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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 "Regional Architecture"

The Daunting Challenges Ahead for U.S. Policy Toward Asia

by Scott A. Snyder
Georgetown University professor Victor Cha (center) discuss U.S.-Asia Policy with former and current assistant secretaries of state for East Asia and Pacific Affairs (from L to R) Winston Lord, Kurt Campbell, Richard H. Solomon and Christopher Hill. (Courtesy Elizabeth Leader) Georgetown University professor Victor Cha (center) discuss U.S.-Asia Policy with former and current assistant secretaries of state for East Asia and Pacific Affairs (from L to R) Winston Lord, Kurt Campbell, Richard H. Solomon and Christopher Hill. (Courtesy Elizabeth Leader)

Georgetown University hosted four current and former assistant secretaries of state for East Asia and Pacific Affairs—Richard H. Solomon (1989-1992), Winston Lord (1993-1996), Christopher Hill (2005-2009), and Kurt Campbell (2009-present)—on November 1 for a wide-ranging discussion of their views, experiences, and challenges as the senior officials responsible for managing U.S. policy toward Asia during their respective administrations.  The discussion provided a tour d’horizon of the recent history of U.S. engagement with Asia, in addition to showcasing the impressive diplomatic, analytical, and communications skills that each man brought to the job.  I drew the following takeaways from the conversation: Read more »

Can China Lead?

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Protesters march down a street during an anti-Japan protest in Shenzhen on August 19, 2012. Protesters march down a street during an anti-Japan protest in Shenzhen on August 19, 2012. (Keita Van / Courtesy Reuters)

Yesterday, I participated in a BBC/Carnegie Endowment debate on the U.S. presidential campaign and policy toward China with the eminent and estimable Ambassadors Chas W. Freeman, Jr. and J. Stapleton Roy, and Tsinghua University scholar Yan Xuetong.  The full debate is available here.

The discussion was wide-ranging, but what struck me most was an assertion by one of the panelists that the next U.S. president will have to deal with the fact that China has surpassed the United States as the number one power (based on the size of its economy). As a result, in his opinion, China will no longer feel the need to defer to the United States and the current arrangement of international institutions. Read more »

Liaoning – Paper Tiger or Growing Cub?

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
The Liaoning, China's first aircraft carrier, seen following its maiden sea trial at Dalian Port, Liaoning province, on August 15, 2011. The Liaoning, China's first aircraft carrier, seen following its maiden sea trial at Dalian Port, Liaoning province, on August 15, 2011. (China Daily China Daily Information Corp - CDIC/Courtesy Reuters)

Colonel Brian Killough is the U.S. Air Force Military Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

On Tuesday, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) joined 9 other nations—the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, India, Thailand, Spain, Italy, and Brazil—that have aircraft carriers in their naval arsenal. But what does that mean for nations in the region and how should we assess the long-term implications? Read more »

U.S. Rebalancing and Japan-South Korea Defense Cooperation

by Scott A. Snyder
7.9.12_U.S Rebalancing

Since Lee Myung-bak’s visit to Washington in October 2011 there has been an air of self-congratulation surrounding the U.S.-ROK alliance relationship.  President Obama  shared publicly that Lee Myung-bak is one of his closest colleagues among world leaders and referred to the U.S.-ROK alliance as a lynchpin for Asia-Pacific security.  The alliance has reached new heights with KORUS ratification and close coordination in response to North Korean provocations.  South Korea has also emerged as a trusted contributor to international security in cooperation with the United States. Read more »

Economics and Indian Strategy

by Evan A. Feigenbaum
Leaders of Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bangladesh, India, Bhutan, Nepal, and Thailand pose for a picture at the second summit of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) in New Delhi, November 13, 2008. (B Mathur / Courtesy Reuters) Leaders of Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bangladesh, India, Bhutan, Nepal, and Thailand pose for a picture at the second summit of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) in New Delhi, November 13, 2008. (B Mathur / Courtesy Reuters)
South Asia is among the least economically integrated regions of the world, in part because partition cleaved apart various natural economic communities. Regions, such as Bengal, which had been well integrated historically, suffered considerable economic ill effects. And post-1947 policies have only exacerbated the problem through tariffs, production restrictions, and various trade controls.

Actually, the lack of economic integration in South Asia is endemic. It’s not just a challenge for India and Pakistan but for many other countries in South Asia as well. Read more »

Kim Jong-nam and the Question of North Korea’s Leadership Stability

by Scott A. Snyder
Kim Jong-nam looks around upon his deportation from Japan. (Eriko Sugita/Courtesy Reuters) Kim Jong-nam looks around upon his deportation from Japan. (Eriko Sugita/Courtesy Reuters)

North Korea’s leadership succession from Kim Jong-il to Kim Jong-un has gone according to script. The Korean Worker’s Party and the Korean People’s Army are supporting Kim Jong-un as North Korea’s new leader and North Korea’s propaganda machine hasn’t missed a beat in announcing new titles, manufacturing accomplishments, and portraying Kim Jong-un as a Great Successor worthy of the name. But despite these efforts, there are two notable missing pieces: Read more »

Asia Behind the Headlines

by Elizabeth C. Economy
An employee hoses a China Railway High-speed Harmony bullet train at the high-speed train maintenance base in Wuhan, Hubei province on October 19, 2011.

An employee hoses a China Railway High-speed Harmony bullet train at the high-speed train maintenance base in Wuhan, Hubei province on October 19, 2011. (Stringer Shanghai / Courtesy Reuters)

Jared Mondschein looks at the key stories in Asia behind the headlines.

