Candles lit by activists protesting the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi are placed outside Saudi Arabia’s consulate, in Istanbul, Turkey, Oct. 25, 2018 (AP photo by Lefteris Pitarakis).

When FBI agents first showed up at Masih Alinejad’s Brooklyn home to warn her that she was the target of an Iranian state-backed kidnapping plot, she was incredulous at first. As a journalist and outspoken critic of the regime in Tehran, she is accustomed to threats and harassment. But the brazenness of the plot was startling. “What surprised me is the fact that the regime felt confident enough to resort to kidnapping me here, on American soil,” Alinejad told me in a direct message on Twitter. “I used to think I was safe here.”  According to an indictment unsealed earlier this month, […]

A protest in front of the Chinese Consulate in Makati city, Philippines, July 12, 2021 (AP photo by Aaron Favila).

On April 21, a suicide bomber struck the four-star Serena Hotel in Quetta, Pakistan, killing five people and wounding 12 more. Initial reports indicated the target was Nong Rong, the Chinese ambassador to Pakistan, who was staying at the Serena but was not present at the time. The Tehrik-i-Taliban, or TTP, a jihadi terrorist group active along the Pakistani-Afghan border, later claimed responsibility for the attack, vaguely saying it had targeted “locals and foreigners” staying at the hotel.  A few months later, in mid-July, another suicide attack targeted a convoy of Chinese workers headed to the construction site of a hydroelectric dam […]

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, left, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi meet in Tianjin, China, July 26, 2021 (U.S. Department of State photo via AP).

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.  Over the past few months, Beijing’s increasingly uncompromising posture toward policy disagreements with foreign powers has been reflected in the strident rhetoric used by Chinese officials. The latest round of U.S.-China high-level diplomacy was no exception. But several incidents this week demonstrated how this sharp, aggressive tone on the […]

Candles on the graves of people killed during the Syrian war, in the town of Qamishli, Syria, Oct. 31, 2019 (AP photo by Baderkhan Ahmad).

Since 2011, Syria has been ravaged by a civil war that has seen numerous atrocities committed against its civilian population, including torture and war crimes. In the face of such abuses, there have repeatedly been calls for accountability. But how can perpetrators be held accountable, and by whom?  In criminal law, including international criminal law, the state is primarily responsible for seeking and carrying out justice. But the idea that the authoritarian regime of Bashar al-Assad would hold credible trials—especially into his regime’s own conduct—is fantastical at best.  Another option, then, might be to seek accountability through the International Criminal […]

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin attends a Parliament session in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, July 13, 2020 (AP photo by Vincent Thian).

Southeast Asia has in recent weeks become an epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. Indonesia is recording the highest number of confirmed new cases per day in the world, and even one-time success stories like Thailand and Vietnam are experiencing major outbreaks. Myanmar, which remains mired in crisis following a coup in February, is suffering from the unchecked spread of the virus. And Malaysia is reporting roughly 12,000 cases per day, the highest per capita average in the region. But unlike every other Southeast Asian state save Myanmar, Malaysia’s response is being hampered by chaotic governance and persistent political infighting. With Parliament suspended since January due to a controversial […]

A screen displays a notice on an iPhone in New York, Oct. 29, 2019 (AP photo by Jenny Kane).

This is the web version of our subscriber-only Weekly Wrap-Up newsletter, which uses relevant WPR coverage to provide background and context to the week’s top stories. Subscribe to receive it by email every Saturday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. Explosive revelations this week from the Pegasus Project detailed the widespread use of the Pegasus surveillance software program by repressive governments and three democracies—Hungary, India and Mexico—to spy on their own citizen activists and journalists, but also on foreign journalists and even heads of government. The software, developed and sold by the Israeli […]

Activists wearing masks depicting German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President Joe Biden hold signs reading “Free the vaccine” and “Waive the patents,” in front of the Brandenburg Gate, in Berlin, Germany, July 14, 2021 (AP photo by Fabian Sommer).

For just about anyone who spends time thinking about the future of the world, the fast-unfolding competition between the United States and China looms as one of the most important issues shaping both expectations and uncertainty over the near and medium term. The rivalry between these two countries, which boast the biggest economies and most powerful militaries in the world, is ostensibly over global leadership. The international crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, however, has revealed another darker reality: Where it counts most—meaning for the well-being of the largest numbers of people in the world—there is no real leadership competition. […]

Riot police stand guard in front of an American flag near the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong, July 4, 2020 (AP photo by Kin Cheung).

