A police officer walks past a portrait of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in Istanbul, Turkey, Oct. 2, 2019 (AP photo by Lefteris Pitarakis).

Dozens of countries took Saudi Arabia to task at the United Nations Human Rights Council earlier this month for its human rights violations, demanding accountability for the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The rebuke came just days after U.S. President Donald Trump was revealed to have admitted on tape that he helped shield the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, from scrutiny by obstructing Congress’ inquiries into Khashoggi’s brutal murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, in October 2018. “I saved his ass,” Trump reportedly said of the crown prince in an interview with the journalist Bob Woodward. […]

A man uses his smartphone in front of portraits of the late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung, left, and Kim Jong Il, right, in Pyongyang, May 5, 2015 (AP photo by Wong Maye-E).

Before his arrest, Virgil Griffith had a reputation as a “cult hacker,” a “tech-world enfant terrible.” A 2008 profile in The New York Times Magazine, published when he was 25, called him the “Internet Man of Mystery,” and cast him as “a troublemaker … A twerp. And a magnet for tech-world groupies,” drinking White Russians and “revel[ing] in the attention of his female fans.” Griffith had become notorious the year before, when he launched WikiScanner, a website that used IP address databases to expose the anonymous editors of Wikipedia entries. The site’s release brought on a wave of news coverage, […]

A man walks past a poster for the Disney movie “Mulan” at a movie theater in Beijing, Sept. 11, 2020 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

The first stirrings of controversy emerged for Disney’s live-action remake of “Mulan” more than a year ago, when the film’s lead actress, Liu Yifei, shared a post on the Chinese social media app Weibo that praised the Hong Kong police. The territory’s massive pro-democracy protests were in full swing at the time, and opposition to the security forces’ brutal tactics had become one of the demonstrators’ central organizing principles. Liu’s post quickly went viral, and the hashtag #BoycottMulan trended in response. Disney was not the only business to draw criticism over the Hong Kong protest movement. Last fall brought boycotts […]

President Donald Trump participates in a border security briefing at United States Border Patrol station in Yuma, Ariz., June 23, 2020 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

Editor’s Note: Guest columnist Edward Alden is filling in for Kimberly Ann Elliott. Of all the self-defeating actions in the Trump administration’s war on immigrants, the most puzzling is its obsession with driving foreign students out of the United States. Last week, the administration unveiled a proposed rule that would force out many students by revoking visas if they fail to finish their degrees in four years, and would also limit students from many African and Middle Eastern countries to two-year visas. This comes on top of its failed effort earlier this year to strip visas from foreign students in […]

A Taiwanese Air Force F-16, in the foreground, flies on the flank of a Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force H-6 bomber as it passes near Taiwan, Feb. 10, 2020 (Republic of China (Ministry of National Defense photo via AP Images).

Recent Chinese military maneuvers were a stark reminder that the Taiwan Strait remains one of the world’s most dangerous flash points. After months of saber-rattling near Taiwan, China’s air force sent dozens of warplanes into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone on Sept. 18 and 19, across the median line in the Taiwan Strait that both sides have long tacitly acknowledged as an unofficial border. Days later, and amid further incursions by Chinese aircraft, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson denied the existence of any “so-called median line,” raising concerns of further escalation by Beijing. Although several factors account for this belligerence, […]

A protester holds a United Nations flag at a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Los Angeles, Calif., June 6, 2020 (AP photo by Damian Dovarganes).

“The Future We Want, the UN We Need.” That’s the theme Secretary-General Antonio Guterres chose for the 75th U.N. General Assembly, which opened virtually earlier this month because of the coronavirus pandemic. By using the word “we,” Guterres had in mind not just the governments of the U.N.’s 193 member states, but the aspirations of everyday citizens, consistent with the spirit of the U.N. Charter, whose preamble begins, “We the Peoples of the United Nations….” But how do you measure the attitudes and preferences of 7.8 billion people, especially in the midst of a pandemic? In the run-up to this […]

Women protest Sudanese Chairman of the Sovereignty Council Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan’s decision to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a move toward normalizing relations, in Khartoum, Sudan, Feb. 7, 2020 (AP photo by Marwan Ali).

If recent news reports are to be believed, Sudan may be on the verge of joining the list of Arab countries to normalize their relations with Israel, pushed by the Trump administration. Gen. Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan, the Sudanese military chief who jointly leads the transitional government in Khartoum, met with both U.S. and Emirati officials in Abu Dhabi earlier this week to discuss an agreement that would remove Sudan from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, in exchange for Sudan normalizing its ties with Israel. The New York Times reported Thursday that the State Department is preparing to delist […]

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, deliver statements at the 11th BRICS Summit, in Brasilia, Brazil, Nov. 13, 2019 (AP photo by Eraldo Peres).

President Jair Bolsonaro assumed office in 2019 with the goal of aligning Brazil’s foreign policy with Western democracies and ending the economic dependence on China that grew markedly under his predecessors in the left-wing Workers’ Party. In his presidential campaign, Bolsonaro positioned himself as a candidate of the right, speaking out against “socialism” and “communism,” with pointed references to neighboring Venezuela, and openly identified with the right-wing populist message of U.S. President Donald Trump. So far, Bolsonaro’s attempt to reorient Brazil’s foreign policy toward the U.S. has met with mixed success, in part because China’s leaders have outworked their counterparts […]

DACA students celebrate after the Supreme Court rejected the Trump administration’s effort to end legal protections for young immigrants, Washington, June 18, 2020 (AP photo by Manuel Balce Ceneta).

