A worker in a protective suit swabs a woman for a COVID-19 test at a testing site in Beijing, April 27, 2022 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

Wary of the high transmissibility of the omicron variant, officials in Beijing ordered 20 million residents across nearly a dozen districts to undergo mass testing earlier this week, after dozens of new coronavirus cases were detected in the Chinese capital. Though authorities have stopped short of confining residents to their homes for now, fears of an impending lockdown like the one imposed in Shanghai have prompted a wave of panic buying across the city. City residents have stocked up on food and other essential supplies, stripping the shelves of supermarkets bare. “My colleagues in Shanghai learned the lesson the hard way—they are […]

A demonstrator holds a poster reading “Peace for Ukraine” during a protest against the Russian invasion, Almaty, Kazakhstan, March 6, 2022 (AP photo by Vladimir Tretyakov).

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is upending the geopolitical calculations of states around the world. The fallout is especially complex for the post-Soviet states of Central Asia, which maintain extensive economic, political, cultural and other ties to both Russia and Ukraine. While Central Asia is far from the front lines of the ongoing war, and therefore less directly impacted than states like Moldova or Georgia, its leaders also face difficult decisions. Independent for three decades, the Central Asian states remain dependent to varying degrees on Russia as a security provider and economic partner, and as a source of political support. Their […]

Sri Lankans hold up their mobile phone torches during a vigil outside the president’s office to condemn police shootings of protesters, Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 19, 2022 (AP photo by Eranga Jayawardena).

The ongoing economic and political crisis in Sri Lanka demonstrates more than ever that geopolitical rivalry fosters myopic decision-making, and that peace is a prerequisite for intergenerational justice. Sri Lanka is facing an unprecedented emergency. Decades of financial mismanagement by governments dominated by the family of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, combined with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the  Russia-Ukraine war, have now left the country on the brink of economic collapse. For the first time since independence in 1948, Sri Lanka’s government announced that it will be defaulting on all $51 billion of its sovereign debt, as it seeks an urgent bailout […]

Women gather to demand their rights under the Taliban rule during a protest in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 3, 2021 (AP photo by Wali Sabawoon).

A month ago, when all eyes were on the war in Ukraine, the Taliban quietly reneged on their promise to put school-age girls back in classrooms. This followed a six-month period in which women faced crippling restrictions on their employment, freedom of movement, dress, access to healthcare and participation in sports, plus gender-based violence, torture and arrest if they protested. But the international community’s initial response—to pull humanitarian aid, for instance—threatens to make matters even worse. Since the U.S. withdrawal in August 2021, U.S. government agencies and representatives, like the wider international donor community, have been struggling to determine how best to support women’s human rights in […]

A worker in PPE disinfects the neighborhood in Shanghai, China Friday, April 08, 2022 (FeatureChina via AP Images).

This time last year, China appeared to be bouncing back from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and leading the world’s economic recovery after a pandemic-induced slowdown. But after a recent spike in infections that confined an estimated 50 million people to lockdown, the “Zero COVID” policy that initially kept the worst of the coronavirus at bay is now the biggest threat to China’s economic growth. China’s economy exceeded market expectations in the first quarter of 2022, growing 4.8 percent, according to data released Monday by the country’s National Bureau of Statistics. The figure is a decline from the previous year’s 8.1 percent […]

Nepalese protesters clash with police as the parliament debated a proposed $500 million U.S. aid grant, Kathmandu, Nepal, Feb. 20, 2022 (AP photo by Niranjan Shreshta).

Nepal’s recent political turmoil put its internal divisions in the spotlight and raised questions of where the country stands 16 years after the end of its civil conflict and five years after the first elections held under its new federalist constitution. Ostensibly a dispute over whether or not to accept a U.S. aid package—a $500 million Millennium Challenge Corporation, or MCC, grant first initialed in 2017—the crisis saw years of indecision, polarization, disinformation and recently violent protests before Parliament eventually ratified the grant in February. The protracted ordeal over what was seemingly a straightforward development grant exposed deep cracks in […]

Afghan men sit in a bus ahead of a 300-mile trip south to Nimrooz near the Iranian border, Herat, Afghanistan, Nov. 22, 2021 (AP photo by Petros Giannakouris).

