Indo-Pacific Geopolitics Newsletter 04/17/2023



Geopolitics Newsletter Apr. 10 – 17 2023


The ongoing fallout from US intelligence leaks last week—resulting in the April 14 arrest of US national guardsman, Jack Texiera—has revealed Taiwan’s military vulnerabilities to a Chinese invasion.

Pentagon assessments conclude that Taiwan would be unable to resist Beijing assuming complete air superiority over the Taiwan Strait in the event of an armed conflict between the two countries. Furthermore, US intelligence reports indicate that Taiwanese military sources are pessimistic that Taiwan’s air defenses can detect Chinese missile launches. The lack of detection capability is compounded by the fact that most Taiwanese military aircraft are fit for purpose and would take a week to move from airbases—a significant issue if, as expected, Chinese missiles target these airbases ahead of an invasion. China’s practice of using civilian shipping to disguise its military movements has also eroded the ability of US intelligence to monitor and predict the likelihood of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.

There is no serious assessment in Washington—publicly nor in these leaked reports—that China can mount such an invasion in the near-to-medium term. Indeed, President Xi Jinping himself is on record insinuating that the Chinese military is not capable of invading before 2027 at the least and even then, there remain significant logistical hurdles for China to overcome in mounting such an invasion, especially in acquiring and refueling the amphibious forces required. However, the leaked US assessments are likely to lift morale in Beijing that its rapid military modernization—China is now second only to the US in defense spending—is on the right track. Especially at a time when Sino-American relations are at their lowest ebb in 40 years. Read more [External]

China Taiwan

Chinese military naval and air drills around Taiwan have ramped up in recent months | Source: Li Gang (Xinhua) via Associated Press


Pakistan’s finance minister canceled a visit to the spring meeting of IMF, World Bank – Apr. 10

Pakistan Finance Minister Ishaq Dar did not attend spring season meetings with the IMF and World Bank in response to accelerating economic and political domestic issues. Pakistan is on the path to default on its debt repayments given recent natural disasters, food and supply chain disruptions, and political turmoil following the removal last year of Prime Minister Imran Khan. Read more.

Blinken visited Vietnam on his way to the G7 – Apr. 14

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken visited Vietnam this week. His visit coincides with the inauguration of a newly constructed US embassy in Hanoi, where he met key officials to discuss US-Vietnamese relations. Upgrading the US-Vietnam relationship comes amid pressure from China on economic and political fronts. Read more.

Pakistan faced a deadline for the Senate committee to approve election expenses – Apr. 14

The deadline came ahead of elections to be held for two provincial assemblies. The races require parliamentary funding, but Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has expressed reluctance in proceeding with the elections, citing security concerns. However, Pakistan’s supreme court has ordered the elections to proceed and for parliament to fund them.  Read more

Japan hosted G7 foreign ministers meeting – Apr. 16

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s government holds the annually rotating G7 presidency and therefore can influence the agenda for the G7 ahead of the G7 leaders’ summit next month in Hiroshima. Japan has a particular interest in fair trade—it particularly seeks G7 consensus on reforming the World Trade Organization. Read more


Northern Ireland marked the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement – Apr. 10

The historic agreement brought an end to decades of terrorism and civil unrest between sectarian factions of Irish nationalists seeking the unification of Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland and British-aligned Irish loyalists seeking to maintain British rule. Read more

US President Joe Biden visited Ireland and Northern Ireland – Apr. 11

The state visit is part of Biden’s commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement—an accord which the US played a key role in brokering and is of particular personal interest to the US president given his Irish heritage. The trip is also of great interest to the UK, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak seeking US investment in Northern Ireland as he battles to secure the region’s economic future in light of Brexit.  Read more

Fourth ministerial conference on Afghanistan met in Uzbekistan – Apr. 13

The conference is a meeting of the foreign ministers of Afghanistan’s neighbors, including China, Russia, Pakistan, Iran, and other Central Asian states. Discussions center on Afghanistan’s security, humanitarian and socio-economic issues with a view to assisting Afghanistan’s Taliban regime stabilize the country in the face of an ongoing insurgency from an ISIS affiliate. Read more

National Security

Yemeni prisoner swap proceeded after delay– Apr. 11

Over 800 prisoners were released this week—despite a delay to April 14—between the Saudi Arabian-backed Yemeni government and the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. The prisoner swap raises hopes of negotiations to end the nine-year civil war after the recent Saudi-Iranian rapprochement. Read more

French President Emmanuel Macron concluded his visit to the Netherlands – Apr. 13

The trip is the final leg of a trip to China—where Macron attracted criticism for advocating France’s non-intervention in Sino-Taiwanese tensions. The Dutch trip will promote Macron’s ongoing foreign policy project advocating for the EU’s strategic autonomy from the US. Joint Franco-Dutch defense initiatives were high on the agenda. Read more

Russian parliament met to discuss stricter anti-terrorism law – Apr. 13

The bill will increase penalties for aiding and organizing groups deemed terrorist organizations by the Kremlin—which included almost any person or group opposed to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It is the latest attempt by Russian authorities to crack down on dissent as the invasion continues in its second year. Read more

Finance, Economics and Technology

African Development Bank hosted a business conference in Mozambique – Apr. 14

Best practices for providing goods and services and maximizing market opportunities were the focus of the conference. Of particular interest is the growth of climate and green initiatives in Africa with the bank financing various renewable energy projects—including one which brings power to 250 million people in eleven African countries. Read more

Germany closed the last of its nuclear power plants – Apr 15

The closure was a policy priority for the administration of former Chancellor Angela Merkel, approved by the German parliament in 2011, following the Fukushima nuclear meltdown. However, the closure of these final three reactors was delayed as Germany scrambled to wean itself off reliance on Russian oil and gas. Read more


Former Ugandan cabinet minister’s corruption trial began – Apr. 12

Mary Goretti Kitutu faces graft charges—specifically, of stealing iron roofing earmarked for housing development programs in one of Uganda’s poorest regions. However, opposition parties argue the trial is President Yoweri Museveni’s attempt to deflect from what the opposition claims is widespread and more serious corruption in Museveni’s government. Read more

French Constitutional Court ruled controversial pension reforms are legal – Apr. 14

President Emmanuel Macron’s reforms lift the pension age from 62 to 64 and have been the subject of ongoing civil unrest since their passage into law via a rare constitutional mechanism that avoided a vote in parliament. The Court ruled most of the reforms—including the raising of the pension age—were legal. Read more


South Korea and Japan will hold security talks in Seoul – Apr. 17

The discussions are the first formal bilateral security talks between the two states since 2018. Read more [External]

Russia’s Sergey Lavrov to pay a state visit to Brazil – Apr. 17

Brazil—one of Russia’s BRICS partners—is expected to push for peace talks in Ukraine, which suits Russia’s attempts to freeze the conflict and consolidate its territorial gains. Read more [External]

The G7 Foreign Ministers meeting hosted in Japan will conclude – Apr. 18

Japan is pushing for reforms of the WTO to be on the agenda at the G7 Summit next month. Read more [External]


Contributions by: John Milo, and Joseph Egidio