Whistleblower supporters demonstrate outside the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court in Canberra, Australia, June 27, 2019 (AP photo by Rod McGuirk).

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, authorities in Australia conducted two raids in two days on the offices of the public broadcaster and the home of a prominent journalist over leaked documents, raising concerns about press freedom in the country. The Australian Federal Police searched the offices of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, or ABC, apparently in connection with a 2017 series of stories on alleged misconduct by Australian special forces in Afghanistan. That raid came only one day after the same agency […]

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

President Donald Trump is traveling Wednesday to Osaka, Japan, for the G-20 leaders’ summit, where the packed agenda includes a much-anticipated meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. “The world’s eyes will be on the Trump-Xi meeting,” WPR columnist Stewart Patrick wrote this week, as the two leaders will try to get negotiations for a trade deal back on track after talks broke down last month. From Japan, Trump will travel on to South Korea for talks with President Moon Jae-in about how to restart stalled diplomacy with North Korea over its nuclear program. As the former top U.S. diplomat for […]

Staff members stand near the emblem for the 2019 Group of 20 leaders’ summit at the entrance of the press center of the G-20 Finance Ministers’ and Central Bank Governors’ meeting, in Fukuoka, Japan, June 9, 2019 (AP photo by Eugene Hoshiko).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. When Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump meet Saturday at the Group of 20 leaders’ summit in Osaka, Japan, as expected, the ongoing trade war will be at the top of the agenda. With negotiations at a standstill since May, the meeting is an opportunity to break the deadlock—and for Trump to back off his threats to impose tariffs on nearly all Chinese imports that are not already taxed. A breakthrough was expected last month, until […]

A boat sails past a cargo ship at a port in Qingdao, Shandong province, China, June 10, 2019 (Chinatopix photo via AP Images).

If the U.S.-China trade war develops into a broader cold war, as some observers fear, it will be nothing like the actual Cold War. Between civil war in Russia after World War I, the Great Depression in the United States and then the cataclysm of World War II, America and the Soviet Union never had a chance to develop a significant economic relationship before things hardened into a stark East-West divide. When Washington adopted a containment strategy that blocked most trade with the Soviets, including technology transfers, it had relatively little impact on either economy. The situation with China today […]

U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, along with other Group of 20 leaders, gather for a group photo in Buenos Aires, Nov. 30, 2018 (Kyodo photo via AP Images).

This weekend, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe welcomes world leaders to Osaka for the annual summit of the Group of 20. This club of major economies has been at the forefront of global governance since November 2008, when U.S. President George W. Bush convened an emergency committee to help rescue a world plummeting into the financial and economic abyss. The G-20’s ambit has since broadened to encompass an ever-expanding range of global issues. The Osaka summit continues that trend. Japan set an ambitious agenda for its presidency of the G-20, which rotates every year. Major themes include removing structural impediments […]

School security guards check students’ national ID cards and testing ID cards to allow admittance to the gaokao, China’s college entrance exam, in Gejiu, China, June 7, 2019 (Photo by Matthew Chitwood)

GEJIU, China—Luo Xing stood on the sidewalk outside Gejiu Third High School reviewing her Chinese language and literature test prep guide. She and hundreds of classmates were cramming last-minute for China’s high-stakes college entrance exam, known as the gaokao, as if 12 years of preparation were not enough. The bell finally rang and the school gates opened, allowing Luo Xing and the mass of students to push past throngs of anxious parents, SWAT police and a brigade of motorcycle cops. They disappeared into the school compound to face one of the hardest tests in the world. More than 10 million […]

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, center, speaks with the lawmakers during a parliamentary session, Tehran, Oct. 27, 2018 (AP photo by Ebrahim Noroozi).

In this week’s editors’ discussion on the Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein; managing editor, Frederick Deknatel; and associate editor, Elliot Waldman, talk about the latest escalations in the United States’ tense standoff with Iran, and whether a path remains to deescalate the crisis. They also discuss the significance of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s rare visit to North Korea. 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 […]

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands at a welcome ceremony at Yanqi Lake during the Belt and Road Forum, Beijing, May 15, 2017 (Pool photo by Roman Pilipey via AP).

The ballots hadn’t even been counted yet when the deals were announced. On April 26, just two days after Election Day, Indonesia signed 23 memorandums of understanding with China, worth $14.2 billion in all, for several major infrastructure projects. They came after months of silence about Chinese investment in Indonesia—by design, as President Joko Widodo feared attempts by the opposition to paint him as being too pro-China. It worked, as, in the end, the issue of Chinese investment did not play the same divisive role in Indonesia that it did in elections in Malaysia, the Maldives and Sri Lanka. Instead, […]

Tens of thousands of protesters carry posters and banners through the streets as they demonstrate against an extradition bill, in Hong Kong, June 16, 2019 (AP photo by Kin Cheung).

In the first decades after the commencement of China’s economic reforms and “opening up,” which began at the end of the 1970s, one question loomed in the minds of Western heads of state and many professional China watchers: How long would it take, as capitalist production and consumerism took hold, for Western forms of law and government to follow? By the time the Soviet Union was dissolved, in 1991, this kind of evolution came to be seen as inevitable, and with the invention and near-universal adoption of the internet, a robust vehicle to help catalyze change in China seemed at […]

Kazakh police detain a demonstrator during protests in Almaty, Kazakhstan, June 12, 2019 (AP photo by Vladimir Tretyakov).

