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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 "Environment"

China’s Round Two on Electric Cars: Will It Work?

by Elizabeth C. Economy
A visitor looks at BYD E6 electric car on display at the New Energy Auto Expo in Nanjing, Jiangsu province March 22, 2014. Three of China's biggest cities are helping consumers pay for a range of electric cars, heeding calls to encourage the sale of green vehicles that the government sees helping tackle pollution. China's smoggy skies topped the agenda at the annual parliamentary session this year, while Premier Li Keqiang in January demonstrated the importance of green cars by visiting a factory of BYD Co Ltd , maker of the e6 pure electric car. The BYD E6 electric car was on display at the New Energy Auto Expo in Nanjing, Jiangsu province on March 22, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

Everyone loves China’s five-year plans. They tell you everything you need to know about the future direction of the Chinese economy: intentions and priorities, along with timetables and targets. The only thing missing are the results. After five years, though, who keeps track of what was promised and what was delivered? Well, the Chinese government for one. And as Beijing takes stock of its efforts to become a world leader in the production and deployment of electric and hybrid electric cars during the Twelfth Five-Year Plan (2011-2015), the picture isn’t pretty. Now Beijing is attempting a mid-plan course correction. Will it work? Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of April 4, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Residents cover their faces as they ride a motorcycle along a street after tear gas was released by police to disperse a protest against a chemical plant project in Maoming, Guandong province, China on March 31, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) Residents cover their faces as they ride a motorcycle along a street after tear gas was released by police to disperse a protest against a chemical plant project in Maoming, Guandong province, China on March 31, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

Lauren Dickey, Darcie Draudt, Charles McClean, Will Piekos, and Sharone Tobias look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. Tensions rise on the Korean Peninsula. South and North Korea exchanged artillery fire across a disputed martime border off the peninsula’s western coast on March 31. Neither side aimed at land or military installations, but 100 of the 500 rounds from North Korea fell south of the boundary, followed by 300 South Korean artillery shells shot into the northern side of the boundary. The incident occurred not far from Baengnyeong Island, where in March 2010 North Korean torpedoes sunk the South Korean warship Cheonan. Read more »

China’s Incomparable Environmental Challenge

by Elizabeth C. Economy
A van carrying air sampling equipment drives through Los Angeles as part of the Los Angeles Reactive Pollutant Program in September 1973. (Gene Daniels/NARA/Wikimedia Commons) A van carrying air sampling equipment drives through Los Angeles as part of the Los Angeles Reactive Pollutant Program in September 1973. (Gene Daniels/NARA/Wikimedia Commons)

It is tempting to write-off China’s environmental situation as simply a moment in time. The imperative of lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty while managing the economic demands of a burgeoning middle class is bound to take a toll on any country’s environment. Many commentators see China as now reaching the inflection point attained by the United States in the 1960s and 70s, where rising incomes, citizen awareness, and government priorities combined to produce a shift in how Americans understood the relationship between development and the environment. Read more »

Watch Out for the H10N8 Avian Flu

by Yanzhong Huang
Employees dispose of uninfected dead birds at a treatment plant as part of preventive measures against the H7N9 bird flu in Guangzhou, Guangdong province on April 16, 2013. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) Employees dispose of uninfected dead birds at a treatment plant as part of preventive measures against the H7N9 bird flu in Guangzhou, Guangdong province on April 16, 2013. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

SARS, H5N1, and H7N9. Over the past 10 years, China has earned its reputation as the epicenter of major disease outbreaks. Now, while the country is still concerned about the return of H7N9, another virus has emerged. On Wednesday a 73-year-old woman from the landlocked southeastern Jiangxi Province, who died of respiratory failure on December 6, was confirmed by the China CDC to be infected with the H10N8 avian flu. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of October 18, 2013

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Women in kimonos stand at the Yasukuni Shrine during the Annual Autumn Festival in Tokyo on October 18, 2013. (Toru Hanai/Courtesy Reuters Women in kimonos stand at the Yasukuni Shrine during the Annual Autumn Festival in Tokyo on October 18, 2013. (Toru Hanai/Courtesy Reuters

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

1. India, China near border deal. Diplomats from Beijing and New Delhi are finalizing a border defense cooperation pact in advance of Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to China next week. The two sides agreed to notify the other of any planned patrols, to not tail each other’s patrols, and to establish a hotline between top ranking military officers. The pact follows a period of heightened tensions in the wake of a three-week border incursion in May by Chinese forces into disputed territory. Read more »

How Much Should We Worry About Poultry Imported From China?

by Yanzhong Huang
An employee sprays to sterilize a poultry farm in Hemen township, Jiangsu province (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters). An employee sprays to sterilize a poultry farm in Hemen township, Jiangsu province (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters).

