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Indo-Pacific Geopolitics Newsletter 11/27/2022

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Indo-Pacific Geopolitics Newsletter 11/27/2022

China protests

RADAR SWEEP

Geopolitics Newsletter November 20 – 27 2022

Anti-Lockdown Protests Spread Across China

China has recently been rocked by waves of anti-lockdown protests across the country as citizens grow tired of Beijing’s zero-COVID policy. In the western city of Urumqi, in Xinjiang province, locals protested strict lockdown rules after an apartment fire killed ten residents. Their rescue was hampered [EXTERNAL] by quarantine restrictions. Simultaneously, in central Guangzhou, factory workers at an Apple plant protested after Foxconn, the factory owners, failed to deliver promised bonuses to workers locked in the factory for weeks.

Public discontent has grown after viral reports of maltreatment of citizens during government-enforced lockdowns resulting in deaths. President Xi Jinping’s government has instituted harsh lockdown measures across the country, quarantining entire blocks and even cities, despite minimal w cases, to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This is in stark contrast to much of the rest of the world, which has largely re-opened and ended pandemic restrictions.

China’s steady pursuit of zero-COVID comes at a price. Early in the pandemic, the Chinese government and people held up low case counts and deaths as a point of pride, but now zero-COVID has become a central pillar of government policy, forcing it to double down despite growing resistance. This has slowed economic development, leading some Western companies to shift manufacturing to countries such as Vietnam. Going forward, the outlook is unlikely to improve in the short- to medium term. Beijing will most likely stick to zero-COVID, using targeted lockdowns to keep domestic manufacturing running and case counts low. However, this is unlikely to succeed, forcing the government to expand lockdowns at the cost of economic output.

China protests
Protests have picked up in China amidst continued zero-COVID policies – Photo: Reuters TV/ Via Reuters

Indo-Pacific Geopolitics

Malaysia holds general elections – Nov. 19

Malaysia held its parliamentary elections filling 222 parliamentary seats. This election will be the first one held since the government lowered the voting age to 18, enfranchising 6 million new voters. The snap elections were called by the ruling United Malays National Organization (UMNO) in order to regain complete power in the parliament and retain the premiership. Read more

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni concludes Vietnam trip – Nov. 25

Ugandan President Yoweri Musevini concluded a trip to Vietnam after visiting the first-ever Uganda-Vietnam Business Summit. Vietnam has reached out to states in Europe and Africa for trade and investment deals over the past year, including France, Tunisia and South Africa. Vietnam will likely foster economic links outside of Asia as it seeks to diversify its trading partners and reduce its reliance on Chinese commerce. Read more

North Korea commemorates missile launch Nov. 26

North Korea will issue a set of stamps today featuring its intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), which was launched over Japan a month ago. North Korea’s emphasis on last month’s IRBM launch indicates the country is not yet prepared for its seventh nuclear test, which had been expected before the beginning of the 2022 midterm elections in the U.S. Read more

Diplomacy

Uzbek President visited France – Nov. 21

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev visited France to hold meetings with counterpart Emmanuel Macron. The two leaders discussed increasing investment and tech development ties as Uzbekistan looks to shift away from Russian and Chinese influence and more towards EU partnership. Read more

Finnish PM met with Icelandic counterpart to discuss NATO application – Nov. 22

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin met with Icelandic counterpart Katrin Jakobsdottir to discuss Finland’s NATO application. Iceland’s support may help put pressure on Turkey and Hungary to lift objections to Finland’s NATO application and allow it to join the alliance to provide security guarantees against Russian aggression. Read more

Astana Format meeting on Syria held in Kazakhstan – Nov. 22

The 19th Astana Format meeting, a dialogue between Russia, Turkey and Iran focused on guaranteeing Syrian peace, met in Kazakhstan. Despite UN and Red Cross representation, the meeting did little to advance human rights commitments in Syria. Read more

National Security

Lithuania convenes State Defense Council amid Poland missile strike – Nov. 21 

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda convened Lithuania’s State Defense Council following an accidental missile strike, caused by Ukranian air defenses, that killed two civilians in Poland. Lithuania and other NATO member states have since convened to discuss increasing security to avoid further accidents that risk sparking wider conflict. Read more

See Also

East African Community brokered third round of DR Congo peace talks in Nairobi – Nov. 21

The “peace dialogue” in the DRC was held as multiple armed groups advanced towards Goma, a city in the country’s east. Peace talks face difficulties as rebel buy-in is unclear, and further destabilization in the region is likely. Read more

Politics

Equatorial Guinea holds general election – Nov. 20

A general election, originally scheduled for 2023, for both the presidency and parliament of Equatorial Guinea was held on Sunday. The incumbent 80-year-old dictator Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo won with 99.7% of the vote, extending a reign that began in 1979. In parliament, his governing Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (PDEG) will continue to control all but one of the bicameral legislature’s seats. Read more

Kazakhstan hosts snap presidential election – Nov. 20

Two months ago, incumbent President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev called a snap presidential election, seeking a new mandate for constitutional reforms. In a result that was widely predicted, Tokayev won re-election with over 81% of the vote. However, his proposed reforms and consolidation of power are unlikely to quell protests. Read more

UN Human Rights Council holds session on Iran Nov. 24

The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) held a special session in Geneva on Thursday to address the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran. Coming in the wake of months-long mass anti-government protests and state repression that has resulted in 336 deaths and some 15,000 arrests, the UNHRC is likely to respond by calling for an international investigation and suggesting travel bans and financial sanctions targeting Iran’s governing body. Read more

The Week Ahead

Russian FM Sergei Lavrov visits Minsk – Nov. 27

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visits Minsk for joint meetings with his Belarusian counterpart. The talks will focus on bilateral relations, as well as both countries’ relations with the EU, and security matters as part of the CSTO, a Russian-led analogue of NATO. Read more [EXTERNAL]

4th India-France Defense Dialogue concludes – Nov. 28

The fourth India-France Defense Dialogue, a joint conference discussing Indo-French security cooperation will take place. Talks will focus on building defense ties, increasing maritime security in the Indo-Pacific, and expanding defense technology partnerships as India seeks to diversify its arms supplies. Read more [EXERNAL]

US and Russian officials meet in Egypt to discuss New START – Nov. 29

American and Russian officials will meet in Egypt this week to discuss the implementation of the New START arms control agreement. New START is the last remaining nuclear treaty between the US and Russia, limiting strategic nuclear arsenals, and has taken on new importance following Russia’s nuclear saber-rattling amidst the Ukraine war. Read more [EXTERNAL]

NATO Foreign Ministers meet in Bucharest – Nov. 29

Foreign ministers from NATO member countries meet in Bucharest this week to discuss the Russian war in Ukraine. They will also plan the implementation of NATO’s new Strategic Concept to counter new challenges, such as energy insecurity and the rise of China. Read more [EXTERNAL]

Contributions by: Wescott Yeaw

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