Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, talks to reporters in Manila, the Philippines, Feb. 20, 2018 (AP photo by Bullit Marquez).

Two years into the three-year mandate of a transitional authority tasked with governing a long-troubled corner of the southern Philippines, its chief minister, Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, is pushing to extend the term of his interim administration. The transitional authority’s 80 members were appointed to lead the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, or BARMM, in 2019, as part of a peace deal the Philippine government signed with Muslim rebels fighting for independence in Mindanao. The extension, if approved, would postpone a scheduled vote for the region’s first democratically elected parliament from May 2022, as originally foreseen by the transition […]

A woman hands money to a vegetable vendor at a market in Kohima, India, June 30, 2020 (AP photo by Yirmiyan Arthur).

In many parts of the world, particularly in emerging markets, women are at a stark disadvantage when it comes to obtaining a loan. Studies have shown that expanding access to credit for women would spur economic growth, yet the financial gender gap remains stubbornly wide. In fact, there are more than 70 countries where women cannot even open a bank account. According to Mary Ellen Iskenderian, president and CEO of the nonprofit Women’s World Banking, emerging financial technologies, or fintech, have the potential to revolutionize access to credit for women in low-income countries by allowing them to receive loans from […]

Belarusian police detain journalist and activist Roman Protasevich, center, in Minsk, Belarus, March 26, 2017 (AP photo by Sergei Grits).

When a Belarusian MiG-29 fighter jet forced a Ryanair flight filled with civilians to divert from its Athens-to-Vilnius route and land in Minsk on Sunday so that the regime could arrest one of its leading critics, it justifiably triggered international outrage. It was, indeed, a brazen violation of international norms. But this new transgression by the Belarusian dictator, President Alexander Lukashenko, was not an isolated event. It was part of an increasingly common practice by repressive regimes across the globe, one so common that it now has a name: transnational repression. Lukashenko personally ordered the military aircraft to scramble into […]

A U.S. soldier walks past parked armored vehicles and tanks of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team and 1st Calvary Division, based out of Fort Hood, Texas, as they are unloaded in Antwerp, Belgium, Nov. 16, 2020 (AP photo by Francisco Seco).

In late September 2020, the long-simmering conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan boiled over into full-blown war. As Azerbaijani tanks and drones advanced into territory held by Armenian forces, commentators around the world warned of the possibility of regional instability or even a wider conflict between Turkey and Russia, which supported opposite sides in the fighting. The heart of the conflict was the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, an obscure province in the South Caucasus that most Americans have never heard of—even fewer can muster an opinion as to which former Soviet republic it should belong to. Its relationship to U.S. security […]

President Joe Biden listens during a tour of the Ford Rouge EV Center in Dearborn, Mich., May 18, 2021 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

In last week’s episode of “America Competing with a Rising China,” the geopolitical equivalent of a TV series, Joe Biden took the wheel of a Ford truck and all but burned rubber as he pulled away from reporters who had come to witness the stunt. Biden’s visit came on the eve of Ford’s announcement of a new, all-electric version of its model F-150, the most popular motor vehicle in the United States, and he used it to enlist the automaker’s innovations in his ongoing campaign to prove not just that “America is Back,” whatever that means, but that the country […]

European Council President Charles Michel speaks at the conclusion of an EU-China summit, in video conference format, at the European Council in Brussels, June 22, 2020 (Pool photo by Yves Herman via AP Images).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, China Note, which includes a look at the week’s top stories and best reads from and about China. Subscribe to receive it by email every Wednesday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. The European Parliament has voted overwhelmingly to freeze a massive investment deal with China that had taken seven years to negotiate. The Guardian reported that the resolution suspended “any consideration of the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI), as well as any discussion on ratification” […]

A woman carries vegetables outside a wholesale market in Jammu, India, May 2, 2020 (AP photo by Channi Anand).

In 2015, a report from the McKinsey Global Institute found that up to $28 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025 if women were allowed to achieve their full economic potential. Yet according to the World Economic Forum, there are more than 70 countries where women are not allowed to open bank accounts or obtain credit. The gender gap in financial account penetration tends to be widest in certain emerging markets, like South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and parts of the Middle East. Even when financial services are available to them, women often face bias and discrimination at various […]

A TV news program showing an image of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Joe Biden, at the Suseo Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, March 26, 2021 (AP photo by Ahn Young-joon).

The Biden administration is using an outdated script to justify doing very little about North Korea. As a consequence, it’s blowing a unique opportunity to avoid a future crisis, stabilize the Korean Peninsula for the long term and rectify one of America’s longest-running foreign policy mistakes. On April 30, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that the White House had concluded its months-long policy review on North Korea. There was no official rollout or fanfare, no glossy document with a government logo—just a brief verbal statement to reporters aboard Air Force One. In this case, the low-key reveal was […]

A man sends brain-computer interface commands to a robotic computer during Science Conference at the Convention Center in Washington, D.C., Feb. 17, 2011 (AP photo by Jose Luis Magan).

