Former Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou is greeted by former Haitian President Michel Martelly at the airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Aug. 13, 2013 (AP photo by Dieu Nalio Chery).

They may be far from East Asia, but Central America and the Caribbean have become important battlegrounds as Taiwan tries to stave off further international isolation. The regions occupy a disproportionately large place in Taiwan’s foreign relations, home to 13 of its 32 technical missions, and 10 of its 18 embassies—more than Asia and Africa combined. Yet in the past year, China has pulled away two of Taiwan’s oldest allies there, Panama and most recently the Dominican Republic, which severed its diplomatic ties to Taiwan this spring, enticed by some $3 billion in Chinese incentives, according to Taipei. Panama’s decision […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel shake hands after a news conference at Putin’s residence in Sochi, Russia, May 18, 2018 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

European leaders are widely expected to maintain Ukraine-related sanctions against Russia at this week’s European Council summit in Brussels, despite disagreement among some member states. With Italy’s newly formed populist government looking at improving ties with Russia and U.S. President Donald Trump reportedly preparing to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin next month, the key player holding together an EU-wide consensus on sanctions policy is Germany. In an email interview, Susan Stewart, a senior associate at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, or SWP, in Berlin, discusses the impact of sanctions on German-Russian relations and how they are […]

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his wife, Kim Jung-sook, review an honor guard, Moscow, Russia, June 21, 2018 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

South Korean President Moon Jae-in returned from a three-day visit to Russia on Sunday, the first South Korean leader to make a state trip there since 1999. In Moscow, Moon addressed the State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, held talks with President Vladimir Putin, and signed agreements to expand economic cooperation. He capped off the visit with a World Cup match between South Korea and Mexico in the southern port city of Rostov-on-Don. Putin’s aims in hosting Moon seem straightforward enough. He wants to mitigate the hostility he faces from the West by reaching out in the other […]

U.S. President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the G-7 summit, Charlevoix, June 8, 2018 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

The new president that Mexico elects this weekend will not take office until Dec. 1, which means there will be little progress for the rest of the year in the negotiations between Mexico, Canada and the United States on a new and “improved” North American Free Trade Agreement. By December, American voters will have elected a new Congress that might have at least one house under Democratic Party control when it convenes next January. And later in 2019, Canadians will hold their parliamentary elections. The electoral calendar often poses challenges for trade negotiators because politicians are loath to make concessions […]

Activists wearing Donald Trump masks protest during NAFTA talks, Mexico City, Feb. 27, 2018 (AP photo by Marco Ugarte).

Trying to follow trade policy under the Trump administration makes your head spin. One minute there are going to be big tariffs on billions of dollars in Chinese exports, and then there are not—except then maybe they will be imposed, after all. But who really knows, because a lot can happen between now and July 6, when the latest tariffs that were announced last week are set to take effect. Just in the past month, President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on Tehran, then undermined the enforcement of those sanctions by undercutting penalties against […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping welcomes Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a meeting during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Qingdao, China, June 10, 2018 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

On his five-nation swing through Asia last November, U.S. President Donald Trump touted his administration’s vision for a “free and open Indo-Pacific.” The idea of focusing attention and resources on the world’s most populous region, where America’s economic future lies, struck most observers as smart and strategic, although the details remained vague and were difficult to square with his moves to dismantle his predecessor’s trade policies in Asia. But now Trump’s emerging Middle East strategy, marked most of all by his withdrawal last month from the Iran nuclear deal, may derail whatever goals he has in Asia before they get […]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, surrounded by other G-7 leaders, speaks with U.S. President Donald Trump during the G-7 summit, La Malbaie, Canada, June 9, 2018 (Photo by Jesco Denzel for German Federal Government via AP).

Should we really be shocked, or even mildly surprised, when an upstart American president upsets the Group of Seven industrialized nations and suggests non-Western powers should enter the club? President Donald Trump trashed this weekend’s G-7 summit by not only bad-mouthing his counterparts over trade, singling out the Canadian hosts for extra bile, but also arguing that Russia should rejoin the group just four years after it was expelled over the Ukrainian war. Other G-7 leaders were distinctly unamused. Trump’s behavior was crude even by his undiplomatic standards. Yet he was hardly the first U.S. leader to question the G-7’s […]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel listens to President Donald Trump talk during a news conference in the East Room of the White House, Washington, April 27, 2018 (AP photo by Manuel Balce Ceneta).

Will Donald Trump turn out to be Europe’s best friend? Despite himself, Trump’s decision to pick an ill-conceived fight over trade with America’s closest allies could actually have a salutary effect on European solidarity. It will certainly boost the desire in Europe to distance itself from America and the dependent aspects of the trans-Atlantic alliance. Whether the Europeans will be able to follow through is another story. Trump’s trade war would seem to come at a bad time for the European Union. The incoming government in Italy is hostile to the EU’s fiscal rules and migrant policy. Spain is in […]

Protesters attach stickers that read “Apology” to a fellow protester wearing a mask of U.S. President Donald Trump during a rally against Washington’s handling of the North Korea issue, Seoul, South Korea, May 25, 2018 (AP photo by Ahn Young-joon).

After the initial public euphoria about an imminent breakthrough in their decades-long crisis with North Korea, South Koreans who work professionally on foreign and national security policy are taking a more strategic and sober view of recent events. Many worry about the consequences of a change in their relationship with the United States, while others see important economic and political opportunities ahead. I just returned from a week of meetings in Seoul and Incheon with scholars from universities, government agencies and think tanks, as part of a delegation from George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government. I came […]

Members of a samba school portray drug traffickers during Carnival celebrations, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Feb. 13, 2018 (AP photo by Silvia Izquierdo).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss President Donald Trump’s first trade war—not with China, but with Canada, Mexico and the European Union. For the Report, Christopher Looft talks with WPR’s senior editor, Robbie Corey-Boulet, about the Brazilian government’s move to militarize security in Rio de Janeiro and the political impact across Brazil. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up for our free newsletter to get our uncompromising analysis delivered straight to your inbox. The newsletter offers a free […]