In September 2008, when Chinese President Hu Jintao got word that Lehman Brothers, then the fourth-largest U.S. investment bank, was on the verge of bankruptcy, he was traveling by van along the bumpy roads of Shaanxi Province. Surrounded by policy advisers and members of the Politburo, Hu asked them how China should respond to the inevitable spillover.
At a conference on the Chinese economy in 2012, Cai Fang, a demographer at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, issued a dire warning: “There’s now no doubt China will be old before it is rich.” He was expressing a view widely held by economists and China watchers. Over the past 65 years, life expectancy in China has more than doubled, from 35 years to roughly 75, as the fertility rate has plunged. Many fear that if these trends continue, China’s population will age faster than the country can accommodate.
What does it mean to be Chinese? A strong tradition in premodern China held that it meant thinking, behaving, and living in a society in accord with heaven-sanctioned principles exemplifying the best way to be human.
In a series of speeches he delivered shortly after taking office in 2012, Chinese President Xi Jinping cast corruption as not merely a significant problem for his country but an existential threat. Endemic corruption, he warned, could lead to “the collapse of the [Chinese Communist] Party and the downfall of the state.”
For all the tremendous change China has experienced in recent decades—phenomenal economic growth, improved living standards, and an ascent to great-power status—the country has made little progress when it comes to the treatment of its ethnic minorities, most of whom live in China’s sparsely populated frontier regions.
In past years, Andrew Krepinevich, Jr., has argued for a U.S. military operational concept in the Pacific theater called “Air-Sea Battle.” This concept relies heavily on preemptive deep strikes in the early stages of a conflict and would have been highly escalatory.
In his testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, Jerome A. Cohen argues that China would benefit at home and abroad by demonstrating increasing respect rule of law, while the United States, by striving harder to set a good example, could do much to improve not only its own society but also its standing in China and the world.
Tens of thousands of Rohingya are fleeing persecution in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. This Backgrounder explores the plight of the Muslim ethnic minority group and the deepening migration crisis in Southeast Asia.
On December 31, 2014, the NATO mission in Afghanistan was replaced by a non-combat mission for training and advising the Afghanistan National Defense Security Forces (ANDSF) and Afghan security ministries. This report from the U.S. Department of Defense, prepared in accordance with the National Defense Authorization Act 2015, describes the progress of the ANDSF and how the United States is providing support. See also previous reports on "Progress toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan."
U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar signed a 10-year defense framework agreement on June 3, 2015. The agreement follows up on part of U.S. President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's joint statement from January 2015.
In this op-ed, coauthored with Ira Belkin, Cohen argues that a draft law targeting foreign institutions — including universities, museums, athletic and cultural groups, professional associations and all nonprofit social organizations established outside of mainland China — makes clear that Beijing has become much less welcoming.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter spoke on May 30, at the 2015 International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-La Dialogue. He discussed the United States' interest in economic development and security infrastructures in the Asia and Pacific region.
Chinese Admiral Sun Jianguo spoke on May 30, at the 2015 International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-La Dialogue. He discussed "China’s policies, concepts, practices and proposals on safeguarding peace and security," including China's construction and navigation projects in the South China Sea and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
As the 14th annual Asia Security Summit—or the Shangri-la Dialogue, as it has come to be known—gets underway in Singapore, we asked contributors to comment on what appears to be a recent escalation in tensions between the U.S. and China over the two countries’ presence in the South China Sea.
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 the United States has responded inadequately to the rise of Chinese power and recommend placing less strategic emphasis on the goal of integrating China into the international system and more on balancing China's rise.
Campbell evaluates the implications of the Boko Haram insurgency and recommends that the United States support Nigerian efforts to address the drivers of Boko Haram, such as poverty and corruption, and to foster stronger ties with Nigerian civil society.
Learn more about CFR’s mission and its work over the past year in the 2014 Annual Report. The Annual Report spotlights new initiatives, high-profile events, and authoritative scholarship from CFR experts, and includes a message from CFR President Richard N. Haass. Read and download »