Indo-Pacific Geopolitics Newsletter 10/02/2022

RADAR SWEEP Geopolitics Newsletter September 25 – October 02, 2022 Historic US-Pacific joint partnership signed at US-Pacific summit The US

RADAR SWEEP

Geopolitics Newsletter September 25 – October 02, 2022

Historic US-Pacific joint partnership signed at US-Pacific summit

The US hosted a landmark two-day summit with Pacific nations from Sept. 28-29 in Washington DC. The multilateral event ended with a historic joint partnership deal—the first of its kind between the US and Pacific nations.

A clear bid by the Biden administration to challenge China’s deeply embedded presence in the Pacific, the US-sponsored deal seeks to increase Washington’s profile and presence in the region. It was likely sparked by a Sino-Solomon Islands security agreement earlier this year that caused alarm in the US and among its regional allies—Australia and New Zealand.

Despite US consternation at Beijing’s potential militarization of the South Pacific, Pacific nations have traditionally stayed away from “picking sides” between the US and China. Instead, the major foreign policy goal of Pacific nations was to secure US climate change commitments.

This week’s effort saw intense negotiations and an eleventh-hour nod from the Solomon Islands after an initial refusal to sign. Of the $810 million in total funding commitments, $130 million in seed funding went to climate change resilience initiatives. However, the US also obtained defense cooperation deals with Papua New Guinea and Fiji, as well as FBI law enforcement training programs with a number of countries. Read more

US-Pacific summit

US President Joe Biden with 14 Pacific Island leaders at the US-Pacific Summit hosted by the US State Department – Photo: New York Times

Indo-Pacific Geopolitics

2022 Tourism Expo Japan concluded – Sept. 25

Themed “Restart: Taking on the challenges of a new era,” the JNTO 2022 Tourism Expo concluded this week with a focus on the post-pandemic revival of the Japanese tourism industry. With dim forecasts for future tourism and a plummeting yen, Japan has relaxed its borders for an economic rebound. Read more

Assassinated former Japanese PM, Shinzo Abe, was farewelled at a state funeral – Sept. 27

Japan hosted a rare state funeral for a former prime minister, Shinzo Abe. However, Abe’s nationalist foreign policy—steering Japan away from a pacifist post-war doctrine by increasing military spending and allowing Japanese troops to be deployed abroad—-provoked domestic critics, who objected to the honor being extended to Abe. Read more

50th anniversary of normalized Sino-Japanese relations – Sept. 29

Despite ongoing regional tensions over disputed islands and Chinese island-building in the South China Sea, the two North-East Asian economic giants marked 50 years of normalized post-war relations this week. The two countries also manage diplomatic relations through bilateral trade and investment. Read more

Diplomacy

EU ambassadors held an emergency meeting on Ukraine – Sept. 26

EU foreign ministers held an emergency meeting in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s mobilization of reserve troops. Read more

UN Annual General Assembly concluded – Sept. 27

The annual two-week meeting of its 193 member-states was overshadowed by the referendums held by Russia in Ukrainian regions occupied by the Russian military. Most countries opposed the referendums, which provoked rare opposition from Russia’s ally, China—but the UN Security Council was deadlocked after Russia vetoed a motion to condemn the referendum. Read more

South African Deputy FM Mashego-Dlamini ended Sierra Leone visit – Sept. 30

The South African deputy foreign minister returned from a humanitarian-led visit to Sierra Leone. South African aid will allow for increased activity in Sierra Leonean mines, in turn spurring on needed economic activity. Read more

EU energy ministers held an emergency summit on rising prices – Sept. 30

Despite the EU’s efforts to fill gas quotas before winter, the bloc remains in a state of energy insecurity. A price cap on other forms of energy, including renewables may stem the effects of inflation. However, member states have yet to come to a consensus on the imports of gas from countries with ties to Russia. Read more

Colombian-Venezuela border re-opened after four years of closure – Sept 26

Former Colombian president Ivan Duque closed the border to Venezuela in objection to Venezuelan President Nicholas Majuro’s legitimacy after a disputed election result. Duque’s leftist successor, Gustavo Petro, has reopened the borders signaling a thaw in relations. Read more

National Security

Nord Stream gas pipelines blew up, leaking gas into the Baltic Sea – Sept. 28

European seismologists confirmed three explosions on both of the Russian-owned gas pipelines this week. All three explosions occurred just outside Danish and Swedish territorial waters, near the Swedish island of Bornholm. It leaked significant amounts of gas into the Baltic Sea. Most countries with an interest in the pipeline strongly suspect a deliberate act of sabotage, with Western suspicions falling on Russia. In turn, Moscow openly blames the West. Read more [External]

