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February/March 2021


Cover story



8 Europe, China & the US

The EU and China sign investment deal behind America's back Rosa Balfour and Lizza Bomassi

Biden needs to heal divisions at home before offering the world moral leadership Daniel Strieff

Global Britain, global broker Robin Niblett

16 Interview Renée DiResta, a researcher into online conspiracies, on taming the social media platforms 20 Asia Tensions r i se a s three nuclear powers, China, India and Pakistan, clash on the roof of the world Myra MacDonald China changes course to focus on its domestic market as exports falter Yu Jie Could the coronavirus pandemic polarize Asia? Amitav Acharya 27 Column Lifeline needed for islanders as sea levels rise Kamal Amakrane 28 Egypt A state built on sand Ezzedine Fishere 31 Back to the future A World Today essay winner from revisits her predictions for the EU Sophie Paterson 32 Post-Brexit Escaping Europe's gravitational pull might prove difficult for Britain Alice Billon-Galland & Pepijn Bergsen The repackaging of Global Britain David McCourt Asylum seekers left in limbo Rachel Taylor 38 Metropolitan flight Can our cities pass the Covid stress test? Luis Bettencourt 42 Superhero politics Marvel's hold on the White House Julian Schmid 44 The big picture Coming of age in Japan in time of Covid

4 Contributors 5 The world in brief including Jargonbuster and shorts 19 Postcard Tr i umph o f Argentina' s green s ca r f pro-choice protesters Mahi Shah 30 Date with history Nato launches attacks on Libya Dogachan Dagi 46 Review As fragile as orchids: prescription to save democracy Nicolas Bouchet Politics of mobility for the black traveller Vivienne Dovi Reading list: The secret lives of cities 50 Culture notes Rituals of handing over power Catherine Fieschi Cover by Andrius Banelis

From the Editor One of the promises made by Joe Biden at his inauguration was to repair the damage done to the western alliance over the past four years. Given the th president’s long-standing interest in foreign affairs, nothing less was expected. But as Rosa Balfour and Lizza Bomassi write in our cover story, a European investment deal with China is already sharpening transatlantic differences even before the repair has started.

‘Global Britain’ is a catch-all term that post-Brexit Britain has been using to suggest a future free from the ‘shackles’ of the European Union. Robin Niblett argues that Britain cannot now behave as a ‘miniature great power’. Instead, it should use its assets as a broker to facilitate progress on issues such as climate change and global health security.

As for China, on page Yu Jie sees Beijing refocusing its economy to secure its supply lines beyond the reach of United States sanctions. Far from its ambitions being global, its diplomatic focus will be on the Asia-Pacific region.

Our interview is with Renée DiResta, an expert on online conspiracies, who argues that the Biden administration has no choice but to tame social media. The continued existence of the insurgent communities that invaded the Capitol makes legislation inevitable.

The world’s most impenetrable battle fronts are those in the high mountains and frozen deserts where Pakistan, India and China meet. On page , Myra MacDonald reveals why military stand-offs in this inhospitable terrain will always place the region on the brink of war.

Finally, Julian Schmid (page ) explains how US politics has come to be seen through the lens of superhero movies, to the extent that Donald Trump was happy to compare himself to the murderous titan Thanos. Alan Philps


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