French President Emmanuel Macron watches a signing ceremony between French and Chinese firms at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Jan. 9, 2018 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

From the United States to Australia, countries are tightening restrictions on investment in strategic sectors like energy and defense, with a wary eye toward China. There are mounting concerns globally about the pitfalls associated with Chinese investment and whether it is a Trojan horse for Beijing to gain access to critical technologies, data and infrastructure that it can use for its own military ends. Europe is not immune to these concerns, and late last year, the European Union passed an investment screening mechanism of its own that specifically targeted China. Yet the EU will still have to do more to […]

A poster for the Chinese smartphone manufacturer Huawei on a high-rise building in Warsaw, Poland, May 23, 2018 (Photo by Natalie Skrzypczak for dpa via AP Images).

The high-profile arrests last month of a former Polish intelligence official and a Huawei executive in Poland have stoked an ongoing policy debate in Warsaw over how to calibrate its relationship with China. The 16+1 framework, which Beijing introduced in 2012 to promote engagement with Central and Eastern Europe, raised expectations among Polish officials for increased Chinese investment and trade ties. But those hopes have been slow to materialize, and in the meantime, national security concerns, primarily over espionage and Beijing’s long-term goals in the region, have grown. In an interview with WPR, Patrycja Pendrakowska, president of the board at […]

Catalan police officers clash with demonstrators during a general strike in Catalonia, Spain, Feb. 21, 2019 (AP photo by Emilio Morenatti).

MADRID—Catalan pro-independence leaders and the Spanish government have intensified their efforts to take their family feud global as 12 Catalan leaders are being tried before the Supreme Court in Madrid. This fight now goes beyond the October 2017 referendum on Catalonia seceding from Spain, which was declared illegal by the Spanish government, and the subsequent declaration of independence from Catalonia’s regional parliament. In what has become a pitched battle between dueling messaging campaigns, Catalan separatists have upped their rhetoric, casting Spain as a “low-cost democracy” and the trial in Madrid as “an alarming act of state repression.” The Spanish government, […]

Benin Bronzes at the British Museum, London, Feb. 15, 2012 (flickr photo by user Son of Groucho).

Editor’s note: The following article is one of 30 that we’ve selected from our archives to celebrate World Politics Review’s 15th anniversary. You can find the full collection here. BENIN CITY, Nigeria—Two years ago, during a trip to Venice, the Nigerian artist Victor Ehikhamenor stepped out on a Sunday to see a sprawling exhibition by the British artist Damien Hirst, which was on view at two museums, the Punta della Dogana and the Palazzo Grassi. Titled “Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable,” the exhibition purported to show objects salvaged from a fictional capsized ship—the Unbelievable—discovered, or so the story went, […]

French soldiers at a military outpost on the outskirts of Mosul, Iraq, Jan. 2, 2017 (AP photo by Christophe Ena).

The prospect of an abrupt withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria, first announced by President Donald Trump last December, sparked fear and uncertainty for the other countries participating in the U.S.-led international coalition fighting the last remnants of the Islamic State there. Trump’s decision has affected France in particular, putting the presence of French forces in Syria, until now somewhat overlooked, in the spotlight. France’s military operations in Syria grew out of its involvement in Iraq, where it initially joined in the fight against the Islamic State, or ISIS, at the request of the Iraqi government in September 2014. At […]

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki stands during a military parade after being welcomed by Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed upon his arrival at the airport in Mogadishu, Somalia, Dec. 13, 2018 (AP photo by Farah Abdi Warsameh).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss the signs of a fraying trans-Atlantic partnership that emerged from the Munich Security Conference. For the Report, Tanja Müller talks with WPR’s senior editor, Robbie Corey-Boulet, about what a peace deal with Ethiopia means for life on the ground in Eritrea, and whether the initial economic dividends of thawed relations will be followed by a political opening for Eritreans. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up for our free newsletter to get […]

Venezuelan Bolivar bills arranged on a table in a bookshop in Caracas, Venezuela, Jan. 28, 2019 (DPA photo by Marcelo Perez del Carpio via AP Images).

A country’s gold reserves are meant to provide stability and financial ballast, not cash for everyday purchases. Only in the most extreme cases do they become a source of currency for vital supplies. That is exactly what is happening in Venezuela, where the political crisis has triggered the kind of international intrigue usually scripted in Hollywood. The embattled government of President Nicolas Maduro is trying to cash in its reserves while the opposition and its foreign backers maneuver to keep the country’s gold and any hard currency from its sale out of Maduro’s hands. This intrigue involving bank vaults and […]

Members of the Muslim community demonstrate, calling for the disarmament of Anti Balaka factions and for peace in the PK5 district of Bangui, Central African Republic, May 31, 2014 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

After seven years of war, the Central African Republic has taken a shaky step toward peace. The United Nations announced in early February that the Central African government and 14 armed groups had agreed to a draft peace accord after 10 days of negotiations in Khartoum. The deal is a promising first step, but the drivers of conflict in CAR need to be addressed for a lasting peace to take hold, as competition for natural resources, ongoing ethnic disputes and, to some extent, religious cleavages, have all complicated past peace efforts. The agreement, provisionally signed on Feb. 6, calls for […]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomes U.S. Vice President Mike Pence for a bilateral meeting during the Munich Security Conference, Munich, Germany, Feb. 16, 2019 (AP photo by Matthias Schrader).

