CFR Presents

Asia Unbound

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

For Clues About Trump, Look Around the World

by Joshua Kurlantzick Tuesday, November 29, 2016
trump-1 U.S. President elect Donald Trump reacts to a crowd gathered in the lobby of the New York Times building after a meeting in New York, U.S., on November 22, 2016. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

In the wake of Donald Trump’s stunning electoral victory, many American political analysts are arguing that his presidency has virtually no precedent, and so it is impossible to know how he might govern. Unlike all presidents since Dwight Eisenhower, Trump was never an elected politician, and even Eisenhower had extensive experience with government and public policy. Trump has few clear views on most policy issues, and has repeatedly disdained the norms of American politics. Even within the Republican Party leadership, which now wields more power in Washington than any one party in decades, there is deep confusion over how the president will lead. Read more »

Podcast: Fifteen Minutes With Joshua Wong

by Elizabeth C. Economy Tuesday, November 22, 2016
joshua-wong-demosisto Student leader Joshua Wong celebrates after candidate Nathan Law won a seat in the Legislative Council election in Hong Kong, September 5, 2016. (Tyrone Siu/Reuters)

When Hong Kong police cleared the streets of Umbrella Movement protestors in December 2014, many feared for the fate of the city’s democracy movement. But two years later, in September’s elections, a handful of those same protestors won triumphant victories in Legislative Council elections. Joshua Wong, the twenty-year-old secretary general of the political party Demosistō, sat down with me last week to stress the importance of this moment to his shared fight for self-determination. Will democracy advocates be able to accomplish their aims through their new positions? And how far is Beijing willing to go in order to intervene in Hong Kong affairs and suppress democratic activities? Read more »

The U.S.-ROK Alliance and the Trump Administration

by Scott A. Snyder Tuesday, November 22, 2016
A woman takes a photograph of her friend with a cut-out of Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump during a U.S. Election Watch event hosted by the U.S. Embassy at a hotel in Seoul, South Korea, November 9, 2016. (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji) A woman takes a photograph of her friend with a cut-out of Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump during a U.S. Election Watch event hosted by the U.S. Embassy at a hotel in Seoul, South Korea, November 9, 2016. (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)

South Korea’s unfolding domestic political crisis has been all-consuming, with daily revelations by an unrestrained Korean media into multiple scandals that have created the likelihood of a prolonged political vacuum and implicated President Park Geun-hye. Despite the biggest Korean political scandal in decades, however, Koreans have been focused on seeking explanations and assurances from American visitors following the election of Donald J. Trump as the next president of the United States. Read more »

Rakhine Lockdown, Hong Kong Disqualifications, Choigate, and More

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, November 18, 2016
rohingya-children Rohingya Muslim boys stand in U Shey Kya village outside Maungdaw in Rakhine state, Myanmar, October 27, 2016. (Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Sherry Cho, Gabriella Meltzer, and Gabriel Walker look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Rohingyas suffer under Rakhine lockdown. Myanmar’s Rakhine State, home to roughly 1.1 million stateless Muslims self-identified as Rohingya, has been on military lockdown since October 9 following attacks on three border security posts. Government officials claim that the perpetrators were members of a jihadist organization, and that military exercises are counterterrorism measures. The military’s goal is to eradicate the presence of the group Aqa Lul Mujahidin, which is reportedly linked to the Organization for Rohingya Security, an armed group active during the 1990s. Read more »

No, India Doesn’t Need a Hukou System

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, November 18, 2016
Labourers work at the site of a commercial building under construction in Noida, on the outskirts of New Delhi December 13, 2013. India's biggest cities face a worsening shortage of migrant manual labourers. While India has long suffered from a dearth of workers with vocational skills like plumbers and electricians, efforts to alleviate poverty in poor, rural areas have helped stifle what was once a flood of cheap, unskilled labour from India's poorest states. Struggling to cope with soaring food prices, this dwindling supply of migrant workers are demanding – and increasingly getting – rapid increases in pay and benefits. Picture taken December 13, 2013. REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee Laborers work at the site of a commercial building under construction in Noida, on the outskirts of New Delhi. India's biggest cities face a worsening shortage of migrant manual laborers. While India has long suffered from a dearth of workers with vocational skills like plumbers and electricians, efforts to alleviate poverty in poor, rural areas have helped stifle what was once a flood of cheap, unskilled labor from India's poorest states. (Anindito Mukherjee/Reuters)

Rachel Brown is a research associate for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. This is the first part of a series on migration trends in China and India.

