Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung delivers a speech next to General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong during the opening ceremony of the Communist Party of Vietnam's 12th Congress, Hanoi, Vietnam, Jan. 21, 2016 (Pool Photo by Hoang Dinh Nam via AP).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and host Peter Dörrie discuss the recent violence in Nagorno-Karabakh, the U.N.’s cease-fire monitoring capabilities, and West Africa’s regional anti-Boko Haram force. For the Report, David Brown joins us to discuss leadership struggles, prospects for economic growth, and the fight against corruption in Vietnam. Listen: Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant articles from WPR: Why Nagorno-Karabakh’s Conflict Turned Hot—and Could Again It’s Time for the U.N. to Refresh Its Neglected Cease-Fire Monitoring Skills West Africa’s Regional Force Against Boko Haram Is a Political Prop Can Vietnam’s New Leadership Deliver on […]

South Korean President Park Geun-hye delivers a speech at Gyeryongdae, South Korea's main military compound, Gyeryong, March 4, 2016 (Pool photo by Chung Sung-Jun via AP).

South Korea’s ruling conservative Saenuri Party is looking for answers after a crushing loss earlier this month in legislative elections. Led by President Park Geun-hye, the Saenuri Party managed to win only 122 of the National Assembly’s 300 seats, falling far short of the majority that many predicted. The opposition fared well, with the liberal Minjoo Party winning 123 seats and the left-wing People’s Party winning 38 seats. The National Assembly is now effectively deadlocked, with opposition parties controlling Park’s ability to pass legislation. Her party’s loss is a stunning reversal and will reshape the political landscape in South Korea […]

Migrants behind a fence at the Nizip refugee camp, Gaziantep province, southeastern Turkey, April 23, 2016 (AP photo by Lefteris Pitarakis).

There has been no shortage of criticism of Europe’s response to the worsening refugee crisis that first escalated in 2015. In January, Denmark passed a law authorizing the government to seize assets from asylum-seekers. Poland and Slovakia announced they would only accept Christian refugees from Syria. And a recent deal between the European Union and Turkey has come under fire over questions about its legality. The deal allows Greece to return “all new irregular migrants” to Turkey; in exchange, for every migrant settled in Turkey, one Syrian already in Turkey will be resettled in the EU. Immediately after the deal’s […]

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Iraqi Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeidi during a welcome ceremony at the Ministry of Defense, Baghdad, Iraq, April 18, 2016 (AP photo).

On Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama announced plans to deploy an additional 250 special operations forces to Syria. The increase will bring the total number of U.S. ground troops there to 300, and comes on the heels of Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s announcement that 200 more troops are also being sent to Iraq. Both deployments are part of the continuing U.S. war against the so-called Islamic State (ISIS), but as the number of U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria has continued to rise, it has raised fears that the United States is being sucked into another military quagmire in the […]

Vietnam's Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc pay tribute to Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi, Vietnam, March 21, 2016 (AP photo by Tran Van Minh).

For most of 2015, it looked as though Nguyen Tan Dung, Vietnam’s prime minister since 2006, would succeed in his audacious bid to succeed Nguyen Phu Trong as the head of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV). In the end, however, he was outmaneuvered in skirmishes over party rules, and undone by a whispering campaign that painted him as a dangerous opportunist. The contest was over even before the party’s 12th Congress convened on Jan. 21, 2016. Contrary to the dominant narrative in international media coverage, the showdown in Hanoi had very little to do with how to handle ties […]

An F-35A at Mountain Home Air Force Base to conduct operational testing, Idaho, Feb. 8, 2016 (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Connor J. Marth).

Intellectual property: It sounds boring, but its protection has become one of the cornerstones of U.S. economic policy. And now, it may have an impact on how the Pentagon thinks about the future of technology. In recent years, the big push for international intellectual property protection came about through the concerted action of a group of powerful, well-connected American corporations. These corporations had determined that they could make a great deal of money—or at least stop the loss of a great deal of money—by putting crucial intellectual property protections into international law. Washington has embraced this idea, making intellectual property […]

A protester holds a placard during a rally against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Tokyo, Japan, Apr. 22, 2014 (AP photo by Shizuo Kambayashi).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the potential impact on members’ economies. After strong earthquakes in northern Japan over the weekend, the Diet, Japan’s parliament, decided to delay ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in order to focus on disaster relief and recovery. In an email interview, Yorizumi Watanabe, a professor in the faculty of policy management at Keio University, discussed the benefits and drawbacks of TPP membership for Japan. WPR: What are the expected economic benefits and potential downsides for Japan from the TPP, and who are the expected […]

Chinese paramilitary policemen march outside the Bank of China headquarters, Beijing, Feb. 25, 2016 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

The recent publication of the so-called Panama Papers—a trove of 11 million leaked confidential documents from the Mossack Fonseca law firm in Panama City—and the earlier publication of what might be called the Offshore Papers—2.5 million documents linked to the Singapore-based Portcullis law firm and the British Virgin Islands-based Commonwealth Trust Ltd.—have revealed a large number of offshore shell companies owned or linked to individuals and companies in either China or Hong Kong. Although there are legitimate uses for such shell companies, their secretive nature, combined with reports of vast outflows of capital from China, create suspicions that these companies […]

