CFR Presents

Asia Unbound

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

The Rise of Modern State Capitalism

by Joshua Kurlantzick Tuesday, July 12, 2016
gazprom Gazprom Chief Executive Officer Alexei Miller attends an annual general meeting of the company's shareholders in Moscow, Russia, on June 30, 2016. (Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)

China’s state-owned enterprises have received the most coverage of any such companies around the world, but they are hardly alone. In fact, although China has been the focus of nearly all discussion of the trend in the West, it is only one player in a new era of state capitalism born over the past decade. Throughout the developing world, many governments are increasing their intervention in their economies. Read more »

Voters Give Abe an Opening for Constitutional Debate

by Sheila A. Smith Monday, July 11, 2016
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (2nd L), who is also leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), smiles with LDP policy chief Tomomi Inada (R), Secretary-General Sadakazu Tanigaki (2nd R) and Vice-President Masahiko Komura as they put a rosette on the name of a candidate who is expected to win the upper house election (REUTERS/Toru Hanai). Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (2nd L), who is also leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), smiles with LDP policy chief Tomomi Inada (R), Secretary-General Sadakazu Tanigaki (2nd R) and Vice-President Masahiko Komura as they put a rosette on the name of a candidate who is expected to win the upper house election (REUTERS/Toru Hanai).

This blog post is part of a series entitled Will Japanese Change Their Constitution?, in which leading experts discuss the prospects for revising Japan’s postwar constitution. Read more »

Decision Imminent on China-Philippines South China Sea Dispute

by Joshua Kurlantzick Monday, July 11, 2016
philippines-south china sea The BRP Sierra Madre, a marooned transport ship which Philippine Marines live on as a military outpost, is pictured in the disputed Second Thomas Shoal, part of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea on March 30, 2014. (Erik De Castro/Reuters)

Tomorrow, an international tribunal in The Hague is expected to deliver its verdict on the Philippines’ legal case against China’s claims in the South China Sea. Under the previous Aquino administration, Manila launched a case at the Permanent Court of Arbitration tribunal, asking for it to rule on whether China’s nine-dashed line claim in the South China Sea was legal under international maritime law, and whether other aspects of Beijing’s claims were legal. Although few other countries paid attention when the case was taken up by the court last year, Vietnam has now rhetorically supported the Philippines’ right to a hearing. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of July 8, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, July 8, 2016
Dhaka-ceremony People attend a candle light vigil for the victims of the attack on the Holey Artisan Bakery and the O'Kitchen Restaurant, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, July 3, 2016. (Adnan Abidi/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Bochen Han, Gabriella Meltzer, and Gabriel Walker look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Dhaka attacks designed to “reverberate globally.” Bangladesh is still reeling from last Friday when at least five Bangladeshi men stormed the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka’s affluent Gulshan neighborhood and unleashed horror within. Read more »

Podcast: China’s Offensive in Europe

by Elizabeth C. Economy Thursday, July 7, 2016
ChemChina-Syngenta-deal Ren Jianxin, Chairman of China National Chemical Corp shakes hands with Swiss agrochemicals maker Syngenta's President Michel Demare (R) after the company's annual news conference in Basel, Switzerland, February 3, 2016. That day, China made its boldest overseas takeover move yet when state-owned ChemChina agreed a $43 billion bid for Swiss seeds and pesticides group Syngenta. (Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters)

In this week’s Asia Unbound podcast I speak with Philippe Le Corre, visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution, about his new book with Alain Sepulchre, China’s Offensive in Europe. Le Corre is a keen observer of the inroads that Chinese companies are making into the European continent through widespread merger and acquisitions of European firms. He describes Beijing’s push for Chinese companies not only to diversify their international holdings—as in the case of the state-owned enterprise ChemChina purchasing Pirelli, a well-known Italian tire-maker—but also to establish global brands of their own. In some cases, like that of the German manufacturer Putzmeister, flagging European companies acquired by Chinese ones can enjoy a new life by gaining greater access to the Chinese market. Read more »

How Much Should We Read Into China’s New “Core Socialist Values”?

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Wednesday, July 6, 2016
A man walks with his bicycle in front of a screen showing propaganda displays near the Great Hall of the People at Beijing's Tiananmen Square, November 7, 2012. Just days before the party's all-important congress opens, China's stability-obsessed rulers are taking no chances and have combed through a list all possible threats, avian or otherwise. Their list includes bus windows being screwed shut and handles for rear windows in taxis - to stop subversive leaflets being scattered on the streets - plus balloons and remote control model planes. The goal is to ensure an image of harmony as President Hu Jintao prepares to transfer power as party leader to anointed successor Vice President Xi Jinping at the congress, which starts on Thursday. REUTERS/Carlos Barria (CHINA - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS) A man walks with his bicycle in front of a screen showing propaganda displays near the Great Hall of the People at Beijing's Tiananmen Square. China’s most recent values and propaganda campaign has taken the form of promoting “core socialist values.” (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Bochen Han is an intern for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Driving through any Chinese city, town, or village today it’s hard to miss the 24-character set of “core socialist values” (shehuizhuyi hexin jiazhiguan) that adorn almost every public surface—restaurant menus, billboards, taxi cabs. In Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, schoolchildren must recite them on demand. In Chaohu city in Anhui province, citizens were encouraged to hang values-inscribed lanterns for the Spring Festival. Southwest, in Sichuan province, officials popularized the values by including them in riddles. Read more »

Review of Benedict Anderson’s “A Life Beyond Boundaries”

by Joshua Kurlantzick Tuesday, July 5, 2016
indonesia Storm clouds gather over Central Jakarta, Indonesia on July 5, 2016. (Darren Whiteside/Reuters)

It is a common scene among the community of Southeast Asia specialists in Washington. At a talk, or a visit by a leading Southeast Asian politician, the conversation inevitably comes around to the same mantra. Why is the audience relatively small? Why do we know everyone in attendance? Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of July 1, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, July 1, 2016
A family member pays homage to the body of a Nepali national who was killed when a suicide bomber struck a minibus in Kabul, Afghanistan, June 22, 2016. (Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters) A family member pays homage to the body of a Nepali national who was killed when a suicide bomber struck a minibus in Kabul, Afghanistan, June 22, 2016. (Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Bochen Han, Theresa Lou, and Gabriella Meltzer look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Nepalis seeking employment in Afghanistan face severe risks. Faced with a faltering economy and few job opportunities following the devastating April 2015 earthquake, thousands of Nepalis have sought employment in Afghanistan as security contractors at foreign missions, military bases, and embassies. Read more »

Joining the Club: India and the Nuclear Suppliers Group

by Alyssa Ayres Friday, July 1, 2016
A member of Denmark's delegation (C) takes a picture with his phone while seated next to India's Prime Minister Narenda Modi (R) at the start of the second plenary session of the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington April 1, 2016 (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters). A member of Denmark's delegation (C) takes a picture with his phone while seated next to India's Prime Minister Narenda Modi (R) at the start of the second plenary session of the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington April 1, 2016 (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters).

Last week the forty-eight “participating governments” of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) met in a plenary session in Seoul. Among the subjects of discussion: how to consider for membership countries that have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Discussion of membership for non-NPT signatories was the result of India’s application for membership, an application the United States has vocally supported. Read more »