CFR Presents

Asia Unbound

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

From Surat to Yumen: Plagued by Paranoia

by Yanzhong Huang Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Masked residents of Surat queue up for train tickets for the first train out of the city on September 25 as the death toll due to pneumonic plague continues to climb. Government officials are concerned about the spread of the disease to other cities due to the exodus of people from Surat Masked residents of Surat queue up for train tickets for the first train out of the city on September 25, 1994, as the death toll due to pneumonic plague continues to climb. (STR New/Courtesy Reuters)

This post was coauthored by Yanzhong Huang and Laurie Garrett, both senior fellows for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations.

In mid-July, the Chinese city of Yumen in the northwestern province of Gansu sealed itself off and placed 151 people in quarantine after a man was exposed to a Himalayan marmot and died of the pneumonic plague. Official media reported that the city’s 30,000 residents have not been allowed to leave, with police setting up roadblocks and laying down tire-piercing spikes along the main roads leading to the center of the town. Read more »

China Has a History of Not Trusting Microsoft on Cybersecurity

by Adam Segal Wednesday, July 30, 2014
A visitor walks past a Microsoft booth at a computer software expo in Beijing, June 2, 2010. Microsoft Corp appears to be the latest U.S. company targeted by China for anti-trust investigation after government officials paid sudden visits to the software firm's Chinese offices on July 28, 2014. Picture taken June 2, 2010. REUTERS/Stringer (CHINA - Tags: BUSINESS SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY POLITICS) CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA A visitor walks past a Microsoft booth at a computer software expo in Beijing on June 2, 2010. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

Reports of China investigating Microsoft for possible violations of anti-monopoly laws have tied the action to continuing tensions over cybersecurity. In response to the Department of Justice’s indictment of five alleged PLA hackers, as well as revelations in some of the documents released by Edward Snowden that appear to expose the NSA hacking into Chinese targets, Beijing has increased focus on the security of the products of Microsoft, Cisco, Oracle, Intel, and others. Newspaper articles have called these companies the guardian warriors, highlighted the alleged vulnerabilities that China’s reliance on these companies creates, and pushed for banks, government offices, and others to shift to Chinese competitors. Read more »

India: Tough Talk and the Bali Trade Facilitation Agreement

by Alyssa Ayres Tuesday, July 29, 2014
India's then-minister of commerce and industry, Anand Sharma (C), congratulates the director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Roberto Azevedo (2nd R), after the closing ceremony of the ninth WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali on December 7, 2013 (Edgar Su/Courtesy: Reuters). India's then-minister of commerce and industry, Anand Sharma (C), congratulates the director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Roberto Azevedo (2nd R), after the closing ceremony of the ninth WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali on December 7, 2013 (Edgar Su/Courtesy: Reuters).

Last week India’s top trade negotiators told the World Trade Organization (WTO) that India would not support the package of trade facilitation measures that had been agreed to last December at the Bali ministerial. Because adoption of these measures must be done by consensus among WTO members by July 31, India’s rejection of the agreement now stands to render moot the entire trade facilitation effort. New Delhi’s stance not only puts up a roadblock on global trade, but will effectively halt any efforts to envision a larger ambition for the U.S.-India economic relationship—which badly needs one—by signaling that India at present does not want to stand with the global free and open trading system. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of July 25, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, July 25, 2014
A customer walks past a KFC store in Shanghai on July 22, 2014. The latest food scandal in China is spreading fast, dragging in Starbucks, Burger King, and others, as well as McDonald's products as far away as Japan (Aly Song/Courtesy: Reuters). A customer walks past a KFC store in Shanghai on July 22, 2014. The latest food scandal in China is spreading fast, dragging in Starbucks, Burger King, and others, as well as McDonald's products as far away as Japan (Aly Song/Courtesy: Reuters).

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

1. Meat scandal erupts in China. Shanghai Husi Food Co., a Chinese food supplier owned by the Illinois-based global food processor OSI Group Inc., has been shown to have repackaged old meat and changed expiration dates before shipping it to retailers. Some of the world’s best-known chain restaurants, including McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, and Starbucks, were sold the rotten meat and have been forced to alter their supply chains or cancel the sale of some products entirely. The Shanghai police have detained five employees of Shanghai Husi, and the head of the OSI Group has accepted “responsibility for these missteps.” Read more »

Markey: Afghanistan Anxieties Reign in India and China

by Guest blogger for Alyssa Ayres Thursday, July 24, 2014
Afghans work at a new parliament building constructed by an Indian project in Kabul on November 26, 2013 (Mohammad Ismail/Courtesy: Reuters). Afghans work at a new parliament building constructed by an Indian project in Kabul on November 26, 2013 (Mohammad Ismail/Courtesy: Reuters).

Daniel Markey is a senior fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations. 

This post is one of a three-part Asia Unbound series following a recent CFR trip to India and China. See related posts from my colleagues Alyssa Ayres and Elizabeth Economy. Read more »

All Roads Lead to Beijing

by Elizabeth C. Economy Thursday, July 24, 2014
China's President Xi Jinping reviews an honor guard before a meeting with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on the sidelines of the 6th BRICS summit at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia July 17, 2014. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes (BRAZIL - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY) China's President Xi Jinping reviews an honor guard on the sidelines of the 6th BRICS summit at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia on July 17, 2014. (Sergio Moraes/Courtesy Reuters)

This post is one of a three-part Asia Unbound series following a recent CFR trip to India and China. See related posts from my colleagues Alyssa Ayres and Daniel Markey. Read more »

India in a Changing Asia

by Alyssa Ayres Thursday, July 24, 2014
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang meets with India's Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on June 28, 2014 (Courtesy: Reuters). Chinese Premier Li Keqiang meets with India's Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on June 28, 2014 (Courtesy: Reuters).

This post is one of a three-part Asia Unbound series following a recent CFR trip to India and China. See related posts from my colleagues Daniel Markey and Elizabeth Economy. Read more »

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 »