U.S. President Joe Biden speaks in Kearny, New Jersey, Oct. 25, 2021 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

Next week, U.S. President Joe Biden will convene his Global Summit for Democracy, a virtual gathering of global leaders that aims to promote human rights, counter corruption and discuss ways to strengthen democracy against a rising tide of authoritarianism across the world. The event fulfils a campaign promise made by then-candidate Biden to organize a summit of democracies during his first year in office. The gathering has been dismissed in some quarters as a hollow performative exercise, rendered meaningless by the inevitable controversy over the guest list. But arguments about the substance of the summit, as well as which countries were […]

China’s Peng Shuai reacts during a women’s tennis singles match at the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, Nov. 21, 2010 (AP photo by Vincent Yu).

The mysterious disappearance of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai from public view since she accused a top Chinese Communist Party official of sexual assault is growing into a diplomatic crisis for Beijing, amid concerns about her safety and the broader scrutiny of freedoms and the #MeToo movement in China. Earlier this month, the former Wimbledon and French Open doubles champion and three-time Olympian disappeared from public view after posting a lengthy message on Weibo—the Chinese microblogging site—accusing former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of having sexually assaulted her three years ago. She subsequently reappeared in photos and videos released on China's […]

Polish soldiers sit on an army vehicle as they drive past a checkpoint close to the border with Belarus in Kuznica, Poland, Nov. 16, 2021 (AP photo by Matthias Schrader).

There is cautious optimism in Brussels that the temperature seems to be dialing down on the crises with Belarus and Russia on the EU’s eastern border, as Minsk takes a step back in its long-running border standoff with Warsaw and Moscow has not yet made any military incursion into Ukraine, despite once again massing troops on the border. But there is also a feeling in Brussels and across the continent that the events of the past few weeks are a harbinger of dark days ahead. EU defense ministers met Tuesday to discuss both the “hybrid warfare” by Belarus at the […]

U.S. President Joe Biden meets virtually with Chinese President Xi Jinping from the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Washington, Nov. 15, 2021 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

The much-anticipated virtual summit Monday between U.S. President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, marked the most substantial exchange between the two leaders since Biden took office in January. The meeting, which ran overtime and lasted three and a half hours, followed two phone calls between Biden and Xi, in February and September. But apart from pledges to improve cooperation, the summit yielded no major breakthroughs between the two rivals, which remain at odds over a number of issues, including trade, human rights and a military buildup in the Asia-Pacific region. Sitting among top government officials in the […]

Saudi Arabian Minster of Energy Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud speaks at the COP26 U.N. Climate Summit, Glasgow, Scotland, Nov. 10, 2021 (AP photo by Alberto Pezzali).

The COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow that wrapped up Saturday was intended to draw the world’s attention to the slow-burning emergency of global warming, as well as create policies for mitigating and adapting to its worst effects. Above all, however, the international gathering illustrated the problems of timing and collective action that frustrate efforts to stop climate change.  At the summit, world leaders, scientists and activists called for urgent action to reduce emissions and slow the rise in average global temperatures before the world crosses a threshold into an unlivable future. Instead, the conference delegates drafted what amounts to […]

Then-Vice President Joe Biden meets with then-Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping at the White House, Washington, Feb. 14, 2012 (AP photo by Charles Dharapak).

If everything goes to plan, U.S. President Joe Biden will hold his first video summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday, according to multiple news reports this week. Though the meeting has yet to be officially confirmed, it suggests that Washington and Beijing have managed to reach some sort of modus vivendi, at least on how to manage bilateral relations more productively. If it takes place, the summit would follow closely on the heels of an—admittedly detail-free—agreement to cooperate on climate action announced at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow. Although previous meetings between high-level representatives of the Biden […]

Polish border guards stand near barbed wire as migrants from the Middle East and elsewhere gather at the Belarus-Poland border near Grodno, Belarus, Nov. 10, 2021 (BelTA pool photo by Ramil Nasibulin, via AP).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, Europe Decoder, which includes a look at the week’s top stories from and about Europe. Subscribe to receive it by email every Thursday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your inbox. There is growing frustration across Europe with the European Union’s slow reaction to what the bloc’s leaders are calling “hybrid warfare” at its eastern border with Belarus. But fraught relations with Poland, the member country most affected by the crisis, are complicating a collective response, with growing concerns that a further round of sanctions […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping is seen on a billboard in Gansu Province, China, Oct. 14, 2021 (Kyodo photo via AP Images).

