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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"

Duterte and ASEAN

by Guest Blogger for Joshua Kurlantzick
duterte-5 Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks before the Philippine Councilors League in Pasay city, Metro Manila, Philippines on March 8, 2017. (Erik De Castro/Reuters)

Richard Javad Heydarian is a specialist in Asian geopolitical/economic affairs based in Manila.

After upending Asian geopolitics over the past year, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte now is set to make his mark on the most important regional organization, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Manila has taken over the chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations this year—chairmanship rotates annually—amid much fanfare about ASEAN. Read more »

Park’s Impeachment, Myanmar Exodus, ZTE Fine, and More

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Pro-Park-protest A supporter of impeached President Park Geun-hye lies in front of a barricade of riot police during a protest after Park’s impeachment was accepted, near the Constitutional Court in Seoul, South Korea, March 10, 2017. (Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters)

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

1. Park Geun-hye impeached. South Korea’s Constitutional Court ruled unanimously on Friday to uphold a parliamentary vote that impeached Park Geun-hye in December, decisively ousting her from office and igniting violence from pro- and anti-Park demonstrators that led to at least two deaths in Seoul. Park’s abbreviated term, serving four years of a five-year term, has been marked by controversy and criticism of her apparent aloof and autocratic governing manner. Read more »

Expanding South Korea’s Security Role in the Asia-Pacific Region

by Scott A. Snyder
South Korean Navy patrol combat corvettes stage an anti-submarine exercise off the western coast of Taean on May 27, 2010. North Korea said on Thursday it was ripping up military agreements signed with the South in a step seen as a prelude to shutting down a joint factory park, just as Seoul staged anti-submarine drills in tense border waters. (Reuters/Kim Jae-hwan)

This post was coauthored with Sungtae (Jacky) Park, research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations.

South Korea has become a nation with a global presence, but Seoul has yet to exercise its influence in Southeast Asia. In a Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) discussion paper, Expanding South Korea’s Security Role in the Asia-Pacific Region, Patrick M. Cronin, senior advisor and senior director of the Asia-Pacific security program at the Center for a New American Security, and Seongwon Lee, deputy director for the international cooperation division of the unification policy office at the Ministry of Unification of the Republic of Korea, argue that South Korea should play a larger role in the region, particularly with regard to dealing with a rising China and coping with rising maritime tensions. Read more »

Malaysia’s Front Office Role in Enabling North Korean WMD Procurement

by Scott A. Snyder
North Korean Ambassador to Malaysia Kang Chol (C), who was expelled from Malaysia, is escorted as he arrives at Kuala Lumpur international airport in Sepang, Malaysia March 6, 2017. (Reuters/Lai Seng Sin)

North Korea continues to evade UN sanctions designed to prevent its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) development by embedding its agents and intermediaries within the international trading system, according to the latest assessment of the UN Panel of Experts set up to monitor North Korean compliance with international sanctions. Read more »

A Lack of Oversight—Dating Back Decades

by Joshua Kurlantzick
bin laden raid U.S. President Barack Obama (2nd L) and Vice President Joe Biden (L), along with members of the national security team, receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House, May 1, 2011. (White House/Pete Souza/Reuters)

Between 1961 and 1973, in a civil war in the tiny Southeast Asian country of Laos, the Central Intelligence Agency oversaw a massive paramilitary operation. CIA operatives, working with the U.S. embassy, Thai commandos, U.S. military advisors, and others, helped build an army of tens of thousands of anticommunist Laotians, mostly from the Hmong ethnic group. Read more »

Arrests in the Death of U Ko Ni

by Joshua Kurlantzick
FILE PHOTO - Supporters carry the coffin of Ko Ni, a prominent member of Myanmar's Muslim minority and legal adviser for Myanmar's ruling National League for Democracy, after he was shot dead, in Yangon, Myanmar January 30, 2017. REUTERS/Mg Nyi Nyi Supporters carry the coffin of Ko Ni, a prominent member of Myanmar's Muslim minority and legal adviser for Myanmar's ruling National League for Democracy, after he was shot dead, in Yangon, Myanmar on January 30, 2017. (Mg Nyi Nyi/Reuters)

The apparent assassination of an advisor to de facto Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi outside Yangon airport last month has raised disturbing questions about the country’s stability, and about Suu Kyi’s control of Myanmar’s military and police. U Ko Ni, a well-known lawyer and advisor to the National League for Democracy (NLD), was shot at close range just outside Yangon airport on January 29, after returning to Myanmar from Jakarta. He died on the spot. Read more »

India’s Space Program, Kim Jong-nam’s Assassination, Jakarta’s Elections, and More

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
People watch as India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C37) carrying 104 satellites in a single mission lifts off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India February 15, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer People watch as India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C37) carrying 104 satellites in a single mission lifts off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India on February 15, 2017. (Stringer/Reuters)

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

1. India’s space program shoots for the stars. This Wednesday, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) launched a record-breaking 104 satellites into orbit from a single rocket. The feat, which shattered the previous Russian record of thirty-seven satellites in one launch, cemented India as a “serious player” in the private-sector space market. Read more »

The Death of Kim Jong Nam

by Joshua Kurlantzick and Scott A. Snyder
North Korean heir-apparent Kim Jong Nam emerges from a bus as he is escorted by Japanese authorities upon his deportation from Japan at Tokyo's Narita international airport May 4, 2001. Kim Jong Nam, eldest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, the man entered Japan with a forged passport on Tuesday, but was deported to China on Friday. (Eriko Sugita)

The death in Malaysia of Kim Jong Nam, the eldest son of former North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il, was shocking on its surface. Reports indicate that two women may have poisoned him at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, while others suggest a larger group of people might have been involved. Reports further suggest the attackers may have poisoned Kim Jong Nam with a needle, while other reports allege they sprayed or used a cloth to apply some kind of poison on him. He died on his way to a hospital in the Malaysian capital. Read more »

The Laos War and its Long-Term Impact on U.S. Relations with Southeast Asia

by Joshua Kurlantzick
obama-laos U.S. President Barack Obama delivers an address at the Lao National Cultural Hall, on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit, in Vientiane, Laos on September 6, 2016. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

In my new book, A Great Place to Have a War: America in Laos and the Birth of a Military CIA, I examine how the covert war in Laos, during the 1960s and early 1970s, dramatically changed the Central Intelligence Agency. But the war also forever altered Laotian domestic politics, and Vientiane’s relationship with Washington. Within the country, the war’s effects continue to shape politics. After 1975, Laotian security forces usually viewed Hmong communities with suspicion, and harshly repressed all political activity, as the post-1975 Laotian government instituted one of the toughest authoritarian regimes in the world. Read more »

Trump and Chinese Investment, Pakistan’s Missiles, Indian Lychee Illness, and More

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Trump-Ma U.S. President Donald J. Trump and Alibaba Executive Chairman Jack Ma speak with members of the news media after their meeting at Trump Tower in New York City, January 9, 2017. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

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

1. Trump doesn’t like China, but does he like Chinese money? President Donald J. Trump will soon face some important decisions on Chinese investment in the United States. Trump will need to decide whether to approve a plan by Alibaba’s Paypal-like subsidiary Ant Financial to buy U.S. payment processor MoneyGram, or block the acquisition on national-security grounds. Read more »