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Asia Unbound

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

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How China Sees THAAD

by Guest Blogger for Scott A. Snyder
A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is launched during a successful intercept test, in this undated handout photo provided by the U.S. Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency. THAAD provides the U.S. military a land-based, mobile capability to defend against short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, intercepting incoming missiles inside and outside the earth's atmosphere. (Reuters/U.S. Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency/Handout via Reuters) A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is launched during a successful intercept test, in this undated handout photo provided by the U.S. Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency. THAAD provides the U.S. military a land-based, mobile capability to defend against short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, intercepting incoming missiles inside and outside the earth's atmosphere. (Reuters/U.S. Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency/Handout via Reuters)

Sungtae “Jacky” Park is research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations.

In February, the United States and South Korea decided to begin official discussions on deploying the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system on the Korean Peninsula. In response, Chinese Ambassador to South Korea Qiu Guohong said that deployment of the system could destroy the Beijing-Seoul relationship “in an instant.” The floor leader of South Korea’s ruling Saenuri party, Won Yoo-cheol, calling Qiu’s remarks “rude,” said that they “disregarded the sovereignty and the security of the Republic of Korea.” While some analysts see China’s blunt position on this issue as a way to drive a wedge in the U.S.-Korea alliance, Beijing’s motivations are in fact defensive. China’s leadership is concerned about THAAD at the strategic level and sees the system as part of a broader U.S. strategy to contain China. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of April 1, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Kolkata-collapse Firefighters and rescue workers search for victims at the site of an under-construction overpass after it collapsed in Kolkata, India, March 31, 2016. (Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters)

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

1. Anger, grief, and questions linger over debris of collapsed overpass in Kolkata. The collapse of the a major overpass under construction in Kolkata, India, has left officials and citizens scrambling for answers. Located in a densely populated market area, more than one hundred people were crushed by falling debris, and at least twenty-five deaths have been confirmed. Read more »

Prevent the Destruction of Scarborough Shoal

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Boats at Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea are shown in this handout photo provided by Planet Labs, and captured on March 12, 2016. The head of U.S. naval operations, Admiral John Richardson said the U.S. military had seen Chinese activity around Scarborough Shoal in the northern part of the Spratly archipelago, about 125 miles (200 km) west of the Philippine base of Subic Bay. REUTERS/Planet Labs/Handout via Reuters ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY Boats at Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea are shown in this handout photo provided by Planet Labs, and captured on March 12, 2016. The head of U.S. naval operations, Admiral John Richardson said the U.S. military had seen Chinese activity around Scarborough Shoal in the northern part of the Spratly archipelago, about 125 miles (200 km) west of the Philippine base of Subic Bay. (Courtesy Reuters/Planet Labs).

Captain Sean R. Liedman currently serves as the U.S. Navy Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.  Previously, he was the commander of Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing Eleven operating the P-8A and P-3C maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft. He has twice served in the Air Warfare Division on the Chief of Naval Operation’s staff and also as the executive assistant to the deputy commander of U.S. Central Command.  The conclusions and opinions expressed are his own and do not reflect the official position of the U.S. government.

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Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of March 25, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Jakarta-ride-app-protests Taxi drivers take part in a protest rally to demand that the government prohibit ride-hailing apps in Jakarta, Indonesia, March 22, 2016. (Garry Lotulung/Reuters)

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

1. Indonesians protest ride-hailing apps. Traffic in notoriously congested Jakarta came to a near standstill this week when approximately ten thousand taxi drivers protested popular ride-hailing apps like Grab, Go-Jek, and Uber, which have driven down taxi fares in the city. Some of the protesters turned violent and attacked other taxis not participating in the protests, leading to the arrest of eighty-three individuals. Read more »

Podcast: The U.S.-China Military Scorecard: Who’s on Top?

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Chinese-military-parade Soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army of China arrive on their armored vehicles at Tiananmen Square during the military parade marking the seventieth anniversary of the end of World War II, in Beijing, China, September 3, 2015. (Damir Sagolj/Reuters)

The superiority of the American military relative to that of any other country in the Asia Pacific has long been a defining feature of the region’s security landscape. Yet, as China continues to invest heavily in its military while U.S. investment contracts, America’s relative advantage is diminishing. What would happen if the United States and China came into conflict over Taiwan or the Spratly Islands? What is the relative likelihood that China would unleash a cyberattack on infrastructure targets in the United States? Read more »

Pharmaceutical PPPs and China’s Contribution to Global Health Security

by Yanzhong Huang
Shelves displaying medicines are seen at a pharmacy in Shanghai, China, November 27, 2015. China may more actively participate in global health innovation if it takes up more pharmaceutical public-private partnerships. Picture taken November 27, 2015. (Aly Song/Reuters) Shelves displaying medicines are seen at a pharmacy in Shanghai, China, November 27, 2015. China may more actively participate in global health innovation if it takes up more pharmaceutical public-private partnerships. Picture taken November 27, 2015. (Aly Song/Reuters)

One of the major challenges in developing new medical countermeasures against threats to global health security—be it a new flu pandemic or rapid spread of a neglected disease—is the lack of an underlying commercial market to support the financial investment needed for expeditious drug development and scale-up. This challenge was demonstrated at the outset of the 2014 Ebola outbreak: even though the lethal virus was known for nearly forty years, there was no cure or vaccine on the market. Paradoxically, while political attention to global health issues has revved up since the Ebola outbreak, funding is as short as ever when it comes to research and development (R&D) to address novel or neglected diseases. The funding shortage could be exacerbated by competing global challenges such as the need to raise money for funding the initiatives of the COP21 and implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of March 18, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Bangladesh-bank-theft Maia Santos Deguito, branch manager of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC), rubs her eyes as she testifies during a Senate hearing of money laundering involving the theft of $81 million from the U.S. account of the Bangladesh Bank, at the Philippine Senate in Manila, March 17, 2016. (Erik De Castro/Reuters)

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

1. Bangladeshi bank chief resigns after $101 million cyber theft. The governor of Bangladesh’s central bank stepped down in the wake of a financial heist involving hackers, casinos, and multiple Asian nations. In early February, $81 million were transferred electronically from Bangladesh’s Federal Reserve Bank of New York account to the Philippines, mainly to accounts at the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation. The funds were eventually laundered through casinos, which are not required to adhere to some of the nation’s money-laundering regulations. Read more »

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 »