CFR Presents

Asia Unbound

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

Indian Prime Minister Modi in the United States: What to Watch

by Alyssa Ayres Thursday, September 25, 2014
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (C) gestures during the launch of the 'Make in India' campaign in New Delhi on September 25, 2014 (Adnan Abidi/Courtesy: Reuters). Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (C) gestures during the launch of the 'Make in India' campaign in New Delhi on September 25, 2014 (Adnan Abidi/Courtesy: Reuters).

Indian Prime Minister Modi arrives in the United States this weekend, for a five-day visit split between New York and Washington, DC. He’ll have a full program in New York to start, with a speech at the UN General Assembly, numerous meetings with CEOs, speeches here at CFR and at the Global Citizen Festival in Central Park, and the headline-topping gathering of his closest 18,000 friends in the Indian American community at Madison Square Garden (to be simulcast in Times Square as well). That would be a heady program on its own. Read more »

The Lucky Country Is About to Run out of Luck

by Joshua Kurlantzick Thursday, September 25, 2014
australia mining A stacker/reclaimer places coal in stockpiles at the coal port in Newcastle, Australia, in this file photo taken on June 6, 2012 (Daniel Munoz/Courtesy: Reuters).

I don’t often write about Australia, partly because Australian politics are so stable and the country such a solid partner for the United States, but also because Australia has for twenty years basically avoided the ups and downs of the world economy. Alone among rich nations, Australia was basically unaffected by the global economic and financial crises of 2008-9 and the country also has not faced the kind of long-term economic slowdown challenges that confront Europe, the United States, and Japan. Unemployment today in Australia is around 6 percent, and earlier this year it was under 6 percent. Most forecasters project that Australia will grow by at least 3 percent in 2014, which is well above projections for most other developed economies. Read more »

Three Take-Home Messages From China’s Glaxo Verdict

by Yanzhong Huang Thursday, September 25, 2014
A Chinese national flag flutters  in front of  a GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) office building in Shanghai on July 12, 2013. (Aly Song/Courtesy Reuters) A Chinese national flag flutters in front of a GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) office building in Shanghai on July 12, 2013. (Aly Song/Courtesy Reuters)

The investigation of GlaxoSmithKline’s corruption scandal ended last Friday with China fining the British drug maker nearly $500 million. The verdict revealed three important messages that multinational pharmaceuticals do not want to miss. Read more »

Climate Change: What Is China Doing and Not Doing?

by Elizabeth C. Economy Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli speaks during the Climate Summit at the U.N. headquarters in New York September 23, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ENVIRONMENT) Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli speaks during the Climate Summit at the U.N. headquarters in New York on September 23, 2014. (Mike Segar/Courtesy Reuters)

At the UN Climate Summit this week in New York, Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli said it all: “China will make greater effort to more effectively address climate change;” announce further actions “as soon as we can;” and achieve “the peaking of total carbon dioxide emissions as early as possible.” According to one Western environmental NGO official, “China’s remarks at the Climate Summit go further than ever before. Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli’s announcements to strive to peak emissions ‘as early as possible’ is a welcome signal for the cooperative action we need for the Paris Agreement.” Other media outlets trumpeted: “China pledges to cut emissions at UN climate summit” and “China shifts stance on climate change.” Read more »

South Korea-U.S. Nuclear Cooperation: How to Move Forward

by Scott A. Snyder Tuesday, September 23, 2014
shin kori 3 and 4_au The Shin Kori No. 1 reactor of state-run utility Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO) are seen in Ulsan, about 255 miles southeast of Seoul. Picture taken on September 3, 2013 (Lee Jae-Won/Courtesy: Reuters).

