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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: Five Stories From the Week of April 29, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
An Afghan athlete performs during a sporting event at a stadium in Kabul March 8, 2014. Despite decades of conflict in Afghanistan, and several recent militant attacks, the country's capital Kabul is home to a vibrant youth scene of musicians, artists, athletes and activists. Shopping malls and cafes stand in the city, which is nonetheless beset by infrastructure problems and instability. Afghanistan is preparing for an election on April 5 that should mark the first democratic transfer of power in the country's history, but it has been hit by a tide of violence as the Islamist Taliban movement has ordered its fighters to disrupt the vote and threatened to kill anyone who participates. Picture taken March 8, 2014. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl (AFGHANISTAN - Tags: SOCIETY POLITICS SPORT) A female Afghan athlete performs during a sporting event at a stadium in Kabul on March 8, 2014. Afghanistan’s women’s sports programs have recently encountered greater challenges. (Morteza Nikoubazl/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Gabriella Meltzer, Gabriel Walker, and Pei-Yu Wei look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Afghan female athletes forced to the sidelines. Despite annual donations to the tune of $1.5 million from the American government and other Western donors to women’s sports in Afghanistan, these programs have proven to be an abject failure in the promotion of women’s empowerment and equal participation. The efforts have been riddled by corruption; the cricket program “consist[s] of little more than a young woman with a business card and a desk” and the women’s soccer team has not played an international match in years. Read more »

Podcast: The Paper Tigers and Hidden Dragons of China’s Tech Sector

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Paper-Tigers-Hidden-Dragons-2

Chinese President Xi Jinping has claimed that the direction of China’s technological development is “innovation, innovation and more innovation.” But besides prominent success stories like Huawei and Lenovo, how innovative are other companies in China’s tech sector? In this week’s Asia Unbound podcast I talk with Douglas Fuller, professor of business administration at Zhejiang University’s School of Management, about his upcoming book—possibly the best China book I have read all year—Paper Tigers, Hidden Dragons: Firms and the Political Economy of China’s Technological Development. Read more »

Taiwan’s WHA Status in Limbo

by Yanzhong Huang
Taiwan Health Minister Yeh Ching-chuan reacts at this arrival at the 62nd World Health Assembly takes place at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva May 18, 2009. The World Health Assembly is the annual meeting of the World Health Organization's (WHO) 193 Member States and it is the supreme decision-making body of WHO, It sets the policy for the Organization and approves its budget. (Denis Balibouse/Reuters) Taiwan Health Minister Yeh Ching-chuan reacts at this arrival at the 62nd World Health Assembly takes place at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva May 18, 2009. The World Health Assembly is the annual meeting of the World Health Organization's (WHO) 193 Member States and it is the supreme decision-making body of WHO, It sets the policy for the Organization and approves its budget. (Denis Balibouse/Reuters)

The World Health Assembly (WHA), the executive body of the World Health Organization (WHO), will convene on May 23-28 in Geneva. While member states have received invitations to participate in this year’s WHA, the only assurance Taiwan has received from the WHO Secretariat is that “internal operations were ongoing.” Read more »

Beijing’s Squeeze Play on Taiwan

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Supporters of Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson and presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen celebrate her victory in Taipei, Taiwan, January 16, 2016. REUTERS/Olivia Harris Supporters of Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson and presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen celebrate her victory in Taipei, Taiwan on January 16, 2016. (Olivia Harris/Reuters).

