British Prime Minister Boris Johnson with performers dressed as lions as he welcomes members of the British Chinese community for Lunar New Year celebrations in London, Jan. 24, 2020 (AP Photo by Matt Dunham).

Earlier this month, the United Kingdom’s foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, delivered a speech in Parliament setting out measures to ensure that British businesses do not profit from what he called the “industrial scale” forced labor of minority Uighur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region. However, Raab’s remarks made no mention of imposing widely expected sanctions on Chinese Communist Party officials allegedly involved in human rights abuses. The omission generated confusion among journalists and some lawmakers, as the government’s prior press guidance had indicated the speech would include an announcement of sanctions under a law modeled on the Global Magnitsky Act in […]

Flags fly in Black Lives Matter Plaza as President Joe Biden is sworn in during the 59th Presidential Inauguration, in Washington, Jan. 20, 2021 (AP photo by Gerald Herbert).

Americans don’t agree on much these days. But polls reveal that a majority of them agree on one thing: There are lessons for humanity to be drawn from the COVID-19 pandemic. For the United States, the biggest lesson may not be a spiritual or religious one, but rather that it urgently needs to rethink its approach to foreign policy and reinvent national security for the next generation. By the time many American children born in 2020 are old enough to run for Congress, the world will be marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War II. But it […]

Somalia’s president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, left, at a news conference with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi, Kenya, March 23, 2017 (AP photo by Khalil Senosi).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. Subscribers can adjust their newsletter settings to receive Africa Watch by email every week. Despite already facing a slew of difficulties, including rising unrest over stalled federal elections and an increased risk of extremist violence after a recent U.S. troop withdrawal, Somalia appeared to provoke a new crisis this week. The government is threatening to quit a grouping of East African nations after the bloc’s other members sided with Kenya in a spat between the two countries. Nairobi says Mogadishu is escalating […]

Trucks line up on the approach to the port of Dover, England, Dec. 11, 2020 (AP photo by Frank Augstein).

The United Kingdom’s delayed departure from the European Union and the implementation of a hard-fought, post-Brexit trade agreement on Jan. 1 have led to the most significant rise in barriers between any major trading partners in recent memory. With trade volumes between the U.K. and the rest of the EU having grown significantly since the 1990s, particularly through the establishment of regional or global value chains, there is no meaningful precedent to draw on when projecting what comes next, other than the general experience that higher trade barriers mean less trade and more economic loss. It is early days, but […]

A police officer sweeps up glass from a bus stop that was smashed during protests against a nationwide curfew in Rotterdam, Netherlands, Jan. 25, 2021 (AP photo by Peter Dejong).

When riots erupted across the Netherlands last weekend against a new coronavirus lockdown, the scenes of mayhem triggered a cascade of emotions. “My city is crying, and so am I,” said John Jorritsma, the mayor of Eindhoven, the country’s fifth-largest city, contemplating the damage from all the violence. But the sentiment was not just sadness. Furious, and perhaps a bit frightened, Jorritsma called the rioters “the scum of the Earth” and warned that the country could be “on our way to civil war.” The protests in nearly a dozen Dutch cities erupted under the banner of rejecting stricter measures to […]

South Korean President Moon Jae-in during a press conference at the Presidential Blue House in Seoul,  Jan. 18, 2021 (pool photo by Jeon Heon-kyun via AP Images).

South Korean President Moon Jae-in began the year in dire need of a pick-me-up. His approval rating dropped to a record-low 37 percent last month as voters faulted him for failing to contain a third wave of COVID-19 and moving too slowly on vaccinating the population. Soaring housing prices and a damaging scandal at the Justice Ministry added to his government’s woes. Seeking a turnaround, Moon used the occasion of his New Year’s address to the nation on Jan. 11 to outline an ambitious, forward-looking agenda. He announced a phased rollout of free vaccinations for all South Koreans starting next […]

Missiles during a military parade marking the Eighth Party Congress of North Korea’s Workers’ Party, at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, Jan. 14, 2021 (Photo by Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP Images).

North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party held its Eighth Party Congress earlier this month, followed by a big military parade—the second one since October. According to Duyeon Kim, a Seoul-based fellow with the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, the series of well-publicized events were meant to project resilience at a time when North Korea is reeling from a “triple whammy” of economic sanctions, natural disasters and COVID-19. Kim joined WPR’s Elliot Waldman on the Trend Lines podcast this week to discuss the big takeaways from the party congress. Listen to the full interview with Duyeon […]

A rally to celebrate the election of Kim Jong Un as general secretary of the Workers’ Party, in Pyongyang, North Korea, Jan. 15, 2021 (AP photo by Jon Chol Jin).

North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party has had a busy start to the year. Earlier this month, the Eighth Party Congress was held in the capital, Pyongyang: Eight days of meetings, including a 9-hour work report read out by leader Kim Jong Un himself. Just a couple days after those sessions wrapped up, Kim oversaw a celebratory military parade, the second one since October, featuring a new missile described by state media as the “world’s most powerful weapon.” New analysis of satellite imagery by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute suggests Pyongyang could be preparing for […]

A large video screen shows a government news report about the inauguration of President Joe Biden at a shopping mall in Beijing, Jan. 21, 2021 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR contributor Rachel Cheung and Assistant Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curate the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. Subscribers can adjust their newsletter settings to receive China Note by email every week. Beijing timed its parting shot perfectly, not wasting a second to serve its revenge on the outgoing Trump administration, with which it had sparred for the past four years. Less than five minutes after Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States on Jan. 20, China’s Foreign Ministry announced sanctions targeting 28 members of Donald Trump’s Cabinet and […]

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro during a ceremony marking the start of the judicial year at the Supreme Court in Caracas, Venezuela, Jan. 22, 2021 (AP photo by Matias Delacroix).

