Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, at the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, China, Oct. 20, 2016 (Pool photo by Wu Hong via AP).

Since an international tribunal in The Hague ruled in July that China’s claims to the South China Sea had no legal basis and thus violated the Philippines’ maritime rights, claimants to the waters have focused on lowering the temperature on the ongoing disputes. Though this is a welcome respite from years of tensions and has yielded some progress, formidable challenges remain in translating these gains into sustainable solutions for the complex disagreements between China and five other claimant countries—Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. Before the tribunal’s verdict, many observers had worried that a lopsided legal outcome for either […]

Women laborers take a break at an agriculture market, Ahmadabad, India, Nov. 23, 2016 (AP photo by Ajit Solanki).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on the status of women’s rights and gender equality in various countries around the globe. India’s minister for women, Maneka Gandhi, recently declared that the country’s rape problem was exaggerated, and that the Indian media’s overemphasis on rape was negatively affecting tourism. In an email interview, Nandita Bhatla, a senior technical specialist at the International Center for Research on Women, discussed women’s rights in India. WPR: What is the current status of women’s rights and gender equality in India? Nandita Bhatla: Achieving women’s rights and gender equality continues to […]

A man reads a newspaper announcing Donald Trump's election victory, Beijing, China, Nov. 10, 2016 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

European and Asian political analysts are reacting quite differently to Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election. Many European public policy intellectuals are deeply worried about the new team in power in Washington and they see the election outcome as a sign of the decline of the liberal international order. Some distinguished Asian thought leaders, in contrast, see an opportunity to build a new order—one in which Asian powers will be more prominent in setting the rules. In any event, the consensus seems to be that the Trump win will result in the further redistribution of power to regional […]

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 Summit, Hangzhou, China, Sept. 4, 2016 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

In September, a number of media outlets in Japan published stories about the Japanese politician Renho Murata, who was running for the leadership of the opposition Democratic Party. The attention centered on whether Renho, as she is known, who was born in Japan to a Taiwanese father and Japanese mother, had fully renounced her Taiwanese nationality as required by the Japanese Nationality Law. In an interview with the Huffington Post at the time, Renho decried all the fuss. “I was born and brought up in Japan,” she commented. “What can I say except that I’m Japanese? Quite honestly, I think […]

Kyrgyzstan's president, Almazbek Atambayev, at a Commonwealth of Independent States summit, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Sept. 16, 2016 (Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP).

Kyrgyzstan will hold a referendum on Dec. 11 on proposed reforms to its constitution that would give more power to the prime minister. Opponents of the reforms fear they are a way for President Almazbek Atambayev to maintain his grip on power and crack down on human rights. In an email interview, Medet Tiulegenov, an assistant professor at the American University of Central Asia, discusses Kyrgyzstan’s constitutional referendum. WPR: What changes would the Dec. 11 referendum make to Kyrgyzstan’s constitution, and what are President Almazbek Atambayev’s political objectives in seeking them? Medet Tiulegenov: The proposed changes largely concern issues of […]

A Chinese investor monitors prices at a brokerage, Beijing, Feb. 29, 2016 (AP Photo by Ng Han Guan).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and senior editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss Barack Obama’s final trip to Europe as U.S. president. For the Report, Damien Ma talks with Peter Dörrie about Chinese President Xi Jinping’s reform agenda for China and the Communist Party. Listen:Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant Articles on WPR: The Risks of Re-Election Fever in Latin America Will Geert Wilders’ Rise Change the Face of the Netherlands? Can Xi Pivot From China’s Disrupter-in-Chief to Reformer-in-Chief? Trend Lines is produced and edited by Peter Dörrie, a freelance journalist and analyst focusing on security and […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Hangzhou, China, Sept. 5, 2016 (AP photo by Etienne Oliveau).

Earlier this month, German Finance Minister Sigmar Gabriel spoke frankly with his Chinese counterpart, Gao Hucheng, about his concerns over Chinese takeovers of German firms, while also dismissing rumors of a serious trade dispute. In an email interview, Björn Conrad, the vice president of the Mercator Institute for China Studies, discusses Germany’s trade tensions with China. WPR: What is the current size and scope of trade relations between Germany and China, and how important is bilateral trade to both economies? Björn Conrad: China remains one of Germany’s most important economic partners. Overall trade volume makes China Germany’s third-largest trading partner […]

Protesters at a rally calling for South Korean President Park Geun-hye to step down, Seoul, Nov. 16, 2016 (AP photo by Ahn Young-joon).

“I will repay the hopes and prayers you’ve placed in each and every lucky bag,” Park Geun-hye promised a quiet crowd in Seoul on a February morning in 2013. South Korea’s newly elected first female president was referring to the bokjumeoni—colorful silk pouches thought to bring good luck, South Korea’s version of a four-leaf clover—that decorated the tree behind her in Gwanghwamun Square. Some of the pouches were embroidered with the Chinese characters for “fortune” or “wealth,” while others had images of animals on them. When the inaugural ceremony began, the tree was wrapped in a giant bokjumeoni that opened […]

A picture of Chinese President Xi Jinping on display at a military museum, Beijing, Oct. 24, 2016 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

Standing at about 6 feet tall, Chinese President Xi Jinping cuts an imposing figure, especially compared to the famously diminutive Deng Xiaoping, the transformative leader who, after Mao Zedong’s death in 1976, guided China through monumental reforms from 1978 until his formal retirement in 1989. Xi’s baritone and precise Mandarin, surprisingly uncommon for former top Chinese leaders, projects added self-assuredness and gravitas. This aura of confidence seems only appropriate for someone of Xi’s political stock: a princeling descended from communist revolutionaries who were present at the creation of modern China under Mao. Perhaps that is why many commentators have deigned […]

Myanmarese police officers patrol along the border fence between Myanmar and Bangladesh, Maungdaw, Rakhine state, Myanmar, Oct. 14, 2016 (AP photo by Thein Zaw).

