Indo-Pacific Geopolitics Newsletter 11/20/2022

RADAR SWEEP Geopolitics Newsletter November 13-20 2022 Xi and Biden meet in person at G20 Summit — Nov. 14 For


Geopolitics Newsletter November 13-20 2022

Xi and Biden meet in person at G20 Summit — Nov. 14

For the first time since U.S. President Joe Biden assumed office, the two leaders met face-to-face at the G20 Summit in Bali. The occasion also marked the return of Chinese President Xi Jinping to the world stage, following close to three years of isolation during which Xi never left China. The two leaders met for over three hours and discussed issues such as climate change, economic competition, North Korea and Ukraine.

While Xi ‘s refusal to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, both sides agreed on staunchly opposing any use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine. Biden also reiterated that there was no threat of a new Cold War between the U.S. and China, despite ongoing U.S. sanctions on Chinese technology firms. Xi’s stated opposition to a trade war and commitment to international trade rules raised hopes that the economic relations between the two powers could potentially thaw in the near term.

However, Taiwan remains a serious area of disagreement, despite Biden’s reassurances of the U.S.’s ongoing commitment to the one-China policy. Several formal dialogue channels had been cut by Beijing, following Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. Both Biden and Xi again blamed each other for increasing tensions in the Taiwan Strait, with Xi clarifying that Taiwan was China’s “first red line”. While tensions will likely remain high over Taiwan, both leaders agreed to maintain channels of strategic communication and consultation, to reduce the risk of escalation. Read more [EXTERNAL]

Biden Xi meeting

Xi Jinping and Joe Biden meet at the G20 Summit in Bali, Nov. 14, 2022 – Photo: Kevin Lamarque/REUTERS

Indo-Pacific Geopolitics

Chinese Premier visited Cambodia – Nov. 15

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visited Cambodia to attend the East Asia Summit, where he met face-to-face with U.S. President Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol. One major focus was on alleviating geopolitical tensions in the region. Read more

G20 LeadersSummit concluded – Nov. 16

The summit of global leaders, during which issues of competition in the Indo-Pacific between the U.S. and China, and post-COVID-19 recovery, were discussed, ended. Russia was broadly condemned for its war of aggression. Read more. [EXTERNAL]

South Korean and Saudi Arabian leaders met – Nov. 17

South Korea’s President Yoon Suk-yeol and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met in-person during the G20 summit in Bali, where they agreed to significantly boost the two country’s cooperation in energy, construction and defense. Saudi Arabia has already signed investment agreements with South Korean companies worth $30 billion. Read more [EXTERNAL]

U.S. vice president attended APEC summit – Nov. 18-19

Vice President Kamala Harris attended the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Meeting in Bangkok, which focused on strengthening economic cooperation in light of the pandemic-induced reduction in trade and tourism, as well as geopolitical tensions. Harris also met briefly with the representative of Taiwan to discuss semiconductors, as APEC is one of the few major forums to which Taiwan is invited. Read more


Xi and Kishida met in person – Nov. 17

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met face-to-face during the APEC summit in Thailand, for the first time since Kishida’s election. The two leaders agreed to improve diplomatic channels and ease tensions. Read more [EXTERNAL]

Myanmar junta released thousands of prisoners – Nov. 17

The ruling junta of Myanmar has released close to 6,000 political prisoners, including several prominent foreigners, in a mass amnesty widely seen as an effort to end the country’s international isolation. Read more [EXTERNAL]

Armenian prime minister met with French president – Nov. 19

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan met with French President Emmanuel Macron on the sidelines of the 18th La Francophonie summit. The meeting comes after France’s critical role in mediating the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Read more.

National Security

Waves of Russian missiles struck across Ukraine – Nov. 15

Russia showered Ukraine with waves of missiles and drone strikes, following Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky’s virtual address at the G20 Summit, during which he demanded the return of Ukrainian territories conquered by Russia. Almost half of Ukraine’s civilian power infrastructure was destroyed as a result. Read more [EXTERNAL]

North Korea fired ICBM capable of striking the U.S. – Nov. 18

North Korea has test-fired a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that dropped into the ocean west of Hokkaido, Japan. The missile is believed to have enough range to strike the U.S. mainland. North Korea has already test-fired over 50 missiles this year and is widely believed to be about to conduct its first nuclear test since 2017. Read more [EXTERNAL]

Ukraine-Russia Black Sea grain export deal extended – Nov. 19

The Turkey-backed agreement allowing Russia and Ukraine to both export grain through the Black Sea amidst their ongoing hostilities has been extended for four more months. Read more.

