Sri Lankan ethnic Tamil women sit holding placards with portraits of their missing relatives as they protest outside a railway station in Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 6, 2015 (AP photo by Eranga Jayawardena).

JAFFNA, Sri Lanka—More than eight years have passed since Sri Lanka declared the end of its nearly three-decade long civil war. Since then, the small island-nation in the Indian Ocean has made significant progress. The country has remained mostly peaceful; tourists have started arriving in droves; and investors, especially from China, have started pouring billions into Sri Lanka, given its strategic location. And yet Sri Lanka’s march toward a stable, peaceful and prosperous future is threatened by two closely related problems: its hesitant approach to dealing with the events of the past, and its reluctance to tackle emerging tensions. In […]

Vietnam’s trade minister, Tran Tuan Anh, left, and Japan’s minister of economic revitalization, Toshimitsu Motegi, shake hands at a press conference, Danang, Vietnam, Nov. 11, 2017 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

On the sidelines of the leaders’ summit for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, or APEC, earlier this month in Vietnam, the remaining members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership—the mega-regional free trade pact that includes Japan, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore and Brunei—agreed on most elements of a deal to salvage it in the form of a new, so-called TPP-11. In late January, in one of the first moves after taking office as U.S. president, Donald Trump followed through on his campaign promise to withdraw the United States from what had been Barack Obama’s signature economic achievement […]

People cheer as they watch a news broadcast announcing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's order to test-fire a newly developed inter-continental ballistic missile, Pyongyang, North Korea, Nov. 29, 2017 (AP photo by Jon Chol Jin).

After a two-month lull in activity, North Korea on Tuesday successfully tested its largest and most powerful missile to date, which it claims puts the entire U.S. mainland in range. Washington responded by calling for all countries to sever diplomatic and economic ties with Pyongyang, and vowed to further ramp up sanctions. Amid fears that the U.S. and North Korea are inching closer to war, WPR has collected 10 articles examining what options remain on the table—and if any can lead to a way out of the crisis. Purchase this special report as a Kindle e-book. Kim Builds an Arsenal […]

Peruvian President Pedro Kuczynski welcomes Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to the opening session of the 2016 APEC summit, Lima, Peru, Nov. 20, 2016 (AP photo by Martin Mejia).

On Nov. 10, Australia and Peru concluded a free trade agreement while leaders of both countries were attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam. Free trade negotiations between the two countries began in May following the U.S. decision to abandon the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the major multilateral free trade deal that involved 11 other Pacific Rim countries, including Australia and Peru. In an email interview, John Edwards, a nonresident fellow at the Lowy Institute and adjunct professor with the John Curtin Institute of Public Policy at Curtin University, explains why Australia and Peru moved forward with their own free trade […]

Canisters containing missiles are displayed in Kim Il Sung Square, Pyongyang, North Korea, April 12, 2017 (AP photo by Wong Maye-E).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series about the production and trade of arms around the world. Earlier this year, a ship from North Korea laden with 30,000 rocket-propelled grenades was seized off the coast of Egypt. The United Nations called it the “largest seizure of ammunition in the history of sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.” In an email interview, Andrew C. Winner, chair of the Strategic and Operational Research Department and a professor of strategic studies at the Naval War College, discusses the nature of North Korea’s arms industry and efforts to curb […]

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is greeted by well-wishers after a press conference held on the sidelines of the APEC forum, Danang, Vietnam, Nov. 11, 2017 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

After President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership in January, the trade deal’s remaining members resolved to carry on without their biggest partner. Earlier this month, at a meeting in Vietnam, they agreed to new core terms, despite the last minute vacillation by Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau. While Canada’s continued hang-ups about the TPP have stalled a final agreement, many experts believe the U.S. departure from the deal may actually put Canada in a better position than before. In an email interview, Dan Ciuriak, a senior fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation […]

U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte at an ASEAN summit dinner at the SMX Convention Center, Nov. 12, 2017 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

During his marathon visit to Asia, the longest by a U.S. president in over 25 years, Donald Trump at least demonstrated to American allies and partners that he is not going to ignore the region. Following up on the Obama administration’s promise to regularly send high-level U.S. officials to major Asian summits to demonstrate Washington’s regional commitment, Trump attended the summits of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. But he cut short his trip at the last minute and skipped the East Asia Summit’s plenary session, which he had added to his itinerary earlier. […]

U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping after attending a business event at the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, China, Nov. 9, 2017 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

I suspect I speak for many close observers of international affairs when I express my frustration with the sheer repetitiveness of trying to decipher signal from noise amid the chaos and uncertainty that surrounds U.S. President Donald Trump. Trump’s lengthy jaunt through Asia is the latest case in point. On the one hand, he managed to reassure many observers by staying “on-script” through much of the trip, although defining success as avoiding any public displays of pique—rather than securing any concrete deliverables—is a sign of how low the bar has now been set for Trump. On the other, he did […]

South Korean President Moon Jae-in is greeted by his Indonesian counterpart Joko Widodo during a meeting, Bogor, Indonesia, Nov. 9, 2017 (AP photo by Dita Alangkara).

