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On GeopoliticsJul 3, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A map of China.
China’s Rise as a Global Power Reaches Its Riskiest Point Yet
China is an empire in the modern sense -- a nation strengthened (but also held hostage) by its long supply chains, compelled to ever greater economic and political intercourse to preserve its interests, and increasingly drawn into the security sphere as well. It uses its economic, political and military leverage to expand its own direct sphere of operations, from the South China Sea to India and across Central Asia into Europe. The more engaged it is internationally, the more dependent it is on maintaining and strengthening those connections, which are critical for Chinese economic growth and, by extension, domestic management of its massive, diverse and economically unequal population. 
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AssessmentsJul 2, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
People stand in line to receive grant payments from the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) in Khayelitsha, a township located near Cape Town, on May 4, 2020. 
South Africa's Budget Outlook Paints a Picture of a Lost Decade
South Africa will likely miss its recently adjusted budget targets as the country’s escalating COVID-19 outbreak delays much-needed austerity measures, leaving the South African economy in shambles for at least another five years. President Cyril Ramaphosa and his pro-business allies in the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party had planned to rein in government spending and the country's sky-high debt levels over the next three years. But South Africa's likely extended health and economic crisis could make that goal politically untenable, given that any budget cuts and potential layoffs would most acutely affect the ANC's support base of labor unions and their poorer Black constituents. 
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SnapshotsJun 30, 2020 | 19:49 GMT
China's Security Law Ushers in a New and Uncertain Era in Hong Kong
The passing of China's new Hong Kong national security law marks the start of an uncertain and potentially volatile phase in the city's ongoing political crisis, as pro-democracy forces square-off with newly empowered city authorities backed by Beijing, increasing the risk of a sweeping crackdown on dissent that could also impact foreign institutions. Whether the next period sees tumultuous protests or a stifling of the pro-democracy camp will now depend on how Hong Kong authorities choose to apply their new sweeping powers and how the prosecution of such crimes proceed in the court system. Hong Kong's pro-democracy camp, for its part, will work to balance the need to maintain public furor against Beijing's ongoing erosion of the city's autonomy with the need to also save its strength for September legislative council elections, where it hopes to gain ground and challenge Beijing-aligned authorities.
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SnapshotsJun 29, 2020 | 16:05 GMT
French Local Elections Deal a Blow to Macron's Political Prospects
A little more than three years after taking office, French President Emmanuel Macron's La Republique En Marche (LREM) party has failed to win support at the municipal level, where much of French politics takes place. The second round of municipal elections on June 28 resulted in big wins for opposition parties, which suggests France's political system is becoming increasingly fragmented and that the country's traditional parties are struggling to compete with their emerging rivals. Very low voter turnout (around 41 percent) also suggests many French voters are discontent with their current political options, which could result in the rise of anti-establishment parties and the emergence of new protest movements like the yellow vests.
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AssessmentsJun 23, 2020 | 18:03 GMT
A worker goes down a construction ladder at the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia on Dec. 26, 2019.
Egypt's Losing Battle on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam
The failure of last week's negotiations over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam means that the initial filling of the $4 billion hydroelectric dam on the Blue Nile will likely occur without an agreement between Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia. Egypt will attempt, and likely fail, to bring international pressure to bear on Ethiopia in order to ensure the giant new dam doesn't affect the flow of the Nile Basin river system, which is Cairo's main source of water. But while Egypt's technical coordination on the project is unavoidable, Cairo's waning influence over North Africa's water distribution will make its overall position on the Nile less secure over time.
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SnapshotsJun 16, 2020 | 15:48 GMT
North Korea and South Korea Inch Closer Toward Low-Level Military Confrontation
A mounting inter-Korean spat over propaganda balloons, amid domestic political developments deemed provocative in both countries, is raising the risk for low-level military confrontation while threatening South Korea’s efforts to begin its COVID-19 economic recovery. Over the past several days, despite the 20th anniversary of the first inter-Korean summit, North Korea has demolished the inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong, threatened to scrap a 2018 bilateral military agreement aimed at easing inter-Korean tensions, stopped the daily calls between the two governments, and issued several warnings against South Korea's inaction to stop activists and defectors from sending propaganda-laden balloons into North Korea.
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AssessmentsJun 16, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
An image depicting the global economy.
Trump’s War Against Taxing Tech Goes Global
With international negotiations stalled, many governments are choosing to unilaterally implement digital services taxes (DSTs). The United States -- which is home to the majority of tech giants that would be subject to such taxes, including Amazon, Apple and Google -- is using the threat of tariffs to both limit the global expansion of DSTs and push international negotiations toward the proposed reforms it backs. But with so many countries against Washington's preferred outcome, which critics say would allow U.S. tech companies to opt out of tax obligations in international markets, the risk of negotiations failing to reach an agreement this year is high, as is the risk of the United States implementing tariffs on its growing number of trade partners implementing DSTs. 
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SnapshotsJun 12, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Postelection Turmoil Could Jeopardize Guyana's Oil Windfall
Guyana's postelection political battle could delay approvals for the government's pending oil and gas projects, should it morph into a prolonged crisis and deepen rifts between the country's two ethnic groups. Guyana is no stranger to elections marred by fraud allegations. But with the small South American country set to become the world's largest per capita oil producer in the coming years, the outcome of its latest contested ballot will decide which party will benefit from the initial windfall of new income -- and with it, the opportunity to cement a long-term electoral advantage.
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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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AssessmentsJun 9, 2020 | 19:38 GMT
Pro-democracy protesters shine the flashlights on their cellphones as they take part in a rally in Hong Kong on June 9, 2020.
Hong Kong’s Election Lights the Fuse for Another Wave of Unrest
A year after the city's extradition bill prompted more than a million people to take to the streets in June 2019, marking a watershed moment in last year's protests, Hong Kong's political crisis is heating up once again. The next three months in Hong Kong will see protests kick back into high gear as pro-Beijing and pro-democracy camps focus on winning Legislative Council elections planned for September. The central government in mainland China will fast-track its controversial national security laws ahead of the polls to increase control over protestors and politicians, while the regional Hong Kong government will work to fulfill its side of the legislation. The White House, meanwhile, will pressure China to ease back on its encroachment in Hong Kong by possibly stripping away the city's special tariff treatment, but will weigh carefully whether to escalate further to financial measures that would cripple Hong Kong's status as a business hub
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AssessmentsJun 9, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, one of the main opposition candidates running in Poland's 2020 presidential election, greets locals and supporters in Wieliczka, Poland, during a campaign event on June 5, 2020. 
Poland After the Presidential Election
Poland’s upcoming presidential election could increase political instability at a time of already mounting economic uncertainty, should a less Euroskeptic opposition candidate defeat President Andrzej Duda and secure the power to veto legislation. Regardless of who wins, in the months ahead the Polish government will need to defend both its economy from further harm due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as its access to EU farming subsidies and cohesion funds in the bloc’s 2021-2027 budget. Over time, growing debt levels and a worsening deficit could damage the government’s popularity and open the door to political change by impeding Warsaw’s ability to expand social welfare benefits.  
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