U.S. President Donald Trump chats with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, Nov. 9, 2017 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

Ever since Chinese President Xi Jinping failed to name an obvious successor to the Communist Party of China’s Politburo Standing Committee at its five-yearly congress last year, observers have suspected he might harbor ambitions for extending his grip on power beyond the two five-year terms allowed by the constitution. Yesterday, the party announced it would abolish those presidential term limits, clearing the way for Xi to continue in office indefinitely and suggesting that the era of collective leadership ushered in by Deng Xiaopeng is drawing to a close. The move comes at a moment of significant soul-searching among China-watchers in […]

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani holds the hands of Indian President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a ceremonial reception, New Delhi, India, Feb. 17, 2018 (AP photo by Manish Swarup).

On Feb. 17, during a meeting in New Delhi, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed nine new bilateral agreements, including an 18-month lease of part of the Iranian port of Chabahar, near the Pakistan border, to India for an $85 million development project. Modi said the port deal would help expand “the centuries-old bilateral relationship.” In an email interview, Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, professor in Global Thought and Comparative Philosophies at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and the recent author of “Psycho-nationalism: Global Thought, Iranian Imaginations,” explains the significance of the port deal, […]

North Korea’s Hwang Chung Gum and South Korea’s Won Yun-jong carry the flag of Korean unification during the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Feb. 9, 2018 (AP photo by Vadim Ghirda).

As the athletes marched in for the closing ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics on Sunday, it was hard to find the blue-and-white Korean unification flag. Rather than marching under that flag and in matching white uniforms, like they had for the opening ceremony, athletes from the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea waved their respective national flags and wore separate outfits. Was the spirit of unity from two weeks ago already gone? The diplomatic work to get the North Koreans to the Olympics as part of a single Korean delegation should not be confused with […]

A computer display shows a visualization of phishing and fraudulent phone calls across China during the 4th China Internet Security Conference, Beijing, Aug. 16, 2016 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

TAIPEI, Taiwan—In early May 2016, a police raid on a suspected money-laundering operation in the Taiwanese city of Taichung instead uncovered a large and wide-ranging telecommunications scam. Based in the Dominican Republic, the operation spanned the world, stretching from Taiwan to China and the United States. According to Capt. Lee Chi-shun, an investigator with the Criminal Investigation Bureau of Taiwan’s National Police Administration who was heavily involved in the case, the small shop raided by local police turned out to be a data center where money that had been fleeced from victims of telecom fraud was transferred onward to bank […]

A doctor checks the X-ray of a man receiving treatment at the Swaroop Rani Medical college hospital, Allahabad, India, Feb. 1, 2018 (AP photo by Rajesh Kumar Singh).

On Feb. 1, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled a massive new health care program, already dubbed “Modicare,” aimed at providing free coverage to half a billion people. Yet details over when and how the program will be rolled out are still being formulated, with serious questions over how it will be funded. In an email interview, Indrani Gupta, a professor and head of the Health Policy Research Unit of the Institute of Economic Growth in New Delhi, discusses the ambitious new policy, India’s current health care system and the challenges ahead. WPR: What is driving the government’s ambitious plan […]

A rooftop is covered with solar panels at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, New York, Feb. 14, 2017 (AP photo by Mark Lennihan).

There is a future in which wind turbines, twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty, produce electricity across the United States. Because of their height, these turbines would generate power from stronger, more constant gusts, making wind power a viable option in all 50 states, instead of primarily those in the nation’s plains where there are steady, lower winds. In this same future, inexpensive solar cells would coat windows, turning office buildings and homes into self-reliant electricity “prosumers.” Best of all, these technologies would be American innovations. The United States could breathe a sigh of relief after China briefly […]

Britain's then-Prime Minister David Cameron and Chinese President Xi Jinping at The Plough pub, Casden, England, Oct. 22, 2015 (AP Photo by Kirsty Wigglesworth).

When he was British prime minister, David Cameron promised that his country would become China’s “best partner” in the West. His recent decision to accept a leadership role in a new joint Sino-British investment fund—part of China’s ambitious Belt and Road development initiative, no less—shows that, even after his retirement from frontline politics, Cameron is still dedicated to making good on that commitment. Last month, as part of his new job, he had a personal meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, where he expressed hope for a new “golden era” of U.K.-China relations, echoing what he said when […]

Sri Lankan police officers in protective costumes prepare to destroy a haul of seized cocaine at an industrial facility, Katunayaka, Sri Lanka, Jan. 15, 2018 (AP photo by Eranga Jayawardena).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing series about national drug policies in various countries around the world. On Jan. 18, authorities in Sri Lanka destroyed $108 million worth of cocaine seized from a single shipment in the port of Colombo, which is a growing hub for international drug trafficking. While Sri Lanka does not appear to be a final destination for many of the drugs transiting the country, drug abuse has spiked in recent years, prompting the government to launch ambitious measures aimed at mitigating, and possibly eliminating, drug use by 2020. In an email interview, Sunimalee […]

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe poses with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono during their meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Jan. 5, 2018 (AP photo by Eranga Jayawardena).

