CFR Presents

Asia Unbound

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

What Jokowi Should Do Now

by Joshua Kurlantzick Monday, July 21, 2014
Indonesia's presidential candidate Joko "Jokowi" Widodo gestures to supporters a day after he was named winner in the presidential election in Taman Proklamasi, Jakarta July 23, 2014. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside (INDONESIA - Tags: ELECTIONS POLITICS) Indonesia's new president Joko "Jokowi" Widodo gestures to supporters a day after he was named winner in the presidential election in Taman Proklamasi, Jakarta, on July 23, 2014 (Darren Whiteside/Courtesy Reuters)

Certified as the winner of Indonesia’s presidential election by the country’s election commission, Joko Widodo, or Jokowi, has a tough road ahead of him. To defeat challenges to and establish his authority as president, Jokowi will have to work quickly and operate, at least at first, in a style that is not his norm. The former Jakarta governor is a low-key politician, uncomfortable making weighty stump speeches, and unused to the gravitas that comes with the presidency; he has a mayoral style and prefers walking the streets, talking to people, and coming up with pragmatic solutions to problems. But now, Jokowi will have to move outside his comfort zone if he is to establish his legitimacy. Read more »

So Many Southeast Asia Top Events, So Many Questions

by Joshua Kurlantzick Sunday, July 20, 2014
A member of the pro-government "red shirt" group holds a picture of ousted Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra during a rally in Nakhon Pathom province on the outskirts of Bangkok on May 10, 2014 (Athit Perawongmetha/Courtesy: Reuters). A member of the pro-government "red shirt" group holds a picture of ousted Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra during a rally in Nakhon Pathom province on the outskirts of Bangkok on May 10, 2014 (Athit Perawongmetha/Courtesy: Reuters).

The past week has been so busy with events, both tragic and hopeful, related to Southeast Asia, that I barely have time to keep up with the news.  A few short thoughts:

1. Is Prabowo Going to Concede?

No way. Prabowo Subianto is now tacitly hinting in interviews that, on July 22, he might be declared the loser of Indonesia’s presidential election, and he is now using interviews to argue that, whatever the result announced on July 22, it is likely a fraud. This is a shift from his earlier position stating simply that he was going to win. On July 22 he will expand on his fraud argument and file a case to the Constitutional Court. Jokowi – and Indonesia – better be prepared for a long and drawn-out legal contest. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of July 17, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, July 18, 2014
Emergencies ministry members walk at the site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region on July 17, 2014 (Maxim Zmeyev/Courtesy: Reuters). Emergencies ministry members walk at the site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region on July 17, 2014 (Maxim Zmeyev/Courtesy: Reuters).

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

1. Malaysia Airlines plane shot down over eastern Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was downed by a surface-to-air missile over eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 on board. Though the Ukrainian and Russian militaries, along with pro-Russian separatists, all possess weaponry capable of shooting down a plane flying at 33,000 feet, evidence is increasingly pointing to separatists as the perpetrators. The incident comes just five months after Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared over the Indian Ocean, along with its 239 passengers and crew. Read more »

Northeast Asian Security Architecture: Lessons from European History

by Scott A. Snyder Thursday, July 17, 2014
William Alberque, Cho Nam Hoon, Morimoto Satoshi, Pan Zhenqiang, and Scott Snyder participate in a panel at the conference, "Northeast Asia Peace and Security Initiative and the European Experience of CSBM," co-hosted by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies and Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Lars Erik Lundin, William Alberque, Cho Nam Hoon, Morimoto Satoshi, Pan Zhenqiang, and Scott Snyder participate in a panel at the conference, "Northeast Asia Peace and Security Initiative and the European Experience of CSBM," co-hosted by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies and Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Courtesy: Darcie Draudt).

Henry Kissinger offered a sobering observation last February in Munich when he suggested that the uptick in geopolitical rivalry between China and Japan reminded him of nineteenth century Europe. Mindful of the negative consequences of such a conflict for his own country, South Korea’s foreign minister Yun Byung-se referenced Kissinger’s observation in the opening to his own speech last week at a conference in Seoul, co-sponsored by the Asan Institute and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The conference explicitly sought lessons from Europe’s past experience with establishment of Confidence and Security Building Mechanisms (CSBMs) for Park Geun-hye’s Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative (NAPCI), a proposal to institutionalize a process for promoting multilateral cooperation that Park is promoting as a solution to the severe distrust in the region. Read more »

The 2008 Milk Scandal Revisited

by Yanzhong Huang Wednesday, July 16, 2014
A woman holding a baby stands in front of a shelf displaying milk powder products at a supermarket in Beijing May 20, 2013. (Kim Kyung Hoon/Courtesy Reuters) A woman holding a baby stands in front of a shelf displaying milk powder products at a supermarket in Beijing May 20, 2013. (Kim Kyung Hoon/Courtesy Reuters)