Russia began annexing Ukrainian territories – Sept. 30

President Vladimir Putin addressed the Federal Assembly—the lower house of the Russian parliament—on Friday and formally recognized the results of referendums across four Russian-held Ukrainian regions. Ukraine and its allies refuse to recognize the veracity of the referendums and view it as a pretext to illegally annex Ukrainian territory. Read more

Finance, Economics and Technology

Mining and Technical Exhibitions Expo began in Zambia – Sept. 26

Zambia’s Mining & Technical Expo began today in order to promote innovative and sustainable mining technology for Sub-Saharan geography. Critical mining companies have taken interest in Zambian copper deposits, with demand for the global supply of copper at the forefront of regional resource collection. Read more.

Norway-Poland Baltic gas pipeline began operations – Sept. 27

The $2 billion pipeline aims to meet Poland’s energy needs ahead of winter. Russia cut off gas supplies to Poland in April after Warsaw refused to pay for Russian gas in Russian currency, as demanded by Moscow. The demand was meant to shore up Russia’s economy from Western sanctions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The pipeline is also a vital source of gas for the European market at a time of high energy prices, following the shutdown of the Russian-owned Nord Stream pipelines earlier in the year. Read more

China-Zambia Trade and Investment Forum held in Zambia – Sept. 28

Over 600 Chinese businesses operate in Zambia, accounting for $3 billion of foreign direct investment. China is also the largest buyer of Zambia’s most lucrative export—copper. Zambia hopes Chinese investment will boost its post-COVID-19 economic recovery, in conjunction with an IMF bailout of $1.9 billion. Read more

Microsoft’s cloud computing policies opened up competition after EU scrutiny – Oct. 1

The global technology company implemented new pro-consumer policies in its cloud computing business this week. The change was sparked by an EU antitrust body that fined the company $1.7 billion throughout the past decade over anti-competitive practices. Read more

Other

Italian general election ended with a right-wing bloc and with a far-right Prime Minister – Sept. 25

The snap election was called after outgoing Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s center-left coalition collapsed in July. Far-right anti-immigrant Eurosceptic Brothers of Italy party led by Georgia Meloni has been leading polls all year and was highly favored to win the largest vote share and in so doing, Meloni will become Italy’s first female Prime Minister. Read more

Swedish parliament convened following elections – Sept. 27

The right-wing bloc—including the far-right anti-immigration and Eurosceptic Sweden Democrats—hold a slim majority in parliament following the September 11 elections and are in the process of forming a government. However, center-right moderate Ulf Kristersson is tasked with forming the government and is likely to become prime minister pending successful coalition negotiations. Read more

Kuwait held parliamentary Elections – Sept. 27

The Gulf kingdom went to the polls this week after Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal dissolved the National Assembly in August, following protests in support of the country’s Bedoon community—a minority cross-border tribal group. Parliament has been gridlocked for months in a power struggle between the democratically elected parliament and the royally appointed government. Read more

Latvia held 2022 parliamentary elections – Oct. 1

Latvia’s parliamentary elections confirmed its domestic politics’ shift in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Latvia’s center-right Jauna Vienotiba (JV) party will likely form a coalition with the hard right, meaning a rollout of anti-Russian policies at home are likely in the short term. Read more

THE WEEK AHEAD

Russian parliament to meet over Ukraine – Oct. 3-4

The lower house, the State Duma, will meet on Oct. 3 with the upper house, the Federation Council, to meet on Oct. 4 to rubberstamp the annexation of the four Ukrainian territories under Russian occupation – Read more [External] –

Finnish president to visit Estonia – Oct. 3

The bilateral summit will include discussions over both countries’ support for Ukraine’s accession to NATO membershipRead more [External]

Former Guinean military ruler to go on trial – Oct. 4

Moise Dadis Camara goes on trial for a stadium massacre in 2009 when he was President of the West African country – Read more [External]

Swedish delegation to travel to Turkey for extradition talks – Oct. 5

Turkey remains one of the last NATO members yet to ratify Sweden’s accession to NATO. A key point of contention regards the extradition of Kurdish exiles in Sweden who Turkish officials view as terrorists – Read more [External]

 

Contributions by: John Milo, Cian Muenster, Joseph Egidio, Sabrine Donohoe