A banner showing Chinese leader Xi Jinping with a group of Uyghur elders at the Unity New Village in Hotan, in western China’s Xinjiang region, Sept. 20, 2018 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

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. If the Chinese leadership hoped this week’s grandiose celebrations marking the Chinese Communist Party’s centennial would deflect international attention from China’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang, they’ll be sorely disappointed. To begin with, the United States introduced fresh sanctions on Chinese silicon over allegations of […]

Zimbabwean pastor and activist Evan Mawarire talks to the press soon after his release from Chikurubi prison on the outskirts of Harare, Zimbabwe, Jan. 30, 2019 (AP photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi).

When the late Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe was ousted in 2017, celebrations broke out across the country as people cheered the end of his 37-year grip on power. Among them was Evan Mawarire, a pastor and pro-democracy activist who has been imprisoned and tortured for demanding political reforms and an end to rampant corruption and poverty. But the hopes of Mawarire and his fellow Zimbabweans were quickly dashed, as the country’s crisis only deepened under Mugabe’s successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa. His government has brutally suppressed popular demonstrations, while subjecting dissidents and journalists to the threat of harassment, arbitrary detention and torture. […]

Mongolia’s then-prime minister, Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh, attends the Mongolia-China Business Forum in Beijing, April 11, 2018 (Imaginechina photo via AP Images).

In a presidential election on June 9, voters in Mongolia handed a landslide victory to former Prime Minister Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh of the ruling Mongolian People’s Party, or MPP. Buoyed by a strong campaign in which he promised to firmly address the country’s endemic corruption, empower its youth and equitably allocate its rich natural resources, Khurelsukh took 67 percent of the vote—the largest winning share since Mongolia’s democratic transition in 1990. He was sworn in last Friday and will be the first president to serve a single six-year term under a 2019 constitutional amendment, passed by the MPP-dominated parliament, that did […]

Students and migrant workers walk near a construction site at Chongqing University of Posts and Telecommunications, in Chongqing, China (AP photo by Alexander F. Yuan).

In July 1971, one month after the publication of the Pentagon Papers and a year before the Watergate break-in that would eventually cause his downfall, Richard Nixon gave one of the most interesting, and in retrospect, important, speeches of his political career. Still relatively unblemished by scandal, Nixon was cruising toward what would become a gigantic reelection win. He had his eyes fixed firmly on the future and on his long-standing penchant, if not obsession, with international affairs. In a speech to Midwestern media executives that even now remains underappreciated, Nixon said that because of the all-consuming effect of the […]

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez delivers a statement at the Moncloa Palace in Madrid, June 22, 2021 (AP photo by Paul White).

MADRID—Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez made what could very well be the most consequential decision of his time in office last week: pardoning nine leaders from the northeastern region of Catalonia who were serving prison sentences for their roles in organizing an illegal independence referendum in 2017. Speaking a day before the official announcement at the iconic Liceu Opera House in the Catalan capital, Barcelona, Sanchez made an emotional plea for reconciliation to an audience of 300 civic leaders—some of whom erupted into shouts of “independence” as he spoke, while hundreds of pro-separatist demonstrators gathered outside. “We can’t start from […]

President Joe Biden meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Villa La Grange, in Geneva, Switzerland (AP photo by Patrick Semansky).

After 18 months of the pandemic disrupting routines and upending our lives, things finally seem to be getting back to normal in some corners of the world. Elton John, for one, has just released extra dates on his latest “final” Farewell Tour. Meanwhile, another septuagenarian, Joe Biden, recently completed his first overseas visit as U.S. president. It is hard to imagine Biden carrying off the feathered headdresses or diamante-encrusted catsuits that make up John’s onstage wardrobe. But his European tour—comprising summits with the leaders of the G-7, NATO and European Union, and culminating in a meeting with his Russian counterpart, […]

Performers dressed as rescue workers gather around the Communist Party flag during a gala show ahead of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing, June 28, 2021 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

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. For the past four decades, a narrative has taken hold among policymakers and the general public alike suggesting that China’s rise will continue indefinitely, even when mathematics and demographics suggest otherwise. Between the 1980s and the turn of the millennium, this notion was fueled by China’s astonishing double-digit growth. In more recent years, although expectations of growth have been tempered, hopes for and fears that China is on the rise both politically […]

Anti-government protesters try to force their way into the Green Zone area in Baghdad, Iraq, May 25, 2021 (AP photo by Khalid Mohammed).

There is serious doubt as to whether Iraq’s upcoming parliamentary elections in October will be free and fair, or have any meaningful level of voter turnout, yet the outcome is easy to foresee. Iraqi elections inevitably produce no clear winner: Major parties compete as parts of alliances, and once results are announced, several of these blocs engage in a protracted period of negotiations that yields a fragile ruling coalition. These weak governments, hobbled by political divisions and corruption, are designed to maintain the political elite’s grip on power and protect the system from internal and external pressures. The prime minister, […]

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan delivers a speech at Methodist Central Hall in London, Tuesday Jan. 31, 2006 (AP photo by Matt Dunham).

