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Indo-Pacific Geopolitics Newsletter 07/31/2022

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Indo-Pacific Geopolitics Newsletter 07/31/2022

Radar Sweep July 31

RADAR SWEEP

Geopolitics Newsletter July 24-31 2022

SHANGHAI COOPERATION ORGANIZATION FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET

Foreign ministers from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), including those from China, Russia and India, met in Uzbekistan this week. The SCO is an inter-governmental organization that provides a forum for Eurasian economic and security cooperation. Topics discussed included ongoing management of Sino-Indian border tensions, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as well as the wheat and energy crisis emanating from that invasion.

The focus of the two-day meeting was on economic matters. India, in anticipation of Iran’s accession to full membership this year, called for increased SCO trade through Iran’s Chadabar port, as well as greater efforts to relieve the global fuel and wheat crisis. As expected, there was no condemnation of Russia’s role in blockading Ukrainian wheat exports in the Black Sea. Meanwhile, Russia encouraged SCO members not to use the US dollar as the currency of choice in their international transactions. Beijing, in an effort to assist the Taliban-ruled state in its current economic crisis, announced zero tariffs for 98% of Afghanistan’s exports to China.

The meeting also confirmed SCO membership support for the imminent full membership status of Iran; the proposed candidate status of Belarus; and the dialogue membership status of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Support was also given to various other Eurasian and Southeast Asian countries to become observers. Read more

Radar Sweep July 31
Eurasian foreign ministers, including India, China and Russia meet in Uzbekistan. Source: The Hindu

Indo-Pacific Geopolitics

Indonesian and Chinese leaders held a bilateral meeting in Beijing – July 25

Indonesian President Joko Widodo traveled across Northeast Asia this week. The trip began with a meeting with Xi Jinping in Beijing. The leaders discussed trade and Indonesia’s China-backed infrastructure projects, which may not be financially viable for Indonesia in the long term. Read more

India started auctioning of mobile airwaves – July 26

India’s Cabinet approved an auction this week for 76GHz of mobile tech infrastructure for telecommunication providers in order to meet growing customer demands. The four domestic bidders were approved by the Department of Telecommunications with an expectation they will spend roughly $12.82 to $14.1B USD on providing a 5G network within three years – ideally equipping rural communities with more reliable internet connectivity. Read more

Australia’s new parliamentary term commenced under new government – July 26

Australia’s newly elected parliament sat for the first time this week. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and his newly elected government outlined its agenda to tackle the economic difficulties caused by high inflation. Read more

Australian Federal Treasurer delivered an economic address – July 28

Australian Federal Treasurer, Jim Chalmers, delivered his statement on the Australian financial environment today. To deal with threats to national food security, high inflation, and a looming recession, Chalmers foreshadowed an Austerity budget in October with public spending cuts, fuel tax hikes, and reigning in budget deficits on the cards. Read more

A delegation from Australia’s largest state concluded Asian Trade Tour – July 29

New South Wales Premier, Dominic Perrottet led a trade and investment mission that included India, South Korea and Japan to promote post-lockdown investment opportunities in Australia’s largest state. It follows overtures from other Australian states to Asia which notably bypassed China. Read more

Fijian officials met with a Chinese tourism organization to increase Chinese tourism numbers in Fiji – July 30

The thirty-four-member tour was organized by China Travel Service New Zealand Limited and the tourists were welcomed by Tourism Fiji officials. The company has a global reach to a market of over 10 million potential tourists. Fiji seeks to headline its post-Covid economic recovery by tapping into the lucrative Chinese market. Read more

Diplomacy

Pope Francis embarked on a six-day Canada visit – July 24

Pope Francis made a landmark visit to Canada in which he apologized for the wrongdoings perpetuated by the Catholic Church against First Nations indigenous people. However, the visit will not reverse the controversial 1493 Doctrine of Discovery justifying the conquest of the Americas for the purposes of Christian evangelism or allow the return of indigenous artifacts. Read more

UN Security Council held a meeting on Ukraine – July 29

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) held a meeting on the blockage by Russia of Ukrainian wheat silos. A Russian missile strike on the Ukrainian port of Odessa after the signing of a grain export deal subsequently further delayed agricultural exports.  Read more

