Supporters of Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, the president-elect of the Maldives, celebrate his election win, Maldives, Sept. 24, 2018 (AP photo by Eranga Jayawardena).

The Maldives’ authoritarian president, Abdulla Yameen, began hastily burning documents at his campaign headquarters and moving boxes out of his official residence in the capital, Male, earlier this week, after being resoundingly—and astoundingly—defeated by the opposition in Sunday’s presidential election. Nearly 90 percent of voters turned out, 58 percent of them casting ballots for Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, popularly known as Ibu. Yameen was silent for the better part of a day, before conceding defeat on state television. To say the opposition had the odds stacked against them would be a major understatement. Among Yameen’s first acts after coming to power […]

Construction work taking place in the port of Gwadar, Balochistan, in southern Pakistan, Oct. 4, 2017 (Photo by Christine-Felice R'hrs for DPA via AP.)

Five years after Chinese President Xi Jinping introduced the Belt and Road Initiative to the world, the ambitious multitrillion-dollar infrastructure scheme is experiencing major growing pains. Months of harsh media scrutiny, criticism from the United States and Europe, some surprising grumbling domestically, and backtracking from key partner countries have put a dent in what had been promoted as a seamless chain of China-funded transportation and development projects spreading out across the Asian continent. Xi’s signature foreign policy initiative now faces skepticism in the country that has been its most enthusiastic cheerleader and most willing testing ground: Pakistan. On Sept. 9, […]

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev attends a joint press conference during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Qingdao city, east China’s Shandong province, June 10, 2018 (Photo by Ge Jin for Imaginechina via AP Images).

Since he turned 78 in July, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev has appointed a number of new ministers to his Cabinet, fueling speculation about whether he will run for another term in elections scheduled for 2020. Such speculation is not new in Kazakhstan, but given Nazarbayev’s advanced age, observers fear that without a clearly defined succession plan, the country’s stability could deteriorate. In an email interview with WPR, Paul Stronski, a senior fellow in the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, discusses Kazakhstan’s political outlook. World Politics Review: What is driving Nazarbayev’s ongoing Cabinet reshuffle? Paul […]

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (2nd from left) and South Korean President Moon Jae-in (2nd from right) pose with their wives on Mt. Paektu, a volcano on the North Korean-Chinese border, on Sept. 20, 2018 (Kyodo photo via AP).

The traditional harvest festival of Chuseok is one of the most important days in Korean culture. It is a time to celebrate and rekindle family ties, aided by good food and good drink—that is, if you can make it through the traffic. Chuseok falls on the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar, which this year was Sept. 24, days after South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un met in Pyongyang for their third summit. In keeping with the spirit of the season, the two men and their spouses put on […]

Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, gets into a car to leave a detention center in Uiwang, South Korea, Feb. 5, 2018 (AP photo by Ahn Young-joon).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing series about corruption in various countries around the world. South Korean President Moon Jae-in entered office in May 2017 pledging to crack down on rampant corruption, in a country where political leaders often enjoy cozy relations with the business elite. But his push to reform South Korea’s giant conglomerates, known as chaebols, has stalled amid weak economic performance and a high-profile rapprochement with North Korea. In an email interview with WPR, Park Sang-in, professor of economics and public administration at Seoul National University, discusses the Moon administration’s efforts to address the […]

Pro-government protesters hold both the Hong Kong flag, left, and the Chinese national flag outside the convention center, Hong Kong, May 18, 2016 (AP photo by Vincent Yu).

Editor’s note: Every Wednesday, WPR’s newsletter and engagement editor, Benjamin Wilhelm, curates the top news and analysis from China written by the experts who follow it. Authorities in Hong Kong on Monday banned the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party, which reportedly has “at most a few dozen” members, on the grounds that it threatened national security and public order. In justifying the decision, the government invoked the city’s colonial-era security ordinance, which has mostly been used to combat organized crime. Though the move was without precedent, it came as no surprise. Under President Xi Jinping, China has consistently restricted efforts […]

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Indonesian President Joko Widodo inspect the honor guard during a welcoming ceremony at the presidential palace in Bogor, West Java, Indonesia, Aug. 31, 2018 (Pool photo by Mast Irham via AP).

When Malcolm Turnbull was ousted as Australia’s prime minister last month, replaced by the country’s treasurer, Scott Morrison, Australians welcomed their seventh prime minister in just 11 years. Turnbull was the fourth prime minister to be removed from office by their own party since 2010 through what is known in Australia as “spills”—cutthroat internal party ballots to remove the leadership without a general election. Turnbull had been one of the leaders of a previous revolt within the governing Liberal Party against then-Prime Minister Tony Abbott that led to Abbott’s ouster in 2015. Turnbull now appears to have played a role […]

Afghan security personnel walk past the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan, Jan. 23, 2018 (AP photo by Rahmat Gul).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss the latest escalation in the U.S.-China trade war and new developments in North Korean nuclear diplomacy. For the Report, Michael Semple talks with WPR’s senior editor, Robbie Corey-Boulet, about the Taliban’s resurgence in Afghanistan and life on the ground in territories under their control. 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 our uncompromising analysis delivered straight to your inbox. The newsletter offers a free preview article […]

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, poses with Chinese President Xi Jinping before a group photo session at the G-20 summit in Hangzhou, China, Sept. 4, 2016 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

