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Asia Unbound

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

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Showing posts for "North Korea"

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 »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of December 13, 2013

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
South Korean soldiers walk past a television showing reports on the execution of Jang Song-taek, who is North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's uncle, at a railway station in Seoul on December 13, 2013. (Kim Hong-ji/Courtesy Reuters) South Korean soldiers walk past a television showing reports on the execution of Jang Song-taek, who is North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's uncle, at a railway station in Seoul on December 13, 2013. (Kim Hong-ji/Courtesy Reuters)

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

1. North Korea announces execution of top official. The Korean Central News Agency announced yesterday the execution of Jang Song-taek, a top North Korean official and uncle of leader Kim Jong-un. The announcement follows Jang’s highly publicized arrest, which was unprecedented in North Korea; at an enlarged meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Korean Workers’ Party, Jang was charged with “anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional acts” against the “unity and cohesion of the party.” Read more »

The Removal of Jang Song-taek

by Scott A. Snyder
jang-song-taek-ousted North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (L) and North Korean politician Jang Song-taek (R) attended a commemoration event for the Korean People’s Army in Pyongyang July 25, 2013. Jang’s dismissal from senior party posts was confirmed at a December 8, 2013, meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Korean Workers’ Party. (Jason Lee/Courtesy: Reuters)

There is nothing like a good purge to spark off speculation about the future of an opaque totalitarian regime like the one in North Korea. The problem, of course, is that unless one knows what is going on inside the leader’s head (a tough task for even the most seasoned analyst) events are impossible to predict and exceedingly difficult to explain. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of December 6, 2013

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (L) inside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on December 4, 2013. (Lintao Zhang/Courtesy Reuters) Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (L) inside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on December 4, 2013. (Lintao Zhang/Courtesy Reuters)

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

1. White House declares China’s East China Sea air defense zone (ADIZ) “unacceptable.” The White House called China’s new air defense zone “unacceptable” on Thursday but stopped short of calling for China to rescind the declaration. Imposed on November 23, the ADIZ means that all aircraft must report flight plans to Chinese authorities and reply promptly to identification inquiries. The United States, Japan, and South Korea have all sent military aircraft through the zone without informing Beijing since it was first imposed. U.S. vice president Joe Biden said that he had “very direct” talks about U.S. concerns over the ADIZ while meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping this week. Read more »

Challenges in Designing an Effective North Korean Human Rights Policy

by Scott A. Snyder
refugee-interview-photos North Korean refugees provide some of the mounting evidence against systemic human rights abuses in North Korea. Here, one refugee shows pictures of his family in North Korea. (Kim Hong-Ji/Courtesy Reuters).

There is no more vexing issue than the challenge of how to support the improvement of human rights in North Korea, a country that has consistently ranked at the bottom of international indices rating human freedom around the world.  The U.S. Congress passed the North Korea Human Rights Act almost a decade ago, the United Nations has appointed a rapporteur to examine the human rights situation inside North Korea for almost as long, and the Korean Institute for National Unification has published an ever-growing annual white paper on North Korean human rights since 1996.  This year the UN Human Rights Council appointed a Commission of Inquiry that has held public hearings in Seoul, Tokyo, London, and Washington, DC; the commission will report back to the UN Human Rights Council with its assessment and recommendations by spring of next year.  But the stream of North Korean refugee testimony to unspeakable atrocities and evidence of systemic abuses inside North Korea continues to grow. Read more »

The Economic Costs of North Korean Nuclear Development

by Scott A. Snyder
Kim Jong-un, here at the May 11 Factory, is taking a greater interest in economic reforms that may impact the international trade prospects for North Korea. Kim Jong-un, here at the May 11 Factory, is taking a greater interest in economic reforms that may impact the international trade prospects for North Korea (KCNA/Courtesy Reuters).

International sanctions have thus far failed to convince North Korean leadership that they cannot survive as a nuclear weapons state.  With its policy of simultaneously pursuing economic and nuclear development, North Korean leaders clearly assume they can manage the economic costs resulting from nuclear development. But the costs of such a policy are staggering compared to the economic benefits North Korea might enjoy without nuclear weapons. Comparing the estimated costs of the nuclear program to economic growth with the benefits of becoming a normal economy integrated with its neighbors reveals the steep price of the byungjin policy. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of November 22, 2013

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Paramilitary policemen walk past Erdaoqiao Grand Bazaar in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region on November 17, 2013 (Rooney Chen). Paramilitary policemen walk past Erdaoqiao Grand Bazaar in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region, on November 17, 2013. (Rooney Chen/Courtesy Reuters)

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

1. Bloomberg dogged by self-censorship questions. Bloomberg News reporter Michael Forsythe, who worked on an unpublished article about a Chinese tycoon and his ties to CCP leaders, left the company this past week. The move came after it was reported that the unpublished article was rejected by top editors, led by editor in chief Matthew Winkler, because of fears that Bloomberg would be banished from China. Mr. Winkler has denied these claims, instead arguing that the article was not ready for publication. Read more »