In late April, I spent several days in Taiwan as part of a Council on Foreign Relations delegation. We met with a wide range of officials from the major political parties, including President Ma Ying-jeou, President-elect Tsai Ing-wen, President of the Legislative Yuan Su Jia-Chyuan, and Kuo Chang-huang, a first-term legislator. It is a period of political transition from eight years of Kuomintang (KMT) leadership under President Ma to a government led by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) with Tsai at the helm. And waiting in the wings is the brand new New Power Party (NPP), which was born out of the 2014 Sunflower Movement, and earned itself five seats in the most recent Legislative Yuan elections. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of April 22, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
India-drought Buffalos graze in dried-up Chandola Lake in Ahmedabad, India, March 30, 2016. (Amit Dave/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Gabriella Meltzer, Gabriel Walker, and Pei-Yu Wei look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Nearly a quarter of India’s population affected by drought. After two years of weak monsoons, over 330 million Indians are suffering from the debilitating effects of an intense drought. In some locales, forecasts predicted temperatures climbing to over 113 degrees—their highest seasonal levels in over a hundred years—and across the country reservoirs are at 29 percent of their storage capacity. Read more »

How Has the Rebalance Affected Security Assistance to Southeast Asia?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
ash-carter-philippines U.S. Defence Secretary Ash Carter walks past honor guards at Camp Aguinaldo to attend the closing ceremony of a U.S.-Philippine military exercise dubbed "Balikatan" (shoulder to shoulder) in Quezon City, Metro Manila, on April 15, 2016. (Erik De Castro/Reuters)

Earlier this month, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter visited the Philippines, an increasingly important U.S. security partner. In the Philippines, where he observed the annual Balikatan (shoulder-to-shoulder) exercises, Carter made several important announcements. He revealed that the United States and the Philippines are, and will be, conducting joint patrols in the South China Sea. Carter also offered specifics on new U.S. assistance to the Philippines as part of the new U.S. Maritime Security Initiative for Southeast Asia, a program conceived by the Senate Armed Services Committee and designed to provide U.S. aid to Southeast Asian nations to bolster their maritime capabilities. Read more »

Podcast: What China’s Militarism Means for the World

by Elizabeth C. Economy
PLAN-guard-South-China-Sea Soldiers of China’s People's Liberation Army Navy stand guard in the Spratly Islands, known in China as the Nansha Islands, February 10, 2016. (Stringer/Reuters)

In this week’s Asia Unbound podcast, I chat with Dr. Peter Navarro, professor of economics and public policy at the University of California, Irvine, and author of the provocative new book Crouching Tiger: What China’s Militarism Means for the World. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of April 15, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
China-water-pollution A man walks by a pipe discharging waste water into the Yangtze River from a paper mill in Anqing, Anhui province, December 4, 2013. (William Hong/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Gabriella Meltzer, Gabriel Walker, and Pei-Yu Wei look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. China’s greatest pollution nightmare may be lurking underground. According to statistics released by the Chinese media on Monday, over 80 percent of water from 2,103 underground wells tested throughout the country is polluted to the point where it is no longer safe for drinking or bathing. Read more »

Podcast: The EU’s Human Rights Dialogue With China

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Demonstrators hold up portraits of five missing staff members of a publishing house and a bookstore during a protest in Hong Kong over the disappearance of booksellers, January 10, 2016. (Tyrone Siu/Reuters) Demonstrators hold up portraits of five missing staff members of a publishing house and a bookstore during a protest in Hong Kong over the disappearance of booksellers, January 10, 2016. (Tyrone Siu/Reuters)

For almost three decades, the world has alternately encouraged and pressured China to reform its human rights practices. As part of this effort, the European Union has had an ongoing formal human rights dialogue with China since 1995. How successful has it been? This week’s Asia Unbound podcast features Dr. Katrin Kinzelbach, associate director of the Global Public Policy Institute in Berlin and visiting professor at the School of Public Policy at the Central European University in Budapest, discussing her new book, The EU’s Human Rights Dialogue with China: Quiet Diplomacy and its Limits. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of April 8, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Poppy-field-soldier-Helmand British soldiers patrol past a poppy field in Musa Qala in Helmand province, March 26, 2009. (Omar Sobhani/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Gabriella Meltzer, Gabriel Walker, and Pei-Yu Wei look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Corruption and combat thwart counternarcotics efforts in Afghanistan. The first poppy harvest of the year is just beginning in Helmand, Afghanistan—by far the largest source of opium and heroin in the world—and very little can be done about it. Read more »