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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 "Indonesia"

Why Obama Shouldn’t Cancel his Asia Trip

by Joshua Kurlantzick
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks before a Luau for APEC leaders after dinner during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Honolulu, Hawaii on November 12, 2011. (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. President Barack Obama speaks before a Luau for APEC leaders after dinner during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Honolulu, Hawaii on November 12, 2011. (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters)

With the government shut down, the White House announced yesterday that the President’s upcoming trip to Asia, scheduled to begin October 6, will be cut short. Plans to visit Malaysia and the Philippines have been shelved for now, though Obama will still attend the annual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting of leaders in Bali, Indonesia. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of September 27, 2013

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Men look at a screen displaying a picture of disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai standing trial on the website of a court's microblog, in Jinan, Shandong province on September 22, 2013 (Aly Song/Courtesy Reuters). Men look at a screen displaying a picture of disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai standing trial on the website of a court's microblog, in Jinan, Shandong province on September 22, 2013 (Aly Song/Courtesy Reuters).

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

1. Bo Xilai sentenced to life in prison. Former Communist Party official Bo Xilai was found guilty of embezzlement, bribery, and abuse of power in the eastern city of Jinan and sentenced to life in prison on Sunday. Though the guilty verdict was by no means a surprise, the length of the term was much longer than the fifteen to twenty years that many analysts expected. On Monday, Bo appealed his verdict—though that is considered a mere formality. The Chinese government has trumpeted the sentencing as a victory for the rule of law in China, but many outside experts believe the opposite—that the trial only made it eminently clear “that the Party still controls the Law.” Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of September 20, 2013

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Government soldiers escort residents who were taken hostage and used as human shields by Muslim rebels of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) during fighting with government soldiers, in Zamboanga city in southern Philippines on September 17, 2013. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) Government soldiers escort residents who were taken hostage and used as human shields by Muslim rebels of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) during fighting with government soldiers, in Zamboanga city in southern Philippines on September 17, 2013. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

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

1. Chinese President wraps up trip to Central Asia.  President Xi Jinping ended a ten-day trip to Central Asia with a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) last weekend. Xi signed a number of bilateral economic and energy deals with countries in the region, and the SCO reached consensus on a number of foreign policy issues (largely in line with Chinese and Russian interests). With the U.S. withdrawing from Afghanistan in 2014, Central Asia is a region ripe for Chinese leadership. Read more »

Obama’s October Trip to Asia

by Joshua Kurlantzick
U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama greet Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor as they arrive at the opening dinner of the APEC Leaders Summit in Honolulu, Hawaii on November 12, 2011. President Obama will be visiting Malaysia in October 2013. (Jim Young/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama greet Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor as they arrive at the opening dinner of the APEC Leaders Summit in Honolulu, Hawaii on November 12, 2011. President Obama will be visiting Malaysia in October 2013. (Jim Young/Courtesy Reuters)

The White House last week confirmed that President Obama will be traveling to Southeast Asia between October 6 and 12. He will visit Indonesia, Brunei, the Philippines, and Malaysia. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of August 16, 2013

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Protesters comprising of South Korean employers and employees working at factories in the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) inside North Korea chant slogans during a rally at the Imjingak pavilion near the demilitarized zone which separates the two Koreas, in Paju, north of Seoul on August 7, 2013. (Courtesy Reuters/Kim Hong-ji) Protesters comprising of South Korean employers and employees working at factories in the Kaesong Industrial Complex inside North Korea chant slogans during a rally near Seoul on August 7, 2013. (Courtesy Reuters/Kim Hong-ji)

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

1. North and South Korea agree to reopen Kaesong complex. After seven rounds of negotiations, the shuttered Kaesong complex, closed for months following a period of particularly high tensions, is set to be reopened, though there is no timetable yet. The complex was a major source of hard currency and jobs for North Korea until it was shut down, and it is one of the few symbols of cooperation between the two Koreas. The agreement includes a pledge from both sides to prevent any future shutdowns, an agreement to try to attract foreign companies to the complex, and permission for South Korean managers to use the Internet and mobile phones. Read more »

Indonesia Adrift?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Children cover their noses near burnt land in Marpoyan Damai sub district, in the outskirts of Pekanbaru, in Indonesia's Riau province on June 20, 2013. (Stringer Indonesia/Courtesy Reuters) Children cover their noses near burnt land in Marpoyan Damai sub district, in the outskirts of Pekanbaru, in Indonesia's Riau province on June 20, 2013. (Stringer Indonesia/Courtesy Reuters)

