CFR Presents

Asia Unbound

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

Abe’s Mission Impossible in Manila

by Guest Blogger for Joshua Kurlantzick Wednesday, January 18, 2017
duterte-abe President Rodrigo Duterte joins Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (R) as he interacts with the pupils waving the Japan and Philippine flags before entering the Malacanang presidential palace in metro Manila, Philippines on January 12, 2017. (Malacanang Photo/ Handout via Reuters)

Richard Javad Heydarian is an assistant professor in political science at De La Salle University in Manila, and, most recently, the author of Asia’s New Battlefield: The U.S., China, and the Struggle for Western Pacific.

As electoral shocks overhaul the Asian geopolitical landscape, Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe is on an all-out charm offensive. When Donald Trump Jr. pulled off a surprising electoral victory on the back of a populist, anti-globalization rhetoric, the Japanese leader immediately scrambled to secure a meeting with the president-elect. Read more »

Chinese Carrier in the Strait, Philippine Birth Control, $100 Billion SoftBank Fund, and More

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, January 13, 2017
liaoning-training-drill China’s Liaoning aircraft carrier with accompanying fleet conducts a drill in an area of the South China Sea, in this undated photo taken December 2016. (Stringer/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Sherry Cho, Lorand Laskai, Gabriella Meltzer, and Gabriel Walker look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. China’s aircraft carrier sails through Taiwan Strait. Early Wednesday morning, China’s sole aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, sailed into the Taiwan Strait, leading Taipei to scramble F-16 fighter jets and ships to “surveil and control” the movement of the Liaoning and its accompanying five warships. Read more »

The World Economy is Already Responding to the Presidential Transition

by Joshua Kurlantzick Thursday, January 12, 2017
trump-2 U.S. President-Elect Donald J. Trump speaks at the USA Thank You Tour event at the Wisconsin State Fair Exposition Center in West Allis, Wisconsin, U.S., on December 13, 2016. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

As the Trump administration steps up its transition planning, the details of its proposed economic policies remain unclear. During the campaign, Trump took multiple positions that were at odds with Republican orthodoxy on economics, slamming current and potential U.S. free trade deals, calling for possible tariffs on China, Mexico, and other countries, and vowing to unleash a wave of spending in America that could, he argued, bolster infrastructure and revive withering manufacturing industries. Read more »

Podcast: North Korea’s Information Underground

by Elizabeth C. Economy Thursday, January 12, 2017
north-korea-balloon-leaflets Park Sang-hak, a North Korean defector and leader of an anti-North Korea civic group, prepares to release a balloon containing leaflets denouncing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un near the demilitarized zone in Paju, South Korea, April 29, 2016. (Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters)

On this week’s Asia Unbound podcast, Jieun Baek, author of North Korea’s Hidden Revolution: How the Information Underground is Transforming a Closed Society, tells the story of the outlawed political and social information that is penetrating North Korea’s hermetic borders. Through dozens of interviews with North Korean defectors, Baek finds that everyday North Koreans crave news and entertainment from the outside world—from romantic television dramas to basic weather reports. Most of all, the foreign knowledge they seek helps to dismantle the façade of total information control the North Korean government has tried to erect around its citizens. Read more »

South Korea’s Political Vacuum and the Trump Administration

by Scott A. Snyder Wednesday, January 11, 2017
People attend a protest demanding South Korean President Park Geun-hye's resignation in Seoul, South Korea, January 7, 2017. (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji) People attend a protest demanding South Korean President Park Geun-hye's resignation in Seoul, South Korea, January 7, 2017. (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)

The December 9 impeachment of South Korean President Park Geun-hye has created a vacuum of political leadership in South Korea. Normally, the South Korean president would lead a full court press to confirm President-elect Donald Trump’s commitment to the U.S.-ROK security alliance and coordinate a consistent approach to the growing North Korean nuclear threat. Read more »

