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Why it matters: The U.S. has responded to standoffs with North Korea, Russia, Iran and Venezuela in unorthodox and unpredictable ways. Alliances are rupturing, authoritarians are rising, and China is steadily becoming the most powerful rival America has ever faced.

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To understand China today, look to the Mongols

Credit: HarperCollins

China's road to its empire, and the expansive borders it claims today, started not with Han Chinese dynasties in 221 BC but with the Mongol invasion in the 13th century, historian Timothy Brook argues in a new book.

What they're saying: "Great State: China and the World," published by HarperCollins and slated for release on March 17, argues that the Mongol concept of the "great state," or yeke ulus, was adopted by China's subsequent dynasties and would later define China's relationship with its neighbors and the world.

Go deeperArrow3 hours ago - World

Citing China fears, Rubio urges CFIUS review of AT&T media deal

Rubio. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has requested a government review of AT&T's pending sale of a European media company to a Czech financial firm, in a letter viewed by Axios.

Why it matters: The letter demonstrates growing concern on Capitol Hill over China-linked mergers and acquisitions involving American assets.

Go deeperArrow3 hours ago - World

China slaps 10-year sentence on kidnapped Swedish citizen

Signs showing missing bookseller Lee Bo (L) and his associate Gui Minhai (R). Photo: Phillippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images

After a five-year saga that provoked an international outcry, a Chinese court has sentenced Swedish citizen Gui Minhai to 10 years in prison for "providing intelligence overseas."

Background: In 2015, Chinese authorities secretly kidnapped Gui, a Hong Kong-based Swedish citizen known for writing and selling books critical of China’s leaders, from his apartment in Thailand and brought him to mainland China.

Go deeperArrow5 hours ago - World

Between the lines on Chinese strategy: "Borrowing a boat to go out on the ocean"

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

In this recurring feature from the Axios China newsletter, I'll interview an expert about a Chinese Communist Party phrase to explain the news.

This week's phrase: "Borrowing a boat to go out on the ocean." (借船出海)

What it means: Placing Chinese Communist Party messaging and approved content into media outlets abroad, either overtly or covertly.

Go deeperArrow5 hours ago - World

Scoop: Census Bureau is paying Chinese state media to reach Americans

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The 2020 Census Paid Media Campaign, which sends U.S. taxpayer dollars to community media outlets to run ads about the upcoming census, is including a Chinese state-run broadcaster as one of its media vendors.

Why it matters: After China's yearslong campaign to co-opt independent Chinese-language media in the U.S., Washington is now paying Beijing-linked media outlets in order to reach Chinese Americans.

Go deeperArrow6 hours ago - World

GOP congressman accuses California pension official of working for China

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The latest season of Red Scare has come to Sacramento.

Driving the news: Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) has repeatedly accused Ben Meng, chief investment officer of the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS), of tacitly working on behalf of the Chinese government. Banks also says that, were it up to him, Meng would be fired — and has questioned the patriotism of California Gov. Gavin Newsom for not at least investigating Meng.

Go deeperArrow7 hours ago - World

Pope Francis celebrates Ash Wednesday Mass amid Italian coronavirus outbreak

Pope Francis during Ash Wednesday Mass in 2019. Photo: Vatican Pool/Getty Images

Pope Francis celebrated Ash Wednesday Mass at the Vatican, despite the cancellation of religious services elsewhere in Italy thanks to an ongoing outbreak of novel coronavirus, AP reports.

Why it matters: Mass gatherings in close proximity — like religious services and sporting events — could become an easy way for the virus to spread as the outbreak widens across the globe.

Go deeperArrow9 hours ago - World

Deadly Delhi clashes: What you need to know

Supporters of a new citizenship law throw stones at the burning houses and shops of those who oppose the law during clashes in Delhi, India. Photo: Yawar Nazir/ Getty Images

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called for the Indian Army to be called in on Wednesday as the capital's worst religious violence in decades entered a third day.

What's happening: The BBC reports at least 20 people have been killed and 189 others wounded since Sunday in the clashes between Hindu and Muslim groups over a new citizenship law.

Go deeperArrow15 hours ago - World

In photos: How coronavirus is impacting cities around the world

Revellers take part in the "Plague Doctors Procession" in Venice on Tuesday night during the usual period of the Carnival festivities, most of which have been canceled following the coronavirus outbreak in northern Italy. Photo: Andrea Pattaro/AFP via Getty Images

The novel coronavirus has spread from China to infect people in more than 40 countries and territories around the world, killing over 2,700 people.

The big picture: Most of the 80,000 COVID-19 infections have occurred in mainland China. But cases are starting to surge elsewhere. By Wednesday morning, the worst affected countries outside China were South Korea (1,146), where a U.S. soldier tested positive to the virus, Italy (332), Japan (170), Iran (95) and Singapore (91). On Tuesday, new cases were confirmed in Switzerland, Croatia and Algeria.

