Topic Category: Politics

Barack Obama assumed office promising to restore some of the U.S. foreign policy credibility notoriously squandered by his predecessor. But if Congress doesn’t ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement before Christmas, the president will leave office with American commercial and strategic positions weakened in the Asia-Pacific and U.S. credibility further diminished globally. The specter of that outcome should be keeping the president awake at night.

Topic: Politics
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Rising powers tend to be cocky and pushy. They believe their time has arrived and they want their just desserts—now. So it is with China. Alas, there’s a downside, which Beijing has discovered. Rising powers don’t make many friends. The more obnoxious their behavior, the harder diplomacy becomes.

Topic: Politics
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In the presidential debates and on the campaign trail, U.S. trade policy has taken a beating. Trump would slap a 45 percent tax on all imports from China. Sanders claims that trade agreements have been “a disaster for the American worker.” Cruz perpetuates the myth that Congress has ceded its authority on trade to President Obama. And Clinton would oppose a trade agreement she helped craft.

Topic: Politics
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The big trade news recently was that government officials from the 12 nations negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership traveled to New Zealand for the official signing ceremony. While the negotiators are no doubt relieved, and are looking forward to some time off, we now get to perhaps the most difficult part of the process: Seeing whether Congress will approve what the Obama administration negotiated.

Topic: Politics
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President Xi Jinping and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou recently met in Singapore. Never before has Beijing treated the island’s government as an equal. It was a small step for peace, but the circle remains to be squared. China insists that Taiwan is a wayward province, while the vast majority of Taiwanese feel no allegiance to the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

Topic: Politics
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On July 20, Cuba formally reopened its embassy in Washington for the first time in 54 years, a step that was reciprocated by the U.S. in mid-August. However, it will be some time yet before relations are fully normalized. The Republican-dominated U.S. Congress has made clear that it will not approve the lifting of the embargo on trade and investment with Cuba in the absence of substantive political reform.

Topic: Politics
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The grand coalition of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right CDU and the center-left SPD is showing signs of strain. This, however, is not cause for concern given the conflicting policy preferences of the governing parties — which include the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, the CSU — and the series of regional crises that Merkel has had to manage over the last two years.

Topic: Politics
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Whenever China is mentioned in a presidential campaign, the consequences are rarely good. In 2012 residents of Ohio, where anti-Beijing ads proliferated, might have believed that the campaign hinged on which candidate was tougher on China. Next year U.S. policy toward the People’s Republic of China might become a broader election issue, leading to serious damage in the relationship.

Topic: Politics
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Modern Singapore’s political landscape has often served as a bellwether for what other countries in Asia have come to expect from their polities — maintenance of the status quo, with enough of a sliver of opposition voices at election time to enable the country to call itself a ‘democracy’ with a straight face. That wouldn’t pass the smell test in much of the rest of the world, but it works well in Singapore.

Topic: Politics
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Last year Narendra Modi won an unusually strong majority in India’s parliamentary election. Previously barred from receiving a U.S. visa because of charges that he incited sectarian violence, Modi visited the U.S. last September and was warmly welcomed by both the Obama administration and Indian-Americans. He was treated as the leader of the next great power.

Topic: Politics
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