College students enter the main gate of Peking University in Beijing, July 13, 2018 (Photo by Su Weizhong for Imaginechina via AP Images).

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. On Monday, Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations suspended two exchange programs with Beijing-based Renmin University after students there were punished for their labor rights activism. According to the Financial Times, it is the first case in years of a foreign university suspending ties with a Chinese counterpart due to concerns over academic freedom. Renmin students faced various forms of punishment—including surveillance and threats of suspension—after they participated in labor protests this […]

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right, and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Oct. 26, 2018 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

The atmosphere during Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s rare visit to China last week, the first by a Japanese leader since 2011, was loaded with historical meaning. Oct. 23, two days before Abe arrived in Beijing, was the 40th anniversary of the two countries’ Treaty of Peace and Friendship coming into effect. That agreement formally ended their state of war. The anniversary has now become a convenient touchstone for two countries seeking to normalize relations following a multi-year chill, mainly over disputed islands in the East China Sea and sensitive historical issues. And in the 1970s, as in 2018, it was […]

Cambodians hold a protest demanding the release of opposition leader Kem Sokha,  Brussels, Belgium, Sept. 18, 2017 (DPA photo by Wiktor Dabkowski via AP Images).

Cambodia has made significant progress on reducing poverty since its transition to democracy in the 1990s, yet millions still remain at risk of falling back into destitution given the nation’s shaky dependence on foreign money, both from trading partners and aid donors. That’s why many Cambodians will be desperately hoping the European Union’s recent threat to suspend valuable trade preferences does not actually come to fruition. In early October, the EU announced that it was formally looking into removing Cambodia’s special trade status, known as “Everything But Arms,” which gives developing nations duty-free access to export into Europe. European Trade […]

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, center, arrives at Government House for a Cabinet meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, Sept. 11, 2018 (AP photo by Sakchai Lalit).

On a visit to Japan earlier this month, Thailand’s prime minister and the leader of the junta in power since 2014, Prayuth Chan-ocha, confirmed that elections would indeed be held early next year, by May 2019 at the latest. According to a readout of a meeting between Prayuth and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Prayuth said that elections could be held as early as February. They would be the first elections since February 2014, which were subsequently invalidated by Thailand’s Constitutional Court, precipitating the military coup that deposed Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her government. Although the junta has repeatedly […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin and President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, right, during the Uzbekistan-Russia Interregional Cooperation Forum, Toshkent, Uzbekistan, Oct. 19, 2018 (Photo by Aleksey Nikolskyi for Sputnik via AP Images).

On Oct. 18, Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Uzbekistan for the first meeting of the newly established Uzbekistan-Russia Interregional Cooperation Forum. Putin attended the symbolic groundbreaking ceremony of a new $11 billion nuclear power plant, signing investment deals totaling $25 billion, mostly in the energy sector. The visit was a clear illustration of how significantly Uzbekistan has changed since the death in August 2016 of Islam Karimov, the country’s first post-Soviet president who ruled for 27 years. Under Karimov, Uzbekistan pursued a path of outward isolation and inward repression. His successor, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, has slowly opened Uzbekistan up […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during the official opening of the China-Zhuhai-Macau-Hong Kong Bridge, in Zhuhai in south China’s Guangdong province, Oct. 23, 2018 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

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. For the second time since coming to power in 2012, President Xi Jinping visited Guangdong province in southern China this week, completing a three-day tour of the manufacturing hub. Timed to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the beginning of China’s “reform and opening up” process, his itinerary essentially re-traced the steps of Deng Xiaoping’s legendary 1992 Southern Tour, in which the reformist leader, then 88 and retired from politics, publicly reiterated the importance […]

Communist Party General Secretary and Vietnamese President Nguyen Phu Trong delivers a speech at the National University of Public Service in Budapest, Hungary, Sept. 11, 2018 (AP photo by Balazs Mohai).

When President Tran Dai Quang of Vietnam died suddenly last month, shortly before he was scheduled to visit New York and address the United Nations General Assembly, the usual condolences poured in from foreign dignitaries. But the news did not prompt grief among human rights watchdogs, who have criticized Vietnam’s brutal suppression of political dissent. Phil Robertson, deputy director of the Asia division at Human Rights Watch, summed up his reaction in two words: “Good riddance!” Quang, a security sector apparatchik who rose through the ranks to become minister of public security, was elevated to the largely ceremonial post of […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton during their meeting in the Kremlin, Moscow, Russia, Oct. 23, 2018 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton is in Moscow for meetings with senior Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, as the U.S. prepares to officially withdraw from a key Cold War-era arms reduction pact. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which was signed in 1987 by then-President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, bans all ground-based ballistic and cruise missiles with a range between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. Washington has repeatedly accused Moscow of violating the treaty for years. That, along with concerns over the rising threat from other U.S. rivals who are not bound by the deal’s terms, […]

U.S. Lt. Col. William Clark, second from left, talks with Gen. Abdul Raziq, a police commander in southern Afghanistan, on the outskirts of Spin Boldak, Afghanistan, Aug. 7, 2009 (AP photo by Emilio Morenatti).

