U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, right, accompanied by Trump administration officials, meets with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, left, and other Chinese officials in Washington, Jan. 30, 2019 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. The United States Department of Justice announced criminal charges against Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei Technologies and one of its top executives on Monday, escalating tensions between the two countries as they begin a new round of high-level trade negotiations. A 13-count indictment was unsealed in New York City, targeting Huawei, two of its affiliates and Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou. The allegations include bank and wire fraud, violating U.S. sanctions on Iran and conspiring to obstruct justice related to […]

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha hold a meeting on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 23, 2019 (Yomiuri Shimbun photo via AP Images).

Japan and South Korea are mired in a heated military spat over an encounter at sea last month between a South Korean warship and a Japanese maritime patrol plane. Tokyo claims that its aircraft was threatened by the South Korean ship’s targeting radar for surface-to-air weapons, a charge that Seoul flatly denies. Instead, it accuses the Japanese military of provocatively flying its planes at low altitudes. The escalating feud is further straining an already tense bilateral relationship, as the two sides struggle to resolve difficult historical issues over Japan’s colonial occupation of Korea that have resurfaced in recent months. The […]

Supporters of Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, an Indian political party, burn portraits of  Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa during a protest, New Delhi, India,  May 26, 2014 (AP photo by Tsering Topgyal).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss the sudden escalation of Venezuela’s political crisis and the U.S. response to it. For the Report, Jonathan Gorvett talks with WPR’s senior editor, Robbie Corey-Boulet, about the roots of Sri Lanka’s recent constitutional crisis and why its resolution is likely to remain fragile and tenuous for the foreseeable future. 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 […]

Reuters journalist Kyaw Soe Oo, center, talks to journalists as he leaves the courthouse in Yangon, Myanmar, Sept. 3, 2018 (AP photo by Thein Zaw).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series about press freedom and safety in various countries around the world. Earlier this month, a court in Myanmar upheld the seven-year prison sentences of two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who were convicted in September under the British colonial-era Official Secrets Act while reporting on atrocities committed against the Rohingya ethnic minority. The case shows the barriers to reporting in Myanmar, especially on politically sensitive investigations involving the powerful military, despite some positive steps to relax media restrictions since the country transitioned from direct military rule and […]

The U.S. guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell sails past the Opera House in Sydney, Australia, July 4, 2011 (AP photo by Rob Griffith).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. The United States and the United Kingdom conducted joint naval exercises in the South China Sea last week, their first such drills in the area since 2010. The operations were intended to push back on China’s assertive behavior in the region, including its militarization of nearby artificial islands, but analysts are skeptical that they will have much of an impact. The U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer USS McCampbell and the Royal Navy frigate HMS Argyll practiced division tactics and […]

Indonesian police officers arrest a supporter of West Papuan independence during a rally in Jakarta, Indonesia, Aug. 15, 2017 (AP photo by Tatan Syuflana).

Earlier this month, the Indonesian military raided and destroyed the offices of the West Papuan National Committee, a separatist group in the country’s easternmost region, which has long agitated for independence. The raid came amid allegations that the military had used chemical weapons in airstrikes on separatists in West Papua in late December. The Indonesian government has responded harshly after at least 17 construction workers were killed by West Papuan militants in early December, the deadliest such attack in West Papua in years. This surge in unrest in the region is the outcome of a harder line that the Indonesian […]

Supporters of the United National Party and ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe burn coffins to protest the government of disputed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, Colombo, Sri Lanka, Nov. 15, 2018 (AP photo by Rukmal Gamage).

The recent bout of unrest in Sri Lanka, sparked by President Maithripala Sirisena’s unexpected decision to fire the prime minister, concluded fairly peacefully. But many of the factors that have destabilized Sri Lankan politics in recent years remain unresolved—and will likely lead to more uncertainty in 2019. COLOMBO, Sri Lanka—For many Sri Lankans, the country’s recent political turmoil came on so quickly they couldn’t possibly have prepared for it. Rami Singh, a delivery driver in his 20s, recalls barreling through this city’s hectic traffic on the night of Oct. 26 when, suddenly, he had to slam on his brakes to […]

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a news conference in Ottawa, Dec. 19, 2018 (Photo by Adrian Wyld for The Canadian Press via AP Images).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. A court in the Chinese port city of Dalian sentenced a Canadian man convicted of drug trafficking to the death penalty Monday, the latest development in an intensifying diplomatic spat between Beijing and Ottawa that has already resulted in the arrest of two Canadians on charges of “endangering national security.” Robert Lloyd Schellenberg received the death sentence following a one-day retrial ordered weeks after Meng Wanzhou—the chief financial officer for Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei—was arrested Dec. 1 in Vancouver […]

Supporters of the Cambodia National Rescue Party hold a poster of Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha during the last day of campaigning for the June 4 commune elections, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, June 2, 2017 (AP photo by Heng Sinith).

Factional divisions within the banned opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, or CNRP, came to the surface in December, when a party conference in Atlanta named exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy its acting president. The conference was boycotted and its outcome rejected by supporters of Kem Sokha, the CNRP’s erstwhile president who remains under house arrest in Cambodia pending trial on charges of treason. In an email interview with WPR, Astrid Norén-Nilsson, associate senior lecturer at the Center for East and South-East Asian Studies at Lund University, Sweden, discusses the origins of the CNRP leadership dispute, and the implications of the […]

A minke whale is landed at a port in Kushiro on Japan’s northernmost main island of Hokkaido on Sept. 4, 2017 (Kyodo photo via AP Images).

