Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, July 19, 2017 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

When Chinese President Xi Jinping met privately in Beijing on July 18 with Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, he floated the idea of three-way talks in which the Chinese government would attempt to mediate between Israeli and Palestinian leaders. At a time when it seems the United States under President Donald Trump is disengaging from global leadership, Xi’s proposal hints at the possibility of reshaping the political landscape of the Middle East. Can China actually supplant the U.S. as the primary external diplomatic force in the region? It is a question that loomed over Xi’s posturing even […]

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen delivers a speech during an offshore anti-terrorism drill outside Keelung harbor, New Taipei City, June 10, 2017 (AP photo by Chiang Ying-ying).

Late last month, the Trump administration approved its first package of arms sales to Taiwan. For Taipei, this welcome news was long overdue, but not nearly enough to stop its slide toward international isolation. Taiwan recently lost Panama, one of its few remaining diplomatic allies, to China, when the Panamanian government severed its diplomatic ties to Taipei and officially recognized Beijing instead. The tiny African island nation of Sao Tome and Principe made the same decision in late December. Other countries are likely to follow Panama, as China continues to woo Taiwan’s remaining friends with economic incentives. China still views […]

LGBT rights campaigners act out electric shock treatment as part of a protest, Beijing, July 31, 2014 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on LGBT rights and discrimination in various countries around the world. The recent court ruling paving the way for same-sex marriage in Taiwan prompted speculation about similar measures elsewhere in Asia. It was unclear, though, whether the ruling would help or hinder the same-sex marriage cause in China. Still, Chinese activists have been scoring victories of their own, among them increased cultural visibility and heightened popular awareness of the harms caused by “conversion therapy.” On Thursday, a court in the city of Guiyang ruled in favor of a transgender […]

Congress Party supporters stand on a police barricade as they try to march toward the Indian parliament during a protest against the Goods and Services Tax, New Delhi, July 18, 2017 (AP photo by Altaf Qadri).

Since assuming office in May 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched a range of new economic programs in an attempt to boost India’s prosperity and deliver on an electoral promise to reignite economic growth. Yet two initiatives central to that goal have proven controversial, to say the least. The first, late last year, involved making two high-value currency notes—the 500 rupee note, equal to about $7.50, and the 1,000 rupee note, about $15—no longer legal tender, a policy known as demonetization. As a result of this sweeping move, close to 86 percent of all the circulating currency in India […]

Nepal's new prime minister, Sher Bahadur Deuba, waves to the media at the Parliament House in Kathmandu after his election, June 6, 2017 (AP photo by Niranjan Shrestha).

KATHMANDU, Nepal—It’s not easy to be elected as Nepal’s prime minister. It’s even more difficult to remain in the post for more than a year. When Sher Bahadur Deuba—the 71-year-old president of Nepali Congress, the largest party in the parliament—took the job in May, he became the country’s 10th premier in the past 11 years. This isn’t Deuba’s first exposure to the hazards of the country’s top political position. He was also prime minister—briefly—in 2004. Back then, having sacrificed a male goat before entering the prime minister’s official residence, he was nevertheless sent to a detention center following a bloodless […]

Philippine National Police hang flags in a part of the war-torn city of Marawi ahead of Independence Day celebrations, June 11, 2017 (NurPhoto by Richard Atrero de Guzman via AP).

JAKARTA, Indonesia—Two months after a coalition of extremist groups affiliated with the self-proclaimed Islamic State swept into the city of Marawi in the southern Philippines, provoking a large-scale military siege to retake it, the militants continue to maintain control of sections of the city. Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been evacuated from the charred and bombed-out city, a testament to the power of the militants to challenge an underequipped and inadequately trained Philippine military. Since the siege began, President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly trumpeted the army’s incipient victory. Now it looks likely that Duterte will deliver his State of […]

President Donald Trump meets with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in before the Northeast Asia Security Dinner at the U.S. Consulate General in Hamburg, Germany, July 6, 2017 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

In his first six months in office, President Donald Trump has appeared to reorder the foundations of U.S. foreign policy, alienated many traditional U.S. allies, remade the Republican Party and generally dominated American public discourse with his wild pronouncements and seemingly endless scandals. Outside the United States, however, it is a different story. In Asia especially, Trump’s impact, though substantial, has been more marginal than in North America or Europe, where Trump has created a massive divide between Washington and the governments of major American partners like Germany and Mexico. Overall, policymakers in Washington and across Asia have come away […]

Khaltmaa Battulga addresses his supporters after claiming victory in the runoff presidential election, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, July 8, 2017 (Kyodo photo via AP).

