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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 "U.S. Foreign Policy"

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 »

Drawing Lines in the East China Sea

by Sheila A. Smith
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks after a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing December 4, 2013 U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks after a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing December 4, 2013 (Lintao Zhang/Courtesy Reuters).

When Vice President Joe Biden originally planned his trip to Northeast Asia, the policy agenda for each of his stops differed. In Japan, the Trans-Pacific Partnership was high on his list; in Beijing, it was cementing his friendship with China’s new leader, Xi Jinping; and, in Seoul the road ahead in coping with Pyongyang seemed most important. Liz Economy does a terrific job of evaluating the vice president’s impact in China, and Scott Snyder offers his insights on how Biden managed the sensitive diplomatic moment in Seoul. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of December 6, 2013

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (L) inside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on December 4, 2013. (Lintao Zhang/Courtesy Reuters) Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (L) inside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on December 4, 2013. (Lintao Zhang/Courtesy Reuters)

Darcie Draudt, Will Piekos, and Sharone Tobias look at the top stories in Asia this week.

1. White House declares China’s East China Sea air defense zone (ADIZ) “unacceptable.” The White House called China’s new air defense zone “unacceptable” on Thursday but stopped short of calling for China to rescind the declaration. Imposed on November 23, the ADIZ means that all aircraft must report flight plans to Chinese authorities and reply promptly to identification inquiries. The United States, Japan, and South Korea have all sent military aircraft through the zone without informing Beijing since it was first imposed. U.S. vice president Joe Biden said that he had “very direct” talks about U.S. concerns over the ADIZ while meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping this week. Read more »

Biden’s Bet on a South Korea Squeezed on All Sides

by Scott A. Snyder
biden-and-park-in-seoul South Korean President Park Geun-hye shakes hands with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden before their meeting at the presidential Blue House in Seoul December 6, 2013. (Ahn Young-joon/Courtesy Reuters)

Joe Biden wasted no time in affirming American security assurances to South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye during his meeting in Seoul, stating that it has “never been a good bet to bet against America . . . and America will continue to place its bet on South Korea.” Read more »

Joe Biden: The Bull in the China Shop

by Elizabeth C. Economy
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (C) and U.S. ambassador to China Gary Locke (2nd L) meet visa applicants at the U.S. Embassy Consular Section in Beijing on December 4, 2013. (Ng Han Guan/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (C) and U.S. ambassador to China Gary Locke (2nd L) meet visa applicants at the U.S. Embassy Consular Section in Beijing on December 4, 2013. (Ng Han Guan/Courtesy Reuters)

In the midst of an already diplomatically challenging trip to Japan, China, and South Korea, U.S. vice president Joe Biden managed to make life just that much more difficult for himself. The vice president had a number of thorny issues already on his agenda, such as advancing the cause of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, discussing how to make progress on North Korea, trying to get Japan and South Korea on the same page, and most importantly, trying to persuade Beijing to step back and renounce its establishment of an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) that overlapped with the pre-established ADIZs of South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan or at the very least, to avoid declaring any new ADIZs. Read more »

Washington Rediscovers Asia

by Elizabeth C. Economy
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden shakes hands with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (R) during their bilateral meeting in Singapore on July 26, 2013 (Tim Chong/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. Vice President Joe Biden shakes hands with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (R) during their bilateral meeting in Singapore on July 26, 2013 (Tim Chong/Courtesy Reuters).

Let’s face it. Since the departures of National Security Advisor Donilon and Secretary of State Clinton, anyone interested in Asia—whether in the United States or in the region—has been fretting. The new team seemed disinterested at best, inexpert at worst. Yet over the past few weeks, administration officials have unleashed a barrage of Asia-related speeches, commentaries, and initiatives that should reassure all concerned that the region will remain a centerpiece of the new foreign policy team’s agenda. Read more »

China Ups the Ante in East China Sea Dispute

by Sheila A. Smith
China announces new Air Defense Identification Zone across the East China Sea November 23, 2013 (Courtesy China's Ministry of National Defense). China announces new Air Defense Identification Zone across the East China Sea November 23, 2013 (Courtesy China's Ministry of National Defense).

