CFR Presents

Asia Unbound

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

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of July 22, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, July 22, 2016
Loretta-1MDB U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch announces the filing of civil forfeiture complaints seeking the forfeiture and recovery of more than $1 billion in assets associated with an international conspiracy to launder funds misappropriated from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB in Washington, July 20, 2016. (James Lawler Duggan/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Bochen Han, Gabriella Meltzer, and Gabriel Walker look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Justice Department announces action against 1MDB. The ongoing scandal surrounding Malaysian state investment fund 1MDB took a dramatic turn this week when the U.S. Justice Department announced plans to seize $1 billion in assets as part of an investigation into money laundering and funds improperly taken from 1MDB. While the fund was intended to boost Malaysia’s development, some of the money appears to have instead gone toward enriching Prime Minister Najib Razak, his stepson, and other associates. Read more »

Podcast: The Dictator’s Dilemma: The Chinese Communist Party’s Strategy for Survival

by Elizabeth C. Economy Thursday, July 21, 2016
CCP-90th-celebration Participants wave flags of the Chinese Communist Party as they sing revolutionary songs during a celebration for the Party's upcoming ninetieth anniversary, on a square in Chongqing municipality, March 28, 2011. (Stringer/Reuters)

Are Chinese citizens unhappy with their government? Media coverage of corruption, pollution, and censorship might lead outsiders to believe that they are. But on this week’s Asia Unbound podcast, Bruce Dickson, professor of political science and international affairs and director of the Sigur Center for Asian Studies at George Washington University, offers evidence to the contrary. Read more »

The Impact of the U.S. Justice Department 1MDB Announcement on Malaysian Politics

by Joshua Kurlantzick Wednesday, July 20, 2016
U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch announces the filing of civil forfeiture complaints seeking the forfeiture and recovery of more than $1 billion in assets associated with an international conspiracy to launder funds misappropriated from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB in Washington on July 20, 2016. (James Lawler Duggan/Reuters) U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch announces the filing of civil forfeiture complaints seeking the forfeiture and recovery of more than $1 billion in assets associated with an international conspiracy to launder funds misappropriated from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB in Washington on July 20, 2016. (James Lawler Duggan/Reuters)

I could write a six hundred word blog before getting to the point here, but I will get right to it: The 1MDB asset seizure is likely to have minimal impact on Malaysian domestic politics. To recap … the U.S. Justice Department this morning announced it was filing “civil-forfeiture complaints against more than $1 billion of assets allegedly acquired using funds misappropriated from a Malaysian economic development fund,” known as 1MDB, according to the Wall Street Journal, which has extensively covered the 1MDB saga. Read more »

Chinese Human Smuggling and the U.S. Border Security Debate

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Monday, July 18, 2016
The Arizona-Mexico border fence near Naco, Arizona, March 29, 2013. REUTERS/Samantha Sais The Arizona-Mexico border fence near Naco, Arizona on March 29, 2013. In the past year, the rate of human smuggling from China across certain portions of the U.S.-Mexico Border has increased. (Samantha Sais/Reuters)

Rachel Brown is a research associate for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. 

Migration across the U.S.-Mexico border is the source of polarizing debate in American politics, but rarely is it coupled with another touchy political topic: China. News of an uptick in the number of Chinese citizens smuggled across the border into southern California thus came as a surprise. In June, the San Diego Border Patrol sector reported stopping approximately 663 migrants from China over the past eight months, a 1,281 percent increase from the previous year. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of July 15, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, July 15, 2016
Philippines-decision-waiting Activists watch an announcement by a government official regarding a ruling on the South China Sea disputes by an arbitration court in the Hague at a restaurant in Manila, Philippines, July 12, 2016. (Erik De Castro/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Bochen Han, Theresa Lou, Gabriella Meltzer, and Gabriel Walker look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Asia reacts to the South China Sea decision. The ruling of the arbitral tribunal in the Philippines’ case against China regarding the South China Sea sent ripples across the region. The Chinese government responded with an unequivocal rejection and state media irately critiqued the tribunal’s award, which included a ruling that China was not entitled to historic rights in the waters and that the Spratly Islands—alone or individually—do not generate any exclusive economic zones. Read more »

The Rise of Modern State Capitalism

by Joshua Kurlantzick Tuesday, July 12, 2016
gazprom Gazprom Chief Executive Officer Alexei Miller attends an annual general meeting of the company's shareholders in Moscow, Russia, on June 30, 2016. (Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)

China’s state-owned enterprises have received the most coverage of any such companies around the world, but they are hardly alone. In fact, although China has been the focus of nearly all discussion of the trend in the West, it is only one player in a new era of state capitalism born over the past decade. Throughout the developing world, many governments are increasing their intervention in their economies. Read more »