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Obama’s Big China Win at APEC: Not What You Think

by Elizabeth C. Economy
U.S. President Barack Obama (L) shakes hands with China's President Xi Jinping during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, at International Convention Center at Yanqi Lake in Beijing November 11, 2014. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon (CHINA - Tags: BUSINESS POLITICS) U.S. President Barack Obama (L) shakes hands with China's President Xi Jinping during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, at International Convention Center at Yanqi Lake in Beijing November 11, 2014. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Courtesy Reuters)

Let’s be clear, the United States won big this week, but not for the reasons most people think. The media and China analysts have focused overwhelmingly on the climate deal, touting the new commitments from both the United States and China as exceptional, even “historic.” But this is missing the forest for the trees. The real win for U.S. President Barack Obama is keeping China in the tent or, in political science speak, reinforcing Beijing’s commitment to the liberal international order. Read more »

What Beijing Wants From APEC

by Elizabeth C. Economy
A man (bottom) takes pictures of workers installing lighting on an APEC sign post at the financial district in Beijing, October 28, 2014. Countries at an Asia-Pacific summit in Beijing pledged to pursue "flexible" fiscal policies to support the world economy and job creation, their finance ministers said in a joint statement on Wednesday. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic (CHINA - Tags: BUSINESS POLITICS SOCIETY) Workers install lighting on an APEC sign post at the financial district in Beijing on October 28, 2014. (Petar Kujundzic/Courtesy Reuters)

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum is just around the corner, and Beijing is pulling out all the stops. Elegant Chinese limousines will ferry the region’s leaders to and fro. The Gods—or maybe just the Communist Party, in this case—have preordained clear skies (since all factories within polluting distance will be shut down and each day half of all cars will be banned from the road). And Beijing is working hard to patch up political rifts with neighbors such as Vietnam and Japan to ensure that a spirit of collaboration rather than confrontation prevails. Read more »

State Capitalism Stays in Control

by Joshua Kurlantzick
bank-of-china A man is silhouetted in front of a Bank of China's logo at its branch office in Beijing in this file photo from July 14, 2014 (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Courtesy: Reuters).

Over the past year, leadership changes in many of the world’s biggest emerging markets have created vast hopes—both among citizens of these countries and among foreign investors—of dramatic economic liberalization in India, China, Indonesia, Mexico, Thailand, and other countries with new presidents and prime ministers. In some cases, as in India and China, many local analysts and investors believe that the new men in charge—Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, and Chinese president Xi Jinping—are potentially once-in-a-generation economic reformers who could streamline even the biggest, most lumbering economies, slashing state enterprises and drastically reducing waste. Read more »

Allen and Karp: Cell Phones – The Future of Rural Health Care in South Asia

by Guest Blogger for Yanzhong Huang
A pregnant woman lies on an examination table during a checkup at a community health center in the remote village of Chharchh, in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, February 2012 (Courtesy Reuters/Vivek Prakash). A pregnant woman lies on an examination table during a checkup at a community health center in the remote village of Chharchh, in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, February 2012 (Courtesy Reuters/Vivek Prakash).

This is a guest post by Becky Allen, the women and foreign policy intern at CFR, and Jenna Karp, the global health governance intern at CFR.

More people today have access to a mobile phone than a toothbrush: Of the six billion people in the world, 4.8 billion own a mobile phone, compared to the only 4.2 billion who own a toothbrush. In the developing world, mobile technology plays an increasing role with each coming year. According to a 2013 UN report, the number of mobile broadband connections was estimated to reach 2.1 billion worldwide by 2015, with some developing nations surpassing Western countries. Read more »

Making Progress at the U.S.-China S&ED: Go Strategic or Stay Home

by Elizabeth C. Economy
(L-R) Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang and U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew leave after the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) Joint Opening Session at the State Department in Washington July 10, 2013. (L-R) Chinese state councilor Yang Jiechi, U.S. secretary of state John Kerry, Chinese vice premier Wang Yang and U.S. treasury secretary Jack Lew leave after the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) Joint Opening Session at the State Department in Washington on July 10, 2013. (Yuri Gripas/Courtesy Reuters)

As the full contingent of U.S. cabinet secretaries, other senior officials, and support staff prepare for the sixth round of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) (to be held on July 9-10 in Beijing), it is not unreasonable to ask whether all the fuss and muss is worth it. Despite all the focus on this bilateral relationship, it often appears that for every problem addressed, ten more mushroom in its place. In the weeks leading up to the S&ED, a plaintive cry can be heard emanating from DC: Are we getting it right? What more can we do? I have two answers in response: batten down the hatches and get ready for the long haul; or stay home. Read more »

Five Questions for Professor Jagdish Bhagwati on the Indian Economy and Prime Minister Modi’s Next Steps

by Alyssa Ayres
Jagdish Bhagwati Jagdish Bhagwati, university professor at Columbia University, is also a senior fellow for international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations (photo provided by Professor Bhagwati).

