CFR Presents

Asia Unbound

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

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of July 17, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, July 18, 2014
Emergencies ministry members walk at the site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region on July 17, 2014 (Maxim Zmeyev/Courtesy: Reuters). Emergencies ministry members walk at the site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region on July 17, 2014 (Maxim Zmeyev/Courtesy: Reuters).

Ashlyn Anderson, Lauren Dickey, Darcie Draudt, Andrew Hill, Will Piekos, and Sharone Tobias look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. Malaysia Airlines plane shot down over eastern Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was downed by a surface-to-air missile over eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 on board. Though the Ukrainian and Russian militaries, along with pro-Russian separatists, all possess weaponry capable of shooting down a plane flying at 33,000 feet, evidence is increasingly pointing to separatists as the perpetrators. The incident comes just five months after Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared over the Indian Ocean, along with its 239 passengers and crew. Read more »

Northeast Asian Security Architecture: Lessons from European History

by Scott A. Snyder Thursday, July 17, 2014
William Alberque, Cho Nam Hoon, Morimoto Satoshi, Pan Zhenqiang, and Scott Snyder participate in a panel at the conference, "Northeast Asia Peace and Security Initiative and the European Experience of CSBM," co-hosted by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies and Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Lars Erik Lundin, William Alberque, Cho Nam Hoon, Morimoto Satoshi, Pan Zhenqiang, and Scott Snyder participate in a panel at the conference, "Northeast Asia Peace and Security Initiative and the European Experience of CSBM," co-hosted by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies and Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Courtesy: Darcie Draudt).

Henry Kissinger offered a sobering observation last February in Munich when he suggested that the uptick in geopolitical rivalry between China and Japan reminded him of nineteenth century Europe. Mindful of the negative consequences of such a conflict for his own country, South Korea’s foreign minister Yun Byung-se referenced Kissinger’s observation in the opening to his own speech last week at a conference in Seoul, co-sponsored by the Asan Institute and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The conference explicitly sought lessons from Europe’s past experience with establishment of Confidence and Security Building Mechanisms (CSBMs) for Park Geun-hye’s Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative (NAPCI), a proposal to institutionalize a process for promoting multilateral cooperation that Park is promoting as a solution to the severe distrust in the region. Read more »

The 2008 Milk Scandal Revisited

by Yanzhong Huang Wednesday, July 16, 2014
A woman holding a baby stands in front of a shelf displaying milk powder products at a supermarket in Beijing May 20, 2013. (Kim Kyung Hoon/Courtesy Reuters) A woman holding a baby stands in front of a shelf displaying milk powder products at a supermarket in Beijing May 20, 2013. (Kim Kyung Hoon/Courtesy Reuters)

Six years ago today, sixteen infants in China’s Gansu Province were diagnosed with kidney stones. All of them had been fed milk powder that was later found to have been adulterated with a toxic industrial compound called melamine. Four months later, an estimated 300,000 babies in China were sick from the contaminated milk, and the kidney damage led to six fatalities. The Sanlu Group, one of the largest dairy producers in China, was identified as the chief culprit. But as the scandal unfolded, more Chinese dairy firms became implicated. Read more »

What Does Indonesia’s Election Standoff Mean for Indonesia’s Next President?

by Joshua Kurlantzick Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto (C) waves to his supporters during a signing ceremony of an agreement of his coalition parties in Jakarta on July 14, 2014 (Beawiharta Beawiharta/Courtesy: Reuters). Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto (C) waves to his supporters during a signing ceremony of an agreement of his coalition parties in Jakarta on July 14, 2014 (Beawiharta Beawiharta/Courtesy: Reuters).

As I have previously blogged, unless Prabowo Subianto is able to steal four to six million votes in the days before the official vote tally is released, an unlikely possibility, Jakarta governor Joko Widodo will be declared the winner of the presidential election sometime next week. Read more »

Dickey and Tobias: What to Expect From Xi Jinping’s Latin America Trip

by Guest Blogger for Adam Segal Monday, July 14, 2014
Giant panda Ying Mei approaches a box of food with the Brazilian flag on it during an event called "Panda Predicts World Cup Results," ahead of the 2014 World Cup opening match between Brazil and Croatia, in Yangzhou, Jiangsu province on June 12, 2014 (China Daily/Courtesy: Reuters). Giant panda Ying Mei approaches a box of food with the Brazilian flag on it during an event called "Panda Predicts World Cup Results," ahead of the 2014 World Cup opening match between Brazil and Croatia, in Yangzhou, Jiangsu province on June 12, 2014 (China Daily/Courtesy: Reuters).

