from Asia Unbound

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of February 13, 2015

Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party (AAP) chief and its chief ministerial candidate for Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal (center), waves to his supporters in New Delhi on February 10, 2015 (Adnan Abidi/Courtesy Reuters).

February 13, 2015

Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party (AAP) chief and its chief ministerial candidate for Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal (center), waves to his supporters in New Delhi on February 10, 2015 (Adnan Abidi/Courtesy Reuters).
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Ashlyn Anderson, Lauren Dickey, Darcie Draudt, William Piekos, Ariella Rotenberg, and Sharone Tobias look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. After nearly a year of president’s rule, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) sweeps to power in Delhi state elections. The AAP won sixty-seven out of the seventy legislative seats in the Delhi assembly, a stunning victory that surprised many. The party was founded by Arvind Kejriwal in 2012 and grew out of a protest movement against corruption; it made its debut in the December 2013 Delhi elections when it joined with the Congress party to form the Delhi government—with Kejriwal serving as chief minister. Kejriwal resigned after only forty-nine days due to a lack of support for an anti-corruption bill, even after staging sit-ins and protests in Delhi. He will be sworn in as chief minister of Delhi for the second time on Saturday, ending almost a year of president’s rule. With AAP’s historic win, many are left wondering what this means for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which holds the majority in India’s national parliament but only won three seats in the Delhi elections.

2. Malaysian court rejects opposition leader’s appeal. Anwar Ibrahim, the charismatic leader of Malaysia’s opposition, will serve a five-year prison sentence for sodomy after his final appeal to the Federal Court was rejected. He was acquitted in January 2012, but the acquittal was overturned in March 2014 after a government appeal. This will be Anwar’s second stint in jail for a sodomy conviction (the first conviction, in 2000, was overturned in 2004). Anwar, at age sixty-seven, will be stripped of his parliamentary seat and banned from running for office for five years after his release, effectively ending his political career. Many analysts see the conviction as politically motivated, as Anwar was the linchpin of an ideologically varied opposition that won the popular vote in 2013 general elections (but failed to gain a majority in parliament).

3. United States files World Trade Organization (WTO) case against China. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman announced that the Obama administration was filing a broad case at the WTO, accusing China of providing illegal export subsidies for seven industries ranging from textiles to seafood. The request for formal talks at the WTO focuses on a Chinese program that allows local officials to subsidize smaller exporters through “common service platforms” at nearly 200 “demonstration bases,” or special government-supported industrial clusters. While difficult to quantify the amount of subsidies involved, the WTO case alleges China provided around one billion dollars over three years to suppliers offering discounted or free services to Chinese companies through the common service platforms, thereby undermining fair competition. The Chinese Commerce Ministry has “expressed regret” over the Obama administration’s decision to elevate the case to the WTO, defending its policies as “part of the transformation and upgrade of [Chinese] foreign trade.”

4. Tony Abbott survives recall vote. Lawmakers in Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s Liberal Party voted against a “spill motion," effectively a no-confidence vote, to oust the prime minister and the foreign minister. Abbott said that the “matter is behind us,” and vowed to focus on job, families, and the economy. The vote was initiated because of growing dissatisfaction with the prime minister; the governing party had trouble getting any major initiatives from last year’s budget passed through the senate, and Kate Carnell, the head of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that business confidence had fallen in the country. The opposition Labor Party had twice gotten rid of leaders when in power before losing an election in September 2013, a fate that Abbott has said he wants to avoid.

5. Chinese billionaire given death penalty. Chinese mining tycoon Liu Han was executed this week on orders from the High People’s Court in the central province of Hubei. Liu had been sentenced to death last May for charges of organized crime, gang activity, and murder“the largest prosecution of a criminal gang by mainland authorities in recent memory.” As chairman of the Hanlong Group, a congolomerate of real estate, mining, and energy businesses, Liu had assets close to $6.4 billion at the time of his arrest. Investigators have linked Liu to the son of Zhou Yongkang, China’s former security chief, whose arrest was one of the highest profile since President Xi Jinping began his effort to root out graft and corruption at all levels of government.

BONUS: Japan opens robot-run hotel. The Henn-na Hotel, set open this July in Nagasaki, will be staffed by ten humanoid robots that speak Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and English, and will serve as receptionists, porters, and housekeepers. The seventy-two-room hotel will also feature face recognition technology on doors rather than room keys. The hotel will employ some human staff, but the owning company Huis Ten Bosch’s president aims to have 90 percent of hotel services operated by robots in the future.

More on:

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