A Nepali Muslim boy prays on the second day of Ramadan at a mosque in Kathmandu, Nepal, Aug. 2, 2011 (AP photo by Niranjan Shrestha).

The one-year anniversary of an alarming episode of anti-Muslim violence in Nepal focused attention on the community’s continued struggle to assert itself. Despite recent progress in promoting religious pluralism, many Muslims remain marginalized, neglected in politics and invisible in conceptions of national identity. The villages of Narainapur Rural Municipality, in Nepal’s lowland Terai plains, are poor, even by the standards of one of the poorest countries in South Asia. The area does not yet have electricity, and electrical poles installed by the government stand unused. On a typical day, the main road is quiet, with just a handful of vehicles […]

Pro-democracy protesters carry pictures of Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam during a rally, Hong Kong, Jan. 1, 2018 (AP photo by Kin Cheung).

On Jan. 27, officials in Hong Kong disqualified Agnes Chow, a young pro-democracy activist, from running for office in a March by-election. The move sparked public outrage, coming less than two weeks after a Hong Kong court sentenced another activist, Joshua Wong, to jail for a second time for his role in the 2014 pro-democracy protests, known as the Umbrella Movement. In an email interview, Stephan Ortmann, an assistant professor of comparative politics at City University of Hong Kong, discusses the evolution of the pro-democracy movement and what steps the central government in Beijing and the government in Hong Kong […]

Vietnam’s defense minister, Ngo Xuan Lich, left, and U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, second from right, view a photo exhibition on Vietnam-U.S. military cooperation, Hanoi, Vietnam, Jan. 25, 2018 (Pool photo via AP).

Over the past five years, no country in Southeast Asia has challenged China’s regional strategic ambitions more assertively than Vietnam. Repeatedly standing up to Beijing’s aims in the South China Sea, Vietnam has attempted to allow foreign oil exploration in disputed maritime areas and, like China, built up the submerged reefs, small islets and banks it occupies and added installations, though on a much smaller scale. It has, at times, tried to work with its neighbors, such as the Philippines under former President Benigno Aquino III, to highlight what it sees as China’s illegal behavior in the South China Sea. […]

Visitors hang ribbons and unification flags on a fence near the border with North Korea, Paju, South Korea, Jan. 18, 2018 (AP photo by Ahn Young-joon).

At some point, the brutal and parasitic Kim family dictatorship in North Korea must end, but it is impossible to tell whether it will happen sooner or later. Many predictions that the regime would fall have proven false, but it simply cannot last forever. Whether by internal conflict or by provoking a war with South Korea and the United States, the Kim regime eventually will go. Stressing that “Korean unification is a Korean affair,” South Korean President Moon Jae-in is convinced that whenever reunification comes, it should be under the leadership of the democratic and economically vigorous south, rather than […]

Symbolic pipes with a sign that reads "Turkmenistan—China" on exhibit at the Bagtyyarlyk natural gas field, Turkmenistan, Aug. 29, 2007 (AP photo by Alexander Vershinin).

Continued attempts at developing a natural gas pipeline linking Central Asian exporters with markets in Europe have fallen apart, leaving the region dependent on exports to either Russia or China. While the United States has helped countries in Central Asia balance geopolitically, some now believe the U.S. will drift from its engagement in the region as part of the Trump administration’s “America First” foreign policy. Last week, Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, became the first Central Asian head of state to visit President Donald Trump in the White House, in a likely effort to shore up ties. In an email interview, […]

Maria Ressa, CEO of Rappler, an online news agency, addresses a rally of journalists and supporters during a protest against the recent revocation of its registration, northeast of Manila, Philippines, Jan. 19, 2018 (AP photo by Bullit Marquez).

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has gained international notoriety for his crass language and ruthless anti-drug campaign, which has resulted in thousands of Filipinos being assassinated by police and vigilantes, their bodies dumped in the streets without the benefit of a trial or any semblance of due process. But the populist, and very popular, leader is quickly becoming known for another frontal assault on the practices of a free and open democracy by relentlessly attacking his critics in the media. Until Duterte came to power in 2016, the media environment in the Philippines was relatively free and diverse. Duterte has steadily […]

Pakistani police officers stand guard to stop Shiite Muslims from advancing toward the presidency to protest twin bombings in Parachinar, in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Islamabad, June 28, 2017 (AP photo by Anjum Naveed).

Earlier this month, the United States suspended security assistance to Pakistan, following through on a threat from President Donald Trump. The move was meant to signify Washington’s frustration with what it describes as Islamabad’s refusal to crack down on sanctuaries used by terrorists that target American soldiers across the border in Afghanistan. Current tensions in U.S.-Pakistan relations—which flow from the aid freeze and from the Trump administration’s new Afghanistan strategy, and which have spawned increasingly angry rhetoric on both sides—all boil down to a fundamental dispute over this sanctuary issue. It’s a dispute unlikely to be resolved anytime soon. That’s […]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sarah, are greeted by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, New Delhi, Jan. 14 2018 (AP photo).

