Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi during the inaugural session of parliament, Naypyidaw, Myanmar, Feb. 8, 2016 (AP photo by Aung Shine Oo).

Earlier this month, on Feb. 1, Myanmar’s first democratically elected parliament in more than half a century held its first session since landmark elections last November. Dominated by Nobel Peace Prize laureate and longtime democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), which won nearly 80 percent of its seats, the parliament faces a host a challenges, from internal ethnic conflicts to the plight of the minority Rohingya Muslims. But when it comes to international affairs, no issue is perhaps more delicate and consequential than dealing with Myanmar’s powerful neighbor and patron, China. Beijing signaled its interest […]

U.S. President Barack Obama at the U.S.-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders summit, Rancho Mirage, Calif., Feb. 16, 2016 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

The growing closeness between the United States and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) sends some very mixed messages. The California venue for last week’s first-ever U.S.-hosted summit with ASEAN heads of state—the Sunnylands Resort at Rancho Mirage—seemed to illustrate the essential confusion: Is the relationship bright and hopeful, or just illusory? Prior to the summit, U.S. State Department officials were at pains to declare that it was “not about China,” which became more difficult to maintain with the revelation, late in the summit’s proceedings, that Beijing had placed surface-to-air missiles on an island in the South China Sea. […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin at a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Moscow, Russia, Feb. 23, 2016 (AP photo by Pavel Golovkin).

Russia’s bold military interventions in both Ukraine and Syria have put Moscow’s geopolitical ambitions back at the center of analysis and debate. Despite last year’s confident claims in Western capitals that Moscow would be unable to sustain its efforts in both countries, there is no indication that the Kremlin plans to alter its policies in 2016. To the contrary, Russian President Vladimir Putin, having decided that core national interests are at stake, has made it clear that he will stay the course. At the same time, however, Russia continues to pay a heavy economic price exacted by international sanctions and […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang at the Presidential Palace, Hanoi, Vietnam, Nov. 6, 2015 (AP photo by Na Son Nguyen).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on the South China Sea territorial disputes and the various claimant countries’ approaches to addressing them. When Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Hanoi early last month, he did so with understandable fanfare and scrutiny. His was the first visit to Vietnam by a Chinese president in a decade. It came just weeks before the annual ASEAN and East Asia Summits, and only a few months ahead of the Vietnamese Communist Party congress to be held in early 2016. Given the timing, observers in China and Vietnam, as well as […]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry with Tajik President Emomali Rahmon at the Palace of Nations, Dushanbe, Tajikistan, Nov. 3, 2015 (Pool photo by Brendan Smialowski via AP).

Farhod makes his living driving a taxi in Gharm, a mountainous region of the former Soviet republic of Tajikistan. During the country’s civil war in the 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the valley formed the principal stronghold of the anti-communist opposition. Farhod lost two of his brothers in the five-year conflict, in which more than 50,000 people died. His leg was amputated after he was wounded fighting government forces. Despite having every reason to hate the current regime of President Emomali Rahmon, who came to power in 1992 soon after the war began, he does not. “President […]

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announces budget revisions, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Jan. 28, 2016 (AP photo by Joshua Paul).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on the impact of falling oil and commodities prices on resource-exporting countries. Last month, Malaysia cut its 2016 growth forecast and slashed spending plans as the economy continues to suffer from falling oil prices. In an email interview, Joshua Kurlantzick, senior fellow for Southeast Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations, discussed Malaysia’s economy and the impact of the commodities slump. WPR: How important are oil and commodities for Malaysia’s economy, and what impact have falling oil and commodities prices had on domestic politics? Joshua Kurlantzick: Oil and commodities […]

Chinese performers participate in a cultural dance at Ditan Park to mark the first day of the Lunar New Year, Beijing, Feb. 8, 2016 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

In this special edition of the Trend Lines podcast, WPR Editor-in-Chief Judah Grunstein and host Peter Dörrie talk about China’s rise as an economic and political power and the implications for Asia and the rest of the world. The discussion coincides with a panel WPR is sponsoring on China’snaval, economic and cyber ambitionsand the implications for the U.S. at the St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs on Feb. 19. Listen:Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant articles on WPR: The Challenge of China’s Bid for Cyber Suzerainty China’s Naval Modernization: Where Is It Headed? Do China’s Global Economic Ambitions Really Threaten […]

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida at a press conference, Tokyo, Jan. 8, 2016 (AP photo by Eugene Hoshiko).

In January, British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon and Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond visited Japan to meet with their Japanese counterparts. Following the meeting, both sides agreed to explore ways to deepen and expand their security cooperation. In an email interview, Edward Schwarck, a research fellow in Asia studies and manager of the Asia Program at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London, discusses the U.K.’s security ties with Asia. WPR: Who are the U.K.’s main security partners in Asia, and how extensive are their security ties? Edward Schwarck: As has been stated on many occasions by British ministers, the […]

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the inaugural ceremony of 'Make in India' week, Mumbai, India, Feb. 13, 2016 (AP photo by Rajanish Kakade).

For more than six decades following India’s independence in 1947, urbanization remained an afterthought for policymakers, who hardly recognized the positive relationship between urban expansion and economic development. It wasn’t until 1984, when Rajiv Gandhi became India’s youngest prime minister and brought with him a new, young brigade of leaders, that those in power began to acknowledge that urbanization could serve India’s economy. Gandhi’s initiatives on urbanization, while new, were nonetheless hesitant. Through the 1990s and the early 2000s, analysts increasingly spoke of India’s “urban turn” and hinted at the beginnings of a serious investment in urban infrastructure and connectivity. […]

Protesters hold posters of Edward Snowden in front of the German parliament, Berlin, Germany, Nov. 18, 2013 (AP photo by Markus Schreiber).