Lauren Dickey is a research associate for U.S. foreign policy and Sharone Tobias is a research associate for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Chinese president Xi Jinping began his week-long visit to Latin America today on the heels of a number of major events. Brazil is central in the minds of many as the World Cup wraps up and Rio de Janeiro prepares to host the Olympics, initially darkened by protests. Argentina is facing a new unhappy chapter in its battle against debt. China’s ideological allies, Cuba and Venezuela, remain prone to domestic instability amid economic reform. Read more »

Can Abe Build Support for Security Reforms?

by Sheila A. Smith Monday, July 14, 2014
Empty voting boxes are seen at a ballot counting center for the upper house election in Tokyo July 21, 2013 Empty voting boxes are seen at a ballot counting center for the upper house election in Tokyo July 21, 2013. (Yuya Shino/Courtesy Reuters)

Even as regional challenges to Japan’s security have intensified, the domestic debate over security reforms continues to reveal deep divisions in Japan. Since coming into office a year and a half ago, the Shinzo Abe cabinet has sought an overhaul of its security policy, including a revision of the U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation guidelines that shape alliance military planning. Abe’s predecessor, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), argued for similar alliance reforms. Upgrading alliance cooperation has not been an easy process as political change in Japan has created a complex legislative balance in the Diet. Read more »

Jokowi’s High Road a Mistake

by Joshua Kurlantzick Monday, July 14, 2014
A vendor sells newspapers to motorists the day after the Indonesian presidential election in Jakarta on July 10, 2014 (Darren Whiteside/Courtesy: Reuters). A vendor sells newspapers to motorists the day after the Indonesian presidential election in Jakarta on July 10, 2014 (Darren Whiteside/Courtesy: Reuters).

In the wake of July 9’s voting in Indonesia’s presidential elections, both candidates, Joko Widodo, or Jokowi, and Prabowo Subianto have declared that, according to quick counts, they have won the presidential election. For those who are not familiar with Indonesian elections, a quick count is not the same thing as an exit poll, common in Western elections; a primer on quick counts is available on New Mandala. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of July 11, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, July 11, 2014
Villagers line up to vote in the country's presidential election at Bojong Koneng polling station in Bogor July 9, 2014. Indonesians began voting on Wednesday in a presidential election that has become a closely fought contest between the old guard who flourished under decades of autocratic rule and a new breed of politician that has emerged in the fledgling democracy. Only the third direct election for president in the world's fourth-most populous nation, the contest pits former special forces general Prabowo Subianto against Jakarta Governor Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, who have been running neck-and-neck in opinion polls. REUTERS/Beawiharta (INDONESIA - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS) Villagers line up to vote in the country's presidential election at Bojong Koneng polling station in Bogor on July 9, 2014. (Beawiharta/Courtesy Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Lauren Dickey, Darcie Draudt, Andrew Hill, Will Piekos, and Sharone Tobias look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. Indonesians await official results of presidential election. Joko Widodo, known popularly as Jokowi, seems to have won Indonesia’s presidential election against Prabowo Subianto, a self-described military strongman. Though unofficial quick count tallies appear split on the winner of the election, the more respected polling firms point to a Jokowi victory; the official results will be released on July 22. Read more »

Podcast: A Conversation with Aqil Shah

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Pakistan's newly appointed army chief General Raheel Sharif (R) and outgoing army chief General Ashfaq Kayani (L) talk during the change of command ceremony at the army headquarters in Rawalpindi November 29, 2013. Pakistan named Sharif, a career infantry officer considered a moderate as army chief, on Wednesday as the country fights a Taliban insurgency and seeks accord with the United States on how to stabilise neighbouring Afghanistan. Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced that Raheel Sharif, brother of a war hero, would take charge of the world's sixth-largest army, with a formal handover from General Ashfaq Kayani on Friday. REUTERS/Mian Khursheed (PAKISTAN - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY) Pakistan's newly appointed army chief General Raheel Sharif (R) and outgoing army chief General Ashfaq Kayani (L) talk during the change of command ceremony at the army headquarters in Rawalpindi on November 29, 2013. (Mian Khurseed/Courtesy Reuters)

The second installment of Asia Unbound’s new podcast series. Our guest is Aqil Shah, lecturer at Princeton University’s Department of Politics and author of The Army and Democracy: Military Politics in Pakistan (Harvard, 2014). Dan Markey, senior fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia, spoke with him on arguments made in his book, which examines the military’s contentious relationship with Pakistan’s civilian government. Read more »

Disputed Indonesian Election a Possible Disaster

by Joshua Kurlantzick Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Supporters of Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto cheer after Prabowo declared victory in the country's presidential election in Jakarta on July 9, 2014. Both Prabowo and Joko "Jokowi" Widodo claimed victory in Indonesia's presidential election (Beawiharta/Courtesy: Reuters). Supporters of Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto cheer after Prabowo declared victory in the country's presidential election in Jakarta on July 9, 2014. Both Prabowo and Joko "Jokowi" Widodo claimed victory in Indonesia's presidential election (Beawiharta/Courtesy: Reuters).

Although the official results of Indonesia’s presidential election yesterday will not be known until July 20, both candidates, Joko Widodo and Prabowo Subianto, now have claimed victory based on exit polling and quick counts. In the past, such as in previous parliamentary elections, these quick counts have been relatively accurate. But now their accuracy is coming into question. Some of the quick counts appear to show Joko Widodo, or Jokowi, as the winner by around three to six percentage points nationally, while Prabowo claims other counts show him as the winner. Since the race came down to the wire too close to call, it is hard to completely trust any of the quick counts or exit polling. Many election experts have criticized Jokowi for claiming victory too quickly. Read more »