National Security

Tunisia voted in a constitutional referendum – July 25

A successful referendum in Tunisia continued the country’s democratic backsliding. The proposal increases the powers of the presidency and removes most parliamentary and judicial limits on the office. Opposition groups boycotted the vote, which led to low turnout and the proposal passing with a large majority. Read more

Switzerland released national oil reserves amid a looming energy crisis – July 25

Switzerland began releasing parts of its national oil reserves with an aim to release a total supply of 245,000 cubic meters by September. It came as the country faced supply constraints due to the ongoing European heatwave disrupting energy imports along the river Rhine and from France. Read more

EU Energy Ministers meet regarding dependence on Russian energy – July 26

EU energy ministers discussed the current situation regarding the bloc’s attempt to reduce its dependence on Russian energy. Principal to this is the storage of natural gas for the upcoming winter to mitigate any shortfalls stemming from Russian economic coercion. EU member states managed to reach an agreement on reducing gas consumption by 15% for the winter. Read More

South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup visited Washington D.C. – July 29

Top of the agenda for South Korea’s defense minister’s meeting with US counterpart, Lloyd Austin, were Seoul’s security concerns on the Korean peninsula. North Korea has conducted 18 missile tests and launched 30 ballistic missiles this year. The meeting—the second in only a month—reflects new South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol’s more assertive approach to Korean relations. Read more

Finance, Economics and Technology

BAE Systems announced mid-year results – July 28

BAE Systems, a critical global supplier of weapons, tech and security assets, released its mid-year financial results today. US-based deals are expected to take precedence for semiconductor sales as Washington sizes up its regional semiconductor production following a successful contract with the industry giant to produce 12 nm microchips. BAE Systems support for the US chip industry may help Washington diversify its microchip supply chains which are critical to national security. Read more

Environment

International Antarctic center bidding to begin – July 27

The bidding for the expected $80 million construction of Punta Arena’s International Antarctic Centre kicked off this week in Chile. Aimed at being both an education center and a pitstop for technological and scientific crews, the center will provide technical support for polar expeditions. Expect the construction, and completion of, the center to boost Chile’s rapport in Atlantic governance whilst also providing socio-economic benefits to the regional community. Read more

OTHER

Russia held a hearing to dissolve Russian Jewish Agency – July 28

The Agency normally facilitates the Russian Jewish diaspora’s immigration to Israel but has been accused by Moscow of violating Russian privacy laws. The hearing comes after the recent accession of Israel’s new interim-Prime Minister, Yair Lapid, into office. Lapid is the most outspoken Israeli critic of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Read more

See Also
US Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) expressed hope that Democrats and Republicans would reach an agreement on amendments to advance the bill. Photo: Kenny Holston/The New York Times

UN International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia to conclude first visit to Ethiopia – July 30

The commission is investigating claims of human rights and refugee law violation by both Ethiopian President Abiy Ahmed’s forces and rebel Tigray Defense forces since the civil war began in 2020. Despite the humanitarian truce agreed to in March, the ceasefire is threatened by the lack of crucial resources. Read more

THE WEEK AHEAD

Pacific Island state, Kiribati, to open international travel  August 1

The Micronesian island state formally withdrew from the mostly Western-aligned Pacific Islands Forum and switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 2019. Read more

European Union gas rationing plan set to take effect  August 1

The plan will see EU member states reduce gas consumption by 15% until March 31, 2023. It comes as Russia’s state gas company, Gazprom, refuses to guarantee gas supply contracts to the bloc. Read more

China to hold military firing drills in the South China Sea – August 2

Following a series of naval drills in the South China Sea, China will hold firing drills and block access to the area around Hainan and Guangdong during the drills. Read more

Reserve Bank of Australia expected to increase interest rate – August 2

The Reserve Bank of Australia has been aggressively increasing the nation’s interest rate to combat inflation. Read more

Putin and Erdogan to meet in Sochi – August 5

Erdogan and Putin will meet in Sochi following a trilateral meeting between Turkey, Iran and Russia on July 19. Read more

 

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

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