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 […]

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 attend a rally for a group of young people who filed a lawsuit saying U.S. energy policies are causing climate change and hurting their future, Portland, Ore., June 4, 2019 (AP photo by Steve Dipaola).

At next month’s long-awaited United Nations Climate Summit in Glasgow, all eyes will be on national leaders to make commitments that give the world a chance to limit average global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. At a recent youth-led event, Hilda Nakabuye, founder of the Ugandan Fridays for Future movement, articulated the impatience felt by young people across the world, calling on global leaders to finally “put on their big boy pants, to stand up and to take concrete climate action!” All the focus on the leaders at center-stage, however, risks missing the action taking place […]

The sun shines near the Space Needle during a record-setting heat wave, Seattle, Washington, June 28, 2021 (AP photo by Ted S. Warren).

The slow pace of carbon emissions reductions and the increasingly obvious, devastating consequences of climate change make it imperative for the world’s governments to develop a broad portfolio of strategies to manage climate risk. That portfolio currently includes three main strategies, all of which will be discussed at the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow: mitigation of the causes of climate change, via emissions cuts; adaptation to its effects; and carbon dioxide removal, via both nature-based solutions and negative-emissions technologies.  Given the quickening pace and growing magnitude of the climate emergency, however, the world must also consider the feasibility and wisdom of adding a fourth arrow to […]

French Defense Minister Florence Parly, center left, speaks with German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, center right, during a meeting of NATO defense ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Oct. 21, 2021 (AP photo by Virginia Mayo).

The NATO defense ministers who met yesterday and today in Brussels had a long list of issues to discuss, from the alliance’s role in confronting a rising China to its plans for countering a resurgent Russia. But NATO is also confronting more fundamental questions about its identity that have taken on greater resonance in recent months. Prominent among those questions is what Europe can and should do for itself to provide for its security and defense. The idea of European strategic autonomy, or reduced dependence on the United States for security, is currently associated with French President Emmanuel Macron, one of its most […]

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 […]

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 digital version of the Chinese yuan, the e-CNY, on display during a trade fair in Beijing, Sept. 5, 2021 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

Much of the recent policy debate over virtual currencies has been alarmist, with commentators going so far as to call for banning all cryptocurrencies or warning that U.S. efforts to develop digital dollars would wreck the banking system. The conversation around central bank digital currencies, or CBDCs, illustrates the point.  Whereas cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are decentralized, CBDCs are issued and managed by a nation’s monetary authority. The idea has taken off around the world in recent years, largely in response to the rapid pace of digital innovation and to frictions within the existing financial system. Over 80 countries are in some […]

People passing a graffiti mural showing composer Ludwig van Beethoven on a street in Bonn, Germany, Feb. 19, 2020 (AP photo by Martin Meissner).

Editor’s note: This is Emily Taylor’s final weekly column. We’d like to thank her for her engaging and compelling coverage of tech issues over the past seven months, and we’re thrilled that she will continue to be a regular WPR contributor. The world premiere of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 10, or Beethoven X, which was completed by artificial intelligence, came and went earlier this month with barely a ripple. At a technical level, the achievement is extraordinary, and the music that resulted from it is not bad. It even sounds a bit Beethovenish. Yet it left this listener rather cold. […]

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 […]

Students march as part of a Fridays for Future climate movement demonstration, Vienna, Austria, Sept. 24, 2021 (AP photo by Lisa Leutner).

At the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned governments of a growing intergenerational divide. Young people, he said, will “inherit the consequences” of decisions made by today’s world leaders. Those leaders are now failing not only young people, but also future generations—the 10 billion people who are likely to be born by the end of the century. Guterres is right that divisions between generations are growing. In older, richer countries, we are seeing a historic reversal of a longstanding trend: Rather than enjoying upward mobility, young people are now often worse off than their parents. And as populations in these […]

Pakistani troops observe the area from a hilltop post on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, Khyber district, Pakistan, Aug. 3, 2021 (AP photo by Anjum Naveed).

The anger directed by Americans at Pakistan in the wake of the disorderly end of the U.S. war in Afghanistan is understandable. After all, Pakistan really did give shelter to the Afghan Taliban, something that played a vital role in the Taliban’s eventual victory. However, the reaction in Washington is also a way of avoiding an honest analysis of the comprehensive failures of U.S. policy in Afghanistan. Moreover, it misses key aspects of what motivated Pakistan’s behavior, with very important implications for how the United States itself understands and acts in the world. To begin with, Islamabad’s support for the […]

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