Over the past month,Indonesia, the natural leader of Southeast Asia, has often seemed rudderless in its foreign policy, lashing out at other nations in the region over a haze crisis caused primarily in Indonesia, and offering little leadership as the region tries to work toward serious negotiations with China on a realistic South China Sea code of conduct. Does Indonesia have a regional strategy, or even an international one? Does it have a foreign ministry up to the challenge of returning to leadership in ASEAN, and playing a leading role in global organizations like the G-20 and the UN? Read more »

Southeast Asia’s Purple Haze

by Elizabeth C. Economy
A worker stands as he looks on at fire from burning trees planted for palm oil, during haze in Indonesia's Riau province on June 24, 2013. A worker stands as he looks on at fire from burning trees planted for palm oil, during haze in Indonesia's Riau province on June 24, 2013. (Beawiharta/Courtesy Reuters)

Even before several of my CFR colleagues and I arrived in Indonesia earlier this week for discussions on regional security and governance, headlines in the region’s media were dominated by the haze that was blanketing Singapore and Malaysia—not to mention parts of Indonesia—as a result of the slash-and-burn practices in Sumatra. In an effort to clear land to plant new crops, farmers there burn crop residue, timber, and peat. The result is hundreds of “hotspots,” or fires that contribute to a thick, toxic haze that travels throughout the region. This is despite a government effort to promote “zero burning” and a moratorium on all deforestation in much of the country. Read more »

ASEAN’s Haze Shows the Organization’s Futility

by Joshua Kurlantzick
A tourist wearing a face mask passes the hazy skyline of the Marina Bay Sands casino and resort in Singapore on June 18, 2013. (Edgar Su/Courtesy Reuters) A tourist wearing a face mask passes the hazy skyline of the Marina Bay Sands casino and resort in Singapore on June 18, 2013. (Edgar Su/Courtesy Reuters)

Haze continues to spread across Southeast Asia, the result primarily of burn-offs from farming by individuals and agribusinesses in Indonesia, combined with the dry summer weather and urban pollution in the region’s largest cities. As Yanzhong Huang notes, air pollution levels in some parts of penisular Southeast Asia have reached record highs this past week; the more proactive governments in the region, like Singapore, have taken health precautions like pushing nearly all residents to wear masks while outdoors and setting up centers across the city-state for low-income and elderly residents to get free face masks they can use. As Yanzhong notes, Singapore also is vowing to pursue companies that use polluting practices and cause this haze. Overall, countries in the region, like Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia, appear to be pointing fingers at each other and engaging in diplomatic recriminations rather than collaborating to address the haze crisis and its causes. Read more »

Haze Crisis in Southeast Asia (and China)

by Yanzhong Huang
An aerial view of burning lands in Palalawan district in Riau province June 21, 2013. An aerial view of burning lands in Palalawan district in Riau province June 21, 2013. Indonesia deployed military planes to fight raging forest fires on Friday that blanketed neighbouring Singapore in record levels of hazardous smog for a third straight day in one of Southeast Asia's worst air-pollution crises. (Fikih Nauli//Courtesy Reuters)

Having just arrived in Jakarta for a joint CSIS-CFR workshop on emerging Indonesia and rising regionalism, I was greeted by hot and humid weather conditions and horrible traffic. However, this is nothing compared to the severe haze that has blanketed Indonesia’s Sumatra Island, Malaysia, and Singapore, sending air pollution there to record high levels. Read more »

Indonesia’s Resource Nationalism Increases

by Joshua Kurlantzick
A worker carries rubber latex that he collected from the state-owned plantation at Jember in Indonesia's East Java province. A worker carries rubber latex that he collected from the state-owned plantation at Jember in Indonesia's East Java province (Sigit Pamungkas/Courtesy Reuters).

Over the past year, as Indonesia has geared up for its next presidential election, and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has desperately attempted to keep his party together in the wake of endless corruption allegations, nationalism has come to play a larger and larger role in Jakarta’s policymaking. In just the latest example, reported well on Asia Sentinel, Indonesia has effectively tossed the chief executive of ExxonMobil Indonesia out of his job. As Asia Sentinel notes, with increasingly weak leadership from Yudhoyono, other, more nationalist ministers are able to drive the agenda, particularly Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Hatta Rajasa. Read more »