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 February 13, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, February 13, 2015
Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party (AAP) chief and its chief ministerial candidate for Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal (center), waves to his supporters in New Delhi on February 10, 2015 (Adnan Abidi/Courtesy Reuters). Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party (AAP) chief and its chief ministerial candidate for Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal (center), waves to his supporters in New Delhi on February 10, 2015 (Adnan Abidi/Courtesy Reuters).

Ashlyn Anderson, Lauren Dickey, Darcie Draudt, William Piekos, Ariella Rotenberg, and Sharone Tobias look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. After nearly a year of president’s rule, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) sweeps to power in Delhi state elections. The AAP won sixty-seven out of the seventy legislative seats in the Delhi assembly, a stunning victory that surprised many. The party was founded by Arvind Kejriwal in 2012 and grew out of a protest movement against corruption; it made its debut in the December 2013 Delhi elections when it joined with the Congress party to form the Delhi government—with Kejriwal serving as chief minister. Read more »

South Korea’s Self-Defense Needs: Does China Get a Veto?

by Scott A. Snyder Friday, February 13, 2015
A missile is fired from a naval vessel during the test-firing of a new type of anti-ship cruise missile to be equipped at Korean People's Army naval units in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on February 7, 2015 (KCNA/Courtesy: Reuters). A missile is fired from a naval vessel during the test-firing of a new type of anti-ship cruise missile to be equipped at Korean People's Army naval units in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on February 7, 2015 (KCNA/Courtesy: Reuters).

During his visit to Seoul on February 4, PRC Defense minister Chang Wanquan is reported to have raised objections with South Korean counterparts to the potential deployment of a THAAD (Theater High-Altitude Area Defense) battery  to South Korean territory, and Xi Jinping reportedly raised the issue during his July 2014 summit meeting with Park Geun-hye. Read more »

What the Delhi Elections Mean for Indian Foreign and International Economic Policy (Not Much, Yet)

by Alyssa Ayres Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Supporters of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) hold portraits of AAP chief and its chief ministerial candidate for Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal, during the celebrations outside their party office in New Delhi on February 10, 2015 (Anindito Mukherjee/Courtesy: Reuters). Supporters of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) hold portraits of AAP chief and its chief ministerial candidate for Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal, during the celebrations outside their party office in New Delhi on February 10, 2015 (Anindito Mukherjee/Courtesy: Reuters).

Delhi voters just elected—by a landslide—the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to lead their state assembly. What’s more, the chief minister will again be quirkily charismatic Arvind Kejriwal, who led the new anti-corruption party to a strong showing in Delhi in December 2013 but abandoned governance for street sit-ins and staged public protests. He then quit government after forty-nine days and plunged the state into a long period of uncertainty. Despite this, wielding brooms and wrapping a scarf (“muffler” in India, hence his nickname “Mufflerman”) around his head during winter, Kejriwal campaigned aggressively to root out corruption and provide free water, half-rate electricity, and a better jobs deal for the poor. It worked. Read more »

Tony Abbott Lives for Another Day – Now What?

by Joshua Kurlantzick Tuesday, February 10, 2015
abbott-parliament-feb2015 Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott addresses opposition politicians during question time at Parliament House in Canberra on February 9, 2015. Abbott survived a challenge to his leadership after his ruling Liberal Party on Monday voted down an attempt to unseat him after weeks of infighting. (Sean Davey/Courtesy: Reuters)

Important: The views expressed on this blog are my own. The Council on Foreign Relations takes no positions on matters of policy or politics. 

Just before New Year’s, I predicted that Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott would potentially be ousted in 2015 in an internal party battle. Abbott’s leadership in 2014 had been atrocious – he often looked confused or outright deceitful when discussing policy questions. His treasurer, Joe Hockey, seemed staggeringly unconcerned about the major challenges facing Australia’s economy as China’s economy cools and the Australian real estate market returns to earth. Read more »

Time For Xi to Reform His Reforms

by Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, February 6, 2015
A book vendor reads a book as he waits for customer next to portraits of Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) and late Chairman Mao Zedong, at an open-air fair in Juancheng county, Shandong province January 30, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer (CHINA - Tags: SOCIETY POLITICS) CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA A book vendor reads a book as he waits for customer next to portraits of Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) and late Chairman Mao Zedong, at an open-air fair in Juancheng county, Shandong province January 30, 2015 (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters).

As Xi Jinping nears the two-year mark of his tenure as president of China, he might want to take stock of what is working on the political front and what is not. Here are some early wins and losses.

