CFR Presents

Asia Unbound

CFR experts give their take on the cutting-edge issues emerging in Asia today.

Economic Growth and India’s Global Rise

by Alyssa Ayres Monday, August 17, 2015
Australia's batsman Aaron Finch plays a shot as India's captain and wicketkeeper MS Dhoni watches on during their Cricket World Cup semi-final match in Sydney, March 26, 2015 (David Gray/Reuters). Australia's batsman Aaron Finch plays a shot as India's captain and wicketkeeper MS Dhoni watches on during their Cricket World Cup semi-final match in Sydney, March 26, 2015 (David Gray/Reuters).

Indians just celebrated their sixty-eighth year of independence, but the mood has dampened since last August 15. Last year, the excitement of a newly-elected government, one with a single-party majority, created a sense of opportunity ahead for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his soaring ambitions for the nation. This year’s speech, in contrast, more resembled the report cards of previous prime ministerial addresses, with an accounting for the nation of what the government had accomplished in its new agenda over the past year. On the heels of a parliamentary session in which opposition parties stymied the government’s reform agenda through ongoing disruptions—the upper house had a woeful 9 percent productivity rate—the overall mood has become one of right-sizing reform expectations due to the rough-and-tumble of Indian politics. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of August 14, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, August 14, 2015
Workers clean a road near the site of the explosions at the Binhai new district, Tianjin, August 13, 2015. Two huge explosions tore through an industrial area where toxic chemicals and gas were stored in the northeast Chinese port city of Tianjin, killing at least forty-four people, including at least a dozen fire fighters, officials and state media said on Thursday. (Jason Lee/Reuters) Workers clean a road near the site of the explosions at the Binhai new district, Tianjin, August 13, 2015. Two huge explosions tore through an industrial area where toxic chemicals and gas were stored in the northeast Chinese port city of Tianjin, killing at least forty-four people, including at least a dozen fire fighters, officials and state media said on Thursday. (Jason Lee/Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson,  Lauren Dickey, Ariella Rotenberg, and Gabriel Walker look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. China’s central bank allows currency to devalue. The renminbi (RMB) declined by more than 4 percent this week as the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) set the currency’s daily benchmark lower for several days in a row. The drop may help strengthen the domestic economy, which has faltered in recent months; the PBOC’s willingness to allow the currency’s market rate to drop may suggest that the Chinese economy is doing even worse than some indicators suggest, which could spell trouble for countries that rely on China’s commodity imports. Read more »

Abe Focuses on Japan’s “Lessons Learned”

by Sheila A. Smith Friday, August 14, 2015
People watch Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on a screen as he gives a statement in Tokyo August 14, 2015 (Thomas Peter/Reuters). People watch Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on a screen as he gives a statement in Tokyo August 14, 2015 (Thomas Peter/Reuters).

Prime Minister Abe Shinzo today presented his statement on the seventieth anniversary of the end of World War II (WWII). Much anticipated and debated, this Abe Statement included the language of statements made on the fiftieth and sixtieth anniversaries by former prime ministers Murayama Tomiichi and Koizumi Junichiro. But Abe took a different tack from his predecessors, identifying the lessons of that war and defeat, and articulating their link to Japan’s current and future ambitions. Read more »

Malaysia’s Leadership Crisis

by Joshua Kurlantzick Thursday, August 13, 2015
najib-razak-1MDB scandal Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak arrives at the 48th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) foreign ministers meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on August 4, 2015. (Olivia Harris/Reuters)

Since early July, when the Wall Street Journal and the Sarawak Report, an investigative website focusing on Malaysia, both reported that embattled Malaysian state fund 1MDB had allegedly transferred funds into the personal accounts of Prime Minister Najib tun Razak, Malaysia’s normally placid politics have exploded. Along with a battle within the ruling coalition between the prime minister and supports of longtime former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, Najib is now apparently fending off challenges from some top leaders within the governing coalition. Read more »

Southeast Asia Summer Reading

by Joshua Kurlantzick Wednesday, August 12, 2015
myanmar-beach-fishing A fishing boat is seen against the setting sun on Maungmagan beach near the town of Dawei in southern Myanmar on November 19, 2011. (Staff/Reuters)

Summer is winding down. In the Washington area, the brick oven heat of late July and early August is giving way to that late August feeling of merely living in a sauna. School forms are due. And it is time to review the Southeast Asia books I had a chance to read this summer. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of August 7, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, August 7, 2015
A customer shops at an Alibaba rural service center in Zhejiang province, China, July 20, 2015. While Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba estimates the potential rural market for online shopping at 460 billion yuan ($74 billion) by next year, new regulations on Internet payment tools may limit that. (Reuters/Aly Song) A customer shops at an Alibaba rural service center in Zhejiang province, China, July 20, 2015. While Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba estimates the potential rural market for online shopping at 460 billion yuan ($74 billion) by next year, new regulations on Internet payment tools may limit that. (Reuters/Aly Song)

Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, William Piekos,  Ariella Rotenberg, Ayumi Teraoka, and Gabriel Walker look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. China to embed Ministry of Public Security units in Internet companies. Cybersecurity police units will soon be posted within major Internet companies in China, in order to more quickly and effectively prevent criminal activities such as fraud, online theft, and rumormongering. The move is especially direct for a government that largely expects companies to comply with censorship regulations and already employs millions of microblog monitors. Read more »

Why We Should Remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki

by Sheila A. Smith Thursday, August 6, 2015
U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy and U.S. Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller attend a ceremony at the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, August 6, 2015 (Toru Hanai/Reuters). U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy and U.S. Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller attend a ceremony at the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, August 6, 2015 (Toru Hanai/Reuters).

Today marks the seventieth anniversary of the first use of nuclear weapons. August 9 will mark the second. The United States, in the culminating days of World War II, dropped these new, devastating bombs on Japan, urging to conclusion Japanese decision making on surrender. Read more »

Guest Post: Micron Takeover by Chinese Company Raises Cybersecurity and Regulatory Concerns

by Guest Blogger for Yanzhong Huang Thursday, August 6, 2015
Memory chip parts of U.S. memory chip maker MicronTechnology are pictured at their fair booth at an industrial fair in Frankfurt, Germany, July 14, 2015. China's state-backed Tsinghua Unigroup Ltd is preparing a $23 billion bid for Micron in what would be the biggest Chinese takeover of a U.S. company. (Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach) Memory chip parts of U.S. memory chip maker MicronTechnology are pictured at their fair booth at an industrial fair in Frankfurt, Germany, July 14, 2015. China's state-backed Tsinghua Unigroup Ltd is preparing a $23 billion bid for Micron in what would be the biggest Chinese takeover of a U.S. company. (Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach)

by Ariella Rotenberg and Peng Di

Ariella Rotenberg is a research associate in U.S. foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. Peng Di, a former intern for the global health program, also contributed to this post.

Just this week, the Obama administration announced publicly that it would retaliate against China for coordinating a cyber attack that resulted in the theft of over twenty million American’s personal information. While attention in the public sphere is currently focused on the administration’s policy reversal, over the course of the past few weeks many technology fiends, finance experts, and cybersecurity analysts turned their attention to the potential buyout of the Boise, Idaho-based Micron Technology Inc. by Chinese company Tsinghua Unigroup. Read more »

How to Make Compromise Compelling: Christensen and Goldstein on U.S.-China Relations

by Elizabeth C. Economy Tuesday, August 4, 2015
U.S. President Barack Obama (R) meets China's President Xi Jinping, on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit, in The Hague March 24 2014. Obama began crisis talks with his European allies on Monday after Ukraine announced the evacuation of its troops from Crimea, effectively yielding the region to Russian forces which stormed one of Kiev's last bases there. Obama, who has imposed tougher sanctions on Moscow than European leaders over its seizure of the Black Sea peninsula, will seek support for his firm line at a meeting with other leaders of the G7 - a group of industrialised nations that excludes Russia, which joined in 1998 to form the G8. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (NETHERLANDS - Tags: POLITICS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY PROFILE) U.S. President Barack Obama (R) meets China's President Xi Jinping, on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit, in The Hague on March 24 2014. (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters)

Sitting on the beach—or less fortuitously in an office—with nothing better to do in the last weeks of summer than read a few books on U.S.-China relations? You might want to pick up the new books by Thomas Christensen and Lyle Goldstein, The China Challenge: Shaping the Choices of a Rising Power and Meeting China Halfway: How to Defuse the Emerging U.S.-China Rivalry, respectively. They are not light reading, but they will situate you well for the barrage of media attention sure to accompany the late September summit between Presidents Xi and Obama. Read more »

Malaysia’s Political Crisis Deepens

by Joshua Kurlantzick Monday, August 3, 2015
najib-razak-1MDB Men walk past a 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) billboard at the funds flagship Tun Razak Exchange development in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on March 1, 2015. (Olivia Harris/Reuters)

This past week, the crisis in Malaysia’s governing coalition has only grown deeper, with the sacking of several prominent ministers in a scene that could remind one of the Nixon administration’s October, 1973 Saturday Night Massacre. As stories continued to emerge alleging improprieties in Malaysia’s state 1MDB fund, including the alleged deposit of funds into the personal accounts of Prime Minister Najib tun Razak, sentiment in the governing coalition about Najib appeared to be split. Read more »