In a February 2007 article, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao predicted China would continue in the “primary stage” of socialism for the next hundred years—considered by many a signal of Communist Party thinking about the slow-motion development of democracy. At the same time, a rise in social protests and nongovernmental organizations demonstrates Chinese popular demand for a more open society. But thanks to a burgeoning economy and clampdowns on press freedoms and dissent, experts say the central government in Beijing has an increasingly firm grip on power.
On his hundredth day in office, Bolivian President Evo Morales moved to nationalize his nation’s oil and gas reserves, ordering the military to occupy Bolivia’s gas fields and giving foreign investors a six-month deadline to comply with demands or leave. The May 1 directive set off tensions in the region and beyond, particularly for foreign investors in Brazil, Spain, and Argentina. Morales’ nationalization agenda has been described as another chapter in Latin America’s turn to the left, and fears are rising that the Bolivian leader has fallen into the fold of Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez and Cuba’s Fidel Castro. But some experts emphasize there may be more infighting than cohesion overall in the region.
Three years after government-backed Arab militias known as "Janjaweed" began burning villages and conducting large-scale massacres in the Darfur region, the Sudanese authorities and rebel forces are moving at a painfully slow rate toward peace. In the meantime, a situation the U.S. State Department has called "genocide" has left some 2 million people displaced and hundreds of thousands dead. A well-meaning but ill-conceived peacekeeping mission by the African Union has failed to stop the massacres and destruction of villages. Now the UN Security Council, in spite of reluctance on the part of China and Russia, is calling for greater UN and NATO involvement in the crisis, against the wishes of the government in Khartoum.