South Korea’s vibrant civilian nuclear sector, which consists of 23 reactors that supplied approximately 30 percent of its electricity in 2012, was built through cooperation with the United States. The United States shared know-how and technology that enabled the construction and operation of South Korea’s first reactors in the 1960s. American companies such as Westinghouse and the former Combustion Engineering worked closely with South Korean counterparts over decades to build a vibrant nuclear power generation capacity in South Korea, a country that has virtually no indigenous energy production resources. Read more »

Indonesia’s Democratic Showdown

by Joshua Kurlantzick Monday, September 22, 2014
joko widodo-2 Indonesia's President-Elect Joko Widodo gestures while his Vice President-Elect Jusuf Kalla looks on as they prepare to speak with the media at their transition headquarters in Jakarta on September 15, 2014 (Darren Whiteside/Courtesy: Reuters).

In the wake of the election of Joko Widodo as Indonesia’s president, many Indonesians were hopeful that the country’s nascent democracy finally had proved its strength and that Widodo, known to all as Jokowi, would be able to build on his election and leave a legacy of dramatic political reform. After all, Jokowi was the first president who came from politics in the post-Suharto era, and he was also the first president to have risen up in politics organically rather than through elite political maneuvering—he had emerged as a national politician partly as a result of the decentralization Indonesia undertook a decade ago that allowed for direct elections. Jokowi had risen from mayor of Solo, where he delivered effective governance, to mayor of Jakarta, and finally to presidential candidate. He had the strongest credentials as a democrat of any leader in modern Indonesian history. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of September 19, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, September 19, 2014
A British Airways airplane flies past a signage for pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in London on April 22, 2014. (Luke MacGregor/Courtesy Reuters) A British Airways airplane flies past a signage for pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in London on April 22, 2014. (Luke MacGregor/Courtesy Reuters)

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

1. China fines GlaxoSmithKline nearly $500 million for bribery. A Chinese court fined British pharmaceuticals firm GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) 3 billion yuan ($489 million) after the one-day, closed-door trial ended, finding the company guilty of bribery. Several officials of the company, including Mark Reilly, the former head of GSK in China, were also given suspended jail sentences. GSK said that it remained committed to operating in China despite the ruling. The company is also being investigated in the United States under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and has been accused of corrupt practices on smaller scales in Poland, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon. By some estimates, GSK’s actions in China led to over $150 million in illegal revenues. Read more »

Protests Threaten Democracy in Asia, in a Bizarre Reversal of Democratic Norms

by Joshua Kurlantzick Friday, September 19, 2014
islamabad protest A supporter of the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) political party, Imran Khan, gestures while chanting with others during what has been dubbed a "freedom march" in Islamabad on September 13, 2014. Pakistan's opposition leaders ordered thousands of their supporters on Saturday to resist any government attempt to quash their protests against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, deepening a political crisis in the coup-prone nation (Faisal Mahmood/Courtesy: Reuters).

Although I am not CFR’s South Asia expert, the past month of protests in Pakistani by Pakistani politician Imran Khan, who has been camped out close to parliament along with his supporters, brings to mind many other similar protests that have happened in Asia in the past ten years—in Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, and other countries. What is notable about these new types of street protests, which Khan’s demonstrations fall into, is that unlike decades of protests that called for various reforms to political systems, these protests actually in many ways are designed to subvert and possibly overthrow democracy. Indeed, the region, and some other developing nations like Egypt, has witnessed the rise of anti-democratic protests. Read more »

China’s Mixed Messages to India

by Alyssa Ayres Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Map of the Himalayas locating disputed borders and territory between China and India (Courtesy: Reuters). Map of the Himalayas locating disputed borders and territory between China and India (Courtesy: Reuters).

As India welcomes Chinese President Xi Jinping today, it’s hard to miss the mixed messages coming from China. On the one hand, India and China have had a difficult security relationship over the past half-century, with a still-unresolved border dispute over which they fought a war in 1962. On the other hand, their trade and economic ties have rapidly expanded in the last decade, such that China has become India’s largest trade partner in goods with approximately $70 billion in two-way trade. The disjuncture between these two parallel tracks—unresolved security challenges along one, with rapid progress economically along the other—has become a truism for all analyses of India-China relations. Read more »