CFR Presents

Asia Unbound

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

Podcast: A Conversation With Qingguo Jia

by Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, March 31, 2017
Attendees leave the Great Hall of the People after a plenary session of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in Beijing, China, on March 9, 2017. (Damir Sagolj/Reuters)

On this week’s Asia Unbound podcast, Dr. Qingguo Jia, dean of Peking University’s School of International Studies and member of the Standing Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), offers his take on U.S.-China relations and explains the inner workings of the CPPCC. Jia makes predictions for next week’s Trump-Xi summit in Florida and argues in support of stronger sanctions on North Korea and the value of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue. Jia also sheds light on Chinese domestic politics, shares his own experience at the annual CPPCC gathering in mid-March, and explains the process by which delegates debate and propose thousands of policy recommendations for the year ahead. Read more »

What Happens to Congressional Southeast Asia Policy Under a New U.S. Administration?

by Joshua Kurlantzick Tuesday, March 21, 2017
congress-southeast asia U.S. Democratic Leader, Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (front C) and Vietnam's President Truong Tan Sang (3rd R) pose for a photo with other U.S. representatives and officials after their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi on March 31, 2015. (Kham/Reuters)

Unlike many regions of the world, where U.S. foreign policy has in recent decades been dominated by the executive branch, since the end of the Cold War Congress has played a major role in policy toward much of Southeast Asia. In mainland Southeast Asia, in fact, Congress has often been the dominant foreign policy actor, in part because successive U.S. administrations—throughout the 1990s and 2000s—placed a relatively low priority on mainland Southeast Asia. Read more »

BJP Puts Religion in the Front Seat in India’s Largest State

by Alyssa Ayres Monday, March 20, 2017
India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Yogi Adityanath (C) is greeted after he was elected as Chief Minister of India’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, during the party lawmakers' meeting in Lucknow, India March 18, 2017. (Pawan Kumar/Reuters)

Last week, India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) received a landslide victory in the state assembly elections of Uttar Pradesh (UP), India’s most populous state, and arguably one of the country’s most politically important arenas. The day after the election results, Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered a celebratory speech at the party headquarters in New Delhi, and heralded the dawn of a “New India.” As I wrote last week, his New India remarks, along with a campaign unfurled to encourage citizen involvement, pointed to a focus on jobs, development, anti-corruption, “Clean India,” protecting nature, peace, unity, and goodwill, among other priorities. Read more »

Podcast: The End of the Asian Century?

by Elizabeth C. Economy Thursday, March 16, 2017
Soldiers shout slogans as they march past a stand with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and other officials during the parade celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, in Pyongyang October 10, 2015. Isolated North Korea marked the 70th anniversary of its ruling Workers' Party on Saturday with a massive military parade overseen by leader Kim Jong Un, who said his country was ready to fight any war waged by the United States. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj Soldiers shout slogans as they march past a stand with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and other officials during the parade celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, in Pyongyang on October 10, 2015. (Damir Sagolj/Reuters)

Observers frequently characterize Asia as “emerging”, “ascendant”, or headed for an “inexorable rise”. But what if demographic, economic, and security trends are instead propelling the continent in a different direction? On this week’s Asia Unbound podcast, Michael Auslin, resident scholar and director of Japan Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, lays out the provocative arguments at the heart of his new book The End of the Asian Century: War, Stagnation, and the Risks to the World’s Most Dynamic Region. He suggests that while Asian countries have previously reaped demographic dividends from their large youth populations, governments now confront new challenges. Read more »

Don’t Buy China’s Peace Plan for North Korea

by Ely Ratner Wednesday, March 15, 2017
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un guides the 3rd Meeting of Activists of the Korean People's Army (KPA) in the Movement for Winning the Title of O Jung Hup-led 7th Regiment in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on August 4, 2016. (Reuters/KCNA)

In a matter of weeks, all of China’s fears have come to a head on the Korean Peninsula. At an airport in Malaysia in mid-February, the exiled half-brother of North Korea’s ruler was assassinated with a nerve agent, reminding the world that the Hermit Kingdom is run by a paranoid and violent regime. Closer to home, North Korea conducted two rounds of ballistic missile tests in stark violation of UN Security Council resolutions. In response, the United States, South Korea, and Japan all vowed to tighten military ties and step up pressure on Pyongyang, underscored by the initial deployment, much to China’s dismay, of a new U.S. missile defense system in South Korea. Read more »

Will the North Korea-Malaysia Crisis Cause a Shift in Southeast Asian States’ Relationships with Pyongyang?

by Joshua Kurlantzick Wednesday, March 15, 2017
malaysia-north korea A view of the North Korea embassy that has been sealed off in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on March 7, 2017. (Lai Seng Sin/Reuters)

As I noted in a piece I co-authored with Scott Snyder shortly after the apparent assassination of Kim Jong Nam, Malaysia is but one of many Southeast Asian nations that have relatively robust diplomatic ties with Pyongyang. Or at least—Malaysia had relatively robust ties with Pyongyang. Read more »

The BJP’s Big Win and the New India

by Alyssa Ayres Monday, March 13, 2017
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi is being garlanded by party leaders during a ceremony at Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) headquarters in New Delhi, India, March 12, 2017. (Adnan Abidi/Reuters)

What a weekend for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). On Saturday, March 11, the election results for five state legislative assembly contests came in, delivering the voters’ verdict. More than halfway through the Narendra Modi government’s term in office, and four months after a painful currency demonetization, voters delivered the BJP two resounding victories (Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand), two close calls that the party has converted into power (Goa and Manipur), and one defeat (Punjab). Read more »

Duterte and ASEAN

by Guest Blogger for Joshua Kurlantzick Monday, March 13, 2017
duterte-5 Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks before the Philippine Councilors League in Pasay city, Metro Manila, Philippines on March 8, 2017. (Erik De Castro/Reuters)

Richard Javad Heydarian is a specialist in Asian geopolitical/economic affairs based in Manila.

After upending Asian geopolitics over the past year, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte now is set to make his mark on the most important regional organization, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Manila has taken over the chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations this year—chairmanship rotates annually—amid much fanfare about ASEAN. Read more »

Park’s Impeachment, Myanmar Exodus, ZTE Fine, and More

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, March 10, 2017
Pro-Park-protest A supporter of impeached President Park Geun-hye lies in front of a barricade of riot police during a protest after Park’s impeachment was accepted, near the Constitutional Court in Seoul, South Korea, March 10, 2017. (Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters)

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

1. Park Geun-hye impeached. South Korea’s Constitutional Court ruled unanimously on Friday to uphold a parliamentary vote that impeached Park Geun-hye in December, decisively ousting her from office and igniting violence from pro- and anti-Park demonstrators that led to at least two deaths in Seoul. Park’s abbreviated term, serving four years of a five-year term, has been marked by controversy and criticism of her apparent aloof and autocratic governing manner. Read more »

Park Geun-hye’s Impeachment: What Next?

by Scott A. Snyder Friday, March 10, 2017
People react about the decision of the Constitutional Court over the impeachment of South Koeran President Park Geun-hye in Seoul, South Korea March 10, 2017. (Yonhap/Lee Ji-Eun/via Reuters)

South Korea’s Constitutional Court unanimously upheld the National Assembly’s impeachment of Park Geun-hye today, paving the way for new elections to be held within 60 days of the ruling. May 9 has been reported as the most likely date for the election of a new president, who will replace President Park and serve a five-year term. Read more »