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Asia Unbound

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

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Sour Notes from China on the U.S. Rebalance to Asia

by Scott A. Snyder
xi-jinping-cica Chinese president Xi Jinping delivers a speech to the media during the fourth Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) summit, in Shanghai on May 21, 2014 (Aly Song/Courtesy: Reuters).

I spent a week in China early this month on the heels of the Shangri-La Dialogue and amidst rising tensions in the South China Sea following China’s placement of an oil rig in disputed waters near Vietnam. Instead of spending time “inside the ring roads” of Beijing with America-handlers practiced at making careful judgments about the China-U.S. relationship, I visited a few regional cities where the Chinese views of the U.S. rebalancing policy that I heard were harsh and unvarnished. This mood parallels Liz Economy’s assessment last month of the growing misconnect in U.S.-China relations. Read more »

Podcast: A Conversation with Evan Medeiros

by Adam Segal
Evan Medeiros, National Security Council, spoke on the importance of remembering how far the United States and China has come in their relationship since 1972 on March 28, 2014, at the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institute. (Paul Morigi Photography/Brookings Institute). This image has been resized. See license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode. Evan Medeiros, National Security Council, spoke on the importance of remembering how far the United States and China has come in their relationship since 1972 on March 28, 2014, at the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institute. (Paul Morigi Photography/Brookings Institute). This image has been resized. See license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode.

Asia Unbound is proud to announce a new podcast series. Our first guest is Special Advisor to the President and Senior Director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council Evan Medeiros. I spoke with him on U.S. policy in Asia and the Obama administration’s Asia rebalancing strategy on May 30, 2014. Listen to the podcast below. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of June 13, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Planes are seen near a section of a damaged building (L) at Jinnah International Airport, after Sunday's attack by Taliban militants, in Karachi June 10, 2014. (Athar Hussain/Courtesy Reuters) Planes are seen near a section of a damaged building (L) at Jinnah International Airport, after Sunday's attack by Taliban militants, in Karachi June 10, 2014. (Athar Hussain/Courtesy Reuters)

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

1. After a six month suspension, CIA resumes drone strikes in Pakistan. Two U.S. drones struck Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal region this week, killing several militants from Pakistani Taliban-allied factions, including the Haqqani network (which until recently held Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl hostage). The strikes came in the wake of the terrorist attack on the international airport in Karachi last Sunday; more than thirty people were killed including the militants. The Pakistani Taliban, or Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP), claimed responsibility for the attack as retaliation for “the shelling and atrocities of the government.” Peace talks between the TTP and the Pakistani government have foundered and do not appear recoverable, and Pakistan is “mulling a new offensive of its own” against the militants. Although Pakistan has publicly condemned the U.S. drone strikes, anonymous government officials have admitted Islamabad gave the Americans “express approval” to carry out the strikes. Read more »

Chinese Cyber Espionage: We Know the Who, How, Why, and Why it Matters–We’re Missing the What to Do

by Adam Segal
A demonstrator from the pro-China "Caring Hong Kong Power" group protests over claims from former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden that the National Security Agency (NSA) hacked computers in the Chinese territory, outside the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong July on 9, 2013. (Bobby Yip/Courtesy Reuters) A demonstrator from the pro-China "Caring Hong Kong Power" group protests over claims from former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden that the National Security Agency (NSA) hacked computers in the Chinese territory, outside the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong July on 9, 2013. (Bobby Yip/Courtesy Reuters)

Three documents that came out this week lay out the “who,” “how,” “why,” and “why it matters” of Chinese cyber espionage. Unfortunately, we still lack the “what to do.”

The “who” and “how” was contained in a new report, Putter Panda, by the cybersecurity company CrowdStrike [Full disclosure: CrowdStrike helps fund a speaker series at CFR]. The report, like the Department of Justice (DoJ) indictment of five hackers alleged to be part of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and Mandiant’s 2013 APT1 report, uses IP addresses, email accounts, and other forensic details to describe attacks on European and U.S. businesses and government agencies, with a particular focus on the satellite, aerospace, and communications sectors. CrowdStrike identified a hacker using the handle “cppy”, and through images posted on a picture sharing website and other clues linked the individual to PLA 3rd Department 12th Bureau Unit 61486 in Shanghai. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of June 6, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Tens of thousands of people take part in a candlelight vigil at Hong Kong's Victoria Park on June 4, 2014, to mark the 25th anniversary of the military crackdown on the pro-democracy movement at Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989 (Bobby Yip/Courtesy: Reuters). Tens of thousands of people take part in a candlelight vigil at Hong Kong's Victoria Park on June 4, 2014, to mark the 25th anniversary of the military crackdown on the pro-democracy movement at Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989 (Bobby Yip/Courtesy: Reuters).

