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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"

Thanat Khoman and the Fraying of the U.S.-Thailand Alliance

by Joshua Kurlantzick
prayuth-obama-asean U.S. President Barack Obama welcomes Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-och upon his arrival at Sunnylands for a 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Rancho Mirage, California on February 15, 2016. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Last week, Thanat Khoman, the longtime politician and former foreign minister of Thailand, died of natural causes in Bangkok. He was 102, and one of the last surviving leaders who played a central role in the Indochina Wars of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Thanat was foreign minister between 1959 and 1971, when the spread of communism through Indochina—communist forces had nearly encircled Luang Prabang during the First Indochina War, and communist forces obviously were making gains in Laos and South Vietnam during Thanat’s tenure—terrified the conservative Thai military regime. Read more »

The U.S.-ASEAN Summit: Final Thoughts

by Joshua Kurlantzick
U.S.-ASEAN-leaders summit-sunnylands U.S. President Barack Obama (C) is flanked by leaders from the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit during a group photo opportunity in Rancho Mirage, California, on February 16, 2016. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

The U.S.-ASEAN summit earlier this week, held at Sunnylands estate in California, was overshadowed by the death of Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, and the political debate over his possible replacement. Many Southeast Asian leaders, who had looked forward to the summit as a sign of the Obama administration’s interest in the region, as well as a kind of blessing for hardline rulers like Cambodia’s Hun Sen and Thailand’s Prayuth Chan-ocha, were probably disappointed by how little attention the summit got from the U.S. media and from many U.S. politicians and opinion leaders. Read more »

The Elephant in the US-ASEAN Room: Democracy

by Joshua Kurlantzick
US-ASEAN-summit U.S. President Barack Obama (bottom L) participates in a US-ASEAN meeting at the ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on November 21, 2015. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Next week, at a summit in California, President Obama will meet the ten leaders of countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the most important regional group in Asia. The event, the first-ever US-ASEAN summit on American soil, is being touted by the White House as a sign of the importance of Southeast Asia. After all, the Obama administration has made relations with Southeast Asia a centerpiece of “the pivot,” or “rebalance to Asia,” a national security strategy that entails shifting American military, economic, and diplomatic resources to the Pacific Rim. 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 »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of November 6, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Xi-Ma-summit - 11-6-15 Activists holding a placard showing the merged faces of Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou and China's President Xi Jinping protest against the upcoming Singapore meeting between Ma and Xi, in front of the Presidential Office in Taipei, Taiwan, November 6, 2015. (Pichi Chuang/Reuters)

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

1. Chinese and Taiwanese leaders meet for the first time in decades. Tomorrow, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou will hold a historic summit in Singapore, the first meeting of its kind since the Chinese Communist revolution of 1949. The leaders will exchange views on “some important issues” under delicate circumstances, referring to each other as “mister” to avoid the issue of Taiwanese sovereignty and splitting the dinner bill to avoid the appearance that one country is hosting the other. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of September 25, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Xi-Jinping-visit-9-25-15 Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during a meeting with five United States governors to discuss clean technology and economic development in Seattle, Washington, September 22, 2015. (Matt Mills McKnight/Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Sungtae “Jacky” Park, Ariella Rotenberg, and Gabriel Walker look at the top stories in Asia this week.

1. Xi Jinping visits the United States. The Chinese president arrived in Seattle Tuesday, delivering a dinner speech to business leaders, touring a Boeing factory, visiting Microsoft, and stopping for a photo with tech industry executives (cartoonishly rendered as a GIF by the Cyberspace Administration of China). Read more »

New Contingency Planning Memorandum: A China-Vietnam Military Clash

by Joshua Kurlantzick
china_vietnam_HY SY 981 Chinese oil rig Haiyang Shi You 981 is seen surrounded by ships of China Coast Guard in the South China Sea, about 210 km (130 miles) off shore of Vietnam on May 14, 2014. (Nguyen Minh/Reuters)

The risk of a military confrontation between China and Vietnam is rising. Although the two countries have enjoyed close party-to-party ties for decades, since 2011 they have both asserted conflicting claims to the South China Sea. Beijing claims 90 percent of the sea as its exclusive economic zone. China has repeatedly moved oil rigs into disputed areas, dredged and occupied parts of the disputed Paracel Islands, and constructed at least one and potentially multiple airstrips, possibly for military use, in the Spratly Islands. Vietnam has also tried to use oil explorations to claim disputed areas of the sea and reportedly has rammed Chinese vessels in disputed waters. Vietnam has cultivated close military ties to the United States, to other Southeast Asian nations like the Philippines, and to regional powers such as India, all to the consternation of China. Read more »

Vietnam’s Top Party Leader Meets Obama

by Joshua Kurlantzick
nguyen-phu-trong-obama U.S. President Barack Obama (R) shakes hands with Vietnam's Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong following their meeting in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington on July 7, 2015. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

After yesterday’s meeting between top Communist Party leader Nguyen Phu Trong and President Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden, the United States-Vietnam relationship seems poised to reach a new level. As the Washington Post noted, it is rare for the president to welcome at the White House a foreign leader who is not the head of state or head of government. But an exception was made for the Vietnamese leader, since Hanoi is becoming increasingly important to U.S. strategic interests in Asia, and since Nguyen may well wield as much power as Vietnam’s president or prime minister within Hanoi’s opaque leadership structure. Read more »

What Will the TPP Mean for Southeast Asia?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Australia's Trade Minister Andrew Robb (6th R) speaks at a news conference at the end of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) meeting of trade representatives in Sydney, October 27, 2014. REUTERS/Jason Reed (AUSTRALIA - Tags: BUSINESS POLITICS) Trade representatives speak at a news conference at the end of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) meeting in Sydney, October 27, 2014 (Jason Reed/Reuters).

With Tuesday’s vote in the U.S. Senate to give President Obama fast track negotiating authority on trade deals, the president is likely to be able to help complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), with the United States in the deal, by the end of the year. With fast track authority completed, the United States will be positioned to resolve remaining bilateral hurdles with Japan, the key to moving forward with the TPP. Read more »

Next Steps in the U.S.-Vietnam Relationship

by Joshua Kurlantzick
ash-carter-vietnam U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Vietnam's Defense Minister Phung Quang Thanh (L) review the guard of honour during a welcoming ceremony at the Defense Ministry in Hanoi, Vietnam on June 1, 2015. (Hoang Dinh Nam/Reuters)

After this week’s Shangri-La dialogue in Singapore, which featured the U.S.-China war of words that has come to characterize the security meeting, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter traveled on to Vietnam to meet with Hanoi’s defense minister. Carter visited Vietnam’s Naval Command and the city of Haiphong, becoming the first U.S. Defense Secretary to do so. Haiphong harbor famously—or infamously—was mined by the U.S., in 1972, during the Vietnam War. Read more »