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

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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 »

Five Slots to Watch in the New Indian Government

by Alyssa Ayres
Narendra Modi (L), the prime ministerial candidate for India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), receives a bouquet of flowers from BJP's Gujarat State President R.C. Faldu upon his arrival to meet party leaders and workers at Gandhinagar in the western Indian state of Gujarat on May 13, 2014 (Amit Dave/Courtesy: Reuters). Narendra Modi (L), the prime ministerial candidate for India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), receives a bouquet of flowers from the BJP's Gujarat state president, R.C. Faldu, upon his arrival to meet party leaders and workers at Gandhinagar in the western Indian state of Gujarat on May 13, 2014 (Amit Dave/Courtesy: Reuters).

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

India’s Election Commission will begin counting the nearly 550 million ballots cast across the country’s 930,000 polling stations at 8:00 a.m. Indian Standard Time. Results should be available by 5:00 p.m., or 7:30 a.m. Eastern Time in the United States. The exit polls released on May 12 have uniformly indicated a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government, either handsomely (News 24 Chanakya’s poll, predicting 340 seats for the National Democratic Alliance) or hovering just around the 272 halfway mark, making government formation a relatively straightforward process. Barring some surprise in the results—which of course has precedent with the 2004 election polls—Indian citizens will likely elect a stable BJP-led government with sufficient political space to make relying on a diverse array of parties with differing ideological views unnecessary. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of May 9, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Anti-government protesters wait for their leader Suthep Thaugsuban to come out from the parliament building to address them in Bangkok on May 9, 2014. Thai police fired tear gas on Friday at royalist protesters bent on bringing down a caretaker government after a court threw Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra out of office and an anti-graft agency indicted her for negligence (Damir Sagolj/Courtesy: Reuters). Anti-government protesters wait for their leader Suthep Thaugsuban to come out from the parliament building to address them in Bangkok on May 9, 2014. (Damir Sagolj/Courtesy Reuters)

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

1. Thai prime minister removed from office, faces impeachmentThailand’s constitutional court voted to remove Yingluck Shinawatra from office for abuse of power for illegally transferring a civil servant to another post. The court also removed the nine ministers that were in her cabinet at the time. Yingluck now faces impeachment by the Thai senate, in conjunction with alleged connection to a farm subsidy program. Deputy Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan was named interim prime minister of the caretaker government, a choice that satisfied neither supporters nor the opponents of Yingluck and the ruling Puea Thai Party. Protestors, both anti-government and pro-government, continue to be active following Yingluck’s removal, and there appears to be no clear way forward. Thailand’s democracy has faced a rocky path the past few months, and some fear that elections planned for late July will be postponed. Read more »

The Foreign Policy Inbox of the Next Indian (a Modi?) Government

by Alyssa Ayres
File photo: Narendra Modi, prime ministerial candidate for India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Gujarat's chief minister, speaks during the "Vibrant Gujarat Summit" at Gandhinagar in the western Indian state of Gujarat on January 12, 2013 (Amit Dave/Courtesy: Reuters). File photo: Narendra Modi, prime ministerial candidate for India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Gujarat's chief minister, speaks during the "Vibrant Gujarat Summit" at Gandhinagar in the western Indian state of Gujarat on January 12, 2013 (Amit Dave/Courtesy: Reuters).

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

I had the opportunity yesterday to speak with three of India’s leading foreign policy experts on what the next Indian government’s foreign policy inbox would contain. Given that the latest opinion polls overwhelmingly favor the Bharatiya Janata Party, our panel focused on the likely policy priorities of a Narendra Modi-led government. Our half hour Google Hangout, now viewable on CFR’s YouTube channel, featured the Times of India’s senior diplomatic editor, Indrani Bagchi; Gateway House’s founder and executive director, Manjeet Kripalani; and the Delhi Policy Group’s director general, Dr. Radha Kumar. Each highlighted a series of priorities a Modi government would likely pursue. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of May 2, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Armed policemen patrol near the exit of the South Railway Station, where three people were killed and 79 wounded in Wednesday's bomb and knife attack, in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous region, on May 2, 2014. (Petar Kujundzic/Courtesy Reuters) Armed policemen patrol near the exit of the South Railway Station, where three people were killed and 79 wounded in Wednesday's bomb and knife attack, in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous region, on May 2, 2014. (Petar Kujundzic/Courtesy Reuters)

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

1. Attack in Xinjiang kills three and injures seventy-nine. A blast in the provincial capital of Urumqi, in China’s northwest province of Xinjiang, killed two bombers and a third bystander at a train station on Wednesday. According to Chinese state media, “knife-wielding mobs” attacked people at one of the station’s exits following the blasts. Chinese authorities claimed to have identified the assailants as Muslim religious extremists, fighting for independence from China. Urumqi is no stranger to violent ethnic strife and is a heavily policed city. The attacks follow similar incidents in the past year: in March, ten assailants, allegedly Uighur separatists, killed twenty-nine commuters at a train station in Kunming, Yunnan province; and in October 2013, three Uighurs drove a car through Tiananmen Square in Beijing, killing themselves and two tourists. Chinese president Xi Jinping has declared long-term stability in Xinjiang vital to national security and has made promoting “ethnic cohesion” one of his major initiatives in the region. Read more »