Candles are lit to commemorate the second anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan, Manila, Nov. 7, 2015 (AP photo by Bullit Marquez).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and host Peter Dörrie discuss domestic politics in Bangladesh; Iran and Saudi Arabia’s battle for influence in Africa; and the challenges facing the global middle class. For the Report, Prashanth Parameswaran joins us to talk about corruption and reform in the Philippines under President Benigno Aquino III and what lies ahead for the next administration after May elections. Listen:Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant Articles on WPR: Opposition Leader Zia Latest Victim of Bangladesh’s Zero-Sum Politics Saudi Competition Gets in the Way of Iran’s Outreach in Africa Is the Global […]

Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah and Queen Saleha attend the Gala Dinner at the 27th ASEAN Summit, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Nov. 21, 2015 (AP photo by Vincent Thian).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the potential impact on members’ economies. WPR: What are the expected economic benefits and potential downsides for Brunei from the TPP? Joshua Kurlantzick: Brunei’s economy, heavily dependent on petroleum and petroleum products, needs to become more diversified over the next two to three decades. That is absolutely critical for Brunei to survive as a high-income country that offers extremely lavish benefits for its citizens. The low price of oil is already taking an enormous toll. The government may be implementing harsher versions of Shariah […]

Protesters march towards the Australian Embassy building, Jakarta, Indonesia, March 24, 2016 (AP photo by Dita Alangkara).

On Monday, East Timor asked the United Nations to begin the process of establishing a permanent maritime boundary with Australia in the Timor Sea. In an email interview, Clinton Fernandes, a professor at the University of New South Wales Canberra, discussed Australia’s ties with East Timor and the border dispute. WPR: What is the background to the current agreement on maritime boundaries between Australia and East Timor, and what changes is East Timor seeking to make to the agreement? Clinton Fernandes: In 1972, Australia negotiated a maritime boundary with Indonesia that granted it the lion’s share of oil and gas […]

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, sixth from left, during the announcement of the senatorial slate for the 2016 elections, Quezon city, Philippines Oct. 12, 2015 (AP photo by Aaron Favila).

The Philippines’ upcoming presidential election in May comes at a critical time for Southeast Asia’s second-most-populous country and fifth-largest economy. After decades of anemic growth rates, the Philippines seems to have begun to turn a corner over the past six years under reform-minded President Benigno Aquino III. Yet as Filipinos prepare to go to the polls, it is unclear if the next government will be able to both sustain the progress made thus far as well as confront challenges old and new in the political, economic and security realms. Breaking With the Past Although the Philippines has been a democracy […]

President Barack Obama and the head of the U.S. Pacific Command, Adm. Harry Harris, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Honolulu, Hawaii, Dec. 19, 2015 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

The World War I-era French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau once famously declared that war is too important to be left to the generals. The same, it appears, can be said of admirals. Last week, the Navy Times ran a blockbuster story revealing that the top U.S. military commander in the Pacific, Adm. Harry Harris, and the combatant command he leads, U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), are not happy with the White House’s approach to dealing with China’s adventurism in the South China Sea. According to the Navy Times, Harris is “arguing behind closed doors for a more confrontational approach to counter […]

Bangladesh’s former prime minister and opposition leader, Khaleda Zia, at a protest rally, Dhaka, Bangladesh, Jan. 5, 2016 (AP photo by A.M. Ahad).

On April 5, following the injunction of a judge in Dhaka, Khaleda Zia, the former Bangladeshi prime minister and current leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), showed up in court accused of responsibility for a lethal arson attack last year. Prosecutors claimed that Zia instigated the attack on a bus, which left 12 people dead, by calling on her supporters to enforce a transportation blockade as part of protests against the government of the present prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, of the Awami League. After her appearance in court, Zia almost immediately obtained bail. To no surprise, her party […]

Chinese men next to a billboard with the word "Development" in the central business district, Beijing, China, Dec. 11, 2014 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

The rise of a global middle class has been one of globalization’s great victories, but the surge in income and consumption in the developing world may be more of a temporary anomaly than a long-term trajectory. Some developing countries have ridden a commodities super-cycle to middle-class status, but most never made it or were far too late with the investments that might have converted the boon into more sustainable growth paths. Commodities are cyclical, and the global middle class may prove to be so as well. From 2001 to 2011, there was an unprecedented surge in the number of people […]

Czech President Milos Zeman and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, at the Prague Castle, Czech Republic, March 29, 2016 (AP photo by Petr David Josek).

Last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the Czech Republic, where he signed more than 30 deals worth nearly $4 billion. In an email interview, Richard Turcsanyi, the deputy director of the Institute for Asian Studies, Bratislava, discussed Chinese investment in Central and Eastern Europe. WPR: How extensive is Chinese investment in Central and Eastern Europe, and what factors are driving China’s investment strategy there? Richard Turcsanyi: To begin with, it is extremely difficult to establish unequivocally the amount of investments from one country in another’s economy. Various statistical sources notoriously show differences. Putting together the numbers from a range […]

The Panama City skyline, Panama, April 4, 2016 (AP photo by Arnulfo Franco).

AMSTERDAM—In the hours that followed the explosive revelations known as the Panama Papers, reverberations from the giant data drop were felt around the globe. After all, the 11.5 million documents from the Panamanian firm Mossack Fonseca, leaked anonymously to International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, implicate rich and powerful people from practically every country on Earth as holders of offshore shell companies that are often used for tax evasion purposes. But while the power from the leaks to discredit prominent individuals extended across practically every nation and every system of government, reaction to the revelations was far from uniform. The differences […]

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