CFR Presents

Asia Unbound

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

Reading Between the Tweets: Trump, Taiwan, and China

by Elizabeth C. Economy Tuesday, December 13, 2016
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks at the USA Thank You Tour event at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., December 8, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump speaks at the USA Thank You Tour event at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa, on December 8, 2016. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

As the Trump-Taiwan-China saga continues to unfold, I thought it might be useful to look at the sequence of events and report on how Chinese scholars are looking at President-Elect Trump’s first foreign policy musings and how we in the United States might understand his statements and actions to date. Here is a brief rundown: Read more »

Park Geun-hye Nears Her Downfall

by Scott A. Snyder Saturday, December 10, 2016
Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun presides over a plenary session to vote on the impeachment bill of South Korean President Park Geun-hye at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, December 9, 2016. (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji) Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun presides over a plenary session to vote on the impeachment bill of South Korean President Park Geun-hye at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, December 9, 2016. (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)

Following weeks of tense political scandal, the South Korean National Assembly voted overwhelmingly by a margin of 234-56 on a motion to impeach President Park Geun-hye today. Read more »

Park’s Impeachment, Duterte’s Drug War in Photos, and More

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, December 9, 2016
park-impeachment-protest People react after an impeachment vote on South Korean President Park Geun-hye was passed, in front of the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea. (News1 via Reuters)

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

1. South Korea’s National Assembly votes to impeach Park Geun-hye. On Friday, South Korea’s 300-member National Assembly voted 234 to 56 to impeach President Park Geun-hye. The decisive vote, for which many members of Park’s own Saenuri party joined opposition and independent assembly-members in a secret ballot to vote for her impeachment, follows months of escalating scandal centered on charges of influence-peddling. Read more »

What Does the Bloodshed in Rakhine State Tell Us?

by Joshua Kurlantzick Friday, December 9, 2016
myanmar-rakhine Locals protest against former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who is visiting in his capacity as the Myanmar government-appointed Chairman of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, near Sittwe airport, Rakhine state, Myanmar on December 2, 2016. (Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)

The ongoing bloodshed in Rakhine State, where security forces reportedly are engaging in a rising pattern of abuses against Rohingya, seems to be worsening. International human rights groups have warned that violence is escalating, and Kofi Annan, head of an international commission to study conditions in Rakhine State, this week told reporters he was “deeply concerned” with reports of dozens of Rohingya killed in the state in recent weeks, according to the New York Times. Human rights groups have warned that security forces are targeting groups of Rohingya for extrajudicial executions and also are blocking aid shipments to areas of northern Rakhine State. Read more »

Podcast: Xi Jinping’s Team of Rivals

by Elizabeth C. Economy Thursday, December 8, 2016
xi-jinping-li-keqiang-team-of-rivals Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) and Premier Li Keqiang attend a medal ceremony marking the seventieth anniversary of the Victory of Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, for World War II veterans, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, September 2, 2015. (Jason Lee/Reuters)

“Sometimes if you want to purge a leader, start with his mishu [secretary].” Cheng Li, director of the Brookings Institution’s John L. Thornton China Center, is one of the last true practitioners of “Pekingology”—the careful study of the inner workings of China’s top leadership. Li’s new book, Chinese Politics in the Xi Jinping Era: Reassessing Collective Leadership, explores the intricate connections between Xi Jinping and Xi’s former classmates, close advisors, and political rivals. Read more »

Philippine Politics Become Even More Dangerous

by Joshua Kurlantzick Wednesday, December 7, 2016
duterte-2 Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte salutes during the change of command for the new Armed Forces chief at a military camp in Quezon city, Metro Manila, on December 7, 2016. (Erik De Castro/Reuters)

Since the election, last spring, of President Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines has witnessed the effects of increasingly demagogic politics on its culture and institutions. While Duterte has won praise domestically and internationally for some of his efforts, including plans to resolve the southern insurgency and strategies to reduce economic inequality in the Philippines, he also has increasingly personalized politics, while dramatically undermining the rule of law. Campaigning as a demagogue, he has often governed as a demagogue, brooking little opposition and overseeing bloody policies. Read more »

China’s Environmental Health Crisis: The International and Comparative Perspective

by Yanzhong Huang Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Protesters walk during an anti-nuclear rally in front of the nuclear power plant Gundremmingen March 11, 2012, to mark the first anniversary of Japan's earthquake and tsunami that killed thousands and set off a nuclear crisis. (Michaela Rehle/Reuters) Protesters walk during an anti-nuclear rally in front of the nuclear power plant Gundremmingen March 11, 2012, to mark the first anniversary of Japan's earthquake and tsunami that killed thousands and set off a nuclear crisis. (Michaela Rehle/Reuters)

China faces a daunting environmental health crisis due to its economic rise that has polluted its air, water, and soil. That being said, many industrialized and other developing nations have successfully overcome their environmental challenges. To what extent do China’s problems follow a similar path to those strategies undertaken by other countries, and what are the prospects of success in achieving similar outcomes? Read more »

Environment-Health Linkages in China

by Yanzhong Huang Wednesday, December 7, 2016
A family wearing masks walk on a bridge amid heavy smog in Shanghai, China December 5, 2016 (Aly Song/Reuters). A family wearing masks walk on a bridge amid heavy smog in Shanghai, China December 5, 2016 (Aly Song/Reuters).

One of the major victims of China’s runaway development is its air quality.  Just yesterday, China’s northern Hebei province issued its first “red alert” of the year for severe pollution, the highest level alert for smog which will see factories suspended and cars pulled off the road.  But this is just tip of the iceberg. China also faces other environmental health challenges including water pollution, soil pollution and food safety problems.

Read more »

Bird Flu, North Korean Coal Crunch, and More

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, December 2, 2016
bird-flu-south-korea South Korean health officials disinfect a vehicle to prevent spread of bird flu in Pocheon, South Korea, November 23, 2016. (Kim Myeong-jin/News1 via Reuters)

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

1. Bird flu outbreak puts Asian nations on high alert. A newly identified spate of bird flu outbreaks has alarmed public health officials across Asia. Bird flu, more formally known as Avian influenza, is a virus that occurs naturally among wild aquatic birds, but can spread to domestic poultry and sometimes to humans. These fears harken back to an H5N1 strain that that killed 450 people throughout the 2000s. Read more »

“Toughest Sanctions Ever”: UN Security Council Resolution 2321

by Scott A. Snyder Friday, December 2, 2016
The United Nations Security Council votes to approve a resolution that would dramatically tighten existing restrictions on North Korea at the United Nations Headquarters in New York March 2, 2016. (Reuters/Brendan McDermid) The United Nations Security Council votes to approve a resolution that would dramatically tighten existing restrictions on North Korea at the United Nations Headquarters in New York March 2, 2016. (Reuters/Brendan McDermid)

The UN Security Council (UNSC) unanimously passed Resolution 2321 condemning North Korea’s fifth nuclear test, conducted on September 9, 2016. The resolution builds on Resolution 2270 passed by the UNSC only nine months earlier in response to North Korea’s fourth nuclear test by imposing even tougher restrictions on North Korean maritime and financial activities, misuse of diplomatic channels for commercial purposes, and restrictions on North Korean trade. On paper, UNSC 2321 essentially calls upon member states to place North Korea under economic quarantine unless it reverses course on nuclear development. Read more »