Baz Ratner, Reuters

Will ­COVID-19 Accelerate a Global Power Shift?

China’s Growing Ideological Influence in Africa

The fight against the ­COVID-19 pandemic is not only a fight against ­SARS-CoV-2 but also part of the rivalry to dominate the global narrative and to exert political and economic influence. Particularly in light of the worsening relations between China and the US, management of the pandemic and respective policy successes or failures are becoming political issues. Accordingly, the Chinese Communist Party (­CCP) is using the pandemic on an ideological level to drive the shift in global power – with a particular focus on Africa.

Edgar Su, Reuters

“A New and Less Benign Strategic Area”

Australia as a Strategic Power in the Indo-Pacific Region

When Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison unveiled his country’s new defence strategy in 2020, he announced a shift towards “a new and less benign strategic area”. With the dawn of a new era, defined by the end of the unchallenged hegemony of the US and the seemingly unstoppable rise of China, Australia is starting to view itself as a regional power and the guardian of a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific. The geoeconomic and geostrategic balance of the Indo-Pacific has perhaps shifted more rapidly and dramatically than in any other region of the world. With its key position in the South West Pacific and Eastern Indian Ocean, Australia is taking on a proactive leadership role – together with like-minded partners in the region and around the globe.

“The International System Is under Serious Pressure”

Germany’s Two-Year Term as a Member of the United Nations Security Council

For the past two years, Germany has been a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. For International Reports, Andrea Ellen Ostheimer, Head of the Konrad-Adenauer-­Stiftung’s New York office, talks to diplomat Christoph Heusgen about the challenges and achievements of this period, the role of China ­and Russia, and Germany’s foreign policy compass.

“Sovereignty of the EU”

External and Internal Dangers of an Unfulfillable Promise

Sovereignty – often supplemented with attributes such as “strategic” or “European” – is currently being called for by many different political actors across Europe. Those, like the German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who take a differentiated or reserved stance towards this can expect to meet with criticism at the highest levels; for example from the French President Emmanuel Macron. At the same time, sovereignty is the key concept underpinning nationalist movements, which certainly do not see Macron as a role model. So, what is at stake here? Can we even achieve “European sovereignty” in the various policy fields? And is there a “good” (European) and “bad” (national) sovereignty?

Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters


Politische Strategien und globaler Wettbewerb

Die strategische Bedeutung der Blockchain-Technologie nimmt zu, obwohl sie aufgrund ihrer breitgestreuten Anwendungsvielfalt politisch und sachlich schwer zu greifen ist. Die aktuellen Entwicklungen im Bereich digitaler Zentralbankwährungen und die damit möglicherweise einhergehenden währungspolitischen Machtverschiebungen sowie ihre Bedeutung für die Industrie 4.0 lassen die Politik aufhorchen. Die EU hat die Entwicklung erkannt und damit begonnen, den Bereich aktiv zu fördern. Inwieweit das aber ausreicht, um die Spitzenreiter ­USA und China einzuholen, bleibt abzuwarten.

Yves Herman, Reuters

Can EU Trade Foster Sustainable Development?

EU Efforts to Enforce Trade and Sustainable Development Chapters in Free Trade Agreements with South Korea and Vietnam

By integrating chapters on Trade and Sustainable Development (­TSD) in Free Trade Agreements, the European Union highlights its commitment to a “values-based trade agenda”, which fosters economic, social, and environmental development simultaneously. Tackling non-compliance and fostering the implementation of ­TSD commitments is crucial to achieving high labour and sustainability standards through trade tools.



Political parties are a pillar of the democratic system. They assume central functions such as promoting citizen participation in political life and shaping public opinion. They have a major impact on our country’s political development and serve as an interface between state organs and the public. Parliamentary democracy is ultimately always party democracy.

Kim Kyung-Hoon, Reuters

In Decline?

Migration, Automation, and Work Force in Japan

On almost every corner in Tokyo, there is a friendly, elderly citizen who guides passers-by, waves cars into parking lots, helps school children to cross the roads, or does other important service jobs for the community. Notably, almost all taxi drivers in Japan have passed the official retirement age. Yet in restaurants, no customer bats an eye about a robot serving dinner. Meanwhile, in Japan’s praised convenience stores, one is mostly waited upon by Asian staff who speak impeccable Japanese. However, if a Gaikokujin ever gets a seat on Tokyo’s crowded subways, that foreigner will most of the time enjoy an empty seat next to him or her. How does it all add up?

Gustavo Graf, Reuters

Mexico’s ­PAN

An Opposition Party with the Potential to Govern?

The Partido Acción Nacional (­PAN) can look back at 81 years of history and tradition, although it has spent most of this period in opposition. In the run-up to Mexico’s super election year of 2021, the party is once again keen to demonstrate its ability to govern at local and state level. In this way, it aims to position itself as a real alternative at the national level for the next presidential elections in 2024. However, the challenges it faces are immense in light of the country’s structural problems and of the historical peculiarities of the Mexican party system.

Valentyn Ogirenko, Reuters

New Kids on the Block

The Potential of New Parties in Europe

They are the New Kids on the Block – the new political parties in Europe. They describe themselves as being new and different. Some of them have achieved electoral victory in no time at all. The reasons for their success are varied and country-specific, but they also reflect a general shift in society. These parties not only change the party landscape, but also pose new challenges for the established parties. What does this mean for the future of party democracy and what opportunities do these changes afford to the established political parties?

About this series

This periodical responds to questions concerning international issues, foreign policy and development cooperation. It is aimed at access of information about the international work for public and experts.

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