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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 "Corruption"

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of July 29, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Xi-Putin-meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin during a welcoming ceremony in Beijing, China, June 25, 2016. (Mikhail Klimentyev/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Sherry Cho, Lincoln Davidson, Bochen Han, Theresa Lou, and Gabriella Meltzer look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. China and Russia to hold “routine” naval exercises in the South China Sea. China’s Ministry of National Defense announced on Thursday that China and Russia have scheduled cooperative naval exercises in the South China Sea for September. While China also stated that the naval exercises will be aimed at strengthening Russian-Chinese cooperation and are not directed at any other country, the announcement comes at a time of intensified strain between China and other Asian nations due to rival claims in the South China Sea. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of July 22, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Loretta-1MDB U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch announces the filing of civil forfeiture complaints seeking the forfeiture and recovery of more than $1 billion in assets associated with an international conspiracy to launder funds misappropriated from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB in Washington, July 20, 2016. (James Lawler Duggan/Reuters)

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

1. Justice Department announces action against 1MDB. The ongoing scandal surrounding Malaysian state investment fund 1MDB took a dramatic turn this week when the U.S. Justice Department announced plans to seize $1 billion in assets as part of an investigation into money laundering and funds improperly taken from 1MDB. While the fund was intended to boost Malaysia’s development, some of the money appears to have instead gone toward enriching Prime Minister Najib Razak, his stepson, and other associates. Read more »

The Impact of the U.S. Justice Department 1MDB Announcement on Malaysian Politics

by Joshua Kurlantzick
U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch announces the filing of civil forfeiture complaints seeking the forfeiture and recovery of more than $1 billion in assets associated with an international conspiracy to launder funds misappropriated from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB in Washington on July 20, 2016. (James Lawler Duggan/Reuters) U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch announces the filing of civil forfeiture complaints seeking the forfeiture and recovery of more than $1 billion in assets associated with an international conspiracy to launder funds misappropriated from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB in Washington on July 20, 2016. (James Lawler Duggan/Reuters)

I could write a six hundred word blog before getting to the point here, but I will get right to it: The 1MDB asset seizure is likely to have minimal impact on Malaysian domestic politics. To recap … the U.S. Justice Department this morning announced it was filing “civil-forfeiture complaints against more than $1 billion of assets allegedly acquired using funds misappropriated from a Malaysian economic development fund,” known as 1MDB, according to the Wall Street Journal, which has extensively covered the 1MDB saga. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of July 8, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Dhaka-ceremony People attend a candle light vigil for the victims of the attack on the Holey Artisan Bakery and the O'Kitchen Restaurant, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, July 3, 2016. (Adnan Abidi/Reuters)

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

1. Dhaka attacks designed to “reverberate globally.” Bangladesh is still reeling from last Friday when at least five Bangladeshi men stormed the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka’s affluent Gulshan neighborhood and unleashed horror within. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of June 17, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Tokyo Governor Yoichi Masuzoe bows deeply as he delivers his resignation speech at Tokyo metropolitan government assembly session in Tokyo, Japan on June 15, 2016. (Toru Hanai/Reuters) Tokyo Governor Yoichi Masuzoe bows deeply as he delivers his resignation speech at Tokyo metropolitan government assembly session in Tokyo, Japan on June 15, 2016. (Toru Hanai/Reuters)

Lincoln Davidson, Bochen Han, Theresa Lou, Gabriella Meltzer, Ayumi Teraoka, and James West look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Prominent Chinese lawyer facing possibility of lifetime imprisonment. The Chinese police have recommended prosecution on a charge of “subverting state power” for Zhou Shifeng, director of the Beijing Fengrui Law Firm whose arrest last summer invigorated a campaign to discredit and dismantle networks of rights-focused defense lawyers who have attempted to challenge the government. Zhou’s law firm took on many contentious cases about legal rights, representing the likes of dissident artist Ai Weiwei and Uighur academic Ilham Tohti. Read more »

How Could the Philippines’ Money Laundering Woes Affect Overseas Workers?

