China, Russia and Eastern Europe, US Foreign Policy

How to Deconstruct the New Iron Curtain

The head of the U.S. Strategic Command told Congress last week that a powerful set of countries is ganging up against the United States and World War III is on the horizon. General Anthony Cotton’s testimony didn’t receive much attention from the U.S. press, other than some breathless coverage from conservative outlets eager to emphasize… Continue reading How to Deconstruct the New Iron Curtain


What’s Going to Happen to Taiwan?

Much of international relations is pretense. The leaders of countries pretend to like each other, shaking hands with smiles and manufactured bonhomie. International treaties, which countries solemnly ratify, are often honored only in the breach. Then there are borders, the cement that holds together the international order. Nation-states are the building blocks of that order,… Continue reading What’s Going to Happen to Taiwan?


Defrosting the Cold War with China

Chinese leader Xi Jinping arrived in the United States this week to participate in the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting. He also met one-on-one with President Joe Biden. But it hasn’t been exactly a red-carpet kind of visit. For one thing, because the two leaders will be talking in San Francisco, their confab will… Continue reading Defrosting the Cold War with China

China, Economics, Environment, Korea

The Mineral Rush

Entrepreneurs and adventurers have long traveled the world in search of gold. European empires looted Latin America for its silver and tin. Diamonds attracted the rapacious to Africa. Oil has built enormous empires of wealth in the Gulf states. Today, an entirely different scramble for natural resources is taking place. These “critical raw materials” play… Continue reading The Mineral Rush


The Trouble with Taiwan

Taiwan is a country, but not many other states recognize it as such. Only 13 countries maintain diplomatic relations with the island nation. These are small or poor or both, like Haiti, Paraguay, and Tuvalu. Honduras switched its diplomatic allegiance from Taipei to Beijing just one month ago. Taiwan doesn’t have a seat at the… Continue reading The Trouble with Taiwan

China, US Foreign Policy

Spying vs. Spying

This weekend, I went on a walk on a paved road that soon turned to dirt. The further into farmland it went, the muddier and more difficult to traverse the road became. The map function on my phone, connected by invisible strands to a satellite way above my head, continued to show me these roads,… Continue reading Spying vs. Spying

China, Korea

South Korea’s New Foreign Policy of Two Nos and One Yes

South Koreans are still sorting out the implications of the recent presidential elections. Victorious conservative candidate Yoon Suk-yeol rose to prominence on an anti-corruption agenda and has various plans to shake up the way government functions. He has also pledged to reduce government intervention in the economy, boost incentives for business, increase the role of… Continue reading South Korea’s New Foreign Policy of Two Nos and One Yes

China, Environment, Russia and Eastern Europe

Russia and China’s Dirty Partnership

The leaders of Russia and China are joining forces. Russian President Vladimir Putin traveled to Beijing for the Winter Olympics to show solidarity with his largest trade partner at an event that the United States, Canada, the UK, and Australia are boycotting diplomatically. The statement that Putin signed with Chinese leader Xi Jinping confirms their… Continue reading Russia and China’s Dirty Partnership


Chinese Fossil Fuel Investments in Africa

China’s relationship with Africa is multifaceted. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) shares ideological bonds with many African countries because of early ties to anti-colonial struggles and through the Non-Aligned Movement. Every African country recognizes the PRC with the exception of eSwatini (Swaziland), which has diplomatic relations with Taiwan). Many African countries preserved trade relations… Continue reading Chinese Fossil Fuel Investments in Africa


Can We Avoid a War with China

When he was running for office in 2008, Barack Obama wanted to put an end to the war in Iraq in order to focus U.S. troops and resources on the conflict in Afghanistan. This August, the Biden administration finally withdrew the remaining U.S. troops from Afghanistan. It’s hard not to get the sense that it… Continue reading Can We Avoid a War with China


Why is Biden’s Foreign Policy So…Conventional

On the domestic front, Joe Biden is flirting with transformational policies around energy, environment, and infrastructure. It’s not a revolution, but it’s considerably less timid than what Barack Obama offered in that pre-Trump, pre-pandemic era. When it comes to foreign policy, however, the Biden administration has been nowhere near as transformational. The phrase Joe Biden… Continue reading Why is Biden’s Foreign Policy So…Conventional


Building the World Back Better?

