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Given the state of U.S.-China relations these days, most observers had low expectations for Thursday’s call between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping. The list of issues causing tensions is long, and the areas for cooperation have narrowed. Unsurprisingly, then, the call resembled a conversation from the terminal stage of a bad romance.

Myanmar’s return to the position of international pariah has created a new opening for Beijing. By moving in where the West, reeling from the junta’s shocking human rights abuses, has been reluctant to step in, Beijing hopes to boost China’s regional influence and secure access to vital natural resources.

A recent visit to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region marked Xi Jinping’s first notable public appearance since his trip to Hong Kong in late June. The visit’s choreography—from the emphasis on economic consumption and production to the racialized undercurrent of Han tourism in China—points to an unsavory truth.

The U.K. carrier strike group conducts operations alongside Japan Maritime Self-Defense Forces

In recent years, several European states have sought to project their precious naval assets in the Indo-Pacific region in ways that reflect widely accepted fashions in strategic thinking. But the underlying logic of this thinking now needs to be viewed more critically after the return of interstate war on European soil.

A high-speed rail train is pictured in Vientiane, Laos, at the opening of a Chinese-built railway connecting the Lao capital to the Chinese city of Kunming, Dec. 3, 2021 (Kyodo News photo via AP Images).

Over the past few years, the Southeast Asian state of Laos has positioned itself at the center of growing trade, economic and infrastructure integration in the Mekong subregion. Its ambitious plan envisioned its dams providing electricity for Laos’ more populous neighbors and its expanding web of roads and rails—whose development is funded extensively through debt, much of it to China—connecting the region’s rising economies. But that was before Laos’ economy crashed. Today, inflation is skyrocketing. Staple goods like cooking oil are becoming scarce. And the local currency is collapsing against the dollar. The country, whose credit rating was downgraded by Moody’s in […]

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As much as any other single development, China’s rise over the past two decades has remade the landscape of global politics. China rapidly transformed its economy from a low-cost “factory to the world” to a global leader in advanced technologies. Along the way, it has transformed global supply chains, but also international diplomacy.

Then-U.S. President Donald Trump and then-Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hold up hats reading “Donald and Shinzo, Make Alliance Even Greater” in Kawagoe, Japan, Nov. 5, 2017 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

The assassination of Abe Shinzo last week left the world in shock. As Japan’s longest-serving prime minister—having held office from 2006 to 2007 and again from 2012 until 2020—Abe left an indelible and controversial impact on Japanese politics and policy. This was particularly the case in foreign policy. Though he was never able to successfully revise Japan’s pacifist postwar constitution, he did move Japan along the path toward becoming a “normal country,” that is, one able to pursue its interests through all available means, including military force. But one of Abe’s greatest accomplishments, at least in the realm of international […]

Prime Minister James Marape of of Papua New Guinea addresses the U.N. General Assembly, Sept. 24, 2021, New York (Pool photo by Peter Foley via AP).

It’s a case of new election, same old faces in Papua New Guinea, where voting for the Pacific Islands nation’s general elections began on July 4. Nevertheless, turnout is expected to be relatively strong: Half the population of about 10 million is projected to head to the polls over the coming weeks, with some areas having almost three weeks to vote due to the remoteness of many communities. Incumbent Prime Minister James Marape, who heads the Pangu Party, is facing off against Peter O’Neill, the man he replaced in May 2019, when O’Neill resigned rather than face a no-confidence vote after […]

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The novel coronavirus caught many world leaders unprepared, despite consistent warnings that a global pandemic was inevitable. And it has revealed the flaws in a global health architecture headed by the World Health Organization, which had already been faulted for its response to the 2014 Ebola pandemic in West Africa. Will there be an overhaul of the WHO when the pandemic is over?

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It has been over two years since Chinese incursions in the summer of 2020 along the disputed India-China boundary in eastern Ladakh led to a series of skirmishes that left dozens of soldiers dead on both sides. Yet unlike a February 2019 confrontation with Pakistan, which resulted in an Indian airstrike on Pakistani territory and a tense standoff between the two nuclear-armed neighbors, the government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi appears content to relegate the tensions with China over Ladakh to the margins of national consciousness. The sum total of New Delhi’s response to China’s violations of treaties and […]

Chinese soldiers look at photographs of survivors of the Nanjing Massacre at the National Museum of China in Beijing, Aug. 12, 2005 (AP photo by Elizabeth Dalziel).

To prominent Asia watchers and policymakers, making sense of the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has involved going beyond the man himself to reflect on the politics of the Asia he envisioned. In practice, that means that not only has Abe the man been mourned, but his legacy lauded, too. Matt Pottinger, the former White House coordinator for Asia policy under then-U.S. President Donald Trump, summed up the general sentiment in an op-ed that described Abe as having popularized the idea of a “free and open Indo-Pacific” among regional states wary of China’s rise, turning it into a unifying […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in the virtual BRICS summit via a video call, Moscow, Russia, June 23, 2022 (Sputnik photo by Mikhail Metzel via AP).

In what were hailed as the “two most productive summits in years,” the Group of 7 and NATO held their annual leaders’ meetings last week in Germany and Spain, respectively. The G-7 summit concluded with the leaders emphasizing and enhancing their support for Ukraine in its war against Russia, agreeing on measures to combat climate change and announcing a Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment, seen as a direct counter to China’s development program, the Belt and Road Initiative. As for the NATO summit, it witnessed the entry into the alliance of two new members, Finland and Sweden, as well […]

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Under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, China has begun to challenge America’s role as the key economic and political actor in Asia. Increasingly repressive at home, Xi has not shied away from asserting China’s regional authority. But while China’s rise often makes headlines, it is not the only trend shaping events in Asia.

A woman wearing a face mask rides a bicycle past a large television screen displaying Chinese President Xi Jinping, Hong Kong, July 1, 2022 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

Chinese President Xi Jinping toured Wuhan last week in what amounted to a victory lap, triumphantly walking through production facilities and industrial sectors in the city that was the coronavirus pandemic’s Ground Zero when it emerged in December 2019. Xi’s visit was significant for two key, if distinct, reasons. One was to inspect “Optics Valley,” a burgeoning technology hub that symbolizes China’s ambitions to develop home-grown innovation and boost self-reliance. As with many of his visits to manufacturing facilities and incubators for critical technology sectors across China, Xi took photos with key personnel at the manufacturing sites and spoke about […]