U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, center, and Vietnamese Defense Minister Ngo Xuan Lich review an honor guard in Hanoi, Vietnam, Nov. 20, 2019 (AP photo by Hau Dinh).

With China-Vietnam relations deteriorating as a result of Beijing's provocations, Hanoi has signaled a possible shift in alliances. Whether Vietnam actually follows through, though, likely depends on who takes over the ruling Communist Party during next year's National Congress. In a major new defense white paper, its first in 10 years, Vietnam has begun signaling that it could abandon its long-standing foreign policy strategy of hedging between major powers like China and the United States and move more definitively into Washington’s orbit. These documents are generally full of turgid jargon, but this one, released late last year, is unusually blunt, […]

A paramilitary policeman wears a face mask as he stands guard near the large portrait of Chinese leader Mao Zedong at Tiananmen Gate in Beijing, Jan. 27, 2020 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

The Wuhan coronavirus continues to spread rapidly in China, where more than 6,000 cases have now been confirmed and more than 100 people have died from the disease. Dozens of cases have also been reported in other parts of the world, including other Asian countries as well as Europe and North America. Chinese authorities have moved swiftly to contain the outbreak, placing travel restrictions on more than 48 million people in over a dozen cities, including the central metropolis of Wuhan. The director-general of the World Health Organization says he is confident that China is taking appropriate response measures, and […]

The British headquarters of Huawei in Reading, United Kingdom, June 12, 2018 (Photo by Steve Parsons for Press Association 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. The European Union on Wednesday recommended its member states limit the involvement of “high-risk” 5G vendors like Huawei in their telecommunications infrastructure, but it did not suggest banning the Chinese company outright. The EU’s new guidelines come a day after the United Kingdom announced it would not ban Huawei from its 5G network, a serious blow to the U.S. pressure campaign against China’s telecom giant. In a package of recommendations it refers to as its “5G toolbox,” the European […]

Demonstrators burn an effigy of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi while protesting against a new citizenship law, in Kolkata, India, Jan. 11, 2020 (AP photo by Bikas Das).

India’s new Citizenship Amendment Act, which passed last month and applies to migrants from three neighboring South Asian countries, has sparked domestic unrest as well as international outrage that has reverberated beyond the region. Less than a year after winning a landslide reelection, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi suddenly finds his global reputation stained. Though controversial on its own, the citizenship law has triggered such strong opposition because it epitomizes the sharp right turn Modi has taken in his second term. Since August, his government has implemented a series of divisive policies that align with long-held ideological goals of the […]

President Donald Trump listens as Chinese Vice Premier Liu He speaks during a press conference at the White House, in Washington, Jan. 15, 2020 (SIPA photo by Oliver Contreras via AP Images).

Two weeks after it was signed, President Donald Trump’s phase-one trade deal with China, which the White House typically hyped as a “landmark” and “historic agreement,” is looking more suspect. There were always questions about what was left out of the deal—especially industrial subsidies in China and continued tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars in imports from China. But now there is growing skepticism about the value of what is actually in the deal. What happened to the $40 billion to $50 billion in additional sales that Trump promised American farmers? Can Beijing really deliver on its commitment to […]

Passengers in masks at Hong Kong’s high speed train station, Jan. 22, 2020 (AP photo by Kin Cheung).

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 scrambling to contain the spread of a new and deadly viral outbreak as hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens plan to travel for the busy Lunar New Year holiday this weekend. Residents in the central city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus originated, are being urged not to leave, and authorities will shut down public transportation networks and suspend outbound flights in the city starting Thursday. A total of 540 cases of the disease have been confirmed around […]

A protest against President Jimmy Morales' decision to end the work of a U.N. anti-corruption commission, Guatemala City, Sept. 20, 2018 (AP photo by Moises Castillo).

The Trump administration is due to soon formally release its findings from a review of U.S. foreign assistance programs, aimed at “realigning” them for “a new era of great-power competition,” which critics have described as an effort to curb foreign aid overall. Given this context, aid and development organizations must be prepared to show how their work serves America’s strategic interests. Anti-corruption efforts do just that by striking at the heart of what keeps leaders of adversaries like China and Russia in power. Both countries are increasingly weaponizing corruption by using flows of illicit money and opaque deals to gain […]

A man works in a metal workshop in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, Jan. 17, 2020 (FeatureChina photo by Long Wei via AP Images).

Trade disruptions and sluggish investment helped drive global economic growth last year to its lowest level since the Great Recession. Even with the recent cease-fire in the U.S.-China trade war, the World Bank expects only a modest uptick in growth globally in 2020—if trade tensions don’t flare back up and spook investors again. These are among the key conclusions of the Bank’s latest Global Economic Prospects report. Among the reasons for pessimism is that the “phase one” deal signed last week between the U.S. and China will not remove the tariffs on most U.S. imports from China. Meanwhile, continued weakness […]

President Donald Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He shake hands after signing the “phase one” trade agreement in the East Room of the White House, Washington, Jan. 15, 2020 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

In this week’s editors’ discussion on Trend Lines, WPR’s Judah Grunstein and Freddy Deknatel talk about the “phase one” trade deal signed by the U.S. and China this week, and whether it lives up to President Donald Trump’s pronouncements. They also discuss what the surprise resignation of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev reveals about President Vladimir Putin’s plans after his current term expires in 2024. 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 […]

Indonesian President Joko Widodo inspects troops at Selat Lampa Port, Natuna Islands, Indonesia (Indonesian Presidential Office photo via AP Images).