The Senate recently demonstrated that the only adhesive capable of uniting the two parties is a good, old-fashioned enemy. Although the Democrats and Republicans continue to bicker over the Biden administration’s infrastructure legislation, they achieved rare accord in passing a major technology bill that directs investment into key sectors of the economy. Why the sudden… Continue reading Building the World Back Better?


China and the Perils of Bipartisanship

Not a single congressional Republican voted for the recent $1.9 trillion stimulus package. Not even the so-called moderate Republicans, the handful that backed the second impeachment of Donald Trump, deigned to support an economic package that helps Americans hardest hit by the pandemic. The entire Republican caucus didn’t just snub the Democrats. They ignored the… Continue reading China and the Perils of Bipartisanship

Book Reviews, China

One in a Billion

The story of An Wei overlaps almost perfectly with the story of Communist China. Born in a small village some distance from the northwestern city of Xian, An Wei was seven years old when Mao took control of the country in 1949. As the son of peasants, he was part of the first generation of… Continue reading One in a Billion


Conservatives Are Comparing Racial Justice Protestors to Maoists

In their effort to transform their discomfort with the current #BlackLivesMatter protests into a superficially sophisticated critique, right-wing “intellectuals” in the United States and Europe have latched onto a dubious historical analogy. When former congressman Newt Gingrich, the National Review’s David Harsanyi, Breitbart’s Joel Pollak, and other right-wingers look at the protests against police violence,… Continue reading Conservatives Are Comparing Racial Justice Protestors to Maoists

China, US Foreign Policy

Trump’s ‘Uncreative Destruction’ of the U.S.-China Relationship

Economists like to think of the wreckage caused by stock market downturns, widespread bankruptcies, and corporate downsizing as “creative destruction.” As it destroys the old and the dysfunctional, the capitalist system continually spurs innovation, much as a forest fire prepares the ground for new growth. Or so the representatives of the dismal science argue. Donald… Continue reading Trump’s ‘Uncreative Destruction’ of the U.S.-China Relationship

China, US Foreign Policy

Debunking Trump’s China Nonsense

Conspiracy theorists never let a crisis go to waste. When something truly terrible happens, the conspiracy theorist sets to work to determine the dark, hidden forces at work behind the scenes that have produced the crisis. Some people might see God or the Devil as the prime mover behind a catastrophe. Others throw up their… Continue reading Debunking Trump’s China Nonsense

China, US Foreign Policy

What the Coronavirus Says About Us

A crisis, according to self-help and leadership books, reveals much about a person’s character. The same can be said of a nation’s character. Since the latest pandemic began to spread out of China in 2020, countries responded in very different ways to the challenge. There was ingenuity, inflexibility, incomprehension, and sheer incompetence. Diversity can be… Continue reading What the Coronavirus Says About Us

China, Russia and Eastern Europe

The New Age of Protest

Led by young people, climate strikers blocked traffic on two mornings at the end of last month in Washington, DC. On the first day, protestors chained themselves to a boat three blocks from the White House, and 32 activists were arrested. On the second day, activists targeted the EPA and Trump International Hotel. It was… Continue reading The New Age of Protest


Hong Kong and the Future of China

Something didn’t quite add up. This past weekend, protestors were rallying outside the American embassy in Hong Kong. They were waving American flags. They were singing The Star-Spangled Banner. One 24-year-old protester wore a red Make America Great Again hat. Some signs at the protest read “President Trump, please liberate Hong Kong.” “The Chinese government is breaking their… Continue reading Hong Kong and the Future of China