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Asia Unbound

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

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Showing posts for "Elizabeth C. Economy"

Podcast: China’s Unlikely Partners on the Road to Reform

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Unlikely-Partners-edit Cover: Harvard University Press

Over the past forty years, the Chinese economy has undergone a striking transformation. In 1976, in the wake of Mao’s death and the Cultural Revolution, planned production and fixed pricing stifled market forces. Today, thriving capitalism vies for dominance with the socialist tenets of China’s past. What forces, and which individuals, brought about such a dramatic evolution? Read more »

When the United States Abdicates the Throne, Who Will Lead?

by Elizabeth C. Economy
U.S. President Donald Trump gives a thumbs-up to reporters as he waits to speak by phone with the Saudi Arabia's King Salman in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 29, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst U.S. President Donald Trump gives a thumbs-up to reporters as he waits to speak by phone with Saudi Arabia's King Salman in the Oval Office on January 29, 2017. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

President Donald J. Trump’s initial forays into foreign policy suggest a desire to abdicate the throne. Not his own position as president of course, but rather the United States’ position as the world’s preeminent power—both as a driver of a globalized world and a defender of the traditional liberal order. He has withdrawn the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Asia-Pacific trade pact that would have cemented U.S. leadership among the economies that make up 40 percent of the world’s GDP. Read more »

Podcast: A Great Place to Have a War

by Elizabeth C. Economy
A Buddhist monk poses next to unexploded bombs dropped by the U.S. Air Force planes during the Vietnam War, in Xieng Khouang in Laos September 3, 2016. REUTERS/Jorge Silva A Buddhist monk poses on September 3, 2016, next to unexploded bombs dropped by the U.S. Air Force planes during the Vietnam War in Xieng Khouang in Laos. The United States dropped more than two million tons of ordnance on Laos in the course of the war. (Jorge Silva/Reuters)

While Vietnam and Cambodia loom large in American memories of the Vietnam War, neighboring Laos recedes into the background. But during the 1960s and 1970s, the tiny, landlocked nation was the site of the CIA’s transformation from a loosely organized spy agency to a powerful paramilitary organization. Read more »

Podcast: North Korea’s Information Underground

by Elizabeth C. Economy
north-korea-balloon-leaflets Park Sang-hak, a North Korean defector and leader of an anti-North Korea civic group, prepares to release a balloon containing leaflets denouncing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un near the demilitarized zone in Paju, South Korea, April 29, 2016. (Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters)

On this week’s Asia Unbound podcast, Jieun Baek, author of North Korea’s Hidden Revolution: How the Information Underground is Transforming a Closed Society, tells the story of the outlawed political and social information that is penetrating North Korea’s hermetic borders. Through dozens of interviews with North Korean defectors, Baek finds that everyday North Koreans crave news and entertainment from the outside world—from romantic television dramas to basic weather reports. Most of all, the foreign knowledge they seek helps to dismantle the façade of total information control the North Korean government has tried to erect around its citizens. Read more »

Podcast: In China, What’s New and What’s Old?

by Elizabeth C. Economy
confucius-umbrellas Students holding umbrellas walk past a statue of Confucius after the morning session on the second day of the National College Entrance Exams in Wuhan, Hubei province, on June 8, 2009. (Stringer/Reuters)

According to Jeffrey Wasserstrom, professor of history at the University of California, Irvine, and editor of the recently published Oxford Illustrated History of Modern China, China is a place that lends itself to misconceptions. With shifting borders, crisscrossing cultural traditions, and a winding history of more than 5,000 years, it is easy for outside observers to oversimplify the country’s ongoing evolution. Read more »

Podcast: A Chinese Perspective on the U.S. Election

by Elizabeth C. Economy
chinese-consulate-election-watch Chinese visitors look at a screen showing live results of the U.S. presidential election at an event held at the U.S. embassy in Beijing, China, on November 9, 2016. (Jason Lee/Reuters)

It has been a busy few weeks for foreign policy analysts in Beijing as they struggle to determine how China should best approach relations with the incoming U.S. president. On this week’s Asia Unbound podcast, Chen Dingding, professor of international relations at Jinan University and the founding director of the newly established Intellisia Institute, offers his advice on how Chinese leaders should approach a Trump administration. Read more »

Reading Between the Tweets: Trump, Taiwan, and China

by Elizabeth C. Economy
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks at the USA Thank You Tour event at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., December 8, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump speaks at the USA Thank You Tour event at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa, on December 8, 2016. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

As the Trump-Taiwan-China saga continues to unfold, I thought it might be useful to look at the sequence of events and report on how Chinese scholars are looking at President-Elect Trump’s first foreign policy musings and how we in the United States might understand his statements and actions to date. Here is a brief rundown: Read more »

Podcast: Xi Jinping’s Team of Rivals

by Elizabeth C. Economy
xi-jinping-li-keqiang-team-of-rivals Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) and Premier Li Keqiang attend a medal ceremony marking the seventieth anniversary of the Victory of Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, for World War II veterans, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, September 2, 2015. (Jason Lee/Reuters)

“Sometimes if you want to purge a leader, start with his mishu [secretary].” Cheng Li, director of the Brookings Institution’s John L. Thornton China Center, is one of the last true practitioners of “Pekingology”—the careful study of the inner workings of China’s top leadership. Li’s new book, Chinese Politics in the Xi Jinping Era: Reassessing Collective Leadership, explores the intricate connections between Xi Jinping and Xi’s former classmates, close advisors, and political rivals. Read more »

Podcast: The Origins of the American Alliance System in Asia

by Elizabeth C. Economy
U.S. and Japan Self-Defence Force's soldiers listen a speech by U.S. President Barack Obama during his visits at Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station, enroute to Hiroshima, Japan May 27, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria U.S. and Japan Self-Defence Force's soldiers listen a speech by U.S. President Barack Obama during his visit at Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station, enroute to Hiroshima, Japan on May 27, 2016. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Harvard Professor Joseph Nye once said that “security is like oxygen: you do not tend to notice it until you begin to lose it.” Alliances also often function like oxygen, with the security and stability they provide going underappreciated argues Victor Cha, the director of Asian studies and D.S. Song-Korea Foundation professor of government and international affairs at Georgetown University. Read more »

Making America Great is Like Making a Great Hotel

by Elizabeth C. Economy
A cyclist passes the construction entrance to the Trump International Hotel in Washington September 1, 2015. The iconic Old Post Office building is being transformed into a luxury hotel by presidential hopeful Donald Trump. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque A cyclist passes the construction entrance to the Trump International Hotel in Washington on September 1, 2015. The iconic Old Post Office building has been transformed into a luxury hotel by President-Elect Donald Trump. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

As the world watches one foreign policy hopeful after the next take a spin through the revolving doors of Trump Tower to meet with President-Elect Trump, it is easy to imagine that it is CEO Trump interviewing candidates for the top positions at one of his new hotels abroad. There will be a chief marketing officer, a chief financial officer, legal counsel, and a communications director, among other senior staff. Once Mr. Trump picks his team, it will be time to weigh various opportunities. As they cast their eyes out to the Asia-Pacific, they should begin by undertaking the proper due diligence. Read more »