Then-Vice President Joe Biden and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at a press conference in Singapore, July 26, 2013 (AP photo by Bryan van der Beek).

Although President Donald Trump has not conceded the United States presidential election and is mounting multiple dubious legal challenges to the results, President-elect Joe Biden is moving ahead with the transition. While Biden did not focus on Southeast Asia during his time as vice president from 2009 until 2017, he probably has more extensive foreign policy experience than any incoming president in decades, save perhaps George H. W. Bush. In addition, his policy team includes a deep bench of experts on the Asia-Pacific region. When it comes to Biden’s approach to Southeast Asia, persistent tensions in the U.S. relationship with […]

Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa applaud after the signing of agreements between the two countries, in Queluz, Portugal, Dec. 5, 2018 (AP photo by Armando Franca).

Jutting into the Atlantic Ocean 65 miles south of Lisbon, Portugal’s Sines peninsula has long been recognized by foreign powers for its geostrategic importance. The Romans, Visigoths and Moors all established settlements alongside the natural deepwater port. Today, however, plans to redevelop the port have become the latest source of friction between the U.S. and China, suggesting that Portugal’s diplomatic strategy of courting both rivals is running out of runway. Sines is the closest port in mainland Europe to America’s eastern shale basins. U.S. firms want to expand the port’s liquid natural gas terminal in order to increase gas exports […]

President-elect Joe Biden introduces his nominees and appointees to key national security and foreign policy posts at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del., Nov. 24, 2020 (AP photo by Carolyn Kaster).

During a long campaign that was, for both tactical and public health purposes, deliberately subdued, Joe Biden frequently offered a pithy, two-word answer to the question of how he would change America’s message to the world: “We’re back.” Biden’s first major Cabinet choices were also intended to reinforce this theme, as literal returnees. People like Antony Blinken, Biden’s nominee for secretary of state, and other members of his national security team are all veterans of the Obama administration. Despite Biden’s evident comfort with the familiar, though, as I argued in one of my earliest columns for WPR, there will be […]

Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide, right, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Tokyo, Japan, Nov. 25, 2020 (Photo by Masanori Genko for The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR contributor Lavender Au and Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curate the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. Subscribers can adjust their newsletter settings to receive China Note by email every week. When the huge Pacific Rim trade deal formerly known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership was first proposed, many Chinese observers saw it as a U.S. attempt to economically contain and exclude China. They worried that, with a new, American-led trade bloc surrounding China, Chinese exports would become less attractive throughout Asia. Because of the TPP’s rigorous terms as a high-standard trade deal, […]

Thousands attend a rally for the 8th Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, Oct. 12, 2020 (AP photo by Jon Chol Jin).

When President-elect Joe Biden enters the Oval Office on Jan. 20, he is unlikely to have North Korea at the front of his mind, given the many other urgent crises he will confront. But the Korean Peninsula has a way of forcing American presidents to pay attention. Crucial decisions about how to approach negotiations with Pyongyang over its nuclear program, as well as how to manage the U.S. alliance with South Korea, are now overdue. If Biden chooses wisely, his administration could prove transformational for the Korean Peninsula. If he errs or defers meaningful decisions to his successor, he risks […]

An Indian schoolgirl wears a mask of Chinese leader Xi Jinping to welcome him on the eve of his visit to Chennai, India, Oct. 10, 2019 (AP photo by R. Parthibhan).

The architects of India’s foreign policy have long preferred a multipolar world. They believe that India, with its limited economic and military capabilities, can play a prominent role on the global stage only when it is not dominated by one or two superpowers. That view led New Delhi to champion the Non-Aligned Movement during the Cold War, and a preference for multipolarity endured in Indian foreign policy thinking after the fall of the Soviet Union. Even while India in the 21st century drew closer to the sole remaining superpower, the United States, its leaders spoke of strategic autonomy, which some […]

Then-Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden arrives to speak at McGregor Industries in Dunmore, Pa., July 9, 2020 (AP photo by Matt Slocum).

Joe Biden’s election as president offers the United States an opportunity to recast its relationship with the United Nations after four years of “America First” disengagement under Donald Trump. The president-elect is already declaring that “America is back.” But to make good on his promise, Biden needs to reinvigorate American leadership within the U.N. itself, while tempering expectations about what the world body can deliver at a time of intense geopolitical rivalry. Beyond reversing Trump’s misguided assaults on the U.N., Biden must strengthen U.S. capabilities to conduct multilateral diplomacy, promote institutional reforms to bring the U.N. into the 21st century, […]

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, right, with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, center, and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, left, in Beijing, May 1, 2019 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

Once relatively staid, the global economic and trade system has been anything but since U.S. President Donald Trump took office. Though it’s been overshadowed by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S.-China trade war has not been definitively resolved. In January, the two countries hit the pause button on the on again, off again dispute, which began in 2018 when Trump launched a series of tit-for-tat tariff hikes over China’s unfair trade practices, including forced technology transfers and the theft of intellectual property. After several rounds of talks stalled over the course of the following 18 months, the two […]

The aftermath of a suicide car bombing that killed and wounded several Afghan troops, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov. 13, 2020 (AP photo by Ahmad Seir Nassiri).

