A man sprays water in an attempt to extinguish bush fires on a peat land, Siak, Indonesia, March 17, 2014 (AP photo by Rony Muharrman).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on countries’ risk exposure, contribution and response to climate change. Earlier this year, Indonesia called on the palm oil sector to play a larger role in the fight against climate change, including by stopping its slash-and-burn deforestation practices. In an email interview, T. Nirarta Samadhi, the Indonesia country director for the World Resources Institute, discusses Indonesia’s response to climate change. WPR: What is Indonesia’s risk exposure to climate change, what effects of climate change are already apparent, and what sorts of mitigation approaches will it have to adopt or […]

Soldiers from the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy watch as the USS Blue Ridge arrives at a port in Shanghai, May 6, 2016 (AP photo).

The ruling earlier this month by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in favor of the Philippines in its dispute with China over some of the islands in the South China Sea has spurred a wealth of commentary, forecasts and questions. Three main narratives have emerged. The first centers on the respect of international law that is enshrined in the liberal order. Some observers have stressed that the international tribunal’s ruling strengthens the liberal order, while others see Beijing’s rejection of it as a test or even a threat to the liberal order itself. Many Western policymakers favor […]

People leave notes at Gangnam Station to mourn the stabbing death of a 23-year-old woman by a male attacker, Seoul, South Korea, May 22, 2016 (AFLO photo by Lee Jae-Won via AP).

Last month, two South Korean police officers assigned to protect high school students in Busan, the country’s second-largest city, were found to have had sex with several of them. But neither was punished. Instead, they both resigned and were set up to receive full retirement benefits. The former police chief who broke the scandal on Facebook commented, “This is what happens when you dispatch young, good-looking police officers to schools filled with teenage girls.” News of this story broke as South Korea was in an uproar after a young woman was stabbed to death in a bathroom near Seoul’s central […]

Afghan men carry the coffin of a relative who died in a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, July 25, 2016 (AP photos by Rahmat Gul).

The most recent suicide bombing in Kabul over the weekend, claimed by the so-called Islamic State, contrasts with the near absence of debate over Afghanistan in the U.S. presidential campaign to date. President Barack Obama’s decision to slow down the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the country may be enough to delay a difficult debate about abandoning the Afghans. But as the bombing highlights, the presence of U.S. and coalition forces is clearly not sufficient to prevent the violence that plagues Afghanistan. The next president will have a chance to revalidate or reposition U.S. engagement there. The larger challenge is […]

Indian paramilitary soldiers and Kashmiri protesters during clashes in Srinagar, Kashmir, July 25, 2016 (AP photo by Mukhtar Khan).

This past April, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi travelled to Jammu and Kashmir, the disputed state administered by India but claimed by Pakistan. He sought to strike a conciliatory tone in the restive, Muslim-majority region, where residents resent the constant presence and heavy-handed actions of Indian security forces, and where some want to become independent or part of Pakistan. In a public address, Modi, echoing the words of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the last Indian prime minister from Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), called for an embrace of three essential pillars to help Kashmir overcome its challenges: humanity, democracy and Kashmiriyat, […]

The Shenzhou 9 spacecraft rocket launches from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, Jiuquan, China, June 16, 2012 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on a range of countries’ space priorities and programs. Last month, China successfully recovered an experimental probe that landed in Mongolia after being launched from a next-generation rocket, the Long March 7. The launch keeps China on target to put its second space station into orbit later this year. In an email interview, Vincent Sabathier, president of Sabathier Consulting, discusses China’s space program. WPR: What are China’s space capabilities, in terms of its space-industrial complex, and who are its major international partners, in terms of space diplomacy and commercial […]

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a TV interview at his party headquarters, Tokyo, July 10, 2016 (AP photo by Shizuo Kambayashi).

Earlier this month, Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) marched to an unsurprising, if not significant, election victory in the upper house of Japan’s parliament, the Diet. The LDP and its coalition partner, the Komeito Party, scored 70 of the House of Councilors’ 121 contested seats and now control a combined 146 of its 242 seats overall. Their victory, coupled with the LDP-Komeito coalition’s significant majority in the Diet’s lower house, ensures that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will have firm legislative control at least until the fall of 2018, when his term as president of the LDP is set […]

A welcome ceremony for Adm. John Richardson, chief of U.S. naval operations, at the Chinese navy's headquarters, Beijing, July 18, 2016 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

On July 12, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague issued a resounding ruling that was three years in the making. In early 2013, the Philippines brought a case to the tribunal against China, contesting many of Beijing’s maritime claims in the South China Sea. The Philippines asked the tribunal to reject China’s claims based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which both Beijing and Manila have signed. The Philippines was widely expected to prevail in the judgment, despite the fact that China has refused to participate in the tribunal’s proceedings and had […]

Chinese soldiers board a U.S. Coast Guard boat as part of a Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise, Pacific Ocean, July 16, 2014 (U.S Coast Guard photo by Manda M. Emery).