On Nov. 9, South Korean President Moon Jae-in unveiled his “New Southern Policy,” aimed at deepening relations with the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN. Moon’s announcement, made on a state visit to Indonesia, came amid a flurry of diplomatic activity in the region ahead of the latest ASEAN summit in the Philippines and U.S. President Donald Trump’s trip to Asia. In an email interview, Scott Snyder, a senior fellow for Korea studies and director of the program on U.S.-Korea policy at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of the forthcoming book South Korea at […]

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, right, poses with U.S. President Donald Trump and other leaders during the ASEAN-U.S. Summit, Manila, Philippines, Nov. 13, 2017 (Photo by Manan Vatsyayana via AP).

Even as Donald Trump wraps up his first trip to Asia as U.S. president this week, deep uncertainty remains over what the broad contours of his administration’s Asia policy will actually end up being. Though U.S.-Singapore ties themselves are already on a solid footing and the city-state remains a key U.S. strategic partner, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s visit to Washington last month, ahead of Trump’s Asia tour, reinforced the point that this important relationship is not immune to that uncertainty, with both sides trying to manage their relations in the context of their domestic and foreign policies. Both […]

A Houthi sniper keeps watch over a rally to mark the third anniversary of the Houthis’ takeover of the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, Sept. 21, 2017 (AP photo by Hani Mohammed).

Now that the self-described Islamic State has all but lost its caliphate in Iraq and Syria, leaving the term “state” as a relic in its name, many people may be breathing a sigh of relief, anticipating a reduction in the gruesome violence that inundated social media and occupied global strategists in recent years. But those hopes could be dashed. There is a high probability that even more violence is ahead. The drums of war are pounding in the Middle East and beyond, and the chance that a new war will start in the near future is far from negligible. For […]

U.S. President Donald Trump listens to South Korean President Moon Jae-in during a joint news conference at the Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, Nov. 7, 2017 (AP photo Andrew Harnik).

North Korea looms large on U.S. President Donald Trump’s agenda during his nearly two weeks in Asia. Compared to discussions on trade and economics, and Trump’s handling of his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping and a now-likely one with Russian President Vladimir Putin, North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats have the gravest consequence for regional and global security. With Trump, the North Korea crisis appears to be playing out on several, sometimes-contradictory levels. His national security officials hold out proposals for diplomatic contact, or military options short of full-scale war, while the president opts for brash messages to intimidate […]

Police officers stand guard near a court where former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was responding to corruption charges, Islamabad, Nov. 7, 2017 (AP photo by Anjum Naveed).

Since Nawaz Sharif’s ouster as prime minister in August, Pakistan has been abuzz with talk of strained civil-military relations. The situation materially worsened when Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, the army’s chief of staff, publicly lectured the government last month on expanding tax collection to improve the economy. A very public war of words between the government and military ensued, with the interior minister even suggesting on Facebook that Pakistan was on the cusp of another coup d’état, before walking back his comments. While ties between the elected civilian government and the armed forces have frayed recently, Sharif’s removal itself did […]

A Japanese businessman walks past an advertisement of a Japanese suit retailer in Tokyo, March 19, 2014 (AP photo by Eugene Hoshiko).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series about workers’ rights in various countries around the world. With an aging population and an extremely low birthrate, Japan is facing its most acute labor shortage in more than 40 years. But it has also come to rely increasingly on a “nonregular” labor force, such as part-time and temporary workers from staffing agencies, who are easier to hire and fire and paid less. This has meant poorer working conditions for most Japanese workers, including for full-time employees who are working longer hours. In an email interview, Hiro Watanabe, a […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping, front row center, applauds during the closing ceremony of the 19th Party Congress, Beijing, Oct. 24, 2017 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

On Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump will embark on his first official trip to Asia, visiting five countries over 12 days. The itinerary includes a stop in China, where President Xi Jinping has emerged from October’s Communist Party Congress stronger than ever. In his second term, Xi is expected to continue his quest to make Beijing Asia’s undisputed seat of power, while extending his own power at home. Xi’s interactions with Trump will be closely watched this month. WPR has compiled 10 articles detailing Xi’s vision for China and what it means for the region. Purchase this special report as […]

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters and Prime Minister-designate Jacinda Ardern shake hands after signing a coalition agreement, Wellington, Oct. 24, 2017 (AP photo by Nick Perry).

After nearly a month of uncertainty following New Zealand’s inconclusive Sept. 23 parliamentary elections, a coalition government was finally formed on Oct. 19 between the Labour party, the Greens and the nationalist New Zealand First party. Though Labour’s recently installed leader Jacinda Ardern will become prime minister, New Zealand First’s “kingmaker” role has led many observers to wonder if the government’s policies will reflect a more populist platform. In an email interview, Stephen Levine, professor of political science and international relations at Victoria University of Wellington, discusses the results of the elections and what the new coalition means for New […]

U.S. President Donald Trump gestures as he and Chinese President Xi Jinping walk together at Mar-a-Lago, Palm Beach, Florida, April 7, 2017 (AP photo by Alex Brandon).

U.S. President Donald Trump will embark on his first presidential tour of Asia on Friday, where he will visit Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines. The trip kicks off just 10 days after Chinese President Xi Jinping emerged triumphantly from the Communist Party of China’s 19th Party Congress, having solidified his rule over the party and articulated a strategic vision for China’s emergence as a global power. All eyes will be on the U.S. president to see whether he is able to reassure America’s anxious allies and partners, as well as the nonaligned countries of the region, of […]