This post is part of a series on the Indian elections.

Jagdish Bhagwati, university professor at Columbia University and senior fellow for international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations, has been described as the most creative international trade theorist of his generation. He has been a leader in the fight for freer trade for decades. He is well-known in India as a champion of economic liberalization—and an early advocate for the reforms undertaken in 1991. With his coauthor Arvind Panagariya, he published Why Growth Matters last year, a book which makes the case for economic growth as the path to inclusive poverty alleviation. He is proudly Gujarati, and is likely to be an external adviser to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Read more »

E-Cigarettes: China’s Next Growth Industry

by Yanzhong Huang
E-Cigarette Production Facility in Shenzhen, China Electronic cigarettes are pictured at a production line in a factory in Shenzhen, China (Tyrone Siu/Courtesy Reuters)

Amidst the growing global regulation on tobacco use and rising public awareness about the hazards of smoking, e-cigarettes are becoming a new, emerging industry. Invented by a Chinese medical researcher about one decade ago, electronic cigarettes are battery powered devices that allow users simulate smoking by vaporizing liquid nicotine (among other additives), but in fact have no tobacco. Since being first released on the consumer market in 2005, the global e-cigarette market has been growing rapidly. In the United States, e-cigarette sales have grown at an annual rate of 115 percent in the 2009-12 period. It is estimated that global e-cigarette market could increase to $10 billion by 2017. Some analysts even predict that e-cigarette use will eclipse that of combustible cigarettes in ten years. Over 95 percent of the e-cigarettes worldwide are produced in one place: Shenzhen, China. Read more »

A Guide to the Rana Plaza Tragedy, and its Implications, in Bangladesh

by Alyssa Ayres
Rana Plaza Tragedy Rescue workers attempt to rescue garment workers from the rubble of the collapsed Rana Plaza building in Savar, nineteen miles outside Dhaka on April 29, 2013 (Andrew Biraj/Courtesy: Reuters).

One year ago today, April 24, the world watched with horror as a concrete building known as “Rana Plaza” cracked, buckled, and ultimately collapsed atop the garment workers inside its factories. It would turn out to be the worst accident in the garment industry anywhere. More than 1,100 people were killed, and 2,500 injured. Read more »

India’s Stakes in the Middle East

by Alyssa Ayres
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud (L) shakes hands with India's Vice President Hamid Ansari upon his arrival at the airport in New Delhi February 26, 2014 (Adnan Abidi/Courtesy Reuters).

The Pew Research Center just released a superb infographic drawing on World Bank remittance data that makes it possible, with just a few clicks, to instantly see how remittances flow from source to recipient countries. It might not be a surprise to anyone that the United States is the number one source country, with more than $123 billion in remittances flowing to countries all over the world in 2012, the most recently available year. And it might not be a surprise, either, to learn that India is the number one recipient country, with $69 billion coming in during 2012. But how many people would guess that even though the United States is the number one source country for outflows worldwide, it isn’t the largest source of remittances going to India. That would be the United Arab Emirates (UAE). More than $15 billion was remitted to India from the UAE during 2012, compared with $11 billion from the United States. Read more »

A Closer Look at FDI Flip-flopping in India

by Alyssa Ayres
protest against FDI in retail sector A trader with mock chains around his wrists and a gag tied around his mouth attends a protest against the Indian government's decision to allow foreign direct investment (FDI) in the retail sector in New Delhi September 27, 2012 (Adnan Abidi/Courtesy Reuters).

Last month, the new Delhi government—led by the upstart Aam Aadmi Party—sent a letter to the federal government mere days after taking office notifying it of their decision to rescind a relatively new policy allowing foreign direct investment (FDI) in the multi-brand retail sector (department or big-box stores selling more than one brand). I wrote about this at the time, noting that a sudden flip-flop on allowing FDI would send a “confusing, conflicted signal” to potential investors. Read more »