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State Capitalism Stays in Control

by Joshua Kurlantzick
bank-of-china A man is silhouetted in front of a Bank of China's logo at its branch office in Beijing in this file photo from July 14, 2014 (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Courtesy: Reuters).

Over the past year, leadership changes in many of the world’s biggest emerging markets have created vast hopes—both among citizens of these countries and among foreign investors—of dramatic economic liberalization in India, China, Indonesia, Mexico, Thailand, and other countries with new presidents and prime ministers. In some cases, as in India and China, many local analysts and investors believe that the new men in charge—Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, and Chinese president Xi Jinping—are potentially once-in-a-generation economic reformers who could streamline even the biggest, most lumbering economies, slashing state enterprises and drastically reducing waste. Read more »

Chinese Drop-Off in U.S. Graduate Schools Triggers False Alarm

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Bo Guagua, son of fallen Chinese politician Bo Xilai, receives his masters degree in public policy from Senior Lecturer John Donohue (R) at the John F. Kennedy School of Government during the 361st Commencement Exercises at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts May 24, 2012. Bo graduated from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government on Thursday, capping a tumultuous academic year that also placed him in the center of his homeland's biggest leadership crisis in two decades. REUTERS/Brian Snyder (UNITED STATES - Tags: EDUCATION POLITICS) Bo Guagua, son of fallen Chinese politician Bo Xilai, receives his masters degree in public policy from Senior Lecturer John Donohue (R) at the John F. Kennedy School of Government during the 361st Commencement Exercises at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on May 24, 2012.

The Chronicle of Higher Education blog first sounded the alarm on August 21: a just-released survey by the Council of Graduate Schools reported that graduate school admission offers to Chinese students had plateaued. As a result, the Chronicle made clear: “Chinese appetite for American higher education may have finally hit a saturation point. That could spell trouble for American universities who have come to rely on students from China, who account for one in three foreign graduate students….” Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of August 22, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Thailand's newly appointed prime minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha (front), reviews honor guards on the outskirts of Bangkok on August 21, 2014 (Chaiwat Subprasom/Courtesy Reuters). Thailand's newly appointed prime minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha (front), reviews honor guards on the outskirts of Bangkok on August 21, 2014 (Chaiwat Subprasom/Courtesy Reuters).

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

1. Thai junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha appointed prime minister. In a 191-0 vote on Thursday, Thailand’s rubber-stamp legislature named as prime minister the general who in May led the military coup of Thailand’s elected government. General Prayuth awaits an expected endorsement from King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Read more »

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 »

Allen and Karp: Cell Phones – The Future of Rural Health Care in South Asia

by Guest Blogger for Yanzhong Huang
A pregnant woman lies on an examination table during a checkup at a community health center in the remote village of Chharchh, in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, February 2012 (Courtesy Reuters/Vivek Prakash). A pregnant woman lies on an examination table during a checkup at a community health center in the remote village of Chharchh, in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, February 2012 (Courtesy Reuters/Vivek Prakash).

This is a guest post by Becky Allen, the women and foreign policy intern at CFR, and Jenna Karp, the global health governance intern at CFR.

More people today have access to a mobile phone than a toothbrush: Of the six billion people in the world, 4.8 billion own a mobile phone, compared to the only 4.2 billion who own a toothbrush. In the developing world, mobile technology plays an increasing role with each coming year. According to a 2013 UN report, the number of mobile broadband connections was estimated to reach 2.1 billion worldwide by 2015, with some developing nations surpassing Western countries. 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 »

Yum, Yum, Yum: Another Food Safety Scandal Rocks Multinationals in China

by Elizabeth C. Economy
OSI Group Chairman and CEO Sheldon Lavin (C), OSI Group President and Chief Operating Officer David McDonald (L) and OSI Vice President of North America Quality Sharon Birkett attend a news conference in Shanghai, July 28, 2014. An on-going internal investigation conducted by OSI Group LLC into its unit, the scandal-hit Chinese food supplier Shanghai Husi Food Co Ltd, has revealed that standards were below par. The firm will also spend 10 million yuan ($1.62 million) over three years to launch a food safety education programme in Shanghai. REUTERS/Aly Song (CHINA - Tags: BUSINESS FOOD) OSI Group chairman and CEO Sheldon Lavin (C), OSI Group president and chief operating officer David McDonald (L) and OSI Vice President of North America Quality Sharon Birkett attend a news conference in Shanghai on July 28, 2014. (Aly Song/Courtesy Reuters)

It was a bad week for the crown jewels of the U.S. fast food industry. At the end of July, Louisiana-based Yum! Brands, which owns Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut, discovered (along with McDonalds, Subway, and Starbucks, among others) that one of their suppliers in China, Shanghai Husi Food Co., a subsidiary of the Chicago-based OSI Group, was supplying them with products using expired or rotten meat. Unfortunately, this was only the latest in a number of food safety scandals that have plagued U.S. fast food companies in China over the past few years. Read more »

From Surat to Yumen: Plagued by Paranoia

by Yanzhong Huang
Masked residents of Surat queue up for train tickets for the first train out of the city on September 25 as the death toll due to pneumonic plague continues to climb. Government officials are concerned about the spread of the disease to other cities due to the exodus of people from Surat Masked residents of Surat queue up for train tickets for the first train out of the city on September 25, 1994, as the death toll due to pneumonic plague continues to climb. (STR New/Courtesy Reuters)

This post was coauthored by Laurie Garrett and Yanzhong Huang, both senior fellows for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations.

In mid-July, the Chinese city of Yumen in the northwestern province of Gansu sealed itself off and placed 151 people in quarantine after a man was exposed to a Himalayan marmot and died of the pneumonic plague. Official media reported that the city’s 30,000 residents have not been allowed to leave, with police setting up roadblocks and laying down tire-piercing spikes along the main roads leading to the center of the town. Read more »