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Asia Unbound

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

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Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of March 27, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Guards lower the national flag to half-mast after the passing of former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew in Singapore on March 23, 2015. (Lee Hsien Loong/Courtesy: Reuters) Guards lower the national flag to half-mast after the passing of former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew in Singapore on March 23, 2015. (Lee Hsien Loong/Courtesy: Reuters)

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

1. Lee Kuan Yew, founding father of Singapore, dies. Lee Kuan Yew, who transformed Singapore into one of Asia’s wealthiest and least corrupt countries during his time as founding father and first prime minister, died on Monday. Lee was prime minister beginning in 1959, after Singapore gained full self-government from the British, until 1990. While his leadership was often criticized for suppressing freedom, his advocacy of “Asian values” and development models succeeded in making Singapore an international hub of business, culture, and finance. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of March 20, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel talks with South Korea's first Vice Foreign Minister Cho Tae-Yong (R) during their meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Seoul on March 17, 2015 (Courtesy: Reuters). U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel talks with South Korea's first Vice Foreign Minister Cho Tae-Yong (R) during their meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Seoul on March 17, 2015 (Courtesy: Reuters).

1. South Korea warns China against interfering amid missile defense debate. On Tuesday a South Korean Ministry of Defense spokesperson asked Beijing to not interfere in its defense policy, an unusual request with an increasingly close regional partner. Washington has been asking Seoul to deploy a ballistic missile defense system, Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), to South Korea. The United States believes the system would serve as a deterrent against the increasing North Korean missile threat, while Beijing sees it as a masked attempt to hedge in China. The debate over THAAD in South Korea has been growing the past year, especially as North Korea continues various missile tests. Read more »

Frank Mondelli: Can Recent Social Unrest Be Resolved in Okinawa’s Base Problem?

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Protesters shout slogans during a rally against the relocation of a U.S. military base, in front of the Okinawa prefectural government office building, in Naha on the Japanese southern islands of Okinawa, in this photo taken by Kyodo December 27, 2013. Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima approved on Friday landfill work for the relocation of the U.S. military's Futenma air base within his prefecture, going back on his pledge to move the base out of Okinawa, Kyodo news reported. The banner reads, "No recognition of landfill at Henoko". Mandatory credit REUTERS/Kyodo (JAPAN - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY) ATTENTION EDITORS - FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. MANDATORY CREDIT. JAPAN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN JAPAN Protesters shout slogans during a rally against the relocation of a U.S. military base, in front of the Okinawa prefectural government office building, in Naha on the Japanese southern islands of Okinawa, in this photo taken by Kyodo on December 27, 2013 (Kyodo/Courtesy of Reuters).

Frank Mondelli graduated from Swarthmore College in 2014 and is currently a Fulbright Fellow in Okinawa, Japan.

Seventy years into the postwar era, Okinawa is still grappling with the issues stemming from the large U.S. military presence on its soil. Recently, tensions between local citizens and U.S. and Japanese militaries over the construction of a new base have reached a critical point, resulting in an escalating series of incidents. While the U.S.-Japan alliance as a whole benefits strongly from Okinawa’s current role in their partnership, better communication needs to occur between antibase protestors and military officials if they are to peacefully and constructively navigate political and social realities. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of March 13, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) talks to Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo March 13, 2015. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) talks to Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo on March 13, 2015 (Dinuka Liyanawatte/Courtesy of Reuters).

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

1. U.S. rebukes UK for joining Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The UK announced that it would become a founding member of the China-led Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), despite the urging of the United States. Washington has openly lobbied against the AIIB, influencing South Korea and Australia to eschew membership, but Britain’s decision opens the door for other Western countries to reconsider. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of March 6, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
A policeman stands guard in front of the U.S. embassy in central Seoul after Ambassador Mark Lippert was slashed in the face by a Korean nationalist on March 4, 2015 (Kim Hong-Ji/Courtesy: Reuters). A policeman stands guard in front of the U.S. embassy in central Seoul after Ambassador Mark Lippert was slashed in the face by a Korean nationalist on March 4, 2015 (Kim Hong-Ji/Courtesy: Reuters).

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

1. U.S. Ambassador to South Korea attacked in Seoul. A South Korean man identified as Kim Ki-jong, a fifty-five-year-old South Korean with a record of violent activism, slashed U.S. Ambassador Mark Lippert with a knife across the face and hand on Thursday morning local time. Lippert received eighty stitches on his face, from chin to cheek and is reported to be in good condition as of Friday. The assailant told reporters he attacked the ambassador to protest regular U.S.-ROK joint military exercises. U.S. diplomats have varied levels of security details, and though Seoul is considered a “low-threat” post, a security team was accompanying Lippert at the time of the attack. Lippert, who took up his post in Seoul in October 2014, has taken a proactively friendly approach toward his post, taking his dog Grigsby on regular walks in the city, maintaining an active Twitter account, and giving his son, born in Seoul in January 2015, a Korean middle name. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of February 27, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Supporters hold signs of Indonesian domestic helper Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, during a protest calling for better protection of migrant workers, outside the district court in Hong Kong February 27, 2015. Former beautician Law Wan-tung, 44, a mother of two, was found guilty of 18 of 20 charges including grievous bodily harm and violence against Sulistyaningsih and two other maids, also from Indonesia. She is due to be sentenced on Friday. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu (CHINA - Tags: CRIME LAW BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT CIVIL UNREST) Supporters hold signs of Indonesian domestic helper Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, during a protest calling for better protection of migrant workers, outside the district court in Hong Kong February 27, 2015 (Tyrone Siu/Courtesy of Reuters).

