(Photo: Getty Images)
James Kynge, Lucy Hornby and Jamil Anderson
On the Google map of Beijing there is an empty quarter, an urban block next to the Communist party’s leadership compound in which few of the buildings are named. At street level, the aura of anonymity is confirmed. Uniformed guards stand by grand entrances checking official cars as they come and go. But there are no identifying signs; the sole information divulged is on brass plaques that bear the street name and building numbers.
The largest of these nameless compounds is 135 Fuyou Street, the offices of the United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist party, known as United Front for short. This is the headquarters of China’s push for global “soft power”, a multi-faceted but largely confidential mission that Xi Jinping, China’s president who on Wednesday was confirmed in place until at least 2022, has elevated into one of the paramount objectives of his administration. (Read more)
A French court has handed down a three-year suspended jail term to Equatorial Guinea’s Vice President Teodorin Obiang for corruption.
The 48-year-old, known for his lavish tastes, is the son of the oil-rich West African country’s president.
He was absent from the trial, where he was found guilty of embezzlement. (Read more)
Ariane M. Tabatabai
This month, U.S. President Donald Trump revealed his administration’s much-anticipated Iran strategy. It involves increasing pressure on Tehran on virtually all fronts, most notably through the decertification of the nuclear deal that former President Barack Obama and the other world powers reached with the Islamic Republic in 2015. Trump premised his remarks on a talking point that has long characterized hawkish narratives on Iran; namely, that a more rational regime would presumably cease its nuclear activities. (Read more)
Jon Lee Anderson
The New Yorker
The view southward from the Asomante hills outside the Puerto Rican town of Aibonito is spectacular, reaching all the way to the Caribbean coast. A pretty little town situated in the island’s southeastern Cayey mountain range, Aibonito has the highest altitude in Puerto Rico—twenty-four hundred feet. It’s known for its cool climate, its bucolic scenery, its flowers, and its chicken farms. (Read more)