Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets the crowd during a visit to Varanasi, India, April 25, 2019 (AP photo by Rajesh Kumar Singh).

VARANASI, India—On a recent morning, Hindu pilgrims in white robes scurried through the dusty stone alleyways of this city on the Ganges River. They moved back-and-forth between various temples and the ghats, or piers, on the riverbank, and occasionally one or more of them would wade into the sacred waters, which are said to cleanse the soul. As the sunlight faded, a traditional folk band featuring tabla drums and a harmonium struck up a song as students and families sat on the steps to take in the early evening breeze. It was, in many ways, a fairly ordinary scene for […]

Mourners carry a flag-draped casket during a mass funeral for those killed in a suicide car bombing that targeted members of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard, in Isfahan, Iran, Feb. 16, 2019 (AP photo by Ebrahim Noroozi).

Iranian celebrations to mark the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution earlier this year were marred by a suicide bombing in southeastern Iran that killed 27 members of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The soldiers had been traveling near the Pakistani border in Sistan and Baluchistan province, where armed Sunni insurgents have waged a decades-long campaign to achieve greater autonomy from the Shiite-led government in Tehran. Iran accuses hostile foreign powers like the United States, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan of supporting the insurgency in the predominantly Sunni region. In an email interview with WPR, Patrick Clawson, director of research […]

Construction work at the Fangchenggang Nuclear Power Plant, Fangchenggang city, China, May 23, 2018. China is increasingly viewed as a competitive threat to the Western nuclear energy industry. (ImagineChina photo by Hai Ou via AP Images)

China’s voracious appetite for new nuclear power plants has helped to slow the decline in recent years of an ailing nuclear energy industry long dominated by the United States and Europe. From a late and inauspicious start in the 1990s, China’s nuclear fleet has risen to become the world’s third largest. According to Chinese government projections, within the next decade China may surpass the United States as the world’s leading nuclear energy producer. Despite that growth, though, China is increasingly viewed less as the salvation of the Western nuclear power industry, and more as a competitive threat. Chinese companies have […]

Filipino students burn a caricature depicting President Rodrigo Duterte during a protest in front of the gates of the Malacanang presidential compound, Manila, Philippines, Oct. 19, 2017 (AP photo by Aaron Favila).

As the bloody drug war continues in the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte tightens his grip on the free press. Find out more about what this all means with your subscription to World Politics Review (WPR). In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte launched his anti-narcotics crackdown immediately after being sworn in as president in 2016. The state’s brutal tactics drew considerable international condemnation when they were first reported. Journalists were invited by the police to witness drug raids, which often ended in lethal shootouts. Photographs of dead bodies gunned down by masked assassins on the streets of the Philippines circulated worldwide. […]

A Sri Lankan soldier stands guard at the damaged St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 26, 2019 (AP photo by Manish Swarup).

In this week’s editors’ discussion episode of the Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief Judah Grunstein, managing editor Frederick Deknatel and associate editor Elliot Waldman talk about the challenges facing Sri Lanka in the wake of the Easter bombings and what that attack says about the evolving threat of terrorism. In light of the U.S. decision to stop issuing waivers for major importers of Iranian oil this week, the editors also analyze the Trump administration’s arbitrary and ultimately counterproductive use of sanctions against Iran. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after their talks in Vladivostok, Russia, April 25, 2019 (Photo by Alexei Nikolsky for Sputnik via AP Images).

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made his first trip to Russia this week for a long-anticipated summit with President Vladimir Putin. Kim traveled by train to the far eastern port city of Vladivostok, about 75 miles from the North Korean border, where he and Putin met Thursday and discussed the North Korean nuclear issue, as well as bilateral economic engagement. It was the first meeting between the two leaders since Kim rose to power in 2011, although Putin is acquainted with the Kim family dynasty. He previously met with the young dictator’s father, Kim Jong Il, three times in […]

A Sri Lankan police officer patrols outside a mosque, Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 24, 2019 (AP photo by Eranga Jayawardena).

Large-scale terrorist attacks destroy lives, but they also have the power to upend political realities. That, after all, is their goal. The Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka are no exception. Whatever the larger objectives of the perpetrators of the suicide bombings at three churches and three hotels, their actions have sent political shockwaves across Sri Lanka, just as it prepares for presidential elections later this year. The political reverberations of the attacks were almost immediate. As Sri Lankans grappled with the human toll—more than 350 dead and hundreds more injured—revelations that authorities had received detailed warnings about an impending […]

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, right, shakes hands with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong after a press conference in Putrajaya, Malaysia, April 9, 2019 (AP photo by Vincent Thian).

The prime ministers of Malaysia and Singapore met for their annual leaders’ retreat earlier this month, an ongoing tradition that is now in its ninth year. The summit allowed the two neighbors to calm some recent diplomatic disputes tied to long-standing issues over territory and shared water resources. In an interview with WPR, Ja Ian Chong, an associate professor of political science at the National University of Singapore, discusses the recent chill, and thaw, in relations between Malaysia and Singapore. World Politics Review: What caused the rift in recent months between Malaysia and Singapore? Ja Ian Chong: The exact reasons […]

Melton Roy prays amid the graves of Easter Sunday bomb blast victims, Negombo, Sri Lanka, April 23, 2019 (AP photo by Gemunu Amarasinghe).