Each minute, an estimated thirty Indians migrate from the countryside into cities. By 2050, as a result of this migration, Indian cities will house more than 800 million residents, many of them young people in search of work. However, the Indian government is ill-prepared to absorb this burgeoning youth population into cities and address their needs. Read more »

Abe’s Trump Test

by Sheila A. Smith Friday, November 18, 2016
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (R) meets with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 17, 2016 (CABINET PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICE). Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (R) meets with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 17, 2016 (CABINET PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICE).

Like many around the globe, Japanese are stunned by the election outcome and worried about what this means for the United States’ role in the world. Of particular concern, of course, are the comments Candidate Donald J. Trump made on the campaign trail about Japan, about trade, and about U.S. alliances. But what matters now is what President-elect Trump will do to reassure Tokyo that he values the U.S.-Japan strategic partnership. Read more »

Time to Expand the Idea of “Abroad”

by Alyssa Ayres Thursday, November 17, 2016
A group of students from the Missouri University of Science and Technology pose on the steps of a vav (stepwell) with students from Sardar Patel University and nurses from Hinduja National Hospital during a study abroad trip to Gujarat, India. Photo by Daniel Oerther, licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0, cropped from original. A group of students from the Missouri University of Science and Technology pose on the steps of a vav (stepwell) with students from Sardar Patel University and nurses from Hinduja National Hospital during a study abroad trip to Gujarat, India. Photo by Daniel Oerther, licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0, cropped from original.

This is International Education Week, an opportunity for the U.S. Department of State and the Department of Education to promote study abroad. As the State Department press release puts it, the week will emphasize “encouraging Americans and international students alike to seek opportunities to study abroad, make connections with peers in other countries, and ultimately to see themselves as actors in and shapers of both their local communities and a globalized future.” The State Department has also announced a partnership with Diversity Abroad to “work toward diversifying participation in international education overall.” Read more »

South Korea’s Leadership Crisis

by Scott A. Snyder Thursday, November 17, 2016
Choi Soon-sil (C), who is involved in a political scandal, reacts as she is surrounded by the media upon her arrival at a prosecutor's office in Seoul, South Korea, October 31, 2016. (Seo Myeong-gon/Yonhap via Reuters) Choi Soon-sil (C), who is involved in a political scandal, reacts as she is surrounded by the media upon her arrival at a prosecutor's office in Seoul, South Korea, October 31, 2016. (Seo Myeong-gon/Yonhap via Reuters)

Hundreds of thousands of Koreans gathered in central Seoul last weekend in the largest demonstrations South Korea has seen since its pro-democracy movement toppled authoritarian rule in the late 1980s. South Korean opposition leaders provided signs and encouraged public chants demanding the resignation of President Park Geun-hye. These demonstrations are the culmination of a ballooning national crisis that has ensnared the president and her top associates with allegations of hidden influence on government decision-making, extortion, and influence-peddling. Read more »

Southeast Asia Responds to the U.S. Election

by Joshua Kurlantzick Wednesday, November 16, 2016
trump-southeast-asia A newspaper seller prepares her stall with articles dominated by the election of U.S. Republican Donald Trump, in Jakarta, Indonesia on November 10, 2016. (Beawiharta/Reuters)

While the incoming U.S. presidential administration focuses on domestic issues that drove the presidential campaign, from health care to tax reform, U.S. relations with Southeast Asia are likely to be mostly forgotten. Southeast Asian states were not a focus of the campaign, although the presidential candidates did condemn the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which included much of Southeast Asia and is now almost surely dead. Even the South China Sea, the most critical security issue in the region, received only occasional mentions on the campaign trail. Read more »

Trump and India

by Alyssa Ayres Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump (2nd L) enlists the help of Republican Hindu Coalition Chairman Shalli Kumar (2nd R) and others to light a ceremonial diya lamp before he speaks at a Bollywood-themed charity concert put on by the Republican Hindu Coalition in Edison, New Jersey, U.S. October 15, 2016. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters) Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump (2nd L) enlists the help of Republican Hindu Coalition Chairman Shalli Kumar (2nd R) and others to light a ceremonial diya lamp before he speaks at a Bollywood-themed charity concert put on by the Republican Hindu Coalition in Edison, New Jersey, U.S. October 15, 2016. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

The unexpected results of the U.S. presidential election last week have delivered Donald J. Trump to the White House. Trump has no foreign policy history to pore over for clues, but his comments over the course of the campaign—and his visit to a Bollywood-and-anti-terrorism-themed jubilee in Edison, New Jersey, offer some indications of where he might take U.S.-India ties. Read more »