CFR Presents

Asia Unbound

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

Posts by Category

Showing posts for "North Korea"

North Korea’s Test of Trustpolitik

by Scott A. Snyder
park-geun-hye-newyears South Korean president Park Geun-hye speaks during her New Year news conference at the presidential Blue House in Seoul on January 6, 2014. (Jung Yeon-Je/Courtesy Reuters).

South Korean president Park Geun-hye came to office last year pledging a policy of trustpolitik designed to promote inter-Korean reconciliation through principled engagement while holding North Korea to account. The Economist suggested the policy should be named “distrustpolitik,” asserting that “the south does not trust the north to keep its promises; the north does not trust the south to follow through on its admonitions.” Both sides took the measure of each other last year during the closure and reopening of the Kaesong Industrial Complex, the industrial park in North Korea that combines North Korean labor with South Korean capital to produce goods to export internationally. That experience provides a valuable lesson for inter-Korean relations. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of January 10, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina speaks during a media conference in Dhaka on January 6, 2014. (Andrew Biraj/Courtesy Reuters) Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina speaks during a media conference in Dhaka on January 6, 2014. (Andrew Biraj/Courtesy Reuters)

Darcie Draudt, Charles McClean, Will Piekos, and Sharone Tobias look at the top stories in Asia this week.

1. Bangladesh’s governing party wins vote despite unrest. Bangladesh’s Awami League won 232 of 300 seats in the country’s new Parliament, with nearly half of the seats uncontested due to a boycott from the opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP), which labeled the election a sham. The government declared the average turnout to be 39.8 percent, though the opposition leader, Khaleda Zia, said that the turnout was closer to 10 percent. Twenty-two protesters were killed on Sunday, and seven were killed on Monday; the government also arrested seven high-ranking BNP leaders this week, including a close aide to Zia. The government has also demanded that the BNP cut ties with the banned Islamic party Jamaat-e-Islami. Read more »

Predictions for 2014

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Chinese sailors stand at attention on the helipad of the Chinese frigate Yancheng docked at Limassol port on January 4, 2014. (Andreas Manolis/Courtesy Reuters) Chinese sailors stand at attention on the helipad of the Chinese frigate Yancheng docked at Limassol port on January 4, 2014. (Andreas Manolis/Courtesy Reuters)

Just as in 2013, the new year promises to be a year of enormous dynamism and change in Asia. The region is now not only the biggest engine of global growth but also the center of multilateral free trade negotiations, the real heart of a democracy “spring” in developing nations–and the home of the rawest, most dangerous power politics in the world. After all, only in Asia do great powers with great stocks of nuclear weapons still face each other down, Cold War-style. In a new piece for Bloomberg, I offer my predictions for the region for 2014. Read it here.

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of January 3, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
cambodia-protest-police-clash A garment worker holds rocks as police officers stand with assault rifles in the background after clashes broke out during a protest in Phnom Penh on January 3, 2014. (Samrang Pring/Courtesy: Reuters)

Darcie Draudt, Will Piekos, and Sharone Tobias look at the top five stories in Asia this week.

1. Cambodian police fire on garment protesters, killing at least three. Police fired on garment workers and their supporters as they protested for higher wages on Friday. A spokesman for Phnom Penh’s police department said that three were killed and two wounded, while the United National special rapporteur to Cambodia claimed four were killed and dozens injured. Tensions began when police cracked down on a small demonstration outside a South Korean-owned factory on Thursday. Read more »

New Year’s Greetings From Kim Jong-un

by Scott A. Snyder
new-years-2014-in-pyongyang Fireworks explode in the sky over Pyongyang as part of New Year celebrations in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency. (KCNA/Courtesy: Reuters)

From fireworks over the Potonggang to the inauguration of a mysteriously newly procured ski lift at Masikryong Pass, North Korea’s leaders have undertaken great efforts to project a return to normalcy and the façade of unity under the Party’s leadership, progress in economic development, and the strengthening of national defense. These themes were reflected in Kim Jong-un’s New Year’s Day address, which annually sets the tone and states the priorities of the North Korean leadership. The speech focused on practical steps to improve North Korea’s domestic economy across a wide range of sectors under the Party’s centralized leadership. “Factional filth” of uncle Jang Song-taek is gone; keep calm, labor on. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of December 27, 2013

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
abe-visits-yasukuni-shrine Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe follows a Shinto priest during a visit to the Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo on December 26, 2013. Abe’s visit to the shrine for war dead has angered China and South Korea (Toru Hanai/Courtesy: Reuters).

Darcie Draudt, Will Piekos, and Sharone Tobias look at the top five stories in Asia this week.

