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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"

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 »

Death Penalty for Polluters: China’s Use of Criminal Law for Economic Ends

by Guest Blogger for Yanzhong Huang
A security personnel stands guard at the Shanghai's No. 1 People's Intermediate Court. (Aly Song/Courtesy Reuters) A security personnel stands guard at the Shanghai's No. 1 People's Intermediate Court. (Aly Song/Courtesy Reuters)

In the previous months, I have addressed air quality, environmental concerns, and food safety inadequacies. While the blame can be shared, is there legal recourse? Margaret K. Lewis, an associate professor of law at Seton Hall Law School and expert on China’s legal system, will pick up on China’s use of criminal law in addressing and combating those who intentionally and blatantly do harm. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of June 28, 2013

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Australia's new Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, gestures at a news conference at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices in Brisbane on February 24, 2012. Australia's new Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, gestures at a news conference at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices in Brisbane on February 24, 2012. (Renee Melides/Courtesy Reuters)

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

1. Julia Gillard is ousted as Australia’s prime minister, replaced by Kevin Rudd. Australia’s first female prime minister was ousted by the Labor Party on Thursday over fears that the party would lose September’s election with her at the helm. She was replaced by Kevin Rudd, who previously served as prime minister until a 2010 party coup. Chief among the Labor Party’s concerns is Australia’s faltering economy and slowing mining boom. Rudd, a fluent Mandarin speaker, also urged China to finalize a free trade agreement with Australia. Chinese farmers are worried that their businesses could be hurt by the free trade agreement because of the size of Australia’s agricultural output. Read more »

Southeast Asia’s Purple Haze

by Elizabeth C. Economy
A worker stands as he looks on at fire from burning trees planted for palm oil, during haze in Indonesia's Riau province on June 24, 2013. A worker stands as he looks on at fire from burning trees planted for palm oil, during haze in Indonesia's Riau province on June 24, 2013. (Beawiharta/Courtesy Reuters)

Even before several of my CFR colleagues and I arrived in Indonesia earlier this week for discussions on regional security and governance, headlines in the region’s media were dominated by the haze that was blanketing Singapore and Malaysia—not to mention parts of Indonesia—as a result of the slash-and-burn practices in Sumatra. In an effort to clear land to plant new crops, farmers there burn crop residue, timber, and peat. The result is hundreds of “hotspots,” or fires that contribute to a thick, toxic haze that travels throughout the region. This is despite a government effort to promote “zero burning” and a moratorium on all deforestation in much of the country. Read more »

Haze Crisis in Southeast Asia (and China)

by Yanzhong Huang
An aerial view of burning lands in Palalawan district in Riau province June 21, 2013. An aerial view of burning lands in Palalawan district in Riau province June 21, 2013. Indonesia deployed military planes to fight raging forest fires on Friday that blanketed neighbouring Singapore in record levels of hazardous smog for a third straight day in one of Southeast Asia's worst air-pollution crises. (Fikih Nauli//Courtesy Reuters)

Having just arrived in Jakarta for a joint CSIS-CFR workshop on emerging Indonesia and rising regionalism, I was greeted by hot and humid weather conditions and horrible traffic. However, this is nothing compared to the severe haze that has blanketed Indonesia’s Sumatra Island, Malaysia, and Singapore, sending air pollution there to record high levels. Read more »