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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 "Philippines"

How Could the Philippines’ Money Laundering Woes Affect Overseas Workers?

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Salud Bautista (R), president of PhilRem Service Corporation, a remittance and money changer company, answers questions from Senators, beside her lawyer, during a Senate hearing of money laundering involving $81 million stolen from Bangladesh's central bank, at the Philippine Senate in Manila April 19, 2016. REUTERS/Erik De Castro TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY Salud Bautista (R), president of PhilRem Service Corporation, a remittance and money changing company, answers questions from senators during a hearing at the Philippine Senate in Manila on money laundering involving $81 million stolen from Bangladesh's central bank on April 19, 2016. Greater scrutiny of PhilRem could have implications for other Philippine remittance services around the world. (Erik De Castro/Reuters)

Rachel Brown is a research associate in Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

In February, $81 million stolen from the central bank of Bangladesh’s account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York was laundered through the Philippines. Most observers worried about the security of the institutions involved. But equally if not more important is the potential impact on overseas Filipino workers. Increased scrutiny of vulnerabilities in the Philippines’ anti-money laundering provisions could make it harder for the over ten million Filipinos working abroad to send remittances home, as has occurred in many other developing nations. Globally, the Philippines is the third-highest recipient of remittances, which compromised 10 percent of GDP in 2014. These funds help fuel domestic consumption, and anything that affects the cost or ease of sending money to the nation will have significant economic implications. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of April 15, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
China-water-pollution A man walks by a pipe discharging waste water into the Yangtze River from a paper mill in Anqing, Anhui province, December 4, 2013. (William Hong/Reuters)

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

1. China’s greatest pollution nightmare may be lurking underground. According to statistics released by the Chinese media on Monday, over 80 percent of water from 2,103 underground wells tested throughout the country is polluted to the point where it is no longer safe for drinking or bathing. Read more »

Prevent the Destruction of Scarborough Shoal

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Boats at Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea are shown in this handout photo provided by Planet Labs, and captured on March 12, 2016. The head of U.S. naval operations, Admiral John Richardson said the U.S. military had seen Chinese activity around Scarborough Shoal in the northern part of the Spratly archipelago, about 125 miles (200 km) west of the Philippine base of Subic Bay. REUTERS/Planet Labs/Handout via Reuters ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY Boats at Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea are shown in this handout photo provided by Planet Labs, and captured on March 12, 2016. The head of U.S. naval operations, Admiral John Richardson said the U.S. military had seen Chinese activity around Scarborough Shoal in the northern part of the Spratly archipelago, about 125 miles (200 km) west of the Philippine base of Subic Bay. (Courtesy Reuters/Planet Labs).

Captain Sean R. Liedman currently serves as the U.S. Navy Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.  Previously, he was the commander of Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing Eleven operating the P-8A and P-3C maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft. He has twice served in the Air Warfare Division on the Chief of Naval Operation’s staff and also as the executive assistant to the deputy commander of U.S. Central Command.  The conclusions and opinions expressed are his own and do not reflect the official position of the U.S. government.

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Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of March 18, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Bangladesh-bank-theft Maia Santos Deguito, branch manager of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC), rubs her eyes as she testifies during a Senate hearing of money laundering involving the theft of $81 million from the U.S. account of the Bangladesh Bank, at the Philippine Senate in Manila, March 17, 2016. (Erik De Castro/Reuters)

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

1. Bangladeshi bank chief resigns after $101 million cyber theft. The governor of Bangladesh’s central bank stepped down in the wake of a financial heist involving hackers, casinos, and multiple Asian nations. In early February, $81 million were transferred electronically from Bangladesh’s Federal Reserve Bank of New York account to the Philippines, mainly to accounts at the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation. The funds were eventually laundered through casinos, which are not required to adhere to some of the nation’s money-laundering regulations. Read more »

The Philippines Reaches a Crossroads

by Joshua Kurlantzick
philippines-aquino-2016 Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) and Philippine President Benigno Aquino listen during a APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) dialogue at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Manila, Philippines on November 18, 2015. (Wally Santana/Reuters)

For the past five years, the Philippines, which long lagged behind faster-growing Asian economies like Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Indonesia, has posted some of the highest annual growth rates in the region. Although the Philippines’ boom has not received as much attention from investors and the international media as one might have imagined, the numbers are impressive. ANZ Bank projects the country to grow by 6.1 percent in 2016. In 2014, the country’s economy also grew by over six percent, and in 2015 it grew by 5.8 percent, according to World Bank data. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of October 23, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Xi-and-queen-10-23-15 Chinese President Xi Jinping with Queen Elizabeth II at a state banquet at Buckingham Palace, London, during the first day of his state visit to Britain. Tuesday October 20, 2015. (Dominic Lipinski/Reuters)

