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 July 31, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, July 31, 2015
The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy guided missile destroyer Haikou (171) arrives at the Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam to participate in the multi-national military exercise RIMPAC 2014, in Honolulu, Hawaii, June 24, 2014. (Hugh Gentry/Reuters) The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy guided missile destroyer Haikou (171) arrives at the Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam to participate in the multi-national military exercise RIMPAC 2014, in Honolulu, Hawaii, June 24, 2014. (Hugh Gentry/Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Lincoln Davidson, Lauren Dickey, Darcie Draudt, William Piekos, and Ariella Rotenberg look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. China conducts live fire drills in the South China Sea. More than one hundred naval vessels, dozens of aircraft, and units from China’s information warfare forces and missile corps participated in the live fire exercises Tuesday, which one Australian expert called a “needlessly excessive show of force.” Read more »

Three Geopolitical Constraints on South Korea’s Foreign Policy

by Scott A. Snyder Friday, July 31, 2015
South Korean Ruling (Saenuri) Party Chairman Kim Moo-Sung speaks at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington, DC, on July 27, 2015. (Courtesy: Woodrow Wilson Center) South Korean Ruling (Saenuri) Party Chairman Kim Moo-Sung speaks at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington, DC, on July 27, 2015. (Courtesy: Woodrow Wilson Center)

Ruling (Saenuri) Party Chairman Kim Moo-Sung led a South Korean National Assembly delegation visit to Washington this week and gave a speech at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars.  His speech included three points that nicely summarize the constraints South Korea is currently facing in its foreign policy. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of July 24, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, July 24, 2015
Chinese nationals, believed to be involved in illegal logging, arrive at a court in Myitkyina, capital of Kachin State in the north of Myanmar, July 22, 2015. China has lodged a diplomatic protest with Myanmar after a court in the southeast Asian nation sentenced 153 Chinese nationals to life imprisonment for illegal logging. The Myitkyina court handed down sentences to 155 Chinese citizens on Wednesday. Two of those convicted escaped life sentences and got 10-year prison terms. All will have a chance to appeal against the rulings, said a court official, who declined to be identified as he was not authorized to speak to the media. Picture taken July 22, 2015. (Stringer/REUTERS) Chinese nationals, believed to be involved in illegal logging, arrive at a court in Myitkyina, capital of Kachin State in the north of Myanmar, July 22, 2015. (Stringer/Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Lincoln Davidson, Lauren Dickey, William Piekos, and Ariella Rotenberg look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. Former Hu Jintao aide arrested on corruption charges. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Politburo announced on Monday that Ling Jihua, a former high-ranking official in the Hu administration, had been expelled from the party and placed under arrest. He awaits trial on charges of giving and receiving bribes, illegally obtaining state secrets, and violating party discipline rules. State media also noted that Ling “traded power for sex” and “should bear major responsibility for his family members” using his position to personally profit—although that hasn’t spared his relatives from also coming under investigation. Read more »

How Will China’s Stock Market Drop Affect Policy?

by Joshua Kurlantzick Thursday, July 23, 2015
China-stock market Investors look at computer screens in front of an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Shanghai, China, on July 14, 2015. (Aly Song/Reuters)

As China’s markets have melted down over the past month, wiping out over three trillion in wealth, some Chinese and foreign analysts, investors, and politicians have seen an upside in the market’s downturn. The fall of the overheated stock market might force the state to both clean up both the unregulated loans fuelling purchases and, more broadly, intervene less in equity markets and the broader economy. The market drop, according to this theory, might even foster massive discontent with the Communist Party and support for real political reforms, since unlike in most major economies it is not large institutions but retail investors—ninety million or so—who dominate Chinese investing. Read more »

Thailand’s Junta Pushes Back Election Date Again

by Joshua Kurlantzick Wednesday, July 22, 2015
prayuth-elections-thailand Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha gestures in a traditional greeting to National Legislative Assembly members at the parliament in Bangkok, Thailand, on May 21, 2015. (Chaiwat Subprasom/Reuters)

News this week that Thailand’s ruling junta apparently has pushed back the date for a return to free elections should not have come as a great surprise. Since taking power in a coup in May 2014, the junta has repeatedly delayed planned elections, claiming that the country needs greater stability before a poll will be held or that the new constitution is not yet finished. After vowing elections in 2016, the deputy chairman of the junta-created legislature now reportedly has declared that elections will not be possible until 2017, since it will take so long to print the new charter and deliver written copies of it across Thailand. Read more »

