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Asia Unbound

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

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Showing posts for "U.S.-China Relations"

Michelle Obama’s China Choice: Public Diplomacy vs. Politics

by Elizabeth C. Economy
U.S. first lady Michelle Obama (L) participates in a language class with teacher Crystal Chen for pre-school students at the Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School ahead of her upcoming trip to China, in Washington on March 4, 2014. (Yuri Gripas/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. first lady Michelle Obama (L) participates in a language class with teacher Crystal Chen for pre-school students at the Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School ahead of her upcoming trip to China, in Washington on March 4, 2014. (Yuri Gripas/Courtesy Reuters)

Public diplomacy matters, but it is no substitute for policy. As First Lady Michelle Obama prepares to travel to China, she should consider weaving some policy into what appears to be almost entirely a week-long public diplomacy push. With her mother and two daughters in tow, the first lady will be visiting educational institutions and historical sites and discussing education in the United States and China. As media have reported, Mrs. Obama will “talk to young people about the power of education to help them achieve their aspirations,” speak with them about their lives, and tell them “about America and the values we hold dear.” Read more »

Piekos and Tobias: China’s Place in ‘House of Cards’

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Cast member Kevin Spacey poses at the premiere for the second season of the television series "House of Cards" at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles, California on February 13, 2014. (Mario Anzuoni/Courtesy Reuters) Cast member Kevin Spacey poses at the premiere for the second season of the television series "House of Cards" at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles, California on February 13, 2014. (Mario Anzuoni/Courtesy Reuters)

Will Piekos is a program coordinator and Sharone Tobias is a research associate in the Council on Foreign Relation’s Asia Studies program.

Warning: This blog post contains spoilers for House of Cards.

Netflix’s original series House of Cards returned with a second season on Valentine’s Day this year. Read more »

Kerry and the Diplomatic Dead End With North Korea

by Scott A. Snyder
kerry-in-beijing U.S. secretary of state John Kerry walks off after a news conference in Beijing on February 14, 2014. Kerry urged the Chinese to use “all of the means of persuasion that they have” to achieve a denuclearized North Korea (Evan Vucci/Courtesy Reuters).

Secretary of State John Kerry’s first visit to Northeast Asia last April was consumed with near-term crisis management since it coincided with the peak of regional tensions driven by North Korea’s provocative rhetoric. In contrast, his second visit to the region last week occurred against the backdrop of apparent easing of inter-Korean tensions and afforded a better environment for long-term coordination toward North Korea. Unfortunately, the visit appears to have illuminated the dead ends the administration faces on denuclearization of North Korea rather than showing a way forward. Washington has placed its bet on pressure from Beijing as the best hope for turning Pyongyang back to denuclearization, but Kerry’s conversations in Bejing raise questions about whether this route can really succeed. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of January 31, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
srilanka_humanrights A demonstrator from the Frontline Socialist Party shouts slogans during a protest against Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa's government as they commemorate the International Human Rights Day in Colombo on December 10,2013. Demonstrators from Frontline Socialist Party protest against abductions and murders in the final stage of the war against Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (Dinuka Liyanawatte/Courtesy Reuters).

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

1. U.S. envoy to visit Sri Lanka as pressure builds for war crimes inquiry. Three days after the United States announced that it would seek a resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Council calling for an investigation into alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka, the U.S. State Department sent Nisha Biswal, assistant secretary of state for Central and South Asian affairs, to meet with government officials in the country. The ruling Sri Lankan government has not welcomed investigations into war crimes during the thirty-year civil war against the Tamil Tigers, though the UN Human Rights Council has already passed two resolutions pressing the Sri Lankan government to do so. Read more »

Parker and Rutherford: Countering China’s Rise Through a U.S.-Russia Coalition

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and U.S. President Barack Obama are pictured on a video screen installed in the press centre of the G20 Summit in Strelna near St. Petersburg on September 5, 2013. (Grigory Dukor/Courtesy Reuters) Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and U.S. President Barack Obama are pictured on a video screen installed in the press centre of the G20 Summit in Strelna near St. Petersburg on September 5, 2013. (Grigory Dukor/Courtesy Reuters)

William J. Parker III, PhD, is a military fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and Alanna C. Rutherford, JD, is a partner at a New York law firm and a CFR Term Member.