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

1. Australian prime minister announces new strategy to confront terrorism threat. Following the release of an official report on the terrorist attack in Sydney in December, Prime Minister Tony Abbott delivered an address at the Australian Federal Police headquarters announcing a new national counterterrorism strategy. Read more »

Wendy Leutert: Chinese State-Owned Companies Under Scrutiny

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
China's Vice Premier Wang Qishan speaks at a dinner after the first meeting of the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Washington, July 28, 2009. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas (UNITED STATES POLITICS BUSINESS) Wang Qishan, now China's top graft buster, speaks at a dinner after the first meeting of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Washington on July 28, 2009 (Yuri Gripas /Courtesy of Reuters).

Wendy Leutert is a visiting researcher at the Brookings Institution’s John L. Thornton China Center and a PhD candidate in government at Cornell University. She worked for International Crisis Group in Beijing and holds an MA in government from Cornell and an MA in international relations from Tsinghua University.

Earlier this month, China’s anti-corruption watchdog—the Central Commission for Disciplinary Inspection—announced the next targets in President Xi Jinping’s intensifying graft campaign. Unlike 2014, when military and Communist Party organs were front and center in Xi’s line of fire, this year Beijing is taking aim at the top fifty-three state-owned companies and their Party-appointed executives. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of February 20, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Lion dancers perform for the opening of the Temple Fair, as part of Chinese New Year celebrations, at Ditan Park, also known as the Temple of Earth, in Beijing, February 18, 2015. The Chinese Lunar New Year on Feb. 19 will welcome the Year of the Sheep (also known as the Year of the Goat or Ram). REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon (CHINA - Tags: SOCIETY) Lion dancers perform for the opening of the Temple Fair, as part of Chinese New Year celebrations, at Ditan Park, also known as the Temple of Earth, in Beijing on February 18, 2015 (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Courtesy of Reuters).

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

1. Myanmar declares martial law in Kokang. President Thein Sein announced a state of emergency and three months of martial law in the Kokang Self-Administered Zone, on the border with China, after a series of clashes between the Myanmar army and armed Kokang rebels. Under martial law, administrative and judicial power has been granted to the army’s commander in chief; the imposition of martial law is aimed at securing a ceasefire and political dialogue well in advance of general elections later this year. The conflict is a setback for Myanmar’s semi-civilian government, which took power in 2011 after nearly fifty years of military rule. Myanmar is turning to neighboring China for help even as tens of thousands of refugees are fleeing into Yunnan province from Kokang. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of February 13, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party (AAP) chief and its chief ministerial candidate for Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal (center), waves to his supporters in New Delhi on February 10, 2015 (Adnan Abidi/Courtesy Reuters). Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party (AAP) chief and its chief ministerial candidate for Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal (center), waves to his supporters in New Delhi on February 10, 2015 (Adnan Abidi/Courtesy Reuters).

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

1. After nearly a year of president’s rule, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) sweeps to power in Delhi state elections. The AAP won sixty-seven out of the seventy legislative seats in the Delhi assembly, a stunning victory that surprised many. The party was founded by Arvind Kejriwal in 2012 and grew out of a protest movement against corruption; it made its debut in the December 2013 Delhi elections when it joined with the Congress party to form the Delhi government—with Kejriwal serving as chief minister. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of February 6, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Emergency personnel retrieve wreckage from TransAsia Airways turboprop ATR 72-600 aircraft after it crashed in a river, in New Taipei City on February 4, 2015 (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters). Emergency personnel retrieve wreckage from TransAsia Airways turboprop ATR 72-600 aircraft after it crashed in a river, in New Taipei City on February 4, 2015 (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters).

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

1. Taiwanese plane crashes into river, resulting in at least thirty-five deaths. TransAsia GE235 lost engine power shortly after takeoff from Taipei’s Songshan Airport on Wednesday. The twin-propeller plane was carrying fifty-eight passenger and crew; eight are still unaccounted for. Preliminary reports suggest that the pilots shut down the wrong engine after the other stalled; the pilots, both of whom were killed, have been widely praised for avoiding buildings in Taipei’s urban center. Harrowing imagery from a car dashcam shows the plane losing altitude and clipping a bridge before crashing into the Keelung River. The accident is the second in seven months for TransAsia Airways. Read more »