Foreign Affairs Article

The End of Reform in China

Author: You Wei

Since the start of its post-Mao reforms in the late 1970s, the communist regime in China has repeatedly defied predictions of its impending demise. The key to its success lies in what one might call “authoritarian adaptation”—the use of policy reforms to substitute for fundamental institutional change. 

See more in China; Regime Changes

Foreign Affairs Article

Embracing China's "New Normal"

Author: Hu Angang

It is clear by now that China’s economy is set to slow in the years to come, although economists disagree about how much and for how long. Last year, the country’s GDP growth rate fell to 7.4 percent, the lowest in almost a quarter century, and many expect that figure to drop further in 2015. Plenty of countries struggle to grow at even this pace, but most don’t have to create hundreds of millions of jobs over the next decade, as China will.

See more in China; Economics

Foreign Affairs Article

China's Dangerous Debt

Author: Zhiwu Chen

In September 2008, when Chinese President Hu Jintao got word that Lehman Brothers, then the fourth-largest U.S. investment bank, was on the verge of bankruptcy, he was traveling by van along the bumpy roads of Shaanxi Province. Surrounded by policy advisers and members of the Politburo, Hu asked them how China should respond to the inevitable spillover.

See more in China; Budget, Debt, and Deficits

Foreign Affairs Article

China Will Get Rich Before It Grows Old

Author: Baozhen Luo

At a conference on the Chinese economy in 2012, Cai Fang, a demographer at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, issued a dire warning: “There’s now no doubt China will be old before it is rich.” He was expressing a view widely held by economists and China watchers. Over the past 65 years, life expectancy in China has more than doubled, from 35 years to roughly 75, as the fertility rate has plunged. Many fear that if these trends continue, China’s population will age faster than the country can accommodate.

See more in China; Population

Foreign Affairs Article

Xi's Corruption Crackdown

Author: James Leung

In a series of speeches he delivered shortly after taking office in 2012, Chinese President Xi Jinping cast corruption as not merely a significant problem for his country but an existential threat. Endemic corruption, he warned, could lead to “the collapse of the [Chinese Communist] Party and the downfall of the state.”

See more in China; Corruption and Bribery

Foreign Affairs Article

China’s Race Problem

Author: Gray Tuttle

For all the tremendous change China has experienced in recent decades—phenomenal economic growth, improved living standards, and an ascent to great-power status—the country has made little progress when it comes to the treatment of its ethnic minorities, most of whom live in China’s sparsely populated frontier regions.

See more in China; Ethnicity, Minorities, and National Identity

Foreign Affairs Article

Europe's Shattered Dream of Order

Authors: Ivan Krastev and Mark Leonard

Until recently, most Europeans believed that their post–Cold War security order held universal appeal and could be a model for the rest of the world. This conviction was hardly surprising, since Europe has often played a central role in global affairs. For much of the last three centuries, European order was world order—a product of the interests, ambitions, and rivalries of the continent’s empires.

See more in Europe; Wars and Warfare

Foreign Affairs Article

In Defense of Financial Innovation

Author: Andrew Palmer

At a 2013 conference held by The Economist in New York, business and policy leaders debated whether talented university graduates should join Google or Goldman Sachs. Vivek Wadhwa, a serial entrepreneur, spoke up for Google. “Would you rather have your children engineering the financial system [and] creating more problems for us, or having a chance of saving the world?” he asked.

See more in United States; Economics

Foreign Affairs Article

From Calvin to the Caliphate

Author: John M. Owen, IV

Nearly a century after it first emerged in Egypt, political Islam is redefining the Muslim world. Also called Islamism, this potent ideology holds that the billion-strong global Muslim community would be free and great if only it were pious—that is, if Muslims lived under state-enforced Islamic law, or sharia, as they have done for most of Islamic history.

See more in Middle East and North Africa; Europe; Religion

Foreign Affairs Article

Drone On

Author: Gretchen West
In the beginning, drones were almost exclusively the province of militaries. At first little more than remote-controlled model planes used in the World War I era, military drones advanced steadily over the decades, eventually becoming sophisticated tools that could surveil battlefield enemies from the sky. Today, the terms “drone” and “unmanned aircraft system” denote a vehicle that navigates through the air from point A to point B and is either remotely controlled or flies autonomously.

See more in Global; Space

Foreign Affairs Article

The Democratization of Space

Authors: Dave Baiocchi and William Wesler IV

Starting with the Soviets’ launch of Sputnik in 1957, early space missions were funded exclusively by national governments, and for good reason: going to space was astronomically expensive. Setting up a successful space program meant making major investments in expertise and infrastructure, along with tolerating a great deal of risk—which only the superpowers could do.

See more in Global; Space

Foreign Affairs Article

The Precision Agriculture Revolution

Author: Jess Lowenberg-DeBoer

housands of years ago, agriculture began as a highly site-specific activity. The first farmers were gardeners who nurtured individual plants, and they sought out the microclimates and patches of soil that favored those plants. But as farmers acquired scientific knowledge and mechanical expertise, they enlarged their plots, using standardized approaches—plowing the soil, spreading animal manure as fertilizer, rotating the crops from year to year—to boost crop yields.

See more in Global; Agricultural Policy

Foreign Affairs Article

Too Many Secrets

Authors: Ron Wyden and John Dickas

One of the most persistent challenges of U.S. national security policy is balancing 
the short-term benefits of secrecy with the long-term benefits of openness. Government agencies responsible for dealing with national security threats will often be more effective if they are allowed to keep certain details about their activities secret.

See more in United States; Politics and Strategy

Foreign Affairs Article

The Torture Blame Game

Author: Robert Jervis

At the end of World War II, the United Kingdom built memorials to every military branch save one: the Royal Air Force’s Bomber Command. The group had skillfully carried out its mission, leveling German cities in raids that killed hundreds of thousands of civilians. But by 1945, the British public had developed second thoughts about the morality and efficacy of that mission.

See more in United States; Intelligence

Foreign Affairs Article

Putin's Hard Turn

Author: Joshua Yaffa

For many who arrived in Moscow in recent decades, the city had an almost narcotic effect. In the vacuum created by the Soviet collapse, unabashed opportunism and a limitless sense of the possible became the closest thing the wounded country had to a collective ideology.

See more in Russia and Central Asia; Economics

Foreign Affairs Article

Who Lost Libya?

Authors: Derek H. Chollet and Ben Fishman

A close call. It is tempting to view the chaos in Libya today as yet one more demonstration of the futility of U.S.-led military interventions. That is precisely the case that Alan Kuperman makes in his article (“Obama’s Libya Debacle,” March/April 2015), which asserts that NATO’s 2011 intervention in Libya was “an abject failure” that set free Libya’s vast conventional weapons stockpiles, gave rise to extremist groups, and even exacerbated the conflict in Syria.

See more in Libya; NATO