Last month, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono traveled to Sri Lanka, where he announced Tokyo’s plans to invest in several infrastructure projects, including a natural gas terminal. It was the first visit to Sri Lanka by a Japanese foreign minister in 15 years. Following similar Japanese investment projects in India and elsewhere in the region, the Sri Lanka trip appeared to be the latest sign of a growing strategy aimed at countering China’s massive Belt and Road Initiative, also known as One Belt, One Road. In an email interview, Shihoko Goto, the senior Northeast Asia associate at the Wilson Center’s […]

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, President Donald Trump and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis participate in a cabinet meeting at the White House, Washington D.C., Jan. 10, 2018 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

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 three international crises faced by the Trump administration that are now coming to a head. In Syria, North Korea and Venezuela, the administration will soon have to take decisions and actions with important consequences. 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 some of our uncompromising analysis delivered twice a week straight to your inbox. The newsletter offers a free and timely […]

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe stand in front of an Australian-built Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicle, Funabashi, Japan, Jan. 18, 2018 (AP photo by Eugene Hoshiko).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series about the production and trade of arms around the world. In late January, Australia’s prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, unveiled a plan to make his country one of the world’s top 10 arms exporters. Currently, Australia exports about $1.5 billion to $2.5 billion in defense equipment annually, a figure that Turnbull said his government is seeking to increase significantly in the coming decade. In an email interview, Greg Colton, a research fellow in the International Security Program at the Lowy Institute in Sydney, explains what is behind the government’s strategy and […]

U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis speaks during a press conference with South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo, Seoul, South Korea, Oct. 28, 2017 (Pool photo via AP by Jung Yeon-Je).

Over the past few months, the Trump administration has reportedly been mulling a limited, preventive military strike against North Korea, what has been called the “bloody nose” strategy. Pushed hardest by President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, it is based on the belief that if North Korea has the ability to strike the United States with nuclear weapons, Washington would be deterred from intervening on the Korean Peninsula, thus allowing Pyongyang to step up its aggression against South Korea and other nearby nations. The only way to prevent this scenario, the thinking goes, is a military […]

Special Forces rehearse after the launching of a joint patrol between Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines at the Subang military airbase, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, Oct. 12, 2017 (AP photo by Vincent Thian).

Late last month, Japan and Malaysia concluded a weeklong joint coast guard exercise focused on combating piracy in Southeast Asia. Despite a recent decline, piracy is still a threat across the region and cooperation between states—including some, like Japan, that are outside the region—is seen as an important mechanism for mitigating it. In an email interview, Lucio Blanco Pitlo III, a foreign affairs and security analyst on Asia-Pacific issues and a former lecturer at the School of Social Sciences at Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines, discusses the state of piracy in Southeast Asia and what kinds of multilateral […]

A worker walks on the site of the China-financed reconstruction of a railway line, Belgrade, Serbia, Nov. 28, 2017 (AP photo by Darko Vojinovic).

BELGRADE, Serbia—Is China building a Trojan horse in a divided Europe? The diplomatic initiative between China and 16 countries in Central and Eastern Europe, known as the 16+1, has become more controversial since its launch in 2012 at a summit in Poland. Critics worry that it may undermine the European Union’s unified approach to Beijing, weaken transparency in economic and diplomatic engagement, and give a secretive regime with an increasingly muscular foreign policy a foothold in Europe. The 16 European countries are all ex-communist states, and all but five are EU members. In January, Hans Dietmar Schweisgut, the EU’s ambassador […]

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping before a group photo session during the G-20 summit in Hangzhou, China, Sept. 4, 2016 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

In early December, four new bills were introduced in the Australian Parliament that together represent the most sweeping proposed changes to the country’s national security laws in decades. In supporting their passage, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull referenced Soviet spying in Australia decades ago. “The threat we face today is greater than when Soviet agents penetrated the federal government during World War II and the early years of the Cold War,” he warned. The four bills have all been submitted for review to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, which is expected to report its recommendations and any […]

Philippine journalists and supporters protest against the Securities and Exchange Commission's revocation of the registration of Rappler, Quezon, Philippines, Jan. 19, 2018 (AP photo by Bullit Marquez).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series about press freedom and safety in various countries around the world. On Jan. 15, the Securities and Exchange Commission in the Philippines revoked the media license for Rappler, an online, independent media outlet that had gained prominence for its critical reporting and investigative work. The decision has provoked a backlash from the media in the Philippines, which has been under increasing assault from the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, the populist leader who was elected in 2016. In an email interview, Daniel Bastard, the director of Reporters Without Borders’ Asia-Pacific […]

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis listens to his introduction before speaking about the National Defense Strategy, Jan. 19, 2018, Washington (AP photo by Jacquelyn Martin).

No issue is more important for U.S. national security than America’s relationship with an increasingly powerful and assertive China. But it is also true that no issue is more complex. Two weeks ago, Secretary of Defense James Mattis released an unclassified summary of his new National Defense Strategy. Known among national security professionals as the NDS, the document outlined a major shift in U.S. security doctrine. Before Sept. 11, America’s main security concern was what were called “rogue” states. After the terrorist attacks on the United States, transnational terrorism inspired by Islamist extremism moved to the fore. Then, during the […]

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