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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 September 25, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Xi-Jinping-visit-9-25-15 Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during a meeting with five United States governors to discuss clean technology and economic development in Seattle, Washington, September 22, 2015. (Matt Mills McKnight/Reuters)

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

1. Xi Jinping visits the United States. The Chinese president arrived in Seattle Tuesday, delivering a dinner speech to business leaders, touring a Boeing factory, visiting Microsoft, and stopping for a photo with tech industry executives (cartoonishly rendered as a GIF by the Cyberspace Administration of China). Read more »

What’s New in the U.S.-India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue

by Alyssa Ayres
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry participates with Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj (L) and U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker (R) at the U.S-India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue plenary session at the State Department in Washington on September 22, 2015 (Gary Cameron/Reuters). U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry participates with Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj (L) and U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker (R) at the U.S-India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue plenary session at the State Department in Washington on September 22, 2015 (Gary Cameron/Reuters).

Yesterday U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker co-convened, with their Indian counterparts External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Commerce and Industry Minister of State Nirmala Sitharaman, the new U.S.-India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue (S&CD). India and the United States have been convening a strategic dialogue since 2010, so the change this year elevated discussion of economic and commercial issues to the cabinet level alongside the central matters of security and global diplomatic concerns. Read more »

Prospects for a U.S.-South Korea-India Triangle?

by Scott A. Snyder
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with South Korean President Park Geun-Hye prior to their meeting at the presidential Blue House on May 18, 2015 in Seoul, South Korea. (Chung Sung-Jun/Courtesy Reuters) Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with South Korean President Park Geun-Hye prior to their meeting at the presidential Blue House on May 18, 2015 in Seoul, South Korea. (Chung Sung-Jun/Courtesy Reuters)

Yonsei University Professor Chung Min Lee has described prospects for relations between South Korea and India as historically hampered by “geographic distance” and “mutual disinterest.” India was South Korea’s eighth largest export destination and only the twenty-second largest source of imports in 2014, with a total trade volume of $17.9 billion. Yet during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Seoul last May, he and South Korean President Park Geun-hye signed a Special Strategic Partnership agreement reflecting mutual aspirations for broad-based cooperation. Will the two countries’ parallel universes finally converge around a broader set of interests beyond their mutual concern with the Pakistan-North Korea nuclear proliferation axis? Read more »

Will South Korean Nuclear Leadership Make a Difference in 2016?

by Guest Blogger for Scott A. Snyder
South Korea's President Lee Myung-bak (L) reaches out to shake the hand of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano as he arrives for a working dinner at the Nuclear Security Summit at the Convention and Exhibition Center (COEX) in Seoul March 26, 2012. (Yuriko Nakao/Courtesy Reuters) South Korea's President Lee Myung-bak (L) reaches out to shake the hand of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano as he arrives for a working dinner at the Nuclear Security Summit at the Convention and Exhibition Center (COEX) in Seoul March 26, 2012. (Yuriko Nakao/Courtesy Reuters)

Toby Dalton is the co-director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announced this week that the Republic of Korea will chair the December 2016 ministerial meeting on nuclear security in Vienna, Austria. South Korea will also chair the forty-eight-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) next year and is slated to host the group’s annual plenary meeting in Seoul. 2016 is shaping up to be a critical year for South Korea’s nuclear diplomacy. Read more »

How Americans See India as a Power

by Alyssa Ayres
A supporter holds up U.S. and Indian national flags as he assembles with a large crowd of people in Times Square to watch the speech by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 28, 2014 (Reuters/Carlo Allegri). A supporter holds up U.S. and Indian national flags as he assembles with a large crowd of people in Times Square to watch the speech by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 28, 2014 (Reuters/Carlo Allegri).