As recent polling has confirmed, the prestige and image of the United States have suffered a precipitous decline under President Donald Trump. As for Trump himself, a recent survey by the Pew Research Center showed that people in a variety of other countries place more stock in the leadership of both China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin than in America’s president. Although domestic issues are likely to dominate the upcoming U.S. presidential election, for these reasons and others, a key feature of Democrat Joe Biden’s campaign to send Trump into political retirement has appropriately been addressing the damage to […]

Chinese-owned apps TikTok and WeChat displayed on a smartphone, Beijing, China, Aug. 6, 2020 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR contributor Lavender Au and Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curate the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. TikTok was set to be taken off U.S. app stores this past weekend, but the news that the Chinese-owned app struck a tentative deal with Oracle and Walmart allowed it a one-week reprieve from President Donald Trump’s ban. The deal still must be formally reviewed by the Trump administration, and the Chinese government will need to approve it, too. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Zhao Lijian has branded the ban, and other moves against […]

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He before signing the “phase one” trade agreement, at the White House, Washington, Jan. 15, 2020 (AP photo by Steve Helber).

Editor’s Note: Guest columnist Edward Alden is filling in for Kimberly Ann Elliott. The World Trade Organization is dying. We’ll miss it when it’s gone, for many reasons. But one stands out in particular: The WTO helps keep national leaders from doing economically harmful things for domestic political reasons. Without that constraint, we can expect governments to take more and more actions that are politically popular but harmful to both their national economies and to the global economy. The decision last week by a WTO dispute settlement panel that ruled against the Trump administration’s tariffs on China is a sign […]

President Donald Trump addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly, in New York, Sept. 24, 2019 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

Like other world leaders, U.S. President Donald Trump is not traveling to New York for this week’s U.N. General Assembly due to the coronavirus pandemic, delivering a pre-recorded video address instead. But while the format may be peculiar, the substance of what he will say could be more familiar, and jarring. Trump has addressed the assembly three times since taking office, and he tends to repeat certain themes each year, often with one eye on his domestic audience. Here are five points to look out for in Tuesday’s speech. China: The president is almost certain to devote a significant chunk […]

The National Security Administration campus, where the U.S. Cyber Command is located, in Fort Meade, Md., June 6, 2013 (AP photo by Patrick Semansky).

The United States gets a lot right about its strategic approach to cyberspace, but the steady stream of reporting on the relentless wave of adversarial cyber campaigns waged by Russia, China and Iran against the U.S. show that it also still gets plenty of things wrong. Some in Washington may be comforted by the idea that the Pentagon will act as a “backstop” against foreign cyber campaigns aimed at influencing the upcoming elections. The fact that a militarized response seems to be the only arrow in America’s quiver, though, is seriously troubling. More than half a century after the Pentagon’s […]

President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping attend a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, China, Nov. 9, 2017 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

Reciprocity has become the watchword for the Trump administration’s increasingly confrontational approach to China, from imposing limits on the movement of Chinese diplomats and journalists within the U.S., to banning Chinese-owned social media and messaging platforms TikTok and WeChat. The immediate goal is to impose costs for Beijing’s similar restrictions on the activities of American diplomats, journalists and tech companies in China, while insulating the U.S. from the potential security risks of Chinese tech companies that officially operate in the private sector but remain in thrall to the ruling Communist Party. Beyond that, however, it is unclear what President Donald […]

Students leave a testing site for China’s national college entrance examinations, in Nanjing, China, July 7, 2020 (Chinatopix photo via AP Images).

Editor’s Note: Lavender Au is China Note’s new lead writer, curating the week’s top news and expert analysis on China every Wednesday with WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm. More than 1,000 Chinese students and scholars have had their visas to the United States revoked recently under a new Trump administration program that claims to target security risks and guard against espionage. The affected students largely hail from China’s seven major national defense colleges, which are directly subordinate to China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, receive funding from the military and work on military projects. But to call […]

An Israeli El Al airliner in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, after a ceremonial flight from Tel Aviv, Aug. 31, 2020 (pool photo by Nir Elias via AP Images).

Imagine a different Middle East. “Were all outstanding hostilities resolved, border formalities simplified and roads unblocked, one might breakfast beside the Mediterranean in the Lebanese capital of Beirut, drive up to the Syrian capital of Damascus for lunch, race south to Jordan’s Amman for tea, make Jerusalem for an early dinner, and be back beside the Mediterranean for a stroll before bed in Tel Aviv.” That might have seemed like a fanciful vision when John Keay, a British writer and historian, sketched it out in 2003, in his book “Sowing the Wind: The Seeds of Conflict in the Middle East.” […]

The remains of the World Trade Center following the terrorist attack in New York, Sept. 11, 2001 (AP photo by Alexandre Fuchs).

In the 19 years that have passed since I watched the twin towers of the World Trade Center collapse, not a single moment of that day has faded from memory. It was my second day on the job as a cub reporter for the New York Daily News, and I am still a bit embarrassed to admit I was running a little late that morning. I had stopped at the elementary school polling station near my apartment in Queens to cast my vote in the mayoral primaries at around 9 a.m. A few minutes later, as I hustled to catch […]

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