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SnapshotsOct 9, 2020 | 18:52 GMT
An Indian fighter jet flies over Leh, the joint capital of the union territory of Ladakh, on June 26, 2020.
China Moves to Freeze Its Border Dispute With India Before the Winter Does
China’s recent reassertion of its 1959 border line with India has left little room for a compromise in the two countries’ territorial dispute in Ladakh ahead of the approaching harsh winter, which will enable Beijing to both reinforce its claims in the Himalayan region come spring, as well as test Indian resolve with actions at other areas along the border. In late September, the Chinese Foreign Ministry sent a statement to the Hindustan Times confirming it still recognizes its unilateral 1959 line along the Indian border as the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which was drawn before the two countries’ war in 1962. Military officials from the two sides are set to meet Oct. 12 for the seventh round of Corps Commander talks aimed at resolving the border standoff in the eastern section of Ladakh, but China’s reassertion of the 1959 line makes any resolution difficult before the winter season sets in
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AssessmentsOct 2, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A picture taken on Nov. 10, 2019, shows an Iranian flag at Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant.
The Limits of Biden’s Proposed Return to Diplomacy With Iran
U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden has expressed he’d be open to quickly re-entering the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) if Iran returns to full compliance. But his predecessor’s hardline policies would probably necessitate expanding the scope of negotiations with Tehran beyond the current deal, leading Iran to adopt an even harder position on its nuclear program. Biden criticized the Trump administration’s hawkish Iran policy and 2018 withdrawal from the nuclear deal in a Sept. 13 opinion piece, in which he wrote that returning to the JCPOA could be the start of broader diplomacy between Tehran and Washington. Simply re-entering the JCPOA, however, would be difficult for both Washington and Tehran, as the current U.S. sanctions architecture is now far more complex than it was when the deal was signed in 2015.
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SnapshotsJul 14, 2020 | 14:21 GMT
A Call for Unity May Protect Iran's President From Impeachment, but Not His Officials
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's appeal to parliament against efforts to impeach President Hassan Rouhani will slow, but not stop, legislators' action against Rouhani's administration in its final year. In a July 12 address to parliament, Khamenei urged unity among Iran's leaders and voiced his support for Rouhani carrying out the remainder of his second term, which ends in 2021. The movement to impeach Rouhani and officials in his administration, which has been building since Iran's new parliament took office in late May, has accelerated over the last week. Khamenei's intervention won't halt dissatisfaction with Rouhani's performance, but it will make his impeachment less likely. Other prominent figures in his administration, however, will still be at risk of being prematurely ousted from office.
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On GeopoliticsJun 11, 2020 | 17:44 GMT
A 3D rendering of eastern China and the island of Taiwan lit by city lights from space.
China's Evolving Taiwan Policy: Disrupt, Isolate and Constrain
For China's leadership, the unification of Taiwan is more than a symbol of the final success of the Chinese Communist Party or an emotional appeal to some historic image of a greater China. It is a strategic imperative driven both by Taiwan's strategic location, and by the rising antagonism between the United States and China. Taiwan is the “unsinkable aircraft carrier” off the Chinese coastline, splitting China's near seas, and bridging the arc of islands stretching southwest from Japan with those from the Philippines south through Indonesia. Taiwan is crucial for both any foreign containment strategy, and for China's confidence and security in the East and South China seas -- areas critical to China's national defense, food security and international trade. 
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AssessmentsApr 27, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
An Iranian warship takes part in celebrations for “National Persian Gulf Day” in the Strait of Hormuz on April 30, 2019.
Trump Ups the Ante With Iran in the Persian Gulf
Iran and the United States may be heading toward another round of confrontation, even as both countries deal with significant COVID-19 outbreaks at home. Following a recent incident where 11 Iranian ships harassed U.S. vessels transiting the Persian Gulf, U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted April 22 that he had "instructed" the U.S. Navy to destroy any Iranian vessels harassing U.S. ships. It remains unclear the extent to which, if at all, the United States will adjust its rules of engagement in response to Iran's latest maritime provocations. But the exchange highlights how Washington and Tehran’s current hawkish streak and inclination toward public threats could lead to another round of miscalculation and/or escalation between the two rivals. 
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SnapshotsApr 16, 2020 | 19:33 GMT
A Naval Incident Brings Iran-U.S. Tensions Back to the Fore
Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 crisis, Iran’s recent acts of aggression in the Persian Gulf have brought the persistent threat of U.S.-Iran tensions back to the forefront. For Tehran, such provocations help remind the United States that it will not cave to U.S. pressure to change its behavior, and can also spark distractions that end up being politically useful at home.