Over the past month, the situation in western Myanmar’s Rakhine state, which has been extremely volatile since an eruption of violence in the early 2010s, has deteriorated once again. Following an attack on police outposts near the border with Bangladesh in early October, which killed at least nine policemen, Rakhine has been on edge. Some human rights groups have reported that the security forces and police, as well as individuals, are striking back at the state’s ethnic Rohingya, since militant Rohingya Muslims were believed to be behind the killings of the police. Although the security forces, which are dominated by […]

President-elect Donald Trump at an election night rally, New York, Nov. 9, 2016 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

Donald Trump’s surprise presidential election victory was a result, in part, of his success tapping into growing populist sentiment across much of the United States. That follows a global trend that has seen populist leaders come to power in Latin America, Europe and Asia. For all the attention on populism, though, what is it? Jan-Werner Müller explained it this way in a December 2014 article for WPR on the threat populism poses to liberal democracy: Contrary to conventional wisdom, populism is not simply a matter of irresponsible policies or appeals to the downtrodden. Populism is an anti-elitist but, crucially, also […]

The central bank in Georgetown, Guyana, Aug. 29, 2016 (AP photo by Bert Wilkinson).

The small developing nations dotting the Caribbean have recently become sites for massive amounts of foreign aid from China. Large Chinese-built infrastructure projects and millions in investments have taken their place next to sun-splashed tourists, sprawling resorts and bustling cruise ports. Earlier this year, thousands of Chinese workers flocked to Jamaica to complete a $730 million mega-highway that cuts through the heart of the island, shaving hours off typical tourist commutes. In Barbados, Chinese officials have pledged tens of millions of dollars to restore gymnasiums, renovate historic sites, and dock a goodwill hospital ship in the capital, Bridgetown, to provide […]

Uzbek men gather to pay their last respects during the funeral of President Islam Karimov, Samarkand, Uzbekistan, Sept. 3, 2016 (AP photo).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and senior editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss the African exodus from the International Criminal Court, Japan’s relationship with the Philippines, and the U.S. presidential election. For the Report, Sarah Kendzior joins Peter Dörrie to talk about Uzbekistan after the death of President Islam Karimov. Listen:Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant Articles on WPR: An African Exodus From the ICC Shows How the Court Sealed Its Own Fate Can Japan Play the Mediator Amid Strained U.S.-Philippine Ties? The Populist Revolt That Propelled Trump Won’t Fade Away If He Loses The Death of […]

The Philippines' DIWATA-1 satellite is deployed from the International Space Station, April 27, 2016 (NASA photo).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on a range of countries’ space priorities and programs. Last week, two bills were introduced in the Philippine Senate and House of Representatives that would establish a space development program and a Philippine Space Agency. The legislation has been well received, but it is unknown when lawmakers will vote on the bills. In an email interview, Rogel Mari Sese, a program leader at the National SPACE Development Program, the government agency working to establish a space agency, discusses the Philippines’ space program. WPR: What are the Philippines’ space capabilities, […]

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Goa, India, Oct. 15, 2016 (AP photo by Manish Swarup).

Last month’s summit between India and Russia in Goa was held against the backdrop of New Delhi signing a logistics pact with the United States and Moscow conducting its first-ever joint military exercise with Pakistan. Perhaps to dispel the notion that the push-and-pull of geopolitics was straining the otherwise deeply rooted India-Russia relationship—this was the 17th annual summit—both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Vladimir Putin chose to reiterate the “special and privileged” nature of ties. They matched their rhetoric by sealing a range of energy and defense deals that reflect their long-term strategic commitments, at a time when Russia’s […]

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, left, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meeting at Abe's official residence in Tokyo, Oct. 26, 2016  (AP photo by Issei Kato).

Last week, Rodrigo Duterte, the combative and mercurial new president of the Philippines, made high-profile visits to China and Japan, which have the two largest economies in Asia. In Beijing, Duterte offered alarming comments about his desire to “separate” from the United States, the Philippines’ sole military ally and security guarantor. In his typical off-the-cuff manner, he publicly mused that it would be preferable to join in some trilateral relationship with China and Russia, rather than focus on Manila’s relationship with Washington. China, looking to seize on Duterte’s vitriol against the U.S., offered him a massive suite of soft loans, […]

Mourners watch the funeral procession of President Islam Karimov, Samarkand, Uzbekistan, Sept. 3, 2016 (AP photo).

On Aug. 26, Uzbekistan’s state media abruptly announced that President Islam Karimov had passed a new resolution: This year, in addition to the annual Independence Day festivities on Sept. 1, the following day, Sept. 2, would also be a national holiday. According to the Uzbek media, the extra day off was necessary “for the creation of favorable conditions for the rest of the population, and the rational use of working time.” It is unlikely that Karimov actually signed off on this resolution, though. By Aug. 26, Uzbekistan’s first and only president was brain-dead, having had a massive stoke, as confirmed […]