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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 Nuclear Ambitions Go Global

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
China-nuclear-global-ambitions A worker looks on as the dome roof of a generator unit is lifted to be installed, at Tianwan Nuclear Power Plant, in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province, China, September 26, 2015. (Stringer/Reuters)

Gabriel Walker is a research associate in Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

In the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, Chairman of the World Association of Nuclear Operators Laurent Stricker suggested that “overconfidence” could undermine the safety of nuclear power plants. While the Chinese nuclear industry may not necessarily be overconfident, its ambition is undeniable: the country has brought nearly twenty reactors online in the past decade and has around two-hundred proposed or planned in an all-out push to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. And after twenty-five years of developing nuclear power domestically, Chinese companies are now seeking to export their technology abroad. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of January 8, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
North-Korea-nuclear-test Japan Meteorological Agency's earthquake and tsunami observations division director Yohei Hasegawa points at a graph of ground motion waveform data observed in Japan during a news conference on implications that an earthquake sourced around North Korea was triggered by an unnatural reason, January 6, 2016. (Issei Kato/Reuters)

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

1. North Korea announces its “H-bomb of justice.” Jaws dropped around the world as news of North Korea’s fourth nuclear test lit up phones, tablets, and televisions on Tuesday. Those in South Korea and China reported tremors caused by the detonation, which registered as a 5.1-magnitude earthquake–almost identical to North Korea’s last nuclear test in 2013. North Korea’s official news agency released a statement claiming a successful test of a hydrogen bomb. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of December 18, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Hyeon-Soo-Lim-gets-life-sentence-North-Korea - 12-18-15 South Korea–born Canadian pastor Hyeon Soo Lim attends his trial at a North Korean court in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang, December 16, 2015. (KCNA/Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Rachel Brown, Ariella Rotenberg, Ayumi Teraoka, Gabriel Walker, and James West look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Canadian pastor sentenced by North Korea to life in prison with hard labor. Hyeon Soo Lim, a Canadian pastor, was sentenced to a life term of hard labor by the highest court in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. After a ninety-minute trial, Lim was convicted of crimes against the state that included running a human rights campaign against North Korea in cooperation with the United States and South Korea, as well as assisting defectors who wished to leave North Korea. Read more »

China and Climate Change: Three Things to Watch After Paris

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a speech for the opening day of the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris, France, November 30, 2015. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a speech for the opening day of the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris, France, November 30, 2015. (Stephane Mahe/Reuters)

China is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, so it is not surprising that Beijing’s every statement on the issue is swallowed, digested, and regurgitated by the rest of the world. My colleagues Yanzhong Huang and Ariella Rotenberg penned a helpful piece early in the Paris climate negotiations outlining the dramatic turnaround in China’s negotiating posture over the past six years, from obstreperous in Copenhagen to virtuous in Paris. Now that Paris is over, however, the question remains as to whether China will meet its target of capping CO2 emissions by around 2030. The good news is that most analysts seem to feel that Beijing has under-promised so that it can over-deliver: Many climate experts argue that it would not be surprising for Beijing to meet its targets by 2025.

Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories From the Week of December 11, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Trafficking-camp-malaysia-12-11-15 A cage made of barbed wire and bamboo sticks that Malaysian police said was used to hold migrants is seen at an abandoned human trafficking camp in the jungle close the Thailand border at Bukit Wang Burma in northern Malaysia, May 26, 2015. (Damir Sagolj/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Ariella Rotenberg, and Gabriel Walker look at the top stories in Asia this week.

1. Human trafficking investigator flees Thailand. Maj. Gen. Paween Pongsirin, a senior Thai police officer leading an investigation on human trafficking in Thailand, has fled the country to seek asylum in Australia. After more than thirty graves, which are believed to contain the remains of trafficked Rohingyas, were discovered near the Malaysian border this summer, Paween had been tasked with investigating the site and the trafficking network responsible. Read more »

How Korea Can Lead on Climate Change

by Guest Blogger for Scott A. Snyder
South Korea's President Lee Myung-bak delivers a speech at an inaugural meeting of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) in Seoul October 23, 2012. The Institute, launched in 2010 to promote green economic growth strategies, was upgraded last week to the status of an international organisation, reported local media. (REUTERS/Jung Yeon-je/Pool) South Korea's President Lee Myung-bak delivers a speech at an inaugural meeting of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) in Seoul October 23, 2012. The Institute, launched in 2010 to promote green economic growth strategies, was upgraded last week to the status of an international organisation, reported local media. (REUTERS/Jung Yeon-je/Pool)

Note: Asia Unbound is reposting this blog today, as it was supposed to be published this week, not last week when this piece was first published.