Over the weekend, China announced a new Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) across the East China Sea. Already at odds over their maritime boundary in the East China Sea, as well as over their sovereignty dispute over the Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu Islands for the Chinese) that sit offshore Okinawa, Beijing’s unilateral assertion of its control over the airspace above the sea will further upset the predictability of maritime relations in Northeast Asia. Coming too at a time when Beijing refuses to discuss these issues with Tokyo, China has vastly increased the unpredictability of the already growing interaction between Japanese and Chinese militaries. Read more »

Typhoon Haiyan, the Philippines, the United States, and China

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Evacuated residents prepare to get onto a U.S. military plane at Tacloban airport in central Philippines on November 13, 2013, five days after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the area. (Bobby Yip/Courtesy Reuters) Evacuated residents prepare to get onto a U.S. military plane at Tacloban airport in central Philippines on November 13, 2013, five days after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the area. (Bobby Yip/Courtesy Reuters)

As more news of the extensive destruction wrought by Typhoon Haiyan rolls in—some storm experts are saying that it is the most powerful typhoon ever to hit land—I have spoken with a number of reporters in the United States and Asia about how the relief effort will be impacted by U.S. relations with the Philippines and the Philippines’ relationships with other major regional powers. The United States and the Philippines, a relationship always fraught with the challenges of former colony/colonizer history and ties between Filipinos in the United States and the Philippines, has clearly been on the upswing over the past five years. Read more »

Dominic Bocci: Gay Rights and the Internet in Asia, One More Part of the Pivot

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
A desktop picture shows Rungtiwa Tangkanopast and Phanlavee Chongtansattam holding hands, as Rungtiwa works at her office in Bangkok August 16, 2013 (Athit Perawongmetha/Courtesy Reuters). A desktop picture shows Rungtiwa Tangkanopast and Phanlavee Chongtansattam holding hands, as Rungtiwa works at her office in Bangkok August 16, 2013 (Athit Perawongmetha/Courtesy Reuters).

This is a guest post by Dominic Bocci, assistant director at the Council on Foreign Relations’ David Rockefeller Studies Program.

Most of the attention paid to the U.S. pivot to Asia has focused on economics and security, primarily through the lens of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the U.S. military’s presence throughout the region. However, policymakers are turning their focus to issues of governance in Asia, understanding that strong support for democracy and human rights is central to U.S. interests abroad. Read more »

United States Makes Right Decision to go Slow on Military Cooperation with Myanmar

by Joshua Kurlantzick
A Muslim girl watches from the doorway of her home as soldiers walk by in Thapyuchai village, outside of Thandwe in the Rakhine state, on October 2, 2013. Security forces raced to contain deadly violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state on Tuesday, police said, after mobs torched Muslim homes and Buddhist villagers were attacked in a region plagued by intractable sectarian tensions. (Thandwe/Courtesy Reuters) A Muslim girl watches from the doorway of her home as soldiers walk by in Thapyuchai village, outside of Thandwe in the Rakhine state, on October 2, 2013. Security forces raced to contain deadly violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state on Tuesday, police said, after mobs torched Muslim homes and Buddhist villagers were attacked in a region plagued by intractable sectarian tensions. (Thandwe/Courtesy Reuters)

Last week, the Obama administration announced that, despite the rapid warming of ties between the United States and Myanmar, the former military dictatorship would not get any American military assistance in the fiscal year 2014. (Of course, as it stands now, there will be no U.S. budget in the fiscal year 2014!) As the Irrawaddy reports, the administration has taken this step because the Myanmar military allegedly still uses child soldiers, which makes it ineligible for U.S. military aid.

There are many advocates within the Obama administration for moving faster on military-military ties with Myanmar, and indeed several other democracies, like former colonial power Britain, are moving faster than the United States on military-military ties. Yet the use of child soldiers is hardly the only reason why this decision to hold off on military aid is warranted. As an excellent recent Associated Press report notes, one of the major arguments for closer military- military ties does not hold up to scrutiny. Advocates of quickly boosting military-military ties argue that the interaction will help inculcate in the Myanmar military a culture of respect for rights and for the rule of law. This can be accomplished, so the theory goes, by sponsoring leading Myanmar officers to attend training through the U.S. International Military Education and Training (IMET) program. Yet the AP report notes:

Read more »