One month ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) quietly lifted the ban on processed poultry imports from China. This raised immediate concerns in the United States. The media responded critically to the decision; a recent Bloomberg article was titled “Don’t Trust a Chicken Nugget That’s Visited China.” U.S. consumers were worried, perhaps even frightened. One person commented to the CBS News report that “[I am] immediately taking anything and everything with processed chicken off my shopping list. It’s been clear for a long time now that products from China are simply not safe and may even be harmful.” Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of September 13, 2013

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
A man cycles past the water-cooling towers of a coal-fired power plant on a hazy day in Beijing on January 22, 2013. (Jason Lee/Courtesy Reuters) A man cycles past the water-cooling towers of a coal-fired power plant on a hazy day in Beijing on January 22, 2013. (Jason Lee/Courtesy Reuters)

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

1. Chinese economy posts strong numbers. Chinese overseas shipments in August rose 7.2 percent from a year earlier, increasing more than originally estimated, while inflation stayed below the government target. The industrial sector also showed strong numbers in August, climbing 10.4 percent year-to-year and posting the highest growth rate since March 2012. The data, along with other positive reports, pushed stocks to a three-month high, and experts are generally optimistic about the direction of China’s economy. Read more »

China’s Diabetes Epidemic

by Yanzhong Huang
A diabetes patient rests his arm on a table for diabetes specialist Doctor Tong Xiao Lin (C) during a medical check-up at the Guanganmen Chinese medicine Hospital in Beijing March 19, 2012. (David Gray/Courtesy Reuters) A diabetes patient rests his arm on a table for diabetes specialist Doctor Tong Xiao Lin (C) during a medical check-up at the Guanganmen Chinese medicine Hospital in Beijing March 19, 2012. (David Gray/Courtesy Reuters)

These days we’ve been used to China being the land of “the first,” “the largest” and “the highest.”  However, not all of these superlatives are worthy of praise.  China now has the largest diabetic population in the world (114 million), according to a recent study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of September 6, 2013

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
An employee of a sushi restaurant takes a break as seafood stalls are seen at the Noryangjin fisheries wholesale market in Seoul on September 6, 2013. (Kim Hong-Ji/Courtesy Reuters) An employee of a sushi restaurant takes a break as seafood stalls are seen at the Noryangjin fisheries wholesale market in Seoul on September 6, 2013. (Kim Hong-Ji/Courtesy Reuters)

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

1. Beijing goes to war against a former security tsar. Investigations of multiple senior executives at state-owned oil producer PetroChina seem to link back to a corruption case against domestic security tsar and former senior oil executive Zhou Yongkang. Zhou was in charge of the police and domestic security apparatus and was also a member of the Politburo’s standing committee until 2012. Zhou is not officially under investigation himself, though there are rumors that he is under house arrest. Read more »

In China, Foreigners Come First

by Elizabeth C. Economy
A flag (L) bearing the logo of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) flutters next to a Chinese national flag outside a GlaxoSmithKline office building in Shanghai on July 12, 2013. GlaxoSmithKline executives in China have confessed to bribery and tax violations during one of a string of investigations into foreign firms. (Aly Song/Courtesy Reuters) A flag (L) bearing the logo of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) flutters next to a Chinese national flag outside a GlaxoSmithKline office building in Shanghai on July 12, 2013. GlaxoSmithKline executives in China have confessed to bribery and tax violations during one of a string of investigations into foreign firms. (Aly Song/Courtesy Reuters)

Chinese often complain that foreigners come first. During the early years of reform, foreign companies received special incentives for investing in China, and the few nice hotels in the country were reserved for foreign visitors with their foreign currency—no ordinary Chinese allowed. Even today, if a crime is committed, many Chinese will argue that the police are more likely to take action if a foreigner is the victim than a Chinese. Foreigners also may come first however, when Beijing needs a scapegoat for the ills of the country. Read more »