Let’s face it; the United States and Russia are not exactly best of friends right now as President Putin continues to challenge the super power moniker the United States currently enjoys.[i] But isn’t it ironic that following a fifty-year cold war with the former Soviet Union, the United States and Russia find themselves in a situation where their collective best option to counter the rising power of China may be each other? Read more »

Robert S. Spalding III: Being Firm With China

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Honour guard troops march during a welcoming ceremony for visiting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on May 6, 2013. (Petar Kujundzic/Courtesy Reuters) Honour guard troops march during a welcoming ceremony for visiting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on May 6, 2013. (Petar Kujundzic/Courtesy Reuters)

Robert S. Spalding III is a military fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

The Air Defense Identification Zone recently announced by the Chinese was most likely not hastily done. The Chinese do not do anything hastily. It is part of a return to preeminence for a nation that feels slighted by history. Assailed on all sides by invaders and conquerors, China has had to bide its time while it rebuilt its devastated economy. While still a work in progress, Beijing now feels sufficiently confident about the future to assert its military rise. It’s important to remember, however, when it comes to its military rise, China is not evil, nor is China good. China is merely pursuing its own national interests. Read more »

Chinese Predictions for Cyberspace in 2014: Intense Competition and National Conflict

by Adam Segal
An officer of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) uses a string to ensure that the soldiers making up a guard of honour, stand in a straight line before an official welcoming ceremony for Afghan President Hamid Karzai outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on September 27, 2013. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Courtesy Reuters) An officer of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) uses a string to ensure that the soldiers making up a guard of honour, stand in a straight line before an official welcoming ceremony for Afghan President Hamid Karzai outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on September 27, 2013. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Courtesy Reuters)

The U.S.-China cybersecurity working group recently met for the second time during the first week in December. There have been no public reports of what was discussed or what progress, if any, was made. As with many of these dialogues, one of the main goals is not concrete deliverables, but reducing mistrust between the two sides. Yet some recent articles suggest that mutual understanding is going to be hard to find, and that some in China see cyberspace as increasingly antagonistic and dangerous. Read more »

Cyberspace Cannot Live Without Sovereignty, Says Lu Wei

by Adam Segal
Demonstrators from the pro-China "Caring Hong Kong Power" group protest 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 on July 9, 2013. (Bobby Yip/Courtesy Reuters) Demonstrators from the pro-China "Caring Hong Kong Power" group protest 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 on July 9, 2013. (Bobby Yip/Courtesy Reuters)

Last week at a meeting which spent most of its time focusing on how U.S. cyberspace policy could recover in the wake of the Snowden revelations, the panel was asked whether there was any good news to report. I mentioned, with what I thought was some hedging, the June 2013 report from the third UN Group of Government Experts (GGE) on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security . Read more »

Drawing Lines in the East China Sea

by Sheila A. Smith
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks after a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing December 4, 2013 U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks after a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing December 4, 2013 (Lintao Zhang/Courtesy Reuters).

When Vice President Joe Biden originally planned his trip to Northeast Asia, the policy agenda for each of his stops differed. In Japan, the Trans-Pacific Partnership was high on his list; in Beijing, it was cementing his friendship with China’s new leader, Xi Jinping; and, in Seoul the road ahead in coping with Pyongyang seemed most important. Liz Economy does a terrific job of evaluating the vice president’s impact in China, and Scott Snyder offers his insights on how Biden managed the sensitive diplomatic moment in Seoul. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of December 6, 2013

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (L) inside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on December 4, 2013. (Lintao Zhang/Courtesy Reuters) Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (L) inside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on December 4, 2013. (Lintao Zhang/Courtesy Reuters)

Darcie Draudt, Will Piekos, and Sharone Tobias look at the top stories in Asia this week.

1. White House declares China’s East China Sea air defense zone (ADIZ) “unacceptable.” The White House called China’s new air defense zone “unacceptable” on Thursday but stopped short of calling for China to rescind the declaration. Imposed on November 23, the ADIZ means that all aircraft must report flight plans to Chinese authorities and reply promptly to identification inquiries. The United States, Japan, and South Korea have all sent military aircraft through the zone without informing Beijing since it was first imposed. U.S. vice president Joe Biden said that he had “very direct” talks about U.S. concerns over the ADIZ while meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping this week. Read more »