1. Japanese prime minister pays his respects to Yasukuni Shrine. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe paid his respects at the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, which honors 2.5 million Japanese war dead, including over a dozen “Class A” war criminals. It was the first visit to the Shinto shrine by a serving prime minister since 2006, when Junichiro Koizumi went. Abe tried to play down the visit, saying it was an anti-war gesture, but Abe’s actions were widely and swiftly condemned; the Yasukuni Shrine is seen by the region as a symbol of Imperial Japanese aggression. China called the visit “absolutely unacceptable to the Chinese people”; South Korea expressed “regret and anger”; and the U.S. embassy in Tokyo said in a statement that it was “disappointed” and the prime minister’s actions would “exacerbate tensions” with Japan’s neighbors. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of December 20, 2013

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
India's Deputy Consul General in New York, Devyani Khobragade, attends a Rutgers University event at India's Consulate General in New York on June 19, 2013. (Mohammed Jaffer/Courtesy Reuters) India's Deputy Consul General in New York, Devyani Khobragade, attends a Rutgers University event at India's Consulate General in New York on June 19, 2013. (Mohammed Jaffer/Courtesy Reuters)

Darcie Draudt, Will Piekos, and Sharone Tobias look at the top five stories in Asia this week.

1. Fury erupts over Indian diplomat’s arrest in New York. Anti-American protests have erupted across India after Devyani Khobragade, India’s deputy consul general in New York, was arrested for allegedly underpaying a domestic worker and lying about her wages to obtain a U.S. visa for the woman. Khobragade claimed that she paid the women $4,500 per month, but the worker in fact received less than $600 per month, or approximately $3.13 per hour in wages. Khobragade said that she was handcuffed and faced a cavity search despite her diplomatic immunity; U.S. officials countered that she received preferential treatment, was allowed to keep her mobile phone, and did not face a cavity search. India lodged a formal complaint with U.S. ambassador to India Nancy Powell, and Indian politicians have refused to meet with a congressional delegation. A senior Indian diplomat also said that the government could retaliate against gay partners of U.S. diplomats. Read more »

North Korean Leadership Tremors: Catalyst for U.S.-ROK-China Cooperation?

by Scott A. Snyder
park-and-xi-in-beijing-june2013 South Korean president Park Geun-hye and Chinese president Xi Jinping agreed to push for new talks with North Korea at their first meeting on June 27, 2013 in Beijing. Following recent news of internal political upheaval in Pyongyang, coordinating the direction of South Korea-China-U.S. cooperation is all the more important (Wang Zhao/Courtesy Reuters).

I participated last Friday morning in a perfectly timed, wide-ranging panel discussion hosted by The Korea Society and named in honor of Robert A. Scalapino, formerly Professor of Political Science at UC Berkeley. (Bob was an excellent mentor, gentleman, and scholar-diplomat, in addition to being the broadest and deepest scholar on Asian politics of his generation.) Read more »

A New Strategy for a New Era

by Sheila A. Smith
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (4th L), flanked by Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera (5th L), reviews Japan Self-Defence Forces' (SDF) troops during the annual SDF ceremony at Asaka Base in Asaka, near Tokyo October 27, 2013 Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (4th L), flanked by Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera (5th L), reviews Japan Self-Defence Forces' (SDF) troops during the annual SDF ceremony at Asaka Base in Asaka, near Tokyo October 27, 2013 (Issei Kato/Courtesy Reuters).

Calling it a “proactive strategy for maintaining peace,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe today announced Japan’s new long-term National Security Strategy (NSS). This strategy statement is new for Japan, and represents the first comprehensive, “whole-of-government” effort to articulate the ends and means for Japan’s long-term security. While North Korea remains a serious challenge, the Abe cabinet has abandoned past hesitancy and has clearly identified China and its maritime activities as Japan’s primary security concern. Read more »

Kim Jong-un’s Post-Jang Song-taek Foreign Policy Void

by Scott A. Snyder
hu-and-jang-in-2012 Prior to his dismissal, Jang Song-taek was seen as a proponent of increased business ties with China. Here, Jang (L) shakes hands with Hu Jintao, then president of China, in Beijing on August 17, 2012 (China Daily/Courtesy: Reuters).

Following the drama of Jang Song-taek’s humiliation at a Korean Workers’ Party conclave and execution following a military tribunal last week, the next big question for foreign observers is what the implications are likely to be for North Korea’s relations with its neighbors. China’s perception of Jang as an economic partner may make Beijing unsure of their relationship with Pyongyang in the near term, and the consolidation of power under Kim Jong-un will make Seoul likewise wary of working with the young leader. Read more »