President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping during their bilateral meeting at the G-20 summit, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dec. 1, 2018 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

2019 has not begun, but it is already getting bad reviews. Economists fret about a recession. American commentators worry that President Donald J. Trump is increasingly erratic and unconstrained. Their European counterparts are bracing for a very hard Brexit indeed. Is the outlook for multilateral institutions equally bleak, or even worse? The United Nations and other international organizations face two major strategic challenges, plus multiple subsidiary crises, over the next year. The main challenges are an intensification of competition between the U.S. and China in multilateral forums, and a rapid deterioration of the once-sturdy nuclear arms control framework. These twin […]

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, with his Sri Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickremesinghe, at a meeting in New Delhi before Wickremesinghe was ousted from his post, Oct. 20, 2018 (AP photo).

Sri Lanka recently emerged from a dangerous political crisis with its democracy and constitution miraculously intact. President Maithripala Sirisena’s attempted coup, in which he violated the constitution by replacing Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe with his bitter rival and presidential predecessor, Mahinda Rajapjaksa, was overturned thanks to Sri Lanka’s defiant Parliament, steadfast judiciary, a vigilant international community and a resilient civil society. The failed coup revealed Sri Lanka’s institutions to be sneakily strong, but as it barreled along, international and domestic watchers speculated about the nefarious role foreign actors may have played—especially India and China, which have long projected power in […]

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).

In a special year-end episode of Trend Lines, we look back on 2018 through three of our most popular Report interviews. They take us from the frontlines of the war against Boko Haram in West Africa, to life under a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan, to Facebook, the new hub for the black-market trade in antiquities from the Middle East. 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 every […]

A new $360 million terminal under construction at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka, built by the state-owned China-Jianxi Corporation, with loans from China Exim Bank, Nov. 4, 2018 (Photo by Jonathan W. Rosen).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, look back on the biggest stories of 2018 and discuss what the new year might have in store. For the Report, Jonathan Rosen talks with WPR’s senior editor, Robbie Corey-Boulet, about his reporting from Zambia, where a backlash to Chinese investment and loans is growing as the country inches toward a debt crisis. 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 […]

Supporters of India’s opposition Congress party hold a cut-out of party leader Rahul Gandhi as they celebrate outside the party headquarters in New Delhi, India, Dec. 11, 2018 (AP photo).

India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party was ousted from power in three key state elections last week in a rebuke of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration. The results in the heartland rural states of Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh will likely force Modi to make adjustments in his economic policy priorities as the BJP gears up for general elections set to take place this coming spring. The recent vote also provided a much-needed boost to the opposition Indian National Congress, which captured outright majorities in the state legislatures of Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh while falling just short of a majority in Madhya […]

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, right, with Myanmar’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, in Singapore, Nov. 14, 2018 (AP photo by Bernat Armangue).

During the first two years of the Trump administration, Washington has dramatically reduced its rhetorical focus on democracy promotion in Asia. For instance, President Donald Trump has mostly ignored issues of human rights and democracy when meeting with leaders of abusive regimes, like the Thai prime minister and junta leader, Prayuth Chan-ocha. This approach is consistent with Trump’s overall realpolitik; he usually does not raise rights issues in meetings with other authoritarian leaders, and he often seems to have more contempt for democratically elected leaders around the globe than for autocrats. More recently, despite extensive evidence suggesting that the armed […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping, bottom row center, speaks during a conference to commemorate the 40th anniversary of China’s Reform and Opening Up policy at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Dec. 18, 2018 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s speech on Tuesday at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing marked the 40th anniversary of a watershed moment in modern Chinese history. At a meeting in December 1978, Deng Xiaoping and other reformist Communist Party leaders, who had fallen from grace during Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution, laid the groundwork for the program of economic liberalization that later became officially known as “reform and opening up.” Four decades later, amid slowing economic growth and […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Zambian President Edgar Lungu after a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People, March 30, 2015, Beijing, China (AP photo by Feng Li).

Zambia, like several African countries, is inching toward a debt crisis, sparking discussion about whether China is to blame. With debt-servicing payments already crowding out development spending, ordinary Zambians are feeling the pinch—and their patience with the government’s coziness to Beijing, and with China's so-called "debt-trap diplomacy," is beginning to wear thin. LUSAKA, Zambia—Sitting in the lobby of a Lusaka hotel last month, James Lukuku was feeling energized. The leader of Zambia’s Republican Progressive Party, a fringe opposition group, Lukuku had gained notoriety in recent months as one of the most outspoken critics of Zambia’s relationship with China—a bond he […]

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, left, speaks to the media alongside Foreign Minister Marise Payne during a press conference at the Parliament House in Canberra, Oct. 16, 2018 (Photo by Mick Tsikas for AAP via AP Images).