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

1. Thousands protest on the twenty-fifth anniversary of Tiananmen Square; mainland China ramps up security. Much of the world commemorated the twenty-fifth anniversary of the military crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989. Police presence shot up in Beijing and other major Chinese cities for the anniversary, and many websites, including LinkedIn, censored all mention of the incident. In Hong Kong, where freedom of speech is more protected, approximately 180,000 people converged in Victoria Park, lighting candles and chanting slogans. The White House officially commemorated the anniversary, leaving China “strongly dissatisfied.” Read more »

Why Tiananmen Doesn’t Disappear

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Tens of thousands of people take part in a candlelight vigil at Hong Kong's Victoria Park on June 4, 2014, to mark the 25th anniversary of the military crackdown on the pro-democracy movement at Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989. (Bobby Yip/Courtesy Reuters) Tens of thousands of people take part in a candlelight vigil at Hong Kong's Victoria Park on June 4, 2014, to mark the 25th anniversary of the military crackdown on the pro-democracy movement at Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989. (Bobby Yip/Courtesy Reuters)

There are few dates in contemporary history that are as universally acknowledged as June 4, 1989, the day of the Chinese military crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in Tiananmen Square. Yet what is the significance of this date twenty-five years later? Certainly there is no consensus: from the Global Times to the New York Times, Tiananmen elicits vastly different understandings of what transpired then and what it means today. Yet there is value in acknowledging these different understandings of history and hopes for the future, in large part because they so clearly inform the present. Moreover, the story of Tiananmen continues to evolve. New voices are emerging that want to be heard. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of May 30, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Trucks packed with criminals and suspects are seen during a mass sentencing rally at a stadium in Yili, Xinjiang on May 27, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters). Trucks packed with criminals and suspects are seen during a mass sentencing rally at a stadium in Yili, Xinjiang on May 27, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters).

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

1. China convicts fifty-five people in Xinjiang mass sentencing. Fifty-five people were sentenced for terrorism, separatism, international homicide, and murder at a stadium of 7,000 onlookers in Yili, Xinjiang. Standing in backs of vehicles surrounded by armed guards, the defendants all appeared to be from the region’s Muslim Uighur community. The rare mass trial, in which three defendants were sentenced to death, is part of Beijing’s hardline response to a recent string of deadly attacks across the country. Human rights advocates criticized the mass sentencing for its failure to address underlying public security problems. Meanwhile, authorities in Xinjiang are hoping to overcome fears of terrorist attacks by offering cash bonuses to tourists to the region from elsewhere in China. Read more »

Why Has Philanthropy Failed to Take off in China?

by Yanzhong Huang

Last month, when Bill Gates challenged China’s rich to embrace philanthropy rather than just spend money on luxury goods, he implied a philanthropy gap existed between China and the United States. In 2013,  China’s top 100 philanthropists gave away a mere $890 million, which is less than what Mark Zuckerberg and his wife donated last year. Total charitable donations in China were $13.2 billion in 2012, or 4 percent of all U.S. donations.  The gap has also manifested itself in the number of philanthropic foundations. China had only 2,961 such foundations in 2012, which is less than 3 percent of the U.S. total. Read more »

China’s Ready to Rumble

by Joshua Kurlantzick
A fisherman (C) receives medical treatment upon his arrival home, after his boat was rammed and then sunk by Chinese vessels near disputed Paracels Islands, at Ly Son island of Vietnam's central Quang Ngai province May 29, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) A fisherman (C) receives medical treatment upon his arrival home, after his boat was rammed and then sunk by Chinese vessels near disputed Paracels Islands, at Ly Son island of Vietnam's central Quang Ngai province May 29, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

Over the past two months, as China’s maritime disputes with Japan, the Philippines, and Vietnam have escalated, most foreign observers and American officials, though worried, have shown little concern that the conflicts would explode into a full-scale war. After all, for more than three decades China has profited enormously from being part of the global economic system. Its military, though growing, remains far less technologically advanced than American armed forces. And for thirty years, predictions that China one day would try to dominate its region by force have always been proven wrong. Read more »

E-Cigarettes: China’s Next Growth Industry

by Yanzhong Huang
E-Cigarette Production Facility in Shenzhen, China Electronic cigarettes are pictured at a production line in a factory in Shenzhen, China (Tyrone Siu/Courtesy Reuters)

Amidst the growing global regulation on tobacco use and rising public awareness about the hazards of smoking, e-cigarettes are becoming a new, emerging industry. Invented by a Chinese medical researcher about one decade ago, electronic cigarettes are battery powered devices that allow users simulate smoking by vaporizing liquid nicotine (among other additives), but in fact have no tobacco. Since being first released on the consumer market in 2005, the global e-cigarette market has been growing rapidly. In the United States, e-cigarette sales have grown at an annual rate of 115 percent in the 2009-12 period. It is estimated that global e-cigarette market could increase to $10 billion by 2017. Some analysts even predict that e-cigarette use will eclipse that of combustible cigarettes in ten years. Over 95 percent of the e-cigarettes worldwide are produced in one place: Shenzhen, China. Read more »