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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"

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 »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of June 7, 2013

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
France's President Francois Hollande (L) and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shake hands during a joint news conference at Abe's official residence in Tokyo on June 7, 2013. (Junko Kimura/Courtesy Reuters) France's President Francois Hollande (L) and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shake hands during a joint news conference at Abe's official residence in Tokyo on June 7, 2013. (Junko Kimura/Courtesy Reuters)

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

1. Obama and Xi convene in Sunnylands. The much-touted two-day summit between U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping began on Friday. Cybersecurity and North Korea are expected to be topics raised by the U.S. side, while China would like to hear more about the U.S. pivot to Asia. Experts are generally hopeful that the summit will increase familiarity, though most are quick to temper any hopes of real deliverables coming from the meeting. Read more »

Presidential Inbox: Balancing the Pivot with Supporting Human Rights

by Joshua Kurlantzick
President Barack Obama is sworn in for a second term as President of the United States in the Blue Room of the White House in Washington, DC January 20, 2013. President Barack Obama is sworn in for a second term as President of the United States in the Blue Room of the White House in Washington, DC January 20, 2013 (Brendan Smialowski/Courtesy Reuters).

Mr. President, as you start your second term, you have made clear that you will continue the “pivot” to Asia, which includes moving military assets to the Asian theater, bolstering relations with Asian partners, and generally re-establishing the United States as the major Pacific presence. Your new secretary of state, John Kerry, is a longtime advocate of closer ties with mainland Southeast Asia. Within the State Department and Pacific Command, support for the “pivot” is strong as well. Read more »

South China Sea: Going to Get Worse Before It (Might) Gets Better

by Joshua Kurlantzick
A Chinese national flag is seen on a boat at a fishing village in Tanmen town, Hainan province, next to the South China Sea. A Chinese national flag is seen on a boat at a fishing village in Tanmen town, Hainan province, next to the South China Sea (Aly Song/Courtesy Reuters).

This week’s latest South China Sea incident, in which a Chinese fishing boat cut a Vietnamese seismic cable —at least according to Hanoi— is a reminder that, despite the South China Sea dominating nearly every meeting in Southeast Asia this year, the situation in the Sea appears to be getting worse. This is in contrast to flare-ups in the past, when after a period of tension, as in the mid-1990s, there was usually a cooling-off period. Although there have been several brief cooling-off periods in the past two years, including some initiated by senior Chinese leaders traveling to Southeast Asia, they have not stuck, and the situation continues to deteriorate and get more dangerous.

In the new year, it will likely get even worse. Here’s why: Read more »

Myanmar – the Next Asian Tiger Cub Economy?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Cashiers are seen behind piles of kyat banknotes as they count it in a private bank in Yangon. Cashiers are seen behind piles of kyat banknotes as they count it in a private bank in Yangon (Soe Zeya Tun/Courtesy Reuters).

With the upgrading of American diplomatic relations with Myanmar, and a wave of political reform in the country over the past year, many businesses have begun eying the Southeast Asian nation, which has a population of over 50 million people and has been essentially isolated from Western companies by U.S., Japanese, and EU sanctions. A delegation of Japanese business leaders recently visited the country, as did an American delegation. Business magnate and philanthropist George Soros also visited recently (of course, the U.S. would have to drop sanctions for investment to happen, but that is looking more likely). 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.

Read more »

Who Will Win as China’s Economy Changes?

by Evan A. Feigenbaum

A worker stands inside the shell of a wind turbine tower in the assembly workshop of the Guodian United Power Technology Company in Baoding, China. Courtesy Reuters/David Gray.

My latest “DC Diary” column in India’s financial daily, the Business Standard, focuses on Asia’s new geography of manufacturing:

China has unsettled its neighbors with naval displays and diplomatic spats. But could erstwhile Asian strategic rivals end up as big winners from China’s economic success?

In one sense, at least, Asian economies are already winning from Chinese growth: slack global demand has meant that China increasingly powers the growth of nearly every major economy in Asia.

But the question increasingly matters in another sense, as well: Chinese leaders are committed to rebalancing at least some elements of their country’s economy. And while that, in time, will mean a more competitive and powerful China, it will also create new opportunities for those countries in Asia that get manufacturing and investment policies right.

Read more »

Vietnam: The More Things Change…

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Vietnam's Prime Minister Dung chats with senior Politburo member Sang while attending the closing ceremony of the 11th National Congress of the Party in Hanoi

Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung (L) chats with senior Politburo member Truong Tan Sang while attending the closing ceremony of the 11th National Congress of the Party in Hanoi January 19, 2011. (Nguyen Huy Kham/Courtesy Reuters)

With the completion of Vietnam’s 11th Party Congress, which was overshadowed by Hu Jintao’s visit to the United States, we can assess the results. And the answer is: Not exactly a step forward. As General Secretary, the party picked Nguyen Phu Trong, known as a relative hard-liner, a man who previously worked as an editor at one of the main Communist Party publications and was known, as Asia Times reported, as an “enforcer of Marxist thought.”

Other senior military and security officials gained promotions, while more moderate officials hailing from diplomatic backgrounds and economic reform backgrounds did not fare so well at the Party Congress. Trong himself is not known as an advocate of economic reform, of fostering foreign investment, and of cutting away at the maze of regulations and opaque state ownerships that characterize Vietnam’s economy and can frustrate both local entrepreneurs and foreign investors. Further reforms might help address some of the serious economic problems Vietnam is facing, including a morass of debt at inefficient state companies, a current account deficit, and questions about the viability of the dong. But, more likely, these problems will allow hard-liners, after the Party Congress, to apply the brakes even more in terms of economic reforms.

Read more »