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to India last week came at a tense time, or so it seemed. In late December, India voted in favor of a resolution at the United Nations General Assembly rejecting the Trump administration’s unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Then, in early January, just two weeks before Netanyahu’s trip, India’s Ministry of Defense scrapped a $500 million deal with Israeli defense contractor Rafael to import Spike anti-tank missiles and later produce them under a license in India. But Netanyahu’s government downplayed New Delhi’s vote at the U.N. before his six-day visit, and in […]

Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua and Philippine Armed Forces Chief Gen. Eduardo Ano inspect Chinese-made CQ-A5b assault rifles, Quezon city, Philippines, Oct. 5, 2017 (AP photo by Bullit Marquez).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series about the production and trade of arms around the world. China, which in recent years has become the world’s third-largest supplier of arms after the United States and Russia, continues to expand its arms exports thanks largely to its relatively cheap weapons and military equipment. But that has also raised questions about how arms sales fit into China’s geopolitical ambitions, especially in Asia. In an email interview, Sam Roggeveen, a senior fellow at the Lowy Institute in Australia and an expert on the Chinese military, discusses the growth of China’s […]

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev attends a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Moscow, Russia, April 5, 2017 (AP photo by Pavel Golovkin).

Last week, Abdulla Aripov, the prime minister of Uzbekistan, and Emomali Rahmon, the president of Tajikistan, agreed to allow their citizens to visit each other’s countries without a visa for up to 30 days, removing restrictions put in place between the adversarial regimes back in 2001. The move is the latest sign that Uzbekistan, one of the world’s most closed countries, is slowly opening up. President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has spearheaded this opening since he replaced Islam Karimov, who ruled the country for 27 years before he died in September 2016. Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly in New York […]

The Golden Lampstand Church, which was demolished on Jan. 9, in the industrial city of Linfen, China, Dec. 6, 2009 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series about religious minorities in various countries around the world. Last week, authorities in China demolished a prominent Christian megachurch in Linfen, an industrial city in one of China’s poorest regions. State police used dynamite and excavators to raze the church, which had a congregation of more than 50,000. It was the latest sign of a growing state backlash against religion in China, where the Communist Party is officially atheist and the practice of organized religion is tightly controlled. In an email interview, Yang Fenggang, a professor of sociology and director […]

Trinh Xuan Thanh, the former chairman of a construction arm of state energy giant PetroVietnam, appears in court, Hanoi, Vietnam, Jan. 8, 2018 (Vietnam News Agency photo by Doan Tan via AP).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series about corruption in various countries around the world. On Jan. 8, a major corruption trial began in Vietnam that could result in the first-ever conviction of a former member of the powerful Politburo of the Communist Party, Dinh La Thang. The trial is part of a wider crackdown on corruption that has swept up nearly two dozen former officials at Vietnam’s state energy company, PetroVietnam, among other state-owned enterprises. In an email interview, Carl Thayer, emeritus professor of politics at the University of New South Wales Canberra in Australia, discusses […]

U.S. President Donald Trump reaches out to shake hands with British Prime Minister Theresa May during the U.N. General Assembly, New York, Sept. 20, 2017 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

When U.S President Donald Trump announced that he was canceling his trip to the United Kingdom, the public explanation was his disinterest in presiding over the opening of the mammoth new American Embassy, one of the ceremonial events planned for the visit. But it could also be seen as an unexpected gesture of consideration for British Prime Minister Theresa May, who had extended the official invitation from the queen to visit before a series of awkward incidents in the bilateral relationship. Ever since the two leaders held hands outside the Oval Office barely a week after Trump’s inauguration a year […]

Pakistani religious students protest against U.S. President Donald Trump after the U.S. decision to suspend military aid to Islamabad, Lahore, Pakistan, Jan. 5, 2018 (AP photo by K.M. Chaudary).

Soon after 9/11, President George W. Bush recognized that the United States needed Pakistan’s cooperation to eradicate the training camps in Afghanistan where al-Qaida planned the attacks. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf declared that his nation was a full partner in the new “war on terror.” A few years later, Bush designated Pakistan a major non-NATO ally. Since 2002, Pakistan has received more than $33 billion in economic and security assistance from the United States, while the American military greatly expanded cooperation with its Pakistani counterpart. But this was always a deeply troubled partnership. Pakistan, especially the politically dominant Pakistani military, […]

Visitors talk to staff members at a Google stand during the Global Mobile Internet Conference, Beijing, April 28, 2017 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, and associate editor, Omar H. Rahman, discuss the sharpening debate over immigration in the United States and around the world and the Trump administration’s immigration policies. For the Report, Zach Montague talks with Peter Dörrie about the challenges facing foreign tech companies trying to operate in China, without compromising their ethics—or their trade secrets. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up for our free newsletter to get a taste of our uncompromising analysis before […]

Confiscated ivory is displayed at a chemical waste treatment center, Hong Kong, May 15, 2014 (AP photo by Kin Cheung).

On Jan. 1, China implemented a ban on the domestic sale and processing of ivory, following through on a plan it had announced more than a year ago. The move should effectively cut off one of the major centers of demand that has incentivized the poaching of African elephants. In an email interview, Grace Gabriel, the regional Asia director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, explains why China decided to execute the ban, the likely impact on poaching and the remaining obstacles and risks to ending the ivory trade. WPR: Why has the Chinese government decided to implement a […]

The Indian Air Force Air Warrior drill team rehearses for India’s Air Force Day parade, Hindon, India, Oct. 6, 2016 (AP photo by Altaf Qadri).

Earlier this month, India’s Defense Ministry canceled a $500 million deal to buy Spike anti-tank guided missiles from Israeli defense contractor Rafael. According to reporting by Bloomberg, the decision was made in order to give an Indian state-run company “an opportunity to design, develop and manufacture its own anti-tank missile.” The cancellation adds to India’s long-standing reputation for having an unreliable and inefficient defense procurement process. In an email interview, Saurav Jha, an author and commentator on energy and security affairs and founder of Delhi Defence Review, explains what is wrong with the process, the reforms India has implemented and […]

Showing 1 - 17 of 241 2 Last