If American policy in Afghanistan was a Hollywood thriller, acting Pentagon chief Christopher Miller’s announcement Tuesday that President Donald Trump plans to reduce the number of American troops in the country from 4,500 to 2,500 by the time he leaves office in January might have made for a riveting plot twist. The trouble for White House script writers is that we’ve all seen this movie before, and it never seems to end with a better outcome for the Afghan people. The one hidden benefit of Trump’s drawdown announcement is that it could free up Joe Biden to write an alternative […]

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, left, and Minister of Trade Tran Tuan Anh, right, next to a screen showing Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan, during the RCEP signing ceremony, Hanoi, Vietnam (AP photo by Hau Dinh).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR contributor Lavender Au and Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curate the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. Subscribers can adjust their newsletter settings to receive China Note by email every week. Sealed at a virtual signing ceremony Sunday, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, now the world’s largest trading bloc, has been eight years in the making. It encompasses the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations—Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam—and five of their major trading partners, in Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and […]

Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong speaks to media after arriving at a court in Hong Kong, Sept. 30, 2020 (AP photo by Kin Cheung).

More than a year ago, months into the escalating protests in Hong Kong, a reporter with a local television station, Tsang, put on a bulletproof vest for the very first time.* She had gone for a drink the night before, wondering if it would be her last. A few days earlier at a protest, a reporter standing next to her was hit in the eye and permanently blinded by a police projectile; on another occasion, her cameraman had yanked her from the spot right before a Molotov cocktail exploded at her feet. The vest proved to be a wise decision. […]

Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vietnam, Oct. 19, 2020 (AP photo by Minh Hoang).

When Abe Shinzo abruptly announced he was stepping down as prime minister this summer due to health concerns, it marked an important turning point for Japan’s position on the world stage. The longest-serving prime minister in Japanese history, Abe began his second term in 2012, guiding the country through a period of global turmoil while maintaining a rigorous travel schedule. He championed multilateralism, free trade and a rules-based order at a time when many other countries were being buffeted by great-power politics and the rise of authoritarian populism. And while Abe’s ambitious foreign policy agenda often missed its mark, he […]

A flight crew member shares his digital information with state officials after arriving at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu, Hawaii, Oct. 15, 2020, (AP photo by Marco Garcia).

As authorities around the world seek out new tools to fight COVID-19, they are increasingly turning to contact-tracing apps and other technological tools that carry worrying implications for online privacy and digital rights. Meanwhile, a recent report from the watchdog group Freedom House warns that many authoritarian governments are seizing on the pandemic to expand their surveillance powers and crack down on online dissent, while imposing new restrictions on the flow of information across national borders. On the Trend Lines podcast this week, Freedom House’s Adrian Shahbaz, one of the report’s co-authors, joined WPR’s Elliot Waldman to talk about how […]

A giant TV screen shows an image of President Donald Trump during a newscast about the U.S. presidential election, at a shopping mall in Beijing, Nov. 8, 2020 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

It didn’t require an acute sense of hearing to register the sighs of relief from many quarters around the world when Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump was called by leading American news networks Saturday. From the mayor of Paris, the message was an exuberant “Welcome back America!”⎯and that spirit of encouragement was matched in places as far flung as Canada, South Korea and Ethiopia, even if the language was slightly more restrained. In certain other quarters, just as predictably, mum was the word. Vladimir Putin, who rushed to congratulate Trump four years ago, passed the first few days after […]

A man shows the contact tracing app Stayaway Covid on his cellphone, in Lisbon, Portugal, Sept. 17, 2020 (AP photo by Armando Franca).

Many aspects of our response to the coronavirus pandemic have relied on digital technology. Schools and workplaces are moving online, holding classes and meetings using virtual tools. Public health experts are using data analytics and contact tracing apps to slow the contagion. And in some cases, authoritarian governments are using the pandemic as an excuse to impose sweeping restrictions on their citizens that limit their scope for protests and other forms of criticism. According to researchers at the watchdog group Freedom House, the implications of the pandemic for digital rights worldwide are bleak. The organization released a new report last […]

Chinese leader Xi Jinping and then-U.S. Vice President Joe Biden during an arrival ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, Sept. 24, 2015 (AP photo by Carolyn Kaster).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR contributor Lavender Au and Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curate the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. Subscribers can adjust their newsletter settings to receive China Note by email every week. Although Chinese leader Xi Jinping still has not yet issued a statement or called to congratulate Joe Biden on his election win over Donald Trump, prominent commentators in China are already discussing what his presidency means for U.S.-China relations. Trump is still mounting dubious legal challenges to the election’s outcome, and has now embarked on a purge of the Pentagon, getting […]

Then-Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden tours a metal fabricating facility in Dunmore, Pa., July 9, 2020 (AP photo by Matt Slocum).

Donald Trump has been an unorthodox president, to say the least. Much of America and the rest of the world is hoping for a return to some semblance of normality under President-elect Joe Biden. But what might that mean on trade? The traditional take on American trade politics for decades has been that Republicans tend to be free traders while Democrats are more skeptical. Trump certainly turned that on its head. Yet after he started imposing tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars in imports, several polls—which obviously have to be taken with a grain of salt—showed most Americans becoming […]

Showing 1 - 17 of 241 2 Last