This week on the Trend Lines podcast, WPR Editor-in-Chief Judah Grunstein talks to host Peter Dörrie about the future of the U.S. Navy’s aircraft carriers, President Barack Obama’s nuclear nonproliferation legacy, what declining oil prices mean for Equatorial Guinea’s stability, and other stories from around the world. For the Report, Abraham Newman joins us to explain the politics that led to the nullification of the Safe Harbor agreement between the United States and the European Union and how a new regime to protect digital privacy could be structured. Listen: Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant articles on WPR: What Does […]

A computer displays a message from the Chinese police on the proper use of the Internet at an Internet cafe, Beijing, China, Aug. 19, 2013 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

Editor’s note: This article is one of three briefings on China’s rise and its implications for U.S. regional and global interests, coinciding with an upcoming panel, in collaboration with WPR, at the St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs on Feb. 17-19 in St. Petersburg, Florida. The first, on China’s global economic ambitions, appeared Monday; the second, on China’s naval modernization, appeared Wednesday. The Internet revolution began in the 1990s, when China was still recovering from the damage done during Mao Zedong’s reign and the world was adjusting to the West’s post-Cold War pre-eminence. Under such circumstances, Chinese leaders saw the […]

A book featuring a photo of Chinese President Xi Jinping and other Communist Party officials on the cover at the closed Causeway Bay Bookstore, Hong Kong, Feb. 5, 2016 (AP photo by Kin Cheung).

Gui Minhai, by most accounts, appeared quite happy with his life as a writer and editor in Pattaya, a seedy seaside resort east of Bangkok. Born in China and holding a Swedish passport, he had been living in a condo and working on books for Mighty Current, a Hong Kong-based publishing house he founded that specialized in steamy—and possibly untrue—tell-alls about the private lives and political in-fighting of leaders of China’s Communist Party. He swam daily and apparently wrote at a desk overlooking the blue-green Gulf of Thailand. Then, last November, Gui suddenly vanished. Closed-circuit television recordings from his condo […]

Chinese sailors of the Changbai Shan, a Yuzhao-class amphibious transport dock, Portsmouth, U.K., Jan. 12, 2015 (U.K. Ministry of Defence photo).

Editor’s note: This article is one of three briefings on China’s rise and its implications for U.S. regional and global interests, coinciding with an upcoming panel, in collaboration with WPR, at the St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs on Feb. 17-19 in St. Petersburg, Florida. The first, on China’s global economic ambitions, appeared Monday; the third, on China’s cyber strategy, will appear Friday. The past two years have seen impressive advances in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy’s capabilities. In 2015, China revealed that it had begun building its second aircraft carrier and that it had begun its first submarine […]

Trade delegates after signing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Auckland, New Zealand, Feb. 4, 2016 (SNPA photo by David Rowland via AP).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the potential impact on members’ economies. To be included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which was formally signed last week and now faces national ratification among member states, Vietnam accepted a side agreement outlining various compliance measures for the deal’s labor rights standards. In an email interview, Adam Fforde, professorial fellow at Victoria Institute of Strategic Economic Studies, Victoria University, in Melbourne, Australia, discusses the TPP’s likely impact on Vietnam’s political economy. WPR: What are the expected economic benefits for Vietnam from the TPP, and […]

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during the inaugural meeting of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Beijing, Jan. 16, 2016 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

Editor’s note: This article is one of three briefings on China’s rise and its implications for U.S. regional and global interests, coinciding with an upcoming panel, in collaboration with WPR, at the St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs on Feb. 17-19 in St. Petersburg, Florida. The second, on China’s naval modernization, will appear Wednesday; the third, on China’s cyber strategy, will appear Friday. Over the course of the past decade, China has been steadily laying the foundation of an international financial and monetary system centered on the yuan. While progress was initially slow, it picked up considerable steam in the […]

Delegates raise up their membership cards during the closing ceremony of the Vietnam Communist Party's 12th National Congress, Hanoi, Jan. 28, 2016 (Pool photo by Hoang Dinh Nam).

PHNOM PENH—Conservative forces have strengthened their grip in Vietnam after the ruling Communist Party, late last month, elected its incumbent general-secretary to a second five-year term in the country’s top political office. Analysts say the reappointment of Nguyen Phu Trong, 71, will put a brake on political and economic reforms, but it is unlikely to significantly alter the balance of the country’s crucial relationships with China and the United States. The decision also spelled an end to the ambitions of the reformist Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, who mounted a short-lived challenge for the Community Party’s top post before its […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Chinese President Xi Jinping during the BRICS summit, Ufa, Russia, July 9, 2015 (AP photo by Ivan Sekretarev).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR Editor-in-Chief Judah Grunstein and host Peter Dörrie discuss the impact of El Niño on South America, Iran’s economy after the end of sanctions, recent elections in Taiwan and upcoming elections in Uganda. For the report, we are joined by Miles Kahler, senior fellow for global governance at the Council on Foreign Relations, who explains the increasing influence of emerging economies on the international stage. Listen: Download: MP3 Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant articles on WPR: El Niño Tests Latin America’s Ability to Adapt to Climate Risks After Sanctions, Rouhani’s Economic Agenda Faces Challenges […]

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