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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 "Disasters"

The Top Ten Stories in South Asia, 2015

by Alyssa Ayres
Afghans listen to a radio broadcast run by the Islamic State militants, in the eastern city of Jalalabad, Afghanistan, on December 19, 2015. Islamic State militants in eastern Afghanistan have taken to the airwaves to win recruits as they try to build strength and replace the Taliban as the leading force in the Islamist insurgency. Officials have been increasingly concerned by the broadcasts, which encourage young people to find a sense of direction in the radical movement (Parwiz Parwiz/Reuters). Afghans listen to a radio broadcast run by the Islamic State militants, in the eastern city of Jalalabad, Afghanistan, on December 19, 2015. Islamic State militants in eastern Afghanistan have taken to the airwaves to win recruits as they try to build strength and replace the Taliban as the leading force in the Islamist insurgency. Officials have been increasingly concerned by the broadcasts, which encourage young people to find a sense of direction in the radical movement (Parwiz Parwiz/Reuters).

Each of the past two years, I’ve done a roundup of the developments and stories that mattered the most in South Asia. In 2014, India’s historic national election and the coming together of Afghanistan’s hard-won unity government topped my list. The year before, Indian women’s political activism, and Nawaz Sharif’s election in Pakistan’s first transfer of power from one civilian to another, were my top two picks. Looking back at those posts compared with the ten events I’ve selected for 2015, this year suggests a markedly less hopeful mood. The most chilling development has been the steady trickle of reports about the self-proclaimed Islamic State and its presence in the region, particularly in Afghanistan, border areas of Pakistan, and possibly in Bangladesh. Other developments in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Maldives present a mixed picture of both progress and setbacks. Here is my selection of 2015’s most consequential stories in South Asia: Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of October 30, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Army soldiers load sacks of food aid on a helicopter to distribute in earthquake-stricken areas in Peshawar, Pakistan, October 27, 2015. (Khuram Parvez/Reuters) Army soldiers load sacks of food aid on a helicopter to distribute in earthquake-stricken areas in Peshawar, Pakistan, October 27, 2015. (Khuram Parvez/Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Sungtae “Jacky” Park, Ariella Rotenberg, and Gabriel Walker look at the top stories in Asia this week.

1. Earthquake survivors in Afghanistan and Pakistan appeal for shelter and supplies. Just six months after a devastating earthquake in Nepal, a 7.5-magnitude earthquake shook geographically vulnerable regions in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The epicenter was reported 196 kilometers below the Hindu Kush Mountains in Afghanistan. Although the earthquake occurred much deeper than the Nepal earthquake, close to four hundred people have been reported dead, thousands suffered injuries, and many homes were destroyed by the quake and its aftermath. Read more »

What’s Missing in the China Story?

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Rescue workers wearing chemical protective suits walk at the site of the explosions at the Binhai new district in Tianjin, China, August 14, 2015. Rescuers on Friday pulled one survivor from the wreckage of a warehouse in northeast China's Tianjin that was hit by two massive blasts, a city official told reporters at a briefing. REUTERS/Jason Lee Rescue workers wearing chemical protective suits walk at the site of the explosions at the Binhai new district in Tianjin, China, August 14, 2015. Rescuers on Friday pulled one survivor from the wreckage of a warehouse in northeast China's Tianjin that was hit by two massive blasts, a city official told reporters at a briefing. (Jason Lee/Courtesy Reuters)

Over the past month, there has been a lot of “China drama.” The volatility in the Chinese stock market, the yuan devaluation, and now the Tianjin warehouse explosion have all raised China chatter to a new level of anxiety. Some of the anxiety is understandable. These events have real consequences—above all for the Chinese people. At the urging of the Chinese government, tens of millions of Chinese moved to stake their fortunes not on real estate but on the stock market—the most unfortunate used their real estate as leverage to invest in the market and are now desperate for some good news. The Tianjin warehouse explosion has thus far left 121 Chinese dead, more than seven hundred injured, and over fifty still missing. Globally, the yuan devaluation has triggered a rate rethink by central bankers in Europe and the United States, and the stock market slide has contributed to steep drops in Asian and U.S. markets.

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Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of August 21, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Bangkok-bombing People pray at the Erawan Shrine, the site of Monday's deadly blast, in central Bangkok, Thailand, August 20, 2015. (Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Ayumi Teraoka, and Gabriel Walker look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. Bombing in Bangkok. On Monday evening a bomb exploded within the popular Erawan Shrine in Bangkok, killing at least twenty people and injuring over 120 more. Thai authorities are investigating a suspect identified as a foreigner, who was caught on CCTV footage leaving a large backpack near the shrine, in connection with the blast. Read more »

The Shanghai Stampede and Xi Jinping’s Lost Opportunity

by Elizabeth C. Economy
A woman lights a candle during a memorial ceremony for people who were killed in a stampede incident during a New Year's celebration on the Bund, in Shanghai January 2, 2015. The stampede killed at least 36 people, authorities said, but police denied reports it was caused by people rushing to pick up fake money thrown from a building overlooking the city's famous waterfront. REUTERS/Aly Song (CHINA - Tags: DISASTER SOCIETY) A woman lights a candle during a memorial ceremony for people who were killed in a stampede incident during a New Year's celebration on the Bund in Shanghai on January 2, 2015 (Aly Song/Courtesy Reuters).

