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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"

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of January 15, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Taiwan-elections Supporters of Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) react as the chairperson and presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen addresses the crowd during a final campaign rally ahead of the elections in Taipei, Taiwan, January 15, 2016. (Damir Sagolj/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Ariella Rotenberg, Gabriel Walker, and James West look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Taiwan takes to the polls. Tomorrow, the island’s citizens will choose between the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) Tsai Ing-wen, the Kuomintang’s (KMT) Eric Chu, and the People First Party’s (PFP) James Soong when they turn out to vote for a new president. Tsai, who lost the 2012 presidential race to incumbent KMT president Ma Ying-jeou, is expected to win with a significant margin this year. Read more »

The Philippines Reaches a Crossroads

by Joshua Kurlantzick
philippines-aquino-2016 Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) and Philippine President Benigno Aquino listen during a APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) dialogue at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Manila, Philippines on November 18, 2015. (Wally Santana/Reuters)

For the past five years, the Philippines, which long lagged behind faster-growing Asian economies like Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Indonesia, has posted some of the highest annual growth rates in the region. Although the Philippines’ boom has not received as much attention from investors and the international media as one might have imagined, the numbers are impressive. ANZ Bank projects the country to grow by 6.1 percent in 2016. In 2014, the country’s economy also grew by over six percent, and in 2015 it grew by 5.8 percent, according to World Bank data. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of January 8, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
North-Korea-nuclear-test Japan Meteorological Agency's earthquake and tsunami observations division director Yohei Hasegawa points at a graph of ground motion waveform data observed in Japan during a news conference on implications that an earthquake sourced around North Korea was triggered by an unnatural reason, January 6, 2016. (Issei Kato/Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Ariella Rotenberg, and Gabriel Walker look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. North Korea announces its “H-bomb of justice.” Jaws dropped around the world as news of North Korea’s fourth nuclear test lit up phones, tablets, and televisions on Tuesday. Those in South Korea and China reported tremors caused by the detonation, which registered as a 5.1-magnitude earthquake–almost identical to North Korea’s last nuclear test in 2013. North Korea’s official news agency released a statement claiming a successful test of a hydrogen bomb. Read more »

Eight Predictions for Southeast Asia for 2016: Part 2

by Joshua Kurlantzick
hun sen-predictions-2016 President of the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) and Prime Minister Hun Sen (L), greets his supporters before a ceremony at the party headquarters to mark the 37th anniversary of the toppling of Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge regime, in Phnom Penh, on January 7, 2016. (Samrang Pring/Reuters)

Read Part 1 here

6. Of All Southeast Asia Issues, Only Myanmar and the TPP Will Be Discussed in the U.S. Presidential Campaign

Although there are several Republican and Democratic candidates with foreign policy experience, Southeast Asia will mostly go unmentioned during the U.S. presidential primaries and general election. The two exceptions: Myanmar and the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, which include Brunei, Vietnam, Singapore, and Malaysia, and may in the future include the Philippines and Indonesia as well. Read more »

Eight Predictions for Southeast Asia for 2016: Part 1

by Joshua Kurlantzick
prayuth-predictions-2016 Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha smiles as he reviews the honour guard during a welcoming ceremony for Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen at Government House in Bangkok, Thailand, on December 18, 2015. (Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

It’s that time again—time for resolutions that last a couple weeks into the new year and bold predictions that (surely) will turn out right this year. Right?

1. Najib tun Razak will be Malaysia’s Prime Minister at the End of 2016

For most of 2015, many Malaysian politicians, observers, and activists wrote Najib off, sure that the in-fighting within the governing coalition, the scandals around the 1MDB state fund, and the torrent of criticism of Najib by former prime minister Mahathir would ultimately force Najib out of office. They were wrong. Read more »

Questions About the Pivot

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Obama-ASEAN summit-2 U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on November 21, 2015. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Since the start of President Barack Obama’s first term, the United States has pursued a policy of rebuilding ties with Southeast Asia. By 2011 this regional focus had become part of a broader strategy toward Asia called the “pivot,” or rebalance. This approach includes shifting economic, diplomatic, and military resources to the region. In Southeast Asia, a central part of the pivot involves building relations with countries once shunned by Washington because of their autocratic governments, like Cambodia, Myanmar, and Vietnam, and reviving close U.S. links to Thailand and Malaysia. Read more »

China’s 2016 Strategy Towards Southeast Asia

by Joshua Kurlantzick
China-PLAN-parade China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) navy soldiers roll on their armoured vehicles to Tiananmen Square during the military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, in Beijing, China, on September 3, 2015. (Damir Sagolj/Reuters)

China’s relationships with Southeast Asian nations, which had been increasingly warm in the mid-2000s, have fluctuated between cool and downright icy since then. In 2015, China’s relations with Southeast Asian nations came out of the deep freeze—only a year earlier, China and Vietnam had a stand-off in the South China Sea that could have led to war. But despite less threat of conflict in 2015, many Southeast Asian nations continued upgrading their navies and coast guards, building relations with the United States as a hedge against Chinese power, and searching for novel strategies to constrain China’s ambitions. Read more »

U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Investigated for Lèse Majesté

by Joshua Kurlantzick
glyn-davies-thailand U.S. ambassador to Thailand Glyn Davies listens to a question from a journalist during a news conference in Bangkok, Thailand, on November 30, 2015. (Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

Last week, in a move that was shocking despite the cooling U.S.-Thailand relationship, the Thai government announced that the U.S. ambassador in Bangkok, Glyn Davies, was being investigated on suspicion of having insulted King Bhumibhol Adulyadej. Ambassador Davies had spoken to the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand in late November. During his talk, according to the New York Times, Davies criticized the “long prison sentences handed to some of those found guilty of criticizing [the] king” under Thailand’s lèse majesté laws, generally considered the harshest in the world. Read more »

Thailand’s Mounting Trafficking Problem

by Joshua Kurlantzick
thailand-human-trafficking Human trafficking suspects arrive at the criminal court in Bangkok, Thailand, on November 10, 2015. (Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

Human trafficking has long been a serious problem in Thailand. For decades, Thailand has been a source country for trafficked people, a transit country, and a destination for trafficked men and women, who come mostly from poorer neighboring states. (By some estimates, at least two million people from Myanmar alone are working in Thailand illegally, and many of these Myanmar citizens were trafficked to Thailand.) Men and women are trafficking to the kingdom to work in Thailand’s construction, sex, seafood, and domestic service industries, among other sectors of the economy. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories From the Week of December 11, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Trafficking-camp-malaysia-12-11-15 A cage made of barbed wire and bamboo sticks that Malaysian police said was used to hold migrants is seen at an abandoned human trafficking camp in the jungle close the Thailand border at Bukit Wang Burma in northern Malaysia, May 26, 2015. (Damir Sagolj/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Ariella Rotenberg, and Gabriel Walker look at the top stories in Asia this week.

1. Human trafficking investigator flees Thailand. Maj. Gen. Paween Pongsirin, a senior Thai police officer leading an investigation on human trafficking in Thailand, has fled the country to seek asylum in Australia. After more than thirty graves, which are believed to contain the remains of trafficked Rohingyas, were discovered near the Malaysian border this summer, Paween had been tasked with investigating the site and the trafficking network responsible. Read more »