Foreign affairs

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

Cuba after Castro

Will Fidel Castro’s influence over Cuba outlast his death, and will the Trump presidency reverse the detente with the US begun by Barack Obama? Gideon Rachman puts these questions to John Paul Rathbone, the FT’s Latin America editor, and Geoff Dyer, Washington correspondent.

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Events in Latin America this week signalled that tempestuous times in the region show no sign of abating – literally and figuratively. Read more

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Plan B. That was the recurring theme in Latin America this week as Mexico tries to prepare for whatever a Donald Trump presidency will bring; China tries to recalibrate Asia-Pacific trade; and Colombia and Farc rebels try another stab at peace. Read more

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The Mexican peso crumpled, the Cuban army began military maneuvers, Colombia’s “No” vote campaigners cheered, Peru’s president probably wished he had not joked about cutting ties with Washington if Donald Trump won, while the rest of the region congratulated the US president-elect through gritted teeth. “Here’s to @realDonaldTrump’s victory,” Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia, tweeted sarcastically. “We hope to work against racism, machismo and anti-immigration for the sovereignty of our peoples.” Brazil’s Foreign Ministry sent a curiously unsigned message, with bland bromides about “working together” and “new opportunities”. Read more

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

Abebe Aemro Selassie, Director of the IMF's African Department

Frustration is not an emotion the International Monetary Fund exhibits regularly. It likes to maintain cordial relations with governments to ensure economic growth and prosperity flourish.

But there is no hiding the fund’s waning patience with the commodity exporters of sub-Saharan Africa. Six months ago Antoinette Sayeh, the IMF’s then Africa director, diplomatically described the policy response of many regional governments to the slump in commodity prices as “behind the curve”.

Her successor, Abebe Aemro Selassie, is pulling fewer punches. 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.

Barack Obama said this week that he would like to see Matteo Renzi “hang around” as Italian prime minister even if he loses a pivotal constitutional reform referendum in December. Such a scenario would represent a reversal of Mr Renzi’s vow to leave office if he is defeated, but may be reassuring for markets and investors looking for political stability in the eurozone’s third-largest economy. But it might not be that simple. So what are Mr Renzi’s options?

Rexit Read more

At the end of a disastrous week, Donald Trump is doubling down on the put-downs.

The polls are showing the damage wrought by the video of him talking in lewd terms about groping women, followed by accusations from multiple women who said he had assaulted them. With those tumbling numbers in the background, the billionaire’s response on Friday was to ramp up attacks on his accusers. Read more

Vladimir Putin votes in parliamentary elections

The record low turnout in Russia’s parliamentary elections last month was blamed in part on deliberate attempts by the authorities to suppress voter interest, in the belief this would help the ruling, pro-Kremlin United Russia party. Elections were brought forward from December to September, when many urban Russians prefer harvesting vegetables in the autumn sun at their dachas at weekends to staying in the city to vote.

But a group of opposition candidates says the turnout reflected fundamental disillusionment among Russians with the ruling regime – and the whole political process. If so, that represents an important and potentially worrying shift for the Kremlin. Read more

Two pieces of espionage dominated the campaign on Friday – and both are likely to provide fodder for Sunday’s second debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

One’s about Russia and the other is about Trump talking, well, dirty. To deal with the not-suitable-for-work one first, the Washington Post has unearthed audio and video that shows Trump bragging “in vulgar terms about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women”. Read more

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.

A proposed EU-US free trade agreement is in deep trouble. In principle, a similar EU-Canada accord ought to be easier to conclude, but it is running into obstacles in the home stretch.

Much opposition to these deals is to be found in Europe. But which European political forces are uncomfortable about transatlantic free trade, and why?

 Read more

Covering Donald Trump and the 2016 ​race ​feels a bit like this:

The rabbit hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Donald had not a moment to think about stopping himself before he found himself falling down what seemed to be a very deep well.

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The health of the presidential candidates took centre stage in the campaign after Hillary Clinton abruptly left a 9/11 memorial ceremony over the weekend after feeling “overheated”. Her campaign later revealed that she had been diagnosed with pneumonia last Friday.

Some have argued that the fact that she went to the memorial – and continued to campaign – despite her diagnosis proved her dedication and resilience. But it is bound to ignite speculation on the right, fuelled by rival Donald Trump, that she is physically unfit for office.

 Read more

Three weeks after president Vladimir Putin accused Ukraine of attempting to launch sabotage missions into the Russian-annexed Crimean peninsula, the all-out Russian invasion that was feared has not materialised.

But Mr Putin has managed to secure one-on-one meetings at this weekend’s G20 summit in Hangzhou with Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s François Hollande – and may “informally” meet US president Barack Obama. This may have been his aim all along. Read more

Europe’s fraying economic ties with America

Economic ties between Europe and the US took a knock this week when the EU slapped huge back taxes on Apple and several European politicians declared transatlantic trade talks to be effectively dead. Gideon Rachman asks Tony Barber, the FT’s Europe editor, and Shawn Donnan, the FT’s world trade editor, what hopes remain for a successful conclusion to the TTIP talks. Read more

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.