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AssessmentsMar 5, 2020 | 18:06 GMT
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks in Tehran on Feb. 23, 2020.
What Conservative Control of Iran's Parliament Foretells
Iran's parliamentary elections on Feb. 21 produced a conservative parliament that will support more hard-line policies against the United States. The new parliament will clash with the more moderate administration of President Hassan Rouhani over how tactically to manage the country's economy through the next and final year of Rouhani's term. But on a strategic level, regardless of the election results, Iran's government across the political spectrum is still aligned on the need to implement austere economic policies to help weather sanctions and to continue an aggressive foreign policy against the United States. The sanctions-burdened economy is negatively affecting the lives of Iranians; how it fares over the next year will determine the kind of conservative candidate -- pragmatist, traditional, hard-line or populist -- likely to win Iran's 2021 presidential election.
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AssessmentsFeb 20, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
This photo shows workers at Dongfeng Motor's joint venture with Honda in Wuhan, China.
China's Virus Outbreak Has Dented Its Automakers' Bottom Lines
China’s deadly coronavirus outbreak has left few of its economic sectors unscathed, but the effects of shutdowns on its auto manufacturing operations have been -- and will continue to remain -- especially acute. Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, has asked companies not to restart shuttered operations until at least Feb. 21. Production for a number of auto companies outside of Hubei had already been delayed past the Lunar New Year holiday until Feb. 10, and in some cases, production still remains offline. Nevertheless, even once the outbreak subsides, Chinese consumer demand for automobiles will take a substantial hit this year, with estimates showing that demand could fall by at least 5 percent because of the economic slowdown associated with the coronavirus outbreak.
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GuidanceFeb 19, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani presents the budget for the fiscal year that starts in late March 2020 on Dec. 8, 2019. Rouhani described it as a "budget of resistance" against crippling U.S. sanctions.
What Iran's Next Vote Means for Policy and the Presidency
On Feb. 21, Iran will hold the first round of parliamentary elections that could usher in the return of a more conservative legislature. With moderates and reformists taking a back seat, such an outcome would nudge Tehran toward more hard-line and hawkish foreign policies, leaving less room for negotiation with the West amid soaring U.S.-Iran tensions. Regardless of its next ideological make-up, however, Iran's incoming parliament will struggle more than ever to answer the economic and social demands of an increasingly desperate and cash-strapped electorate -- a reality that could have dire consequences for Tehran's political stability ahead of the country's crucial 2021 presidential election.
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AssessmentsFeb 18, 2020 | 20:15 GMT
This photo shows Iran's successful test launch of its Qiam-1 ballistic missile
What’s Driving Iran to Build a Better Missile
Greater attention will be given to Iran's missile and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) programs from now on. The September drone attacks on the Abqaiq and Khurais oil facilities in Saudi Arabia and the January missile attack on two military bases in Iraq that left 109 U.S. military members diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries highlighted Iran's increased willingness to use its missile and UAV arsenal for tactical and strategic objectives.
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AssessmentsFeb 11, 2020 | 10:30 GMT
Employees of PetroChina Southwest Oil & Gasfield Co., a CNPC subsidiary, work at a natural gas purification plant in Suining in southwest China's Sichuan province on Jan. 15, 2020.
In Response to Coronavirus, Russia Will Back Only Modest Action by OPEC+
It is now clear that the impact of the new coronavirus on the world oil market will be substantial, but much uncertainty remains about the total impact on demand in 2020. The most probable scenario is a "sharp but short" hit to demand, but a wider spread could deepen and lengthen the impact. OPEC and other producers will attempt to at least partially mitigate the impact on oil prices, but Russia will likely insist on a cautious approach that does not last long.
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AssessmentsFeb 7, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
An employee sits in the showroom of an Apple store in Beijing after it closed for the day on Feb. 1, 2020.
The Coronavirus Spreads Fears of a Shutdown in China's Tech Sector
Without question, the new coronavirus has taken a toll on China and many other places in the world, infecting at least 30,600 people and killing 633 as of Feb. 7. But only now, as the Lunar New Year holiday draws to a close, is Beijing preparing to assess just how much economic damage the coronavirus outbreak has wrought, especially as China is central to the global electronics and information technology sector. Ultimately, the breadth of the impact depends on how far the virus spreads beyond its current location. Hubei province and its capital, Wuhan, are not critical nodes for the vast majority of China's electronics sector. But neighboring provinces, including Shaanxi, Henan and Jiangxi, are home to cities that are prominent in the global technology sector, while the provinces with the second and third most confirmed cases so far, Zhejiang and Guangdong, are arguably China's two most critical areas for tech.
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