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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 "South Korea"

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of June 26, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew (L-R), Secretary of State John Kerry, China's State Councillor Yang Jiechi and Vice Premier Wang Yang arrive to deliver joint statements at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing July 10, 2014. The leaders were concluding the sixth round of U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue. REUTERS/Jim Bourg (CHINA - Tags: POLITICS) U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew (L-R), Secretary of State John Kerry, China's State Councillor Yang Jiechi and Vice Premier Wang Yang arrive to deliver joint statements at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing July 10, 2014 (Jim Bourg/Reuters).

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

1. U.S. and China meet in Washington, DC, for annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED). The talks, coming at a time of high tension between the two countries, managed to steer clear of acrimonious charges. The U.S. State Department highlighted 127 issues the two sides agreed upon at the S&ED, but agreements on China’s actions in the South China Sea and conflicting accusations of harmful activity in cyberspace were conspicuously absent. While both sides vowed to continue discussing a potential bilateral investment treaty, little was achieved on the economic side beyond platitudes about the importance of the US$590 billion of annual trade between the two countries. On a more positive note, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced that China promised to limit currency interventions, a small victory in Treasury’s long fight to get China to liberalize the yuan. Moving forward, more dialogue between the two countries will be necessary to keep the relationship constructive; hopefully Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Washington in September will help with that. Read more »

Challenges and Benefits of South Korea’s Middle Power Aspirations

by Scott A. Snyder
World leaders attend the opening plenary session of the G20 Summit in Seoul on November 12, 2010. (Yonhap Photo/Couresty: Reuters) World leaders attend the opening plenary session of the G20 Summit in Seoul on November 12, 2010. (Yonhap Photo/Couresty: Reuters)

South Koreans have been among the world’s early adopters in globalization over the past two decades, going from outpost to “node” by embracing networks, connectivity, and economic interdependence in startling fashion in a very short period of time. It has been commonplace for most South Koreans to think of themselves as a small country, buffeted by geostrategic factors beyond its control, consigned to its fate as a “shrimp among whales.” This narrative, generally speaking, conforms with the twentieth century historical experience on the Korean peninsula, which witnessed annexation, colonization, subjugation, and a moment of liberation, followed by division, war, and marginalization as an outpost of the Cold War. Outsider impressions of late twentieth century Korea tended to view Koreans as defensive, self-absorbed, xenophobic to varying degrees, and only capable of viewing the outside world through a distinctively “Korean” lens. Read more »

Japan-South Korea Relations on the Fiftieth Anniversary of Normalization

by Scott A. Snyder
South Korea's Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se (left) reaches out to shake hands with Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida at the foreign ministry's Iikura guest house in Tokyo on June 21, 2015. (Issei Kato/Courtesy: Reuters) South Korea's Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se (left) reaches out to shake hands with Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida at the foreign ministry's Iikura guest house in Tokyo on June 21, 2015. (Issei Kato/Courtesy: Reuters)

This post was co-authored with Brad Glosserman, executive director of Pacific Forum CSIS.

The Japan-South Korea relationship has been steadily improving in the run up to yesterday’s fiftieth anniversary of normalization.  In recent weeks ministerial–level bilateral contacts have resumed between economic and defense ministers. The relationship has essentially normalized (and the U.S. State Department spokesperson wasted no time in welcoming these developments), but President Park Geun-hye and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have yet to schedule a formal summit (although they have held informal encounters at the November 2014 APEC meeting in Beijing and on the occasion of Lee Kwan Yew’s funeral in Singapore earlier this spring). Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of June 12, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Zhou Yongkang, China's former domestic security chief, stands between his police escorts as he listens to his sentence in a court in Tianjin, China, in this still image taken from video provided by China Central Television and shot on June 11, 2015. According to CCTV, Zhou was sentenced to life imprisonment on Thursday, deprived of his political rights for life and his personal assets confiscated, for accepting bribes, abusing power and deliberately disclosing state secrets, the Tianjin Municipal No. 1 Intermediate People's Court ruled in its first instance. Zhou pleaded guilty and will not appeal. REUTERS/China Central Television via REUTERS TV Zhou Yongkang, China's former domestic security chief, stands between his police escorts as he listens to his sentence in a court in Tianjin, China, in this still image taken from video provided by China Central Television and shot on June 11, 2015 (CCTV/Reuters).

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

1. China’s ex-domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang to serve life sentence. The former Politburo Standing Committee member was convicted of abuse of power, accepting bribes, and revealing state secrets and sentenced to life in prison Thursday, just shy of a year after his arrest. While officials initially suggested Zhou’s trial would be open and transparent, it wasn’t, with Xinhua adopting the amusing terminology “non-public open trial” (in Chinese) to describe the proceedings. Zhou is the most senior Chinese official to be convicted of graft in PRC history, but this isn’t likely to be the end of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign (tigers beware!). Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of June 5, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Rescue workers stand on the river bank as the capsized cruise ship Eastern Star is pulled out of the Yangtze against sunset, in Jianli, Hubei province, China, June 5, 2015. Only 14 survivors, one of them the captain, have been found after the ship carrying 456 overturned in a freak tornado on Monday night. A total of 103 bodies have been found. REUTERS/China Daily CHINA OUT. Rescue workers stand on the river bank as the capsized cruise ship Eastern Star is pulled out of the Yangtze against sunset, in Jianli, Hubei province, China, on June 5, 2015 (China Daily/Reuters).

