Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, left, gestures to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as they review the troops during the welcoming ceremony at the Malacanang Palace grounds, Manila, Jan. 12, 2017 (AP Photo by Bullit Marquez).

While several foreign leaders, including U.S. President Donald Trump, were paying their first visit to the Philippines under President Rodrigo Duterte in November for this year’s ASEAN Summit, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was making his second trip there in under a year. And it came just a few weeks after Duterte’s own high-profile visit to Tokyo. Japan has emerged as the Philippines’ most robust bilateral relationship under Duterte’s presidency so far—so much so that he has begun calling this a “golden age” in their strategic partnership. But even with that progress and optimism, there are still key strategic questions […]

People wait holding flags for a welcome ceremony with President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, Nov. 9, 2017 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

Employing an adversarial tone that surprised many observers, the White House’s newly unveiled National Security Strategy described China as a “revisionist power” that “actively competes” against the United States and its allies and partners. It accused China of trying to “shift the regional balance in its favor” and “displace the United States in the Indo-Pacific region.” The strategy, the first released by President Donald Trump since taking office, also declared that China seeks to shape a world “antithetical” to U.S. values and interests, and painted China’s expanding economic and diplomatic influence in a decidedly negative light, deploying terms like “extractive” […]

Laotian Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith is greeted by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, Dec. 1, 2016 (Pool photo via AP).

When Laos’ National Assembly ratified the appointment of a new president and prime minister to lead the closed, one-party communist state in early 2016, most analysts viewed the political changes in Vientiane as signaling a shift away from its much larger and influential neighbor, China. Laos, it seemed, was making a concerted attempt to balance relations more equally with its other neighbors. Yet two years on, China’s influence in its impoverished southern neighbor has only grown. A controversial railway project funded by Beijing is moving forward, and President Xi Jinping made a high-profile state visit in November, touting Laos as […]

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, chats with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during a welcome ceremony held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Dec. 4, 2017 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

Earlier this month, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau traveled to Beijing and met with his Chinese counterpart, Li Keqiang, to discuss enhanced trade relations. Talks on a potential free trade agreement failed to advance, but they agreed to continue preliminary discussions. In an email interview, Stewart Beck, president and chief executive of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, discusses the nature of economic ties between Canada and China, the prospects for a free trade agreement in the future, and why Canada is looking to diversify its options as NAFTA’s fate remains up in the air. WRP: Canada and China are […]

A protester splashes red paint on a picture of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte during a rally, Manila, Philippines, Dec. 7, 2017 (AP photo by Aaron Favila).

The rise of populist leaders and parties in Europe and the United States over the past two years has reshaped the political landscape from Budapest to Washington. Challenging elites as corrupt and disconnected from common concerns, these populists claim to derive their legitimacy from the supposed will of the people and usually use their influence to blame some “other” for the country’s ills. They have tried to upend post-Cold War norms on everything from free trade to the integration of Europe, raising fears in the West about the strength of the rule of law and even democracy itself. But this […]

A protester holds a poster during a rally outside the Australian Embassy, Jakarta, Indonesia, March 24, 2016 (AP photo by Dita Alangkara).

Despite announcing a breakthrough in their protracted negotiations over a maritime boundary in August, Australia and East Timor have yet to finalize an agreement that would allow them to move forward on the joint development of an important natural gas field. The delay is in part due to the difficulties of conducting a trilateral negotiation involving the two governments as well as private interests. In an email interview, Bec Strating, a lecturer in the department of politics and philosophy at La Trobe University in Australia focusing on Indonesia and East Timor, which is also known as Timor-Leste, explains the background […]

A Nepalese man casts his vote during the legislative elections in Chautara, Sindupalchowk, Nepal, Nov. 26, 2017 (AP photo by Niranjan Shrestha).

KATHMANDU, Nepal—Scarred by a civil war in the 1990s, and sapped by constitutional crises in the decade after, Nepal is finally facing some prospect of electoral democracy and constitutional stability. On Dec. 7, it successfully concluded elections for national and state legislatures, implementing the most important and challenging aspects of its 2015 constitution, which was adopted despite sustained opposition from some ethnic minority groups. The elections were a landmark moment for a Nepali state experimenting with the devolution of power at municipal, state and federal levels all at once and for the first time since the formation of the Kingdom […]

Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour and U. S. Ambassador Nikki Haley confer before a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Dec. 8, 2017 (AP photo by Richard Drew).

