Region: Asia

October 2017, Volume 28, Issue 4

South Korea After Impeachment

After a presidential corruption scandal sparked peaceful mass protests leading to the impeachment and removal of the incumbent, South Koreans went to the polls to choose her successor. Was this drama a window on the troubles of South Korean democracy, or a testament to its strength and resilience?

October 2017, Volume 28, Issue 4

Strengthening Constitutionalism in Asia

Liberal democracy can never put down truly firm roots in Asia unless and until the fundamentals of democratic constitutionalism take hold. There are seven practical imperatives that friends of constitutionalism in the region must pursue.

July 2017, Volume 28, Issue 3

China’s Disaffected Insiders

The CCP regime has lost support among three groups it should normally be able to count on: street-level police, retired military officers, and state employees who are drafted into stifling dissent on the part of their own relatives. 

April 2017, Volume 28, Issue 2

Southeast Asia: Voting Against Disorder

Rodrigo Duterte’s rise to the presidency of the Philippines reflects a broader trend in Southeast Asia of voters favoring politicians who elevate order above law. What does the history of “voting against disorder” in Indonesia and Thailand imply for the future of democracy in the Philippines?

January 2017, Volume 28, Issue 1

Turkey: How the Coup Failed

When parts of the Turkish military attempted a coup in July 2016, the competitive authoritarian AKP regime was able to bring both its competitive and its authoritarian features to bear, stopping the coup and launching a crackdown.

January 2017, Volume 28, Issue 1

Tunisia’s Islamists and the “Turkish Model”

Ennahda has long felt an especially strong kinship with Turkey’s AKP, which has seen as representing a combination of piety, prosperity, and democratic credibility. How might their relationship be affected by the AKP's more recent authoritarian turn?

January 2017, Volume 28, Issue 1

The Fading of the Anti-Coup Norm

Following the end of the Cold War, an international norm against coups began gaining strength, but it seems to have lost momentum in recent years. What has happened?

January 2017, Volume 28, Issue 1

The Rise of “Localism” in Hong Kong

The September 2016 Legislative Council election marked the rise of a new political force that emphasizes the specific interests and identity of Hong Kong. It has especially been championed by many of the young people who swelled 2014’s Umbrella Movement protests.

April 2015, Volume 26, Issue 2

Exits from Military Rule: Lessons for Burma

Burma’s troubled transition is imperiled by the reluctance of the military to loosen its grip. What lessons can the Burmese learn from other East Asian countries that have emerged from military rule?

January 2013, Volume 24, Issue 1

China at the Tipping Point? Goodbye to Gradualism

China is heading toward a tipping point, with two likely scenarios for how a political opening will come about. Most Chinese intellectuals think that only gradualism—“slow and steady,” step-by-step reform—can offer China a safe and feasible path toward liberal democracy. But they are wrong. Instead of “taking it slow,” China should shun gradualism and opt…

January 2013, Volume 24, Issue 1

China at the Tipping Point? The Rising Cost of Stability

Although the Chinese Communist Party has tried to institutionalize the political system in the reform era, such efforts have been hampered by the Maoist legacy. To cope with challenges from the society, the CCP mainly relies on a highly centralized and resource-intensive weiwen system, and shows little respect for institutional differentiation and formal procedures.

January 2013, Volume 24, Issue 1

China at the Tipping Point? The Turn Against Legal Reform

Over the past decade, Chinese authorities have turned against many of the legal reforms they themselves had enacted in the late 20th century. Lawyers have come under increased pressure. Political campaigns warning against rule-of-law norms have rippled through the courts. And central authorities have massively increased funding for extralegal institutions aimed at curtailing and suppressing…

January 2013, Volume 24, Issue 1

China at the Tipping Point? The Troubled Periphery

The response of the Chinese state (and of Chinese society at large) to the problems of the country’s periphery—Tibet, Xinjiang, and Inner Mongolia, as well as hundreds of counties, prefectures, and townships in Sichuan, Qinghai, Yunnan, and other areas—is piling more tension and misery upon the populations there, but it is not undermining state power.

January 2013, Volume 24, Issue 1

China at the Tipping Point? From “Fart People” to Citizens

In recent years, Chinese netizens have shown boundless creativity and ingenuity in expressing themselves despite government restrictions on online speech. Will new political discourse give birth to a new political identity? Are new forms of networked communication enhancing opportunities for social change and helping to move China toward a “threshold” for political transformation?

