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Showing posts from June 5, 2014

Tiananmen Square Prompts Questions of Alternative Scenarios

Wednesday was the 25th anniversary of the bloody crackdown that ended China's Tiananmen Square protests. The occasion offers an opportunity to consider what might have been. By this we do not mean if the protesters had succeeded, because "success" would imply that the students and workers who briefly occupied central Beijing in mid-1989 had a clear and achievable platform. They did not. Rather, we mean that the anniversary offers a chance to ask whether China would be different today had the protests never taken place, or if they had taken place at another time under different circumstances.

In key respects, not much would be different. The core tensions and structural imbalances that frame contemporary Chinese geopolitics, from perennial struggles between the central and local governments to starkly uneven regional development to China's unprecedented maritime expansion in the South and East China seas that erupted a few years ago, would have unfolded in some similar…

Ukraine's Government Tries to Retake Control in the East

A pro-Russian militant guards a state building seized in Donetsk, Ukraine.(VIKTOR DRACHEV/AFP/Getty Images)


Kiev and Moscow are escalating their battle for control of eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian government announced June 3 that it would launch the next stage of a campaign to win back control of the country's east from militant separatists. At the same time, Russian-backed groups are working to consolidate control over those same separatists as a way to put more pressure on Kiev to compromise. Both sides believe eastern Ukraine is critical for determining the country's future orientation and territorial unity, and Russia will use all the leverage it can find to pressure Kiev into accepting its conditions for a stand-down.


Separatists continue to occupy buildings and shoot down Ukrainian helicopters, imposing a heavy burden on the government in Kiev. While separatists are spread out through towns and villages in Donestk and Luhansk regions, the strongholds of sep…