Clamping down in cyberspace: With more than 485 million Internet users and 300 million microbloggers, the Internet in China allows “netizens” to voice their opinions on everything from Wukan to Beijing’s air quality to North Korea. Beijing, however, has never been quite comfortable with such an open marketplace of ideas. Now, in an attempt to “purge online rumors and enhance social credibility,” Guangzhou and Shenzhen have joined Beijing in requiring new users of China’s microblogs to register with their real names. China’s netizens unsurprisingly have not taken well to the clampdown, as one microblogger wrote: “There will only ever be a single voice speaking now.”

Who’s the fairest of them all? There’s no doubt that the center of economic gravity in Asia is China, while the United States holds the security card for the region. But whom do regular citizens across the region prefer? According to a Gallup poll of citizens in Cambodia, Australia, South Korea, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines, for the most part there is a higher approval for U.S. leadership: The median approval rate for U.S. leadership stands at 44 percent while China’s is at 30 percent. Respondents ranked U.S. leadership more highly than Chinese in eight out of the nine countries polled. Read more »

What Can the East Asia Summit Do for Northeast Asia?

by Scott A. Snyder
Leaders walk during dinner at the East Asia Summit gala dinner in Nusa Dua, Bali

Leaders walk during dinner at the East Asia Summit gala dinner in Nusa Dua, Bali November 18, 2011 (Beawiharta/Courtesy Reuters).

Although this weekend’s East Asia Summit (EAS) is the sixth in the series, it will be part of American awareness for the first time as a result of America’s decision to join the group (with Russia) and President Obama’s first-time participation. In some respects, it will be a new start for the organization. EAS priorities do appear to have been reshuffled as a result of American membership away from economics and toward three main issues that mesh well with American priorities: disaster relief, nonproliferation, and maritime security. While the United States has reportedly been careful not to usurp leadership within the EAS, ASEAN thus far seems very responsive to American priorities. However, Korea University’s Lee Shin-wha argues in this month’s Korea Update essay that there is a deep disconnect between East Asian summitry and Northeast Asian security needs that is likely to remain. The sixth EAS may feel like a new start, but there is a long way to go in establishing effective regional-based solutions to acute and longstanding security problems such as the standoff on the Korean peninsula. Read more »

Asia’s Landlocked Spaces

by Evan A. Feigenbaum

A Kyrgyz customs officer talks on a radio in front of workers as they reload cargo from a Chinese truck to Kyrgyz one at the Irkeshtam border crossing in southern Kyrgyzstan. Courtesy Reuters/Vladimir Pirogov.

Chris Rickleton, a Bishkek-based journalist, has a fascinating piece up on EurasiaNet about prospective Chinese rail construction in Kyrgyzstan. The piece cuts directly to tough political choices—namely, the push and pull between Russian and Chinese interests in Central Asia and, more important, how politicians in landlocked countries, like Kyrgyzstan, must try to balance among the larger countries on whom their economies depend for transit.

I’ve written a lot on efforts to reconnect trade and transit routes across continental Asia. You can read some of what I’ve argued herehereherehere, and here.

But Rickleton’s piece got me thinking about two questions:

(1) Since the obstacles to continental trade and transit are so high, is the game really worth the candle?

This is especially relevant because Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is vigorously promoting a “New Silk Road” concept, drawing heavily on a decade of prior efforts and experiences.

(2) With so much focus on the interests of the outside powers—Russia, China, Iran, and the United States, among others—what about the interests of the landlocked countries themselves?

Read more »

Dialogue and “Strategic Patience” with North Korea

by Scott A. Snyder
U.S. Special Envoy for North Korea Policy Stephen Bosworth (R) and U.S ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency Glyn Davies (L) leave their hotel for the United States Mission in Geneva October 25, 2011

U.S. Special Envoy for North Korea Policy Stephen Bosworth (R) and U.S ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency Glyn Davies (L) leave their hotel for the United States Mission in Geneva October 25, 2011. (Denis Balibouse/Courtesy Reuters)

U.S.-DPRK meetings in Geneva held early this week with the objective of reviving denuclearization negotiations have ended with a whimper. The apparent lack of sufficient progress to move forward will underscore lingering doubts about the North Korean will to pursue denuclearization via negotiations, which along with diplomatic normalization, economic development, and peace were the main agenda items of the moribund Six Party Talks. Despite Chinese exhortations to come back to Six Party Talks and Kim Jong-il’s willingness to return to talks as soon as possible based on the “principle of simultaneous action,” Six Party Talks can have no utility—and should not proceed—unless North Korea affirms that denuclearization is on the agenda.

Despite the disappointing outcome, the Obama administration was right to pursue the dialogue and to reiterate its insistence that North Korea take actions to restore the status quo ante that existed at the time of the last round of Six Party Talks in December 2008. This is the significance of the “pre-steps” for resumption of six-party negotiations: that North Korea pledge not to continue to pursue nuclear and missile tests, that it not engage in military provocations with South Korea, and that it come clean on the uranium enrichment program it revealed to Sig Hecker in November 2010. A failure to insist on these actions would allow North Korea to use resumption of the Six Party Talks to claim international recognition, if not acceptance, of its nuclear accomplishments, while a North Korean affirmation of the denuclearization agenda provides a pathway by which to return to Six Party Talks and abandon nuclear weapons development.

Read more »