Philippines, dictatorship beckons? Filipino leader Rodrigo Duterte’s imposition of martial law puts the country on a fast track towards iron-fisted, unaccountable rule, reports
Richard Javad Heydarian. The Philippines has suddenly become the epicenter of terror group Islamic State’s thrust into Southeast Asia and Duterte could use this to veer the country back towards the rights abusing rule seen under former autocrat Ferdinand Marcos.

Washington woos Hanoi: The Vietnamese government had much to celebrate after Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc met US President Donald Trump in the White House on Wednesday. David Hutt reports that business deals were signed and America appeared to offer Vietnam new strategic support in its defense against a perceived expansionist China.

Macron the Great: When Emmanuel Macron met with Vladimir Putin in Versailles this week, at an exhibition celebrating the 300th anniversary of Peter the Great’s culturally important visit to France, the new French president’s deft geopolitical savviness was once again on display. Pepe Escobar writes that the French establishment is hailing the new president as a “Philosopher King” and believes he will be able to help form a Europe undivided on defense, trade and foreign policy.

Silk Road setbacks: Sri Lanka, with its valuable position in the heart of the Indian Ocean, is a crucial participant in Beijing’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative. Dániel Balázs writes that recent violent protests in Sri Lanka, when people expressed opposition to an industrial zone project funded by Beijing, should provides China valuable policy lessons for building the Belt and Road.