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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 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 »

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.

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Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of April 19, 2013

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Members of the People's Liberation Army guard of honour stand with red flags during an official welcome ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing on April 15, 2013. (Courtesy Reuters/Jason Lee) Members of the People's Liberation Army guard of honour stand with red flags during an official welcome ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing on April 15, 2013. (Courtesy Reuters/Jason Lee)

Sharone Tobias and Will Piekos look at the top five stories in Asia this week.

1. China released a white paper on defense on Tuesday. The 2013 National Defense White Paper blamed Japan and the United States for the rise in tensions in the region (in so many words). It complained about neighboring countries for “making trouble over the Diaoyu islands,” referring to Japan. It also referenced the United States, saying, “some country has strengthened its Asia-Pacific military alliances, expanded its military presence in the region, and frequently makes the situation tenser.”
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China’s Brain Drain Gives Way to a Yuan Drain

by Elizabeth C. Economy
An employee seals a stack of yuan banknotes at a branch of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China in Huaibei, Anhui province on April 6, 2011.

An employee seals a stack of yuan banknotes at a branch of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China in Huaibei, Anhui province on April 6, 2011. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

China has long acknowledged that it has a problem with its best and brightest leaving the country to study and not returning. According to the Chinese Ministry of Education, only around a quarter of the 1.4 million Chinese students and scholars who have left the country since it opened up to the outside world in the late 1970s have returned. Now with its rapidly growing GDP and burgeoning state coffers, Beijing is in a position to try to turn the situation around. In 2008, it launched its “1000 Talents Program” designed to bring top notch global talent to China. By providing strong financial and research incentives to the some of the world’s leading lights scholars, the program has had some notable successes. It is too early to tell, however, how well these returnees—or foreign talent—will be able to adapt their talents from abroad to the political culture that many of them fled a decade or more ago.

Having made a head-start in addressing one of its problems of human capital, Beijing must now gird itself to address another. Even as China seems to be importing back its top academic talent, it appears to be on the brink of losing its top wealth-making talent. Read more »

Why We Aren’t China

by Evan A. Feigenbaum

My latest “DC Diary” column is out in India’s leading financial daily, the Business Standard.  The piece tries to hone in on some qualities that increasingly bind Indian and American business—qualities that, I think, got a bit lost amid the high-profile commercial diplomacy surrounding President Obama’s November 5-8 visit to India.

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