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In South Korea immediately after the end of the Beijing Olympics, Chinese President Hu Jintao and his South Korean counterpart, President Lee Myung-bak, reaffirmed their mutual support for achieving the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula through the Six-Party talks. The joint statement issued at the end of the two-day summit underscored their shared commitment to promoting Korea’s denuclearization and improving relations between the two Korean states. “The South Korean side expressed its position to push for co-existence and co-prosperity (with North Korea) through inter-Korean reconciliation and cooperation,” the declaration read. “The Chinese side reaffirmed its support that South and North […]

CHIANG MAI, Thailand — Thailand’s political scene descended into chaos on Tuesday morning when supposed pro-democracy protesters stormed a television station, took over government buildings and blocked roads in an attempt to force the downfall of a democratically elected government. Samak Sundaravej, a generally unpopular prime minister, has stood firm but resisted using heavy-handed measures that could easily see the return of a military-led government. Oddly enough, a violent response may be exactly what the protesters, led by members of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) want. PAD leaders have called the protests “the final showdown” and machetes, sling shots, […]

While control over routes for the export of oil and gas to Western markets was clearly not the primary cause of the recent hostilities between Moscow and Tbilisi, the vital role of the Caucasus as an energy transit route nevertheless cannot be ignored in the context of Russia’s increasingly tense relationship with the United States and its European allies. The collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s led to the formation of several breakaway republics in the Caspian region, an energy-rich area which had been off limits to Western investment. That these newly formed states with substantial reserves of […]

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — It was a long time coming, but the dissident and sometimes mischievous politician Anwar Ibrahim has bloodied the nose of Malaysia’s ruling coalition by winning Tuesday’s by-election, marking his return to parliament and positioning himself for a tilt at the nation’s top job. “The message is clear,” he told thousands of cheering supporters. “We in Permatang Pauh and in Malaysia, we demand change for freedom and justice.” “We want an independent judiciary, we want the economy to benefit the vast majority and not corrupt the few,” he said to the chants of “reformasi” and “merdeka” which […]

SWAT DISTRICT, Pakistan — The Swat valley, a picturesque region in the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan, was once a tourist destination. Two years ago, however, it became a Taliban haven when Maulana Fazlullah, a hardline cleric turned militant Taliban commander, launched a vicious campaign against the education of girls. Unlike much of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) to the east, along the 1,400-mile border with Afghanistan, the Swat valley has historically been known for the relatively liberal values and traditions of its people, as well as its mesmerizing natural scenery. When Buddhism was the primary influence in […]

GEORGIAN BLAME GAME . . . — Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili may excoriate Russia for invading his country in interviews with Western media — such as his Financial Times interview Monday — but for local consumption he does not spare the West from responsibility for Georgia’s current crisis. In a major speech in Tbilisi last week, he said the Russian military build-up in South Ossetia was well underway before Georgian forces attacked the breakaway province, but Western leaders wouldn’t believe him, and Western intelligence failed to detect it. “When we were asking our Western partners [read: the United States] did […]

Once again, the news from Burma rings with echoes of despair. The latest mission from the international community has ended in embarrassment — not for the despotic generals who rule Burma (renamed Myanmar by its illegitimate regime), but for the United Nations and its ineffectual efforts. It seems no one who matters wants to waste any more time meeting with the U.N. envoy. And now, unconfirmed reports say the iconic leader of the pro-democracy opposition, the Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, may have started a hunger strike. Once again, Burma stands like a conscience-searing mirage on the Asian horizon, […]

As the presidential elections near, Sens. McCain and Obama will be forced to debate and articulate foreign policy positions before a nation transfixed by its fortunes in the Middle East. But what the candidates say, or fail to say, about the world beyond the Middle East, and particularly about the Asia-Pacific region, will have tremendous consequences for American strategy. In particular, both candidates must understand the importance of India to U.S. strategy in the Asia-Pacific. First, the candidates must understand how U.S. military campaigns and posturing in the Middle East can have serious national security consequences beyond that region. America’s […]

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CONTINUING CONCERNS ABOUT CHINESE HUMAN RIGHTS — The spectacular Olympic picture China has sought to paint for a world audience continues to be marred by human rights abuses, as media outlets, human rights groups and international diplomats put pressure on the Olympic host to ease controls on the Chinese people. U.S. President George W. Bush made several public calls for China to end repression during his high-profile visit to Asia and the Games, including an appeal outside a Beijing church, where Bush told journalists “God is universal and God is love, and no state, man or woman should fear the […]

