Asia Unbound

Asia Unbound

CFR fellows and other experts assess the latest issues emerging in Asia today.

Latest Post

U.S. President Donald Trump observes as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during the "Namaste Trump" event at Sardar Patel Gujarat Stadium, in Ahmedabad, India, on February 24, 2020. Al Drago/Reuters

COVID-19 Sparks Democratic Regression in South and Southeast Asia

South and Southeast Asia have demonstrated mixed results in combating the coronavirus pandemic, yet COVID-19 has been a political boon for illiberal leaders in the region. In fact, South and Southeast Asia have had some of the most extreme COVID-19-related democratic regressions in the world. But it is not irreversible. The COVID-19-era consolidation of political influence should be countered to ensure that politicians cannot use the pandemic to permanently amass more power. Read More

Southeast Asia
Crackdown Looming for Thai Protests
Pavin Chachavalpongpun is associate professor at Kyoto University’s Center for Southeast Asian Studies. Thais woke up on Thursday to breaking news: Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha had issued a st…
The RCEP Signing and Its Implications
Over the weekend, 15 Asian states, including China, signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. The deal provides a major signal to investors that the region is still committed to multilateral trade integration.
North Korea
Why North Korean Provocations Toward a Biden Administration Will Fail
A return to provocations as North Korea’s primary mechanism for drawing international attention would signal weakness, not the intended message of strength.
  • Transition 2021
    New Challenges and Potential for the U.S.-South Korea Alliance
    Biden's return to a conventional alliance management approach could shed light on cracks in the U.S.-South Korea alliance previously obfuscated by Trump's unconventional approach.
  • Southeast Asia
    Myanmar’s Election: NLD Seems to Win Sizable Victory
    On Sunday, Myanmar held its first national elections since 2015, when Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) won a smashing victory in the first free and fair national elections in th…
  • Southeast Asia
    The Thai King Sends Messages Presaging Conflict in Thailand
    Pavin Chachavalpongpun is associate professor at Kyoto University’s Center for Southeast Asian Studies. Three months have passed and the protests in Thailand have intensified. One of the main mess…
  • Southeast Asia
    Myanmar’s National Elections: What to Expect
    Myanmar is set to hold general elections next month, for the second time since the end of military rule in 2011. The last election, in 2015, ushered Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (…
  • Southeast Asia
    Is a Crackdown Looming for the Thai Protests?
    Weeks of demonstrations in Thailand have now spread across the country. They continued over the weekend even as the authorities have arrested multiple protest leaders, issued an emergency decree bann…
  • Southeast Asia
    What Now for Thailand’s Protests?
    Pavin Chachavalpongpun is associate professor at Kyoto University’s Center for Southeast Asian Studies.  The crackdown on Thai protesters at dawn on October 15 brought an abrupt end to overnight d…
  • China
    A Crack in the Wall? Not So Fast.
    What can the quick rise—and equally quick fall—of a state-approved app that allows Chinese netizens limited access to western social media tell us about the CCP’s evolving approach to information, censorship, and internet governance?