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Asia Unbound

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

The Substance of Indian Prime Minister Modi’s Style

by Alyssa Ayres Monday, August 18, 2014
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi addresses the nation from the historic Red Fort during Independence Day celebrations in Delhi on August 15, 2014 (Ahmad Masood/Courtesy: Reuters). Indian prime minister Narendra Modi addresses the nation from the historic Red Fort during Independence Day celebrations in Delhi on August 15, 2014 (Ahmad Masood/Courtesy: Reuters).

On Friday, August 15, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi delivered his maiden Independence Day speech [video here]. Many commentators have already noted his earthy delivery and direct ex tempore style, his campaign-like rhetoric, his deeply democratic authority, and his willingness to remind citizens of “all the things we like to disregard.” Read more »

Park Geun-hye’s “Correct View of History” With Japan

by Scott A. Snyder Monday, August 18, 2014
park-geun-hye-8-15 speech South Korean president Park Geun-hye speaks in Seoul on August 15, 2014, during a ceremony marking the 69th anniversary of liberation from Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule (Ahn Young-joon/Courtesy: Reuters).

The August 15 anniversary of the end of World War II—when the Korean peninsula gained independence from Japanese colonial rule—is not just a time of reflection on  the legacy and costs of that war; it is also a perennially sensitive diplomatic moment in Northeast Asia.  The festering political disconnect between Park Geun-hye and Shinzo Abe, allies of the United States who have been thus far unable to meet each other bilaterally heightens the importance of such a moment. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of August 15, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, August 15, 2014
A woman holds a picture of Pope Francis while waiting for his arrival for the Holy Mass at Daejeon World Cup stadium in Daejeon August 15, 2014. Pope Francis on Friday commemorated the more than 300 people killed in a ferry disaster in April, and called on South Koreans, among Asia's richest people, to beware of the spiritual "cancer" that often accompanies affluent societies. REUTERS/Lee Jin-man/Pool (SOUTH KOREA - Tags: RELIGION POLITICS) A woman holds a picture of Pope Francis while waiting for his arrival for the Holy Mass at Daejeon World Cup stadium in Daejeon on August 15, 2014. (Lee Jin-man/Courtesy Reuters)

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

1. Pope Francis draws thousands on his first trip to Asia. Pope Francis visited South Korea this week, marking the first visit by a pope to Asia in fifteen years. Though the pope will not visit other countries in Asia, a spokesperson said that he is there “to address the entire continent, not just Korea,” and he will also travel to the Philippines and Sri Lanka next year. Read more »

Allen and Karp: Cell Phones – The Future of Rural Health Care in South Asia

by Guest Blogger for Yanzhong Huang Thursday, August 14, 2014
A pregnant woman lies on an examination table during a checkup at a community health center in the remote village of Chharchh, in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, February 2012 (Courtesy Reuters/Vivek Prakash). A pregnant woman lies on an examination table during a checkup at a community health center in the remote village of Chharchh, in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, February 2012 (Courtesy Reuters/Vivek Prakash).

This is a guest post by Becky Allen, the women and foreign policy intern at CFR, and Jenna Karp, the global health governance intern at CFR.

More people today have access to a mobile phone than a toothbrush: Of the six billion people in the world, 4.8 billion own a mobile phone, compared to the only 4.2 billion who own a toothbrush. In the developing world, mobile technology plays an increasing role with each coming year. According to a 2013 UN report, the number of mobile broadband connections was estimated to reach 2.1 billion worldwide by 2015, with some developing nations surpassing Western countries. Read more »

Erwin Li: Finding China’s Missing Children

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Monday, August 11, 2014
A security guard (R) looks on as a man writes characters on the back of six topless activists with the message "pay attention to children trafficking" during a demonstration against children abduction and trafficking, in Taiyuan, Shanxi province May 18, 2013. REUTERS/Jon Woo (CHINA - Tags: CRIME LAW SOCIETY) A security guard (R) looks on as a man writes characters on the back of six topless activists with the message "pay attention to children trafficking" during a demonstration against children abduction and trafficking, in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, on May 18, 2013. (Jon Woo/Courtesy Reuters)

Erwin Li is an intern for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Late last month a National People’s Congress inspection group vowed to raise “[the] moral concepts of juvenile protection throughout society.” Besides cases of child abuse and sexual assault, the group has paid special attention to child trafficking—investigating punishments handed out in five provinces since April. But it remains unclear how China wishes to further pursue its goals for child protection; a 2014 U.S. State Department trafficking report did remark on China’s progress, but there’s a far more alarming message to be gleaned: we still know very little about the abduction and sale of children. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of August 8, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, August 8, 2014
A visitor walks past a Microsoft booth at a computer software expo in Beijing, on 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 (Courtesy: Reuters). A visitor walks past a Microsoft booth at a computer software expo in Beijing, on 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 (Courtesy: Reuters).

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

1. China cracks down on U.S. technology companies. Beijing has begun warning Chinese officials to stop buying U.S. information technology, including antivirus defense by Symantec (as well as Russian Kaspersky Lab), Apple products, and Microsoft software, for national security reasons. China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce conducted surprise inspections of Microsoft’s China offices, saying that it suspected monopolistic practices. The probe now includes consulting firm Accenture, which consults for Microsoft on financial issues. Beijing also banned its officials from buying iPads and other Apple products [Chinese]. China has a long history of tension with Microsoft and other U.S. technology companies, which has been exacerbated since Edward Snowden began releasing information about NSA practices that target China. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of August 1, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, August 1, 2014
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) greets Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi on July 31, 2014 (Lucas Jackson/Courtesy: Reuters). U.S. secretary of state John Kerry (L) greets Indian external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi on July 31, 2014 (Lucas Jackson/Courtesy: Reuters).

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

1. Amid a slew of world crises, U.S. secretary of state John Kerry travels to India. Kerry, accompanied by U.S. secretary of commerce Penny Pritzker, arrived in New Delhi for the fifth Indo-U.S. Strategic Dialogue to identify avenues for bilateral cooperation on trade, investment, and security, marking the first cabinet-level meeting between the Obama administration and the new Indian government. Read more »

Yum, Yum, Yum: Another Food Safety Scandal Rocks Multinationals in China

by Elizabeth C. Economy Thursday, July 31, 2014
OSI Group Chairman and CEO Sheldon Lavin (C), OSI Group President and Chief Operating Officer David McDonald (L) and OSI Vice President of North America Quality Sharon Birkett attend a news conference in Shanghai, July 28, 2014. An on-going internal investigation conducted by OSI Group LLC into its unit, the scandal-hit Chinese food supplier Shanghai Husi Food Co Ltd, has revealed that standards were below par. The firm will also spend 10 million yuan ($1.62 million) over three years to launch a food safety education programme in Shanghai. REUTERS/Aly Song (CHINA - Tags: BUSINESS FOOD) OSI Group chairman and CEO Sheldon Lavin (C), OSI Group president and chief operating officer David McDonald (L) and OSI Vice President of North America Quality Sharon Birkett attend a news conference in Shanghai on July 28, 2014. (Aly Song/Courtesy Reuters)

It was a bad week for the crown jewels of the U.S. fast food industry. At the end of July, Louisiana-based Yum! Brands, which owns Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut, discovered (along with McDonalds, Subway, and Starbucks, among others) that one of their suppliers in China, Shanghai Husi Food Co., a subsidiary of the Chicago-based OSI Group, was supplying them with products using expired or rotten meat. Unfortunately, this was only the latest in a number of food safety scandals that have plagued U.S. fast food companies in China over the past few years. Read more »

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 Laurie Garrett and Yanzhong Huang, 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 »