CFR Presents

Asia Unbound

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

Posts by Category

Showing posts for "Political Reform"

A Chill, Ill Wind Blows Across China

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Pan Shiyi, chairman of SOHO China, attends a session at the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) annual conference in Boao town, Hainan province on April 8, 2013 (Tyrone Siu/Courtesy Reuters). Pan Shiyi, chairman of SOHO China, attends a session at the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) annual conference in Boao town, Hainan province on April 8, 2013 (Tyrone Siu/Courtesy Reuters).

I have to give Beijing credit. When the Chinese leaders put Wang Qishan in charge of the anti-corruption effort, they knew what they were doing. Widely believed to be one of the most competent of the new leadership, he has ensured that no policy arena has as much energy behind it as his anti-corruption campaign. Other priorities such as building a social welfare net, protecting the environment, and reforming the economy are still in the familiar planning and blueprint stages. Wang, in contrast, has spearheaded campaigns against multinationals, Chinese companies, individual Chinese officials, and businesspeople. Scarcely a week goes by when one corruption case or another does not make Chinese headlines. Read more »

Death Penalty for Polluters: China’s Use of Criminal Law for Economic Ends

by Guest Blogger for Yanzhong Huang
A security personnel stands guard at the Shanghai's No. 1 People's Intermediate Court. (Aly Song/Courtesy Reuters) A security personnel stands guard at the Shanghai's No. 1 People's Intermediate Court. (Aly Song/Courtesy Reuters)

In the previous months, I have addressed air quality, environmental concerns, and food safety inadequacies. While the blame can be shared, is there legal recourse? Margaret K. Lewis, an associate professor of law at Seton Hall Law School and expert on China’s legal system, will pick up on China’s use of criminal law in addressing and combating those who intentionally and blatantly do harm. Read more »

Knowing Autumn From a Falling Leaf: The GSK Probe and China’s Business Environment

by Yanzhong Huang
A flag (L) bearing the logo of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) flutters next to a Chinese national flag outside a GlaxoSmithKline office building in Shanghai on July 12, 2013. A flag (L) bearing the logo of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) flutters next to a Chinese national flag outside a GlaxoSmithKline office building in Shanghai on July 12, 2013. (Aly Song/Courtesy Reuters)

There is a Chinese saying, Yi Ye Zhi Qiu, which means “Knowing that autumn is coming by seeing a single leaf fall.” This expression is fully applicable to the current business environment for foreign pharmaceutical firms in China.  Indeed, the recent investigation of pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline’s involvement in commercial bribery in China should send a chilly signal to all multinational pharmaceuticals aspiring to make big money in the China market: the go-go years are over. Read more »

China’s Anti-Corruption Campaign: Old Wine in an Old Bottle

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Wang Qishan, now China's anti-corruption chief, attends a plenary meeting of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 8, 2012. Wang Qishan, now China's anti-corruption chief, attends a plenary meeting of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 8, 2012. (Jason Lee/Courtesy Reuters)

Chinese leaders appear to have decided that the risk of a long slow death by “corruption cancer” is preferable to undergoing a high-risk operation of real political reform. The recent arrest of another batch of Chinese anti-corruption campaigners begs the question of how seriously Chinese leaders want to address the admittedly life-threatening corruption problem.  Former Chinese president Hu Jintao and his successor Xi Jinping made headlines last November by declaring that if the Communist Party failed to address corruption, it could lead to the death of not only the Party but also the Chinese state. To demonstrate the seriousness of the problem, Xi Jinping even appointed one of the Party’s most capable officials, Wang Qishan, to lead the anti-corruption effort. Read more »

Responding to Disease Outbreaks: Is China’s Move Toward Greater Transparency Irreversible?

by Yanzhong Huang
Passengers walk past temperature detectors. Passengers walk past temperature detectors. (Stringer Taiwan/Courtesy Reuters)