How do Americans see India as a power on the world stage? It’s a difficult question to answer, in part because sources of data are scattered and insufficient. Public opinion surveys have provided a good sense of how Americans see India as a country, and its importance to the United States, but those lenses do not necessarily offer insight into American views about India on the world stage. The just-released 2015 public opinion survey from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, however, for the first time contains some insights sure to surprise on how Americans see Indian power. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of September 11, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
singapore-elections-9-11-15 Singapore's Prime Minister and Secretary-General of the People's Action Party Lee Hsien Loong (C) celebrates with supporters after the general election results at a stadium in Singapore September 12, 2015. (Edgar Su/Reuters)

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

1. Singapore’s historic elections. Singaporeans took to the polls today in the first general parliamentary election in the country’s history in which every constituency is contested. The People’s Action Party (PAP), which has ruled the country since it was expelled from Malaysia in 1965 and held more than 90 percent of the seats in parliament prior to the election, won a majority of seats again. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of September 4, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Malaysia-protests-9-4-15 Supporters of pro-democracy group "Bersih" (Clean) shout slogans during a rally near Dataran Merdeka in Malaysia's capital city of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, August 30, 2015. Tens of thousands joined a peaceful protest in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Razak, bringing to the streets a political crisis over a multi-million-dollar payment made to an account under his name. (Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Lauren Dickey, Ariella Rotenberg, and Ayumi Teraoka look at the top stories in Asia this week.

1. Malaysian protestors call for prime minister to step down. Tens of thousands of protesters demonstrated in Kuala Lumpur last weekend, saying that Prime Minister Najib Razak is unfit to govern following allegations that he took $700 million from a government development fund. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of August 28, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
china-stock-plunge An investor looks at an electronic board showing stock information of Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index at a brokerage house in Beijing, August 26, 2015. Asian shares struggled on Wednesday as investors feared fresh rate cuts in China would not be enough to stabilize its slowing economy or halt a stock collapse that is wreaking havoc in global markets. (Jason Lee/Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Lauren Dickey, Ayumi Teraoka, and Gabriel Walker look at the top stories in Asia this week.

1. China’s stock plunge. Chinese stocks plunged this week, with the Shanghai Composite Index falling 22 percent between August 19 and August 24. The market’s drop on what was deemed “Black Monday” erased the gains made over the past year. Until June, the Shanghai Composite Index had risen nearly 150 percent in one year and state media had assured that this was just the start of a bull market. The Chinese market’s tumble rattled stock markets around the world. Read more »

Economic Growth and India’s Global Rise

by Alyssa Ayres
Australia's batsman Aaron Finch plays a shot as India's captain and wicketkeeper MS Dhoni watches on during their Cricket World Cup semi-final match in Sydney, March 26, 2015 (David Gray/Reuters). Australia's batsman Aaron Finch plays a shot as India's captain and wicketkeeper MS Dhoni watches on during their Cricket World Cup semi-final match in Sydney, March 26, 2015 (David Gray/Reuters).

Indians just celebrated their sixty-eighth year of independence, but the mood has dampened since last August 15. Last year, the excitement of a newly-elected government, one with a single-party majority, created a sense of opportunity ahead for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his soaring ambitions for the nation. This year’s speech, in contrast, more resembled the report cards of previous prime ministerial addresses, with an accounting for the nation of what the government had accomplished in its new agenda over the past year. On the heels of a parliamentary session in which opposition parties stymied the government’s reform agenda through ongoing disruptions—the upper house had a woeful 9 percent productivity rate—the overall mood has become one of right-sizing reform expectations due to the rough-and-tumble of Indian politics. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of July 31, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy guided missile destroyer Haikou (171) arrives at the Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam to participate in the multi-national military exercise RIMPAC 2014, in Honolulu, Hawaii, June 24, 2014. (Hugh Gentry/Reuters) The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy guided missile destroyer Haikou (171) arrives at the Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam to participate in the multi-national military exercise RIMPAC 2014, in Honolulu, Hawaii, June 24, 2014. (Hugh Gentry/Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Lincoln Davidson, Lauren Dickey, Darcie Draudt, William Piekos, and Ariella Rotenberg look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. China conducts live fire drills in the South China Sea. More than one hundred naval vessels, dozens of aircraft, and units from China’s information warfare forces and missile corps participated in the live fire exercises Tuesday, which one Australian expert called a “needlessly excessive show of force.” Read more »