Environment

The Frightening COVID Origin Charge Against China’s Shi Zhengli, Wuhan’s Bat Virologist
China, Environment, Politics

The Frightening COVID Origin Charge Against China’s Shi Zhengli, Wuhan’s Bat Virologist

It was at 7 pm on December 30, 2019, that Shi Zhengli, the Director of the Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), says she received her first intimation about what would later turn out to be SARS-CoV-2, better known around the world now as the virus behind COVID-19. The institute’s Director had allegedly called her to tell her that samples had come in from a hospital of patients who were suffering from an atypical pneumonia thought to be from a coronavirus. She was told to drop everything she was doing, return to WIV, and begin studying it. She returned to Wuhan, over 800 km away, by train. What had happened in the 16 years before that and what transpired in the 1 year and 5 months after, may hold the key to answering perhaps the biggest prevailin...
Why Shaking Up Big Oil Could Be a Pyrrhic Victory
China, Environment, Human Rights, Politics

Why Shaking Up Big Oil Could Be a Pyrrhic Victory

An expert's point of view on a current event. Why Shaking Up Big Oil Could Be a Pyrrhic Victory Last week marked a watershed in the oil industry’s reckoning with climate change. The landmark setbacks in the courtroom, boardroom, and shareholder meetings for some of the world’s largest oil firms were stunning victories for climate activists in their battle against Big Oil. Whether these defeats will also be a victory in the battle against climate change, however, is less clear. That will depend on whether growing societal pressure to deal with the climate crisis leads to the policy changes and technological advances needed to rapidly curb oil use, as society must. In a global oil market where supplies are freely traded and the big Western oil firms control only a small share of output, re...
Pacific Commanders Want More Money for Biden’s Asia Pivot
China, Environment

Pacific Commanders Want More Money for Biden’s Asia Pivot

Pacific Commanders Want More Money for Biden’s Asia Pivot The Pentagon’s top military command in the Asia-Pacific region is asking Congress to add nearly a billion dollars to its budget request to strengthen missile defenses, bolster American allies and partners in the region, and to look at more robust forward bases for U.S. troops to prepare for a possible military contingency in the region, according to internal budget documents obtained by Foreign Policy. In total, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (Indopacom) is asking for almost $890 million to be added to the Biden administration’s $5.1 billion budget request for the Asia-focused command, including $231 million in funding for air and missile defenses at American military installations in Guam–within range of China’s improving rocket and m...
The Bidenomics Revolution
China, Environment

The Bidenomics Revolution

Only a year ago, Joe Biden was seen as an aging if likable establishment figure whose main claim to the U.S. presidency was that he wasn’t Donald Trump. Biden himself suggested he might be a “transitional president” rather than a transformational one: Elect me, get rid of the widely hated Trump, and then we’ll figure out how to fix our country. Or perhaps my successor will. But that isn’t the Biden who has shown up this year—at all. In a May 27 speech at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland outlining his $6 trillion budget proposal, Biden talked about “creating a new paradigm”: resurrecting America’s beleaguered underclass with a combination of major education, health care, and tax proposals and a new brand of industrial policy and economic nationalism that will, eventually, propel the...
Why Beijing Will Never Cooperate With a COVID-19 Investigation
China, Environment

Why Beijing Will Never Cooperate With a COVID-19 Investigation

A weekly digest of the stories you should be following in China this week, plus exclusive analysis. Delivered Wednesday. Why Beijing Will Never Cooperate With a COVID-19 Investigation Welcome to Foreign Policy’s China Brief. The highlights this week: Chinese officials have no incentives to cooperate with the United States on a COVID-19 origins investigation, the U.S. Department of Defense China Task Force wraps up its work, and an escaped herd of elephants captivates the Chinese public. If you would like to receive China Brief in your inbox every Wednesday, please sign up here. Another COVID-19 Origins Investigation? Not Happening. Biden administration officials have repeatedly said it is in China’s best interest to cooperate with an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus....
Indonesia Is Quietly Warming Up to China
China, Environment

Indonesia Is Quietly Warming Up to China

An expert's point of view on a current event. Indonesia Is Quietly Warming Up to China In late 2019 and early 2020, China and Indonesia were inching toward armed conflict. China’s coast guard and fishing militia were making continued incursions into Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone in the Natuna Sea, a region of the Pacific Ocean located between Borneo and Sumatra and considered a traditional Chinese fishing region by Beijing. The intrusions into Indonesian waters prompted Jakarta to dispatch warships and F-16 fighter jets, and to call for Indonesian fishing vessels to relocate to the area. In the end, China decided to pull back, though occasional incursions still occur. Since that potentially explosive confrontation, Chinese-Indonesian relations have quietly and steadily healed. Thi...
Can Biden Keep the Peace in Southeast Asia?
China, Environment, Politics

Can Biden Keep the Peace in Southeast Asia?

An expert's point of view on a current event. Can Biden Keep the Peace in Southeast Asia? “America is back,” U.S. President Joe Biden has announced to the world—but in Southeast Asia, the United States is playing catch-up again. And it has much to recover. The last four years witnessed Washington’s dwindling diplomatic and political capital in the region. The United States has no regional initiative of significance. It has excluded itself from two economic groupings: the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. In 2017, then-President Donald Trump did attend a special Manila summit between the United States and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) but missed out on all four meetings of the Ea...
Pakistan’s Press Enters a Dark Era
China, Environment, Human Rights

Pakistan’s Press Enters a Dark Era

News and analysis from India and its neighboring countries in South Asia, a region home to one-fourth of the world’s population. Delivered Thursday. Pakistan’s Press Enters a Dark Era Welcome to Foreign Policy’s South Asia Brief. The highlights this week: Pakistan tightens the screws on anti-establishment journalists, India’s economy suffers its worst contraction since independence, and Afghanistan’s security situation deteriorates. If you would like to receive South Asia Brief in your inbox every Thursday, please sign up here. In Pakistan, Press Freedom Is Increasingly Precious It’s been a turbulent week for the Pakistani press. Last Tuesday, journalist Asad Ali Toor was assaulted in his home. Toor, known for his criticism of the military, said his assailants identified themselves a...
Europe Repents in Africa
China, Environment, Human Rights, Politics

Europe Repents in Africa

From Algeria to Zimbabwe and countries in between, a weekly roundup of essential news and analysis from Africa. Delivered Wednesday. Europe Repents in Africa Welcome to Foreign Policy’s Africa Brief. This week’s highlights: European powers take a step toward historical accountability in Namibia and Rwanda, Mozambique’s neighbors prepare to intervene, and the leader of the Nigerian jihadi group Boko Haram appears to be dead—again. If you would like to receive Africa Brief in your inbox every Wednesday, please sign up here. What’s in an Overdue Apology? In the past week, two major European powers apologized for their roles in two genocides that took place nearly a century apart. Germany apologized for its colonial-era atrocities in Namibia, while France took responsibility for its role...
With Three-Child Policy, China Is Missing the Point
China, Environment

With Three-Child Policy, China Is Missing the Point

An expert's point of view on a current event. With Three-Child Policy, China Is Missing the Point According to a worrying set of census results released in mid-May, in recent years China has experienced a substantial drop in birthrates. The results fueled brewing angst among those who have warned that China could follow the so-called Japan trajectory (Japan’s population shank over the past decade after peaking at 128 million in 2010) and suffer a labor deficit as birthrates tank. China has long been worried about population trends. In 2016, it scrapped its decades-long “one-child policy” in part in an effort to encourage larger families. But that move alone was apparently insufficient to stall the precipitous decline. And so, this week, the Chinese Communist Party—after a Politburo meet...