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Asia Unbound

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

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Podcast: Beyond the One-Child Policy

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Beijing-baby-stroller A man pushes his homemade baby stroller carrying his grandson at a park in Beijing April 13, 2015. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

This week, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and author of One Child: The Story of China’s Most Radical Experiment Mei Fong talks about her investigation into China’s more than three-decade commitment to a one-child policy. She goes well beyond the familiar tropes of gender imbalance and aging population to explore the challenge of an emerging anti-feminist culture, the pain of parents who lost their only child in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, and the secret two-child zones the government operated alongside its nationwide one-child policy. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of March 11, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Modi-Make-in-India Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during the inauguration ceremony of the “Make In India” week in Mumbai, India, February 13, 2016. (Danish Siddiqui/Reuters)

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

1. Indian Prime Minister Modi earns points for his “Make in India” campaign. Attesting to the increasing vitality and quality of India’s automobile industry, Maruti Suzuki, a special joint venture set up in 1983 between India’s Maruti Udyog and Japan’s Suzuki, began exporting to Japan its new hatchback automobile, the Baleno. Although Suzuki has been operating with Maruti in India for decades, this is the first time an Indian-made car is available for export to the Japanese market. Read more »

To Understand China’s Economic Signals, Start With the Four Comprehensives

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
A trainee walks past a communist party logo as he attends a training course at the communist party school called China Executive Leadership Academy of Pudong in Shanghai, September 24, 2012. China's Communist Party has dramatically stepped up its training of the country's roughly 40 million party and government officials in the past decade. With public scrutiny of cadre behaviour growing via social media, the party is likely to call for continued, and deepened, cadre education at the upcoming 18th Party Congress. At the vanguard of this education drive, alongside a Central Party School in Beijing, are three "Executive Leadership Academies" which opened in 2005 for middle-ranking and senior officials in Shanghai, Yan'an and Jinggangshan. The curriculum covers Marxism, Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought, but students may also take finance courses, receive in-depth media training or role-play crisis management scenarios on everything from disease outbreaks to train wrecks. REUTERS/Carlos Barria (CHINA - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY BUSINESS LOGO) A trainee walks past a communist party logo as he attends a training course at the communist party school called China Executive Leadership Academy of Pudong in Shanghai, September 24, 2012. China's Communist Party has dramatically stepped up its training of the country's roughly 40 million party and government officials in the past decade. (Carlos Barria/Reuters).

John Fei is a program officer for the Asia Security Initiative at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The views expressed here represent those of the author, and not those of the MacArthur Foundation or any other organization.

The recent drama surrounding China’s economy reveals contradictions in the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) monetary and fiscal management policies. Witness the rare, and highly scripted, appearances of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) governor Zhou Xiaochuan or the China Securities Regulatory Commission’s (CSRC) regulatory flip-flop on circuit-breaker mechanisms imposed on trading. While there has been a plethora of analyses regarding the need for improved communication and greater independence of organizations such as the PBOC, less has been said about how the recent spate of economic events relates to the CCP’s leadership doctrine. Read more »

Is China Finally Fed Up With Kim Jong-un’s North Korea?

by Guest Blogger for Scott A. Snyder
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reacts as he watches a long range rocket launch in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang February 7, 2016. (KCNA) North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reacts as he watches a long range rocket launch in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang February 7, 2016. (KCNA)

Theresa Lou is a research associate for the International Institutions and Global Governance program at the Council on Foreign Relations.  This article originally appeared in The Diplomat. Read more »

A Hard Landing for Chinese “Parachute Kids”?

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
A student eats dinner at Evergrande soccer academy in Qingyuan, southern China December 3, 2015. Picture taken December 3. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu A Chinese student eats dinner at a soccer academy. In recent years, the number of “parachute kids” studying in the United States without their parents has grown significantly. (Tyrone Siu/Reuters)

Pei-Yu Wei is an intern for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

On February 17, 2016, three Chinese “parachute kids” were sentenced to prison after bullying their classmate last March in Rowland Heights, California. Yunyao “Helen” Zhai, Xinlei “John” Zhang, and Yuhan “Coco” Yang, were part of a group of twelve who kidnapped and assaulted a classmate over unsettled restaurant bills and arguments over a boy. After luring the victim to meet with them, the bullies took her to a park where they repeatedly beat her, kicked her with high-heels, and burned her with cigarette butts. Zhai, Zhang, and Yang were arrested, while the rest of the group fled, some reportedly back to China. Initially charged with torture, kidnapping, and assault, all three of the defendants plead no contest to the kidnapping and assault charges. In return, the torture charge was dropped. Zhai, Yang, and Zhang were sentenced to thirteen, ten, and six years, respectively, and will be immediately deported after completing their terms.

Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of March 4, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Harry-harris-Abe Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (R) shakes hands with U.S. Navy Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr., Commander of the United States Pacific Command, before talks at Abe’s official residence in Tokyo, Japan, February 16, 2016. (Franck Robichon/Reuters)

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

1. U.S. admiral proposes reviving naval coalition with Australia, India, and Japan. On Wednesday, Admiral Harry B. Harris, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, proposed reviving an informal strategic coalition between the U.S., Australian, Indian, and Japanese navies. Although Harris did not specifically name China in the proposal, and instead mentioned powerful nations seeking to “bully smaller nations,” the alliance would likely serve as a military tool to balance China’s maritime expansion in the Indo-Pacific region. Read more »

Podcast: China’s Millenials: Ambitious, Bold, and Dissatisfied

by Elizabeth C. Economy
China-millenials-rock-concert A rock fan gestures as he crowd surfs during a performance at the 2012 Strawberry Music Festival at Tongzhou Canal Park in Beijing, April 29, 2012. (Barry Huang/Reuters)

This week I interview Eric Fish, content producer at the Asia Society, whose wonderful new book, China’s Millennials: The Want Generation, gives us a fascinating insider’s look at China’s youth today. Fish discovers an informed youth that is finding its voice on issues such as the environment, women’s rights, and the rule of law, and pressing for change. They are also nationalistic and strong supporters of Chinese territorial claims. Read more »

The New UN Sanctions and Prospects for North Korea’s Denuclearization

by Scott A. Snyder
The United Nations Security Council votes to approve a resolution that would dramatically tighten existing restrictions on North Korea at the United Nations Headquarters in New York March 2, 2016. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters) The United Nations Security Council votes to approve a resolution that would dramatically tighten existing restrictions on North Korea at the United Nations Headquarters in New York March 2, 2016. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

The UN Security Council (UNSC) has passed Resolution 2270 condemning North Korea for its January 6 nuclear test and February 7 missile launch. The language of the new resolution greatly expands the breadth and depth of previous sanctions resolutions (1695, 1718, 1874, 2087, and 2094) on North Korea, but its impact ultimately will depend on political will of member states, particularly China, to enforce implementation. Read more »

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

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
North-Korean-South-Korean-missiles Foreign visitors walk past models of a North Korean Scud-B missile (1st R) and South Korean missiles at the Korean War Memorial Museum in Seoul, May 26, 2009. (Jo Yong-Hak/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Sungtae “Jacky” Park, Ariella Rotenberg, Gabriel Walker, and Pei-Yu Wei look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. South Korea tells China to back off on THAAD. This Wednesday, Jeong Yeon-guk, South Korea’s presidential spokesperson, said that the decision to deploy the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system was “a matter to be decided in accordance with security and national interests.” The statement was in response to Chinese Ambassador to South Korea Qiu Guohong’s unusually brash comments that the deployment of the system “could destroy bilateral relations in an instant.Read more »

Xi Jinping’s Virtual Political Reality

by Elizabeth C. Economy
People watch a TV showing of a huge screen shows a news broadcast of China's Vice President Xi Jinping at the 18th Communist Party Congress at a crossroads in Shanghai November 8, 2012. REUTERS/Aly Song (CHINA - Tags: POLITICS) People watch as a huge screen shows a news broadcast of China's Vice President Xi Jinping at the 18th Communist Party Congress at a crossroads in Shanghai November 8, 2012. Since assuming the presidency later in 2012, Xi has introduced new restrictions on foreign and domestic media in China. (Aly Song/Reuters)

Xi Jinping is the gift that keeps on giving. Scarcely a week goes by in which he does not announce a new policy initiative or adopt some measure that reverberates around the world. I often find myself skimming the news anxiously to see “What has Xi Jinping done today?” Yet, increasingly, I find myself asking, not “what” but rather “why” he is doing what he is doing. Read more »