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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 "Southeast Asia"

Park’s Impeachment, Duterte’s Drug War in Photos, and More

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
park-impeachment-protest People react after an impeachment vote on South Korean President Park Geun-hye was passed, in front of the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea. (News1 via Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Sherry Cho, Gabriella Meltzer, David O’Connor, and Gabriel Walker look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. South Korea’s National Assembly votes to impeach Park Geun-hye. On Friday, South Korea’s 300-member National Assembly voted 234 to 56 to impeach President Park Geun-hye. The decisive vote, for which many members of Park’s own Saenuri party joined opposition and independent assembly-members in a secret ballot to vote for her impeachment, follows months of escalating scandal centered on charges of influence-peddling. Read more »

What Does the Bloodshed in Rakhine State Tell Us?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
myanmar-rakhine Locals protest against former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who is visiting in his capacity as the Myanmar government-appointed Chairman of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, near Sittwe airport, Rakhine state, Myanmar on December 2, 2016. (Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)

The ongoing bloodshed in Rakhine State, where security forces reportedly are engaging in a rising pattern of abuses against Rohingya, seems to be worsening. International human rights groups have warned that violence is escalating, and Kofi Annan, head of an international commission to study conditions in Rakhine State, this week told reporters he was “deeply concerned” with reports of dozens of Rohingya killed in the state in recent weeks, according to the New York Times. Human rights groups have warned that security forces are targeting groups of Rohingya for extrajudicial executions and also are blocking aid shipments to areas of northern Rakhine State. Read more »

Philippine Politics Become Even More Dangerous

by Joshua Kurlantzick
duterte-2 Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte salutes during the change of command for the new Armed Forces chief at a military camp in Quezon city, Metro Manila, on December 7, 2016. (Erik De Castro/Reuters)

Since the election, last spring, of President Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines has witnessed the effects of increasingly demagogic politics on its culture and institutions. While Duterte has won praise domestically and internationally for some of his efforts, including plans to resolve the southern insurgency and strategies to reduce economic inequality in the Philippines, he also has increasingly personalized politics, while dramatically undermining the rule of law. Campaigning as a demagogue, he has often governed as a demagogue, brooking little opposition and overseeing bloody policies. Read more »

Bird Flu, North Korean Coal Crunch, and More

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
bird-flu-south-korea South Korean health officials disinfect a vehicle to prevent spread of bird flu in Pocheon, South Korea, November 23, 2016. (Kim Myeong-jin/News1 via Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Erik Crouch, Sherry Cho, Gabriella Meltzer, and Gabriel Walker look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Bird flu outbreak puts Asian nations on high alert. A newly identified spate of bird flu outbreaks has alarmed public health officials across Asia. Bird flu, more formally known as Avian influenza, is a virus that occurs naturally among wild aquatic birds, but can spread to domestic poultry and sometimes to humans. These fears harken back to an H5N1 strain that that killed 450 people throughout the 2000s. Read more »

Podcast: The Origins of the American Alliance System in Asia

by Elizabeth C. Economy
U.S. and Japan Self-Defence Force's soldiers listen a speech by U.S. President Barack Obama during his visits at Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station, enroute to Hiroshima, Japan May 27, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria U.S. and Japan Self-Defence Force's soldiers listen a speech by U.S. President Barack Obama during his visit at Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station, enroute to Hiroshima, Japan on May 27, 2016. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Harvard Professor Joseph Nye once said that “security is like oxygen: you do not tend to notice it until you begin to lose it.” Alliances also often function like oxygen, with the security and stability they provide going underappreciated argues Victor Cha, the director of Asian studies and D.S. Song-Korea Foundation professor of government and international affairs at Georgetown University. Read more »

Moving Forward in Southeast Asia

by Joshua Kurlantzick
duterte-speech-airport Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks after arriving from Malaysia at Davao International airport in Davao city in southern Philippines, November 11, 2016. (Lean Daval, Jr./Reuters)

Although Southeast Asia was not mentioned often during the presidential campaign, the new U.S. administration will face several imminent regional challenges. For one, the relationship between the United States and the Philippines has deteriorated significantly since the election of President Rodrigo Duterte earlier this year. Duterte has publicly blasted U.S. officials and U.S. policy in the region, suggested he wants to move Philippine foreign policy closer to China, and threatened to scale down joint military exercises. Duterte expressed seeming approval of Trump’s election, presenting a possibility to restore closer ties, but the fact that Trump—a figure with some similar characteristics as Duterte—was elected will probably not change the Philippine president’s underlying anti-American worldview. Read more »

For Clues About Trump, Look Around the World

by Joshua Kurlantzick
trump-1 U.S. President elect Donald Trump reacts to a crowd gathered in the lobby of the New York Times building after a meeting in New York, U.S., on November 22, 2016. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

In the wake of Donald Trump’s stunning electoral victory, many American political analysts are arguing that his presidency has virtually no precedent, and so it is impossible to know how he might govern. Unlike all presidents since Dwight Eisenhower, Trump was never an elected politician, and even Eisenhower had extensive experience with government and public policy. Trump has few clear views on most policy issues, and has repeatedly disdained the norms of American politics. Even within the Republican Party leadership, which now wields more power in Washington than any one party in decades, there is deep confusion over how the president will lead. Read more »

Rakhine Lockdown, Hong Kong Disqualifications, Choigate, and More

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
rohingya-children Rohingya Muslim boys stand in U Shey Kya village outside Maungdaw in Rakhine state, Myanmar, October 27, 2016. (Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Sherry Cho, Gabriella Meltzer, and Gabriel Walker look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Rohingyas suffer under Rakhine lockdown. Myanmar’s Rakhine State, home to roughly 1.1 million stateless Muslims self-identified as Rohingya, has been on military lockdown since October 9 following attacks on three border security posts. Government officials claim that the perpetrators were members of a jihadist organization, and that military exercises are counterterrorism measures. The military’s goal is to eradicate the presence of the group Aqa Lul Mujahidin, which is reportedly linked to the Organization for Rohingya Security, an armed group active during the 1990s. Read more »

Southeast Asia Responds to the U.S. Election

by Joshua Kurlantzick
trump-southeast-asia A newspaper seller prepares her stall with articles dominated by the election of U.S. Republican Donald Trump, in Jakarta, Indonesia on November 10, 2016. (Beawiharta/Reuters)

While the incoming U.S. presidential administration focuses on domestic issues that drove the presidential campaign, from health care to tax reform, U.S. relations with Southeast Asia are likely to be mostly forgotten. Southeast Asian states were not a focus of the campaign, although the presidential candidates did condemn the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which included much of Southeast Asia and is now almost surely dead. Even the South China Sea, the most critical security issue in the region, received only occasional mentions on the campaign trail. Read more »

What is Happening in Western Myanmar?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
western-myanmar-rohingya Men walk at a Rohingya village outside Maugndaw in Rakhine state, Myanmar on October 27, 2016. (Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)

Over the past month, the situation in western Myanmar’s Rakhine State, which has been extremely volatile since an eruption of violence in the early 2010s, has deteriorated once again. Following an attack on police outposts near the border with Bangladesh in early October, which killed at least nine policemen, the state is on edge. Some human rights groups have reported that the security forces and police, as well as individuals, are striking back at ethnic Rohingya, since militant Rohingya Muslims were believed to be behind the killings of the police. Read more »