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.  Washington imposed new sanctions on seven deputy directors in the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in Hong Kong last week. They are the latest addition to a list of 24 officials who have been blacklisted by the U.S. over their roles in undermining the city’s autonomy.  Separately, […]

A man walks past a Huawei store promoting 5G technologies in Beijing, China, July 15, 2020 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

Once again, the U.K. appears to be out of step with its closest ally on chips and China, sitting on its hands over the sale of its largest semiconductor factory to a company with alleged links to the Chinese Communist Party. The U.K’s “have your cake and eat it, too” approach highlights disturbing inconsistencies that undercut its national security positioning and seem certain to reawaken tensions with the U.S. on policy toward China and technology. Highlighting the inconsistency at the heart of U.K. policy, the current controversy arises even as Hull, in the northeast of England, is due this month […]

Indians watch a rocket carrying communication satellite GSAT-29 lift off from Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, India, Nov. 14, 2018 (AP Photo/R. Parthibhan).

Over the past several months, as China began building its own space station in low-Earth orbit and collaborating with Russia on an asteroid mission and new lunar base, some in the United States have expressed concerns that a new space race is on. Cold War-style rhetoric has cropped up in media reports and government statements alike—and not for the first time. The establishment of the U.S. Space Force in 2019, for example, was largely justified as a response to the alleged weaponization of space by China and Russia, both of which in turn saw the new American military branch as […]

The ride-hailing app Didi and other Chinese apps on a phone in Beijing, July 5, 2021 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

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. New reports this week have revealed the developments that led to the Chinese internet regulator’s investigation into ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing, which has triggered a sell-off of the group’s shares and had a ripple effect on the Chinese tech industry. Investors were caught by surprise when the Cyberspace Administration […]

A worker at a Huafu Fashion plant during a government-organized trip for foreign journalists, in Aksu, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, April 20, 2021 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

In January this year, two shipments of shirts made by the major Japanese brand Uniqlo arrived at a port in Los Angeles, where they were detained by the U.S. authorities. Few heard about the seizures until they were revealed in documents released by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency in May. It’s been a quiet story, receiving none of the media commotion that accompanied the Chinese boycott against fast fashion giant H&M and other retailers in March—but it has sent a ripple of fear through the fashion industry, nonetheless. The confiscation was part of a U.S. effort to prevent […]

Pakistani activists take part in an International Women’s Day rally in Lahore, Pakistan, Oct. 9, 2020 (AP photo by K.M. Chaudhry).

Of the many injustices in the contemporary world, modern slavery is among the most shocking. The trade in humans is a worldwide phenomenon. It spans the poorest and wealthiest countries and is deeply embedded in global supply chains. This is not only an ethical outrage but a threat to international security, prosperity, good governance and development. As the world seeks to “build back better” from the COVID-19 pandemic, it must tackle the scourge of human bondage. Slavery is one of the oldest human institutions, and it remains stubbornly persistent. The global abolitionist movement, which originated in the late 18th century, […]

Indonesian tanks during a parade marking the 74th anniversary of the Indonesian armed forces in Jakarta, Oct. 5, 2019 (AP photo by Tatan Syuflana).

When Japan signed a deal with Indonesia in March enabling it to export defense equipment to the Southeast Asian country, some media outlets highlighted the supposed shared interests between Japan and Indonesia in countering China. According to the Associated Press, for example, the agreement would allow the two countries to “strengthen their military ties in the face of China’s increasingly assertive activity in the region.” But a closer look reveals that Tokyo and Jakarta have very different reasons for signing the agreement.  While Japanese officials stressed the need to deter China and prevent it from making unilateral changes to the […]

A large video screen showing Chinese President Xi Jinping speaking during an event to commemorate the centennial of China’s Communist Party at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, July 1, 2021 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

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. Addressing a 70,000-strong crowd gathered at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square to mark the centennial of the Chinese Communist Party on Thursday, Chinese leader Xi Jinping delivered a defiant speech that seemed aimed as much toward Washington as toward the millions of Chinese households watching on television. “We have never bullied, oppressed, or […]

A ceremony at Tiananmen Square to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, in Beijing, July 1, 2021 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only Weekly Wrap-Up newsletter, which uses relevant WPR coverage to provide background and context to the week’s top stories. Subscribe to receive it by email every Saturday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. The Chinese Communist Party celebrated its 100th birthday Thursday, with the kind of grand pomp we’ve come to expect from Beijing for such occasions. The anniversary was an opportunity for Chinese leader Xi Jinping to vaunt the party’s accomplishments, particularly in lifting hundreds of millions of people […]

Myanmar nationals living in Taiwan hold up the three-finger salute of resistance to express their disdain toward the military regime in Myanmar, during a demonstration in Taipei, Taiwan, May 2, 2021 (AP photo by Chiang Ying-ying).

Back in February, several weeks after Myanmar’s military ousted the elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi, I spoke on the phone with a 25-year-old researcher in Yangon, the country’s largest city. Having joined popular demonstrations against the coup, he said he was surprised at the scale of resistance to the new junta. The movement, which quickly became known as the Civil Disobedience Movement, had galvanized hundreds of thousands of nonviolent protesters across the country, as massive strikes at public agencies, banks and businesses threatened to grind government functioning and the economy to a halt. The researcher, who asked […]