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

1. Up to 440 presumed dead after Chinese cruise ship capsizes. A Yangtze River cruise ship sank during a torrential rainstorm in Hubei Province Monday evening. While emergency services rushed to respond, four days later only fourteen passengers have been rescued, making this the most deadly peacetime maritime disaster in China’s recent history. Read more »

Korea and the AIIB

by Guest Blogger for Scott A. Snyder
Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a speech at the Korea China Investment Forum at a hotel in Seoul on July 4, 2014. (Kim Hong-Ji/Courtesy: Reuters) Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a speech at the Korea China Investment Forum at a hotel in Seoul on July 4, 2014. (Kim Hong-Ji/Courtesy: Reuters)

Min Hyung Kang is a former intern for Korea Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

South Korea’s decision to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as a founding member reminded observers of Korea’s place as a middle power caught between great powers. Korea’s interest in joining the AIIB is indicative of improving Korea-China relations, one of the determinants for security of the Korean peninsula. However, to the United States, South Korea’s strongest ally, Korea’s involvement in the AIIB may not be very pleasing especially when the AIIB seems like a mechanism designed to oppose U.S. influence in Asia. It seems that Korea is at a critical moment that may either extensively benefit or severely undermine its national interest. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of May 22, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
A Rohingya child who recently arrived by boat has his picture taken for identification purposes at a shelter in Kuala Langsa in Indonesia's Aceh province on May 18, 2015. (Roni Bintang/Courtesy: Reuters) A Rohingya child who recently arrived by boat has his picture taken for identification purposes at a shelter in Kuala Langsa in Indonesia's Aceh province on May 18, 2015. (Roni Bintang/Courtesy: Reuters)

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

1. Plight of migrants in Andaman Sea continues. As many as three thousand refugees, mostly Rohingya minority Muslims fleeing state-sanctioned persecution in Myanmar and Bangladeshi economic migrants, remain stranded in the waters in the Andaman Sea off the coast of Myanmar and Thailand. An estimated seven thousand refugees were abandoned by human traffickers during the past week without food or water in overcrowded boats; as many as fifty thousand attempt the trip each year. Read more »

Prime Minister Abe’s Very Good Visit

by Scott A. Snyder
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe addresses a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington on April 29, 2015. (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy: Reuters) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe addresses a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington on April 29, 2015. (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy: Reuters)

This post was co-authored with Brad Glosserman, executive director of Pacific Forum CSIS. A version of this post also appeared as a Pacific Forum CSIS PacNet publication, and can be found here.

Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s trip to the United States last week was about as productive and positive a state visit could hope to be. The trappings and status of the visit were second to none. It affirmed the importance of the U.S.-Japan partnership. It produced critical, forward-looking documents to chart the course of the U.S.-Japan relationship. Abe delivered remarks to enthusiastic and approving audiences. Significantly, there were no gaffes to muddy the message or the image he sought to present to the United States, Japan, and the rest of the world. Prime Minister Abe and his entourage should be delighted with the results. Read more »

South Koreans’ Outlook on China and the United States

by Scott A. Snyder
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a Veterans Day event at the U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan in Seoul, on November11, 2010. (Jim Young/Courtesy: Reuters) U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a Veterans Day event at the U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan in Seoul, on November11, 2010. (Jim Young/Courtesy: Reuters)

This post was co-authored by Darcie Draudt, research associate for Korea Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

On April 20, the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul released its latest report on South Korean public views on the United States. Overall, the numbers track fairly consistently with recent annual polls (Asan has tracked this data in 2012, 2013, and 2014): South Koreans polled view the United States as the major political and military, if not also economic, leader in the region. However, an overwhelming number of South Koreans expect that Chinese economic power will necessarily rise and U.S. economic power is declining; 70.5 percent believe China will be the future economic superpower while a mere 20.2 percent chose the United States. Read more »

Abe’s Best Strategic Play Is South Korea

by Scott A. Snyder
abe kennedy library tour Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe tours the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library with U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg and her husband Edwin Schlossberg in Boston on April 26, 2015. (Brian Snyder/Courtesy: Reuters)

This post was co-authored with Brad Glosserman, executive director of Pacific Forum CSIS.

Since taking office in December 2012, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has shown himself to be a strong political leader and a keen strategic thinker. Agreement on new U.S.-Japan defense guidelines, scheduled to be reached next week, and a deal with Washington on the Trans-Pacific Partnership will further strengthen his reputation and standing. But Abe’s most prudent geostrategic move is the one that he has not yet made: reconciliation with America’s other close ally in Northeast Asia, South Korea. Read more »