CFR Presents

Asia Unbound

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

Posts by Category

Showing posts for "China"

Pivot Missteps

by Joshua Kurlantzick
xi-jinping-speech China's President Xi Jinping speaks during a Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Sandton, Johannesburg, on December 4, 2015. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters)

When officials in China announced they would open an Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to primarily fund big construction projects across the Pacific, they launched a slow-motion freak-out in Washington. As they went around the world inviting governments to join, Obama administration officials pressured their allies in Asia, Europe, and other parts of the world not to. The AIIB, headquartered in Beijing, would allow China to expand its influence throughout Asia, the White House fretted. Read more »

Podcast: China and the West: Hope and Fear in the Age of Asia

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Chinese-band-great-hall A Chinese military band conductor prepares to perform before the opening ceremony of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing March 5, 2007. (Jason Lee/Reuters)

Three years into Xi Jinping’s tenure as president of China, the world is still grasping for an understanding of who he is and where he is leading the country. Dutch journalist Fokke Obbema takes us inside China in his terrific new book, China and the West: Hope and Fear in the Age of Asia, to help us consider the often competing and contradictory trends in China’s development and the challenge that the West appears to have in managing its relations with this dynamic—and often unpredictable—power. Read more »

What “One Belt, One Road” Could Mean for China’s Regional Security Approach

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
A Chinese flag marking a railway linked to China is seen in front of a train at the Khorgos border crossing point, east of the country's biggest city and commercial hub Almaty, Kazakhstan, October 19, 2015. Kazakhstan wants to establish itself as a major trading hub between China and Europe and get a share of a $600 billion market, but it will have to end tough, often time-wasting, regulations that hurt its reputation as a cross-border trading partner. Picture taken October 19, 2015. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov A Chinese flag marking a railway linked to China is seen in front of a train at the Khorgos border crossing point, east of the country's biggest city and commercial hub Almaty, Kazakhstan, October 19, 2015. Kazakhstan wants to establish itself as a major trading hub between China and Europe. The nation is also a key counterterrorism partner for China. (Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters)

Rachel Brown is a research associate in Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

In November, when the Islamic State group executed Chinese hostage Fan Jinghui, a Chinese advertising consultant and self-identified “wanderer,” Chinese netizens quickly vented their frustration over the government’s limited response. One Weibo user wrote, “It’s time for China as a big power to stand up and act.” Although Chinese censors temporarily blocked keywords such as “hostage” and “IS,” the burst of online sentiment raised questions about how the Chinese government would react to the mounting threat posed by terrorism both abroad and within its borders. In particular, would the specter of the Islamic State lead China to change its regional security strategy as it expands its trade and investment presence under its “One Belt, One Road” initiative?

Read more »

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

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
North-Korea-nuclear-test Japan Meteorological Agency's earthquake and tsunami observations division director Yohei Hasegawa points at a graph of ground motion waveform data observed in Japan during a news conference on implications that an earthquake sourced around North Korea was triggered by an unnatural reason, January 6, 2016. (Issei Kato/Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Ariella Rotenberg, and Gabriel Walker look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. North Korea announces its “H-bomb of justice.” Jaws dropped around the world as news of North Korea’s fourth nuclear test lit up phones, tablets, and televisions on Tuesday. Those in South Korea and China reported tremors caused by the detonation, which registered as a 5.1-magnitude earthquake–almost identical to North Korea’s last nuclear test in 2013. North Korea’s official news agency released a statement claiming a successful test of a hydrogen bomb. Read more »

Where China and the United States Disagree on North Korea

by Scott A. Snyder
US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi talk before a bilateral meeting at the Putra World Trade Center August 5, 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Courtesy REUTERS/Brendan Smialowski/Pool) US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi talk before a bilateral meeting at the Putra World Trade Center August 5, 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Courtesy REUTERS/Brendan Smialowski/Pool)

The “artificial earthquake” in North Korea caused by its fourth nuclear test has set off geopolitical tremors in U.S.-China relations, exposing the underlying gap between the two countries that has long been papered over by their common rhetorical commitment to Korean denuclearization. At their Sunnylands summit in June of 2013, Presidents Xi Jinping and Barack Obama vowed to work together on North Korea. Last September in Washington, the two leaders underscored the unacceptability of a North Korean nuclear test. Read more »