While America’s conflict with the so-called Islamic State draws the most attention these days, no security issue is more important than the difficult relationship between the United States and China. The Islamic State is a strategic nuisance that will eventually flame out and fade, but serious conflict between the U.S. and China could alter the course of history. Since Richard Nixon’s opening to China in the 1970s, the relationship between the two sides has been complex, with cooperation on economic concerns and persistent tension in the political realm. More recently, security issues have become particularly difficult, as China has used […]

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Thail Prime Minister and junta chief Prayuth Chan-ocha before their meeting, New Delhi, June 17, 2016 (AP photo by Saurabh Das)

Last month, the head of the Thai junta, Prayut Chan-o-cha, visited India for the first time since he seized power in a military coup in May 2014. Though India and Thailand have long been diplomatic partners, the visit saw an uptick in their cooperation as they prepare to commemorate the 70th anniversary of their relationship next year. India and Thailand have long made a commitment to enhancing their bilateral ties, recognizing the value of the relationship both for its own sake as well as part of their regional strategies, whether India’s current “Look East” policy or its corollary, Thailand’s “Look […]

President Barack Obama making a statement on Afghanistan from the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Washington, July 6, 2016 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

Last week, President Barack Obama announced his intention to slow the final stages of the drawdown of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Combined with new rules of engagement that allow U.S. forces to engage more easily with the Taliban, the move ensures that the longest war in American history will continue after his presidency comes to an end in 6 months. Obama’s announcement that the U.S. would leave 8,400 troops stationed in Afghanistan through the end of his presidency, rather than the previously planned 5,500, was hardly unexpected. The military has been pushing to extend the mission for several months now, […]

Myanmar's foreign minister and state counselor, Aung San Suu Kyi, with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha during a ceremony, Bangkok, Thailand, June 24, 2016 (AP photo by Jorge Silva).

Myanmar’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, was in Thailand in late June for talks with Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on developing economic ties and cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In an email interview, Mely Caballero-Anthony, an associate professor the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, discusses Myanmar’s relations with its ASEAN neighbors. WPR: What efforts has Myanmar taken since its political opening to build ties with its ASEAN neighbors, and how effective has its outreach been? Mely Caballero-Anthony: One of Myanmar’s most significant achievements since the start of its political reforms […]

Moscow's new financial district, known as Moscow City, June 23, 2016 (Photo by Flickr user Syuqor Aizzat, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license).

In late 2013, in a highly publicized address to the Chinese Communist Party’s plenum, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that his newly elected government would unleash the private sector after decades of gradual economic reforms that left many of China’s biggest industries in the hands of state-owned giants. Market forces, rather than the state, would now play a “decisive role” in the Chinese economy, Xi declared, a line touted by Chinese and foreign media. The declaration represented a major shift: State-owned enterprises consumed the majority of lending from China’s four big banks, and dominate the list of the largest corporations […]

Protesters outside of the Chinese Consulate before the Hague tribunal announced its ruling on the South China Sea dispute, Makati city, Philippines, July 12, 2016 (AP photo by Bullit Marquez).

In a landmark ruling Tuesday, an international tribunal in The Hague rejected China’s extensive claims to sovereignty over the waters of the South China Sea, saying they had no legal basis. The tribunal also ruled that Beijing had violated the Philippines’ maritime rights with its construction of artificial islands. The Philippines brought the case to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2013 after China seized a reef over which both countries claimed sovereignty. The five-member tribunal ruled that China’s historical claims to waters within the so-called nine-dash line, which covers most of the South China Sea, are invalid since they […]

An advertisement urging U.K.-based start-ups to move to Berlin, London, July 5, 2016 (AP photo by Matt Dunham).

The result of the United Kingdom’s referendum on its membership in the European Union was a shock, even to leaders of the “leave” campaign, exposing a lack of planning for the new British relationship with Europe. Amid the turbulence of Brexit, less attention has been paid to its geopolitical effects. But on the key issues of Russia, Syria, China and trade, Brexit will have direct and significant impacts. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s purported desire for Britain to leave the EU was a debating point during the referendum campaign. While Putin’s public statements on the outcome suggest mild approval, private sources […]

Details of the uniform of China's peacekeeping infantry battalion of the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS), Juba, South Sudan, Feb. 27, 2015 (U.N. photo by JC McIlwaine).

Can anyone save South Sudan? The country, which collapsed into civil war in 2013, is stumbling into a new cycle of violence. Clashes in the capital, Juba, have claimed hundreds of lives in recent days. The United Nations Security Council has called for calm, and the U.S., which played a leading role in ushering in South Sudan’s independence five years ago, has condemned the violence. Yet the outbreak of fighting poses an especially serious dilemma for another power with significant economic and political interests at stake: China. Beijing is playing an increasing military and diplomatic role across Africa, as I […]

New Orleans residents push a small boat and a bicycle through floodwaters in the Ninth Ward, New Orleans, La., Sept. 5, 2005 (AP photo by Dave Martin).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and host Peter Dörrie discuss the challenges of building sustainable peace in former conflict zones. For the Report, Ilan Noy joins us to talk about preparing for and recovering from natural disasters. Listen:Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant Articles on WPR: Why This Time’s Different for the Border Clashes Between Ethiopia and Eritrea A Year After Algiers Accord, Flexibility Is the Key to Durable Peace in Mali Instability the Norm in Central African Republic as Rebel Violence Surges New Ways of Defining Success in Post-Disaster Recovery Trend Lines is produced, […]

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