Just moments after he was sworn in as Mongolia’s fifth democratically elected president earlier this week, Khaltmaa Battulga turned his attention to international affairs. Having just won the second-round runoff, the business tycoon-turned-president met with Russian, Chinese and Japanese delegations in Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar. Diplomacy is one of the most important responsibilities assigned to the Mongolian president by the country’s constitution. Managing foreign relations with Mongolia’s immediate neighbors, while also building on his predecessor’s legacy of heightened visibility beyond Northeast Asia, will be a central challenge for Battulga. Battulga succeeded Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, who served two terms as president and whose […]

School children receive a free midday meal at a government school, Jammu, India, Aug. 22, 2013 (AP photo by Channi Anand).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on social welfare policies in various countries around the world. Food subsidies have long been a critical component of the social safety net in India. In 2017-2018, such subsidies will cost the government more than $20 billion. While some policymakers and experts have pushed for alternatives in promoting food security, proposed changes are highly contentious politically. In an email interview, Kavery Ganguly, an independent consultant on agriculture policy based in Mumbai, explains what the current system does well, where it could be improved and the obstacles to reform. WPR: […]

Soldiers gather in Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, to celebrate the July 4 test launch of North Korea’s first intercontinental ballistic missile, July 6, 2017 (AP photo by Jon Chol Jin).

Earlier this week North Korea tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile. While Pyongyang already has an extensive arsenal of medium-range missiles, most experts believed it would be several more years before it could field a weapon that could hit the United States. They were wrong. While the missile launch did not alter the essence of the U.S.-North Korea nuclear crisis, it did add urgency. Now Americans must relearn the lexicon of nuclear strategy they largely forgot after the end of the Cold War and use it to understand North Korea’s intentions and objectives. Of the two adversaries, North Korea has […]

Cambodia's prime minister, Hun Sen, delivers a speech to supporters, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, June 2, 2017 (AP photo by Heng Sinith).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and associate editor Karina Piser discuss Donald Trump’s second trip to Europe and his much-anticipated meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. For the Report, David Hutt talks with Peter Dörrie about Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s tactics to hold onto power and the state of the country’s political opposition in advance of next year’s general elections. If you’d like to sign up for the beta version of WPR’s Africa-only subscription, you can do so here. It’s free for the first two months. And if you like what you hear on […]

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attend a conference with Israeli and Indian CEOs in Tel Aviv, Israel, July 6, 2017 (AP photo by Oded Balilty).

When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Israel this week, he marked a major turning point in global diplomacy. Like other pivotal moments in world affairs, the first visit to Israel by an Indian prime minister was the culmination of a long process. But it underscores a series of geopolitical trends that have reshaped the Middle East, making it almost unrecognizable from barely a decade ago and presaging more far-reaching changes ahead. Modi was welcomed in Israel with an effusiveness reserved for few global leaders. At the arrival ceremony, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told him, “We’ve been waiting for […]

Supporters of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) march ahead of communal elections, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, June 2, 2017 (AP photo by Heng Sinith).

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia—“It’s easy to understand Cambodian politics,” said Vanna, a 45-year-old shop owner in Phnom Penh, as he waited for the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) to begin its last campaign rally before the June 4 local elections. Some 90,000 candidates would be competing to represent the country’s 1,646 communes in the voting two days later. “The government does not care about us poor people. It only cares about power.” That morning, the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), which has been in power for four decades, held a much larger and better-organized rally in Phnom Penh, the capital, […]