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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 May 16, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Supporters of India's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) celebrate on March 16, 2014, after learning of poll results showing Narendra Modi of the BJP as the next leader of the world’s largest democracy (Amit Dave/Courtesy Reuters). Supporters of India's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) celebrate on March 16, 2014, after learning of poll results showing Narendra Modi of the BJP as the next leader of the world’s largest democracy (Amit Dave/Courtesy Reuters).

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

1. And the results are in: A Modi mandate in India! The five-week marathon of elections is complete in India, and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has emerged victorious, winning the party’s highest-ever tally of seats in parliament. No single party has captured the number of seats needed to form a government—272—on its own in thirty years, making this election particularly significant in Indian politics. Despite his controversial past, Narendra Modi will lead the new Indian government and will be expected to deliver on his campaign promises of economic growth and good governance. The Congress party—which has been in power for the past decade and promoted Rahul Gandhi as its candidate for prime minister—has conceded its defeat, remarking “Modi promised the moon and stars to the people. People bought that dream.” Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of May 9, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Anti-government protesters wait for their leader Suthep Thaugsuban to come out from the parliament building to address them in Bangkok on May 9, 2014. Thai police fired tear gas on Friday at royalist protesters bent on bringing down a caretaker government after a court threw Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra out of office and an anti-graft agency indicted her for negligence (Damir Sagolj/Courtesy: Reuters). Anti-government protesters wait for their leader Suthep Thaugsuban to come out from the parliament building to address them in Bangkok on May 9, 2014. (Damir Sagolj/Courtesy Reuters)

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

1. Thai prime minister removed from office, faces impeachmentThailand’s constitutional court voted to remove Yingluck Shinawatra from office for abuse of power for illegally transferring a civil servant to another post. The court also removed the nine ministers that were in her cabinet at the time. Yingluck now faces impeachment by the Thai senate, in conjunction with alleged connection to a farm subsidy program. Deputy Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan was named interim prime minister of the caretaker government, a choice that satisfied neither supporters nor the opponents of Yingluck and the ruling Puea Thai Party. Protestors, both anti-government and pro-government, continue to be active following Yingluck’s removal, and there appears to be no clear way forward. Thailand’s democracy has faced a rocky path the past few months, and some fear that elections planned for late July will be postponed. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of May 2, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Armed policemen patrol near the exit of the South Railway Station, where three people were killed and 79 wounded in Wednesday's bomb and knife attack, in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous region, on May 2, 2014. (Petar Kujundzic/Courtesy Reuters) Armed policemen patrol near the exit of the South Railway Station, where three people were killed and 79 wounded in Wednesday's bomb and knife attack, in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous region, on May 2, 2014. (Petar Kujundzic/Courtesy Reuters)

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

1. Attack in Xinjiang kills three and injures seventy-nine. A blast in the provincial capital of Urumqi, in China’s northwest province of Xinjiang, killed two bombers and a third bystander at a train station on Wednesday. According to Chinese state media, “knife-wielding mobs” attacked people at one of the station’s exits following the blasts. Chinese authorities claimed to have identified the assailants as Muslim religious extremists, fighting for independence from China. Urumqi is no stranger to violent ethnic strife and is a heavily policed city. The attacks follow similar incidents in the past year: in March, ten assailants, allegedly Uighur separatists, killed twenty-nine commuters at a train station in Kunming, Yunnan province; and in October 2013, three Uighurs drove a car through Tiananmen Square in Beijing, killing themselves and two tourists. Chinese president Xi Jinping has declared long-term stability in Xinjiang vital to national security and has made promoting “ethnic cohesion” one of his major initiatives in the region. Read more »

Wenchi Yu: President Obama’s Underreported Asia Strategy

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
U.S. President Barack Obama high fives a member of the audience as he leaves after the Young Southeast Asian Leadership Intiative (YSEALI) Town Hall inside the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur April 27, 2014. REUTERS/Samsul Said (MALAYSIA - Tags: POLITICS EDUCATION) U.S. president Barack Obama high fives a member of the audience as he leaves after the Young Southeast Asian Leadership Intiative (YSEALI) Town Hall inside the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur on April 27, 2014. (Samsul Said/Courtesy Reuters)

Wenchi Yu is an Asia Society fellow, a Project 2049 Institute fellow, and a former U.S. Department of State official. She is the managing partner of the Banyan Advisory Group LLC, which focuses on social investment in Asia. Follow her on Twitter: @WenchiY.
Read more »

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

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
President Barack Obama reviews an honor guard during a welcoming ceremony at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on April 24, 2014 (Shizuo Kambayashi/Courtesy: Reuters). President Barack Obama reviews an honor guard during a welcoming ceremony at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on April 24, 2014 (Shizuo Kambayashi/Courtesy: Reuters).