The sixth plenary session of the Chinese Communist Party’s 19th Central Committee began Monday, with nearly 400 members of the country’s top governing body—including party secretaries, governors, heads of state-owned entities and generals of the People’s Liberation Army—meeting behind closed doors for the start of the four-day gathering. Each central committee holds seven such plenary sessions during its five-year term, and the sixth one traditionally focuses on ideology and party-building. This year’s gathering, however, holds special significance, as delegates are expected to pass a key “historical resolution” on the party’s achievements for only the third time since its founding in […]

The high-speed rail Gautrain traveling between Johannesburg and Pretoria, in Pretoria, South Africa, Aug. 2, 2011 (AP Photo by Themba Hadebe).

Africa’s leaders and policymakers have long identified connectivity, tourism and, more broadly, mobility—human, capital and otherwise—as key to the continent’s economic structural transformation. For example, the African Union’s Agenda 2063, through seven key aspirations, has identified several programs and initiatives promoting connectivity and mobility as central to accelerating shared growth and development in Africa, as well as to forging a common identity.  Among its flagship projects intended to realize this ambition, the bloc has identified the need for an integrated high-speed train network connecting the continent’s capitals and commercial centers; a continent-wide free trade area, known today as the African […]

Demonstrators protest the Oct. 10 parliamentary vote outside the heavily fortified Green Zone, Baghdad, Iraq, Oct. 31, 2021 (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed).

Editor’s note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, Middle East Memo, which takes a look at what’s happening, what’s being said and what’s on the horizon in the Middle East. Subscribe to receive it by email every Monday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it. Iraq faces a deadly dilemma: make a deal with the militias that appear to be behind an assassination attempt on the life of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, or face off against them in a fight that is sure to leave the Iraqi state and people worse off. Sunday morning’s drone […]

A sign reading “Daniel 2021” next to a picture of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega on a public transportation bus, Managua, Nicaragua, June 22, 2021 (DPA photo via AP Images).

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. On Sunday, Nicaraguan voters will go to the polls to choose the country’s next president. In reality, they do not need to wait until those votes are counted to know who the winner will be. The outcome is already a foregone conclusion: President Daniel Ortega will win reelection, with the only uncertainty being the percentage of the […]

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks to the media at the conclusion of an EU summit in Brussels, Dec. 13, 2019 (AP photo by Olivier Matthys).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, Europe Decoder, which includes a look at the week’s top stories from and about Europe. Subscribe to receive it by email every Thursday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your inbox. Brexit-watchers had their eyes fixed on Paris today for a meeting between French European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune and U.K. Brexit Minister David Frost to discuss the two countries’ dispute over fishing licenses. It doesn’t appear any solution has yet been found, though France isn’t yet following through on its threat to ban British […]

Medical workers take swab samples of arriving travelers at the exit of a railway station in Yantai, Shandong province, China, Nov. 2, 2021 (FeatureChina photo via AP Images).

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. Shanghai Disneyland abruptly suspended its rides and closed its gates on Halloween, after a guest who visited the park the previous day tested positive for the coronavirus upon arrival in the neighboring city of Hangzhou. Nearly 34,000 Disneyland staff and park-goers shuffled through tents set up for coronavirus tests, […]

Lebanese protesters hold Saudi Arabian flags in a display of support for the kingdom, Beirut, Lebanon, Oct. 30, 2021 (AP photo by Bilal Hussein).

Editor’s note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, Middle East Memo, which takes a look at what’s happening, what’s being said and what’s on the horizon in the Middle East. Subscribe to receive it by email every Tuesday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it. Saudi Arabia withdrew its ambassador to Lebanon and ordered a halt to Lebanese imports over the weekend, in another sign of escalating tensions between Riyadh and Beirut. The diplomatic standoff represents a major blow for Lebanon’s struggling economy, amid the political impasse and economic hardships faced […]