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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"

Podcast: The Changing Face of Myanmar

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Porters wait for business in an older part of Yangon December 3, 2011. Hours after Hillary Clinton finished the first visit in more than half a century by a U.S. Secretary of State to Myanmar, property prices began to soar. The price hike reflects shoots of optimism among investors sizing up the resource-rich, former British colony following the most dramatic changes since the military took power in what was then known as Burma in a 1962 coup. To match Insight MYANMAR-INVESTMENT/ REUTERS/Damir Sagolj Porters wait for business in an older part of Yangon. Property prices in the city increased dramatically following Hillary Clinton’s visit to Myanmar in 2011, with the price hike reflecting shoots of optimism among investors about the opening of the resource-rich, former British colony. (Damir Sagolj/Reuters)

On this week’s Asia Unbound podcast, Richard Cockett, former Southeast Asia correspondent for the Economist and author of Blood, Dreams and Gold: The Changing Face of Burma, weaves a vivid narrative of Myanmar’s colonial past and its legacy for the nation today. As he brings to life the tumultuous history of Southeast Asia’s newest democracy, Cockett highlights the role of the “plural society,” a mercantilist jumble of ethnicities brought together under British rule to exploit local resources. Read more »

Scarborough Shoal Games and Deals

by Guest Blogger for Joshua Kurlantzick
scarborough-shoal-philippines-china A fisherman look at the fishing boats that just returned from disputed Scarborough Shoal, as they are docked at the coastal village of Cato in Infanta, Pangasinan in the Philippines, on October 31, 2016. (Erik De Castro/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.

In a matter of months, the Philippines’ controversial leader, Rodrigo Duterte, has managed to recalibrate his country’s foreign policy, potentially revive frayed ties with China, and seemingly reduce tensions in the South China Sea, at least for now. Read more »

Duterte and China

by Guest Blogger for Joshua Kurlantzick
duterte-china-japan President Rodrigo Duterte walks towards the entrance of the Philippine Airlines passenger plane as he leaves for Japan, at the Ninoy Aquino International airport in Paranaque, Metro Manila in the Philippines, on October 25, 2016. (Erik De Castro/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.

During his four-day visit to Beijing (October 18-21), the Philippines’ firebrand leader, Rodrigo Dutetre, once again grabbed global headlines by reportedly bidding goodbye to and “separation” from the United States. Instead, he spent his time in China declaring his realignment with China’s “ideological flow.” Read more »

Is the U.S.-Philippines Relationship Spinning Out of Control?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
duterte-cipher-brief Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte interacts with reporters during a news conference upon his arrival from a four-day state visit in China at the Davao International Airport in Davao city, Philippines on October 21, 2016. (Lean Daval Jr./Reuters)

Over the past six months, the U.S.-Philippines relationship has become increasingly strained and, at times, confused, as new Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has made a series of emphatic statements suggesting he wants to downgrade the bilateral relationship. U.S. officials, meanwhile, have struggled to make sense of his comments and to determine whether they accord with actual Philippine policy. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of October 21, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
rakhine-refugees Volunteers from a local medical clinic help out in a medical check for internally displaced persons who fled from recent violence in Maungdaw, Rakhine state, at a monastery in Sittwe, Myanmar, October 15, 2016. (Wa Lone/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Sherry Cho, Gabriella Meltzer, David O’Connor, Gabriel Walker, and James West look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. In western Myanmar, a lockdown by security forces. Reports that thirty people have been killed by official Myanmar security forces in reprisal for the October 9 border post assaults that left nine police officers dead have increased fears of mounting violence in western Myanmar’s Rakhine state. Read more »

A New Approach to Thailand’s Insurgency

by Joshua Kurlantzick
insurgnency-southern-thailand A view of the scene of a car bomb attack in Thailand's Narathiwat province, south of Bangkok on August 11, 2010. (Stringer/Reuters)

The three southernmost provinces of Thailand, near the Malaysian border, have been battered by an insurgency dating, in its current iteration, to 2001. More than 6,500 people have died as the insurgents’ actions have become increasingly brutal: setting off bombs near hospitals, beheading victims, and murdering families and children. Since August 2016, the Thai insurgents also have begun trying to strike with bombing attacks nationwide, threatening a large-scale civil conflict in the kingdom. Read more »

Instability Rising Again in Western Myanmar

by Joshua Kurlantzick
maungdaw-myanmar Police forces prepare to patrol in Maungdaw township at Rakhine state, northeast Myanmar, on October 12, 2016. (Stringer/Reuters)

Rakhine State, in western Myanmar, has been rocked by violence over the past five years. As the Myanmar government transitioned from a military junta to a quasi-civilian regime and, now, to a government led by the National League for Democracy (NLD), gangs and paramilitaries have repeatedly attacked Rohingya communities. Over 140,000 Rohingya have been driven from their homes in Rakhine State, with many winding up in camps that are little more than barren internment centers. Read more »

Thailand’s New Uncertainty

by Joshua Kurlantzick
People display portraits of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej on Thai baht notes as they wait on the roadside while his body is being moved from the Bangkok hospital where he died to the Grand Palace, in Bangkok, Thailand. (Chaiwat Subprasom/Reuters) People display portraits of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej on Thai baht notes as they wait on the roadside while his body is being moved from the Bangkok hospital where he died to the Grand Palace, in Bangkok, Thailand. (Chaiwat Subprasom/Reuters)

Thai King Bhumibhol Adulyadej’s death was long anticipated, but it still came as a profound shock to Thailand. When it was announced, vast crowds gathered in towns and cities to weep and pay homage to their monarch, who had reigned for seven decades. Read more »

Insight into the (Probable) Next Thai King

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Thailand's Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn waves to well-wishers who had gathered to see King Bhumibol Adulyadej before he departed to the Grand Palace from Siriraj Hospital to take part in his coronation anniversary ceremonies in Bangkok, Thailand May 5, 2010. (Sukree Sukplang/Reuters) Thailand's Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn waves to well-wishers who had gathered to see King Bhumibol Adulyadej before he departed to the Grand Palace from Siriraj Hospital to take part in his coronation anniversary ceremonies in Bangkok, Thailand May 5, 2010. (Sukree Sukplang/Reuters)

As Thailand mourns the death of King Bhumibol, the ninth king of his line, the ruling junta has announced that the crown prince will eventually be enthroned as Rama X. However, it also announced that there will be a transitional period in which the monarchy is run by a regent, rather than the crown prince. The junta has announced that the regent will be 96-year-old former prime minister Prem Tinsulanonda, the head of the former king’s council and an archroyalist. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of October 14, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Police forces prepare to patrol in Maungdaw township at Rakhine state, northeast Myanmar, October 12, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer Police forces prepare to patrol in Maungdaw township at Rakhine state in northeast Myanmar on October 12, 2016. (Stringer /Reuters)

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

1. Violence escalates in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. Three police posts in townships in the volatile Rakhine state were attacked this week, further stoking concerns about ethnic conflict and violence in the region. These incidents resulted in the death of eight attackers and nine officers. Subsequent confrontations added to the death toll, which escalated to an estimated forty people. Read more »