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Religion and Foreign Policy Bulletin May 2016: CFR Resources on Politics and Religion in Asia

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May 2016

Religion and Foreign Policy Bulletin

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CFR Resources on Politics and Religion in Asia



This month the CFR Religion and Foreign Policy Bulletin turns its attention to shifting dynamics in Asia. Featured resources explore the transition of power in Taiwan, President Obama’s trip to Vietnam and Japan, and religious and ethnic tensions throughout the region. 



China-Taiwan Relations



China and Taiwan maintain fragile ties, which have improved during the past seven years but are periodically tested by continued disagreement over Taiwan’s status. This Backgrounder explores the cross-strait relationship.  Explore the Backgrounder »

Taiwan’s WHA Status in Limbo

On May 6, Taiwan received its invitation to attend the annual World Health Assembly (WHA) as an observer. By asserting control over Taiwan’s status in the WHA, China is acting as a gatekeeper, claims CFR’s Yanzhong Huang, noting that it would be more productive for China to use full entrance into WHA as a precedent for Taiwan’s access to other global bodies. Read more »

Beijing’s Squeeze Play on Taiwan

China’s warning shots at President Tsai Ing-wen are influencing politics in Taiwan, but not in the way China desires, writes CFR’s Elizabeth C. EconomyRead more on Asia Unbound »



The Final Normalization of U.S.-Vietnam Relations



The end of the U.S. arms embargo on Vietnam marks the final step in restoring full relations between the two countries, writes CFR’s Joshua Kurlantzick. Vietnam’s increased willingness to be seen as a close partner of the United States is a sign that Hanoi is abandoning its decades-old strategy of balancing relations between Beijing and Washington. Read more on Asia Unbound »

For Japan, a G7 to Remember

Japan hosts the G7 summit at a time of rising tensions in Asia and worrisome global economic trends. According to CFR’s Sheila A. Smith, the challenge for participating leaders is how to balance and address the shared problems of Asia, Europe, and the United States.  Explore the expert brief »

Japan’s Plan to Bring the United States and Russia Together: The G7 and Abe’s Eurasian Adventures

Two years after Russia’s expulsion from the G8 the West is unsure how to respond to Russia’s influence across Eurasia. Joshua W. Walker of the German Marshall Fund of the United States and Hidetoshi Azuma of the APCO Institute discuss Abe’s desire to bridge the rift and save the West by helping reinstate Russia’s position in it. Read more on »



The Pope and the Politburo: The Vatican’s Chinese Diplomacy

In 1951 Beijing cut official ties with the Vatican, but the relationship might be about to change. Victor Gaetan of the National Catholic Register tracks the status of the Catholic Church in China since the Cultural Revolution. Read more on »

China’s Minority Report: When Racial Harmony Means Homogenization



In this Foreign Affairs article, James Leibold of La Trobe University explains how Chinese President Xi Jinping has made the blending of peoples through mixed marriages and other forms of social and cultural exposure a cornerstone of his ethnic policy.  Read more »

Jats and the New Caste Conflict: Economic Grievance in Today’s India

For three days in February, a violent caste protest shook the Indian state of Haryana, with protestors demanding quotas for positions in government jobs and educational institutions. New York University’s Kanchan Chandra explains that this highly participatory democracy is a unique aspect of Indias economic transformation. Read more on »

Tajikistan’s Fight Against Political Islam: How Fears of Terrorism Stifle Free Speech

The government of Tajikistan has an uneasy relationship with its Islamic roots, and has made several attempts to diminish religion’s role in daily life, including banning the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, the nations only viable democratic opposition. In this Foreign Affairs article, Steve Swerdlow of Human Rights Watch argues that by virtually outlawing political opposition and cracking down on all forms of Islam, the government has created conditions for ISIS and other extremist ideologies to spread. Read more »



The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is an independent, nonpartisan membership organization, think tank, and publisher dedicated to being a resource for its members, government officials, business executives, journalists, educators and students, civic and religious leaders, and other interested citizens in order to help them better understand the world and the foreign policy choices facing the United States and other countries. Founded in 1921, CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy.



The CFR Religion and Foreign Policy Initiative connects religious and congregational leaders, scholars, and thinkers with CFR's resources on U.S. foreign policy and provides a forum for this community to discuss a broad range of pressing international issues. For more information, please contact McCourt Noonan, associate director for the National Program & Outreach, at 212.434.9848 or


CFR's Religion and Foreign Policy Portal,, is a "first stop" on the internet for members of the religious community seeking information on and analysis of U.S. foreign policy and global developments. In addition to a wide range of CFR materials—including work from the think tank, interviews with experts, meeting transcripts, and new backgrounders—users will find analysis and documents from other sources that have been carefully selected by the website's editorial staff for their relevance and quality.

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