U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the Climate Summit at U.N. headquarters in New York, Sept. 23, 2019 (AP photo by Jason DeCrow).

Two big questions about the future of multilateralism surfaced during last week’s United Nations General Assembly. How will the battle against climate change reshape international cooperation in the decades ahead? And will mounting competition between China and the United States render any cooperation impossible? The climate issue dominated the run-up to this General Assembly. Responding to dire warnings about global warming, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres insisted that it must be front and center in New York. He oversaw a masterful bout of diplomatic choreography, as the U.N. welcomed young, superstar activist Greta Thunberg to address a special Climate Action Summit, pushing […]

Rohingya refugees at the Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, April 24, 2019 (AP photo).

Myanmar’s government is pushing for the more than 1 million Rohingya refugees currently in Bangladesh to start returning to the country, in an effort to project an image of peace and reconciliation to the outside world. Yet as grim as the situation is for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, where they live in what is now the world’s largest refugee settlement, their prospects back in Myanmar are even worse. It is little surprise, then, that few if any Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority in Myanmar, have taken up the offer. This is Myanmar’s second attempt at facilitating the repatriation of Rohingya, […]

Newly appointed Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi speaks during a press conference at the prime minister’s official residence in Tokyo, Sept. 11, 2019 (AP photo by Eugene Hoshiko).

Barring the unexpected, Shinzo Abe will become the longest-serving prime minister in Japan’s history this November. Speculation is already rife among Japanese commentators over who could be next in line for the top job. A major reshuffle of Abe’s Cabinet earlier this month sets the stage for what the Nikkei Asian Review calls “Japan’s post-Abe game of thrones.” The crowded field of potential successors include Taro Kono, who was appointed defense minister after serving a two-year stint as foreign minister, and Toshimitsu Motegi, who replaced Kono at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Motegi has been close to Abe for years, […]

The aftermath of the twin suicide bombing of a Roman Catholic cathedral in Jolo, the capital of Sulu province in the southern Philippines, Jan. 27, 2019 (AP photo by Nickee Butlangan).

It’s been six months since the Islamic State lost the last slice of its territory in Iraq and Syria, where it once controlled a land mass roughly the size of the United Kingdom. This loss dealt a serious blow to the terrorist group, but not a fatal one. As many different counterterrorism analysts have written, ISIS continues to spread its message and gather adherents who carry out attacks in its name across the globe. One area where a metastasizing ISIS could seek to establish a greater foothold is Southeast Asia. In recent years, a number of countries in this diverse […]

Solomon Islands Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manele and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during a ceremony to mark the establishment of diplomatic relations, Beijing, Sept. 21, Sept. 21, 2019 (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. China notched two big victories in its campaign to diplomatically isolate Taiwan last week. On Friday, Kiribati announced it was cutting ties with Taipei in favor of Beijing, just days after a similar move by the Solomon Islands. The two Pacific island nations appear to have been swayed by promises of economic investment, a ploy Beijing has used in the past. Taiwan said in a statement Friday that it “deeply regrets and strongly condemns” Kiribati’s decision, which it claims […]

A Chinese investor monitors stock prices at a brokerage house in Beijing, Aug. 30, 2019 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

Amid signs that both sides are trying to tamp down the trade war, at least for now, American and Chinese negotiators are planning to resume trade talks in early October. China recently exempted some U.S. goods from its retaliatory tariffs and is signaling that it may allow the private sector to resume purchasing American agricultural commodities. President Donald Trump in turn delayed by two weeks increasing the tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese exports from 25 percent to 30 percent. He said the delay, to Oct. 15, was a “gesture of goodwill,” since the leadership in Beijing will be celebrating […]

From left, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Japan’s then-foreign minister, Taro Kono, at a press conference in Beijing, Aug. 21, 2019 (pool photo by Wu Hong of European Pressphoto Agency via AP Images).

The foreign ministers of China, Japan and South Korea met in Beijing last month, where they agreed to seek closer economic ties and push for “free and fair trade” amid a climate of rising protectionism. A leader’s summit in China could follow later this year— an opportunity, perhaps, to resolve some festering troubles in a region mired in mistrust. This diplomatic progress in collective ties comes at an inauspicious time. Attempts by Beijing, Tokyo and Seoul to work together have been undermined constantly over the past decade due to various rivalries in Northeast Asia. An inaugural trilateral leaders’ summit was […]

Indian women hold candles and posters during a protest against two recently reported rape cases, in Ahmadabad, India, April 16, 2018 (AP photo by Ajit Solanki).

MUMBAI, India—In December 2012, in a case that generated international headlines, a 23-year-old physical therapy student was gang-raped by six men on a bus in New Delhi. After 45 minutes of torture, the woman—dubbed Nirbhaya, or fearless, by the Indian press, which is prohibited by law from naming victims of sexual assault—was thrown off the bus. Found in critical condition, she died of her injuries in a Singapore hospital less than two weeks later. The tragedy brought national and international attention to the issue of sexual violence in India. Following Nirbhaya’s death, then-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declared, “While she may […]

Across the world, populism has become a prominent feature of the political landscape. This report provides a comprehensive look at the rise of populism and its implications for liberal democracies. Download your FREE copy of The Global Rise of Populism today. In Europe, an anti-immigrant backlash against the 2015 migrant crisis helped fuel the rise of far-right, nationalist parties whose leaders often adopt a populist style. The Brexit referendum in 2016 appeared to be the highwater mark of the populist wave, but in Eastern and Southern Europe, and even in Scandinavia, populist parties continue to either govern or enjoy widespread […]

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern talks to the media in Wellington, New Zealand (AP photo by Nick Perry).

