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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 "Economics"

Podcast: The Paper Tigers and Hidden Dragons of China’s Tech Sector

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Paper-Tigers-Hidden-Dragons-2

Chinese President Xi Jinping has claimed that the direction of China’s technological development is “innovation, innovation and more innovation.” But besides prominent success stories like Huawei and Lenovo, how innovative are other companies in China’s tech sector? In this week’s Asia Unbound podcast I talk with Douglas Fuller, professor of business administration at Zhejiang University’s School of Management, about his upcoming book—possibly the best China book I have read all year—Paper Tigers, Hidden Dragons: Firms and the Political Economy of China’s Technological Development. Read more »

What Does the Rise of State Capitalism Mean for the World?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
petrobras Workers repair a tank of Brazil's state-run Petrobras oil company in Cubatao, Brazil, on April 12, 2016. (Paulo Whitaker/Reuters)

In just the past year, major scandals have erupted at several of the world’s most influential state-owned companies, with repercussions going far beyond the boardrooms. In Brazil, graft scandals centered on state-owned petroleum company Petrobras have triggered waves of arrests and played a role in the ongoing impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff. Meanwhile, in Malaysia investigations continue into allegations of massive irregularities in state fund 1MDB, allegations that have shaken the government of Prime Minister Najib tun Razak and reportedly triggered investigations into 1MDB in Singapore, Switzerland, the United States, Hong Kong, Luxembourg, the United Arab Emirates, and Malaysia. Read more »

A “Gut Check” on U.S.-China Policy

by Elizabeth C. Economy
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi hold a joint news conference after their meeting at the State Department in Washington, February 23, 2016. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi hold a joint news conference after their meeting at the State Department in Washington, February 23, 2016. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters).

At the end of March, I testified before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission on the economic aspects of the “rebalance” to Asia.  I have testified before the commission several times, know a number of the commission members, and typically enjoy the experience. This time was no different. However, I was struck by the number of “gut check” questions, as one commissioner put it—questions where the answer appears clear, even obvious, but with a bit more pushing becomes less clear and less obvious. Here are some of the “gut check” questions that the commissioners asked that have made me take another look:

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Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of March 25, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Jakarta-ride-app-protests Taxi drivers take part in a protest rally to demand that the government prohibit ride-hailing apps in Jakarta, Indonesia, March 22, 2016. (Garry Lotulung/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Ariella Rotenberg, Ayumi Teraoka, and Gabriel Walker look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Indonesians protest ride-hailing apps. Traffic in notoriously congested Jakarta came to a near standstill this week when approximately ten thousand taxi drivers protested popular ride-hailing apps like Grab, Go-Jek, and Uber, which have driven down taxi fares in the city. Some of the protesters turned violent and attacked other taxis not participating in the protests, leading to the arrest of eighty-three individuals. Read more »

Thailand’s State Capitalism

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Thaksin-red shirts A member of the pro-government "red shirt" group (C) holds a picture of ousted Thai former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra as she gather with others during a rally in Nakhon Pathom province on the outskirts of Bangkok, on April 5, 2014. (Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

Though former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whose family originally came from the northern suburbs of Chiang Mai, has lived in exile for years, in the Chiang Mai area, until the spring of 2014, it was almost as if he never left. Cab drivers displayed his photo on their dashboard right next to Buddha images and pictures of ancient Thai royals. Community radio stations broadcast his speeches from exile, and vendors in nearby villages sold posters of the politician grinning and T-shirts bearing his image. Billboards featuring Thaksin and other local politicians from his party dominated the landscape on the sides of roads. Read more »

State Capitalism and its Threats

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Thaksin-red shirts-2 A member of the pro-government "red shirt" group gestures and holds a picture of ousted Thai prime ministers Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra during a rally in Nakhon Pathom province on the outskirts of Bangkok, on May 11, 2014. (Chaiwat Subprasom/Reuters)

State capitalism poses five types of threats to democracy, global security, and the global economy.