The Rising Anti-Intellectualism in China: Part II

by Yanzhong Huang Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Graduates dressed up as red guards, wait for their picture to be taken, in front of a statue of late Chinese leader Mao Zedong at a university in Shanghai, June 19, 2015. (Reuters/Aly Song) Graduates dressed up as red guards, wait for their picture to be taken, in front of a statue of late Chinese leader Mao Zedong at a university in Shanghai, June 19, 2015. (Reuters/Aly Song)

In my last blog post, I examined the rise of anti-intellectualism in China from a historical perspective. As if to corroborate my argument, last week police in China’s Jiangxi province detained Wang Lin, a semi-illiterate qigong (a Chinese spiritual martial art) mystic, for his role in the alleged kidnapping and murder of one of his former “disciples.” What dragged Wang into the limelight was not the incident itself, but the laundry list of his followers and clients exposed after Wang’s fall. They included Jack Ma, Jet Li, and a number of other celebrities and high-profile businessmen. Chinese websites also circulated photos showing Wang with high-ranking government officials, including several former Politburo Standing Committee members and at least four former central government ministers. Among them was the now disgraced railway minister Liu Zhijun, to whom Wang promised to set up a magic stone in his office so that he would never fall from power. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of July 17, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, July 17, 2015
Police officers hold barricade tapes to form a cordon outside the parliament building expecting the arrival of crowds for a second day of protests against Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's security-related legislation in Tokyo on  July 16, 2015 (Thomas Peter/Courtesy: Reuters). Police officers hold barricade tapes to form a cordon outside the parliament building expecting the arrival of crowds for a second day of protests against Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's security-related legislation in Tokyo on July 16, 2015 (Thomas Peter/Courtesy: Reuters).

Ashlyn Anderson, Lincoln Davidson, Lauren Dickey, William Piekos, and Ariella Rotenberg look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. Rough week for human rights in China. Chinese police detained dozens of human rights lawyers this week on allegations that they were running a “criminal gang.” The “gang’s” offense? Creating “social chaos” by appealing to authorities and the public on behalf of their clients. The lawyers have been the subject of harsh criticism in state media; authorities have also rolled out the increasingly familiar tactic of televised confessions to publicly shame those arrested. Read more »

Japan’s Diet Uproar

by Sheila A. Smith Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Yasukazu Hamada (2nd R), chairman of the Upper House Special Committee on Security, shouts as he is surrounded by opposition lawmakers during a vote on the security-related legislation at the parliament in Tokyo July 15, 2015 (Toru Hanai/REUTERS). Yasukazu Hamada (2nd R), chairman of the Upper House Special Committee on Security, shouts as he is surrounded by opposition lawmakers during a vote on the security-related legislation at the parliament in Tokyo July 15, 2015 (Toru Hanai/REUTERS).

Committee deliberations on the Abe cabinet’s new security legislation erupted into a spectacle of contention today as the ruling coalition used their majority to move their bill to the floor of the Diet’s Lower House. Opposition members rushed the dais of the special committee chairman, Yasukazu Hamada, calling for an end to “Abe politics” and accusing the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)-Komeito coalition of ramming through legislation that the Japanese people do not support. Read more »

What to Expect From Myanmar’s Elections

by Joshua Kurlantzick Monday, July 13, 2015
aung-san-suu-kyi-elections Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi arrives for her door-to-door visits for voter education campaign at Warheinkha village in her constituency town Khawhmu, outside Yangon on July 4, 2015. (Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)

Last week, Myanmar announced that its much-anticipated elections, the first free national election in twenty-five years, would be held on November 8 of this year. With the election’s date finally set, after months of rumors, the country’s political parties—and there are more than eighty of them that may run in the election—can begin campaigning in earnest. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of July 10, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, July 10, 2015
An investor looks at information displayed on an electronic screen at a brokerage house in Shanghai, China, June 30, 2015. China stocks ended Tuesday sharply higher, reversing a tumble in morning trade, as a slew of government measures to stem a two-week-long market tumble appeared to win back some investor confidence (Aly Song/Reuters). An investor looks at information displayed on an electronic screen at a brokerage house in Shanghai, China, June 30, 2015. China stocks ended Tuesday sharply higher, reversing a tumble in morning trade, as a slew of government measures to stem a two-week-long market tumble appeared to win back some investor confidence (Aly Song/Reuters).

Ashlyn Anderson, Lincoln Davidson, Lauren Dickey, William Piekos, and Ariella Rotenberg look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. Chinese government steps in to stop stock market slide. Authorities, who have spent the first half of the year crowing about high growth rates, launched a number of emergency measures aimed at slowing the market tumble. The People’s Bank of China announced this week that it would be helping the country’s margin trading service provider stabilize the market by buying more shares of small and medium enterprises. State-owned enterprises were ordered to not sell any of their stock, and corporate shareholders with stakes of more than 5 percent were banned from selling for six months. Read more »