Costs and Consequences of South Korea’s Political Vacuum

by Scott A. Snyder Tuesday, January 10, 2017
People attend a protest demanding South Korean President Park Geun-hye's resignation in Seoul, South Korea, December 31, 2016. The signs read "Regime change in the New Year" and "Step down Park Geun-hye immediately". (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji) People attend a protest demanding South Korean President Park Geun-hye's resignation in Seoul, South Korea, December 31, 2016. The signs read "Regime change in the New Year" and "Step down Park Geun-hye immediately". (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)

On December 9, the South Korean National Assembly passed a motion of impeachment against Park Geun-hye. The ROK (Republic of Korea) Constitutional Court has up to 180 days from that date to review the motion of impeachment and to evaluate the specific charges contained in the motion. While the court reviews the evidence in support of the impeachment motion, Park is sidelined from her official responsibilities and has been replaced by her former prime minister, Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn. Read more »

India’s Migration Gender Gap

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Monday, January 9, 2017
Sarta Kalara (C), a construction worker, stands among other female workers in Ahmedabad, India, April 20, 2016. Kalara says she has no option but to tether her daughter Shivani to a stone despite her crying, while she and her husband work for 250 rupees ($3.8) each a shift digging holes for electricity cables in the city of Ahmedabad. There are about 40 million construction workers in India, at least one in five of them women, and the majority poor migrants who shift from site to site, building infrastructure for India's booming cities. Across the country it is not uncommon to see young children rolling in the sand and mud as their parents carry bricks or dig for new roads or luxury houses. REUTERS/Amit Dave Sarta Kalara (C), a construction worker, stands among other female workers in Ahmedabad, India on April 20, 2016. There are about 40 million construction workers in India, at least one in five of them women, and the majority poor migrants who shift from site to site, building infrastructure for India's booming cities. (Amit Dave/Reuters)

Rachel Brown is a research associate for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. This is the second part of a series on migration trends in India and China.

In 1966, Indira Gandhi assumed the position of India’s prime minister and served until 1977, followed by a second term from 1980 to 1984. Yet fifty years later, women’s opportunities for economic advancement remain limited compared to other emerging economies. Read more »

Duterte and the United States in 2017

by Joshua Kurlantzick Friday, January 6, 2017
duterte-4 Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte looks on during an awarding ceremony for outstanding Filipinos and organizations overseas, at the Malacanang Palace in Manila, Philippines on December 19, 2016. (Ezra Acayan/Reuters)

Over the past year, new Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has signaled that he wants to dramatically shift Manila’s relationships with the United States, Russia, and China. Duterte also has taken a wrecking ball to many norms of Philippine democracy, overseeing a war on drugs that has led to a spike in extrajudicial killings, pushing his vice president out of Cabinet meetings, and reportedly threatening reporters and civil society activists who criticize him. He also vows to upend and radically reform Philippine politics and the Philippine economy, taking measures to reduce high economic inequality and, possibly, to shift the country to a more federalized system. Read more »

Chinese Ivory, Google in India, Philippine Jailbreak, and More

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, January 6, 2017
china-ivory-ban A police officer stands guard next to ivory and ivory sculptures before they are destroyed in Dongguan, Guangdong province, on January 6, 2014. (Alex Lee/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Sherry Cho, Lorand Laskai, Gabriella Meltzer, and Gabriel Walker look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. The world reacts to China’s ivory ban. Following a resolution at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in South Africa in October, the Chinese State Council last Friday announced a ban on all ivory trade and processing activities by the close of 2017. China currently sustains roughly 70 percent of the world’s ivory market, where the coveted material can cost upwards of $1,000 per kilogram. Read more »

Trump and North Korea: On the Mark Or On Collision Course?

by Scott A. Snyder Thursday, January 5, 2017
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump talks to reporters as he and his wife Melania Trump arrive for a New Year's Eve celebration with members and guests at the Mar-a-lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. December 31, 2016. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst) U.S. President-elect Donald Trump talks to reporters as he and his wife Melania Trump arrive for a New Year's Eve celebration with members and guests at the Mar-a-lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. December 31, 2016. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

During his annual New Year’s address on Sunday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un dropped a bombshell: He stated as part of his review of the past year’s accomplishments that North Korea has entered “the final stage in preparations to test-launch” an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). One that could hit the United States. Read more »