Certainly, his anti-corruption campaign has hit its target—hundreds of thousands of them to be exact—and shows little sign of slowing down. He has cast a wide net, leaving little doubt that no sector of society—party, military, business, or other—is completely safe. Still, Xi remains vulnerable to accusations that the campaign is at least partially politically motivated, given that almost half of the senior-most officials arrested are tied in some way to his political opponents, and none of his Fujian or Zhejiang associates have been detained. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of February 6, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, February 6, 2015
Emergency personnel retrieve wreckage from TransAsia Airways turboprop ATR 72-600 aircraft after it crashed in a river, in New Taipei City on February 4, 2015 (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters). Emergency personnel retrieve wreckage from TransAsia Airways turboprop ATR 72-600 aircraft after it crashed in a river, in New Taipei City on February 4, 2015 (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters).

Ashlyn Anderson, Lauren Dickey, Darcie Draudt, William Piekos, Ariella Rotenberg, and Sharone Tobias look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. Taiwanese plane crashes into river, resulting in at least thirty-five deaths. TransAsia GE235 lost engine power shortly after takeoff from Taipei’s Songshan Airport on Wednesday. The twin-propeller plane was carrying fifty-eight passenger and crew; eight are still unaccounted for. Preliminary reports suggest that the pilots shut down the wrong engine after the other stalled; the pilots, both of whom were killed, have been widely praised for avoiding buildings in Taipei’s urban center. Harrowing imagery from a car dashcam shows the plane losing altitude and clipping a bridge before crashing into the Keelung River. The accident is the second in seven months for TransAsia Airways. Read more »

Next Steps with India (चलें साथ साथ कहां ?)

by Alyssa Ayres Friday, February 6, 2015
U.S. President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi talk as they have coffee and tea together in the gardens of Hyderabad House in New Delhi on January 25, 2015 (Jim Bourg/Courtesy: Reuters). U.S. President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi talk as they have coffee and tea together in the gardens of Hyderabad House in New Delhi on January 25, 2015 (Jim Bourg/Courtesy: Reuters).

By most estimates, President Barack Obama had a good visit to India last week. The atmosphere was spectacular—how could it not be, with India’s Republic Day parade the backdrop—and the apparent warmth between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Obama was visible from the big airport bear hug, chuckles over tea, and first-name informality (well, at least on Modi’s part) on a joint radio program. Read more »

Tony Abbott Has To Go

by Joshua Kurlantzick Thursday, February 5, 2015
tony abbott g20 Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott delivers his keynote speech during the B20 Summit in Sydney, on July 17, 2014. (Lisa Maree Williams/Courtesy: Reuters)

Important: The views expressed on this blog are my own. The Council on Foreign Relations takes no positions on matters of policy or politics. 

Is Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott the most incompetent leader of any industrialized democracy? Of course, a leader’s popularity, to some, depends on that leader’s political orientation. Many conservative Republicans think Barack Obama is one of the worst presidents in modern history, while many liberal Spaniards think conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is one of the worst leaders in Spain’s modern history. Read more »

Deglobalization Remains a Powerful Trend

by Joshua Kurlantzick Tuesday, February 3, 2015
U.S. President Barack Obama (C) meets with the leaders of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) countries in Beijing November 10, 2014. Leaders have gathered in Beijing for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. Obama will also travel to Myanmar and Australia during his week-long trip to Asia. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (CHINA - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS) U.S. President Barack Obama (C) meets with the leaders of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) countries in Beijing on November 10, 2014 (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters).

During a seemingly successful trip to Asia last November, U.S. President Barack Obama announced several breakthroughs. Among them was a promise that the United States and Asian nations would proceed toward the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade deal. Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping also announced a new climate deal, the first between the two powers, which will commit both the United States and China to significant emissions cuts over the next two decades. Read more »

Honoring the Life of Kenji Goto

by Sheila A. Smith Monday, February 2, 2015
People holding placards take part a vigil in front of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's official residence in Tokyo, January 30, 2015. Japan and Jordan were working closely on Friday to find out what had happened to two of their nationals being held by Islamic State, after a deadline passed for the release of a would-be suicide bomber being held on death row in Amman. Abe said every effort was being made to secure the release of journalist Kenji Goto. REUTERS/Toru Hanai (JAPAN - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW CIVIL UNREST) People holding placards take part a vigil in front of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's official residence in Tokyo on January 30, 2015 (Toru Hanai/Courtesy Reuters).

Kenji Goto, the freelance journalist taken hostage by ISIS, was reportedly murdered this weekend, and a video released by the terrorist organization claimed that “Japan’s nightmare had begun.” Prime Minister Abe ordered his government to intensify security at home and do all it could to ensure the safety of Japanese citizens abroad. The Prime Minister also announced that, despite ISIS’ threat of retaliation, his country would increase the amount of medical and food aid dedicated to those fleeing from Syria and Iraq. Read more »