Women and teachers demonstrate inside a private school to demand their rights and equal education for women and girls, Kabul, Afghanistan, Oct. 5, 2021 (AP photo by Ahmad Halabisaz).

Last week, a group of Afghan women appealed to the United Nations, imploring it not to recognize the Taliban’s proposed ambassador to the global body as the representative of their country. “The UN needs to give that seat to somebody who respects the rights of everyone in Afghanistan,” Fawzia Koofi, a former Afghan politician and peace negotiator, told reporters. The group’s call was echoed by Ghulam Isaczai, the embattled ambassador appointed by the government the Taliban ousted, in remarks he made to the U.N. Security Council. “Women and girls in Afghanistan are pinning their hopes and dreams on this very […]

Chinese military vehicles carrying DF-17 missiles take part in a parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Beijing, Oct. 1, 2019 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

The recent report in the Financial Times that China tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic weapon has pundits, members of Congress, and even Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley worried about a “Sputnik moment.” Given the failure of the United States’ own test of a hypersonic missile last week, it seems to many that a hypersonic missile gap has opened, harming U.S. security. But even if China’s test means it has perfected a new way to deliver a nuclear warhead—a big if—it’s no cause for alarm. A new nuclear delivery system will not meaningfully shift the balance of […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping remotely addresses the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly in a pre-recorded message at the U.N. headquarters, Sept. 21, 2021 (AP photo by Mary Altaffer).

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. Beginning Sunday, Oct. 31, world leaders will gather in Glasgow, Scotland, for two weeks to unveil new commitments to tackle global warming and climate change. But after weeks of guessing games, it looks like Chinese President Xi Jinping—the leader of the world’s largest emitter of […]

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and OECD Secretary-General Mathias Cormann during a press briefing at the OECD Ministerial Council meeting, Oct. 6, 2021, Paris (AP photo by Patrick Semansky).

A new agreement negotiated under the auspices of the G-20 and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development aims to crack down on tax havens by subjecting the world’s largest and most profitable multinational corporations to a minimum corporate tax rate of 15 percent. The deal has been agreed by 136 countries and jurisdictions, collectively representing more than 90 percent of the global economy. The OECD is hoping it will become effective by 2023. Many economists and commentators argue that such a deal is long overdue, given the ability of many gigantic corporations to avoid paying taxes on all or […]

Supporters of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik party rally against Asia Bibi in Karachi, Pakistan, Oct. 12, 2018 (AP photo by Fareed Khan).

Last summer, Tahir Ahmad Naseem was at a bail hearing in a high-security courtroom in Pakistan when he was shot dead. His killer, a 15-year-old student named Faisal Khan who had sneaked a pistol into the courtroom, was arrested immediately. But rather than facing public opprobrium, Khan was hailed as a hero. Thousands took to the streets to defend him, chanting slogans in his support and rallying for his release from prison. Police officers clicked jubilant selfies with him as they ferried the teenager in and out of court.  Naseem, his victim, had been targeted both by the lawsuit and […]

A climate change demonstrator mocks Sen. Joe Manchin, who has blocked President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda, at the Capitol in Washington, Oct. 20, 2021 (AP photo by J. Scott Applewhite).

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin is not well-loved among Democrats in Washington these days, but for champions of a greener world economy, he is someone who needs to be understood. In fact, for anyone looking to forecast the outcomes of the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, all you need to do is track Manchin’s moves and those of his political counterparts in the world’s top coal-producing democracies to understand the new politics of the green transition and energy nationalism.  At the moment, Manchin, a Democrat who represents the coal-producing state of West Virginia, is the main obstacle to a grinding push by […]

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

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only Weekly Wrap-Up newsletter, which gives a rundown of the week’s top stories on WPR. 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. Last month, the surprise announcement by the U.S., U.K. and Australia of their trilateral AUKUS security partnership sent shockwaves across the Indo-Pacific and put China on notice that Washington was adding some bite to its “pivot to Asia.” This week, the shoe was on the other foot, as news broke that China reportedly […]

Ships from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, the Indian Navy and the Royal Australian Navy sail in formation during the MALABAR 2021 joint exercises, Aug. 27, 2021 (DVIDS U.S. Navy photo by Justin Stack via AP).

In remarks earlier this month that laid out her approach to negotiations with Beijing, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said she intended to have “frank conversations” with her Chinese counterpart, but that “our objective is not to inflame trade tensions with China.” Tai went on to outline how the U.S. can sustain what she called “durable coexistence” with Beijing. This week on the Trend Lines podcast, Ali Wyne, a senior analyst at the Eurasia Group, joined WPR’s Elliot Waldman to unpack the Biden administration’s approach to trade talks with Beijing, and what it says about the broader state of play […]

A TV screen at the Seoul Railway Station shows a news report about North Korea’s SLBM missiles displayed at a military parade, Seoul, South Korea, Jan. 15, 2021 (AP photo by Lee Jin-man).

North Korea has announced that it successfully tested a new, smaller submarine-launched ballistic missile, or SLBM, on Tuesday. State media claimed the missile—launched from the same submarine from which Pyongyang tested its first Pukguksong-1 SLBM in August 2016—has “advanced control guidance technologies, including flank mobility and gliding skip mobility,” designed to make it harder to track and intercept. The name of the submarine used for the launch—the “8.24 Yongung”—also seems noteworthy, as a reflection of the importance Pyongyang puts on this vessel: It means “hero” and apparently signifies the Aug. 24 date of the 2016 SLBM launch. The test is […]

People watch a TV screen showing a news program about North Korea’s reported launch of a hypersonic missile, Seoul, South Korea, Sept. 29, 2021 (AP photo by Lee Jin-man).