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

1. Xi Jinping visits the United Kingdom. Fresh off his trip to the United States, Chinese President Xi Jinping made an official visit to the UK, meeting with Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister David Cameron. As with Xi’s U.S. trip, PRC propagandists have pulled no punches, airing warm and fuzzy videos explaining how good China-UK relations are and showing thousands of Chinese nationals “spontaneously” lining London’s streets to wave pro-China banners shipped in by the country’s UK embassy. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of June 19, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Flagbearers lower a Chinese national flag beside a banner set up by pro-democracy protesters outside Legislative Council in Hong Kong, China June 16, 2015. Hong Kong's leader warned on Tuesday that violence will not be tolerated, a day after authorities arrested 10 people and seized suspected explosives ahead of a crucial vote on a China-backed electoral reform package this week. Security has been stepped up across the Chinese-ruled city, including at government buildings and train stations, as it braces for a fresh showdown over plans for how its next leader is elected in 2017. REUTERS/Bobby Yip TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY Flagbearers lower a Chinese national flag beside a banner set up by pro-democracy protesters outside Legislative Council in Hong Kong, China, on June 16, 2015 (Bobby Yip/Reuters).

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

1. Hong Kong legislators reject a proposed framework for electing the next chief executive. The plan would have allowed the people of Hong Kong to elect a chief executive from a slate of three candidates chosen by a pro-Beijing nominating committee. While the measure was expected to fail—it needed to pass by a two-thirds majority—a botched attempt to boycott the vote by pro-Beijing lawmakers resulted in an embarrassing defeat of 28-8 that left one legislator in tears. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of May 8, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Security forces and rescue workers inspect an abandoned camp at a rubber plantation near a mountain in Thailand's southern Songkhla province on May 7, 2015 (Surapan Boonthanom/Courtesy: Reuters). Security forces and rescue workers inspect an abandoned camp at a rubber plantation near a mountain in Thailand's southern Songkhla province on May 7, 2015 (Surapan Boonthanom/Courtesy: Reuters).

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

1. Mass graves of human trafficking camp unearthed in Thailand. Police exhumed twenty-six bodies at a mass grave located in the jungles of Songkhla province this week. Most of the migrants once held at the now abandoned site were Rohingya Muslim refugees from western Myanmar and Bangladesh. According to reports, this camp was made up of “bamboo cages, watchtowers and what Thai police described as a torture room.” Even as the grave was discovered, more than fifty Thai police officers were punished over suspected links to human trafficking networks. The mass grave was hardly the first indicator that Thailand has a booming human trafficking business and it remains to be seen if the Thai government can successfully undertake steps necessary to combat human trafficking. Read more »

Philippines and Vietnam Rapidly Building Strategic Partnership

by Joshua Kurlantzick
benigno-aquino-nguyen-tan-dung Philippines' President Benigno Aquino (R) greets Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung during his courtesy call at the Malacanang Presidential Palace in Manila on May 21, 2014. (Aaron Favila/Courtesy: Reuters)

Until the past five years, the Philippines and Vietnam had minimal strategic ties other than working together, through ASEAN initiatives, on a range of nontraditional security issues. The two countries had very different styles of leadership—the Philippines is a vibrant democracy with one of the freest media markets in the world, while Vietnam remains run by a highly opaque Party—and Hanoi remained wary of diverging from its strategy of hedging close ties with China with increasingly close relations with the United States. By contrast, the Philippines, despite a very mixed historical relationship with the United States, was (and is) a U.S. treaty ally and one of Washington’s closest partners in Southeast Asia. Read more »

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

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Philippine President Benigno Aquino delivers a speech in front of the caskets of the slain members of the Special Action Force (SAF) who were killed in Sunday's clash with Muslim rebels, during a service inside a police headquarters in Taguig city, south of Manila January 30, 2015. Aquino urged legislators on Wednesday not to abandon a plan for autonomy for Muslims to end a decades-old insurgency after the clash in which dozens of people were killed, saying doing so would dash hopes for peace. A top official described the clash on Sunday, which shattered a three-year ceasefire, as a "misencounter" during a bid to arrest two militants who had taken refuge with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco (PHILIPPINES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW MILITARY) Philippine President Benigno Aquino delivers a speech in front of the caskets of the slain members of the Special Action Force (SAF) who were killed in Sunday's clash with Muslim rebels, during a service inside a police headquarters in Taguig city, south of Manila, on January 30, 2015 (Romeo Ranoco/Courtesy Reuters).

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

1. Forty-four commandos killed in the Philippines. On January 25, forty-four commandos in the Philippine Special Action Force (SAF) were slain in a firefight with two Muslim rebel groups in the southern province of Maguindanao. The area in which the raid took place is currently held by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) who signed a peace deal with the government last year to end years of fighting; MILF was apparently uninformed of the planned raid. The team of 392 had been deployed to capture two high-value terror suspects: suspected bombmaker Abdul Basit Usman and Malaysian Zulkifli Bin Hir, also known as Marwan. President Benigno Aquino held a ceremony to honor those killed and urged the nation to support the ongoing peace process. Read more »