In one fell swoop last Thursday, a gunman eliminated two of the most powerful officials in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province and critically injured a third. The Taliban quickly claimed credit for the attack, which killed Gen. Abdul Raziq, who held the title of provincial police commander but was in reality a prominent 39-year-old warlord in an official uniform. In the past decade, the Taliban’s insurgency has grown to cover all corners of the country, swarming the non-Pashtun northern crescent and pushing to reclaim southern Afghanistan. The Taliban has made gains in Helmand and Uruzgan provinces, with advances more recently into neighboring […]

Bangladeshi students participate in a protest, Dhaka, Bangladesh, Aug. 4, 2018 (AP photo by A. M. Ahad).

Bangladesh’s prime minister, Sheikh Hasina Wajed, doesn’t seem to be taking any chances before national elections in December, in which she hopes her Awami League will win an unprecedented third consecutive term in office. While she seeks the domestic and international legitimacy that was missing in her 2014 election victory, after arguably the most bloody and controversial polls in the country’s history, she also can’t afford to lose a zero-sum contest with the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, or BNP, which her government has made more toxic with a series of increasingly coercive measures against it. The second objective has overshadowed […]

A family bathes in one of the irrigation ditches at a hideout in a banana plantation on the island of Mindanao, Philippines (Lindsay Fendt).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss the implications of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder for Saudi Arabia’s international partnerships and the Middle East. For the Report, Lindsay Fendt talks with WPR’s senior editor, Robbie Corey-Boulet, about the Philippines’ other campaign of extrajudicial killings, this one targeting anti-mining activists in Mindanao’s Compostela Valley. Lindsay’s two-part series of in-depth articles is the second to be funded by WPR’s International Reporting Fellowship. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up for our free newsletter […]

A farmer surveys his crops at a hideout in a banana plantation on the island of Mindanao, Philippines (Lindsay Fendt).

Editor’s Note: In July 2019, this story won the Kevin Carmody Award for Outstanding In-depth Reporting, Small Market from the Society of Environmental Journalists. This is the second installment of a two-part series on killings of environmental activists in the Philippines, funded by WPR’s International Reporting Fellowship. The first installment can be found here. MINDANAO, Philippines—On a secluded banana plantation on the Philippine island of Mindanao, nearly 400 people pass each night in tents, huts and makeshift dormitories. They bathe in the plantation’s irrigation ditches, surrounded by blue bags of pesticides that have fallen from the banana plants. The entire […]

Former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa rides on an open car during an anti-government protest in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sept. 5, 2018 (AP photo by Eranga Jayawardena).

Thousands of Sri Lankan demonstrators marched in the capital, Colombo, last month, protesting poor economic conditions and the government’s decision to delay local elections. The protests were led by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, whose return to political prominence poses a major threat to the ruling United National Front coalition, or UNF. In an interview with WPR, Stanley Samarasinghe, a professor at Tulane University who writes extensively on the poltical economy of Sri Lanka, discusses the widespread discontent with the government and what might be in store for Sri Lanka’s political future. World Politics Review: What are the main political issues […]

A new Japan Airlines Boeing 787 airplane with the GE Aviation GEnx engine on it, is shown following a delivery ceremony, March 26, 2012, Everett, Washington (AP photo by Ted S. Warren).

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. The United States Department of Justice announced the extradition of a Chinese intelligence official to the U.S. on economic espionage charges last Wednesday. It is the first time a Chinese government spy has been extradited to the U.S., according to The Washington Post. Yanjun Xu, a deputy division director in the Ministry of State Security, China’s main spy agency, traveled to Belgium last spring, believing he was set to receive “proprietary information about jet […]

A young protester holds a placard during an anti-mining rally in the financial district of Makati, south of Manila, Philippines, April 23, 2007 (AP photo by Aaron Favila).

Editor’s Note: In July 2019, this story won the Kevin Carmody Award for Outstanding In-depth Reporting, Small Market from the Society of Environmental Journalists. This is the first installment of a two-part series on killings of environmental activists in the Philippines, funded by WPR’s International Reporting Fellowship. The second installment ran Oct. 18. COMPOSTELA VALLEY, MINDANAO, Philippines—It was just after dawn on the southern island of Mindanao, but police officers already had a call to respond to. Winding their way through the scenic green mountains of the Compostela Valley, they approached the scene of the crime, a patch of dirt […]

Skagit County Solid Waste Division manager Margo Gillaspy displays some of the recyclable plastic items that had been deposited at the Skagit County Transfer Station in Mt. Vernon, Washington, June 20, 2018 (AP photo by Scott Terrell).

Much of the world’s waste used to wind up in China and Southeast Asian countries like Thailand and Vietnam, but in recent years, they have all cracked down on imports of waste and recyclables. This has caused a major disruption in the global waste trade, leading to massive accumulations of plastic, cardboard and electronic waste in developed countries like the United States. According to Derek Kellenberg, an environmental economist at the University of Montana, this may be a turning point that forces the world’s major producers to finally reckon with the true social costs of waste. In an interview with […]

Interpol President Meng Hongwei walks toward the stage to deliver his opening address at the Interpol World Congress in Singapore, July 4, 2017 (AP photo by Wong Maye-E).

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. When Meng Hongwei, China’s vice minister of public security, was elected president of Interpol in 2016, it was hailed in China as a sign of the country’s ability to lead international organizations. But in a dramatic turn of events late last week, his wife reported him missing to French authorities in Lyon—where Interpol has its headquarters—after not hearing from him since he traveled to China in late September. A text message with an ominous […]

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