The United Nations is a slow, imperfect and often unsuccessful peacemaker. We should celebrate that. Last week, U.N. officials were grappling with three crises that have each been on the organization’s agenda for over half a century. On Tuesday, Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman flew to North Korea to call for “open channels” of diplomatic communication with Pyongyang to avoid a nuclear confrontation. His visit came just over 70 years after the U.N. General Assembly first set up an international commission to facilitate the reunification of the northern and southern halves of the country, a dream that remains as […]

A couple of migrant workers prepare to leave their apartment ahead of an eviction deadline in the outskirts of Beijing, China, Nov. 27, 2017 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

In late November, after a building fire killed 19 migrant workers in a shantytown on the southern outskirts of Beijing, the city government began forcibly evicting thousands of migrants before razing entire neighborhoods to the ground. The evictions have sparked an outcry from within China and raised questions about the country’s urbanization policies. In an email interview, Mark Frazier, a professor of politics and academic director of the India China Institute at The New School in New York, explains what is driving the evictions and how they fit into China’s broader urbanization policies. WPR: Why is the Beijing city government […]

Congress party vice president Rahul Gandhi with senior party leaders arrives to file his nomination papers at the party headquarters, New Delhi, India, Dec. 4, 2017 (AP photo by Manish Swarup).

On Dec. 4, Rahul Gandhi, the scion of India’s dynastic Gandhi-Nehru family, submitted forms to take over the leadership of the Indian National Congress party from his mother, Sonia Gandhi. Later this month, he is set to become the sixth member of his family to head the party. Since suffering a defeat in the 2014 elections to the Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, Congress’ popularity has fallen to the lowest point in its long and storied history. In an email interview, Sumit Ganguly, a professor of political science and Tagore Chair in Indian Cultures and Civilizations at Indiana University, Bloomington, […]

Sri Lankan Tamil activists observe a moment of silence near a makeshift monument where thousands were killed in fighting between the army and Tamil Tiger rebels, Mullivaikkal, Sri Lanka, May 18, 2015 (AP photo by Eranga Jayawardena).

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka—For an outsider trying to unravel the complexities of Sri Lanka’s postwar challenges, the country presents countless tangled and unexpected threads. Among the surprises is that the most unlikely of countries, a nation half a world away—one that on the surface has very little in common with Sri Lanka—is playing an important role in guiding Sri Lanka forward. Colombia, the South American nation that just a year ago signed a peace agreement with rebels to end its own lengthy war, is lending its knowledge and expertise to help Sri Lanka tread a path toward peace and stability. The […]

Visitors walk past a chart showing China’s soaring GDP since 2012 and a photo of Chinese President Xi Jinping at an exhibition highlighting China’s achievements under Xi’s leadership, Beijing, Oct. 19, 2017 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

Little is expected from the World Trade Organization’s 11th ministerial conference next week in Argentina. U.S. President Donald Trump’s hostility to multilateral agreements is a serious impediment, and American trade officials engaged in preliminary talks in Geneva have said they do not expect, nor want, any negotiated agreements to come out of the meeting in Buenos Aires. This is despite the fact that several items on the WTO’s agenda, including e-commerce, constraints on trade-distorting agricultural policies and constraints on fishing subsidies, have been U.S. priorities in the past. By contrast, China has signaled throughout this year that it supports open […]

Supporters of Pakistan's Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah party celebrate after Law Minister Zahid Hamid's resignation, Islamabad, Pakistan, Nov. 27, 2017 (AP photo by Anjum Naveed).

On Nov. 27, after weeks of unrest in and around Islamabad, Pakistan’s government signed an agreement with Islamist protesters giving in to their demands for the resignation of the country’s embattled law minister, Zahid Hamid. The government’s concession to the protesters, and the need for the military leadership to mediate the affair, has raised serious questions about the state of Pakistan’s democracy and the power of Islamist groups. In an email interview, Shehzad Qazi, a nonresident fellow at the Center for Global Policy, explains what was driving the turmoil and what the outcome says about Pakistan’s struggling political system. WPR: […]

An anti-war protester wears a mask showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a demonstration against nuclear weapons, Berlin, Germany, Nov. 18, 2017 (AP photo by Michael Sohn).

Progress in reducing the spread and use of weapons of mass destruction is never linear. But these days, there seem to be more steps backward than forward. From the failure to stop North Korea from becoming the world’s ninth nuclear power to the tragically incomplete diplomatic work to rid Syria of chemical weapons, the efforts to advance global norms to reduce the threats from weapons of mass destruction are falling short. Granting the Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which advocated for the new nuclear disarmament treaty that 122 countries voted for at the United […]