Jill Kosch O’Donnell is an independent researcher and writer.

The global climate talks underway in Paris this week, aimed at achieving a successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol, represent a milestone in an evolving approach to these annual UN-led negotiations. Formerly focused on haggling over developed country targets for emissions reductions, they now emphasize action by all countries, which were supposed to submit national climate change plans ahead of time, known as “intended nationally determined contributions” (INDCs). This new modus operandi presents an opening for Korea to assert itself as a middle power, drawing on its dual identity as a developing country and an OECD member. But it will not be through the country’s INDC. Read more »

China Recalculates Its Coal Consumption: Why This Really Matters

by Elizabeth C. Economy
A labourer works at a coking plant in Changzhi, north China's Shanxi province, July 7, 2007. Starting off in Sydney on Saturday and travelling west around the world, the Live Earth concerts, planned for this weekend, are expected to attract more than a million people to raise awareness of global warming and environmental issues like climate change. REUTERS/Stringer (CHINA) CHINA OUT A laborer works at a coking plant in Changzhi, north China's Shanxi province, July 7, 2007. (Stringer/Reuters)

It seems like a distant memory now, but just one month ago, the international community was lauding China for stepping up its commitment to address climate change by pledging to initiate a cap-and-trade system for CO2 by 2017 and contributing $3.1 billion to a fund to help poor countries combat climate change. Now, however, the talk is all about the release of a new set of game-changing Chinese statistics on coal consumption. A New York Times headline blared: “China burns much more coal than reported, complicating climate talks.”  And the Guardian reported: “China underreporting coal consumption by up to 17%, data suggests.”

Read more »

China’s Role in Myanmar’s Dangerous Jade Trade

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Jade-trade-11-2-15 A man checks the quality of a jade stone found in the mine dump piled by major mining companies at a jade mine in Hpakant township in Myanmar's Kachin State, January 10, 2010. (Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)

Gabriel Walker is a research associate in Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

In late October, Global Witness released an important report that systematically explored Myanmar’s jade industry, calling it the “biggest natural resource heist in modern history.” The mining and trade of the gem have been catalogued by journalists, photographers, and authors in the past, but most accounts only mention China’s economic role in driving demand for jade. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of October 23, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Xi-and-queen-10-23-15 Chinese President Xi Jinping with Queen Elizabeth II at a state banquet at Buckingham Palace, London, during the first day of his state visit to Britain. Tuesday October 20, 2015. (Dominic Lipinski/Reuters)

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

1. Xi Jinping visits the United Kingdom. Fresh off his trip to the United States, Chinese President Xi Jinping made an official visit to the UK, meeting with Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister David Cameron. As with Xi’s U.S. trip, PRC propagandists have pulled no punches, airing warm and fuzzy videos explaining how good China-UK relations are and showing thousands of Chinese nationals “spontaneously” lining London’s streets to wave pro-China banners shipped in by the country’s UK embassy. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of October 9, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Indonesia-fires Residents carry water as they try to extinguish fires near their homes at Pal 7 village in Ogan Ilir district, Indonesia's South Sumatra province, September 3, 2015. (Nova Wahyudi/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Sungtae “Jacky” Park, Ayumi Teraoka, and Gabriel Walker look at the top stories in Asia this week.

1. Raging flames in Indonesia. Intense forest fires have been burning for the past few months on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo, blanketing vast areas of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and southern Thailand with smoke. Annual but illegal slash-and-burn agricultural practices that spiraled out of control caused the blazes, now amounting to more than 1,000 fire clusters on the islands. Read more »