French President Emmanuel Macron watches a signing ceremony between French and Chinese firms at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Jan. 9, 2018 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

From the United States to Australia, countries are tightening restrictions on investment in strategic sectors like energy and defense, with a wary eye toward China. There are mounting concerns globally about the pitfalls associated with Chinese investment and whether it is a Trojan horse for Beijing to gain access to critical technologies, data and infrastructure that it can use for its own military ends. Europe is not immune to these concerns, and late last year, the European Union passed an investment screening mechanism of its own that specifically targeted China. Yet the EU will still have to do more to […]

Chinese students listen to a speech at Chongqing University, Dec. 20, 2007 (Photo by Andrew Parsons for Press Association via AP Images).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. Two incidents at Canadian universities earlier this month have renewed concerns that Chinese students based overseas are being used as tools in Beijing’s soft-power influence campaign. On Feb. 11, a group of Chinese students at McMaster University in Ontario documented an on-campus presentation about China’s mass internment of Uighurs and reported it to the Chinese Consulate in Toronto. The presentation was given by Uighur-Canadian activist Rukiye Turdush, who later said a Chinese student “ostentatiously recorded the entire presentation” and […]

A woman works in a weaving factory in Jinjiang, in southeast China’s Fujian province, Nov. 22, 2018 (Chinatopix photo via AP Images).

The World Trade Organization now has more than 160 members, ranging from the United States to tiny Burundi, the poorest country in the world, according to the World Bank. Afghanistan and Liberia are the WTO’s newest members, joining in 2016, and they are similarly poor and underdeveloped. Under WTO rules, developing countries receive “special and differential treatment” in recognition of their higher levels of poverty and lower levels of capacity to implement certain trade obligations. Yet the WTO has no objective criteria that define the difference between “developed” and “developing” member states. Rather, countries can “self-declare” as a developing country, […]

Eritreans shout slogans during a protest in Brussels, Belgium, Sept. 28, 2018 (AP photo by Francisco Seco).

Much has been written about the significance of the peace deal between Ethiopia and Eritrea for the Horn of Africa. Less attention has been paid to what it means for ordinary Eritreans. So far peace has sparked hope that the Eritrean economy will improve, but there are few signs of the political opening that many citizens dearly hope for. Back in July 2016, I was invited to a gathering late one night at a popular bar in Asmara, the capital of Eritrea. The gathering was a traditional and quite elaborate coffee ceremony, the kind typically held in the afternoon in […]

A man walks past a portrait of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Aleppo, Syria, Dec. 24, 2018 (Photo by Mikhail Voskresenskiy for Sputnik via AP).

As the Syrian civil war grinds to an end, the government in Damascus, propped up by Iran and Russia, is regaining its footing, with important implications for the balance of power in the Middle East. Syria’s neighbors and powers outside the region are now attempting to determine the appropriate level of engagement, if any, to have with President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. While Assad’s main foreign patrons will no doubt continue to deepen their military, political and economic ties, it is countries that stood against him over the past seven years that now have the most difficult decisions to make. If […]

U.S. President Donald Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto at the USMCA signing ceremony in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nov. 30, 2018 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

Trade negotiators typically prefer to discuss the details of agreements in secret while negotiations are ongoing, only revealing their handiwork when they are done. Even then, however, the length and legal density of trade agreements mean that only trade lawyers and industry specialists can readily figure out how a particular deal will affect ordinary citizens. For example, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, as the revised NAFTA is known, has 34 chapters and is roughly 1,000 pages long, to say nothing of its hundreds of additional pages of specific tariff commitments, annexes and side letters. In the United States, the law governing ratification […]

Iranians wave national flags during a ceremony celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, at the Azadi, in Tehran, Iran, Feb. 11, 2019 (AP photo by Vahid Salemi).

As Iran celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, the United States’ confrontational policy toward Tehran under President Donald Trump presents a real challenge for the Iranian political elite, particularly the moderates among them. Trump’s policy of reimposing economic sanctions aims to impose “maximum pressure” on Iran in order to provoke a change of behavior in Iranian regional policy. Far from accomplishing its goals, the U.S. approach is more likely to strengthen conservative factions within Iran and give the moderates, including President Hassan Rouhani, an excuse for not working toward their electoral promises of granting greater freedoms and pursuing […]

People from the Uighur community in Turkey carry flags of what ethnic Uighurs call ‘East Turkestan,’ during a protest in Istanbul, Nov. 6, 2018 (AP photo by Lefteris Pitarakis).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. While the mass incarceration of more than 1 million Uighur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang autonomous region continues to garner media attention and international condemnation, Muslim-majority countries have been largely silent on the issue. On Saturday, Turkey bucked that trend when it issued a statement calling on China to close its internment camps and criticizing the “torture and political brainwashing” of Chinese Uighurs as “a great shame for humanity.” The statement was prompted by recent reports that Abdurehim Heyit, a […]

President Donald Trump, right, with Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, during their bilateral meeting at the G-20 Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dec. 1, 2018 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

Washington and Beijing are a little over two weeks away from their self-imposed March 1st deadline to reach a sweeping trade agreement that addresses China’s alleged unfair trade practices. If they fail, and the current truce in their trade war ends with no deal, the costs will be substantial for both sides. The United States imports more goods from China than any country in the world—roughly $500 billion in 2017—and a breakdown in the talks could lead to even higher tariffs on at least half of that. Right now, under the tariffs steadily imposed by President Donald Trump, the U.S. […]

Iraqi President Barham Salih, right, shakes hands with visiting Jordanian King Abdullah II, left, in Baghdad, Iraq, Jan. 14, 2019 (AP photo by Khalid Mohammed).

Leaders from Iraq and Jordan held a summit meeting earlier this month, where they signed a slew of agreements liberalizing trade and commercial ties. The meeting, which follows a visit to Iraq by Jordan’s King Abdullah II, is part of a recent intensification in Baghdad’s diplomatic outreach as it seeks to rebuild after its brutal, years-long war with the Islamic State. In an interview with WPR, Randa Slim, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, discusses Iraq’s post-ISIS foreign policy priorities. World Politics Review: What is Iraq’s interest in cultivating increasingly close economic and diplomatic ties with Jordan? Randa […]

President Donald Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in the Oval Office of the White House, Washington, Jan. 31, 2019 (Photo by Oliver Contreras for dpa via AP Images).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. The U.S. and China held two days of high-level trade talks in Washington last week, just before the start of China’s week-long Lunar New Year holiday. Negotiators conveyed cautious optimism but stressed that much work remains to reach an agreement before the March 1 deadline. Vice Premier Liu He, China’s economic czar, led a Chinese delegation that included central bank governor Yi Gang. The American negotiating team was headed by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and also included Treasury […]

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido addresses supporters at a rally in Caracas, Venezuela, Feb. 3, 2019 (Sputnik photo by Leo Alvarez via AP Images).

The scale of the humanitarian disaster in Venezuela is almost inconceivable. Despite the world’s largest proven oil reserves, the economy barely functions. People struggle just to survive. Store shelves are nearly empty of food, medicine and other necessities. The few goods available are out of reach for most people because of hyperinflation that the International Monetary Fund estimates reached a shocking 1 million percent in 2018. An estimated 3 million Venezuelans have already fled to neighboring countries, and more will likely join them. Last fall, the Pharmaceutical Federation of Venezuela estimated that only around 20 percent of needed medicines were […]