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Asia Unbound

CFR experts give their take on the cutting-edge issues emerging in Asia today.

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From Surat to Yumen: Plagued by Paranoia

by Yanzhong Huang
Masked residents of Surat queue up for train tickets for the first train out of the city on September 25 as the death toll due to pneumonic plague continues to climb. Government officials are concerned about the spread of the disease to other cities due to the exodus of people from Surat Masked residents of Surat queue up for train tickets for the first train out of the city on September 25, 1994, as the death toll due to pneumonic plague continues to climb. (STR New/Courtesy Reuters)

This post was coauthored by Laurie Garrett and Yanzhong Huang, both senior fellows for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations.

In mid-July, the Chinese city of Yumen in the northwestern province of Gansu sealed itself off and placed 151 people in quarantine after a man was exposed to a Himalayan marmot and died of the pneumonic plague. Official media reported that the city’s 30,000 residents have not been allowed to leave, with police setting up roadblocks and laying down tire-piercing spikes along the main roads leading to the center of the town. Read more »

India: Tough Talk and the Bali Trade Facilitation Agreement

by Alyssa Ayres
India's then-minister of commerce and industry, Anand Sharma (C), congratulates the director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Roberto Azevedo (2nd R), after the closing ceremony of the ninth WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali on December 7, 2013 (Edgar Su/Courtesy: Reuters). India's then-minister of commerce and industry, Anand Sharma (C), congratulates the director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Roberto Azevedo (2nd R), after the closing ceremony of the ninth WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali on December 7, 2013 (Edgar Su/Courtesy: Reuters).

Last week India’s top trade negotiators told the World Trade Organization (WTO) that India would not support the package of trade facilitation measures that had been agreed to last December at the Bali ministerial. Because adoption of these measures must be done by consensus among WTO members by July 31, India’s rejection of the agreement now stands to render moot the entire trade facilitation effort. New Delhi’s stance not only puts up a roadblock on global trade, but will effectively halt any efforts to envision a larger ambition for the U.S.-India economic relationship—which badly needs one—by signaling that India at present does not want to stand with the global free and open trading system. Read more »

Markey: Afghanistan Anxieties Reign in India and China

by Guest blogger for Alyssa Ayres
Afghans work at a new parliament building constructed by an Indian project in Kabul on November 26, 2013 (Mohammad Ismail/Courtesy: Reuters). Afghans work at a new parliament building constructed by an Indian project in Kabul on November 26, 2013 (Mohammad Ismail/Courtesy: Reuters).

Daniel Markey is a senior fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations. 

This post is one of a three-part Asia Unbound series following a recent CFR trip to India and China. See related posts from my colleagues Alyssa Ayres and Elizabeth Economy. Read more »

All Roads Lead to Beijing

by Elizabeth C. Economy
China's President Xi Jinping reviews an honor guard before a meeting with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on the sidelines of the 6th BRICS summit at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia July 17, 2014. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes (BRAZIL - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY) China's President Xi Jinping reviews an honor guard on the sidelines of the 6th BRICS summit at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia on July 17, 2014. (Sergio Moraes/Courtesy Reuters)

This post is one of a three-part Asia Unbound series following a recent CFR trip to India and China. See related posts from my colleagues Alyssa Ayres and Daniel Markey. Read more »

India in a Changing Asia

by Alyssa Ayres
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang meets with India's Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on June 28, 2014 (Courtesy: Reuters). Chinese Premier Li Keqiang meets with India's Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on June 28, 2014 (Courtesy: Reuters).

This post is one of a three-part Asia Unbound series following a recent CFR trip to India and China. See related posts from my colleagues Daniel Markey and Elizabeth Economy. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of July 17, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Emergencies ministry members walk at the site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region on July 17, 2014 (Maxim Zmeyev/Courtesy: Reuters). Emergencies ministry members walk at the site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region on July 17, 2014 (Maxim Zmeyev/Courtesy: Reuters).

