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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 "Vietnam"

Thailand’s Coup Just One Sign of Southeast Asia’s Regression From Democracy

by Joshua Kurlantzick
thai-coup-demonstration Demonstrators march as riot police officers and soldiers block a street during a protest against military rule in central of Bangkok on May 24, 2014. Former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra was in a "safe place" on Saturday, an aide said, after being held by Thailand's army following its seizure of power this week, as opposition to the coup grew among her supporters and pro-democracy activists (Athit Perawongmetha/Courtesy: Reuters).

This past week, the Thai military launched its second coup in a decade, destroying what was left of Thailand’s shaky democratic system. This coup is likely to last longer, and be much harsher than the coup in 2006; already, the Thai armed forces are censoring Thai media and putting journalists and politicians in detention or in jail. Read more »

ASEAN’s Failure on Vietnam-China

by Joshua Kurlantzick
vietnam-china Security forces (front) scuffle with protesters chanting anti-China slogans during an anti-China protest in Vietnam's southern Ho Chi Minh city, in this photo taken by Kyodo on May 18, 2014. Vietnam flooded major cities with police to avert anti-China protests on Sunday, while Beijing evacuated thousands of citizens after a flare-up over disputed sovereignty in the South China Sea sparked rare and deadly rioting in Vietnam last week. China has evacuated more than 3,000 nationals following the attacks on Chinese workers and Chinese-owned businesses at industrial parks in its southern neighbor (Kyodo/Courtesy: Reuters).

Over the past week, as Vietnam’s contentious South China Sea dispute with China has escalated into outright ship-to-ship conflict around China’s new rig in the South China Sea, protests in Vietnam have escalated into major attacks on Chinese-owned factories in Vietnam (as well as on some other foreign factories, in part because demonstrators thought these factories were owned by Chinese companies.) Over the weekend, Vietnam’s government worked hard to cool the unrest inside Vietnam, primarily because the authoritarian regime in Hanoi is uncomfortable with any public protest, since it never knows what direction the demonstrations could turn. But Hanoi has not turned down its rhetorical anger at Beijing, with Hanoi’s official news agency accusing Beijing of showing “its aggressiveness by sending more military ships” to the area surrounded the disputed oil rig. Chinese ships reportedly have attacked Vietnamese coast guard ships with water cannons and rammed Vietnamese ships as well. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of May 16, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Supporters of India's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) celebrate on March 16, 2014, after learning of poll results showing Narendra Modi of the BJP as the next leader of the world’s largest democracy (Amit Dave/Courtesy Reuters). Supporters of India's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) celebrate on March 16, 2014, after learning of poll results showing Narendra Modi of the BJP as the next leader of the world’s largest democracy (Amit Dave/Courtesy Reuters).

Ashlyn Anderson, Lauren Dickey, Darcie Draudt, Charles McClean, Will Piekos, and Sharone Tobias look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. And the results are in: A Modi mandate in India! The five-week marathon of elections is complete in India, and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has emerged victorious, winning the party’s highest-ever tally of seats in parliament. No single party has captured the number of seats needed to form a government—272—on its own in thirty years, making this election particularly significant in Indian politics. Despite his controversial past, Narendra Modi will lead the new Indian government and will be expected to deliver on his campaign promises of economic growth and good governance. The Congress party—which has been in power for the past decade and promoted Rahul Gandhi as its candidate for prime minister—has conceded its defeat, remarking “Modi promised the moon and stars to the people. People bought that dream.” Read more »

Vietnam Protests: More Than Just Anti-China Sentiment

by Joshua Kurlantzick
vietnam protests Protesters march during an anti-China protest on a street in Hanoi on May 11, 2014 (Kham/Courtesy: Reuters).

Protests that broke out earlier this week at factories in southern Vietnam have resulted in hundreds of arrests the past two days. Demonstrators torched several factories and smashed up more in industrial areas on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City. The exact number of arrests remains unknown, but some human rights activists I spoke with are now estimating the number of arrests is in the high hundreds, not the figures in the low hundreds given by news reports on Wednesday. Without a doubt, though, the coverage of the riots in the New York Times, which called them the worst public unrest in recent Vietnamese history, is correct. There have  been deadlier protests and riots in rural areas of Vietnam in recent years, especially in ethnic minority highland areas, but these protests and crackdowns received little public attention, and did not involve the numbers of people that we saw involved in the Ho Chi Minh City riots this week. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of April 18, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
A Buddhist monk prays for the missing passengers on the South Korean ferry, Sewol on April 18, 2014. The ferry had been en route to Jeju, a holiday island off South Korea’s southern coast, when it sent a distress signal on April16 (Issei Kato/Courtesy: Reuters). A Buddhist monk prays for the missing passengers on the South Korean ferry, Sewol on April 18, 2014. The ferry had been en route to Jeju, a holiday island off South Korea’s southern coast, when it sent a distress signal on April16 (Issei Kato/Courtesy: Reuters).

