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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 "Singapore"

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 »

The World’s Imminent Deglobalization?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
People attend a demonstration against the government’s proposed plan for increased immigration at Speakers' Corner in Singapore February 16, 2013. People attend a demonstration against the government’s proposed plan for increased immigration at Speakers' Corner in Singapore February 16, 2013 (Edgar Su/Courtesy Reuters).

On Saturday, 3,000 demonstrators turned out in Singapore—in one of the biggest protests in the country’s history—to protest the government’s new plan to increase the tiny nation-state’s immigrant population by nearly two million people by 2030. And who are this proposal’s greatest opponents? The Singaporean middle class, which has increasingly seen its political capital and purchasing power strangled by the influx of wealthy immigrants, mainly from China. Read more »

Southern Philippines Deal a Lesson for Southern Thailand?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
People leave the scene after a car bomb exploded in southern Thailand's Sai Buri district. People leave the scene after a car bomb exploded in southern Thailand's Sai Buri district (Surapan Boonthanom/Courtesy Reuters).

In the wake of the Philippines government announcing last weekend that Manila and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) had agreed upon a peace plan after fifteen years of negotiations and forty years of war, many Thai news outlets are wondering whether Manila could teach Bangkok a lesson in how to deal with the southern Thailand insurgency. The Nation today, in an editorial titled “A Lesson for Thailand from the Philippines,” offers that the Philippine agreement has many key points for Thai policymakers to learn from, a mantra echoed by several other Thai media outlets. Yet there are key differences between southern Thailand and southern Philippines that, at this point, will make it hard to apply many of Manila’s lessons to Thailand: Read more »

The Rise of Innovative State Capitalism

by Joshua Kurlantzick
In his new article for Bloomberg Businessweek, Kurlantzick argues that the Chinese government has intervened effectively to promote skilled research and development in advanced industries. In his new article for Bloomberg Businessweek, Kurlantzick argues that the Chinese government has intervened effectively to promote skilled research and development in advanced industries (David Gray/Courtesy Reuters).

Although government-led economic intervention runs counter to established wisdom that the market is best for promoting ideas, the international rise of state capitalism in recent years has suggested that state-supported industries are indeed capable of fostering innovation.

In my new piece for Bloomberg Businessweek, I explore the rise of state capitalism, its innovative potential, and the lessons that U.S. and European businesses and governments should draw from this phenomenon. You can read the piece in its entirety here. Read more »

What to Expect in Asia in 2012

by Evan A. Feigenbaum

Traders stand near a screen showing the Indonesia Stock Exchange Composite Index during the first day of trading for 2012 in Jakarta January 2, 2012. Courtesy Reuters/Stringer.

It’s been a fascinating year for Asia. The region has continued to consolidate its role as the essential player driving global recovery. Developing Asia, including China, India, and the major ASEAN economies, maintained robust growth, in contrast to the advanced economies’ collective anemic growth over the same period.

But 2012 promises to be more fraught as domestic politics take command amid new challenges to growth.

Here are twelve trends I see coming for Asia in 2012—risks, opportunities, and emerging patterns that will shape Asia during the next twelve months, and beyond.

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What to Watch for At the Upcoming Shangri-La Dialogue

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak gives the opening keynote speech at the 10th International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) Asia Security Summit: The Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore June 3, 2011.

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak gives the opening keynote speech at the 10th International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) Asia Security Summit: The Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore June 3, 2011. (Tim Chong/Courtesy Reuters)

The annual Shangi-La Dialogue hosted by IISS in Singapore is underway and goes until Sunday. In past years, the Dialogue has proven a major forum for hashing out critical Asian security issues, and often has been a flashpoint for conflict between the U.S. and China. Some issues to watch this year:

1.    Is the U.S. backing off its tough stance on the South China Sea?

After two years of increasingly aggressive Chinese posturing on the South China Sea, last summer the Obama administration, led by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, took a much tougher line on the Sea, warning China that the U.S. considered resolution of any claims to the Sea a core American national interest. China was, unsurprisingly, not happy about Hillary Clinton’s approach, and Beijing has continued its strong-arm tactics, bullying Vietnam, the Philippines, and other claimants this year. But in recent speeches Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell has downplayed any U.S.-China friction over the Sea, instead highlighting the many other areas of potential cooperation between Washington and Beijing. But a number of Southeast Asian nations, including Vietnam, worry that the U.S. no longer has their back, and that the Obama administration’s softer approach will only further embolden Beijing. Look for this to play out further at the Dialogue.

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Thoughts on Singapore’s Election

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Low Thia Khiang, secretary-general of the opposition Workers' Party of Singapore addresses supporters after his team was announced as the official winners for the Aljunied group representative constituency (GRC) in the Singapore general election early May 8, 2011.

Low Thia Khiang, secretary-general of the opposition Workers' Party of Singapore addresses supporters after his team was announced as the official winners for the Aljunied group representative constituency (GRC) in the Singapore general election early May 8, 2011. (Tan Shung Sin/Courtesy Reuters)

The Economist’s Banyan blog has a thoughtful assessment of Singapore’s elections, which returned the PAP with an overwhelming majority of seats but also showed that the opposition had made real inroads for the first time in the city state’s history. The election has been chewed over pretty thoroughly on Singaporean blogs, though it has gotten relatively little coverage in the U.S.

There is one interesting topic that I think is worth discussing. In the run-up to the election, the PAP, like many parties that have been in office for a long time, argued that it alone had the talent and skill to manage Singapore and keep its impressive record of economic growth and social stability on track. But though the PAP certainly has many smart and skillful ministers, much of the strength of Singapore comes from its career civil servants, who rise up through a highly meritocratic system that rewards talent and expertise. Anyone who has worked in Southeast Asia for years, for example, knows that the Singaporean diplomatic corps is by far the savviest, most thoughtful group of analysts in the region – no other country’s diplomats even come close.

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