If you have ever wondered what hell might feel like, ask an Afghan refugee. While you may not personally know any, there is a good chance that if you live near a major urban center in Europe, Canada or the United States, you’ve unknowingly passed someone on the street or stood in line behind someone at the grocery store who has recently fled Afghanistan. In Washington, where I live and work, it is not uncommon to run into an Afghan immigrant who just a few months ago had a house, a car and a salaried job in Kabul that would […]

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Though North Korea’s nuclearization efforts have faded from the headlines, the country has continued to improve its capabilities and can now plausibly reach any location in the continental United States with a nuclear weapon. In the absence of a deal to curb its nuclear and missile programs, North Korea’s arsenal will only grow more lethal.

Customers look through empty shelves at a supermarket in Shanghai, China, March 30, 2022 (AP photo by Chen Si).

Shanghai is gradually easing the draconian lockdown it implemented since late March following the largest nationwide outbreak of the coronavirus since the pandemic began. The extended shutdown led to widespread shortages of food and supplies across China, triggering an uproar against the country’s “Zero-COVID” policy. But with the number of daily infections topping 20,000 this week and the virus spreading to other provinces across the country, China is far from out of the woods. The two-phase lockdown was originally supposed to last four days each for Pudong and then Puxi, which comprise the city on either side of the Huangpu River. But it […]

President Joe Biden and then-Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga leave after a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House, Washington, April 16, 2021 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

In January, U.S. President Joe Biden held a virtual summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in which both leaders largely agreed to maintain the direction bilateral relations have taken in the 15 months since Biden took office. But if the meeting signaled both sides’ desire for continuity, there are still numerous unanswered questions regarding the future of the alliance. With Biden’s inauguration as U.S. president, the U.S.-Japan relationship—and U.S. policy on Asia more broadly—appeared set to return to where things stood at the end of the Obama administration. As a candidate, Biden repeatedly stressed that it was urgent to […]

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks with Yogi Adityanath during the latter’s swearing-in ceremony as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh state in Lucknow, India, March 25, 2022 (AP photo by Rajesh Kumar Singh).

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, put on an extraordinary performance in recent state elections, winning 4 out of the 5 states that went to the polls in February and March. Not only did the BJP manage to win reelection in the states of Goa and Uttarakhand, despite polls suggesting high levels of anti-incumbent sentiment, it also put on a commanding performance in Uttar Pradesh, India’s largest state with a population of over 200 million and nearly one-sixth of the country’s population. This allowed incumbent Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, a hardline Hindu monk and BJP member, to become […]

An anti-government demonstrator sits on a barricade carrying a Peruvian flag during clashes with police in downtown Lima, Peru, April 5, 2022 (AP photo by Aldair Mejia).

Just before midnight on Monday, Peruvian President Pedro Castillo appeared on television to declare an unprecedented state of emergency for Lima, the capital. All the city’s residents, he said, were to stay indoors for 24 hours, beginning just two hours after his announcement. The controversial decision, which would later be rescinded after protesters ignored it, came in response to widespread demonstrations by truck drivers and transportation syndicates against the spike in fuel prices caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Peru’s new crisis came just after Sri Lanka’s president declared a state of emergency in his own country. The Indian Ocean nation […]

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, third from left, and top military officials attend a military parade to mark Pakistan National Day in Islamabad, Pakistan, March 23, 2022 (AP photo by Anjum Naveed).

Addressing a security forum in Islamabad on Saturday, Pakistan’s army chief of staff, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, condemned Russia’s war in Ukraine in no uncertain terms, describing it as an “invasion” and “aggression against a smaller country that cannot be condoned.” These statements would be uncontroversial had they not contradicted the official position of Pakistan’s civilian government, which is in the midst of a political crisis that also involves the army. Indeed, Pakistan’s ongoing political turmoil—which has seen Prime Minister Imran Khan avoid a vote of no confidence through questionable parliamentary maneuvers, as his coalition and party fracture amid pressure […]

Protesters wearing masks portraying Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Ferdinand Marcos Jr. stand behind a mock jail during a rally near the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila, Philippines, March 8, 2022 (AP photo by Aaron Favila).

Although the actual election isn’t for another six weeks, current polling suggests Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is all but a lock to succeed Rodrigo Duterte as the Philippines’ next president. Marcos, a former senator and son of the late longtime Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr., has opened up a massive lead against his nearest challenger, current Vice President Leni Robredo. A survey released by the respected Pulse Asia in March found that Marcos led Robredo by a whopping 44 points, with 60 percent of respondents expressing a preference for him. That actually increased his polling lead by 11 points from a prior Pulse Asia […]