Throughout former President Donald Trump’s four years in office, he made opposition to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro central to U.S. policy toward Latin America. That “maximum pressure” campaign largely rested on progressively tighter sanctions against the Maduro regime, with the goal of forcing his ouster in favor of opposition leader Juan Guaido, the former head of the National Assembly whom the U.S. and more than 50 other countries recognized as the country’s valid interim president. This hard-line policy toward Venezuela was a rare show of support for democracy by the Trump administration, and it played well among politically important voting […]

China’s Xi Jinping, top left, and European leaders during a video conference at the European Council headquarters in Brussels, Dec. 30, 2020 (Pool photo by Johanna Geron via AP Images).

If “European strategic autonomy” were a hashtag, it would be trending. But it’s a phrase that has as many different meanings as there are people using it. At the most basic level, it refers to Europe’s ability to defend and advance its interests in a global arena increasingly characterized by strategic competition among great powers. How and in what areas it should do so, though, and to what ends, are the subject of a high-stakes debate still taking shape. The recently concluded investment agreement between the European Union and China highlights how the concept of European strategic autonomy has moved […]

A man reads a newspaper reacting to the news of Joe Biden’s victory in the U.S. presidential election, in Lagos, Nigeria, Nov. 8, 2020 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

President Joe Biden will need to combine prudence with creativity to forge a more productive relationship with Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and its largest economy. Notwithstanding Nigeria’s relative decline as a power within Africa, U.S.-Nigeria ties remain extensive by regional and continental standards. But they’ve been stymied in recent years by tensions over political corruption, Nigeria’s difficulties in managing the threat from the violent extremist group Boko Haram and the human rights record of Nigerian security forces. Nigeria’s importance to U.S. policy considerations lies in its large population, geographic size and economic heft, all of which have historically provided […]

Afghan security personnel inspect the site of a bombing attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Dec. 16, 2020 (AP photo by Rahmat Gul).

Afghanistan may not rank in the top tier of U.S. President Joe Biden’s policy priorities, given the host of pressing crises in the United States. But Afghanistan’s fate hinges in large part on how the Biden team decides to approach the country’s conflict and its tenuous, still-nascent peace process. Biden will be compelled to make critical decisions on Afghanistan during his first months in office that will affect the country’s conflict—and relationship with the U.S.—for years to come. Over the past year, the outgoing U.S. administration attempted to set a peace process in motion by signing a political agreement with […]

A protester holds a sign that reads, in Spanish, “Hooray for those who fight,” during a demonstration to demand the resignation of President Juan Orlando Hernandez, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Oct. 24, 2019 (AP photo by Elmer Martinez).

When Hurricanes Eta and Iota crashed through Central America in November, they caused massive devastation and destruction, leaving around 200 people dead and thousands displaced. Economists believe that in some parts of the region, the economic toll of these disasters could be greater than the damage inflicted in Honduras and Nicaragua by Hurricane Mitch in 1998—the deadliest hurricane in Central American history. Honduras was the worst hit by Eta and Iota. More than 4 million people were affected, around 95,000 of whom were forced to take refuge in shelters, and may not have homes to return to; 85,000 homes were […]

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a news conference with then-U.S. President Donald Trump in New Delhi, India, Feb. 25, 2020 (AP photo by Alex Brandon).

President Joe Biden faces a slew of important foreign policy challenges. But with India, he has a historic opportunity to forge a strategic alliance to help build a stable balance of power in Asia and the wider Indo-Pacific region. India has been a bright spot in U.S. foreign policy over the past two decades. Continuing a process set in motion by President Bill Clinton during the 1990s and accelerated by every succeeding administration, U.S.-India relations thrived during Donald Trump’s presidency. Not surprisingly, there is strong bipartisan support in both Washington and New Delhi for a closer partnership under Biden. The […]

Health officials inspect bats to be confiscated and culled in the wake of coronavirus outbreak at a live animal market in Solo, Central Java, Indonesia, March 14, 2020 (AP photo).

The growing prevalence of zoonotic diseases, underscored by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ongoing loss of biodiversity around the world make tackling the illicit trade in wild animals imperative, since it threatens global public health and the extinction of endangered species. Fortunately, a practical approach is there for the taking. The Global Initiative to End Wildlife Crime has launched a campaign to fill gaping holes in two international treaties: the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, known as CITES, and the U.N. Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, or UNTOC. The new Biden administration should […]

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi attends a summit of Gulf Arab leaders in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, May 30, 2019 (AP photo by Amr Nabil).

Editor’s Note: Every Monday, Managing Editor Frederick Deknatel highlights a major unfolding story in the Middle East, while curating some of the best news and analysis from the region. Subscribers can adjust their newsletter settings to receive Middle East Memo by email every week. It wasn’t ever that clear why Egypt was going along with the Saudi- and Emirati-led blockade of Qatar, beyond some well-known disagreements over the Muslim Brotherhood. After all, the blockade was ultimately an economic pressure campaign by those two very wealthy Gulf monarchies, with the help of fellow Gulf Cooperation Council member Bahrain, to isolate their […]

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