Finance, Economics and Technology

Sri Lankan president presented first budget since assuming office – Nov. 14

Ranil Wickremesinghe’s budget included debt restructuring measures in order to comply with IMF loan requirements, as well as tax and interest rate hikes. The budget comes amid a severe financial crisis and mass anti-government protests. Read more.

U.S. successfully launched Artemis rocket to the moon – Nov. 16

The first rocket of NASA’s Artemis program—the successor of Apollo project—launched toward the moon. This unmanned test flight will see the rocket’s Orion capsule circumvent the moon and return to earth. This may be the beginning of further competition between the U.S. and China in the space domain. Read more [EXTERNAL]

Philippines raised interest rates – Nov. 17

The Central Bank of the Philippines raised interest rates by 75 basis points. The move comes alongside a dire inflationary situation alongside a weakening dollar-peso exchange rate, driven by import dependence and political volatility. Read more.

UK reveals 2022 autumn Budget – Nov. 17

The budget, the first under newly appointed Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, aims to cut down national spending. The plan comes alongside likely higher interest rates and an energy crisis, leading to fears of recession. Read more.


UN Human Rights Commissioner concluded Sudan visit – Nov. 16

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk concluded his visit in Sudan, where he met with several high-level officials, representatives of UN bodies, and civil society groups. The visit took place following heightened police brutality in Sudan after last year’s military coup. During talks, Turk urged Sudanese factions to reach a consensus to end worsening political and economic crises that have intensified since the coup. Read more.

The EU held hearing on Poland abortion laws – Nov. 17

The EU Committees on Women’s Rights and Civil Liberties convened a public hearing on abortion laws in Poland. EU lawmakers presented a list of the women who reportedly died due to tightened abortion laws that created a de facto ban. In the last year, the European Parliament condemned Poland’s Constitutional Court for its ruling that women can terminate pregnancies only in cases of rape, incest or when the mother’s life is at risk. Read more.

Malaysia held general election – Nov. 19

Malaysia held its 15th general election on Nov. 19. The incumbent United Malays National Organization (UMNO) hoped to strengthen its ruling mandate but ended up losing seats. As of Sunday, both opposition leaders, Anwar Ibrahim from the multiethnic Hope Pact and Muhyiddin Yassin’s conservative National Alliance claimed victory. Still, the winner will need a coalition partner, making UMNO’s return to government likely, albeit as junior partner this time. Read more [EXTERNAL]

Qatar World Cup kicks off – Nov. 20

Many diplomats, politicians and world leaders, including UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, attended the opening of the 2022 FIFA Football World Cup in Doha on Sunday. The event has become overshadowed by Qatar’s human rights violations and allegations of corruption related to the small gulf state winning the bid to host the world cup. Read more [EXTERNAL]


COP27 climate change conference concluded – Nov. 18

Much of the focus for this year’s COP concerned attempts to secure developed countries admissions of liability and commitments to compensation, with mixed results. Read more

Shark fin trade to be regulated – Nov. 18

Countries at the 186-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Panama agreed to regulate the trade of shark fins, which sees millions of sharks killed annually and has decimated shark populations in areas around the globe. The new rules protect dozens of shark species. Read more [EXTERNAL]


UN Security Council to discuss North Korean ICBM launch – Nov. 21

The UN Security Council will meet on Monday to discuss the North Korean launch of an ICBM missile capable of striking the U.S. Read more [EXTERNAL]

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris to visit the Philippines – Nov. 22

Vice President Kamala Harris is scheduled to visit the Philippines, amidst heightened security tensions in the South China Sea. Read more [EXTERNAL]

Russian President Vladimir Putin to attend CSTO summit in Yerevan – Nov. 23

Armenia will host the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) summit in Yerevan, at which Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to attend in-person. Read more [EXTERNAL]

UN Human Rights Council to hold special session focused on Iran – Nov. 24

The UN Human Rights Council will convene in Geneva, to discuss Iranian human rights violations in light of recent anti-government protests in Iran. Read more [EXTERNAL]

Mexico to host the 17th Pacific Alliance Summit – Nov. 24-25

Leaders of the Latin American trade bloc, which represents close to half of the GDP of Latin America and the Caribbean, will meet in Oaxaca, Mexico, on Nov. 25. Read more [EXTERNAL]

Cuban President to visit China

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel is expected to visit China sometime this week, after also dropping by Russia, Algeria, and Turkey. Read more [EXTERNAL]


Contributions by: David Song-Pehamberger, Madeline McQuillan, Laurence Dynes and Shravan Krishnan Sharma