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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 August 15, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
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 »

Erwin Li: Finding China’s Missing Children

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
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
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
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 »

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

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
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 »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of July 17, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
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 »

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

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Villagers line up to vote in the country's presidential election at Bojong Koneng polling station in Bogor July 9, 2014. Indonesians began voting on Wednesday in a presidential election that has become a closely fought contest between the old guard who flourished under decades of autocratic rule and a new breed of politician that has emerged in the fledgling democracy. Only the third direct election for president in the world's fourth-most populous nation, the contest pits former special forces general Prabowo Subianto against Jakarta Governor Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, who have been running neck-and-neck in opinion polls. REUTERS/Beawiharta (INDONESIA - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS) Villagers line up to vote in the country's presidential election at Bojong Koneng polling station in Bogor on July 9, 2014. (Beawiharta/Courtesy Reuters)

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

1. Indonesians await official results of presidential election. Joko Widodo, known popularly as Jokowi, seems to have won Indonesia’s presidential election against Prabowo Subianto, a self-described military strongman. Though unofficial quick count tallies appear split on the winner of the election, the more respected polling firms point to a Jokowi victory; the official results will be released on July 22. Read more »

Podcast: A Conversation with Aqil Shah

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Pakistan's newly appointed army chief General Raheel Sharif (R) and outgoing army chief General Ashfaq Kayani (L) talk during the change of command ceremony at the army headquarters in Rawalpindi November 29, 2013. Pakistan named Sharif, a career infantry officer considered a moderate as army chief, on Wednesday as the country fights a Taliban insurgency and seeks accord with the United States on how to stabilise neighbouring Afghanistan. Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced that Raheel Sharif, brother of a war hero, would take charge of the world's sixth-largest army, with a formal handover from General Ashfaq Kayani on Friday. REUTERS/Mian Khursheed (PAKISTAN - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY) Pakistan's newly appointed army chief General Raheel Sharif (R) and outgoing army chief General Ashfaq Kayani (L) talk during the change of command ceremony at the army headquarters in Rawalpindi on November 29, 2013. (Mian Khurseed/Courtesy Reuters)

The second installment of Asia Unbound’s new podcast series. Our guest is Aqil Shah, lecturer at Princeton University’s Department of Politics and author of The Army and Democracy: Military Politics in Pakistan (Harvard, 2014). Dan Markey, senior fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia, spoke with him on arguments made in his book, which examines the military’s contentious relationship with Pakistan’s civilian government. Read more »

Erwin Li: Better Together? Two Approaches to LGBT Activism in China

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Shi tou (not her real name), a lesbian, is seen in front of a rainbow flag during a campaign to promote the acceptance of homosexuality in Beijing February 14, 2008. For a number of Beijing's gay and lesbian community, Valentine's Day is not just a day to celebrate loving relationships, but also an ideal time to campaign for same-sex marriages and the acceptance of homosexuality in China. REUTERS/Jason Lee (CHINA) A lesbian woman is seen in front of a rainbow flag during a campaign to promote the acceptance of homosexuality in Beijing on February 14, 2008. (Jason Lee/Courtesy Reuters)

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

In just its sixth year, Shanghai Pride has emerged as a major celebratory event for China’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. The weeklong festival features art exhibits, panel discussions, and even a marathon-picnic—all of whose locations span across many of the city’s most popular areas. But there’s more to the celebration than just fun. Shanghai Pride aims to promote awareness about China’s sexual minorities by openly addressing the unique social and cultural challenges that they face. For example, this year’s film festival displayed works on transgender identity and homophobic violence, while a panel discussion asked parents and relatives of LGBT children to share their stories of support and acceptance. In a society still dominated by traditional views on gender, Shanghai Pride thus offers a rare chance for solidarity, and an avenue towards greater social acceptance. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of June 27, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
U.S. President Barack Obama is welcomed to Sukiyabashi Jiro restaurant by Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe while in Tokyo on April 23, 2014 (Larry Downing/Courtesy: Reuters). U.S. President Barack Obama is welcomed to Sukiyabashi Jiro restaurant by Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe while in Tokyo on April 23, 2014 (Larry Downing/Courtesy: Reuters).

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

1. Abe fires the “third arrow” of his growth strategy Abenomics. Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe announced the “third arrow” of his economic reform policy this week. The third arrow, experts say, is important but difficult, and seeks to address issues of tax reform, population decline, and immigration, as well as trade and agricultural reform. This phase follows the first (a fiscal stimulus) and the second (massive quantitative easing to provide a monetary boost). “Abenomics” claims to address the large challenges threatening Japan’s economy, including one of the biggest debt-to-GDP ratios in the world and an ageing society. Read more »