See photosArrow17 hours ago - World

Scoop: What really happened on Netanyahu's landmark visit to Oman

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a meeting with the sultan of Oman, Oct. 26, 2018. Photo: Israeli Prime Ministry Office/Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Behind Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's historic visit to Oman lay a failed effort to restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and an embarrassing diplomatic incident that almost torpedoed the visit, Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: The October 2018 trip ranks as one of Netanyahu's signature foreign policy achievements, as he was the first Israeli leader to visit Oman in 22 years. But the story of what exactly took place has not previously been told.

Go deeperArrow24 hours ago - World

India gives Trump warm welcome as brutal protests rip New Delhi apart

People supporting India's new citizenship law beat a Muslim man in New Delhi, India. Photo: Danish Siddiqui/TPX/Reuters

While President Trump enjoys a hero's welcome in India, that nation's capital is being torn apart by violent protests between Hindus and Muslims.

The state of play: At least 186 people — 56 police officers and 130 protesters — have been injured and 10 killed in recent clashes, a New Delhi police spokesperson told the AP.

Go deeperArrowFeb 25, 2020 - World

Scoop: Israel cancels academic's lectures for criticizing Netanyahu's Iran policy

Prime Minister Netanyahu. Photo: Amir Levy/Getty Images

The Israeli Foreign Ministry has ordered its embassies in Russia, Canada and Bulgaria to cancel planned speaking events by an Israeli academic and prominent Iran expert, claiming he criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policy on the Iranian nuclear program, officials told me.

Why it matters: For many years, the Israeli Foreign Ministry would send Israeli academics who disagree with the government on speaking tours around the world in order to convey the strength of Israeli democracy. Israeli diplomats view the move against the academic as a sign of retaliation and growing fear of dissent on politically charged issues.

Go deeperArrowFeb 25, 2020 - World

Timeline: The India-Pakistan conflict over Kashmir

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The deadly protests during President Trump's visit to India between Muslims and Hindus over a new citizenship law, which critics say is anti-Muslim, are the latest clashes between adherents of the two religions.

The big picture: Predominantly Hindu India officially removed special privileges in August for its only Muslim-majority state, Jammu and Kashmir region, exacerbating tensions with Pakistan.

TimelineArrowFeb 25, 2020 - World

Hosni Mubarak, former president of Egypt, dies at 91

Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Hosni Mubarak, the former autocratic president of Egypt from 1981 to 2011, died Tuesday at the age of 91, Egyptian state TV confirmed Monday, per the AP.

Why it matters: His 30-year term — during which he was a key ally of the U.S. in the region — was ended by nationwide protests against poverty and corruption during the Arab Spring uprising. After being ousted from office and arrested in 2011, he was acquitted of responsibility in the deaths of hundreds of protesters in 2014, but was jailed on corruption charges until his release in 2017.

Go deeper: Ethiopia and Egypt aim to resolve dam dispute in Washington

Keep ReadingArrowFeb 25, 2020 - World

In photos: Trump pays tribute to Gandhi before formal talks in India

President Trump reviews a guard of honour during a ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan palace in New Delhi on Tuesday. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump's second and final day of his India visit struck a more formal tone than the pageantry of a day earlier that included a trip to the Taj Mahal and a mega-rally in his honor. But he took time out Tuesday to pay tribute to Indian independence icon Mahatma Gandhi at a memorial in New Delhi.

Why it matters: The countries are forging deeper ties as India’s location, size and economic growth make it the "obvious counterweight to China" for American policymakers.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Feb 25, 2020 - World

Deadly clashes erupt in Delhi as Trump visits India

Rival protesters over the Citizenship Amendment Act in Delhi, India, on Monday. Photo: Yawar Nazir/ Getty Images

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called for calm Tuesday as deadly clashes erupted in the city's northeast between supporters and opponents of India's controversial new citizenship law.

Why it matters: Per the BBC, a police officer and six civilians "died in the capital's deadliest day" since last year's passing of the Citizenship Amendment Act — which allows religious minorities but excludes Muslims from nearby countries to become citizens if they can show they were persecuted for their religion. This comes as President Trump and members of the U.S. first family are in Delhi as part of a two-day visit to India, though they're away from the violence.

Go deeper: India's citizenship bill continues Modi's Hindu nationalist offensive

Keep ReadingArrowFeb 25, 2020 - World

The global scramble to contain the coronavirus

Taking precaution, in the Philippines. Photo: Ezra Acayan/Getty Images

The coronavirus is spreading quickly in cities nowhere near Wuhan, China, and the window to prevent a global pandemic is narrowing.

Zoom in: Here's a look at what comes with a coronavirus outbreak in communities outside China that have been hardest hit so far.

Go deeperArrowFeb 25, 2020 - World
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