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Salud Bautista (R), president of PhilRem Service Corporation, a remittance and money changer company, answers questions from Senators, beside her lawyer, during a Senate hearing of money laundering involving $81 million stolen from Bangladesh's central bank, at the Philippine Senate in Manila April 19, 2016. REUTERS/Erik De Castro TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY Salud Bautista (R), president of PhilRem Service Corporation, a remittance and money changing company, answers questions from senators during a hearing at the Philippine Senate in Manila on money laundering involving $81 million stolen from Bangladesh's central bank on April 19, 2016. Greater scrutiny of PhilRem could have implications for other Philippine remittance services around the world. (Erik De Castro/Reuters)

Rachel Brown is a research associate in Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

In February, $81 million stolen from the central bank of Bangladesh’s account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York was laundered through the Philippines. Most observers worried about the security of the institutions involved. But equally if not more important is the potential impact on overseas Filipino workers. Increased scrutiny of vulnerabilities in the Philippines’ anti-money laundering provisions could make it harder for the over ten million Filipinos working abroad to send remittances home, as has occurred in many other developing nations. Globally, the Philippines is the third-highest recipient of remittances, which compromised 10 percent of GDP in 2014. These funds help fuel domestic consumption, and anything that affects the cost or ease of sending money to the nation will have significant economic implications. Read more »

Upheaval in South Korea’s National Assembly: Expect More Surprises

by Scott A. Snyder
Members of South Korean ruling Saenuri Party react as they watch a live TV broadcast reporting the results of parliamentary elections at the party headquarters in Seoul April 13, 2016. (Reuters/Jung Yeon-je/Pool) Members of South Korean ruling Saenuri Party react as they watch a live TV broadcast reporting the results of parliamentary elections at the party headquarters in Seoul April 13, 2016. (Reuters/Jung Yeon-je/Pool)

The first rule of watching South Korean elections is the same as the first rule for watching Korean TV dramas: be prepared to be surprised. In this respect, South Korea’s 2016 National Assembly electoral result delivered, as virtually no one predicted the magnitude of the failure of the ruling Saenuri party or its major standard bearers. The results left the former majority party in second place at 122 seats, well short of the 151 seats needed to exercise a majority in the 300-seat National Assembly. The first place Minjoo or Democratic Party of Korea, pruned by the departure of entrepreneur-turned-National Assemblyman Ahn Cheol-soo, who started his own People’s Party, captured 123 seats to become the largest party in the National Assembly. Ahn’s own start-up experience proved sufficient to lead the newly-established People’s Party to a better-than-expected thirty-eight seats, primarily centered in Korea’s southwestern Jeolla region. Read more »

Where Are All the Women in China’s Anticorruption Campaign?

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Lu Xiwen is seen on her way to work in Beijing, May 13, 2014. Lu, a deputy Communist Party boss in Beijing, and the vice mayor of Shanghai in charge of its experimental free trade zone are being investigated for suspected "serious breaches of discipline", the party said, using its usual euphemism for corruption. Picture taken May 13, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer Lü Xiwen is seen on her way to work in Beijing, May 13, 2014. Lü, a deputy Communist Party boss in Beijing, is one of the three highest-ranking female officials to have been investigated and punished for corruption during Xi Jinping’s ongoing anticorruption campaign. She was expelled from the Chinese Communist Party in January 2016. (Stringer/Reuters)

Rachel Brown is a research associate in Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

A glance through ChinaFile’s recently released visualization of individuals investigated in China’s ongoing anticorruption campaign to “swat flies and hunt tigers” makes one thing clear: the only place where tigresses are rarer than in a Siberian reserve is in the ranks of Chinese officialdom. Among the 1,462 officials whose cases were announced by the Chinese government, only sixty-nine are women. Of those women, only three are considered “tigers,” those who have at least a deputy ministerial or deputy provincial-level rank; women make up just over 2 percent of the “tigers” brought down by corruption. Read more »

Tough Choices in Afghanistan

by Guest blogger for Alyssa Ayres
U.S. Marines begin to form up their convoy at a staging area near Kandahar, Afghanistan, as they await orders to begin their trek to Kandahar to take control of the airfield on December 13, 2001 (Dave Martin/Reuters). U.S. Marines begin to form up their convoy at a staging area near Kandahar, Afghanistan, as they await orders to begin their trek to Kandahar to take control of the airfield on December 13, 2001 (Dave Martin/Reuters).

Robert M. Hathaway is a public policy fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC, where he is writing a book on leverage in foreign policy. Previously, he was director of the Wilson Center’s Asia program for sixteen years. Prior to joining the Wilson Center, he served for twelve years on the professional staff of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, focusing on South and East Asia. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of January 29, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Rajib-speech Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak delivers a speech at the opening of the ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur, November 21, 2015. (Olivia Harris/Reuters)

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

1. Malaysian prime minister evades corruption charges. Malaysia’s attorney general announced Tuesday that Prime Minister Najib Razak did not commit a crime in accepting a $680 million donation from the Saudi royal family in 2013. Najib has been under investigation for corruption since July, when investigative journalists unearthed documents alleging the prime minister had taken $680 million from a state development fund he had created. Read more »