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  • Issue Brief posted November 24, 2014 by Bruce Klingner U.S. Election Should Energize Asia Policies

    The results of the midterm elections could reinvigorate U.S. policies toward Asia, which have suffered from a lack of resources and resolve. The new Congress will likely be more supportive of concluding free trade agreements, funding U.S. defense requirements, and imposing additional sanctions to leverage North Korean compliance with international agreements. That said,…

  • Commentary posted November 21, 2014 by Walter Lohman Widodo's Early Moves Suggest Continuity, not Change

    International leaders gained their first measure of Indonesia's dynamic new president Joko Widodo in the round of Asian summits in mid-November. At home, Widodo has a reputation as a populist, a problem solver, and a regular guy. Abroad, he was -- and still is -- a largely unknown quantity. Early signs point to a continuation of the "free and active" foreign policy…

  • Commentary posted November 12, 2014 by William T. Wilson, Ph.D. Asia’s Economic Miracle Has Peaked

    Historically, economics has often driven the narrative surrounding presidential visits to Asia. Consider President Obama’s 2009 trip to China in the midst of the global financial crisis. It gave wings to a narrative about China’s rise and American decline. The economic environment may be changing again. Only this time, the change is less dramatic and occurring largely…

  • Issue Brief posted November 11, 2014 by Walter Lohman President Obama’s Burma Visit: An Alert Congress Makes All the Difference

    The context for President Barack Obama’s trip to Burma has changed considerably since his historic first visit in 2012. Then, his visit conveyed optimism for democratic reform and the benefits of deepening engagement. His second visit takes place in a climate leavened by considerable doubt. In 2012 a pliant bystander in Burma policy, today’s politically emboldened…

  • Commentary posted November 10, 2014 by Lisa Curtis Afghanistan’s New Leaders Forge Steep Path to Security and Stability

    Ashraf Ghani was made President of Afghanistan and Abdullah Abdullah the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in a power-sharing deal in September 2014. The departure of former President Hamid Karzai and the installation of a national unity government is providing some optimism that long-term stability may be possible in Afghanistan. It demonstrates that Afghan leaders can come…

  • Commentary posted October 16, 2014 by Lisa Curtis Setting Stage for Successful Modi Visit

    The foundations for a successful visit to Washington by India’s recently-elected Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Prime Minister Narendra Modi are being put in place. The White House will hold two days of talks with Modi on September 29 and 30 that are likely to cover a range of issues and result in new commitments of economic and security cooperation. Both Washington and New…

  • Commentary posted October 15, 2014 by Bruce Klingner North Korean Power Politics Get More Ruthless

    Pyongyang announced on December 12 the trial and execution of Jang Sung-taek, former vice chairman of the powerful National Defense Commission and uncle to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Although Kim has already purged hundreds of officials during his two year reign, Jang's ouster is highly unusual, even by North Korean standards. Jang is married to the sister of…

  • Commentary posted October 15, 2014 by Bruce Klingner Power, Not Policy, Drives Pyongyang's Purge

    Despite being the “second most powerful man in North Korea,” Jang Song Taek has reportedly been purged from the leadership elite for the third time. Jang, Vice Chairman of the important National Defense Commission, ascended to the pinnacle of power after marrying the sister of previous leader Kim Jong Il. Although Jang returned to senior positions after his previous…

  • Commentary posted October 15, 2014 by Bruce Klingner North Korea's Young Kim There to Stay

    Kim Jong Un has further solidified his control over North Korea by reportedly purging his uncle Jang Sung-taek, Vice Chairman of the important Nation Defense Commission. Although Jang was often referred to as the "second most powerful man in North Korea," he may now been ousted from the leadership elite for the third time. He has twice returned to the inner circle of…

  • Commentary posted October 15, 2014 by Bruce Klingner Abe's Yasukuni Visit Imperils Allied Security Interests

    Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's trip to Yasukuni Shrine is a serious foreign policy mistake that threatens allied security interests in Asia. Although Abe expressed "severe remorse" for Japan's historic actions, he should have realized that the visit was needlessly provocative and would exacerbate already strained relations with the United States and South Korea. Abe's…

  • Commentary posted October 10, 2014 by Bruce Klingner Where in the World is Kim Jong Un?

    North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has not been seen in public for more than a month, generating speculation that his absence is due to failing health or political intrigue. Given the paucity of information, keeping track of Kim is tougher than winning at three-card monte, and the stakes are much higher: the potential instability of a nuclear-armed nation. After Kim's…

  • Commentary posted October 10, 2014 by Bruce Klingner North Korea's Deceptive Charm Offensive

    North Korea surprised everyone last weekend with its decision to send a senior delegation to the closing ceremonies of the Asian Games in South Korea. As recently as April, after all, Pyongyang threatened to incinerate Seoul, Tokyo and Washington with nuclear weapons. In the months since, North Korea has been relatively quiescent, content to issue daily diatribes against…

  • Special Report posted October 8, 2014 by Walter Lohman, Olivia Enos, John Fleming 2014 Asia Update: What’s at Stake for America

    Introduction Economy Political Security Introduction Often overlooked in the tumult of Washington’s foreign policy debates is the remarkable consistency of U.S. foreign and trade policies over time. This is due to one immutable factor: American national interests. When U.S. policy moves away from our national interest, not only does it cease to…

  • Commentary posted October 2, 2014 by Mike Gonzalez Another Freedom Group Abandoned by U.S.

    Hong Kong's pro-democracy demonstrators are but the latest freedom group to be abandoned by the Obama administration. The pattern was set in President Barack Obama's first year in office, when he committed his initial major foreign policy error by refusing to support pro-democracy demonstrators in Iran. And, although we didn't know it at the time, it was to be the…

  • Commentary posted September 29, 2014 by Olivia Enos China's Self-Created Demographic Disaster Is Coming

    China is missing out on its biggest economic asset: its people. Economist Nicholas Eberstadt estimates that, even if Beijing were to eliminate its one-child policy today, Chinese economic growth would still decline in the 2020s, because the next generation’s working-age population is already so markedly small. Since implementation in 1979, the one-child policy has…