New Zealand’s Parliament voted overwhelmingly last month to advance a bill that would decriminalize abortion and loosen restrictions on the procedure. Under current law, women can only obtain an abortion in New Zealand if they receive approval from two doctors, and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promised to change that while campaigning in 2017. The bill must pass two more rounds of voting before it can become law. According to Yanshu Huang, a research fellow at the University of Auckland’s Public Policy Institute, Ardern’s push for reform also reflects a broader change in public opinion among New Zealanders, toward more pro-choice […]

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks at a festival at Kevadiya, in the western Indian state of Gujarat, Sept. 17, 2019 (AP photo by Ajit Solanki).

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be in the United States next week to attend the annual session of the U.N. General Assembly, meet with U.S. officials and business leaders, and address a huge rally of the Indian diaspora. As he embarks on the trip, his government finds itself a target of widespread international criticism after it upended the status quo in Kashmir last month, by revoking the special autonomy of the state of Jammu and Kashmir—the latest move in what is widely seen as an increasingly divisive, Hindu nationalist agenda. Given these recent developments, one might expect the Indian […]

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, left, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, center, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, right, prepare for a photo op in Shanghai, China, July 31, 2019. (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. A Chinese delegation led by Deputy Finance Minister Liao Min traveled to Washington on Wednesday to lay the groundwork for trade negotiations with the United States that are set to begin in October. The visit follows several goodwill measures by both sides, as they seek to contain the costs of an escalating trade war. A comprehensive trade deal is still a distant prospect, but a more limited agreement appears to be within reach. Last Wednesday, China published a short […]

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, watches the test firing of a missile at an undisclosed location in North Korea, Aug. 24, 2019 (Korea Central News Agency photo via AP Images).

As a United Nations report revealed earlier this month, North Korea continues to dodge international sanctions and raise money for its nuclear weapons program, despite attempts to bar it from the global financial system. The report from the panel of experts charged by the U.N. Security Council with overseeing enforcement of U.N. sanctions on North Korea conclusively shows how Pyongyang capitalizes on an old method of sanctions-busting—smuggling—and a much newer one: hacking. In both cases, its tactics are getting more innovative. When it comes to smuggling, North Korea’s use of ship-to-ship transfers continues to circumvent sanctions “unabated,” including through previously […]

Delegates gather at a four-day assembly meeting to discuss opening up peace talks with the Taliban, in Kabul, Afghanistan, May 3, 2019 (AP photo by Rahmat Gul).

Although President Donald Trump declared talks with the Taliban “dead” this week, the reality is that even as calls for a settlement in Afghanistan gained momentum, negotiations for a deal to end America’s longest war were bound to falter. Trump’s clumsy attempt to grab the spotlight by arranging for a last-minute summit at Camp David between the Taliban and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on the eve of the anniversary of 9/11 rightly rankled both Republicans and Democrats in Congress. But the White House obsession with striking a grand bargain in Afghanistan in time for the next U.S. presidential election is […]

Shoppers select pork in a supermarket in Hangzhou, China, June 12, 2019 (Photo by Long Wei for FeatureChina 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. For months, pork prices in China have risen steadily as the country battles an epidemic of African swine fever, a disease that is not harmful to humans but is fatal to pigs. Government data released this week showed a 50 percent increase in pork prices in August compared to the same time last year. Pork is a favorite among Chinese consumers, and with several major holidays around the corner, authorities are treating the shortage as a “national priority.” China […]

A container ship docked at a port in Qingdao, in eastern China’s Shandong province, Aug. 6, 2019  (Chinatopix photo via AP Images).

It didn’t take long for the U.S.-China trade war to get worse. Even though negotiators have agreed to meet in Washington next month, they are unlikely to see a breakthrough. If things continue on their current course, they will keep getting worse from now until the end of the year, when there will be tariffs of 15 to 30 percent on almost everything the United States imports from China. In part because of the trade war, Chinese economic growth is now expected to fall below 6 percent later this year. Slowing global trade is also hitting the export-driven German economy, […]

South Korean middle school students march in a rally against Japan in Seoul, South Korea, Aug. 28, 2019 (AP photo by Ahn Youg-joon).

Over the past half century, the United States and its two key allies in Northeast Asia, South Korea and Japan, have established a limited yet effective framework for trilateral defense cooperation. That system has largely remained intact despite a history of bad blood between Seoul and Tokyo, specifically over Japan’s brutal occupation of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 until 1945. But regional observers are now increasingly worried that this edifice is beginning to crumble. The latest sign of trouble was South Korea’s decision last month to scrap a 2016 intelligence-sharing pact with Japan. The General Security of Military Information Agreement, […]

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