January 2013, Volume 24, Issue 1

Southeast Asia: In The Shadow of China

Given Southeast Asia’s relatively high level of socioeconomic development, we might expect it to be a showcase of democracy. Yet it is not. To grasp why, one must look to deeper factors of history and geography.

April 2012, Volume 23, Issue 2

Southeast Asia: Thailand’s Uneasy Passage

In 2011, Thais reelected a party backed by deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Why is his brand of populism so irrepressible, and what can be done to reconcile the voting power of Thailand’s rural lower classes with the establishment dug in around the Thai monarchy?

October 2011, Volume 22, Issue 4

Singapore: Authoritarian but Newly Competitive

Singapore has long been known for combining economic development with strict limits on political opposition. But its 2011 parliamentary elections suggest that it is moving toward “competitive authoritarianism.”

October 2011, Volume 22, Issue 4

Documents on Democracy: October 2011

Excerpts from a statement issued by the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies and 35 other Egyptian human-rights organizations condemning the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces' campaign against the country's civil society organizations and human-rights groups. Excerpt from a statement by two top EU officials on the August 5 arrest of former Ukrainian prime…

July 2011, Volume 22, Issue 3

Poverty, Inequality, and Democracy: Growth and Hunger in India

Despite India’s impressive achievements in democracy, economic development, and the rule of law, it remains home to a third of the world’s poor. Although it has successfully averted famine since independence, it still struggles to prevent chronic hunger.

April 2011, Volume 22, Issue 2

Sri Lanka: From Turmoil to Dynasty

Having only recently emerged from a prolonged and remarkably bitter civil war, Sri Lanka is now slipping steadily under the hardening authoritarian control of President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his family.

January 2011, Volume 22, Issue 1

Hong Kong’s Democrats Divide

For the first time ever in the history of Hong Kong, local democratic leaders and Chinese officials have forged a pact on limited democratic reforms. That may have marked a step forward for the cause of democracy in Hong Kong, but it has also led to a sharp split in the democratic camp.

Free

January 2011, Volume 22, Issue 1

Two Essays on China’s Quest for Democracy

Imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, who was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, is best known for his eloquent and incisive essays. Two of them are featured here: “Can It Be That the Chinese People Deserve Only ‘Party-Led Democracy’?” and “Changing the Regime by Changing Society.”

Free

October 2010, Volume 21, Issue 4

The Upsurge of Religion in China

Religion in various forms is burgeoning in the PRC today, and the ruling Chinese Communist Party cannot decide what to make of it—or do about it.

October 2010, Volume 21, Issue 4

Reformism vs. Populism in the Philippines

May 2010, Benigno Aquino III bested a crowded field to win the presidency. The election, which was remarkably clean and orderly, gave a clear victory to the reformist narrative that has long vied with populism in the Philippines.

July 2010, Volume 21, Issue 3

The Rise of “State-Nations”

Must every state be a nation and every nation a state? Or should we look instead to the example of countries such as India, where one state holds together a congeries of “national” groups and cultures in a single and wisely conceived federal republic?

April 2010, Volume 21, Issue 2

Indonesia: The Irony of Success

Indonesia is widely lauded as a democratic success story for rolling back the military, keeping radical Islam in check, and institutionalizing democratic freedoms. But this success has had costs in terms of democratic quality.

Free

July 2009, Volume 20, Issue 3

China Since Tiananmen: The Massacre’s Long Shadow

In the two decades since the Tiananmen massacre, China has enjoyed rapid economic growth and a measure of political stability. Recently, however, various forms of popular protest have been increasing. Do they represent a potentially serious threat to CCP rule?

July 2009, Volume 20, Issue 3

China Since Tiananmen: A New Rights Consciousness?

