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Asia Unbound

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Showing posts for "John Kerry"

Time to Fold SRAP into the SCA Bureau

by Alyssa Ayres
A pin is seen on a world map on the wall of the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood, where the Bergdahl family regularly attends, in Ketchum, Idaho on June 1, 2014 (Patrick Sweeney/Courtesy: Reuters). A pin is seen on a world map marking the border area of Afghanistan and Pakistan on June 1, 2014 (Patrick Sweeney/Courtesy: Reuters).

Secretary of State John Kerry formally announced today that the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP), Ambassador Jim Dobbins, would retire from the position at the end of this month. His deputy, Dan Feldman, will succeed him as special representative. This is as good a time as any, given the reduced role of the United States and the changing international presence in Afghanistan today, not to mention in the coming years, to fold the special representative role back into the regional bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs (SCA). Doing so will permit better policy coordination within the State Department and across the U.S. government on South and Central Asia in the years to come. Read more »

Kerry and the Diplomatic Dead End With North Korea

by Scott A. Snyder
kerry-in-beijing U.S. secretary of state John Kerry walks off after a news conference in Beijing on February 14, 2014. Kerry urged the Chinese to use “all of the means of persuasion that they have” to achieve a denuclearized North Korea (Evan Vucci/Courtesy Reuters).

Secretary of State John Kerry’s first visit to Northeast Asia last April was consumed with near-term crisis management since it coincided with the peak of regional tensions driven by North Korea’s provocative rhetoric. In contrast, his second visit to the region last week occurred against the backdrop of apparent easing of inter-Korean tensions and afforded a better environment for long-term coordination toward North Korea. Unfortunately, the visit appears to have illuminated the dead ends the administration faces on denuclearization of North Korea rather than showing a way forward. Washington has placed its bet on pressure from Beijing as the best hope for turning Pyongyang back to denuclearization, but Kerry’s conversations in Bejing raise questions about whether this route can really succeed. Read more »

Assessing John Kerry’s Visit to Jakarta

by Joshua Kurlantzick
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry takes a selfie with a group of students before delivering a speech on climate change in Jakarta on February 16, 2014. (Pool New/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry takes a selfie with a group of students before delivering a speech on climate change in Jakarta on February 16, 2014. (Pool New/Courtesy Reuters)

Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit this weekend (U.S. time) to Jakarta was brief, packed into his whirlwind Asia trip. His short stay in Jakarta was understandable—I think Kerry, despite criticism that he has focused too much on the Middle East, has put in enough of the face time in Asia to justify his claim that he has continued the administration’s policy of re-engagement with Southeast Asia. The fact that Kerry chose to give a speech in front of an audience of students at a cultural center highlighted some of the American embassy in Jakarta’s soft power efforts in the archipelago. And I certainly would agree with most of what Kerry said in his speech on climate change and the threat of global warming—that climate change is a near-apocalyptic threat to the world, that the science about global warming is settled, that Indonesia is one of the developing nations most likely to be affected by climate change, that global warming could prove a death blow to many parts of the archipelago. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of February 14, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
kerry_in_beijing U.S. secretary of state John Kerry meets with Chinese premier Li Keqiang at the Zhongnanhai Leadership Compound in Beijing on February 14, 2014. (Evan Vucci/Courtesy Reuters)

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

1. Secretary Kerry visits South Korea, China, and Indonesia on Asia tour. U.S. secretary of state John Kerry’s trip marks his fifth to Asia during his first year in office. In Seoul, he met with South Korean president Park Geun-hye and Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se to discuss the South’s relations with North Korea, including efforts to facilitate reunions between family members on the divided peninsula. Read more »

John Kerry’s Visit to Jakarta

by Joshua Kurlantzick
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gestures as he arrives for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit official dinner in Nusa Dua on the Indonesian resort island of Bali on October 7, 2013. (Pool New/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gestures as he arrives for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit official dinner in Nusa Dua on the Indonesian resort island of Bali on October 7, 2013. (Pool New/Courtesy Reuters)

At the end of his current trip to Asia, Secretary of State John Kerry will be stopping in Jakarta and meeting with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretary-General Le Luong Minh. Although his visit in Jakarta will be short, Kerry will undoubtedly emphasize the same themes he is hitting throughout the visit, including pushing to restart talks on North Korea’s nuclear program and prodding China to work more seriously with Southeast Asian nations on a real code of conduct for the South China Sea. Matthew Lee of the Associated Press, traveling with Kerry, has a thorough summary of the trip’s agenda here. Read more »

Some Background for the Khobragade Case

by Alyssa Ayres
Supporters of Rashtrawadi Shiv Sena, a Hindu hardline group, shout anti-U.S. slogans during a protest near the U.S. embassy in New Delhi December 18, 2013 Supporters of Rashtrawadi Shiv Sena, a Hindu hardline group, shout anti-U.S. slogans during a protest near the U.S. embassy in New Delhi December 18, 2013 (Ahmad Masood/Courtesy Reuters).

