U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s planned visit to Beijing next week is unlikely to see breakthroughs in the tense U.S.-China relations. However, his visit — the first to China by a U.S. secretary of state since Mike Pompeo’s in 2018 — provides an important opportunity for him to take up a range of issues with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang and China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi. There is no doubt that the bilateral relationship is severely strained, but Blinken’s visit is an important follow up to the meeting between President Joe Biden and General Secretary Xi Jinping on the sidelines of November’s G-20 in Bali and a sign that both sides see the need to stabilize ties.
Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen’s recent 10-day trip to Africa kicks off a year of sustained, high-level U.S. engagement, aimed at demonstrating that the Biden administration is “all in on Africa, and all in with Africa” following December’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. With trips from the president, vice president, and other cabinet secretaries in the works, this “super-charged” U.S. diplomacy is moving beyond the typical secretary of state visits. A close look at some of the issues encountered by Yellen on her trip demonstrates that showing up on the continent may be the easy part of going all in with Africa.
Since late last week, violence between Israelis and Palestinians has rapidly escalated in the West Bank and around Jerusalem, and January has proven to be one of the most violent months in the West Bank in decades. Attacks continue, exacerbated by bitter publics, frenzied politics and fragile institutions in the West Bank. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict may be in a spiral toward a third intifada and even the possible end of the two-state paradigm.
Two years ago today, Myanmar’s military snuffed out the country’s democratic government in a coup and set about restoring the grim dictatorship that dominated the Southeast Asian nation for 50 years. But the generals’ initial moves — jailing civilian leaders, shutting the free press, issuing heavy-handed decrees — were the only things that went according to plan. To date, the coup has instead triggered myriad unintended effects. None are more urgent and consequential than the instability and crime that the generals’ power grab triggered across Southeast Asia, and none more directly implicate U.S. interests in the region.
Few issues between Japan and South Korea draw as much attention and political resources while producing such ephemeral results as historical reconciliation. In two years, the countries will reach milestones for major agreements, such as the 10th anniversary of the 2015 “comfort women” agreement and the 60th anniversary of the Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and South Korea. Between these two landmark deals are several official Japanese apologies, government speeches acknowledging Japan’s colonial past, visits by Japanese dignitaries to Korean memorial sites, a public-private reparations program, government-level “friendship” initiatives and civil society efforts to grapple with so-called history issues.
Southern Asia — India, Pakistan and China — is the only place on earth where three nuclear-armed states have recently engaged in violent confrontations along their contested borders. As a USIP senior study group report concluded last year, the problem of nuclear stability in Southern Asia is getting harder to manage because of geopolitical changes, such as rising India-China border tensions, as well as evolving military technologies, including growing nuclear arsenals and more capable delivery systems. Unfortunately, in the time since that senior study group completed its work, little has happened to revise its worrisome conclusion or to prevent the most likely triggering causes of a nuclearized crisis in Southern Asia. To the contrary, there are some good reasons to fear that the situation in Southern Asia has even deteriorated over the past year.
The United States and India have a common cause in their tensions with China, as well as a “natural partnership” on technology investments, says USIP’s Sameer Lalwani. But India remains noncommittal when it comes to Russia’s war on Ukraine: “They’ve concluded that they need Russia to stick around.”
The United States and its allies are seeking ways to promote a sustainable peace in Europe — one that ends Russia’s brutal assault on Ukraine and strengthens a global prohibition on such wars of aggrandizement. Tragically but realistically, Russia, like most historic imperial powers, will need to be defeated militarily before it abandons war as a means to dominate its neighbors. Any negotiated peace before such a defeat will simply let Russia rebuild its forces and renew its assault. Yet even as the West should maintain full support for Ukraine’s defense, such as the tanks much discussed this month, it should encourage negotiation toward specific goals.
Twelve years since the fall of Qaddafi, the United Nations' Libya mission carries the same mandate as it did in 2011. With the country still experiencing various degrees of conflict and upheaval, it’s time to “re-envision what we want the U.N. to do” in Libya and create a “mandate [that] will reflect that,” says USIP’s Thomas Hill.
While the relationship between South Korea and Japan is fraught with a number of historical and territorial disputes, the current cycle of tensions focuses our attention on lawsuits related to the colonial era. Most notably, bilateral ties soured after 2018, when two landmark rulings from the South Korean Supreme Court ordered Japanese firms to compensate Korean plaintiffs for their wartime forced labor.