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Asia Unbound

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

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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 »

Prime Minister Modi to Bhutan, the Land of the Thunder Dragon

by Alyssa Ayres
File photo: Prayer flags hang near the ParoTaktsang Palphug Buddhist monastery, also known as the Tiger's Nest, in Paro district, Bhutan on October 16, 2011 (Adrees Latif/Courtesy: Reuters). File photo: Prayer flags hang near the ParoTaktsang Palphug Buddhist monastery, also known as the Tiger's Nest, in Paro district, Bhutan on October 16, 2011 (Adrees Latif/Courtesy: Reuters).

Next week Prime Minister Narendra Modi will head to Bhutan, Land of the Thunder Dragon, on his first overseas visit, slated for June 14-15. There had been a great deal of speculation that his first visit abroad would be to East Asia, particularly to Japan, a country with which he developed a strong relationship as Gujarat chief minister. But the selection of Bhutan builds perfectly on Prime Minister Modi’s inaugural outreach to the South Asian region, and demonstrates an astute sense of the region’s critical importance to India’s economic dynamism and strategic strength. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of June 6, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Tens of thousands of people take part in a candlelight vigil at Hong Kong's Victoria Park on June 4, 2014, to mark the 25th anniversary of the military crackdown on the pro-democracy movement at Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989 (Bobby Yip/Courtesy: Reuters). Tens of thousands of people take part in a candlelight vigil at Hong Kong's Victoria Park on June 4, 2014, to mark the 25th anniversary of the military crackdown on the pro-democracy movement at Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989 (Bobby Yip/Courtesy: Reuters).

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

1. Thousands protest on the twenty-fifth anniversary of Tiananmen Square; mainland China ramps up security. Much of the world commemorated the twenty-fifth anniversary of the military crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989. Police presence shot up in Beijing and other major Chinese cities for the anniversary, and many websites, including LinkedIn, censored all mention of the incident. In Hong Kong, where freedom of speech is more protected, approximately 180,000 people converged in Victoria Park, lighting candles and chanting slogans. The White House officially commemorated the anniversary, leaving China “strongly dissatisfied.” Read more »

Five Questions for Professor Jagdish Bhagwati on the Indian Economy and Prime Minister Modi’s Next Steps

by Alyssa Ayres
Jagdish Bhagwati Jagdish Bhagwati, university professor at Columbia University, is also a senior fellow for international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations (photo provided by Professor Bhagwati).

This post is part of a series on the Indian elections.

Jagdish Bhagwati, university professor at Columbia University and senior fellow for international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations, has been described as the most creative international trade theorist of his generation. He has been a leader in the fight for freer trade for decades. He is well-known in India as a champion of economic liberalization—and an early advocate for the reforms undertaken in 1991. With his coauthor Arvind Panagariya, he published Why Growth Matters last year, a book which makes the case for economic growth as the path to inclusive poverty alleviation. He is proudly Gujarati, and is likely to be an external adviser to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of May 16, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Supporters of India's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) celebrate on March 16, 2014, after learning of poll results showing Narendra Modi of the BJP as the next leader of the world’s largest democracy (Amit Dave/Courtesy Reuters). Supporters of India's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) celebrate on March 16, 2014, after learning of poll results showing Narendra Modi of the BJP as the next leader of the world’s largest democracy (Amit Dave/Courtesy Reuters).

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

1. And the results are in: A Modi mandate in India! The five-week marathon of elections is complete in India, and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has emerged victorious, winning the party’s highest-ever tally of seats in parliament. No single party has captured the number of seats needed to form a government—272—on its own in thirty years, making this election particularly significant in Indian politics. Despite his controversial past, Narendra Modi will lead the new Indian government and will be expected to deliver on his campaign promises of economic growth and good governance. The Congress party—which has been in power for the past decade and promoted Rahul Gandhi as its candidate for prime minister—has conceded its defeat, remarking “Modi promised the moon and stars to the people. People bought that dream.” Read more »