CFR Presents

Asia Unbound

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

How China Becomes a Cyber Power

by Adam Segal Monday, June 30, 2014
Employees work inside a LCD factory in Wuhan, Hubei province, on May 8, 2013. Chinese flat screen makers, once dismissed as second-class players in the global LCD market, are drawing envious looks from big names such as LG Display Co Ltd and Samsung. (China Daily/Courtesy Reuters) Employees work inside a LCD factory in Wuhan, Hubei province, on May 8, 2013. Chinese flat screen makers, once dismissed as second-class players in the global LCD market, are drawing envious looks from big names such as LG Display Co Ltd and Samsung. (China Daily/Courtesy Reuters)

One of the justifications for the creation of the Chinese leading group on cybersecurity and information technology was the need to move China from a “big” network country to a “strong” cyber power (从网络大国走向网络强国). While China has the world’s largest number of Internet users and a vibrant domestic market, policymakers and outside analysts seem to have significant concerns about Beijing’s technological prowess, the coherence of its international strategy, and its ability to respond to the growing sophistication of cyberattacks. It is one thing to be big, it is another to be powerful.
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Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of June 27, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, June 27, 2014
U.S. President Barack Obama is welcomed to Sukiyabashi Jiro restaurant by Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe while in Tokyo on April 23, 2014 (Larry Downing/Courtesy: Reuters). U.S. President Barack Obama is welcomed to Sukiyabashi Jiro restaurant by Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe while in Tokyo on April 23, 2014 (Larry Downing/Courtesy: Reuters).

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

1. Abe fires the “third arrow” of his growth strategy Abenomics. Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe announced the “third arrow” of his economic reform policy this week. The third arrow, experts say, is important but difficult, and seeks to address issues of tax reform, population decline, and immigration, as well as trade and agricultural reform. This phase follows the first (a fiscal stimulus) and the second (massive quantitative easing to provide a monetary boost). “Abenomics” claims to address the large challenges threatening Japan’s economy, including one of the biggest debt-to-GDP ratios in the world and an ageing society. Read more »

Prabowo, Jokowi, and Foreign Policy

by Joshua Kurlantzick Thursday, June 26, 2014
indonesia-second-presidential-debate Indonesia's presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto (far right) speaks as his opponent Joko Widodo looks on during the second presidential debate in Jakarta on June 15, 2014. Indonesia's two presidential candidates met again at the third debate on June 22, ahead of July's election (Beawiharta/Courtesy: Reuters).

The third debate between Indonesian presidential candidates Joko Widodo, or Jokowi, and Prabowo Subianto, held over the weekend, was supposed to focus on foreign policy and defense policy. At least that was the idea. It made sense that two men who want to be the president of the biggest power in Southeast Asia, and one that has become increasingly assertive on the world stage, would need to offer their views on Jakarta’s foreign policy. Read more »

Getting Back on Track Economically with India

by Alyssa Ayres Wednesday, June 25, 2014
A fisherman prepares to cast his fishing net in the waters of the Vembanad lake as a container ship is seen docked in the background at a port in Vallarpadam, in the southern Indian city of Kochi on February 11, 2014 (Sivaram V/Courtesy: Reuters). A fisherman prepares to cast his fishing net in the waters of the Vembanad lake as a container ship is seen docked in the background at a port in Vallarpadam in the southern Indian city of Kochi on February 11, 2014 (Sivaram V/Courtesy: Reuters).

India’s new government, led by business-oriented Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has emphasized the importance of restoring India’s economic growth to higher rates, along with restoring India’s place in the world as a great trading nation. It will be important for the United States to advance policies responsive to a more open Indian approach on trade and investment matters. I argue, in a new Policy Innovation Memorandum released today, that a good way to begin revitalizing the U.S.-India economic relationship, currently beset with animosities, will be for the United States to support India’s long-pending bid for membership in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC). Read more »

China Should Be Concerned by Overuse of Cesarean Sections

by Yanzhong Huang Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Yang Huiqing looks at her baby after a cesarean section in Ruijin Hospital in Shanghai Yang Huiqing looks at her baby after a cesarean section in Ruijin Hospital in Shanghai (Carlos Barria/Courtesy Reuters)

For those who were born in the Chinese countryside in the 1970s, the story of my birth—as my mother used to tell me—is not atypical. When the labor pains began, my mom sent my siblings to the local midwife asking her to come and deliver the baby at home.  Few people then heard of cesarean section (C-section)—the delivery of a baby through one or more incisions in the mother’s belly and uterus. In fact, only about 10 percent of children in China were born through C-section. Read more »

Ban Seok Choi: A Soldier’s Reflection on South Korea’s Contribution to Global Peacekeeping Operations

by Guest Blogger for Scott A. Snyder Tuesday, June 24, 2014
ROK-UNMISS-PKO United Nations peacekeepers from South Korea secure an airport in Bor on March 15, 2014 (Andreea Campeanu/Courtesy: Reuters).

