Chinese President Xi Jinping walks past floral wreaths at the Monument to the People’s Heroes during a ceremony to mark Martyr’s Day at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, Sept. 30, 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. It is one of the most important events on China’s political calendar: the full meeting of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee, known as the party plenum. President Xi Jinping convened the four-day meeting in Beijing this week amid ongoing political unrest in Hong Kong, slowing economic growth and a protracted trade war with the United States. Yet rather than deal with those outside challenges, the Central Committee is expected to look inward, focusing on weaknesses within the Communist […]

Dian Novi, center, flanked by her husband, Nur Solihin, during a trial against them for
planning a suicide bombing, Jakarta, Indonesia, Aug. 23, 2017 (AP photo by Achmad Ibrahmin).

JAKARTA, Indonesia—An online magazine catering to supporters of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia is not the first place you might expect to find a spread featuring an illustration of a pink flower. But there it was amid articles about beheadings and bombings in an issue last year of Al-Fatihin, or The Conquerors. At first glance, the image could be mistaken for a misplaced advertisement. But the title above it left no doubt about the article’s intended audience: Jihad Wanita, or “Women’s Jihad.” The following six paragraphs outlined the different forms of jihad a woman can carry out, such as […]

President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the North Korean side of the Demilitarized Zone, in the village of Panmunjom, June 30, 2019 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

Earlier this month, American and North Korean officials gathered in Stockholm for a closely watched round of talks on North Korea’s nuclear program. The State Department’s official readout was upbeat: Over more than eight hours of “good discussions,” negotiators “discussed the importance of more intensive engagement.” The U.S. delegation “previewed a number of new initiatives” and accepted an invitation from Sweden to reconvene in two weeks. By contrast, North Korea’s interpretation of the meeting sounded like it came from a parallel universe. Kim Myong Gil, Pyongyang’s chief nuclear negotiator, said in remarks after the meeting that he was “very displeased” […]

Afghan security forces stand guard in front of an election poster for President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 23, 2019 (AP photo by Rahmat Gul).

Anyone following the ongoing controversies over Afghanistan’s recent presidential election will understandably have a sense of déjà vu. Nearly a month after Afghans voted on Sept. 28, not only is there no clear winner, there is not even any word on when preliminary results will be announced. Incumbent President Ashraf Ghani remains in office while Abdullah Abdullah, the national unity government’s chief executive and Ghani’s leading challenger, is once again crying foul over allegations of polling fraud. Officials at the Independent Election Commission, or IEC, are struggling to sort out how many voters actually turned out, after suspicions surfaced that […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Mamallapuram, India, Oct. 12, 2019 (Indian prime minister’s office photo via AP Images).

At their second informal summit in as many years, China’s Xi Jinping and India’s Narendra Modi, arguably the two most powerful leaders in Asia, eschewed confrontation for the sake of plodding along. While they hobnobbed in the seaside town of Mamallapuram in southern India earlier this month, they did little to resolve underlying border tensions and other contentious issues. Instead, Modi and Xi agreed on a few maxims—to be “factors for stability in the current international landscape” and to prevent “differences on any issue to become disputes.” While there was an emphasis on optics over substance, it is still encouraging […]

The U.S. Embassy in Beijing, China, May 6, 2011 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

It’s not every day that one gets a chance to assess a Trump administration decision made on what looks like solid foreign policy principles. But unexpectedly last week, the State Department announced that it had established new rules governing the activities of Chinese diplomats posted to the United States. The changes require Chinese envoys to notify the State Department in advance of “official meetings with representatives of states, local and municipal governments; official visits to educational institutions and official visits to research institutions” in the U.S. Since the rationale given for this measure was reciprocity, meaning that Washington claims to […]

American flags are displayed together with Chinese flags in Beijing, Sept. 16, 2018 (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. Last week, the Trump administration announced it would begin requiring Chinese diplomats in the United States to notify the State Department in advance of any meetings with American officials at the state or local level, as well as with educational and research institutions in the country. The move was a response to Beijing’s own rules requiring American diplomats in China to seek permission from the Chinese government before visiting institutions or meeting with local officials in an official capacity. […]

Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee, who along with Michael Kremer were awarded this year's Nobel Prize in economics, at a news conference at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Oct. 14, 2019 (AP photo by Michael Dwyer).

The winners of the Nobel Prize in economics usually toil in relative obscurity, renowned among their academic peers while carrying out work whose benefit may be elusive to everyone else. By comparison, the work of other Nobel laureates usually seems much more concrete and easier to grasp, especially for the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, whose impact is so clear-cut that they often become global superstars. Even in other scientific fields, the winners’ work can elicit popular nods of agreement with the Nobel Committee. Take this year’s winners of the chemistry prize, who helped develop rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, which […]

A Papuan activist with her face painted with the colors of the separatist Morning Star flag during a rally near the presidential palace, Jakarta, Indonesia, Aug. 22, 2019 (AP photo by Dita Alangkara).