Authorities in Kazakhstan cracked down on a series of large-scale protests before and after a tightly controlled presidential election on June 9, arresting thousands of demonstrators as well as a number of journalists. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, an ally of Kazakhstan’s longtime autocratic leader Nursultan Nazarbeyev, won the election in the first transition of power that the country has seen since it emerged as an independent state following the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. But the election was orchestrated to ensure Tokayev’s victory, leading protesters to demand more political openness and civil liberties. In an email interview with WPR, Paul Stronski, […]

A TV news program reports on Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to North Korea with file footage of Xi and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, June 18, 2019 (AP photo by Lee Jin-man).

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 will visit North Korea on Thursday, the first such trip by a Chinese president in 14 years. Longtime allies China and North Korea fought together in the Korean War and are celebrating 70 years of bilateral ties. But both countries are locked in tense standoffs with the United States, which is likely to loom large over the summit. Billed by Pyongyang as a state visit, the opportunity to host Xi is a diplomatic win for […]

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center, reviews an honor guard as he is welcomed by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, left, in an official arrival ceremony at the Saadabad Palace in Tehran, Iran, June 12, 2019 (AP photo by Ebrahim Noroozi).

In March 1953, the Japanese oil tanker Nissho Maru set sail from Kobe, in western Japan, bound for the Iranian port of Abadan. Its mission—to transport a shipment of Iranian oil back to Japan—was risky. Two years earlier, Iran’s government had nationalized the Iranian assets of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, which would later become British Petroleum. The British had responded with economic sanctions and a naval blockade, threatening to seize any vessel involved in the transshipment of Iranian oil. With limited trading options, the Iranians were desperate for buyers. Sazo Idemitsu, the founder and president of the oil company Idemitsu […]

Papua New Guinea’s new prime minister, James Marape, speaks to media after being sworn in, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, May 30, 2019 (Image from video by Australian Broadcasting Corporation via AP Images).

When Peter O’Neill resigned in late May after eight years as prime minister of Papua New Guinea, he left behind a troubled legacy of corruption allegations and economic mismanagement. His successor, James Marape, has pledged to take on corruption and make legal changes to ensure that benefits from the impoverished country’s oil and gas reserves are shared more equitably. But at this early stage, it is not yet clear that Marape will follow through on those promises, says Michael Kabuni, a lecturer in political science at the University of Papua New Guinea. In an email interview with WPR, he explains […]

Thailand’s prime minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha, speaks after the royal endorsement ceremony at Government House in Bangkok, June 11, 2019 (Pool photo by Lillian Suwanrumpha via AP images).

Earlier this month, the retired general who led a military coup in Thailand five years ago, Prayuth Chan-ocha, was formally confirmed as prime minister by King Vajiralongkorn, after parliament unsurprisingly voted to hand the position to the former coup leader. Of course, Prayuth, who did not even run in Thailand’s elections in March, was in the position to win the parliamentary vote because, since the coup, the junta he led had essentially hand-picked the upper house of parliament, after rewriting the constitution to make the Senate appointed, and overseen other constitutional changes that weakened large and anti-military parties. Then, after […]

Protesters march along a downtown street against the proposed amendments to an extradition law in Hong Kong, June 9, 2019 (AP photo by Vincent Yu).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. The massive demonstrations against a controversial extradition bill that have rocked Hong Kong in recent days “cannot be what Beijing wanted,” as commentator Yi-Zheng Lian argued this week in The New York Times. The simmering anger in Hong Kong toward the central government poses a major headache for China’s leaders as they attempt to extend control over the territory. Protesters took to the streets again Wednesday and surrounded Hong Kong’s Legislative Council, where they were met by riot police […]

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center right, and his wife, Ri Sol Ju, center left, at a musical performance in North Korea, June 2, 2019 (Korean Central News Agency photo via AP Images).

North Korea has never been an easy country to understand from the outside. But the recent cycle of seemingly contradictory developments in one the world’s most isolated countries appears especially bewildering. Last month, there were reports of a major leadership shakeup in Pyongyang, followed by a startling report in South Korean media that several key North Korean officials who had been in charge of negotiations with the United States had been executed or purged. Within a week, however, several of these officials resurfaced. These stories are a reminder that all too often, the immediate coverage about the North Korean state […]

A Taang National Liberation army officer walking through a poppy field in northern Shan state, Myanmar, Jan. 30, 2014 (AP photo by Gemunu Amarasinghe).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series about national drug policies in various countries around the world. On a balcony in the heart of downtown Bangkok, Thailand’s sprawling capital, Jirasak Sirpramong smokes cigarettes while discussing his experiences with methamphetamine, a drug he has been using for 25 years. “I love it,” he says, “because it makes my brain so clear.” His manner is easy and open as he patiently answers my questions in the suffocating heat of Bangkok’s hot season, exacerbated by the mass of concrete that surrounds us. When I ask him if his feelings toward […]

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