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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 October 24, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Jeffrey Fowle (C) and his wife (R) are greeted by U.S. Air Force 88 Air Base Wing Commander Col. John Devillier upon arrival at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio early on October 22, 2014 (Courtesy: Reuters). Jeffrey Fowle (C) and his wife (R) are greeted by U.S. Air Force 88 Air Base Wing Commander Col. John Devillier upon arrival at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio early on October 22, 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. North Korea releases U.S. prisoner. On Tuesday, Pyongyang released Jeffrey Fowle, one of three Americans currently detained in North Korea. Fowle, a fifty-six-year-old road maintenance worker from Ohio, was detained after he was found to have left a Bible in his hotel during a tour of North Korea; ownership of Bibles and missionary-related activities are illegal in North Korea. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said there was no deal made for Fowle’s release and urged Pyongyang to release the two other detainees, Kenneth Bae and Matthew Todd Miller. Read more »

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 »

Ten Fun and Fascinating Facts About Xi Jinping

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Residents hold posters of the newly appointed chief of China's Communist Party Xi Jinping and the disputed islands, known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan (R), during a "Shehuo" performance to celebrate the Chinese New Year in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, February 22, 2013. "Shehuo", which originated from the Han Dynasty, is a kind of folk performance with a long history to celebrate the Chinese New Year. The Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival, begun on February 10 this year and marks the start of the year of the snake, according to the Chinese zodiac. REUTERS/Stringer (CHINA - Tags: SOCIETY POLITICS) CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA Residents hold posters of the newly appointed chief of China's Communist Party Xi Jinping during a "Shehuo" performance to celebrate the Chinese New Year in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, on February 22, 2013. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

A friend recently dropped off a hot-off-the-press copy of Xi Jinping: The Goverance of China. It is a compilation of speeches, main points of speeches, pictures, interviews, and a biographical sketch of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Several different parts of the Chinese government bureaucracy participated in producing the book, which runs more than 500 pages. While I can’t do justice to all the material presented, here are some things I learned from reading through Xi’s musings and the musings of others about him. Read more »

Alisha Sud: China’s Central Asian Anti-Terrorism Efforts

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
(L-R) Kyrgyzstan's President Almazbek Atambayev, Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Tajikistan's President Emomali Rahmon, Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov pose for a picture before their meeting during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Dushanbe September 12, 2014. REUTERS/Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA Novosti/Kremlin (TAJIKISTAN - Tags: POLITICS) (L-R) Kyrgyzstan's President Almazbek Atambayev, Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Tajikistan's President Emomali Rahmon, Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov pose for a picture before their meeting during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Dushanbe on September 12, 2014. (Mikhail Klimentyev/Courtesy Reuters)

Alisha Sud is the intern for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Growing concern over terrorism in Asia is driving Beijing to strengthen the military capability of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Committed to fighting the “three evil forces” of terrorism, extremism, and separatism, the intergovernmental organization has recently demonstrated that it is a power to be reckoned with; last month in Inner Mongolia, China hosted the largest SCO military drill to date. Read more »

What Beijing Should Do About Hong Kong

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Joshua Wong, a 17-year-old who heads the group leading a pupils' protest, Scholarism, addresses a rally in Hong Kong September 26, 2014. Hundreds of children joined students demanding greater democracy for Hong Kong on Friday, capping a week-long campaign that has seen a large cut-out depicting the territory's leader as the devil paraded through the city and calls for him to resign. The Chinese characters on the background read "Fate". REUTERS/Bobby Yip (CHINA - Tags: POLITICS EDUCATION CIVIL UNREST) Joshua Wong, a seventeen-year-old who heads the group leading a pupils' protest, Scholarism, addresses a rally in Hong Kong on September 26, 2014. (Bobby Yip/Courtesy Reuters)

Hong Kong is not Beijing, 2014 is not 1989, and Civic Square is not Tiananmen Square. Still, the images of tens of thousands of Hong Kong Chinese demonstrating in the streets for democratic reform cannot help but bring back memories of a quarter century ago. Like the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations in Beijing, those in Hong Kong are spearheaded by extraordinarily passionate, articulate, and inspiring young leaders. Both movements include Chinese people from all walks of life. And both movements, while at heart represent a call for fuller democracy and more direct political participation, also engage issues of economic well-being and inequities within the system. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of September 26, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Students in Chennai pose with banners featuring Mars and Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) scientists as they celebrate India's Mars orbiter successfully entering the red planet's orbit on September 24, 2014 (Babu/Courtesy: Reuters). Students in Chennai pose with banners featuring Mars and Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) scientists as they celebrate India's Mars orbiter successfully entering the red planet's orbit on September 24, 2014 (Babu/Courtesy: Reuters).