Yesterday, I testified before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) at the  “Food and Drug Safety, Public Health, and the Environment in China” hearing. My testimony focused on China’s response to public health emergencies. As the H7N9 virus appears to be burning itself out, the consensus among public health scholars and practitioners is that China has been much more transparent and open in handing this outbreak than it was in 2003 during the SARS epidemic. In fact, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan thanked China for their speed in sharing relevant information. Read more »

China’s Environmental Politics: A Game of Crisis Management

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Police officers stand guard as residents raise a banner to protest against a planned refinery in Kunming, Yunnan province, on May 4, 2013. Police officers stand guard as residents raise a banner to protest against a planned refinery in Kunming, Yunnan province, on May 4, 2013. (Wong Campion/Courtesy Reuters)

Kunming, the capital city of Yunnan province, has become the latest city in China to be rocked by environmental protest. On May 4 and then again on May 16, 1,000 to 2,000 protesters took to the streets to demonstrate against the construction of an oil and chemical refinery in the nearby city of Anning by the state-run oil company China National Petroleum Corporation. Read more »

The Dalai Lama’s Self-Immolation Dilemma

by Yanzhong Huang
Portraits of Tibetans who killed themselves in self-immolation are seen behind candles in a candlelight vigil. Portraits of Tibetans who killed themselves in self-immolation are seen behind candles in a candlelight vigil. (Pichi Chuang/Reuters)

Beginning in February 2009, a number of self-immolation incidents have occurred in the greater Tibetan region in China. Since then, at least 116 Tibetan monks and farmers have chosen to set themselves on fire. Read more »

The China Model and Democracy

by Joshua Kurlantzick
China's newly-elected premier Li Keqiang smiles as he takes questions during a news conference after the closing session of the National People's Congress in Beijing March 17, 2013. China's newly-elected premier Li Keqiang smiles as he takes questions during a news conference after the closing session of the National People's Congress in Beijing March 17, 2013 (Jason Lee/Courtesy Reuters).

The new Chinese leadership, including premier Li Keqiang, have at least rhetorically recognized that China’s future development depends on further economic, social, and political reforms. In his first major speech as premier, Li said, “Reforming is about curbing government power … It is a self-imposed revolution that will require real sacrifice, and it will be painful.” Read more »

Dead Pigs in Shanghai: Failing Food Safety Regulations

by Yanzhong Huang
A villager cuts meat from a dead pig in the Zhulin village of Jiaxing March 12, 2013. A villager cuts meat from a dead pig in the Zhulin village of Jiaxing March 12, 2013. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

Last week, thousands of dead pigs were discovered floating in the Huangpu River, which supplies drinking water to Shanghai’s 23 million residents. As of Tuesday evening, sanitation workers have retrieved nearly 6,000 carcasses from the river. The municipal authorities insist that the city’s water supply has not been contaminated, but they did admit that the dead pigs have tested positive for the PCV virus (which causes a sometimes fatal pig disease) as well as other pathogens, including foot and mouth disease (FMD), swine fever, hog cholera, and blue-ear pig disease. Initial investigations have also identified Jiaxing, a city in the neighboring Zhejiang province, as the origin of the dead pigs. Read more »

Desperately Seeking Xi Jinping

by Elizabeth C. Economy
China's Communist Party chief Xi Jinping looks on during his meeting with U.N. General Assembly President Vuk Jeremic at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on December 27, 2012. China's Communist Party chief Xi Jinping looks on during his meeting with U.N. General Assembly President Vuk Jeremic at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on December 27, 2012. (Wang Zhao/Reuters)

When a noted American columnist wrote recently that he expected Xi Jinping to spur real reform because reform is “in his genes,” I realized just how desperate we had become. In fact, the sound of speculation around Xi has become deafening. Even though he will not formally assume the presidency of China until March, Xi’s every utterance is now being fed into an evolving Xi Jinping narrative. The reality, however, is that we know very little of Xi’s actual policy proclivities save his desire for a more informal and direct style of governance and a Communist Party that is corruption-free. Read more »