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Eyes on Asia - September 2016

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September 2016

Eyes on Asia

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Dear Colleagues,

This month, Eyes on Asia takes a close look at the U.S. approach to North Korea—particularly as Kim Jong-un’s nuclear tests continue to threaten the Northeast Asian security landscape. CFR Senior Fellow Scott A. Snyder explores two aspects of the issue: why the United States will never be able to accept North Korea as a nuclear power, and how the U.S.-China strategic gap and mutual mistrust stand in the way of North Korean denuclearization. CFR President Richard N. Haass also describes a potentially more powerful North Korea in the not-so-distant future—a North Korea equipped with a nuclear weapon that can reach the continental United States—and outlines what the next U.S. president might be able to do to prevent that from becoming a reality. For an in-depth perspective, read the CFR Independent Task Force’s new report on North Korea, which concludes that the U.S. policy of “strategic patience” may actually threaten U.S. national security interests.

We also feature podcasts with two British professors who examine starkly different governance systems in Asia: Oxford’s Stein Ringen describes China’s party-state as the “perfect dictatorship,” and University College London’s Marie Lall presents an uncommon narrative of Myanmar’s “democratic” transition. Be sure to watch conversations at CFR with three world leaders discussing the Asia-Pacific: New Zealand’s John Key, Afghanistan’s Salahuddin Rabbani, and the United States’ Jacob Lew—that took place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly and Group of Twenty (G20) meetings earlier this month. Finally, take a look at a new CFR discussion paper, by the Center for Global Development’s Scott Morris, about how the United States can respond to China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) by integrating emerging countries into the existing multilateral development bank system.

And for this month’s most exciting news: a special congratulations to the CFR Asia program’s Senior Fellow for Japan Studies Sheila A. Smith, who received the Japanese Foreign Minister’s Commendation for her work to improve public understanding of Japan and to promote people-to-people exchanges between Japan and the United States. An award certainly well deserved.

Best wishes for the fall,

 

Elizabeth C. Economy
C. V. Starr Senior Fellow and Director for Asia Studies

What to Do About North Korea?

NORTH KOREAN LEADER KIM JONG-UN (C) SMILES AS HE GUIDES A TEST FIRE OF A NEW MULTIPLE-LAUNCH ROCKET SYSTEM IN THIS UNDATED PHOTO RELEASED BY NORTH KOREA’S KOREAN CENTRAL NEWS AGENCY (KCNA) IN PYONGYANG, MARCH 4, 2016. (KCNA/REUTERS)

NORTH KOREAN LEADER KIM JONG-UN (C) SMILES AS HE GUIDES A TEST FIRE OF A NEW MULTIPLE-LAUNCH ROCKET SYSTEM IN THIS UNDATED PHOTO RELEASED BY NORTH KOREA’S KOREAN CENTRAL NEWS AGENCY (KCNA) IN PYONGYANG, MARCH 4, 2016. (KCNA/REUTERS)

A new CFR Independent Task Force report, A Sharper Choice on North Korea: Engaging China for a Stable Northeast Asia, finds that the United States’ policy of “strategic patience” with North Korea will neither halt that country’s dangerous cycle of provocation nor ensure the stability of Northeast Asia—in fact, it may gravely threaten U.S. national security interests. To see more findings from the Task Force, chaired by Mike Mullen, retired admiral and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Sam Nunn, former U.S. senator (R-GA) and co-chairman and chief executive officer of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, watch the report launch event or read the Task Force chairs’ Washington Post op-ed. Read the report »

 

North Korea and the U.S.-China Strategic Gap
Scott A. Snyder
 

 

CFR Senior Fellow Scott A. Snyder posits that North Korean nuclear ambition “lives in the gap” created by U.S. and Chinese mistrust. Synder argues that a coordinated diplomatic ultimatum to Kim Jong-un would be the most effective method of conveying that his regime’s survival depends on denuclearization. Read the op-ed »

 
After the Fifth Nuclear Test
Scott A. Snyder
 

 

After North Korea’s fifth nuclear test—which South Korean President Park Geun-hye called an act of “fanatic recklessness” —Snyder lays out the three fundamental reasons why the United States will never be able to accept a nuclear North Korea. Read the post »

 
The Coming Confrontation With North Korea
Richard N. Haass
 

 

CFR President Richard N. Haass illustrates the danger of a nuclear North Korea with a discomfiting scenario: Imagine it is 2020, and North Korea has succeeded in making a nuclear weapon capable of reaching the continental United States. What can the next U.S. president do to avert that not-so-far-fetched fate? Read the op-ed »

 
Japanese Government Honors Sheila A. Smith

Japanese Government Honors Sheila A. Smith

CFR Senior Fellow for Japan Studies Sheila A. Smith received the Japanese Foreign Minister’s Commendation for 2016. The award honored her research on Japan’s international relations, efforts to improve public understanding of Japan, and promotion of people-to-people exchanges between Japan and the United States. In addition to her work at CFR, Smith has worked to promote ties with Japan while serving as vice chair of the U.S. advisors to the U.S.-Japan Conference on Cultural and Educational Exchange and as a member of the advisory committee for the U.S.-Japan Network for the Future program of the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation. Read the press release »

 

CONVERSATIONS ON ASIA

Is China a Perfect Dictatorship?
Elizabeth C. Economy With Stein Ringen
 

 

Stein Ringen, emeritus professor at the University of Oxford and author of The Perfect Dictatorship, gives his take on the Chinese party-state: with continued international engagement China’s best-case prognosis is a “hard dictatorship.” Without it, China’s fate is all-out authoritarianism or total chaos. Listen to the conversation »

 
Myanmar’s “Democratic” Reform
Elizabeth C. Economy With Marie Lall
 

 

Marie Lall, professor at University College London and author of Understanding Reform in Myanmar, offers an uncommon narrative of Myanmar’s political transition and explains why she describes the country’s new leadership as “democratic”—quotation marks included—if only for now. Listen to the conversation »

 
Next Steps for Korea-Japan Relations
Scott A. Snyder
 

 

Snyder and Brad Glosserman, executive director of the Pacific Forum CSIS, address progress and potential in South Korea-Japan relations at the Korea Society. In particular, they note how historical and territorial disputes have to some degree given way to the necessity for and practicality of security cooperation. Watch the conversation »

 

ON THE SIDELINES OF THE G20 AND UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY

John Key on the Trans-Pacific Partnership
 
 

 

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