In July, an obscure but important body called the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology announced the 77th launch of the Long March 2C orbital launch vehicle, a workhorse of China’s ballistic missile and space programs. Then, in late August, a little more than a month later, the academy announced the Long March’s 79th launch. At a minimum, for the specialists who monitor such things, the omission of a 78th launch seemed to portend something odd and potentially momentous. Now, nearly two months later, following a scoop by the Financial Times, the world found out that China has begun testing a […]

Military vehicles carrying DF-17 missiles participate in the parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Beijing, Oct. 1, 2019 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

In a move that many observers have likened to the opening scene of a techno-thriller or science fiction novel, China reportedly tested an advanced hypersonic missile in August. Technically known as a Gliding Fractional Orbital Bombardment System, or G-FOBS, the weapon is said to have missed its target by about two dozen miles, according to the Financial Times. It nonetheless represents a significant advance in China’s capabilities and could negatively affect regional stability by spurring an arms race in the Asia-Pacific.  The purpose of FOBS is to place a large payload—usually a nuclear warhead—into a low-Earth orbit, allowing it to […]

Thai activist Nachacha Kongudom raises a three-fingered salute outside a cinema where “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1” is showing, in Bangkok, Thailand, Nov. 20, 2014 (AP photo by Sakchai Lalit).

About a year ago, the South Korean pop band BTS got caught up in a low-grade, somewhat baffling international scandal. During a speech accepting an award for improving relations between South Korea and the U.S., the band’s leader Kim Namjoon, better known as RM, referenced the “history of pain shared by the two nations,” which fought together during the Korean War. It should have been a fairly benign statement, but it sparked a furor in China, where state media outlets fiercely condemned the band for failing to acknowledge Chinese casualties in the war and thereby betraying a “totally one-sided attitude […]

U.S. and Chinese officials at the opening session of their talks at the Captain Cook Hotel in Anchorage, Alaska, March 18, 2021 (AFP pool photo by Frederic J. Brown via AP).

Earlier this month, senior U.S. and Chinese trade negotiators held a virtual round of talks to discuss concerns over the state of bilateral commercial ties. The meeting came after U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said in public remarks that she would seek “frank conversations” with her Chinese counterpart “that will include discussion over China’s performance under the phase-one agreement,” which was negotiated under former President Donald Trump. The Chinese side said it pressed Tai to cancel the tariffs that were imposed by Trump and which so far remain in effect under President Joe Biden. The dynamic around these talks says a […]

A monument to Ukrainian poet and writer Taras Shevchenko is silhouetted against an apartment building with a sign for Russia’s natural gas giant Gazprom, in Moscow, Russia, March 4, 2014 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

Four years ago, at a Track II dialogue between German and American diplomats and analysts, a German colleague of mine explained his firm belief that his country—and, by extension, Europe as a whole—could use geoeconomic tools to regulate and blunt Russia’s geopolitical ambitions. Europe’s need for natural gas, he said, was balanced by Russia’s need to sell. A European strategy of energy diversification would therefore give the West leverage over Moscow, which would not want to risk its access to European markets by making bold political plays. The plan was for European governments to encourage gas utilities to shift from […]

A mother holds her baby receiving a malaria vaccine as part of a trial at the Walter Reed Project Research Center in Kombewa, western Kenya, Oct. 30, 2009 (AP photo by Karel Prinsloo).

No animal on the planet is responsible for more death than the mosquito. They may lack the shark’s sharp teeth, the snake’s poisonous bite or the crocodile’s powerful jaws, but they carry parasites that cause malaria, which sickened 229 million people and killed more than 400,000 in 2019 alone. Reducing the prevalence of malaria has long been a top global health priority, but mosquitos’ ability to develop resistance to insecticides and the emergence of new drug-resistant strains of the disease have continually stymied treatment and prevention efforts. Humans may have finally found a way to fight back. Earlier this month, the World Health Organization officially approved the first-ever malaria vaccine, […]

An anti-coup protester peeps from behind makeshift barricades in Yangon, Myanmar, March 11, 2021 (AP photo).

Up until the spring, the pro-democracy movement in Myanmar was mainly expressing its opposition to the military junta that seized power in February through peaceful protests. But over the summer, in reaction to the junta’s violent and often lethal response, hundreds of small, armed, civilian resistance groups popped up and begun to carry out ambushes on military convoys around the country. As Betcy Jose and Peace Medie have shown, this is typical of how civilians begin to protect themselves with force when faced with violence from their own government, and in the absence of adequate outside help. And when peaceful protesters begin to […]

Followers of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr celebrate after the announcement of the results of parliamentary elections, Baghdad, Iraq, Oct. 11, 2021 (AP photo by Khalid Mohammed).

On Sunday, for the fifth time since the U.S. invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein in 2003, Iraqis voted in elections. Initial results suggest that the big winner was nationalist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose political formation once again emerged with the most seats in parliament. Parties aligned with pro-Iranian militias were the big losers, seeing their vote totals plummet. But with turnout at a record low 41 percent of registered voters, the election is being seen as an expression of Iraqis’ disillusionment with the state of the country’s electoral politics. The elections were the culmination of a political process triggered by […]

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