Despite the suppression of the Tiananmen Uprising of 1989, popular protest in China has by all accounts escalated steadily over the ensuing two decades. These protests have spread to virtually every sector of Chinese society, prompting more than a few observers to proclaim the emergence of a “rising rights consciousness” that poses a protodemocratic challenge…

July 2009, Volume 20, Issue 3

China Since Tiananmen: The Labor Movement

The twenty years since 1989 have brought two major developments in worker activism. First, whereas workers were part of the mass uprising in the Tiananmen Movement, there is today hardly any sign of mobilization that transcends class or regional lines. Second, a long-term decline in worker power at the point of production is going on…

July 2009, Volume 20, Issue 3

China Since Tiananmen: Rural Protest

Although China’s farmers did not play a large role in the 1989 protests, they have been quite contentious since. Rural unrest has been triggered in part by reforms and in part by savvy “peasant leaders” who quickly seize opportunities that appear. Recently, many protest leaders have concluded that tame forms of contention are ineffective and…

July 2009, Volume 20, Issue 3

China Since Tiananmen: Middle-Class Mobilization

Some of the many China stories to attract attention recently have involved NIMBY (Not in My Backyard) protests by largely middle class crowds gathering to demand a greater say in urban development plans. This article argues that such protests a) are a significant addition to the already complex landscape of Chinese collective action (and signal…

July 2009, Volume 20, Issue 3

China Since Tiananmen: Online Activism

Online activism is an integral part of the broader landscape of citizen activism in contemporary China. It assumes a variety of forms, from cultural and social activism to cyber-nationalism and online petitions and protests. Technological development and social transformation provide the basic structural conditions. A fledgling civil society of online communities and offline civic associations,…

Free

July 2009, Volume 20, Issue 3

China Since Tiananmen: Authoritarian Impermanence

Like all contemporary nondemocratic systems, the Chinese system suffers from weak legitimacy at the level of regime type. The most likely form of transition for China remains the model of Tiananmen, when three elements came together: a robust plurality of disaffected citizens, a catalytic event, and a split in the leadership. Had China chosen the…

July 2009, Volume 20, Issue 3

Bangladesh’s Fresh Start

After a nearly two-year interlude of authoritarian rule, Bangladeshis voted decisively for democracy, a secular approach to politics, and the center-left. The challenge now is to show that parliamentary democracy can deliver stability and socioeconomic progress.

Free

July 2009, Volume 20, Issue 3

Malaysia’s Electoral Upheaval

In March 2008, Malaysian voters dealt the long-ruling National Front coalition an enormous shock—pushing that party closer to losing power than it has ever been in Malaysia’s entire history as an independent country.  

October 2008, Volume 19, Issue 4

Pakistan After Musharraf: The 2008 Elections

Elections set the stage for the General’s exit after nearly a decade in power, yet Pakistan still faces deep-seated structural problems that cannot be remedied merely by a return to competitive electoral politics.

October 2008, Volume 19, Issue 4

Pakistan After Musharraf: Praetorianism and Terrorism

The military is currently showing signs of wanting to back away from overt political involvement, but this should not be confused with a rejection of praetorianism or an acceptance of the principle of civilian supremacy.

Free

October 2008, Volume 19, Issue 4

Thailand Since the Coup

Torn between populism and those who fail to respect democratic limits in combating it, Thailand badly needs to locate a middle ground where the best of its old traditions can help it adjust to the new challenges that it faces.

July 2008, Volume 19, Issue 3

ASEAN’s “Black Swans”

Can regionalism help to redress the uneven spread and internal weaknesses of democracy in Southeast Asia? Unforeseen events in the region and positive political entrepreneurship may yet transform ASEAN into a force for democracy.

July 2008, Volume 19, Issue 3

South Korea’s Miraculous Democracy

Despite South Korea’s messy democratic trajectory, it has miraculously achieved consolidation. Though far from perfect, South Korea’s democracy has turned obstacles into opportunities for reform and development.

Free

January 2008, Volume 19, Issue 1

The Arroyo Imbroglio in the Philippines

Asia's oldest democracy is sinking into a morass of corruption and scandal. The Philippines' president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, continues to undermine the country's democratic institutions in order to remain in power.

October 2007, Volume 18, Issue 4

The Quest for Self-Rule in Tibet

This article assesses the historical record and current practice to argue that a form of autonomy that is appropriately grounded in China’s Constitution and international human rights practice may offer a path out of the current dispute.

Free

July 2007, Volume 18, Issue 3

How Will China Democratize?

No one should underrate the will and skill that the ruling Chinese Communist Party will put into keeping its grip on power.

April 2007, Volume 18, Issue 2

A Wake-Up Call in Afghanistan

Much has been achieved both in the war against the Taliban and in the larger struggle to create a democratic Afghanistan, but dire problems remain.