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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: Five Stories From the Week of April 29, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
An Afghan athlete performs during a sporting event at a stadium in Kabul March 8, 2014. Despite decades of conflict in Afghanistan, and several recent militant attacks, the country's capital Kabul is home to a vibrant youth scene of musicians, artists, athletes and activists. Shopping malls and cafes stand in the city, which is nonetheless beset by infrastructure problems and instability. Afghanistan is preparing for an election on April 5 that should mark the first democratic transfer of power in the country's history, but it has been hit by a tide of violence as the Islamist Taliban movement has ordered its fighters to disrupt the vote and threatened to kill anyone who participates. Picture taken March 8, 2014. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl (AFGHANISTAN - Tags: SOCIETY POLITICS SPORT) A female Afghan athlete performs during a sporting event at a stadium in Kabul on March 8, 2014. Afghanistan’s women’s sports programs have recently encountered greater challenges. (Morteza Nikoubazl/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Gabriella Meltzer, Gabriel Walker, and Pei-Yu Wei look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Afghan female athletes forced to the sidelines. Despite annual donations to the tune of $1.5 million from the American government and other Western donors to women’s sports in Afghanistan, these programs have proven to be an abject failure in the promotion of women’s empowerment and equal participation. The efforts have been riddled by corruption; the cricket program “consist[s] of little more than a young woman with a business card and a desk” and the women’s soccer team has not played an international match in years. Read more »

Journey to the East: Why Facebook Won’t Make it in China

by Guest Blogger for Adam Segal
Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping (L) talks with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg during a gathering of tech executives at Microsoft's main campus, September 23, 2015. (Ted S. Warren/Reuters) Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping (L) talks with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg during a gathering of tech executives at Microsoft's main campus, September 23, 2015. (Ted S. Warren/Reuters)

Lincoln Davidson is a research associate for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Ever since Facebook was banned in China following riots in Xinjiang Province, China, in summer 2009, there has been speculation that the company is trying to regain access to the market, fueled by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s attempts to build connections with the Chinese government and business community. Most recently, Zuckerberg made a highly-publicized visit to China last month, meeting with Alibaba founder Jack Ma and Chinese Communist Party propaganda chief Liu Yunshan. But despite Zuckerberg’s efforts, Facebook isn’t likely to be successful in the Chinese market, even if the government unblocks it. It’s not clear that Chinese consumers even want the product Facebook has to offer, and U.S. tech firms have had a particularly difficult time making it in the Chinese market. For a deeper dig into the challenges Facebook is likely to face, check out my blog post on Net Politics.

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of March 25, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Jakarta-ride-app-protests Taxi drivers take part in a protest rally to demand that the government prohibit ride-hailing apps in Jakarta, Indonesia, March 22, 2016. (Garry Lotulung/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Ariella Rotenberg, Ayumi Teraoka, and Gabriel Walker look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Indonesians protest ride-hailing apps. Traffic in notoriously congested Jakarta came to a near standstill this week when approximately ten thousand taxi drivers protested popular ride-hailing apps like Grab, Go-Jek, and Uber, which have driven down taxi fares in the city. Some of the protesters turned violent and attacked other taxis not participating in the protests, leading to the arrest of eighty-three individuals. Read more »

Xi Jinping’s Virtual Political Reality

by Elizabeth C. Economy
People watch a TV showing of a huge screen shows a news broadcast of China's Vice President Xi Jinping at the 18th Communist Party Congress at a crossroads in Shanghai November 8, 2012. REUTERS/Aly Song (CHINA - Tags: POLITICS) People watch as a huge screen shows a news broadcast of China's Vice President Xi Jinping at the 18th Communist Party Congress at a crossroads in Shanghai November 8, 2012. Since assuming the presidency later in 2012, Xi has introduced new restrictions on foreign and domestic media in China. (Aly Song/Reuters)