In the wake of the New Year’s Eve stampede along the Bund in Shanghai that resulted in the death of almost forty people, Chinese President Xi Jinping wasted no time calling for hospitals to treat the injured and for an investigation to determine responsibility for the tragedy. Yet beyond that, his response, and that of the rest of the Chinese leadership, has been tone deaf, missing an important opportunity to demonstrate real leadership through compassion and understanding. Read more »

Why Air Disasters Keep Happening in and Around Indonesia

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Family members of passengers onboard AirAsia flight QZ8501 react at a waiting area in Juanda International Airport, Surabaya December 30, 2014. Indonesian rescuers saw bodies and luggage off the coast of Borneo island on Tuesday and officials said they were "95 percent sure" debris spotted in the sea was from a missing AirAsia plane with 162 people on board. Indonesia AirAsia's Flight QZ8501, an Airbus A320-200, lost contact with air traffic control early on Sunday during bad weather on a flight from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore. (Beawiharta/Courtesy: Reuters) Family members of passengers onboard AirAsia flight QZ8501 react at a waiting area in Juanda International Airport, Surabaya December 30, 2014. Indonesian rescuers saw bodies and luggage off the coast of Borneo island on Tuesday and officials said they were "95 percent sure" debris spotted in the sea was from a missing AirAsia plane with 162 people on board. Indonesia AirAsia's Flight QZ8501, an Airbus A320-200, lost contact with air traffic control early on Sunday during bad weather on a flight from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore. (Beawiharta/Courtesy: Reuters)

In the past year, Malaysia’s aviation industry has suffered an unprecedented number of tragedies. Although the odds of any person boarding a flight dying in a plane crash are about 1 in 11 million, three Malaysia-based aircraft have apparently gone down, with no survivors. The latest, AirAsia Flight QZ8501, had been traveling from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore when it vanished over the Java Sea.
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Better Planning This Time for Philippine Typhoon

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Typhoon-Hagupit Children look out of a window at an evacuation center set up for the coastal community to shelter from Typhoon Hagupit, near Manila, on December 8, 2014. Hundreds of thousands of Filipinos began to return to their homes battered by a powerful typhoon over the weekend, but the nation collectively breathed a sigh of relief as a massive evacuation plan appeared to minimize fatalities (Cheryl Gagalac/Courtesy: Reuters).

As of Sunday night on the U.S. East Coast, Typhoon Hagupit had made landfall in the Philippines and moved across parts of the country. The typhoon had weakened and appears to not pack the force of Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated parts of the Philippines last year. Still, Hagupit already has caused significant damage. Casualty and damage figures remain incomplete, but initial estimates suggest that at least 20 people have been killed and thousands of homes have been destroyed by Typhoon Hagupit, with the damage yet to be tolled from the storm’s movement over Metro Manila. Typhoon Hagupit also may have set back some of the reconstruction that has taken place in areas hit by Haiyan last year. Read more »

Why Was Vietnam Better Prepared Than the Philippines for Typhoon Haiyan?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
A man sits at his damaged shop in the aftermath of typhoon Haiyan in Vietnam's northern Quang Ninh province, 180 km (112 miles) from Hanoi on November 11, 2013. (Nguyen Huy Kham/Courtesy Reuters) A man sits at his damaged shop in the aftermath of typhoon Haiyan in Vietnam's northern Quang Ninh province, 180 km (112 miles) from Hanoi on November 11, 2013. (Nguyen Huy Kham/Courtesy Reuters)

Over the past week, as aid trickled and now is flowing into the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, some broader questions about the country’s preparedness—or lack thereof—have arisen. Although it would be unfair to compare the Philippines, a country with a GDP per capita of around $2,600, with richer countries hit by natural disasters (such as Thailand in the 2004 tsunami), it is worth asking why the Philippines seemed much less prepared for Haiyan than neighboring Vietnam, a country with a GDP per capita of only $1,600. Although the typhoon also passed through Vietnam, albeit after slowing down somewhat over the water in between, Vietnam suffered fourteen deaths, as compared to what appears to be thousands of fatalities in the Philippines. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of November 15, 2013

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
People wait to be airlifted to Manila as Ospreys from the U.S. Navy Ship (USNS) Charles Drew taxi on the tarmac in the background, at Tacloban airport on November 14, 2013 (Wolfgang Rattay/Courtesy Reuters). People wait to be airlifted to Manila as Ospreys from the U.S. Navy Ship (USNS) Charles Drew taxi on the tarmac in the background, at Tacloban airport on November 14, 2013 (Wolfgang Rattay/Courtesy Reuters).

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

1. China announces sweeping reforms. A wide range of reforms were announced following China’s third plenum of the Eighteenth Party Congress, with many commentators surprised by the scope of  President Xi Jinping’s reform campaign. Though they are too expansive to go into detail here, issues that were tackled included: relaxation of the one-child policy, abolishment of the re-education through labor system, state-owned enterprise reform, interest rate and currency regime liberalization, and establishment of an economic reform working group and a new State Security Council. Read more »

Typhoon Haiyan, the Philippines, the United States, and China

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Evacuated residents prepare to get onto a U.S. military plane at Tacloban airport in central Philippines on November 13, 2013, five days after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the area. (Bobby Yip/Courtesy Reuters) Evacuated residents prepare to get onto a U.S. military plane at Tacloban airport in central Philippines on November 13, 2013, five days after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the area. (Bobby Yip/Courtesy Reuters)

As more news of the extensive destruction wrought by Typhoon Haiyan rolls in—some storm experts are saying that it is the most powerful typhoon ever to hit land—I have spoken with a number of reporters in the United States and Asia about how the relief effort will be impacted by U.S. relations with the Philippines and the Philippines’ relationships with other major regional powers. The United States and the Philippines, a relationship always fraught with the challenges of former colony/colonizer history and ties between Filipinos in the United States and the Philippines, has clearly been on the upswing over the past five years. Read more »