria/Courtesy Reuters)

For those who were born in the Chinese countryside in the 1970s, the story of my birth—as my mother used to tell me—is not atypical. When the labor pains began, my mom sent my siblings to the local midwife asking her to come and deliver the baby at home.  Few people then heard of cesarean section (C-section)—the delivery of a baby through one or more incisions in the mother’s belly and uterus. In fact, only about 10 percent of children in China were born through C-section. Read more »

Ban Seok Choi: A Soldier’s Reflection on South Korea’s Contribution to Global Peacekeeping Operations

by Guest Blogger for Scott A. Snyder Tuesday, June 24, 2014
ROK-UNMISS-PKO United Nations peacekeepers from South Korea secure an airport in Bor on March 15, 2014 (Andreea Campeanu/Courtesy: Reuters).

Ban Seok Choi served as part of the UN Peacekeeping Force in South Sudan with the South Korean military. He finished his military service—which is mandatory for South Korean men—earlier this month. Read more »

A Worrying Future With Prabowo?

by Joshua Kurlantzick Monday, June 23, 2014
Prabowo Subianto-campaign Indonesia's presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto speaks to supporters during a campaign rally in Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta on June 22, 2014. Indonesia goes to the polls on July 9 to elect a new president (Courtesy: Reuters).

 

As election day in Indonesia’s presidential election nears, the race seems to be getting closer and closer. While only three months ago Jakarta governor Joko Widodo, universally known as Jokowi, had a twenty to thirty point lead in polls, some recent polling suggests that Jokowi’s lead over Prabowo Subianto has narrowed to less than five points. Prabowo also has picked up a huge range of endorsements and has amassed a broad coalition of support among small parties, including several religious parties that are known for turning out their voters. Of course, some of this narrowing is natural; months ago, Indonesian voters were choosing Jokowi in polls before the real presidential campaign had begun. Read more »