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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 "Asean"

The Failures of the ASEAN Economic Community

by Joshua Kurlantzick
jakarta-international-container-terminal A worker walks at the Jakarta international container terminal in Tanjung Priok port in this file photo from July 26, 2012. Southeast Asia has sought to overcome competing national interests and form a European Union-style economic community by 2015 (Supri/Courtesy: Reuters).

Next year, the long-awaited ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) will come into effect, welcomed surely by fanfare both from the organization and from all of the ten member states. Long promised by ASEAN countries but repeatedly delayed in its launch, the AEC is supposed to be a single market for all ten member states, similar in some respects to the early days of the European Union’s single market. In theory, the AEC would provide a major boost to intra-regional trade, which lags behind its potential, and also would help woo foreign investment region-wide. Read more »

ASEAN’s Failure on Vietnam-China

by Joshua Kurlantzick
vietnam-china Security forces (front) scuffle with protesters chanting anti-China slogans during an anti-China protest in Vietnam's southern Ho Chi Minh city, in this photo taken by Kyodo on May 18, 2014. Vietnam flooded major cities with police to avert anti-China protests on Sunday, while Beijing evacuated thousands of citizens after a flare-up over disputed sovereignty in the South China Sea sparked rare and deadly rioting in Vietnam last week. China has evacuated more than 3,000 nationals following the attacks on Chinese workers and Chinese-owned businesses at industrial parks in its southern neighbor (Kyodo/Courtesy: Reuters).

Over the past week, as Vietnam’s contentious South China Sea dispute with China has escalated into outright ship-to-ship conflict around China’s new rig in the South China Sea, protests in Vietnam have escalated into major attacks on Chinese-owned factories in Vietnam (as well as on some other foreign factories, in part because demonstrators thought these factories were owned by Chinese companies.) Over the weekend, Vietnam’s government worked hard to cool the unrest inside Vietnam, primarily because the authoritarian regime in Hanoi is uncomfortable with any public protest, since it never knows what direction the demonstrations could turn. But Hanoi has not turned down its rhetorical anger at Beijing, with Hanoi’s official news agency accusing Beijing of showing “its aggressiveness by sending more military ships” to the area surrounded the disputed oil rig. Chinese ships reportedly have attacked Vietnamese coast guard ships with water cannons and rammed Vietnamese ships as well. Read more »

Ukraine’s Lessons for Asia

by Alyssa Ayres
A signboard is seen from the Indian side of the Indo-China border at Bumla, in the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, November 11, 2009 (Courtesy Reuters/Adnan Abidi). A signboard is seen from the Indian side of the Indo-China border at Bumla, in the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, November 11, 2009 (Adnan Abidi/Courtesy Reuters).

This post is one of a three-part Asia Unbound series on the implications for Asia of the crisis in Ukraine. See related posts from my colleagues Elizabeth Economy and Sheila Smith.

The most significant international crisis in recent years—Russia’s invasion of the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine—has left global and western institutions scrambling to respond. What lessons do these events offer thus far for Asia? Read more »

John Kerry’s Visit to Jakarta

by Joshua Kurlantzick
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gestures as he arrives for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit official dinner in Nusa Dua on the Indonesian resort island of Bali on October 7, 2013. (Pool New/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gestures as he arrives for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit official dinner in Nusa Dua on the Indonesian resort island of Bali on October 7, 2013. (Pool New/Courtesy Reuters)

At the end of his current trip to Asia, Secretary of State John Kerry will be stopping in Jakarta and meeting with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretary-General Le Luong Minh. Although his visit in Jakarta will be short, Kerry will undoubtedly emphasize the same themes he is hitting throughout the visit, including pushing to restart talks on North Korea’s nuclear program and prodding China to work more seriously with Southeast Asian nations on a real code of conduct for the South China Sea. Matthew Lee of the Associated Press, traveling with Kerry, has a thorough summary of the trip’s agenda here. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of January 17, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Anti-government protesters help a fellow protester injured in a grenade attack during a rally in Bangkok on January 17, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) Anti-government protesters help a fellow protester injured in a grenade attack during a rally in Bangkok on January 17, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

Darcie Draudt, Charles McClean, Will Piekos, and Sharone Tobias look at the top stories in Asia this week.