By reigniting a dispute with Indonesia over control of the Natuna Islands, China appeared to be asserting its expansive territorial claims and challenging Indonesia's newly re-elected president. The move could backfire, though, by undermining Beijing's regional diplomatic goals. China sparked a major maritime confrontation with Indonesia near the South China Sea last month when dozens of Chinese fishing vessels, along with a coast guard escort, entered waters off the Natuna Islands, which are within Jakarta’s exclusive economic zone but are also claimed by China. Indonesian authorities responded swiftly, summoning China’s ambassador on Dec. 30 to lodge a protest and subsequently […]

People hold flags during a rally to show support for China’s Uighur Muslims, in Hong Kong,  Dec. 22, 2019 (AP photo by Lee Jin-man).

In order to understand the mounting tensions in both Taiwan and Hong Kong over their relationships with mainland China, one must abandon the usual time frames of weeks, months or at most a handful of years and instead imagine the scenarios that open up over decades—five decades, to be precise. Over the next 50 years, interlocking dreams and nightmares will hang even more heavily over Taiwan, which Beijing considers a breakaway province, and Hong Kong, over which Beijing wants to assert more direct control, with possibly tragic outcomes. China has all but announced that a new common reality must be […]

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev poses for a photo during parliamentary elections, at a polling station in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Dec. 22, 2019 (screengrab image from UZREPORT Government TV Channel via AP Images).

Last month, The Economist boldly labeled Uzbekistan its “country of the year,” declaring that “no other country travelled so far in 2019.” It is a remarkable achievement for a state that perennially finds itself at the bottom of international rankings on corruption, governance and human rights issues. But while Uzbekistan certainly is changing, the government’s quest for economic stability, not democracy, is driving the process. After taking power in 2016, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev quickly recognized that growing socioeconomic discontent could destabilize his regime. He saw that resentment toward a corrupted status quo could push angry populations into the streets, as […]

President Donald Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He hold up the signed “phase one” trade deal in the East Room of the White House, Washington, Jan. 15, 2020 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. With the signing of a “phase one” trade deal Wednesday, the United States and China have finally pressed pause on their protracted trade war. At a White House signing ceremony that was attended by Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, President Donald Trump called the pact a “sea change in international trade.” But what does it actually accomplish? At the center of the agreement are commitments from China to purchase an additional $200 billion in American goods and services over […]

A worker walks past cranes at the container port in Qingdao, Shandong province, China, Jan. 14, 2020 (Chinatopix photo via AP Images).

Unless President Donald Trump decides to blow things up, a “phase one” trade deal between the United States and China will finally be signed this week. The agreement has remained somewhat up in the air because its text still hasn’t been released and Chinese officials have been unwilling to confirm key elements that the White House asserts are in it. Assuming that things do go as planned, though, this is far from the end of the story. Trump and his advisers insist there will be a “phase two” deal that addresses the big, structural issues in China’s economic policies, from […]

Workers disinfect a passing vehicle after the latest incident of African swine flu outbreak on the outskirts of Beijing, China, Nov. 23, 2018 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

Imagine this scenario: A viral disease emerges and spreads rapidly across borders. It has a nearly 100-percent fatality rate, with symptoms that include high fever, blotchy skin lesions, coughing, diarrhea, vomiting and hemorrhaging. There is no treatment or preventative vaccine for the disease, so it results in widespread loss of life and a staggering economic toll. The international system struggles to come together to stop it from spreading even further. This might sound like any of a number of infectious diseases among humans, including SARS, Ebola and H5N1 influenza, also known as bird flu. But it actually describes African swine […]

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen delivers a speech as she launches her reelection campaign in Taipei, Taiwan, Nov. 17, 2019 (AP photo by Chiang Ying-ying).

Just over a year ago, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s political fortunes were stuck in a downward spiral. She resigned as leader of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, or DPP, after it suffered a historic rout in local elections in 2018, losing 16 out of 22 key municipal and county-level leadership races. In the weeks following that drubbing, her approval rating dropped to an all-time low of 24 percent. It looked as though Taiwan’s first female president would also be the first to serve only a single term in office. Who could have predicted then that Tsai would “rise from the […]

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, right, talks to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, left, during a meeting in Beijing, Dec. 31, 2019 (pool photo by Noel Celis of AFP 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. As tensions rise between the United States and Iran, China is urging both countries to exercise restraint while it carefully avoids words or actions that could be construed as taking sides. Beijing’s measured response to this escalating confrontation is a sign of its delicate diplomatic balancing act in a region where it has considerable economic interests. After Iran launched a missile strike early Wednesday against two military bases in Iraq hosting U.S. troops, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson called […]

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