The Munich Security Conference, which just wrapped up Monday, is like the Davos of trans-Atlantic security policy, replete with hollow pronouncements, cost-free posturing and, of course, gossip. But every once in a while, amid the conference’s bromides, real news happens. In 2007, for instance, Russian President Vladimir Putin used his speech in Munich to publicly declare the return of Cold War-style geopolitical competition. This year, too, something newsworthy happened at the conference, but newsworthy in the odd sense that something that has been obvious and apparent to everyone was suddenly acknowledged publicly. Like a couple that, after having slowly drifted […]

Protesters try to stick photos of missing booksellers, one of which shows Gui Minhai, during a protest outside the Liaison of the Central People’s Government in Hong Kong, Jan. 3, 2016 (AP photo by Vincent Yu).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. Sweden’s ambassador to China was recalled to Stockholm last Thursday and is under investigation for allegedly brokering a meeting between two mysterious businessmen and Angela Gui, the daughter of a Hong Kong-based Swedish bookseller who has been in Chinese custody for three years. It is the latest in a string of puzzling episodes involving foreign diplomats in China. The story can be traced back to 2015, when Gui’s father, who published politically sensitive books about top Communist Party leaders, […]

President Donald Trump meets with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, July 25, 2018 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

Through most of the first two years of Donald Trump’s presidency, there have been competing prisms through which to view the current state of trans-Atlantic relations. Is the glass half-full, or half-empty? Both perspectives still present a fairly grim picture of dysfunction and confusion between the United States and Europe, largely fueled by Trump—featuring interpersonal friction, provocative rhetoric and U.S. policy choices that have upended the established liberal international order. With the early start of a lengthy U.S. presidential election season, and the possibility of a hard Brexit in March and European parliamentary elections in May that could cause additional […]

Russia’s Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile blasts off during a test launch from the Plesetsk launch pad in northwestern Russia, March 30, 2018 (Russian government photo via AP Images).

On Feb. 2, the United States formally declared its intention to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces, or INF, treaty. The official declaration, which had been signaled by the Trump administration well in advance, set the clock ticking: Unless Russia unexpectedly returns to full and verifiable compliance with the treaty through the destruction of all its INF-violating missile systems, the U.S. withdrawal will become effective in early August. The formal termination of the treaty will have wide-ranging implications for European security, the U.S. military force posture in Europe, NATO deterrence and defense policy, and arms control. For over 30 years, […]

French President Emmanuel Macron listens to a question during a meeting with mayors and local association members as part of the “national debate,” in Evry-Courcouronnes, south of Paris, Feb. 4, 2019 (AP photo by Thibault Camus).

Just when it looked like France’s Emmanuel Macron had weathered the storm that’s been battering his presidency for the past three months, new allegations from an old scandal have surfaced, raising questions about Macron’s level of exposure. They add to the trouble Macron still faces from the Yellow Vest movement, which though reduced in numbers, has been distilled to a resilient and hardened base of support. While the movement no longer poses a direct threat to his political survival, it is now Macron’s reaction to the protests that could undermine his legitimacy. By early December, the spontaneous emergence, rapid growth […]

Maria Gorpynych sits in her home in the government-controlled village of Opytne, in eastern Ukraine, Nov. 25, 2018 (Photo by Natalie Vikhrov).

OPYTNE, Ukraine—One afternoon in January 2015, 78-year-old Maria Gorpynych stood on her porch and anxiously watched her son Victor run the short distance to the home of a neighboring family. At the time, Opytne, located in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, was caught in the middle of heavy fighting between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian soldiers. Victor wanted to help the neighbors wrap a gas pipe in rubber to protect it from shelling. Less than five minutes after he left, Gorpynych saw one of the neighbors running back toward her house. He came bearing bad news: A mine had detonated […]

Russian flags in front of the ancient ruins of Palmyra, Syria, April 8, 2016 (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service photo via AP).

Russia’s intervention in the Syrian civil war was never meant to be long-term. Now that Russia has been successful in saving the regime of Bashar al-Assad, what’s next for Russia’s Middle East strategy? Find out more when you subscribe to World Politics Review (WPR). Russia’s decision to intervene in the Syrian civil war in September 2015 was consistent with its belief that the Syrian state represents the only viable and legitimate actor in the country, and its forces are the only ones worth supporting. Moscow has always been willing to pay a political and military price to prevent a Syrian […]

President Donald Trump announcing the nomination of David Malpass, undersecretary of the Treasury for international affairs, to head the World Bank, in the Rosevelt Room of the White House, Washington, Feb. 6, 2019 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

Can multilateral development institutions survive the era of Trump? Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump nominated a new president of the World Bank, a post traditionally occupied by an American. Aid experts were worried, if not necessarily surprised, that the White House nominee—Treasury official David Malpass—has a history of criticizing bodies like the bank. Commentators picked up on congressional testimony by Malpass from 2017, in which he supported the administration’s view “that globalism and multilateralism have gone too far,” and promised to limit or end U.S. support to underperforming aid institutions. He was more positive about the World Bank in […]

Smoke billows from the chimneys at Lethabo Power Station, a coal-fired power station, Vereeniging, South Africa, Dec. 5, 2018 (AP photo by Themba Hadebe).

The latest United Nations climate talks held in Poland in December produced surprising progress toward developing the rulebook governing the Paris climate agreement. International negotiators added teeth to the accord by crafting a detailed system to catalogue national emissions, requiring new benchmarks for measuring and forecasting emissions, and mandating public multilateral and technical assessments. Nations will now have to uniformly track their emissions progress and expectations, with scrutiny from other governments and independent experts. But the next obstacle to climate action will be harder to overcome. There is no existing international financial institution capable of mobilizing enough money to finance […]