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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"

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 »

Responding to Disease Outbreaks: Is China’s Move Toward Greater Transparency Irreversible?

by Yanzhong Huang
Passengers walk past temperature detectors. Passengers walk past temperature detectors. (Stringer Taiwan/Courtesy Reuters)

Yesterday, I testified before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) at the  “Food and Drug Safety, Public Health, and the Environment in China” hearing. My testimony focused on China’s response to public health emergencies. As the H7N9 virus appears to be burning itself out, the consensus among public health scholars and practitioners is that China has been much more transparent and open in handing this outbreak than it was in 2003 during the SARS epidemic. In fact, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan thanked China for their speed in sharing relevant information. Read more »

China’s Environmental Politics: A Game of Crisis Management

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Police officers stand guard as residents raise a banner to protest against a planned refinery in Kunming, Yunnan province, on May 4, 2013. Police officers stand guard as residents raise a banner to protest against a planned refinery in Kunming, Yunnan province, on May 4, 2013. (Wong Campion/Courtesy Reuters)

Kunming, the capital city of Yunnan province, has become the latest city in China to be rocked by environmental protest. On May 4 and then again on May 16, 1,000 to 2,000 protesters took to the streets to demonstrate against the construction of an oil and chemical refinery in the nearby city of Anning by the state-run oil company China National Petroleum Corporation. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of May 17, 2013

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Former police officer Abner Afuang burns a replica of Taiwan's national flag as he protests against the mistreatment of Filipinos working overseas, along a main street of Manila on May 17, 2013. (Courtesy Reuters/Romeo Ranoco) Former police officer Abner Afuang burns a replica of Taiwan's national flag as he protests against the mistreatment of Filipinos working overseas, along a main street of Manila on May 17, 2013. (Courtesy Reuters/Romeo Ranoco)

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

1. Tensions between Taiwan, Philippines escalate. The Philippine navy opened fire on a Taiwanese fishing vessel last week in disputed waters, killing one man on board and igniting a new round of tensions in the South China Sea. Though Philippine officials (including the president) have expressed their sympathies, Taiwan has rejected these apologies as lacking “sincerity.”  In response, Taipei recalled its envoy to the Philippines, announced a hiring freeze of Filipino workers, and held military drills. Yesterday, the Philippine envoy to Taiwan advised thousands of Filipino workers not to leave their homes. Read more »

Domestic Health Challenges and Global Health Governance: The Cases of China and India

by Yanzhong Huang
China's President Hu Jintao shakes hands with Indian's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. China's President Hu Jintao shakes hands with Indian's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (B Mathur/Courtesy Reuters).

It’s been a busy week for global health. With the Indian Supreme Court’s landmark decision to dismiss Novartis AG’s attempt to patent its cancer drug Glivec, the doors for low-cost generic drugs will remain open. At the same time in China, as it’s been covered by me and my colleague Laurie Garrett,  the rise  of  a deadly new bird flu strain has already infected nine people, three of whom have died, in Southeast China. Both developments have tremendous implications for global governance for health. Read more »

The Rise of a Deadly New Strain of Bird Flu: Has China Handled This Properly So Far?

by Yanzhong Huang
Health workers pack dead chicken at a wholesale poultry market in Hong Kong December 21, 2011. Health workers pack dead chicken at a wholesale poultry market in Hong Kong December 21, 2011 (Siu Chiu/Courtesy Reuters).

China has long been perceived as the epicenter of major infectious disease outbreaks. The 2003 SARS crisis was the most recent and notable example. However, over the past months, China has been caught up in a series of public health-related crises, including air pollution in Beijing and dead pigs in Shanghai. So when reports came out over the weekend that a new lethal strain of bird flu, H7N9, was identified in China, it should not be a surprise to anyone. Read more »

Dead Pigs in Shanghai: Failing Food Safety Regulations

by Yanzhong Huang
A villager cuts meat from a dead pig in the Zhulin village of Jiaxing March 12, 2013. A villager cuts meat from a dead pig in the Zhulin village of Jiaxing March 12, 2013. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

Last week, thousands of dead pigs were discovered floating in the Huangpu River, which supplies drinking water to Shanghai’s 23 million residents. As of Tuesday evening, sanitation workers have retrieved nearly 6,000 carcasses from the river. The municipal authorities insist that the city’s water supply has not been contaminated, but they did admit that the dead pigs have tested positive for the PCV virus (which causes a sometimes fatal pig disease) as well as other pathogens, including foot and mouth disease (FMD), swine fever, hog cholera, and blue-ear pig disease. Initial investigations have also identified Jiaxing, a city in the neighboring Zhejiang province, as the origin of the dead pigs. Read more »