China’s 2016 Strategy Towards Southeast Asia

by Joshua Kurlantzick
China-PLAN-parade China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) navy soldiers roll on their armoured vehicles to Tiananmen Square during the military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, in Beijing, China, on September 3, 2015. (Damir Sagolj/Reuters)

China’s relationships with Southeast Asian nations, which had been increasingly warm in the mid-2000s, have fluctuated between cool and downright icy since then. In 2015, China’s relations with Southeast Asian nations came out of the deep freeze—only a year earlier, China and Vietnam had a stand-off in the South China Sea that could have led to war. But despite less threat of conflict in 2015, many Southeast Asian nations continued upgrading their navies and coast guards, building relations with the United States as a hedge against Chinese power, and searching for novel strategies to constrain China’s ambitions. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of December 18, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Hyeon-Soo-Lim-gets-life-sentence-North-Korea - 12-18-15 South Korea–born Canadian pastor Hyeon Soo Lim attends his trial at a North Korean court in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang, December 16, 2015. (KCNA/Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Rachel Brown, Ariella Rotenberg, Ayumi Teraoka, Gabriel Walker, and James West look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Canadian pastor sentenced by North Korea to life in prison with hard labor. Hyeon Soo Lim, a Canadian pastor, was sentenced to a life term of hard labor by the highest court in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. After a ninety-minute trial, Lim was convicted of crimes against the state that included running a human rights campaign against North Korea in cooperation with the United States and South Korea, as well as assisting defectors who wished to leave North Korea. Read more »

China and Climate Change: Three Things to Watch After Paris

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a speech for the opening day of the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris, France, November 30, 2015. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a speech for the opening day of the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris, France, November 30, 2015. (Stephane Mahe/Reuters)

China is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, so it is not surprising that Beijing’s every statement on the issue is swallowed, digested, and regurgitated by the rest of the world. My colleagues Yanzhong Huang and Ariella Rotenberg penned a helpful piece early in the Paris climate negotiations outlining the dramatic turnaround in China’s negotiating posture over the past six years, from obstreperous in Copenhagen to virtuous in Paris. Now that Paris is over, however, the question remains as to whether China will meet its target of capping CO2 emissions by around 2030. The good news is that most analysts seem to feel that Beijing has under-promised so that it can over-deliver: Many climate experts argue that it would not be surprising for Beijing to meet its targets by 2025.

Read more »

North Korea’s Band Came Home, and Inter-Korean Talks Broke Down: What Next?

by Scott A. Snyder
The Moranbong Band performs for participants of the Fifth Conference of Training Officers of the Korean People's Army at the People's Palace of Culture in Pyongyang, in this April 27, 2015 photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on April 29, 2015. (Courtesy REUTERS/KCNA) The Moranbong Band performs for participants of the Fifth Conference of Training Officers of the Korean People's Army at the People's Palace of Culture in Pyongyang, in this April 27, 2015 photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on April 29, 2015. (Courtesy REUTERS/KCNA)

Last week it seemed possible that North Korea was ready for the first time under Kim Jong-un to reach out in parallel to its closest neighbors, South Korea and China. Inter-Korean dialogue had resumed last Friday at the vice-minister level in Kaesong. At the same time, Pyongyang sent Kim Jong-un’s favorite all-female Moranbong band to Beijing as a signal of potential willingness to re-open normal relations between Pyongyang and Beijing. However, both initiatives appear to have foundered because of North Korea’s commitment to its nuclear weapons program, underscoring the country’s diplomatic isolation. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories From the Week of December 11, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Trafficking-camp-malaysia-12-11-15 A cage made of barbed wire and bamboo sticks that Malaysian police said was used to hold migrants is seen at an abandoned human trafficking camp in the jungle close the Thailand border at Bukit Wang Burma in northern Malaysia, May 26, 2015. (Damir Sagolj/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Ariella Rotenberg, and Gabriel Walker look at the top stories in Asia this week.

1. Human trafficking investigator flees Thailand. Maj. Gen. Paween Pongsirin, a senior Thai police officer leading an investigation on human trafficking in Thailand, has fled the country to seek asylum in Australia. After more than thirty graves, which are believed to contain the remains of trafficked Rohingyas, were discovered near the Malaysian border this summer, Paween had been tasked with investigating the site and the trafficking network responsible. Read more »