Six years ago today, sixteen infants in China’s Gansu Province were diagnosed with kidney stones. All of them had been fed milk powder that was later found to have been adulterated with a toxic industrial compound called melamine. Four months later, an estimated 300,000 babies in China were sick from the contaminated milk, and the kidney damage led to six fatalities. The Sanlu Group, one of the largest dairy producers in China, was identified as the chief culprit. But as the scandal unfolded, more Chinese dairy firms became implicated. Read more »

What Does Indonesia’s Election Standoff Mean for Indonesia’s Next President?

by Joshua Kurlantzick Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto (C) waves to his supporters during a signing ceremony of an agreement of his coalition parties in Jakarta on July 14, 2014 (Beawiharta Beawiharta/Courtesy: Reuters). Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto (C) waves to his supporters during a signing ceremony of an agreement of his coalition parties in Jakarta on July 14, 2014 (Beawiharta Beawiharta/Courtesy: Reuters).

As I have previously blogged, unless Prabowo Subianto is able to steal four to six million votes in the days before the official vote tally is released, an unlikely possibility, Jakarta governor Joko Widodo will be declared the winner of the presidential election sometime next week. Read more »

Dickey and Tobias: What to Expect From Xi Jinping’s Latin America Trip

by Guest Blogger for Adam Segal Monday, July 14, 2014
Giant panda Ying Mei approaches a box of food with the Brazilian flag on it during an event called "Panda Predicts World Cup Results," ahead of the 2014 World Cup opening match between Brazil and Croatia, in Yangzhou, Jiangsu province on June 12, 2014 (China Daily/Courtesy: Reuters). Giant panda Ying Mei approaches a box of food with the Brazilian flag on it during an event called "Panda Predicts World Cup Results," ahead of the 2014 World Cup opening match between Brazil and Croatia, in Yangzhou, Jiangsu province on June 12, 2014 (China Daily/Courtesy: Reuters).

Lauren Dickey is a research associate for U.S. foreign policy and Sharone Tobias is a research associate for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Chinese president Xi Jinping began his week-long visit to Latin America today on the heels of a number of major events. Brazil is central in the minds of many as the World Cup wraps up and Rio de Janeiro prepares to host the Olympics, initially darkened by protests. Argentina is facing a new unhappy chapter in its battle against debt. China’s ideological allies, Cuba and Venezuela, remain prone to domestic instability amid economic reform. Read more »

Can Abe Build Support for Security Reforms?

by Sheila A. Smith Monday, July 14, 2014
Empty voting boxes are seen at a ballot counting center for the upper house election in Tokyo July 21, 2013 Empty voting boxes are seen at a ballot counting center for the upper house election in Tokyo July 21, 2013. (Yuya Shino/Courtesy Reuters)

Even as regional challenges to Japan’s security have intensified, the domestic debate over security reforms continues to reveal deep divisions in Japan. Since coming into office a year and a half ago, the Shinzo Abe cabinet has sought an overhaul of its security policy, including a revision of the U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation guidelines that shape alliance military planning. Abe’s predecessor, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), argued for similar alliance reforms. Upgrading alliance cooperation has not been an easy process as political change in Japan has created a complex legislative balance in the Diet. Read more »

Jokowi’s High Road a Mistake

by Joshua Kurlantzick Monday, July 14, 2014
A vendor sells newspapers to motorists the day after the Indonesian presidential election in Jakarta on July 10, 2014 (Darren Whiteside/Courtesy: Reuters). A vendor sells newspapers to motorists the day after the Indonesian presidential election in Jakarta on July 10, 2014 (Darren Whiteside/Courtesy: Reuters).

In the wake of July 9’s voting in Indonesia’s presidential elections, both candidates, Joko Widodo, or Jokowi, and Prabowo Subianto have declared that, according to quick counts, they have won the presidential election. For those who are not familiar with Indonesian elections, a quick count is not the same thing as an exit poll, common in Western elections; a primer on quick counts is available on New Mandala. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of July 11, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, July 11, 2014
Villagers line up to vote in the country's presidential election at Bojong Koneng polling station in Bogor July 9, 2014. Indonesians began voting on Wednesday in a presidential election that has become a closely fought contest between the old guard who flourished under decades of autocratic rule and a new breed of politician that has emerged in the fledgling democracy. Only the third direct election for president in the world's fourth-most populous nation, the contest pits former special forces general Prabowo Subianto against Jakarta Governor Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, who have been running neck-and-neck in opinion polls. REUTERS/Beawiharta (INDONESIA - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS) Villagers line up to vote in the country's presidential election at Bojong Koneng polling station in Bogor on July 9, 2014. (Beawiharta/Courtesy Reuters)

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

1. Indonesians await official results of presidential election. Joko Widodo, known popularly as Jokowi, seems to have won Indonesia’s presidential election against Prabowo Subianto, a self-described military strongman. Though unofficial quick count tallies appear split on the winner of the election, the more respected polling firms point to a Jokowi victory; the official results will be released on July 22. Read more »