Technology has blurred all sorts of boundaries we used to take for granted—between work and leisure, between being alone and being with others, between private and public spaces. One boundary we still generally treat as sacrosanct, though, is the one around our own minds, which allows us to think for ourselves and to keep those thoughts private, whether they are rebellious, impolite or simply irrelevant. After all, the power to make up our own minds is an essential part of what makes us individuals. Technology may now be challenging this mental independence, too, and some of its applications could threaten […]

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, center, and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov. 19, 2020 (AP photo by Rahmat Gul).

As U.S. troops begin what may be their final withdrawal from Afghanistan, no third country will be affected by their departure as much as Pakistan, which shares a long, porous border with Afghanistan, hosts much of the Taliban leadership as well as millions of Afghan refugees, and faces threats from Pakistani militants based there. For Pakistan, America has been both a partner and a strategic competitor in Afghanistan. Notionally, the U.S. exit presents Islamabad with an opportunity to proactively shape Kabul’s political future in its favor. But in reality, a post-withdrawal Afghanistan without an internationally backed, intra-Afghan accord offers far […]

Demonstrators at a Stop Asian Hate rally in Chicago, March 20, 2021 (AP photo by Nam Y. Huh).

On March 16, a 21-year-old white man allegedly went on a violent rampage at three spas in the Atlanta area, fatally shooting eight people—six of them Asian women. Law enforcement officials and some news outlets initially said the motive was “uncertain,” but the Asian American community in Georgia immediately recognized the vicious crime as part of a disturbing spike in violence against people of Asian heritage across the country. Prosecutors confirmed as much when they announced earlier this month that they would bring hate crime charges against the suspected shooter. In a Pew Research Center survey conducted in April, one-third […]

The UAE’s de facto ruler, Mohammed bin Zayed, right, and Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, July 22, 2019 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

A chorus of condemnation has risen in recent months from Western capitals in response to China’s persecution of the Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang. The United States, European Union, United Kingdom and Canada have imposed sanctions on Chinese officials, and U.S. President Joe Biden has maintained his predecessor’s stance that Beijing is committing “genocide” in Xinjiang—a position that the Canadian and British Parliaments also back. Yet, governments of Muslim-majority countries have so far largely refrained from criticizing China over its actions in Xinjiang. Why? There are justifiable fears that their relations with Beijing would suffer if they condemned […]

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi addresses the United Nations Security Council, at U.N. headquarters, Sept. 26, 2019 (AP photo by Craig Ruttle).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, China Note, which includes a look at the week’s top stories and best reads from and about China. Subscribe to receive it by email every Wednesday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. Under fire for staying silent on the latest round of fighting between Israel and Hamas, U.S. President Joe Biden finally expressed support for a cease-fire in a statement Tuesday. He followed that up today by telling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “he expected a significant […]

Delegates applaud as Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives for the closing session of China’s National People's Congress in Beijing, May 28, 2020 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

In the current age of extreme political polarization, it has become a cliché to observe that the only remaining bipartisan initiatives in Congress concern the naming of post offices. But in mid-April, a major bill sailed out of a Senate Foreign Relations Committee mark-up with near-unanimous support. Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, cast the lone dissenting vote against the Strategic Competition Act, which would ramp up pressure on China on a variety of fronts, including military deterrence, economic competition and human rights. Another draft law targeting China, the Endless Frontier Act, passed the Senate Commerce Committee this week […]

Exhausted workers who carried the dead for cremation sit on the rear step of an ambulance in New Delhi, India, April 24, 2021 (AP photo by Altaf Qadri).

When the Biden administration made its surprise announcement last week that it would seek to waive American patent protections on coronavirus vaccines, many were quick to cheer this as evidence that the president’s much-beloved slogan about global leadership, “America’s back,” was already becoming something more than mere rhetoric. Here was Washington appearing to put self-interest aside for the benefit of global public health, and in doing so, it would not only be taking on the American pharmaceutical giants that had pioneered the most important vaccine technologies in the first phase of this crisis, but also those of America’s European allies, […]

A Long March-5 rocket lifts off at the Wenchang Space Launch Center, Wenchang, China, Nov. 24, 2020 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, China Note, which includes a look at the week’s top stories and best reads from and about China. Subscribe to receive it by email every Wednesday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. Two weeks ago, more than 12 million Chinese viewers tuned in to watch a live broadcast of the core module of China’s first crewed space station being launched into orbit. Not far from the launch site, a symphony orchestra performed as the Long March 5B […]

Margrethe Vestager, the European Commission’s executive vice president for a Europe fit for the digital age, speaks on Europe's Digital Future at EU headquarters in Brussels, Feb. 19, 2020 (AP photo by Virginia Mayo).

It may be some years before your AI-powered assistant can sit at your kitchen table, finishing off a haiku while debating the nuances of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” as imagined by Ian McEwan in his 2019 novel, “Machines Like Me.” Even if that always remains the stuff of fiction, AI, short for artificial intelligence, has already crept into daily life. It is now helping heart surgeons spot minor problems that go undetected in routine scans. It is similarly more accurate than human experts at interpreting mammograms to detect early stage breast cancer. And it is starting to solve the complexities of […]

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