The current state of U.S.-China relations would appear to be in disarray—a number of high-profile efforts at cooperation have fallen short, and domestic politics in both countries offer little reason for hope. But even though there have not been any major breakthroughs, small accomplishments can nonetheless be significant, says Elizabeth Economy, building a strong foundation to the bilateral relationship.
China's premier declared a "war on pollution" at the National People's Congress, responding to the Chinese public's distress over the state of the country's environment. Though the government announced an array of new targets and measures, Elizabeth Economy argues that Beijing must move beyond bold promises of change and initiate real environmental reform.
With an international team of investigators still seemingly baffled about what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which disappeared over the weekend, relatives of the passengers and diplomats from countries touched by the mishap have vented their frustration with the Malaysian government.
"After the starvation of up to 1m people in the famine demonstrated the state's inability to feed its people, it was forced to turn a blind eye to the informal markets that sprang up. For residents of cities such as Hyesan, near the border with China, the opportunity to engage in illicit trade with Chinese merchants has been especially lucrative."
"With no major party likely to win an outright majority of 272 and with Congress's vote-share likely to crumble, if the BJP underperform or fail to woo coalition partners a third front government may just steal a victory."
"For a generation of senior Community Party members, the attack is a sensational confirmation of what has become the most neuralgic issue of their time: the sense that the greatest threat to the country as they know it is the loss of territory."
In her testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Sheila A. Smith discusses the strategic importance of the United States' relationship with Japan and South Korea and how President Barack Obama can promote the importance of both bilateral and trilateral relations.
"In an unusually emotional interview, the departing Afghan president sought to explain why he has been such a harsh critic of the twelve-year-old U.S. war effort here. He said he's deeply troubled by all the casualties he has seen, including those in U.S. military operations. He feels betrayed by what he calls an insufficient U.S. focus on targeting Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan. And he insists that public criticism was the only way to guarantee an American response to his concerns."
South Korea's development over the last half century has been nothing short of spectacular. Fifty years ago, the country was poorer than Bolivia and Mozambique; today, it is richer than New Zealand and Spain, with a per capita income of almost $23,000.
As recently as 2008, the economies of Southeast Asia received roughly less than half as much foreign direct investment as China did. Four years later, in 2012, they pulled to within spitting distance ($111 billion versus $121 billion).
"The United States, the European Union, Japan, and Canada, among many other countries, have long been deeply involved in assisting China's environmental protection effort. The question is not what more the outside world needs to do but what Beijing is prepared to do."
"The struggle comes against a backdrop of deep anxiety over the future of the monarchy when King Bhumibol, the world's longest ruling head of state, passes away. The monarchy has previously acted as the force that pulled warring parties to the negotiating table."
"For years Congress dominated nationally by ignoring how growth is sustained, but promising handouts, especially to villagers, through make-work schemes, subsidies on food, fuel and fertiliser and cash transfers. That approach now brings shrinking electoral returns, ironically, as rural voters get less poor."
"Seven-in-ten Indians are dissatisfied with the way things are going in India today, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. And, with the Indian parliamentary elections just weeks away, the Indian public, by a margin of more than three-to-one, would prefer the Hindu-nationalist opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to lead the next Indian government rather than the Indian National Congress (INC), which heads the current left-of-center governing coalition."
"The motives behind Pyongyang's actions over the past year - from nuclear tests to the high-profile execution of Kim's uncle Jang Song-thaek - have mystified many in the region, including China. Many Chinese scholars and government think tanks say they are being kept in the dark about its latest developments."
For more on the complex challenges that lie ahead for the world's largest and most rapidly changing continent, visit the Asia Program.
CFR Experts Guide
The Council on Foreign Relations' David Rockefeller Studies Program—CFR's "think tank"—is home to more than seventy full-time, adjunct, and visiting scholars and practitioners (called "fellows"). Their expertise covers the world's major regions as well as the critical issues shaping today's global agenda. Download the printable CFR Experts Guide.
The authors argue that it is essential to begin working now to expand and establish rules and norms governing armed drones, thereby creating standards of behavior that other countries will be more likely to follow.
The author examines Pakistan's complex role in U.S. foreign policy and advocates for a two-pronged approach that works to quarantine threats while integrating Pakistan into the broader U.S. agenda in Asia.