Since the arrest last Thursday of India’s acting consul general in New York, Devyani Khobragade, U.S.-India relations have hit turbulent waters. Dr. Khobragade has been charged in the Southern District of New York with visa fraud, specifically with falsifying a statement about wages in the contract for her domestic worker in order to successfully receive a visa to bring her to New York. This is considered a criminal matter, and U.S. attorney Preet Bharara issued a statement along with the unsealed complaint in which the allegations are detailed. Late Tuesday, press reports stated that the U.S. Marshals confirmed they had arrested her, taken her to a holding cell, and strip-searched her. She was released on bail later that day. The Government of India immediately expressed outrage, and took several steps on Tuesday to express extreme displeasure with the way Dr. Khobragade’s arrest was handled. Read more »

Why Not Biden?

by Elizabeth C. Economy
U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and Vice President Joe Biden (L) order from the menu at a sandwich shop near the White House in Washington on October 4, 2013 (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and Vice President Joe Biden (L) order from the menu at a sandwich shop near the White House in Washington on October 4, 2013 (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters).

Let’s be clear. Anyone who thinks that President Obama could leave Washington, DC, to travel to Asia for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum and the East Asia Summit (EAS) in the midst of a virtual collapse of the U.S. government doesn’t understand the U.S. political system. The president would have been skewered—by the media, by the Republicans, and in private, by his own party. But why not send Vice President Biden? Read more »

Secretary Kerry’s First Visit to Northeast Asia: Rolling the North Korea Stone Back Up the Hill

by Scott A. Snyder
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (C) walks with U.S. Ambasador to South Korea Sung Y. Kim (L) and deputy director general of South Korea's Foreign Ministry Moon Seoung-hyun upon his arrival at a military airport in Seongnam, south of Seoul, April 12, 2013. Kerry begins a three-day visit to Seoul, Beijing and Tokyo as U.S. and South Korean officials say the nuclear-armed North appears poised to test a medium-range missile after weeks of threatening statements. (Kim Hong-ji/courtesy Reuters) U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (C) walks with U.S. Ambasador to South Korea Sung Y. Kim (L) and deputy director general of South Korea's Foreign Ministry Moon Seoung-hyun upon his arrival at a military airport in Seongnam, south of Seoul, April 12, 2013. Kerry begins a three-day visit to Seoul, Beijing and Tokyo as U.S. and South Korean officials say the nuclear-armed North appears poised to test a medium-range missile after weeks of threatening statements. (Kim Hong-ji/courtesy Reuters)

Secretary of State John Kerry’s first visit to Northeast Asia came against the backdrop of increasing tensions stoked by North Korean evacuation announcements and missile-launch threats.  His meetings with new leaders Park Geun-hye, Xi Jinping, and Abe Shinzo succeeded in changing the tone of the conversation about North Korea from a military to a diplomatic focus and to strengthen  diplomatic consultation processes with new administrations in South Korea and China, but it remains to be seen whether there will be substantive shifts in the respective policies of the various governments. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of April 12, 2013

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Japan's Interchange Association Chairman Mitsuo Ohashi (L) shakes hand with Taiwan's Association of East Asian Relations Chairman Liao Liao-yi during the fishery agreement signing ceremony in Taipei on April 10, 2013. Japan's Interchange Association Chairman Mitsuo Ohashi (L) shakes hand with Taiwan's Association of East Asian Relations Chairman Liao Liao-yi during the fishery agreement signing ceremony in Taipei on April 10, 2013. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

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

  1. China’s economy seems a little shakier. A surge in bad-credit loans within the country has China trying to clean up liquidity without slowing growth. China’s plethora of bad loans and unsustainable levels of debt has led Fitch to downgrade China’s yuan-dominated debt from AA- to A+. It is the first time since 1999 that China’s sovereign credit rating was cut. Part of the reasoning for the downgrade was low average incomes, poor standards of governance, and a rapid expansion of credit. Read more »

Secretary of State John Kerry on China

by Elizabeth C. Economy
U.S. Senator John Kerry (D-MA) testifies during his Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing to be secretary of state, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on January 24, 2013. U.S. Senator John Kerry (D-MA) testifies during his Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing to be secretary of state, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on January 24, 2013. (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters)

When it came to China, Secretary of State John Kerry’s confirmation hearing touched on a little bit of everything. Here is what he said he wants:

  • To compete with China economically in Africa—this will be tough given the extraordinary government resources China pours into its trade and investment effort in the continent;
  • To use the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as leverage with China to ensure commonly accepted rules of the road on trade—of course the TPP has to move forward for this to happen; Read more »