Ashlyn Anderson, Lauren Dickey, Darcie Draudt, Andrew Hill, Will Piekos, and Sharone Tobias look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. Malaysia Airlines plane shot down over eastern Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was downed by a surface-to-air missile over eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 on board. Though the Ukrainian and Russian militaries, along with pro-Russian separatists, all possess weaponry capable of shooting down a plane flying at 33,000 feet, evidence is increasingly pointing to separatists as the perpetrators. The incident comes just five months after Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared over the Indian Ocean, along with its 239 passengers and crew. Read more »

Time to Fold SRAP into the SCA Bureau

by Alyssa Ayres
A pin is seen on a world map on the wall of the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood, where the Bergdahl family regularly attends, in Ketchum, Idaho on June 1, 2014 (Patrick Sweeney/Courtesy: Reuters). A pin is seen on a world map marking the border area of Afghanistan and Pakistan on June 1, 2014 (Patrick Sweeney/Courtesy: Reuters).

Secretary of State John Kerry formally announced today that the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP), Ambassador Jim Dobbins, would retire from the position at the end of this month. His deputy, Dan Feldman, will succeed him as special representative. This is as good a time as any, given the reduced role of the United States and the changing international presence in Afghanistan today, not to mention in the coming years, to fold the special representative role back into the regional bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs (SCA). Doing so will permit better policy coordination within the State Department and across the U.S. government on South and Central Asia in the years to come. Read more »

Ashlyn Anderson: In Iraq, Modi Finds His First Foreign Policy Test

by Guest blogger for Alyssa Ayres
Relatives hold up photographs of Indian workers, who have been kidnapped in Iraq, after their meeting with India's Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi on June 19, 2014 (Adnan Abidi/Courtesy: Reuters). Relatives hold up photographs of Indian workers, who have been kidnapped in Iraq, after their meeting with India's Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi on June 19, 2014 (Adnan Abidi/Courtesy: Reuters).

Ashlyn Anderson is a research associate for India, Pakistan, and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) stunned the world with its recent victories over the Iraqi army, seizing large swaths of territory, including the cities of Fallujah, Tikrit, Mosul, Al-Qaim, and three other western Iraqi towns. But ISIS’s violence has affected countries well beyond Iraq’s borders, including India. With its large expatriate population in Iraq, unquenchable energy needs, and the threat of spillover into South Asia, India is grappling with its first foreign policy crisis. Read more »

Getting Back on Track Economically with India

by Alyssa Ayres
A fisherman prepares to cast his fishing net in the waters of the Vembanad lake as a container ship is seen docked in the background at a port in Vallarpadam, in the southern Indian city of Kochi on February 11, 2014 (Sivaram V/Courtesy: Reuters). A fisherman prepares to cast his fishing net in the waters of the Vembanad lake as a container ship is seen docked in the background at a port in Vallarpadam in the southern Indian city of Kochi on February 11, 2014 (Sivaram V/Courtesy: Reuters).

India’s new government, led by business-oriented Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has emphasized the importance of restoring India’s economic growth to higher rates, along with restoring India’s place in the world as a great trading nation. It will be important for the United States to advance policies responsive to a more open Indian approach on trade and investment matters. I argue, in a new Policy Innovation Memorandum released today, that a good way to begin revitalizing the U.S.-India economic relationship, currently beset with animosities, will be for the United States to support India’s long-pending bid for membership in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC). Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of June 20, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
A Chinese Coast Guard vessel (R) passes near the Chinese oil rig, Haiyang Shi You 981 (L), in the South China Sea, about 210 km (130 miles) from the coast of Vietnam on June 13, 2014 (Courtesy: Reuters). A Chinese Coast Guard vessel (R) passes near the Chinese oil rig, Haiyang Shi You 981 (L), in the South China Sea, about 210 km (130 miles) from the coast of Vietnam on June 13, 2014 (Courtesy: Reuters).

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

1. China sends more oil rigs to already-tense South China Sea. Two rigs are now stationed between China and the Taiwan-occupied Pratas Islands, and one has been given coordinates to be towed just outside Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone. Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang asked China to remove the rigs that are in disputed waters. China has been increasingly assertive in its claims to the Paracel and Spratly Islands, all of which are off Vietnam’s coast, and is reportedly moving sand onto reefs and shoals to support buildings and surveillance equipment. Read more »