Indonesia’s Papua region has been rocked by violent protests in recent weeks in response to racist incidents against indigenous Papuans. Dozens of protesters have been killed, and in one particularly hard-hit town, 16,000 residents were forced to flee the violence. Papua is ethnically and culturally distinct from other parts of Indonesia, and the region has seen decades of low-intensity conflict due to the presence of separatist groups. In an email interview with WPR, Simon Philpott, a senior lecturer in international politics at Newcastle University and specialist on Indonesia, discusses the factors behind the recent unrest in the context of a […]

U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in the Oval Office of the White House, Washington, Oct. 11, 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. On Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump hailed a preliminary trade agreement reached in principle with China, calling it “the greatest and biggest deal ever.” But there was no public mention of the deal in Beijing over the weekend, and Chinese state media warned against being “overly optimistic” about trade talks, leading to speculation that the deal would fall apart before even being signed. On Tuesday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang finally confirmed the tentative deal and said China was […]

Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn is carried on a palanquin through the streets outside the Grand Palace during the second day of his coronation ceremony in Bangkok, May 5, 2019 (AP photo by Wason Wanichorn).

Since ascending to the throne in 2016, the Thai king has taken several actions to expand his influence over Thailand’s politics, military affairs and economy. Will his maneuvering backfire? Two weeks ago, the Thai king issued a royal decree placing two army units under his direct control, rather than under the normal military hierarchy. The decree claims the change was made necessary by an emergency, but there is no obvious emergency that justifies such a decision. In reality, taking personal control of the military units is just the latest move by King Maha Vajiralongkorn to expand his influence over Thailand’s […]

An Apple Store in front of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower in Shanghai, China, Dec. 21, 2017 (Photo by Wang Gang for Imaginechina via AP Images).

If California were an independent country, it would be the world’s fifth-largest economy—just behind Germany and just ahead of India. The Golden State has plenty of social problems, but there’s no denying the dynamism and creativity of its entrepreneurs, filmmakers, artists and scientists. Not long after California emerged as one of the main engines of the U.S. economy, China was taking its place as a huge driver of global growth. Increasingly, underneath the geopolitical tensions between Washington and Beijing, California and China are forming deep and interdependent connections. To discuss the implications of this complicated relationship, WPR’s Elliot Waldman is […]

People watch smoke billowing from targets inside Syria during bombardment by Turkish forces, in Akcakale, southeastern Turkey, at the border with Syria, Oct. 10, 2019 (AP photo by Lefteris Pitarakis).

In this week’s editors’ discussion on Trend Lines, WPR’s Judah Grunstein, Elliot Waldman and Laura Weiss talk about U.S. sanctions targeting Chinese government entities and businesses involved in human rights abuses against the Uighur minority in Xinjiang. They also discuss what is driving protests in Ecuador, and why U.S. President Donald Trump’s greenlighting of a Turkish incursion into Syria could end up being a catastrophic error. 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 […]

Chinese military vehicles carry DF-17 ballistic missiles during a parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, in Beijing, Oct. 1, 2019 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

The People’s Republic of China marked the 70th anniversary of its founding Oct. 1 with an extravagant celebration in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. The military parade that headlined the event served as a reminder to domestic and foreign audiences of the ruling Communist Party’s durable grasp on power, while also providing yet another opportunity for China to flaunt the rapid and remarkable growth of its military capabilities. Chinese military parades are intended to demonstrate China’s military prowess and technological advances under the Communist Party. While this message is intended primarily for domestic consumption, over the past decade China has increasingly used […]

The evening gala at Tiananmen Square for the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China in Beijing, Oct. 1, 2019 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

When the Chinese Communist Party recently celebrated the 70th anniversary of its rule, it predictably pulled out all the stops. These included stepped up censorship of already tightly controlled domestic media for weeks before the event, extraordinary security measures in Beijing designed to prevent even the slightest disturbance, and the largest military parade in the country’s history. Responses to China’s celebrations have been equally predictable, too, and although they fall into two broad and opposing camps, there is no real contradiction between them. On one hand, some observers focus on China’s achievements since the early 1980s, starting with the rapid […]

A worker tears down a poster promoting a game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets in Shanghai, China, Oct. 9, 2019 (Photo by Yu Zhongyue 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. Last Friday, Daryl Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets, provoked a fierce backlash from China when he tweeted in support of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters. The since-deleted tweet led to a number of Chinese companies pausing their ties with the NBA, which initially expressed regret for the statement but has since offered a stronger defense of Morey’s statement. China is the NBA’s largest overseas market, so NBA officials have scrambled to contain the fallout. But the situation […]

A North Korean fishing boat in the Sea of Japan, late May 2019 (Japan Coast Guard via AP Images).

Russian border guards have escalated a crackdown on North Korean squid poachers in recent weeks, detaining dozens of fishing vessels and hundreds of crew members for illegally fishing inside Russia’s exclusive economic zone in the Sea of Japan. Moscow had previously ignored North Korean incursions into its waters, but the increasing scale of the problem and a mounting domestic outcry finally prompted authorities to take action. In an email interview with WPR, Artyom Lukin, a scholar specializing in Russia’s ties with East Asia at the Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok, Russia, explains the timing behind Russia’s clampdown and how […]

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