Donald Trump’s telephone conversation with the president of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen was a massive break with established policy – which will be greeted with shock in Beijing. When the US re-established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China in 1979, it also severed diplomatic links with Taiwan. Since then there have been no direct conversations between the leaders of the US and Taiwan.

The stakes involved in the triangular relationship between Taipei, Beijing and Washington could not be higher. The Chinese government has repeatedly stressed that it is prepared to go to war, rather than accept Taiwanese independence. The US, while it does not promote the independence of Taiwan, has also promised to resist any attempt to incorporate Taiwan into China by force. I have personally witnessed a conversation between Chinese officials and high-ranking Americans, in which the US side has said openly that a Chinese attack on Taiwan would lead to war between the US and China. Read more

By Gideon Rachman

People who are worried by the prospect of President Donald Trump are often reminded of the checks and balances in the American system. The US president is not a dictator. He is constrained by the constitution, the courts and the Congress.

By Gideon Rachman

This time last year, I wrote that “I have a nightmare vision for 2017: President Trump, President Le Pen, President Putin.” So, after Donald Trump’s victory, the next question is whether Marine Le Pen can indeed capture the French presidency?

By Gideon Rachman

What is going on between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump? That question hung over the US election. Now that Mr Trump has won the presidency, the question of his relationship with the Russian leader assumes global significance.

Labeling a politician a fascist is not usually helpful. The word is chucked around so much that it has lost most of its explanatory force. As long ago as 1944, George Orwell wrote that – “It will be seen that, as used, the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless …I have heard it applied to farmers, shopkeepers, Social Credit, corporal punishment, fox-hunting … Kipling, Gandhi, Chiang Kai-Shek … and I do not know what else.”

And yet, this US presidential election has seen some of America’s most prominent political commentators describe Donald Trump as a fascist. So does the Republican candidate deserve this description? Might America, indeed, be on the brink of electing a fascist as its next president? Read more

By Gideon Rachman

From Moscow to Manila, Beijing to Budapest, Ankara to Delhi, the nationalist “strongman” leader is back in fashion. If the US elects Donald Trump next week, it would be following an international trend, not leading it.

Could the 2016 presidential election, once again come down to Florida? To judge by the two candidates’ travel schedules – it certainly might. Over the past week, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have both been campaigning hard in the Sunshine State.

I went to see Trump speak at Orlando-Sanford airport on Tuesday afternoon. Several concerned friends told me to take care at the Trump rally – assuming it would be full of angry, violent racists. As it happens, I did not find the atmosphere particularly threatening. This was partly because the audience was extremely geriatric (see photos). Read more

By Gideon Rachman

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are criss-crossing America in the last frantic weeks of the presidential election campaign. But events will not stand still, while “America decides”. On the other side of the world, the US has just suffered a significant strategic reverse.

By Gideon Rachman

The assault on the Iraqi city of Mosul that began this week underlines the fact that the next three months will be a perilous period in international politics. Fighting is intensifying in the Middle East. Tensions are rising between Russia and the west. And relations between China and its Asian neighbours are getting edgier. All this is happening while the US is diverted by the Trump-Clinton melodrama and the transition to a new president.

By Gideon Rachman

How did it come to this? The presidential election debates should represent US democracy at its finest. Instead, the second Clinton-Trump debate centred around sordid allegations of sexual assault, threats, lies and mutual contempt.

Antonio Guterres

Antonio Guterres, who is poised to be confirmed as the next UN Secretary-General, certainly comes to the job with relevant experience. The 66-year-old former prime minister of Portugal served for ten years, between 2005 and 2015, as the head of the UN High Commission for Refugees. And he will assume office amidst the most acute refugee crisis the world has faced, since 1945. Read more

By Gideon Rachman

Theresa May has one great advantage as a politician. She looks serious and responsible. But appearances can be deceptive. If you examine how the UK prime minister is handling Brexit, a different sort of politician emerges.

By Gideon Rachman

“A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.” Stalin’s famous statement is often taken as the epitome of inhumanity — the very opposite of the humane and liberal values cherished in the democratic west.

Rodrigo Duterte, the president of the Philippines, caused shock and sniggers around the world when he called Barack Obama the “son of a whore”. But the Duterte comment that will have really hurt the White House came a few days later. Announcing that he was ending joint naval patrols with the US in the South China Sea, the Philippines’ president stated: “China is now in power and they have military superiority in the region.”

By Gideon Rachman

Later this week, EU leaders will meet in Bratislava — minus one country. The Slovakia summit will be the first to take place without the UK. But Britain will loom large in discussions, as Europe grapples with Brexit.

By Gideon Rachman

Journalism is sometimes said to be the first draft of history. This article is the first draft of a history exam for students graduating in 2066. I have tried to imagine the questions future historians will ask about today’s political events.

By Gideon Rachman

There was something distinctly presidential about Angela Merkel’s European travels last week. The German chancellor met 15 other EU leaders on a whistle-stop tour of the continent. It is the kind of speed-dating diplomacy that US presidents often undertake, as they build consensus and reassure allies.

By Gideon Rachman

Two of the great political parties in the west — the Republicans in the US and Labour in the UK — are in a state of near collapse. That, in turn, threatens the health of democracy on both sides of the Atlantic.

Theresa May, the UK prime minister, says that “Brexit means Brexit”. But when will it actually happen?

The whole question of the timing of Britain’s departure from the EU is now open to question. Britain has still not triggered Article 50, which gives formal notification that the UK intends to leave and fires the starting gun for negotiations. The Sunday Times claimed recently that Article 50 may not be triggered until late next year because of a mixture of administrative chaos in the UK and political uncertainty caused by elections in France and Germany in 2017.

Given that it will then probably take a minimum of two years to negotiate the divorce, that would mean that Britain’s exit from the EU would not happen until the end of 2019. Over at the Independent, however, Andrew Grice makes the case that delaying Brexit this long is not politically feasibleRead more

By Gideon Rachman

Australians of a nervous disposition should probably avoid reading the Chinese press and social media at the moment. A combination of tensions over the South China Sea and the Olympics has made Australia the target of wild invective by Chinese nationalists.