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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"

China’s Not-So-Beautiful Neighborhood

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. (Fred Prouser/Courtesy Reuters)

It is time for China and the rest of Asia to wave good-bye to Mr. Rogers. The Asia Pacific is no longer a beautiful neighborhood. Instead, it has become a battleground for demarcating property lines, grandiose plans for home expansion, and a general lack of good manners. And the situation is only likely to get more contentious with the arrival of Xi Jinping and the new Chinese Politburo Standing Committee to the neighborhood. Read more »

The U.S. Pivot to Asia: Much More Than a Military Rebalance

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
U.S. President Barack Obama smiles as he poses for a photo with (L-R) Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen, China's Premier Wen Jiabao, and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard at the 21st ASEAN and East Asia summits in Phnom Penh on November 19, 2012. U.S. President Barack Obama smiles as he poses for a photo with (L-R) Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen, China's Premier Wen Jiabao, and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard at the 21st ASEAN and East Asia summits in Phnom Penh on November 19, 2012. (Damir Sagolf/Courtesy Reuters)

Dr. Paula Briscoe is National Intelligence Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

President Obama’s trip to Southeast Asia this week brings into sharp relief the challenges facing the administration: how to retain influence in the region and honor commitments to allies without provoking China or furthering suspicions of encirclement.

In numerous remarks and public statements President Obama’s cabinet have been on message stressing the need for balance. On November 15, the day before the president departed on his five-day trip, the National Security Advisor, Tom Donilon, reiterated the importance that the United States places on getting this balance right: “The United States is a Pacific power whose interests are inextricably linked with Asia’s economic, security, and political order. America’s success in the twenty-first century is tied to the success of Asia.” Read more »

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 »