One of the fears about state capitalism is that the state’s control of the economy, in democratic nations, will inexorably lead to state control of politics and a reduction in democratic freedoms. These fears are not totally misplaced. But when Western writers, politicians and other opinion leaders examine state capitalism, they tend to take an undifferentiated approach, treating all state capitalists alike, rather than examining each country in some more detail. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of March 11, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Modi-Make-in-India Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during the inauguration ceremony of the “Make In India” week in Mumbai, India, February 13, 2016. (Danish Siddiqui/Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Ariella Rotenberg, Gabriel Walker, and Pei-Yu Wei look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Indian Prime Minister Modi earns points for his “Make in India” campaign. Attesting to the increasing vitality and quality of India’s automobile industry, Maruti Suzuki, a special joint venture set up in 1983 between India’s Maruti Udyog and Japan’s Suzuki, began exporting to Japan its new hatchback automobile, the Baleno. Although Suzuki has been operating with Maruti in India for decades, this is the first time an Indian-made car is available for export to the Japanese market. Read more »

To Understand China’s Economic Signals, Start With the Four Comprehensives

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
A trainee walks past a communist party logo as he attends a training course at the communist party school called China Executive Leadership Academy of Pudong in Shanghai, September 24, 2012. China's Communist Party has dramatically stepped up its training of the country's roughly 40 million party and government officials in the past decade. With public scrutiny of cadre behaviour growing via social media, the party is likely to call for continued, and deepened, cadre education at the upcoming 18th Party Congress. At the vanguard of this education drive, alongside a Central Party School in Beijing, are three "Executive Leadership Academies" which opened in 2005 for middle-ranking and senior officials in Shanghai, Yan'an and Jinggangshan. The curriculum covers Marxism, Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought, but students may also take finance courses, receive in-depth media training or role-play crisis management scenarios on everything from disease outbreaks to train wrecks. REUTERS/Carlos Barria (CHINA - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY BUSINESS LOGO) A trainee walks past a communist party logo as he attends a training course at the communist party school called China Executive Leadership Academy of Pudong in Shanghai, September 24, 2012. China's Communist Party has dramatically stepped up its training of the country's roughly 40 million party and government officials in the past decade. (Carlos Barria/Reuters).

John Fei is a program officer for the Asia Security Initiative at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The views expressed here represent those of the author, and not those of the MacArthur Foundation or any other organization.

The recent drama surrounding China’s economy reveals contradictions in the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) monetary and fiscal management policies. Witness the rare, and highly scripted, appearances of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) governor Zhou Xiaochuan or the China Securities Regulatory Commission’s (CSRC) regulatory flip-flop on circuit-breaker mechanisms imposed on trading. While there has been a plethora of analyses regarding the need for improved communication and greater independence of organizations such as the PBOC, less has been said about how the recent spate of economic events relates to the CCP’s leadership doctrine. Read more »

Plunging Commodity Prices and the Impact on Malaysia

by Joshua Kurlantzick
najib-razak-budget Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak announces revisions to the fiscal budget in Putrajaya, Malaysia, on January 28, 2016. (Olivia Harris/Reuters)

Last month, Malaysia cut its 2016 growth forecast and slashed spending plans as the economy continues to suffer from falling oil prices. Oil and commodities are very important to Malaysia’s economy, with palm oil, in particular, being one of its foundations. Gas and rubber are also important sectors. So falling global commodity prices have hurt Malaysia badly. According to an article in the Straits Times, the Malaysian government has said that “each $1 drop in oil prices slashes RM 300 million [roughly $72 million] from its annual revenue.” Read more »

Podcast: Michael Pettis on the ABC’s of the Chinese Economy

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Pettis-China-economy-podcast An investor looks at an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, July 13, 2009. (Stringer/Reuters)

Peking University Professor of Finance Michael Pettis recently sat down with me to share his thoughts on what is going on in the Chinese economy, what the Chinese leadership needs to do to get back on track, and what it all means for the United States and the rest of the world. The takeaway: Hold on to your hats, we are in for a bumpy ride… but we are not falling off the cliff… yet.

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