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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"

Japan’s Upper House Election

by Sheila A. Smith
(L-R) Social Democratic Party leader Mizuho Fukushima, People's Life Party leader Ichiro Ozawa, New Komeito's Party Leader Natsuo Yamaguchi, Democratic Party of Japan leader Banri Kaieda, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is also leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, Japan Restoration Party co-leader Toru Hashimoto, Your Party leader Yoshimi Watanabe, Communist Party Chairman Kazuo Shii, and Green Wind party leader Kuniko Tanioka pose for photos before their debate session ahead of the July 21 Upper house election in Tokyo July 3, 2013. (Toru Hanai/courtesy Reuters) (L-R) Social Democratic Party leader Mizuho Fukushima, People's Life Party leader Ichiro Ozawa, New Komeito's Party Leader Natsuo Yamaguchi, Democratic Party of Japan leader Banri Kaieda, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is also leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, Japan Restoration Party co-leader Toru Hashimoto, Your Party leader Yoshimi Watanabe, Communist Party Chairman Kazuo Shii, and Green Wind party leader Kuniko Tanioka pose for photos before their debate session ahead of the July 21 Upper house election in Tokyo July 3, 2013. (Toru Hanai/courtesy Reuters)

Last week, campaigning began for this year’s parliamentary election on July 21.  433 candidates have registered to contend for the 121 open slots in Japan’s 242-seat Upper House.  The ruling coalition needs sixty-three seats to gain a majority.  If they can get seventy-two seats, the Liberal Democrats, Prime Minister Abe’s party, could gain a commanding majority on their own, propelling them back into a position of single party dominance in both of Japan’s houses of parliament. Read more »

China Falling? Not so Fast

by Joshua Kurlantzick
A woman counts Chinese yuan notes at a market in Beijing on July 1, 2013. Chinese markets stabilized on Monday as investors spooked by last month's cash crunch took heart from a flurry of official reassurances that there is ample liquidity in the financial system. (Jason Lee/Courtesy Reuters) A woman counts Chinese yuan notes at a market in Beijing on July 1, 2013. Chinese markets stabilized on Monday as investors spooked by last month's cash crunch took heart from a flurry of official reassurances that there is ample liquidity in the financial system. (Jason Lee/Courtesy Reuters)

Over the past month, global financial markets have become terrified by the prospect of a Chinese economic slowdown. Last week, the inter-bank lending rate in China jumped precipitously, suggesting that Chinese banks, which for years have been piling up debt lending to state-owned enterprises and building infrastructure, may now be facing a severe credit crunch. China’s money markets slowed to a near halt, China’s stock markets suffered roller coaster whiplash, and many Western fund managers began lightening their China exposure. Read more »

As the G8 Meets, Free Trade is in Chaos

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron welcomes U.S. President Barack Obama on his arrival to the Lough Erne golf resort where the G8 summit is taking place in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland on June 17, 2013. (Yves Herman/Courtesy Reuters) Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron welcomes U.S. President Barack Obama on his arrival to the Lough Erne golf resort where the G8 summit is taking place in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland on June 17, 2013. (Yves Herman/Courtesy Reuters)

At the start of his second term in January, President Barack Obama announced a massive platform of new policy proposals. Since then, many of his ideas – on gun control, a solution to America’s debt crisis, and other issues – have been abandoned, leaving the president’s supporters on the left almost apoplectic. Yet even as he has backed off from fights on other issues, President Obama and his administration have continued to push for many new trade deals, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), that encompasses much of Asia, the fastest-growing region in the world. The White House also has proposed the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TATIP), a free trade deal with Europe. Read more »

Newer Economic Models

by Joshua Kurlantzick
An employee works at a textile mill in Jiujiang, Jiangxi province, China on March 28, 2013. China's factory activity likely expanded at its fastest rate in 11 months in March 2013, with an anticipated pick-up in both domestic and external demand set to bolster the case that its economic recovery is gathering pace, not simply stabilizing. An employee works at a textile mill in Jiujiang, Jiangxi province, China on March 28, 2013. China's factory activity likely expanded at its fastest rate in 11 months in March 2013, with an anticipated pick-up in both domestic and external demand set to bolster the case that its economic recovery is gathering pace, not simply stabilizing. (China Daily/Courtesy Reuters)

In the Asian Review of Books, editor Peter Gordon reviews both my new book Democracy in Retreat and a forthcoming book by longtime China journalist Joe Studwell, How Asia Works; Success and Failure in the World’s Most Dynamic Region. I have always found Studwell’s work to be among the most thought-provoking and contrarian on Asia – the two often go together – and his new work is no exception. It adds to the growing literature suggesting that the modern state capitalists, like China, are pursuing models of development not only sharply different from those advocated by the West but also different from the Asian tigers and tiger cubs – many China-watchers have suggested that China’s model is simply an updated version of what worked earlier, for nations like South Korea. I will be adding my own contribution to the state capitalism debate in the next year. Read the whole review here.