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

1. Obama on a four-country tour of Asia to reassure allies and reinforce U.S. rebalancing. Obama began his Asia tour in Japan, where he discussed trade negotiations (see story below). He made waves when he reassured Japan that Washington was committed to its defense, including in the East China Sea, where maritime disputes between China and Japan have caused skirmishes and tension. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of April 18, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
A Buddhist monk prays for the missing passengers on the South Korean ferry, Sewol on April 18, 2014. The ferry had been en route to Jeju, a holiday island off South Korea’s southern coast, when it sent a distress signal on April16 (Issei Kato/Courtesy: Reuters). A Buddhist monk prays for the missing passengers on the South Korean ferry, Sewol on April 18, 2014. The ferry had been en route to Jeju, a holiday island off South Korea’s southern coast, when it sent a distress signal on April16 (Issei Kato/Courtesy: Reuters).

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

1. South Korean passenger ferry capsizes. A South Korean ferry, the Sewol, capsized on Wednesday, April 16. As of Friday, twenty-five deaths have been reported, with 271 passengers still missing. The vessel was en route from Incheon, on the northwestern coast of the country, to Jeju Island, a resort island off the southwestern coast. A government investigation team is looking into alleged negligence by the captain and some members of the crew, who reportedly instructed passengers to remain seated and abandoned the ship in the state of emergencyRead more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of April 11, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
india-electonic-voting-booth A voter looks at an electronic voting machine before casting his vote inside a booth at a polling station in Bhangel village on the outskirts of New Delhi on April 10, 2014. Around 815 million people have registered to vote in the world's biggest election—a number exceeding the population of Europe and a world record—and results of the mammoth exercise, which concludes on May 12, are due on May 16 (Adnan Abidi/Courtesy: Reuters).

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

1. Indian election underway. With over 814 million eligible voters, India’s election is the largest democratic undertaking in history and will take place over a period of five weeks in nine phases—three of which were completed this week. On Thursday, constituencies were at stake in eleven of India’s states and three federally administered territories. India’s Election Commission reported impressive voter turnout in most regions, including over 60 percent turnout in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state. Read more »

Hunter Gross: Despite Cyber Espionage, U.S.-China Relations Are Business as Usual

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (L) shakes hands with Chinese Minister of Defense Chang Wanquan at the end of a joint news conference at the Chinese Defense Ministry headquarters in Beijing on April 8, 2014. (Alex Wong/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. secretary of defense Chuck Hagel (L) shakes hands with Chinese minister of defense Chang Wanquan at the end of a joint news conference at the Chinese Defense Ministry headquarters in Beijing on April 8, 2014. (Alex Wong/Courtesy Reuters)

Hunter Gross is an intern for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Just as U.S. president Barack Obama and Chinese president Xi Jinping were set to meet in The Hague, documents leaked by Edward Snowden revealed that the National Security Agency installed backdoors in the computer networks of the Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei. Despite extensive U.S. media coverage and angry reactions from Chinese news sources such as Xinhua and the Global Times, this revelation follows the pattern of previous cyber-related disclosures; the issue first flares up, and then quickly fades until the next disclosure. Why does such a divisive issue neither strain U.S.-China relations or trigger significant actions to address the problem? Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of April 4, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Residents cover their faces as they ride a motorcycle along a street after tear gas was released by police to disperse a protest against a chemical plant project in Maoming, Guandong province, China on March 31, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) Residents cover their faces as they ride a motorcycle along a street after tear gas was released by police to disperse a protest against a chemical plant project in Maoming, Guandong province, China on March 31, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

Lauren Dickey, Darcie Draudt, Charles McClean, Will Piekos, and Sharone Tobias look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. Tensions rise on the Korean Peninsula. South and North Korea exchanged artillery fire across a disputed martime border off the peninsula’s western coast on March 31. Neither side aimed at land or military installations, but 100 of the 500 rounds from North Korea fell south of the boundary, followed by 300 South Korean artillery shells shot into the northern side of the boundary. The incident occurred not far from Baengnyeong Island, where in March 2010 North Korean torpedoes sunk the South Korean warship Cheonan. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of March 28, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
U.S. President Barack Obama holds a trilateral meeting with President Park Geun-hye of the South Korea (L) and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan (R) after the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague on March 25, 2014. (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. President Barack Obama holds a trilateral meeting with President Park Geun-hye of the South Korea (L) and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan (R) after the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague on March 25, 2014. (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters)

Lauren Dickey, Darcie Draudt, Charles McClean, Will Piekos, and Sharone Tobias look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. Obama holds trilateral talks with Japan and Korea. U.S. president Barack Obama led trilateral talks with the leaders of Japan and South Korea on Tuesday in hopes of improving the relationship between Seoul and Tokyo. It was the first time South Korean president Park Geun-hye and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe have met face-to-face as leaders. The meeting took place in The Hague on the side of the Nuclear Security Summit. Read more »