Welcome to Axios World, where two evenings a week we break down what you need to know about the big stories from around the globe.
Thanks for joining me! Please tell your friends and colleagues to sign up here, and I'd love your tips and feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org. I got a couple of notes about the length of Monday's edition, so I'm watching my brevity this evening.
A Chinese flag blocks the sign of an Amnesty International activist during a visit from Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang to the Hague. Photo: Pierre Crom/Getty Images
China’s government is cracking down on dissent at an alarming pace and detaining up to 1 million Muslims in “re-education camps,” but at a UN Human Rights Council review this week, many countries saw fit to applaud China’s human rights record, rather than criticize it.
Why it matters: China’s economic power and investments around the world aren’t just increasing its global influence — they’re making countries far more reticent to speak out about Beijing's abuses at home. Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, tells me, "We might be moving onto the next bad phase where we not only see how few countries are critical of China, but how many are willing to be cheerleaders.”
Richardson notes that Muslim countries were notably silent on the treatment of China’s Muslim minority. She put it this way:
“If any other government in the world was credibly accused of detaining 1 million Muslims, I think we can reasonably conclude there would be calls for a debate in the UN Security Council. Demands for an investigation. Because China is so powerful both within and outside of the UN, that’s probably not going to happen. The net effect is that China may well get away with this.”
Brookings’ Ted Piccone documents China's success in limiting criticism in international institutions in a recent report:
The bottom line: “It’s not just that the tone of the discussion is getting softer, or that the topics under discussion are softer, it’s that the institutions themselves are under threat from China,” says Richardson. "If you can’t have a conversation about what’s happening in Xinjiang [at the UN], you're not going to have that conversation anywhere.”
Mohammed bin Salman. Photo: Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) told a group of American evangelical leaders last Thursday that he is going to punish those responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi but stressed that the crisis must not shift the focus away from Iran, Joel Rosenberg, who organized the delegation and attended the meeting, told Axios contributor Barak Ravid.
Inside the room: Rosenberg — a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen who heads an evangelical foundation, lives in Israel and once worked with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — said Khashoggi's murder was the first issue raised in the meeting, and "the crown prince was not defensive about it." MBS then attacked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Iranians and even the Russians.
The delegation included some of President Trump's staunchest evangelical supporters, and MBS used it to convey a message to the White House and to Senate Republicans who are pushing for sanctions against Saudi Arabia.
"He had two messages on this. 'It was horrible and unacceptable' and 'I can't let this stop me from all the reforms we have to get done to make life better for the Saudi people and to protect ourselves from the enemies — Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda, ISIS.'"— Rosenberg on MBS' comments
Go deeper: Read the full report.
Mike Pompeo is Trump's point man on North Korea. Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
In the past week, North Korea made two moves that undermined nuclear negotiations with the United States, Adam Mount of the Federation of American Scientists writes for Axios Expert Voices:
The bottom line: A shift in tactics is needed to prevent collapse and break the impasse. Seeking achievable limits in exchange for real incentives is the last chance to limit North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. Now, it’s also the only chance to keep the talks from complete collapse.
Go deeper: Read Mount's proposals.
An ELN flag in the Colombian jungle. Photo: Luis Robayo/AFP/Getty Images
Venezuela says it's sending more troops to its border with Colombia after an attack over the weekend left 3 Venezuelan soldiers dead and 10 wounded, Axios fellow Diego Rodriguez reports:
The big picture: The recent incident highlights the instability in the frontier between the two countries, where Colombian guerrilla groups like the National Liberation Army (ELN) — which Colombia says was responsible for the attack — have long operated. Sebastiana Barraez, a Venezuelan journalist who has reported on the situation for nearly 2 decades, says Venezuela's socialist government has had a mutually beneficial relationship with the rebel groups dating back to Hugo Chavez's time in office — but things are now getting tense.
What to watch: Venezuela has not accused the ELN of killing its soldiers, or taken a public position about the group's presence in Venezuelan territory. But the Venezuelan military could still decide to increase the pressure.
Xi and Trong. Photo: Xinhua/Li Tao via Getty Images
When Nguyen Phu Trong became the first Vietnamese leader since Ho Chi Minh to hold the titles both of president and Communist Party chairman last month, "comparisons with Chinese President Xi Jinping were inevitable," Bennett Murray writes in Foreign Policy:
The big picture: "At stake are the future and legitimacy of single-party communist rule. ... Whether that system appeals to potential autocrats across the world depends on what Xi, at the helm of the world’s largest nation, and Trong, whose country’s smaller size may provide a more practical model to emulate, do next."
Go deeper: Read the full piece.
German soldiers greet a U.S. soldier a few minutes after the armistice went into effect. Photo via Getty
Sunday marks the 100th anniversary of the Armistice that ended World War I, and President Trump is heading to Paris to mark the occasion. Since reading Adam Hochschild's recent New Yorker piece about the anniversary, I haven't been able to get these passages out of my head:
According to Hochschild, 2,738 men died in those six hours fighting a war that was already over.
Celebrating Diwali in Kathrud, India. Photo: Sanket Wankhade/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
“We do not want to live in an imperialist world. We will absolutely not abide by such sanctions.”— Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan responding to U.S. sanctions on Iran
Thanks for stopping by — see you Thursday!