Xi Jinping is the gift that keeps on giving. Scarcely a week goes by in which he does not announce a new policy initiative or adopt some measure that reverberates around the world. I often find myself skimming the news anxiously to see “What has Xi Jinping done today?” Yet, increasingly, I find myself asking, not “what” but rather “why” he is doing what he is doing. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of February 19, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Philippines-China-missile-protest A protester from the League of Filipino Students and Kabataan (Youth) Party list group holds an effigy symbolizing a missile during a rally by more than a dozen students outside the Chinese consulate in Manila’s Makati financial district in the Philippines, February 19, 2016. (Erik De Castro/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Sungtae “Jacky” Park, Ariella Rotenberg, Ayumi Teraoka, and Gabriel Walker look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. China puts missiles on disputed island. The Pentagon has claimed that China has deployed surface-to-air missiles on Woody Island, one of the Paracel Islands disputed in the South China Sea. Based on satellite imagery, China has deployed two batteries of eight HQ-9 missile launchers on the island, which Taiwan and Vietnam also claim. In response, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has accused China of “an increase in militarization” of the South China Sea. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of February 12, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Taiwan-earthquake-collapsed-building Soldiers stand guard in front of seventeen-story apartment building collapsed after an earthquake, on the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year at Tainan, Taiwan, February 8, 2016. (Tyrone Siu/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Ariella Rotenberg, Gabriel Walker, and Pei-Yu Wei look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Developer of collapsed building arrested in Taiwan. After launching an investigation to determine the reasons behind the collapse of a seventeen-story building during a 6.4-magnitude earthquake in the city of Tainan last Saturday, Taiwanese authorities have arrested developer Lin Ming-Hui. The earthquake struck around 4 a.m. local time at the start of the Chinese New Year holiday, compounding the tragedy for some. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of October 30, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Army soldiers load sacks of food aid on a helicopter to distribute in earthquake-stricken areas in Peshawar, Pakistan, October 27, 2015. (Khuram Parvez/Reuters) Army soldiers load sacks of food aid on a helicopter to distribute in earthquake-stricken areas in Peshawar, Pakistan, October 27, 2015. (Khuram Parvez/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. Earthquake survivors in Afghanistan and Pakistan appeal for shelter and supplies. Just six months after a devastating earthquake in Nepal, a 7.5-magnitude earthquake shook geographically vulnerable regions in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The epicenter was reported 196 kilometers below the Hindu Kush Mountains in Afghanistan. Although the earthquake occurred much deeper than the Nepal earthquake, close to four hundred people have been reported dead, thousands suffered injuries, and many homes were destroyed by the quake and its aftermath. Read more »

The Xi-Obama Summit: The Four Takeaways and Taglines

by Elizabeth C. Economy
U.S. President Barack Obama (L) chats with Chinese President Xi Jinping as they walk from the West Wing of the White House to a private dinner across the street at Blair House, in Washington, September 24, 2015. Xi arrived in Washington on Thursday for a state visit and talks with President Barack Obama expected to be clouded by differences over alleged Chinese cyber spying, Beijing's economic policies and territorial disputes in the South China Sea. REUTERS/Mike Theiler TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY U.S. President Barack Obama (L) chats with Chinese President Xi Jinping as they walk from the West Wing of the White House to a private dinner across the street at Blair House, in Washington, September 24, 2015. Xi arrived in Washington on Thursday for a state visit and talks with President Barack Obama expected to be clouded by differences over alleged Chinese cyber spying, Beijing's economic policies and territorial disputes in the South China Sea. (Mike Theiler/Reuters)

How should we think about the summit between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama? In case there is any confusion, here are my four takeaways and taglines from Barack and Xi’s most excellent adventure.

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 »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of August 21, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Bangkok-bombing People pray at the Erawan Shrine, the site of Monday's deadly blast, in central Bangkok, Thailand, August 20, 2015. (Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

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

1. Bombing in Bangkok. On Monday evening a bomb exploded within the popular Erawan Shrine in Bangkok, killing at least twenty people and injuring over 120 more. Thai authorities are investigating a suspect identified as a foreigner, who was caught on CCTV footage leaving a large backpack near the shrine, in connection with the blast. Read more »