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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 "Africa"

Are Americans Overreacting to the Ebola Virus?

by Yanzhong Huang
Protestor Jeff Hulbert of Annapolis, Maryland holds a sign reading "Stop the Flights" as he demonstrates in favor of a travel ban to stop the spread of the Ebola virus, in front of the White House in Washington October 16, 2014. REUTERS/Jim Bourg (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS HEALTH CIVIL UNREST TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) A protestor holds a sign reading "Stop the Flights" as he demonstrates in favor of a travel ban to stop the spread of the Ebola virus, in front of the White House in Washington on October 16, 2014. (Jim Bourg/Courtesy Reuters)

Compared with the havoc wreaked by the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, the virus thus far has only led to three confirmed cases in the United States. The fear and anxiety however has spread much faster. Earlier this month, seventy-five airplane-cabin cleaners at LaGuardia Airport walked off their jobs partly due to concerns about the risk of exposure to the virus. Last week, a woman who vomitted in the Pentagon parking lot triggered a health scare that forced the temporary shutdown of the building entrance and the setup of a quarantine and decontamination tent in front of the hospital where she was admitted—and later found not to have Ebola. Read more »

Getting at the Heart of China’s Resource Quest

by Elizabeth C. Economy
A worker works at the Lauzoua manganese mine, supported by investment from the China National Geological and Mining Corporation, in the Ivory Coast on December 4, 2013. (Theirry Gouegnon/Courtesy Reuters) A worker works at the Lauzoua manganese mine, which is supported by investment from the China National Geological and Mining Corporation, in the Ivory Coast on December 4, 2013. (Theirry Gouegnon/Courtesy Reuters)

It all begins with courtship. The Chinese president arrives in the resource-rich country to woo the local leader with a large entourage of government and state-owned enterprise officials, bearing gifts of trade, aid, and investment. Love—or at least great friendship—is in the air, and a match is made. As Carly Simon says, “Nobody Does It better.” Read more »

China’s Influence: Waxing or Waning?

by Elizabeth C. Economy
China's President Hu Jintao shows the way to South Africa's President Jacob Zuma during a welcome ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on August 24, 2010.

China's President Hu Jintao shows the way to South Africa's President Jacob Zuma during a welcome ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on August 24, 2010. (Jason Lee / Courtesy of Reuters)

One of the significant unresolved questions surrounding Chinese foreign policy is whether China’s influence is expanding or diminishing. Is China a model for other countries? Does its economic clout give it sway in other arenas? Does its growing military prowess have the potential to bend others to its will?

In the past two weeks, China’s influence barometer has been fluctuating wildly. In Zambia, Presidential candidate Michael Sata campaigned largely on an anti-China platform, proclaiming “Zambia has become a province of China…the Chinese are the most unpopular people in the country because no one trusts them,” and won. Closer to home, Burma threw a wrench in China’s plans to populate the Irrawaddy with seven more dams, including the 6,000 megawatt Myitsone dam, when Burmese President Thein Sein announced the suspension of the dam until his term ends in April 2016. The dam would have flooded an area roughly the size of Singapore and provided energy primarily for China. The Chinese government was stunned at Burma’s betrayal. And of course, throughout much of Asia, China’s neighbors are forging new alliances and fortifying old ones to defend against a seemingly more assertive China. (That certainly sounds like influence…just not the kind Beijing wants to have.)

At the same time, the South African government led by President Zuma failed to provide the Dalai Lama with a visa to attend the 80th birthday party of his fellow Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu, prompting an angry outcry from the Archbishop. In addition, my colleague Josh Kurlantzick has suggested that China’s influence in central and parts of Southeast Asia is expanding through Beijing’s programs to manage social instability. Although given the significant annual increases in numbers of protests in China, it’s not clear to me what they are teaching, exactly; and given the already authoritarian predilections of these states, China’s influence, while not negligible, is not terribly surprising. Finally, opening the newspaper on any given day, it is easy to get the impression that without Chinese investment, the entire world economy would be down under.

So, is China’s influence waxing or waning? The answer is that it depends. Read more »

What Qaddafi’s Fall Means for His Evil Minions in South America, Asia, and Africa

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Employees of the Libyan Embassy burn portraits of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi at the embassy's garden in Buenos Aires August 23, 2011.

Employees of the Libyan Embassy burn portraits of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi at the embassy's garden in Buenos Aires August 23, 2011 (Marcos Brindicci/Courtesy Reuters).

The fall of Muammar Qadaffi’s Libyan regime has sparked celebration across the country, and in many parts of the Middle East. But Qadaffi’s collapse will impact not only his country but also civil wars and insurgencies around the world. Since he seized power in the late 1960s, Qadaffi has been a major funder and trainer of insurgents from South America to South Africa to the southern Philippines. Now, with Qadaffi gone, many of these groups may have to rethink their strategies.

In the New Republic, I outline what Qadaffi’s fall means for his many insurgents around the world. You can read the piece here.

Read more »

The Rise of the Rest—what’s new what’s not?

by Elizabeth C. Economy
A couple walk at the seafront in Mumbai on May 11, 2009.

A couple walk at the seafront in Mumbai on May 11, 2009. (Punit Paranjpe/Courtesy Reuters)

I’m just back from a conference in Berlin, organized by my colleague Stewart Patrick, where the talk was all about the opportunities and challenges for the United States and European Union posed by the rise of the rest (the highly popular term popularized by Fareed Zakaria to describe the large emerging economies, such as China, India, Brazil, etc.). The conference included scholars and former officials from a number of the emerging economies, as well as the EU and U.S.

It was a fascinating set of discussions, primarily because there was so little agreement, and it seems to me, so little empirical work done on the topic. What constitutes the rest?  Where are the real issues of commonality among the countries?

A few fundamental issues to think about:
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Is China Eating Our Lunch?

by Evan A. Feigenbaum

An attendant fills the tank of a vehicle at a Sinopec gas station in Changzhi, Shanxi province March 28, 2010. Sinopec, Asia's top oil refiner, will buy a stake in upstream assets in Angola for $2.46 billion and said it wanted more such deals, which could shield it from high oil prices that hit margins in the fourth quarter. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters).

My latest “DC Diary” column is out in India’s leading financial newspaper, the Business Standard. The column plays off a rather extraordinary back-and-forth from Hillary Clinton’s budget testimony last week.

The Secretary of State told Congress that China is not just competing with the United States around the world but, for all intents and purposes, is eating America’s lunch.

“Let’s just talk, you know, straight realpolitik,” Mrs. Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “We are in a competition with China. Take Papua New Guinea: huge energy find … ExxonMobil is producing it. China is in there every day in every way, trying to figure out how it’s going to come in behind us, come under us.”

But how effective is the China model, anyway? And is China’s approach really quite so uniform?

Read more »