Ashlyn Anderson, Lauren Dickey, Darcie Draudt, Charles McClean, Will Piekos, and Sharone Tobias look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. South Korean passenger ferry capsizes. A South Korean ferry, the Sewol, capsized on Wednesday, April 16. As of Friday, twenty-five deaths have been reported, with 271 passengers still missing. The vessel was en route from Incheon, on the northwestern coast of the country, to Jeju Island, a resort island off the southwestern coast. A government investigation team is looking into alleged negligence by the captain and some members of the crew, who reportedly instructed passengers to remain seated and abandoned the ship in the state of emergencyRead more »

Why Was Vietnam Better Prepared Than the Philippines for Typhoon Haiyan?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
A man sits at his damaged shop in the aftermath of typhoon Haiyan in Vietnam's northern Quang Ninh province, 180 km (112 miles) from Hanoi on November 11, 2013. (Nguyen Huy Kham/Courtesy Reuters) A man sits at his damaged shop in the aftermath of typhoon Haiyan in Vietnam's northern Quang Ninh province, 180 km (112 miles) from Hanoi on November 11, 2013. (Nguyen Huy Kham/Courtesy Reuters)

Over the past week, as aid trickled and now is flowing into the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, some broader questions about the country’s preparedness—or lack thereof—have arisen. Although it would be unfair to compare the Philippines, a country with a GDP per capita of around $2,600, with richer countries hit by natural disasters (such as Thailand in the 2004 tsunami), it is worth asking why the Philippines seemed much less prepared for Haiyan than neighboring Vietnam, a country with a GDP per capita of only $1,600. Although the typhoon also passed through Vietnam, albeit after slowing down somewhat over the water in between, Vietnam suffered fourteen deaths, as compared to what appears to be thousands of fatalities in the Philippines. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of October 11, 2013

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
A taxi driver looks at the price as he fills the tank of his car near a board showing recently increased prices at a gas station in Shenyang, Liaoning province, on February 20, 2011. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) A taxi driver looks at the price as he fills the tank of his car near a board showing recently increased prices at a gas station in Shenyang, Liaoning province, on February 20, 2011. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

Will Piekos and Sharone Tobias look at the top five stories in Asia this week.

1. China surpasses U.S. in oil imports. According to EIA data, China has surpassed the United States in oil imports, taking the number one spot. The United States still uses more oil than China, consuming an average of 18.6 million barrels per day compared to China’s 10.9 billion, but imports less thanks to increased domestic production. According to analysis by the Wall Street Journal, China’s increased imports of Middle Eastern oil have caused tensions with the United States, because it leaves the U.S. navy to continue policing trade choke points for China’s oil shipments without much help from Chinese forces. Read more »

China’s Internet Suppression Tactics Diffuse into Southeast Asia

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Anti-government protesters wearing Guy Fawkes masks use an iPad in front of riot policemen during a rally outside a shopping mall in Bangkok on June 9, 2013. (Chaiwat Subprasom/Courtesy Reuters) Anti-government protesters wearing Guy Fawkes masks use an iPad in front of riot policemen during a rally outside a shopping mall in Bangkok on June 9, 2013. (Chaiwat Subprasom/Courtesy Reuters)

In an excellent new piece on Voice of America (VOA) news, Steve Herman analyzes how several nations in Southeast Asia appear to be moving to “emulate China” in the way that these countries, like China, regulate and harshly restrict social media. In Thailand, for example, which has one of the harshest climate for Internet speech in the world—despite being theoretically a democracy—the government is now moving to crack down on Facebook users who just post or “like” any articles that could be deemed insulting to the Thai monarchy. Unlike in most other countries that still have lèse-majesté laws on the books, Thailand actually enforces its  lèse-majesté laws, and anyone—not just the king, queen, and other royals—can file a lèse-majesté charge against anyone else in Thailand. As a result, the  lèse-majesté law has become an oppressive tool of political repression by all sides in Thailand’s never ending political drama. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of August 2, 2013

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen (C) speaks to the media as he inspects a bridge construction site in Phnom Penh on July 31, 2013. (Samrang Pring/Courtesy Reuters) Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen (C) speaks to the media as he inspects a bridge construction site in Phnom Penh on July 31, 2013. (Samrang Pring/Courtesy Reuters)

Sharone Tobias and Will Piekos look at the top five stories in Asia this week.

1. Cambodian opposition makes historic gains in election. Cambodia held elections last Sunday, with the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) almost doubling the number of seats it holds in the national assembly. The CNRP said on Monday that they rejected the results of the election, hoping to gain a majority in the national assembly, and accused the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen of large-scale cheating; a number of monitoring organizations reported voting irregularities. Read more »

The Elephant in the Room During President Sang’s Visit

by Joshua Kurlantzick
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry offers a toast with Vietnam's President Truong Tan Sang before a luncheon at the U.S. State Department in Washington on July 24, 2013. (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry offers a toast with Vietnam's President Truong Tan Sang before a luncheon at the U.S. State Department in Washington on July 24, 2013. (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters)

The president of Vietnam, Truong Tan Sang, is visiting Washington, only the second visit by the top leader of the country to D.C. since the end of the Vietnam War, even though Washington and Hanoi have had close relations for nearly a decade now. In part, this avoidance of public visits to Washington is because leaders of Vietnam do not like having to face vocal complaints from congresspeople, journalists, and some American officials about Hanoi’s horrible human rights record, which actually has gotten worse in the last year, with a growing number of arrests of bloggers, activists, and religious figures. Read more »