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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"

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of September 23, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
indonesia-forest-fire A resident tries to put out a bush fire with a tree branch in Pekanbaru, Riau, Sumatra island, Indonesia, August 23, 2016. (Rony Muharrman/Antara Foto/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Sherry Cho, Lincoln Davidson, Samir Kumar, Gabriella Meltzer, and David O’Connor look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Deadly forest fires exact major toll on Southeast Asia. A study published this week in Environmental Research Letters by public health and atmospheric modeling experts at Harvard University and Columbia University reveals the severe public-health ramifications of forest fires that engulfed Indonesia in 2015. The researchers estimated that fires deliberately set to clear land for agricultural purposes caused the premature deaths of 91,600 people in Indonesia, and 6,500 and 2,200 deaths in Malaysia and Singapore, respectively. Read more »

Podcast: Myanmar’s “Democratic” Reform

by Elizabeth C. Economy
nld-rally Supporters of Myanmar’s pro-democracy figurehead Aung San Suu Kyi gather outside National League for Democracy headquarters in Yangon, Myanmar, November 9, 2015. (Jorge Silva/Reuters)

Earlier this week, as the latest stop on an historic visit to the United States, Burmese State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi made her first official appearance before the United Nations General Assembly in New York City. Last week she met with U.S. President Barack Obama, who announced plans to lift sanctions on Myanmar to ensure that “the people of Burma see rewards from a new way of doing business and a new government.” But are Myanmar’s citizens really experiencing a “new government,” and is Aung San Suu Kyi’s political performance measuring up to her renown as a symbol for democratic change?

Read more »

What is Duterte’s Strategy Toward the Abu Sayyaf?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
duterte-abu-sayyaf Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a news conference in Davao after Norwegian national Kjartan Sekkingstad was freed from the al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf Islamist militant group in Jolo, Sulu in southern Philippines on September 18, 2016. (Lean Daval Jr/Reuters)

Having already launched a grim, brutal war on drugs that has reportedly led to thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of arrests, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is now turning his eye to southern Philippines, where a collection of insurgent groups/terrorist organizations/bandits have wreaked havoc for decades. (Southeast Asia is also now home to more piracy attacks than any other region of the world, and the waters of the southern Philippines are part of this massive piracy problem.) Read more »

Where Next for Cambodian Politics?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
kem-sokha-cambodia Kem Sokha (C), leader of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), greets his supporters during his speech at the CNRP headquarters in Phnom Penh, on September 9, 2016. (Samrang Pring/Reuters)

Over the past two years, Cambodia’s government has steadily ramped up the pressure on the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), as well as on any civil society activists and journalists who question the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP). In just the past year, security forces have cracked down on demonstrators holding regular Monday protests, while the government has pursued criminal charges against opposition leaders Kem Sokha and Sam Rainsy. In July, someone murdered prominent activist Kem Ley in broad daylight at a gas station, and while police have arrested one suspect, the motive for why he would kill the activist remains murky. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of September 16, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
delhi-mosquito-net A boy covered with a mosquito net sleeps in a cot on a hot summer day in New Delhi, India, April 18, 2016. (Anindito Mukherjee/Reuters)

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

1. Delhi battles major chikungunya outbreak. Over 1,000 people have fallen ill and at least twelve have died due to a major outbreak of chikungunya in Delhi. Chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus similar to Zika and dengue, is typically not fatal, but can cause debilitating joint pain along with fever, fatigue, and nausea. Health minister J. P. Nadda has assured the Indian public that chikungunya did not cause the fatalities, but rather exacerbated deadly illnesses that were already ailing the elderly. Read more »

Assessing Duterte’s Diplomacy

by Guest Blogger for Joshua Kurlantzick
duterte-asean-diplomacy Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte walks between meetings at the ASEAN Summit in Vientiane, Laos on September 6, 2016. (Jorge Silva/Reuters)

Richard Javad Heydarian is an assistant professor in political science at De La Salle University in Manila, and, most recently, the author of Asia’s New Battlefield: The U.S., China, and the Struggle for Western Pacific.

Three months into office, the Philippines’ firebrand president, Rodrigo Duterte, made his global diplomatic debut, when he attended the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and East Asia Group summits earlier this month. Read more »

Will Aung San Suu Kyi’s Visit Spark U.S. Investment in Myanmar?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
National League for Democracy (NLD) party leader Aung San Suu Kyi arrives at Union Parliament in Naypyitaw, Myanmar March 15, 2016. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun National League for Democracy (NLD) party leader Aung San Suu Kyi arrives at Union Parliament in Naypyitaw, Myanmar on March 15, 2016. (Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)

Later this week, State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi will visit Washington, as part of a broader trip to the United States that will include addressing the United Nations General Assembly. In addition to meeting President Obama, Vice President Biden, and several senators and congresspeople, Suu Kyi reportedly will appear at a dinner hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council. There, she plans to outline Naypyidaw’s economic strategies, and likely make a pitch to potential U.S. investors in sectors ranging from mining to telecommunications. Read more »

What Aung San Suu Kyi Hopes to Gain From Her U.S. Visit

by Joshua Kurlantzick
aung-san-suu-kyi-u-s-visit Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi arrives at the ASEAN-India Summit in Vientiane, Laos on September 8, 2016. (Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)

Later this week, Myanmar State Counselor, and de facto head of government, Aung San Suu Kyi travels to the United States. She will address the United Nations General Assembly and will meet with President Barack Obama in the White House this Wednesday. She also will hold meetings with a range of other U.S. officials, Myanmar specialists, and companies. As James Hookaway of the Wall Street Journal notes, the trip clearly solidifies Aung San Suu Kyi’s role as de facto head of government, although she is not technically president. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of September 9, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
kim-jong-un-nuclear-test KRT bulletin shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in this still image taken from video on September 9, 2016. North Korea conducted its fifth and biggest nuclear test on Friday and said it had mastered the ability to mount a warhead on a ballistic missile, ratcheting up a threat that its rivals and the United Nations have been powerless to contain. (KRT via Reuters)

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

1. North Korea conducts fifth nuclear test. Pyongyang celebrated the sixty-eighth anniversary of the country’s founding today by conducting its fifth and largest nuclear test. The Nuclear Weapons Institute of the DPRK claims that the nuclear warhead “has been standardized to be able to be mounted on strategic ballistic rockets,” and that the DPRK can now produce “a variety of smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear warheads of higher strike power.” Read more »

Great Promise, but Still Huge Obstacles to Myanmar Peace

by Joshua Kurlantzick
panglong-peace-conference State Counsellor of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi addresses the opening ceremony of the 21st Century Panglong Conference in Naypyitaw, Myanmar on August 31, 2016. (Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)

Over the past week, Myanmar has held its eagerly awaited national peace conference in Naypyidaw, the capital. Adding to the weight of expectations, United Nations Secretary General Ban ki-Moon attended the conference, and told participants, “There is a long road ahead, but the path is very promising.” But the conference itself has delivered mixed results. Read more »