Asia Program Publications

Article

Tillerson Bumbles Around Asia

Author: Ely Ratner
Politico

The Trump team’s early forays into Asia couldn’t have gone better. In early February, Defense Secretary James Mattis received high praise for his trip to Tokyo and Seoul, reassuring nervous allies that the Trump administration would continue decades of American leadership in Asia. A week later, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe braved a visit to the White House and was rewarded with President Donald Trump reaffirming the importance of the U.S.-Japan alliance.

See more in China; United States; Politics and Strategy

Op-Ed

Don’t Buy China’s Peace Plan For North Korea

Author: Ely Ratner
Fortune.com

In a matter of weeks, all of China’s fears have come to a head on the Korean Peninsula. At an airport in Malaysia in mid-February, the exiled half-brother of North Korea’s ruler was assassinated with a nerve agent, reminding the world that the Hermit Kingdom is run by a paranoid and violent regime. Closer to home, North Korea conducted two rounds of ballistic missile tests in stark violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

See more in North Korea; Politics and Strategy

Article

How North Korea Evades UN Sanctions Through International "Front" Companies

Author: Scott A. Snyder
Forbes

North Korean sanctions evasion has largely eviscerated the intent and impact of UN sanctions resolutions designed to block international financial and material support for North Korean nuclear and missile development efforts. Aside from the obvious Chinese loophole, the assassination of Kim Jong Nam has shone a bright light on another major portal for North Korean illicit actions and sanctions evasion: Malaysia.

See more in North Korea; Weapons of Mass Destruction; Sanctions

Other Report The Korean Pivot: Seoul’s Strategic Choices and Rising Rivalries in Northeast Asia

The Korean Pivot: Seoul’s Strategic Choices and Rising Rivalries in Northeast Asia

Authors: Scott A. Snyder, Darcie Draudt, and Sungtae "Jacky" Park

As U.S.-China tensions intensify and as the North Korean threat grows, the importance of the Republic of Korea (ROK, or South Korea) as a pivot state in East Asia and as a valuable ally for the United States has become clearer than ever.

See more in South Korea; China; Diplomacy and Statecraft; International Organizations and Alliances

Article

Japan And South Korea Welcome Some Much-Needed Reassurance From The Trump Administration

Author: Scott A. Snyder
Forbes

Northeast Asia is facing profound political uncertainty: South Korea is immobilized by a political scandal that has resulted in the impeachment of its president and ensnared top business elites; Japan has been left high and dry after U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned the Trans-Pacific Partnership, arguably the country’s best chance at growth; and North Korea is getting closer and closer to becoming a nuclear power. And no one knows what President Trump's "America First" agenda means for the country's Asian allies. What both Japan and South Korea need right now is assurance from the United States that its alliances are a priority. In his first overseas trip as the new Secretary of Defense, General James Mattis will be sure to affirm that commitment.

See more in Japan; South Korea; Politics and Strategy

Testimony

Confronting the North Korean Threat: Reassessing Policy Options

Author: Scott A. Snyder

In a testimony to the Senate committee on foreign relations, Scott A. Snyder provided an assessment of the threat posed by North Korea and listed a number of policy options that the United States can pursue. Snyder argued that the window of opportunity to achieve North Korea’s peaceful denuclearization may have closed. He argued that the Donald Trump administration should appoint a senior envoy for North Korea, seek to spur internal debates among North Korean elites over the costs of North Korea’s nuclear development, and maintain diplomatic dialogue with North Korea in order to spell out clearly the parameters for managing the relationship and expectations for North Korean behavior while strengthening deterrence and applying international pressure.

See more in North Korea; Nonproliferation, Arms Control, and Disarmament

Article

Nuclear Test, Political Fallout, and Domestic Turmoil

Authors: Scott A. Snyder and See-won Byun
Comparative Connections

South Korea’s domestic political vacuum following the impeachment of Park Geun-hye on December 9 overshadows prospects for renewing China-ROK relations in the year ahead. While the current cycle of DPRK provocations and international sanctions has drawn attention to vital Chinese interests in ensuring stability on the peninsula, Beijing’s deteriorating bilateral relationships with the two Koreas and the United States impede immediate regional efforts to break this cycle.

See more in United States; Asia and Pacific; Regional Security; Diplomacy and Statecraft

Article

Assessing U.S.-Asia Relations in a Time of Transition

Author: Sheila A. Smith
Asia Policy

“Although Abe’s quick reach out to Trump in the wake of an election has eased some of the anxiety about the future of the alliance under new U.S. leadership, the larger uncertainty about how the new president will shake up U.S. policy toward Asia continues to shape Japanese attitudes on the transition,” writes CFR Senior Fellow Sheila Smith.

See more in United States; Asia and Pacific; Presidents and Chiefs of State; Diplomacy and Statecraft

Article

The Sea Where The Sun Rises

Author: Sheila A. Smith
Outlook India

"For much of Japan’s modern history, the sea has protected the Japanese from their neighbors,” yet today they are alarmed by the increasing evidence that “China may have a far greater appetite for risk in Asia’s near seas,” says CFR Senior Fellow Sheila Smith

See more in Japan; Defense and Security

Article

Donald Trump Must Take North Korea's Nuclear Threat Seriously

Author: Scott A. Snyder
Forbes

During his annual New Year’s address on Sunday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s dropped a bombshell: He stated as part of his review of the past year's accomplishments that North Korea has entered “the final stage in preparations to test-launch” an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). One that could hit the United States. To deal with the threat, the Trump administration should strengthen sanctions and find a way to work with China or, at a minimum, should isolate North Korea as an essential area of cooperation in an otherwise contentious U.S.-China relationship. 

See more in North Korea; Nuclear Energy; Defense and Security