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

1. India becomes the first Asian nation to reach Mars. India’s space program celebrated a huge victory this week, successfully launching an orbiter to Mars on its first attempt. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) managed to send the Mars Orbitor Mission, affectionately nicknamed MOM, on a budget of  $74 million; many have been quick to point out that it cost less than the production of the Hollywood hit movie, Gravity. Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for a celebration of the mission’s success, and schools in India organized programs to commemorate the entry of MOM into Mars’s orbit. The first images of the red planet were uploaded to Twitter, sparking a Twitter conversation between Modi and ISRO’s orbiter. Read more »

The Lucky Country Is About to Run out of Luck

by Joshua Kurlantzick
australia mining A stacker/reclaimer places coal in stockpiles at the coal port in Newcastle, Australia, in this file photo taken on June 6, 2012 (Daniel Munoz/Courtesy: Reuters).

I don’t often write about Australia, partly because Australian politics are so stable and the country such a solid partner for the United States, but also because Australia has for twenty years basically avoided the ups and downs of the world economy. Alone among rich nations, Australia was basically unaffected by the global economic and financial crises of 2008-9 and the country also has not faced the kind of long-term economic slowdown challenges that confront Europe, the United States, and Japan. Unemployment today in Australia is around 6 percent, and earlier this year it was under 6 percent. Most forecasters project that Australia will grow by at least 3 percent in 2014, which is well above projections for most other developed economies. Read more »

Three Take-Home Messages From China’s Glaxo Verdict

by Yanzhong Huang
A Chinese national flag flutters  in front of  a GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) office building in Shanghai on July 12, 2013. (Aly Song/Courtesy Reuters) A Chinese national flag flutters in front of a GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) office building in Shanghai on July 12, 2013. (Aly Song/Courtesy Reuters)

The investigation of GlaxoSmithKline’s corruption scandal ended last Friday with China fining the British drug maker nearly $500 million. The verdict revealed three important messages that multinational pharmaceuticals do not want to miss. Read more »

Climate Change: What Is China Doing and Not Doing?

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli speaks during the Climate Summit at the U.N. headquarters in New York September 23, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ENVIRONMENT) Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli speaks during the Climate Summit at the U.N. headquarters in New York on September 23, 2014. (Mike Segar/Courtesy Reuters)

At the UN Climate Summit this week in New York, Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli said it all: “China will make greater effort to more effectively address climate change;” announce further actions “as soon as we can;” and achieve “the peaking of total carbon dioxide emissions as early as possible.” According to one Western environmental NGO official, “China’s remarks at the Climate Summit go further than ever before. Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli’s announcements to strive to peak emissions ‘as early as possible’ is a welcome signal for the cooperative action we need for the Paris Agreement.” Other media outlets trumpeted: “China pledges to cut emissions at UN climate summit” and “China shifts stance on climate change.” Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of September 19, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
A British Airways airplane flies past a signage for pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in London on April 22, 2014. (Luke MacGregor/Courtesy Reuters) A British Airways airplane flies past a signage for pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in London on April 22, 2014. (Luke MacGregor/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 fines GlaxoSmithKline nearly $500 million for bribery. A Chinese court fined British pharmaceuticals firm GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) 3 billion yuan ($489 million) after the one-day, closed-door trial ended, finding the company guilty of bribery. Several officials of the company, including Mark Reilly, the former head of GSK in China, were also given suspended jail sentences. GSK said that it remained committed to operating in China despite the ruling. The company is also being investigated in the United States under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and has been accused of corrupt practices on smaller scales in Poland, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon. By some estimates, GSK’s actions in China led to over $150 million in illegal revenues. Read more »