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.”
Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of April 12, 2013

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Japan's Interchange Association Chairman Mitsuo Ohashi (L) shakes hand with Taiwan's Association of East Asian Relations Chairman Liao Liao-yi during the fishery agreement signing ceremony in Taipei on April 10, 2013. Japan's Interchange Association Chairman Mitsuo Ohashi (L) shakes hand with Taiwan's Association of East Asian Relations Chairman Liao Liao-yi during the fishery agreement signing ceremony in Taipei on April 10, 2013. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

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

  1. China’s economy seems a little shakier. A surge in bad-credit loans within the country has China trying to clean up liquidity without slowing growth. China’s plethora of bad loans and unsustainable levels of debt has led Fitch to downgrade China’s yuan-dominated debt from AA- to A+. It is the first time since 1999 that China’s sovereign credit rating was cut. Part of the reasoning for the downgrade was low average incomes, poor standards of governance, and a rapid expansion of credit. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of April 5, 2013

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
A man walks past an electronic board showing the graphs of exchange rates between the Japanese yen, the U.S. dollar and Euro outside a brokerage in Tokyo on April 4, 2013. (Courtesy Reuters/Yuya Shino) A man walks past an electronic board showing the graphs of exchange rates between the Japanese yen, the U.S. dollar and Euro outside a brokerage in Tokyo on April 4, 2013. (Courtesy Reuters/Yuya Shino)

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

1. Japan gets aggressive on deflation. The Bank of Japan surprised investors Thursday by unveiling aggressive easy-money policies to stimulate the Japanese economy, under newly installed central bank chief Haruhiko Kuroda. This is a huge change for the historically conservative bank, which will double its holdings of government bonds—a program 60 percent larger than the Federal Reserve’s QE4 bond-buying program, relative to GDP. Read more »

Big Data: An Interview with Kenneth Cukier and Viktor Mayer-Schonberger

by Guest Blogger for Adam Segal
Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think (Courtesy Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin) Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think (Courtesy Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin)

Kenneth Cukier and Viktor Mayer-Schonberger, authors of the new book Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think, published last month, answered several questions on big data, foreign policy, and China. Questions by Sharone Tobias. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of March 29, 2013

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un presides over an urgent operation meeting on the Korean People's Army Strategic Rocket Force's performance of duty for firepower strike at the Supreme Command in Pyongyang on March 29, 2013. (Courtesy Reuters/KCNA) North Korean leader Kim Jong-un presides over an urgent operation meeting on the Korean People's Army Strategic Rocket Force's performance of duty for firepower strike at the Supreme Command in Pyongyang on March 29, 2013. (Courtesy Reuters/KCNA)

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

1. North Korean belligerence: Kim Jong-un and his militaristic regime have ratcheted up tensions on the Korean peninsula (again), this time unilaterally severing the inter-Korean military hotline. The move comes along with increased rhetoric, as North Korea declared that its strategic rocket and long-range artillery units “are assigned to strike bases of the U.S. imperialist aggressor troops in the U.S. mainland and on Hawaii and Guam and other operational zones in the Pacific as well as all the enemy targets in South Korea and its vicinity.” The United States responded by flying two nuclear-capable stealth bombers over the Korean peninsula. And so the tit-for-tat continues… Read more »

The China Model and Democracy

by Joshua Kurlantzick
China's newly-elected premier Li Keqiang smiles as he takes questions during a news conference after the closing session of the National People's Congress in Beijing March 17, 2013. China's newly-elected premier Li Keqiang smiles as he takes questions during a news conference after the closing session of the National People's Congress in Beijing March 17, 2013 (Jason Lee/Courtesy Reuters).

The new Chinese leadership, including premier Li Keqiang, have at least rhetorically recognized that China’s future development depends on further economic, social, and political reforms. In his first major speech as premier, Li said, “Reforming is about curbing government power … It is a self-imposed revolution that will require real sacrifice, and it will be painful.” Read more »