1. Explosions hit protestors in Bangkok. Two explosions hit anti-government protestors in Bangkok, Thailand on January 17, wounding more than two dozen people. Some reports claim the explosion was the result of an explosive device, such as a grenade. Since Monday, protestors have taken to the streets in opposition to the nation’s political system, which they demand be overhauled along with the resignation of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, whom they accuse of corruption. The protests, which have gathered around seven main intersection in Bangkok, started with 170,000 protestors on Monday and dropped to 60,000 people on Tuesday. By Friday, only 12,000 protesters were still on the streets. Though generally peaceful, the protest has been marred by small incidences of violence between the protesters and police during this week’s demonstration. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of December 13, 2013

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
South Korean soldiers walk past a television showing reports on the execution of Jang Song-taek, who is North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's uncle, at a railway station in Seoul on December 13, 2013. (Kim Hong-ji/Courtesy Reuters) South Korean soldiers walk past a television showing reports on the execution of Jang Song-taek, who is North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's uncle, at a railway station in Seoul on December 13, 2013. (Kim Hong-ji/Courtesy Reuters)

Darcie Draudt, Will Piekos, and Sharone Tobias look at the top stories in Asia this week.

1. North Korea announces execution of top official. The Korean Central News Agency announced yesterday the execution of Jang Song-taek, a top North Korean official and uncle of leader Kim Jong-un. The announcement follows Jang’s highly publicized arrest, which was unprecedented in North Korea; at an enlarged meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Korean Workers’ Party, Jang was charged with “anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional acts” against the “unity and cohesion of the party.” Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of October 11, 2013

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
A taxi driver looks at the price as he fills the tank of his car near a board showing recently increased prices at a gas station in Shenyang, Liaoning province, on February 20, 2011. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) A taxi driver looks at the price as he fills the tank of his car near a board showing recently increased prices at a gas station in Shenyang, Liaoning province, on February 20, 2011. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

Will Piekos and Sharone Tobias look at the top five stories in Asia this week.

1. China surpasses U.S. in oil imports. According to EIA data, China has surpassed the United States in oil imports, taking the number one spot. The United States still uses more oil than China, consuming an average of 18.6 million barrels per day compared to China’s 10.9 billion, but imports less thanks to increased domestic production. According to analysis by the Wall Street Journal, China’s increased imports of Middle Eastern oil have caused tensions with the United States, because it leaves the U.S. navy to continue policing trade choke points for China’s oil shipments without much help from Chinese forces. Read more »

Why Not Biden?

by Elizabeth C. Economy
U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and Vice President Joe Biden (L) order from the menu at a sandwich shop near the White House in Washington on October 4, 2013 (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and Vice President Joe Biden (L) order from the menu at a sandwich shop near the White House in Washington on October 4, 2013 (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters).

Let’s be clear. Anyone who thinks that President Obama could leave Washington, DC, to travel to Asia for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum and the East Asia Summit (EAS) in the midst of a virtual collapse of the U.S. government doesn’t understand the U.S. political system. The president would have been skewered—by the media, by the Republicans, and in private, by his own party. But why not send Vice President Biden? Read more »

China and Southeast Asia: Take Three

by Elizabeth C. Economy
China's Premier Li Keqiang, flanked by President of Myanmar Thein Sein (L) and Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen, sows the "seed of hope" during the opening ceremony of the 10th China-ASEAN Expo in Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous region, on September 3, 2013 (China Daily/Courtesy Reuters). China's Premier Li Keqiang, flanked by President of Myanmar Thein Sein (L) and Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen, sows the "seed of hope" during the opening ceremony of the 10th China-ASEAN Expo in Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous region, on September 3, 2013 (China Daily/Courtesy Reuters).

Most of the attention paid to China these days focuses on Beijing’s efforts to change things on the home front. Targeted arrests of officials on grounds of corruption, a crackdown on prominent Internet and human rights activists, and the establishment of the Shanghai Free Trade Zone are just some of the many policy (re)innovations that Xi Jinping and his team are advancing. Yet pieces are also in play on the foreign policy front, suggesting that China may be entering a new phase in its regional diplomacy. Read more »

The Futility of Obama’s Southeast Asia Trip?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks as Brunei's Sultan and Prime Minister Hassanal Bolkiah listens during the Trans-Pacific Partnership Leaders meeting at the Hale Koa Hotel during the APEC Summit in Honolulu, Hawaii, on November 12, 2011. (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. President Barack Obama speaks as Brunei's Sultan and Prime Minister Hassanal Bolkiah listens during the Trans-Pacific Partnership Leaders meeting at the Hale Koa Hotel during the APEC Summit in Honolulu, Hawaii, on November 12, 2011. (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters)

Later this week, President Obama will embark on a six-day trip to Southeast Asia, visiting Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei, to attend the East Asia Summit, the annual ASEAN leaders summit, and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting, along with a global entrepreneurs’ meeting in Malaysia. It might seem surprising that the president would leave the United States at such a critical time in federal budget negotiations, but these are the biggest leaders’ meetings in Asia, and since 2009, the White House has committed to increasing the presence of the president and other top Cabinet officials in Asia. Read more »