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Asia Unbound

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

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China’s One Road From Paris

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Belt-and-Road-Hong-Kong A man walks past the podium at the Belt and Road summit in Hong Kong, May 18, 2016. (Bobby Yip/Reuters)

Gabriel Walker is a research associate for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. This is the final part of a series on China’s role in international development. Read the first and second parts on the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and green bonds.

On the eve of this year’s Group of Twenty meeting in Hangzhou, U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping formally ratified the Paris Agreement, the UN’s landmark treaty on fighting climate change. Read more »

China’s Summer of Discontent

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Student leader Nathan Law (C) celebrates on the podium after his win in the Legislative Council election in Hong Kong, China September 5, 2016. REUTERS/Bobby Yip Student leader Nathan Law (C) celebrates on the podium after his win in the Legislative Council election in Hong Kong, China on September 5, 2016. (Bobby Yip/Reuters)

I was struck by a recent headline in the South China Morning Post heralding Xi Jinping’s political gains at home from his diplomacy abroad. If the assessment is correct, it would suggest that a series of foreign policy travails has only served to heighten Xi’s popularity; by almost any objective calculation, it has been a challenging summer for Xi and his foreign policy team. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of August 26, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
China-Japan-Korea-trilateral Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (second from R) meets South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se (L), Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (second from L) and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida (R) during their meeting at the prime minister’s office in Tokyo, Japan, August 24, 2016. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Sherry Cho, Gabriella Meltzer, and Gabriel Walker look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. North Korean missile test facilitates China-Japan-South Korea talks. Earlier this week, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida hosted a two-day meeting with his Chinese and South Korean counterparts. The first since March 2015, the talks were slated to focus on increasing regional cooperation; however, North Korea’s Wednesday test of a submarine-launched missile dominated news coverage of the meeting and elicited wholesale criticism from all three foreign ministers. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of August 19, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Indonesia-destroys-fishing-boats Four of eight confiscated Vietnamese fishing boats are destroyed in Mempawah Regency, West Kalimantan, Indonesia, February 22, 2016. (Antara Foto/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Sherry Cho, Lincoln Davidson, Gabriella Meltzer, and Gabriel Walker look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Indonesia sinks illegal fishing boats. In a move intended to assert sovereignty over resource-rich waters surrounding the Natuna Islands off the Borneo coast, Indonesia sank sixty boats impounded for illegal fishing. Read more »

G20, Global Health, and China

by Yanzhong Huang
A man rides an electronic bike past a billboard for the upcoming G20 summit in Hangzhou (Aly Song/Reuters) A man rides an electronic bike past a billboard for the upcoming G20 summit in Hangzhou (Aly Song/Reuters)

New Yorkers who have been used to the annual UNGA sessions (which typically last two weeks and attract over one hundred heads of state and government) in September will probably have difficulty understanding why the two-day G20 summit—to be held in Hangzhou early next month—is such a big deal in China, as tight security measures appear to be causing a great deal of inconvenience to local residents. These measures can be rationalized when we take into account the fact that this will be the first ever G20 summit hosted in China and the second international summit since President Xi Jinping took the reins of the Chinese Communist Party and the military in 2012. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of August 12, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
A Thai electoral worker starts counting ballots at a polling station during a constitutional referendum vote in Bangkok, Thailand August 7, 2016. REUTERS/Kerek Wongsa A Thai electoral worker starts counting ballots at a polling station during a constitutional referendum vote in Bangkok, Thailand on August 7, 2016. (Kerek Wongsa/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Sherry Cho, Lincoln Davidson, Bochen Han, Theresa Lou, and Gabriella Meltzer look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. New Thai constitution passed in referendum. In their first opportunity to vote since the 2014 military coup that toppled Yingluck Shinawatra’s democratically-elected government, the Thai people gave a resounding “yes” to the new military-drafted constitution. The results, with over 61 percent voting in favor, may not have been surprising given that the junta did its all to drown out the opposition, arresting and detaining dozens of activists and politicians in the lead-up to the vote. Experts were also quick to point out that approval did not equal widespread endorsement of the junta, as most people had never even seen a draft of the document and merely wanted a return to political normalcy. Read more »

China’s Limited Retaliation Options Against the THAAD Deployment in South Korea

by Scott A. Snyder
China-limited-response-to-THAAD Seoungju residents protesting against the government’s decision on deploying a U.S. THAAD anti-missile defense unit in Seongju, South Korea. The banner reads “Desperately oppose deploying THAAD.” (Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters)

The Chinese Ambassador to South Korea gave a rather dramatic warning to the leader of South Korea’s opposition Democratic Party on February 25 that a decision to deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system would put China–South Korean relations at risk. Thus, it should not be surprising that threats of Chinese retaliation toward South Korea would surface following the July 8 U.S.-ROK announcement that the governments had decided to deploy THAAD in South Korea in response to North Korea’s growing missile threats. Despite emotional assertions that South Korea has compromised Chinese interests by pursuing self-defense against North Korea’s growing missile capabilities, China does not have the capability to punish South Korea without damaging its own economic and strategic interests on the Korean peninsula. Read more »

At China’s G20, G Stands For Green

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
G20-finance-meeting-flowers G20 finance ministers and central bank governors pose for a group photo during a conference held in Chengdu in southwestern China’s Sichuan province, July 24, 2016. (Ng Han Guan/Reuters)

Gabriel Walker is a research associate for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. This is the second part of a series on China’s role in international development. Read the first part here.

One month from today, leaders and policymakers from the world’s largest economies will be rubbing shoulders in Hangzhou for the eleventh annual Group of Twenty (G20) summit. For China, which presides over the group in 2016, the event is the culmination of nine months of diplomatic hard work to realize broad goals like “breaking a new path for growth” and fostering “inclusive and interconnected development.” Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of August 5, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Yurike-election-victory Yuriko Koike (R) and her supporters celebrate her win in the Tokyo governor election in Tokyo, Japan, July 31, 2016. (Kyodo/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Sherry Cho, Lincoln Davidson, Theresa Lou, Gabriella Meltzer, and Gabriel Walker look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Tokyo elects first female governor. On Sunday, Yuriko Koike was elected as the first female governor of Tokyo with 2.9 million votes, nearly one million more than her closest competitor. Although she is a member of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), she ran as an independent when the LDP endorsed rival candidate Hiroya Masuda instead. Koike has previously been mocked for lack of commitment to a given political party, earning her comparisons to a conveyer belt sushi restaurant or migratory bird. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of July 29, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Xi-Putin-meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin during a welcoming ceremony in Beijing, China, June 25, 2016. (Mikhail Klimentyev/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Sherry Cho, Lincoln Davidson, Bochen Han, Theresa Lou, and Gabriella Meltzer look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. China and Russia to hold “routine” naval exercises in the South China Sea. China’s Ministry of National Defense announced on Thursday that China and Russia have scheduled cooperative naval exercises in the South China Sea for September. While China also stated that the naval exercises will be aimed at strengthening Russian-Chinese cooperation and are not directed at any other country, the announcement comes at a time of intensified strain between China and other Asian nations due to rival claims in the South China Sea. Read more »