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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"

How To Market A Nation

by Joshua Kurlantzick
joko-widodo-chamber of commerce dinner Indonesian President Joko Widodo speaks at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce dinner in Washington on October 26, 2015. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo made his first visit to Washington last month as leader of the country with the fourth-largest population in the world and the sixteenth-biggest economy on earth. Indonesia has made a dramatic transition, in just twenty years, from the decades of dictatorship to one of the most vibrant democracies in the world. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of October 30, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Army soldiers load sacks of food aid on a helicopter to distribute in earthquake-stricken areas in Peshawar, Pakistan, October 27, 2015. (Khuram Parvez/Reuters) Army soldiers load sacks of food aid on a helicopter to distribute in earthquake-stricken areas in Peshawar, Pakistan, October 27, 2015. (Khuram Parvez/Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Sungtae “Jacky” Park, Ariella Rotenberg, and Gabriel Walker look at the top stories in Asia this week.

1. Earthquake survivors in Afghanistan and Pakistan appeal for shelter and supplies. Just six months after a devastating earthquake in Nepal, a 7.5-magnitude earthquake shook geographically vulnerable regions in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The epicenter was reported 196 kilometers below the Hindu Kush Mountains in Afghanistan. Although the earthquake occurred much deeper than the Nepal earthquake, close to four hundred people have been reported dead, thousands suffered injuries, and many homes were destroyed by the quake and its aftermath. Read more »

Jokowi’s Short Trip to Washington

by Joshua Kurlantzick
jokowi-visit-obama-meeting U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and Indonesia's President Joko Widodo (L) shake hands after their meeting in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington on October 26, 2015. Widodo will return earlier than planned from his official trip to the United States due to a haze crisis at home, a palace official said on Monday. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s visit to the United States was cut short this week. Jokowi decided to return to Indonesia less than halfway through his trip to America in order to deal with the haze crisis in Indonesia. Parts of Sumatra and Kalimintan have been devastated by the haze, which is closing businesses and causing hundreds of thousands of respiratory ailments. Jokowi will “possibly fly directly to the haze-devastated provinces of South Sumatra or Central Kalimantan…He made the decision [to cut the trip short] after he received news that conditions in these provinces had deteriorated over the last two days,” the Straits Times reported. Read more »

How Jokowi Could Solidify Reforms

by Joshua Kurlantzick
jokowi-economic-reforms Indonesia's President Joko Widodo (L) prepares at the start of cabinet meeting as State-owned enterprises minister Rini Soemarno walks past at the presidential palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, on September 29, 2015. (Darren Whiteside/Reuters)

Since August, when Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo reshuffled his cabinet, and then promised a wave of new deregulatory reforms, it has appeared that the president finally was going to embark upon serious policy changes. Jokowi had been criticized by Indonesian commentators, during most of his first term as president, for offering mixed and sometimes directionless policy messages. But his new team of ministers includes a new chief of staff renowned as a corruption-fighter, as well as a respected former central banker as his new head economic minister. Read more »

President Widodo Comes to Washington

by Joshua Kurlantzick
jokowi-visit Indonesian President Joko Widodo addresses members of parliament in Jakarta, Indonesia on August 14, 2015. (Darren Whiteside/Reuters)

On October 26, Indonesian President Joko Widodo will arrive in Washington for his first U.S. visit as leader of the largest country in Southeast Asia. In advance of and during the visit, Obama administration officials probably will stress the increasingly close ties between Indonesia and the United States, building on the comprehensive partnership signed by the two nations. But in reality, the U.S.-Indonesia relationship has been more of a disappointment than a triumph over the past seven years. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of October 9, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Indonesia-fires Residents carry water as they try to extinguish fires near their homes at Pal 7 village in Ogan Ilir district, Indonesia's South Sumatra province, September 3, 2015. (Nova Wahyudi/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Sungtae “Jacky” Park, Ayumi Teraoka, and Gabriel Walker look at the top stories in Asia this week.

1. Raging flames in Indonesia. Intense forest fires have been burning for the past few months on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo, blanketing vast areas of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and southern Thailand with smoke. Annual but illegal slash-and-burn agricultural practices that spiraled out of control caused the blazes, now amounting to more than 1,000 fire clusters on the islands. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of August 14, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Workers clean a road near the site of the explosions at the Binhai new district, Tianjin, August 13, 2015. Two huge explosions tore through an industrial area where toxic chemicals and gas were stored in the northeast Chinese port city of Tianjin, killing at least forty-four people, including at least a dozen fire fighters, officials and state media said on Thursday. (Jason Lee/Reuters) Workers clean a road near the site of the explosions at the Binhai new district, Tianjin, August 13, 2015. Two huge explosions tore through an industrial area where toxic chemicals and gas were stored in the northeast Chinese port city of Tianjin, killing at least forty-four people, including at least a dozen fire fighters, officials and state media said on Thursday. (Jason Lee/Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson,  Lauren Dickey, Ariella Rotenberg, and Gabriel Walker look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. China’s central bank allows currency to devalue. The renminbi (RMB) declined by more than 4 percent this week as the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) set the currency’s daily benchmark lower for several days in a row. The drop may help strengthen the domestic economy, which has faltered in recent months; the PBOC’s willingness to allow the currency’s market rate to drop may suggest that the Chinese economy is doing even worse than some indicators suggest, which could spell trouble for countries that rely on China’s commodity imports. Read more »

Jokowi Struggles to Find an Economic Policy

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Indonesia-rupiah A teller holds a stack of Indonesian Rupiah inside a money changer in Jakarta on June 4, 2015. (Nyimas Laula/Reuters)

News this week that Bank Indonesia will prohibit foreign currencies from being used in domestic transactions in Indonesia further added to analysts’ and investors’ concerns about the country’s fragile economy, and about the economic strategy of President Joko Widodo. As the Wall Street Journal reported, the law prohibiting the use of foreign currency in settling domestic transactions was actually passed years ago, but like many Indonesian laws it was not put into practice for years—until now. Read more »

Preparing for Jokowi’s Visit to Washington

by Joshua Kurlantzick
jokowi-WEF Indonesia's President Joko Widodo gestures as he delivers a speech during the interactive session of the World Economic Forum on East Asia in Jakarta on April 20, 2015. (Beawiharta/Courtesy: Reuters)

Two weeks ago, a senior aide to Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo confirmed that the Indonesian leader plans to make his first visit to Washington as president in June. Thus far, despite hopes in Washington that Jokowi’s term as president might usher in closer ties to the United States, the U.S.-Indonesia relationship has remained roughly where it was before Jokowi took office. The bilateral relationship is generally warmer than it was in the 1990s and early 2000s, but the two countries’ strategic, economic, and cultural relations still lag far behind those the United States enjoys with many other partners in Southeast Asia. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of May 1, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (C) addresses a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress in front of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (L) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), on Capitol Hill in Washington on April 29, 2015 (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy: Reuters). Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (C) addresses a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress in front of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (L) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), on Capitol Hill in Washington on April 29, 2015 (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy: Reuters).

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

1. Shinzo Abe visits the United States. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the United States this week to discuss the future of U.S.­-Japan relations. Increased security cooperation as well as relations with China topped the agenda. Abe delivered the first-ever speech by a Japanese prime minister to a joint session of Congress. In his speech, Abe described his vision for a stronger alliance between the United States and Japan and expressed his condolences for Japanese behavior in World War II. He announced his determination to “take more responsibility for peace and stability in the world.” Read more »