Asia Pacific Articles

With a harsh legal system that is hostile to governmental opposition, Malaysia is known as one of Asia’s most politically conservative countries. However, it may soon retire from this position of dubious honor, given Prime Minister Najib Razak’s recently announced plans to revolutionize Malaysia’s political climate. With political reform following so swiftly after Najib’s  succession of economic reforms last year, political activists and leaders of the opposition Pakatan Rakyat alliance have been willing to offer praise, though their appreciation is tempered by wariness. Najib has built a reputation for grand gestures while in office, and one cannot assume the purity of his intentions.

By Catherine Yang  |  January 12, 2012

Precarious topography, political turmoil, and a struggling global economy are tough conditions for any state, let alone a young democracy of 140 million citizens. In light of these problems, Bangladesh’s sustained economic growth becomes all the more impressive. Over the past five years, Bangladesh has enjoyed an average real GDP growth of six percent. Labor-intensive industries, in particular textiles, have fueled growth as Bangladesh’s tremendous reserves of cheap, low-skill labor have attracted foreign investment. Educational attainment rates are on the rise and Bangladesh has a particularly vibrant political culture, as a vast majority of citizens vote.

By Ashraf Ahmed  |  January 12, 2012

Siam, the former Thailand, abolished its centuries-old absolute monarchy and adopted a constitutional democracy through a bloodless revolution in 1932. As the only country that had never been officially colonized by Western powers, Siam was proud of its independence. Much of this pride was attributed to, as most conservative Thai historians would argue, the farsightedness and the wisdom of the Siamese kings. In particular, King Chulalongkorn (1868-1910), who ruled the kingdom during the high tide of colonialism in Southeast Asia, was extolled for his shrewd strategy in managing his relationships with external powers. But Chulalongkorn’s unsurpassed ability to safeguard his kingdom from the threats of colonialism was not translated into a guarantee of a long-lasting royal institution.

By Pavin Chachavalpongpun  |  December 24, 2011

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea) continues to commit acts of genocide and crimes against humanity that are unparalleled in the world today in terms of brutality and loss of life.

Korean Holodomor

To date, over four million have died of starvation in North Korea since 1995. Photographs from Reuters AlertNet published in October confirm refugee testimonials of a continued famine. The United Nations reports that over six million North Koreans, particularly children and pregnant and breast-feeding women, are currently at risk of death due to starvation.

By Robert Park  |  December 7, 2011

On July 24, the Indian and Bangladeshi media reported that after four decades both countries would re-establish their first border haat or market. Located between Kalaichar and Baliamari along the shared 4,096 kilometer border, it is intended to stimulate cross-border rural trade and interaction. The event has been touted as a symbolic milestone in actively improving bilateral relations, which since 2008 have showed increasing signs of progress.

By Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe  |  October 7, 2011

Geoffrey K. See is the Managing Director and Founder of Choson Exchange. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and Yale University and is a consultant at a global management consultancy. Andray Abrahamian is an executive director of Choson Exchange and has a Master's Degree from the University of Sussex in International Relations. He is currently pursuing a Phd, focusing on media images of East Asia while teaching at the University of Ulsan. 

By Andray Abrahamian, Geoffrey K. See  |  August 23, 2011

As the result of China’s participation in world trade and its consequent growing demand for overseas energy and raw materials, the South China Sea has become an increasingly important resource for Beijing. China’s demand for imported energy resources is predicted to rise to 500 million tons of oil imports and over 100 billion cubic meters of natural gas by 2020. For comparison, in 2009 China imported 204 million tons of oil and just about 5 billion cubic meters of natural gas.  Because of its rapidly increasing energy consumption, China will be more actively involved in oil and gas exploration in its adjacent sea areas and in securing the oil supply routes at sea.

By Jörn Dosch  |  August 18, 2011

As the result of China’s participation in world trade and its consequent growing demand for overseas energy and raw materials, the South China Sea has become an increasingly important resource for Beijing. China’s demand for imported energy resources is predicted to rise to 500 million tons of oil imports and over 100 billion cubic meters of natural gas by 2020. For comparison, in 2009 China imported 204 million tons of oil and just about 5 billion cubic meters of natural gas.  Because of its rapidly increasing energy consumption, China will be more actively involved in oil and gas exploration in its adjacent sea areas and in securing the oil supply routes at sea.

By Jörn Dosch  |  August 18, 2011

Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world—a quarter of its population lives on less than US$1 per day, and unemployment rates are over 40 percent. With a population of over 29 million, Nepal is facing an upward trajectory in energy demand, resulting in energy shortage situations where less than half of the nation’s electricity needs are met. In recent years, during the coldest winter months, Nepalis have experienced power cuts for over 16 hours per day. Nepal’s political and economic development has been overshadowed by its two neighboring global superpowers, China and India.

By Karen Zhou  |  April 19, 2011

Stanley Wolpert writes of the “mixed legacy” of India’s history (Review, Winter 2011), but his account suffers from triumphalism. His attribution of India’s survival to an essentially permanent civilization is reminiscent of Mark Twain’s hyperbolic remarks on his encounter with the ancient city of Varanasi. Despite his summary of developments in India since 1991, his piece retains the quasi-mystical reverence once characteristic of a certain Western reading of India (as opposed to those who bemoaned India’s filth and poverty).

By Keshava Guha  |  April 19, 2011