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Indo-Pacific Geopolitics Newsletter 12/05/2022

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Indo-Pacific Geopolitics Newsletter 12/05/2022

RADAR SWEEP

Geopolitics Newsletter November 28 – December 05 2022

China Announces Slow Exit Out of Strict COVID-ZERO Policy

After two weeks of steadily growing protests across China, the face of Beijing’s COVID-Zero policy, Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, has signaled the eventual phasing out of anti-COVID lockdown measures in the country. She did so in a rare panel discussion with health officials on December 3. Officials also announced that Beijing would renew its prioritization of booster vaccination doses to senior citizens—a key step in exiting the COVID-Zero policy, as they are one of the most vulnerable demographics. The vaccinations of elderly Chinese has been a stumbling block to easing COVID-Zero measures. So far, only 65% of Chinese over 80 years of age have been fully vaccinated and only 40% have had booster shots. Several cities have also eased lockdown and mass testing measures in the past week, with people allowed back to work for the first time in weeks.

Localized protests are common in China yet the organic spread of the anti-lockdown protests in the face of mass censorship of social media make them the country’s largest mass demonstrations in decades. They have likely rattled authorities in Beijing into conceding to ease COVID-19 measures.

However, whether this announcement results in concrete steps to end Covid-Zero lockdown measures is yet to be seen. Given that China accounts for 20% of global manufacturing trade and a greater share of value inputs essential to international production, the end of China’s Covid-Zero policies would greatly relieve global supply chain disruptions that have contributed to high inflation across the world.  Read more [External]

China covid-zero
China and its strict Covid-Zero policies have contributed to strangling global supply chains. Source: Time Magazine

Indo-Pacific

Pakistani Army Chief retires – Nov. 29

Pakistani Army Chief of Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa retired from his post this week after serving two three-year terms under the tumultuous administration of Imran Khan. Incumbent Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will appoint a successor to an institution that has had a significant role in Pakistani politics since the formation of the state. Read more

Indonesia security minister attends interfaith summit in Indonesia – Dec. 1

In a bid to address militant separatism in Indonesia and India, Indonesia’s security minister and Indonesian Muslim clerics met with top political leaders in India this week. The clerics seek to wield their influence in civil society to curb propaganda and grievance-induced radicalism. Read more

India assumes G20 Presidency – Dec. 1

Indian President Narendra Modi’s domestic popularity, along with the country’s non-aligned political position allows New Delhi to leverage ties with both the US, Russia, China and developing nations. This stance has focused India’s emphasis on emerging economies—especially on food security, as the Ukraine war strangled food supplies to developing countries—climate stability and Indo-Pacific national security.  Read more

 

Diplomacy

Tatarstan president visits Azerbaijan – Nov. 28

President of Russian Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov held talks in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku to draw support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Rhetorical support for Russia’s war aims in Ukraine serves Azerbaijan’s ongoing efforts to placate Russia—a traditional ally of Azerbaijan’s arch-rival, Armenia. Read more

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

The conference took place in New Delhi ahead of the 25th anniversary of the India-France Bilateral Strategic Partnership. France backs Indian civil nuclear development and both countries share extensive cooperation in defense capabilities, including joint military exercises. Read more.

NATO foreign ministers meet in Romania – Nov. 29

The foreign ministers of the 30 NATO member states met in the Romanian capital of Bucharest  to discuss methods to further support Ukraine. The knock-on effects of the war on Polish security and Sweden and Finland’s NATO bids are particularly pressing. Read more.

Finance, Economics and Technology

Pakistan repays $1 billion IMF bond early – Dec. 3

Pakistan was set to repay its one-billion-dollar bond to the International Monetary Fund three days early. The bond is part of a $6 billion IMF bailout package issued to Pakistan in 2019. Pakistan has repaid portions of its loans amid crippling debt but must rely on a further influx of loans to preserve its foreign reserves. Read more

OPEC+ members meet ahead of EU price cap coming into force – Dec. 4

The Saudi Arabian-led bloc of oil producing countries includes Russia and accounts for 40% of global crude oil production. The bloc cut oil production in October in a bid to increase prices—angering the US, which lobbied for production hikes to lessen the Russian oil revenues financing Moscow’s Ukrainian invasion. The price cap is likely to to cut oil prices. Read more

Society

UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee meeting concludes – Dec. 3

Morocco held the 17th session of UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage today. The key agenda this round was focused on the preservation of cultural and historic sites in areas of warfare and unrest. Read more

Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism conclude their annual forum – Dec. 4

The non-governmental organization seeks to improve the safety of journalists in Middle East and North African states that are notorious for the persecution of independent journalists. They launched a safety roadmap to support journalists in identifying risks when covering sensitive issues. Read more

Politics

Gambian parliament convenes to approve draft annual budget – Nov. 28

See Also

It comes after a year of worsening economic conditions for the West African country. High global oil prices have led to a surge in domestic food and fuel prices, forcing increased government fuel subsidies. In this context, a budgetary increase in parliamentarians’ salaries has proved controversial. Read more

Lebanon convenes to elect president – Dec. 1

After a month of failed attempts, the fractured Lebanese parliament again convened this week to elect a successor to former President Michel Auon, whose term ended Oct, 30. A two-thirds majority is required to elect the president to a six-year term in the country’s semi-presidential system. The president then appoints a prime minister to lead the president’s legislative agenda in parliament. Read more

Nepal releases the confirmation of election results – Dec. 3

Early reports suggested the ruling pro-Indian Nepali Congress had maintained their plurality of seats in parliament. The Congress vies with the opposition Nepali Communist Party, which is aligned with China. Coalition negotiations traditionally follow elections as no major party typically obtains an outright majority. Read more

Cuba holds municipal run-off elections – Dec. 4

Cuban cities held run-off elections this week to finalize the 12,400 councilors who will elect 50% of the National Assembly in upcoming March 2023 parliamentary elections. The other half of the assembly will be nominated by various civic groups tied to the ruling Communist Party. Read more.

THE WEEK AHEAD

EU price cap and Russian oil embargo to come into force – Dec. 5

The cap aims to severely limit oil revenues for Russia’s war in Ukraine, but too low a price could result in a glut of Russian oil on the market. Read more [External]

Chinese and Russian prime ministers to meet virtually – Dec. 6

China is a major consumer of Russian oil and Russia will aim to maintain Chinese purchases as the Western-supported EU price cap and embargo come into effect. Read more [External]

US President Joe Biden to visit Taiwan chip manufacturer in Arizona – Dec. 6

The company is the largest producer of semiconductor chips in the world—crucial in fighter jets and missile production—and the exemplar of the Biden administration’s policy to attract chip manufacturers to the US while throttling supplies to China and Russia.  Read more [External]

Albania to host EU-Western Balkans Summit – Dec. 6

Five Western Balkans countries have been candidates for EU membership for years but progress through the EU process has been slow. Read more [External]

 

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

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