In a much-anticipated speech in Sydney last Saturday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that his government would recognize West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Morrison sought to mollify critics by delaying an embassy move from Tel Aviv until a final peace settlement is reached and holding out the possibility of recognizing a future Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. Still, the announcement provoked stern reactions from Australia’s Muslim-majority neighbors, including Indonesia and Malaysia. In an interview with WPR, Ran Porat, a researcher and lecturer at the Australian Center for Jewish Civilization at Monash University in Melbourne, discusses the […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hold a summit meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dec. 1, 2018 (Photo by Shuhei Yokoyama for Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images).

In December 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Japan and got a lavish welcome. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe received Putin at a hot springs resort in his ancestral hometown of Nagato, in southwestern Yamaguchi prefecture. He referred to Putin by his first name in public appearances, a rare personal touch in the formal world of Japanese diplomacy. During the run-up to the visit, Japanese officials even reached out to the Kremlin with an offer for a dog, a prized Akita breed, intended as a male companion to Yume, the female Akita that was sent to Putin as a Japanese gift […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping, center, and members of his official delegation listen to U.S. President Donald Trump speak during their bilateral meeting at the G-20 summit, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dec. 1, 2018 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

In Donald Trump’s trade wars, U.S. tariffs on China were supposed to force a quick surrender, but retaliatory Chinese tariffs on imports from the U.S. have led to a tenuous truce. Find out more when you subscribe to World Politics Review (WPR). As widely expected, U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping declared a truce in their trade war in early December. According to the White House statement after their meeting at the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires, Xi committed to increase imports of American agricultural and energy products to reduce the bilateral trade deficit and to […]

Afghan deportees walk across the border from Iran to Afghanistan in Islam Qala, Herat, Afghanistan, June 6, 2007 (AP photo by Farzana Wahidy).

More than 730,000 undocumented Afghan immigrants in Iran have returned to Afghanistan so far this year, according to the United Nations. Many of them are fleeing a lack of economic opportunity in Iran, due largely to the United States’ decision to reimpose sanctions that were lifted as part of the 2015 nuclear deal. But according to Annalisa Perteghella, a research fellow at the Italian Institute for International Political Studies in Milan, they are unlikely to encounter better conditions in their native country, which faces a worsening security situation and a severe drought. In an email interview with WPR, Perteghella delves […]

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the Lotte New York Palace hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, New York, Sept. 24, 2018 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

As 2018 draws to a close, U.S. President Donald Trump and his South Korean counterpart, Moon Jae-in, are sounding remarkably optimistic about the future of the Korean Peninsula, a marked contrast to the hostile rhetoric of potential “fire and fury” that reflected heightened tensions following a series of nuclear and missile tests by North Korea just one year ago. Most experts and analysts, however, are skeptical that the current approach will yield the positive outcomes the two leaders predict, noting that no concrete actions toward denuclearization, much less the process by which they might be taken, have been discussed with […]

Visitors look at a display from Chinese technology firm Huawei at the PT Expo in Beijing, Sept. 26, 2018 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. The arrest of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou in Canada at the United States’ request has dominated headlines since the story broke last Wednesday afternoon. But it is only the latest chapter in both the Chinese telecommunication giant’s rise to global prominence and Washington’s broader high-tech trade war with Beijing. Meng, who is also the daughter of Huawei’s billionaire founder, Ren Zhengfei, was arrested earlier this month while changing planes in Vancouver. U.S. authorities believe she violated sanctions […]

A FijiFirst poster with the image of Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama is displayed at the entrance to a village in Nausori, Fiji, Nov. 7, 2018 (AP photo).

Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama of Fiji narrowly won a second term in an election last month that pitted two former coup leaders against each other. Bainimarama has ruled the Pacific island nation since taking power in a bloodless coup in 2006, but his FijiFirst party will now have to contend with stiffer resistance from the main opposition Social and Democratic Liberal Party, which strengthened its position in Parliament in the Nov. 14 vote. In an email interview with WPR, Jon Fraenkel, a professor of comparative politics at Victoria University of Wellington, discusses the results in the context of the Pacific […]

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, left, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during a joint press conference at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, Nov. 8, 2018 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has adopted a noticeably softer tone toward China since taking office in August, in contrast to his predecessor, Malcolm Turnbull. The relationship has improved considerably, with Foreign Minister Marise Payne traveling to China in November, the first such visit by an Australian foreign minister in over two years. But according to Simone van Nieuwenhuizen, a researcher at the University of Technology Sydney’s Australia-China Relations Institute, the Australian government will still have to reckon with the challenges posed by Chinese influence operations and China’s increasing investment in Pacific island nations, where Australia has historically enjoyed a […]

U.S. President Donald Trump, center, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto at a signing ceremony for the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nov. 30, 2018 (AP photo).

President Donald Trump has announced a number of trade deals this year, touting each one as the best, greatest, most wonderful agreement ever. Time after time, however, the reality fell far short of Trump’s hype, including the most recent announcement of an agreement with China. Indeed, the announced “agreements” with Europe, Japan and China merely began the process of negotiating. And far from replacing the “worst trade deal ever,” the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement mainly updates and tweaks the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. One thing none of these agreements accomplished was to get rid of the tit-for-tat tariffs […]

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