As Christians around the world were flocking to churches for Easter services Sunday, Sri Lanka was already in mourning. A string of deadly, coordinated explosions early Sunday, which tore through churches and luxury hotels in Colombo and across the island nation, killed over 321 people, including some 38 foreigners, and injured around 500 others. Seven of the eight attacks were suicide bombings. A ninth explosion was prevented late Sunday when security personnel defused an improvised explosive device on the road to Colombo International Airport. Among the churches attacked on Sunday morning was the 18th-century St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo, St. […]

Workers install flowers on a decoration promoting the upcoming Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, April 23, 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. China is expected to promote a rebooted version of its signature Belt and Road Initiative when world leaders from 37 countries gather in Beijing this week for the second Belt and Road Forum. Skepticism has been mounting for years over China’s expansive infrastructure investment strategy, and Beijing is looking for an opportunity to reset the narrative at this week’s summit, which begins Thursday and concludes Saturday. Critics have long viewed the Belt and Road Initiative as a bid to […]

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump meet on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nov. 30, 2018 (Kyodo photo via AP Images).

Until Jan. 23, 2017, the United States had a major free trade agreement with Japan and 10 other countries called the Trans-Pacific Partnership. But on his first day in office, President Donald Trump withdrew from the TPP, which had been signed just a few months earlier by President Barack Obama as his signature piece of trade policy. Trump was fulfilling one of his first campaign promises, having railed against the deal for years. At the signing of his Executive Order pulling the U.S. out of the TPP, Trump declared that it was a “great thing for the American worker, what […]

Maldivian women cast their votes in Male, Maldives, April 6, 2019 (AP photo by Mohamed Sharuhaan).

President Ibrahim Solih’s Maldivian Democratic Party scored a historic victory in parliamentary elections in the Maldives earlier this month, winning 65 of 87 seats in the legislature, known as the People’s Majlis. Those results clear the way for Solih’s attempts to account for the debts incurred by his corrupt and autocratic predecessor, Abdulla Yameen, who courted hundreds of millions of dollars in Chinese infrastructure investment during his time as president and is now facing money laundering charges. In an interview with WPR, David Brewster, a senior research fellow at the Australian National University’s National Security College, discusses the significance of […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping waves during a press event to introduce the new members of the Chinese Politburo in the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, Oct. 25, 2017 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

With no term limits, and no named successor, Xi Jinping could be the president of China for life. But whispers of dissent might be emerging. Find out what that means for China, and for the U.S., with your subscription to World Politics Review (WPR). Xu Zhangrun, a law professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing, made waves among Chinese academics and China-watchers in July with a published essay denouncing President Xi Jinping’s hard-line policies. The essay has been cited in numerous Western media outlets as a “rare rebuke” of Xi. The incident and other rumors of internal party dissent led Richard […]

U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, during a joint press conference at the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, Nov. 9, 2017 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

U.S. foreign policy has often been likened to an oil tanker. It can shift course, but major changes in direction happen slowly, if ever. This is understandable, after all. America’s global partnerships have in most cases developed over generations, representing institutional investments and deep-rooted national interests. One prominent exception to this rule, however, is now taking place before our very eyes: the U.S. foreign policy consensus on China, which has shifted rapidly over the course of the past few years and continues to move. This change reflects the degree to which the assumptions that long guided Washington’s approach to China […]

Social media apps displayed on a smartphone, March 1, 2018 (Press Association photo via AP Images).

On Monday, the European Union’s member states approved a package of controversial reforms to the bloc’s copyright laws, known as the Copyright Directive, that the European Parliament passed last month. It came just after Australia implemented a new law to police certain content on social media following the mass shooting at two mosques in New Zealand, which the attacker had livestreamed on Facebook. And last week, the United Kingdom entered the fray, releasing a widely anticipated white paper on “online harms” about keeping citizens safe online. Together, all three developments represent ways that democratic governments are building out content-filtering regimes […]

The logo of the Zhima Credit service of Alibaba’s Ant Financial on a smartphone in Jinan, China, May 28, 2018 (Photo by Da Qing for Imaginechina 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. In 2014, China announced plans to establish a comprehensive nationwide “social credit” system by 2020, with the aim of using troves of data to assess the trustworthiness of individuals, businesses and other entities based on their compliance with laws and other regulations. The idea has been called “Orwellian” by United States Vice President Mike Pence, and media outlets have likened it to an episode of Black Mirror, the popular dystopian television series. Aspects of the social credit system certainly […]

Indonesian women cheer during a campaign rally for Indonesian President Joko Widodo at a stadium in Jakarta, April 13, 2019 (AP photo by Dita Alangkara).

Indonesians go to the polls this week to elect their president and a new parliament. It is the first time in Indonesia’s modern history that both elections will be held on the same day. But most of the focus is on the presidential race and incumbent Joko Widodo, widely known as Jokowi, who remains the strong favorite against challenger Prabowo Subianto, a former lieutenant general whom he defeated in a tight election five years ago. Most polls show Jokowi with a wide lead, although Prabowo’s campaign could be picking up steam in its final days. If Jokowi is reelected, he […]

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