In late December, Japan formally announced it would withdraw from the International Whaling Commission, or IWC, clearing the way for it to resume commercial whaling in July 2019. In announcing the move, the Japanese government criticized the IWC and member states for what it portrayed as an uncompromising anti-whaling posture. But environmental activists attacked the decision, with the executive director of Greenpeace Japan calling it “out of step with the international community.” In an email interview with WPR, Natalie Barefoot, acting director and lecturer at law for the University of Miami School of Law’s Environmental Justice Clinic, discusses Japan’s reasons […]

A man reads a news report on his mobile phone, Dhaka, Bangladesh, Dec. 20, 2018 (AP photo).

The government in the Democratic Republic of Congo cut internet and text message services across the country two days in a row last week, as tensions rose ahead of the release of official results from last month’s presidential election. It was just the latest move to restrict internet access by a state with a poor democratic track record, as more countries appear to take their digital cues from the likes of China and Russia. Last year, Thailand proposed a cybersecurity law that would give the government “sweeping powers” to surveil the internet, censor content and even seize computers “without judicial […]

Gen. Robert Abrams, the top U.S. commander in Korea, right, and outgoing commander Gen. Vincent Brooks, second from right, during a change-of-command ceremony at Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, Nov. 8, 2018 (AP photo by Lee Jin-man).

Amid the ongoing U.S. government shutdown, soon to be the longest in American history, another recent lapse in funding has received far less attention but could be just as consequential. On Jan. 1, an important cost-sharing defense agreement, dictating how much money the South Korean government pays to support the U.S. military presence in the country, expired. No replacement text has been agreed to and negotiations are reportedly deadlocked due to President Donald Trump’s demands that Seoul shoulder a much larger portion of the stationing costs. The situation casts uncertainty on the future of the 28,500 U.S. troops in South […]

Indigenous people shout slogans during a rally at the Philippine Senate to mark Human Rights Day, Pasay, Philippines, Dec. 10, 2018 (AP photo by Bullit Marquez).

Since the mid-2000s, democracy has regressed in nearly every part of the world. The global monitoring organization Freedom House has recorded declines in global freedom for 12 years in a row. In Thailand, Bangladesh and Turkey, democracies have all but collapsed. Countries where democracy seemed to be making gains in the early 2010s, like Myanmar and Cambodia, have slid backwards, with Cambodia reverting to one-party rule. Some states where democracy was believed to be well-rooted, such as Poland and the Philippines, have regressed under populists with authoritarian tendencies. Their democracies have not fully collapsed but are in grave danger, as […]

A woman walks by a bench painted with the U.S. flag at a popular shopping mall in Beijing, Jan. 6, 2019 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. The United States and China appear to have made progress in trade negotiations that wrapped up Wednesday afternoon in Beijing, but it remains unclear whether that will translate into a resolution to their ongoing trade dispute. In a sign of Beijing’s commitment to reaching a deal with Washington, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He—President Xi Jinping’s top economic aide and the official in charge of Beijing’s trade talks with Washington—made a surprise appearance at Monday’s talks, which were officially conducted […]

Cranes at the Port of Gulfport are silhouetted by the setting sun in Gulfport, Mississippi, Dec. 2, 2018 (AP photo by Charlie Riedel).

After a more-bark-than-bite approach to trade during his first year in office, President Donald Trump took on the world in 2018 and shows no sign of letting up. In Europe, British Prime Minister Theresa May has so far failed to convince Parliament to accept the Brexit deal she negotiated with Brussels. And under the radar, the World Trade Organization is facing paralysis if there is no compromise on how to reform its system of settling disputes. These are among the ongoing challenges that are likely to make 2019 another unsettling year for global trade. Even before the calendar turned to […]

A child walks past Mongolians protesting corruption in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, March 31, 2017 (AP photo by Ganbat Namjilsangarav).

Mongolia has been rocked in recent months by a series of corruption scandals that have prompted large-scale demonstrations in the capital, Ulaanbaatar. The government of Prime Minister Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh has been paralyzed by revelations that senior government officials, including members of his Cabinet, misused funds that were intended to assist small and medium-sized enterprises. In an interview with WPR, Morris Rossabi, a professor of East Asian history at Columbia University, explains why corruption is so widespread in Mongolia and why the current wave of scandals comes at a particularly bad time for its economy. World Politics Review: Why is corruption […]

A herder rests near a pile of dead livestock in the Zuunbayan-Ulaan soum in Mongolia, May 12, 2010 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series on food security around the world. The impacts of a drastically warming climate are already being felt in Mongolia, where air temperatures have risen at three times the global rate since the 1940s. Average precipitation is declining and extreme weather disasters are more frequent, posing challenges for the country’s agriculture sector, which accounts for one-tenth of GDP and employs one-third of the labor force. In an interview with WPR, Tungalag Ulambayar, the research director of Saruul Khuduu Environmental Research & Consulting in Ulaanbaatar, discusses the threat that climate change poses […]

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