Editor’s note: Guest columnist Richard Gowan is filling in for Stewart Patrick, who will return July 12. Some years ago, I wrote a column about the Trump administration’s hapless diplomacy at the United Nations that noted that the U.S. faced “a brace of flash points from Iran to South Sudan.” I did not pause to think what “a brace” was. I must have assumed it meant “a lot.” A few days later, I received a wry email from a gentleman in Oxford pointing out that a brace is in fact a synonym for “a pair.” Trump, he thought, was facing […]

A U.S. soldier stands guard at the K1 Air Base near Kirkuk in northern Iraq, March 29, 2020 (Photo by Ameer Al Mohammedaw for dpa via AP Images).

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. Sunday’s overnight air strikes by the U.S. on militia targets in Iraq and Syria immediately rekindled an important debate about deterrence and sovereignty, but also the frustrating persistence of America’s “forever wars.” How should America handle militia attacks on its forces in Iraq, a country where […]

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, and Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar following their talks in New Delhi, India, April 6, 2021 (Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service photo via AP Images).

In late April, India and Russia announced the establishment of a “2+2” dialogue between each side’s ministers of defense and foreign affairs. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted at the time that this will “add further momentum to our strategic partnership.” Until recently, India had adopted this format only with Australia, Japan and the United States—the other members of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, better known as the Quad—while Russia has an equivalent arrangement with only a few select countries. The announcement comes at a time when geopolitical trends, as well as consequent foreign policy adjustments in both Moscow and New […]

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

Summer is the time of year when climate change dominates the public conversation, and it came earlier this year than ever before. Hurricanes are battering the Caribbean, and record heat waves—exacerbated by climate change—are scorching Europe and Western North America, with wildfires increasingly encroaching on population centers. This year, over 100,000 more acres have already burned than at the same time last year, though last year’s fire damage was record-breaking as well. Smaller, island nations are in a fight for their very survival. In this context, global efforts to gradually reduce carbon emissions seem paltry at best. The Paris Agreement […]

Election campaign posters advertising the regional election in Saint Jean de Luz, France, June 25, 2021 (AP photo by Bob Edme).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only Weekly Wrap-Up newsletter, which uses relevant WPR coverage to provide background and context to the week’s top stories. 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. This week I’m bringing you the Weekly Wrap-Up from Paris, where I’m visiting for the first time since February 2020. It’s also the first time I’ve traveled since that trip, and it brought back vivid memories of my arrival 16 months ago at Charles de Gaulle airport, […]

Southern African leaders during a meeting in Maputo, Mozambique, to discuss the insurgency in Cabo Delgado, April 8, 2021, April 8, 2021 (AP photo by Ferhat Momade).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, Africa Watch, which includes a look at the week’s top stories and best reads from and about the African continent. Subscribe to receive it by email every Friday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. The international militarization of the response to the jihadist insurgency in northern Mozambique is accelerating, as Southern African leaders agreed Wednesday to deploy a regional force to help contain the Islamist extremists. A European Union military mission to support Mozambican troops battling the […]

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, during a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi at the Heliopolis Presidential Palace, in Cairo, May 26, 2021 (AP photo by Alex Brandon).

During his first four months in office, U.S. President Joe Biden did not speak with his Egyptian counterpart, Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi—a notable departure from precedent given the history of close security ties between the two countries. But after months of silence, Biden spoke with Sisi twice over the course of five days in May, extending his “sincere gratitude” to Egypt “for its successful diplomacy” in securing a cease-fire that ended 11 days of intense fighting between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian faction that runs the Gaza Strip. Two days later, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Egypt and Jordan as […]

Ebrahim Raisi, a candidate in Iran’s presidential elections, waves to the media after casting his vote at a polling station in Tehran, Iran June 18, 2021 (AP photo by Ebrahim Noroozi).

As the regime-anointed candidate in Iran’s presidential election charade last Friday, Ebrahim Raisi’s victory was thoroughly expected. Even so, it managed to be jarring. It’s not every day a country chooses a man accused of crimes against humanity for such a powerful post, with all signs pointing to Raisi acquiring even greater, unrivaled power in the near future. For the Iranian people, Raisi’s presidency, followed by his projected ascension to the post of supreme leader once the ailing 83-year-old Ali Khamenei dies, promises to bring even more repression. For Iran’s neighbors, Western powers—particularly the United States—and the rest of the […]

Lee Jun-seok speaks after being elected leader of the conservative opposition People Power Party, in Seoul, South Korea, June 11, 2021 (pool photo by Kim Min-hee via AP Images).

In the staid world of South Korean politics, a 36-year-old entrepreneur with no experience in public office is a highly unconventional choice to head up a major party, yet that is who the conservative opposition People Power Party chose as its leader at its convention earlier this month. Lee Jun-seok entered the race as an underdog but went on to best four well-established rivals, including two veteran lawmakers, and become the youngest-ever leader of a mainstream political party in the history of South Korean democracy. Lee takes the PPP’s helm at a pivotal time, as the party gears up for […]

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