As the world was fixated on the Beijing Olympics and Russia’s incursion into Georgia, a fledgling peace process between the Philippine government and Muslim rebels fighting for autonomy in the country’s restive south was beginning to unravel. The Philippine Supreme Court’s suspension of a key peace agreement fanned the flames of violence in the region, sending insurgent factions storming into villages. One hundred fifty thousand people fled their looted and torched homes, while the Philippine military pounded rebel hideouts with heavy artillery fire. The United Nations expressed alarm, while the International Red Cross said more than 80,000 people were displaced. […]

TOKYO — Reports last week that Georgia was hit by a coordinated cyber attack that compromised government Web sites offered a reminder of the additional front governments must protect when diplomatic or military hostilities break out between nations. Last year, high-tech Estonia suffered a sustained cyber attack that one Pentagon official described at the time as a “watershed” in terms of society’s awareness of its vulnerability. Over several weeks, numerous government Web sites and the country’s two largest banks came under sustained attack from abroad, overwhelming some sites and forcing some to block access from abroad. It is with these […]

Lost in the news cycles of presidential politics, the Olympic Games and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is a brewing crisis in South Asia. The United States’ strategic posture toward South Asia has largely focused on terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan and on nuclear proliferation. This approach has largely ignored the historical conflict over Jammu and Kashmir, which has sparked two major hot wars in the last 60 years. Growing unrest in Kashmir is threatening to cause open conflict between India and Pakistan once again, and American policy makers can’t afford to sit this one out. For almost seven years, […]

BEIJING — In the aftermath of a dazzling opening ceremony dubbed by the world’s media its “coming out party,” China appears to be experiencing a premature hangover. Less than a week after Beijing claimed center stage for the inauguration of the 29th Olympics, a growing chorus of Chinese and foreign voices is criticizing the ceremony, albeit for slightly different reasons. Among Chinese critics, the consensus is that the the ceremony did not live up to artistic and cultural expectations, while Western commentators have tended to focus on the symbolic meaning of the ceremony, and the methods by which it was […]

Editor’s note: Rights & Wrongs covers the world’s major human rights-related news and appears every week in World Politics Review. To browse past editions of Rights & Wrongs, click here.MELANCHOLY BURMA COMMEMORATES 8-8-88 — Pro-democracy supporters both inside and outside Burma last week marked the 20th anniversary of that country’s Aug. 8, 1988, uprising against military rule with demonstrations around the globe, but few held out much hope of impending change. The military presence inside Burma was high for the anniversary though no major demonstrations were reported. Millions of Burmese took to the country’s streets in the summer of 1988 […]

A cool, comforting indigo blue sea laps gently against several kilometers of lonely shoreline. Fig trees and olive groves dot the landscape above a stark white sandy beach where no one treads. In the distance can be heard the faint murmur of a lone car rolling down a craggy, mountainous road. There are still pieces of Turkey’s shoreline that remain undiscovered, but droves of foreigners are fast gobbling it up. The Turkish coastline has witnessed a construction bonanza fueled by moneyed Europeans seeking a relatively affordable place in the sun. Much of Turkey’s once pristine coastline has metamorphosed into a […]

BEIJING — The games of the 29th Olympiad are shaping up as a coming out party for China, a country that seeks to show the world it has arrived as a 21st century power. But China remains a country of contradictions — an ancient culture amid restless ambition to create a modern society, poverty alongside ostentatious wealth, and political repression in parallel with economic openness. On the eve of the opening of the games in Beijing, journalist and photographer Iason Athanasiadis visited Beijing and the northern city of Shenyang. A man walks past Shenyang’s central train station in northern China […]

In recent months, Pakistan’s new leaders have been insisting that U.S. forces were not conducting covert operations against al-Qaeda and Taliban militants inside Pakistan and that their government would never allow such missions. They have insisted that Pakistani regular troops and paramilitary forces could adequately deal with the insurgents and any high-value terrorist targets. According to a variety of sources, however, U.S. military forces, though not permanently based in Pakistan, continue to conduct military attacks from Afghanistan against al-Qaeda and Taliban targets in Pakistan’s loosely governed northwestern territories. On July 9, U.S. Gen. David D. McKiernan, the commander of the […]

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