Last week, at a meeting on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum in the Pacific port of Vladivostok, in far eastern Russia, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to improve their long-strained bilateral relationship. It was their seventh meeting since late 2012, though each one has been on the sidelines of international gatherings, rather than full-fledged bilateral visits. The reason is that, up until recently, China has been hesitant to court Japan and restore traditional high-level exchanges through state visits, especially since their relations fell off a cliff seven years ago due to tensions […]

Chinese Bishop Joseph Li Shan, center, walks down the aisle during a mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, a government-sanctioned Catholic church in Beijing, March 31, 2018 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR’s newsletter and engagement editor, Benjamin Wilhelm, curates the top news and analysis from China written by the experts who follow it. A report that China is nearing an agreement with the Vatican on Catholic bishop appointments has raised eyebrows given the Communist Party’s ongoing crackdown on religion. The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that momentum is building for an agreement between China and the Vatican that would see Beijing recognize the pope’s authority over the Catholic Church in China. In return, Pope Francis would recognize seven excommunicated Chinese bishops who were appointed by the […]

Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016 (AP photo by Allauddin Khan).

The Afghan Taliban are experiencing a revival. Today, they find themselves in control of much of the territory they claimed before 9/11, a new version of the Islamic Emirate that the U.S. intended to eliminate. Instead of focusing on public statements, policymakers trying to assess the Taliban’s motives must closely examine what life in Taliban-controlled territory looks like. In 1992, after groups of guerrilla fighters known as mujahideen succeeded in toppling Afghanistan’s communist government, which had been backed by the Soviet Union, they quickly turned on each other, kicking off a civil war. In response, a group of young clerics […]

A currency exchange shop in Istanbul, Turkey, Aug. 14, 2018 (AP photo by Lefteris Pitarakis).

Governments in emerging markets should be forgiven if they are dealing with a case of crisis fatigue. For 10 years now, they have lurched from one financial mess to another, triggered largely by external events and decisions outside of their control. Things are once again getting messy as global investors have soured on Argentina, Turkey and Indonesia, among other emerging market economies, causing their currencies to crash. As troubles have developed in one country after another late this summer, some observers have been careful to point out that the causes of the individual economic crises are very different. Don’t jump […]

Two New York City firefighters look toward One World Trade Center through the open ceiling of the Oculus at the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, New York, Sept. 11, 2018 (AP photo by Craig Ruttle).

The anniversary of 9/11 has become an annual opportunity for soul-searching, for Americans to take stock of where they stand not only in the ongoing conflict with violent jihadism but more broadly as a nation. One thing stood out this year: Americans are more pessimistic about the struggle against al-Qaida and its offshoots than at any time since Sept. 11, 2001. In a sense, this is understandable. The United States is still mired in Afghanistan and Iraq with no sign of victory. Jihadism persists in many parts of the Islamic world and is even spreading to new regions. It continues […]

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison, right, gestures while speaking with Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party Josh Frydenberg during their first press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Aug. 24, 2018 (AP photo by Andrew Taylor).

Malcom Turnbull’s tenure as prime minister of Australia ended the same way it began: with an intra-party revolt. Turnbull, a moderate in his conservative Liberal Party, successfully contested then-Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s leadership in September 2015. But Abbott and his supporters moved to exact revenge, finally pushing Turnbull out last month. Scott Morrison, the newly sworn-in prime minister, takes the helm of a Liberal Party weakened by internal strife and a tenuous grip on power, as the opposition Labor Party surges ahead in the polls. In an email interview, Lloyd Cox, a lecturer in politics at Macquarie University in Sydney, […]

Several hundred Muslim Uighurs living in Turkey protest against oppression by the Chinese government in far-western Xinjiang province, in Ankara, Turkey, Feb. 5, 2018 (AP photo by Burhan Ozbilici).

In her first speech since assuming her new post, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet criticized China this week for forcibly detaining more than a million Muslim Uighur minorities in a secretive network of so-called re-education camps. Her remarks were based on findings from a U.N. panel released last month. The panel cited “credible reports” that the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in northwestern China had been transformed into “something that resembles a massive internment camp.” Ever resistant to such criticism, Beijing pushed back on Bachelet’s remarks and demanded that she “respect China’s sovereignty.” In an email interview, […]

Jack Ma, the founder and chairman of Alibaba, leaves a press conference in Bangkok, Thailand, April 19, 2018 (AP photo by Sakchai Lalit).

Editor’s note: Every Wednesday, WPR’s newsletter and engagement editor, Benjamin Wilhelm, curates the top news and analysis from China written by the experts who follow it. Chinese internet and e-commerce goliath Alibaba announced on Monday that Jack Ma, its founder and chairman of the board, will step down next September. Ma, who was an English teacher when he launched Alibaba with 17 of his students and friends, has become one of China’s most famous entrepreneurs and its richest. Ma’s replacement will be Daniel Zhang, who became CEO in 2013 as part of what Ma said was a long-planned succession. Zhang’s […]

Chinese servicemen and military equipment arrive at the Zabaikalsk unloading station to participate in the Vostok military exercises, Aug. 26, 2018 (Photo by Evgeny Yepanchintsev for Sputnik via AP Images).

In the largest Russian military exercise since the height of the Cold War, Moscow this week is deploying 300,000 troops, 900 tanks and 1,000 aircraft in central and eastern Russia. The military demonstration, called “Vostok 2018,” or East Exercise 2018, is expected to last from Sept. 11 to 15. This year, for the first time ever, Chinese military forces will participate, sending 3,200 troops and 30 aircraft over the border into eastern Russia. Similar Cold War-era drills only included states that were part of the Soviet sphere. The Vostok exercise highlights two important, seemingly contradictory things about the relationship between […]

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