Ban Seok Choi served as part of the UN Peacekeeping Force in South Sudan with the South Korean military. He finished his military service—which is mandatory for South Korean men—earlier this month. Read more »

A Worrying Future With Prabowo?

by Joshua Kurlantzick Monday, June 23, 2014
Prabowo Subianto-campaign Indonesia's presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto speaks to supporters during a campaign rally in Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta on June 22, 2014. Indonesia goes to the polls on July 9 to elect a new president (Courtesy: Reuters).

 

As election day in Indonesia’s presidential election nears, the race seems to be getting closer and closer. While only three months ago Jakarta governor Joko Widodo, universally known as Jokowi, had a twenty to thirty point lead in polls, some recent polling suggests that Jokowi’s lead over Prabowo Subianto has narrowed to less than five points. Prabowo also has picked up a huge range of endorsements and has amassed a broad coalition of support among small parties, including several religious parties that are known for turning out their voters. Of course, some of this narrowing is natural; months ago, Indonesian voters were choosing Jokowi in polls before the real presidential campaign had begun. Read more »

Thailand, Other American Partners Downgraded to Worst Ranking in New Trafficking in Persons Report

by Joshua Kurlantzick Friday, June 20, 2014
cambodian-migrants-from-thailand Cambodian migrant workers carry their belongings as they walk to cross the border at Aranyaprathet in Sa Kaew on June 15, 2014. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that over the past week 100,000 Cambodians have poured over the border, as the military that seized power in a May 22 coup intensifies lax measures to regulate illegal labour. The military's ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) insists Cambodians are leaving of their own accord and said 60,000 had crossed the border as of Saturday (Athit Perawongmetha/Courtesy: Reuters).

 

In the new State Department 2014 Trafficking in Persons report, officially released this morning by Secretary of State John Kerry, the administration pulls no punches. In previous years, some countries that had deserved being downgraded from a Tier 1 country to a Tier 2 country, signifying deteriorating progress in combating trafficking, or from a Tier 2 to a Tier 3 country, the worst possible rating in the report, had been saved from downgrades. Usually, they were saved due to their close strategic ties with the United States and their effective lobbying of this administration and its predecessors. A ranking in Tier 3, according to the report’s definition, means a country “whose government does not fully comply with the minimum standards [in combating trafficking in persons] and are not making significant efforts to do so.” Countries that fall into Tier 3, the report notes, “may be subject to certain restrictions on bilateral assistance, whereby the U.S. government may withhold or withdraw non-humanitarian, non-trade-related foreign assistance.…Governments subject to restrictions would also face U.S. opposition to assistance from international financial institutions.” Read more »

Bangladesh: Behemoth Garment Industry Weathers the Storm

by Alyssa Ayres Friday, June 20, 2014
Employees work in a factory of Babylon Garments in Dhaka January 3, 2014 (Andrew Biraj/Courtesy: Reuters) Employees work in a factory of Babylon Garments in Dhaka on January 3, 2014 (Andrew Biraj/Courtesy: Reuters).

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to participate in an excellent conference focused on Bangladesh, its development, and its garment industry hosted by Harvard University. The organizers did a tremendous job convening the many diverse stakeholders on this issue—the Bangladeshi garment exporters associations, representatives from the Bangladeshi and U.S. governments, representatives from major buyers and retailers, fashion industry associations, labor rights advocates, the International Labor Organization (ILO), and scholars examining developments in global retail and labor. The background to the gathering, obviously, was last year’s tragic collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Dhaka on April 24, 2013, which killed more than 1,100 and left more than 2,500 injured. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of June 20, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, June 20, 2014
A Chinese Coast Guard vessel (R) passes near the Chinese oil rig, Haiyang Shi You 981 (L), in the South China Sea, about 210 km (130 miles) from the coast of Vietnam on June 13, 2014 (Courtesy: Reuters). A Chinese Coast Guard vessel (R) passes near the Chinese oil rig, Haiyang Shi You 981 (L), in the South China Sea, about 210 km (130 miles) from the coast of Vietnam on June 13, 2014 (Courtesy: Reuters).

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

1. China sends more oil rigs to already-tense South China Sea. Two rigs are now stationed between China and the Taiwan-occupied Pratas Islands, and one has been given coordinates to be towed just outside Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone. Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang asked China to remove the rigs that are in disputed waters. China has been increasingly assertive in its claims to the Paracel and Spratly Islands, all of which are off Vietnam’s coast, and is reportedly moving sand onto reefs and shoals to support buildings and surveillance equipment. Read more »