Indo-Pacific Geopolitics Newsletter 03/26/2023



Geopolitics Newsletter Mar. 20 – 26 2023


The two-day visit cemented increasingly overt displays of support from President Xi Jinping for his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. The trip was touted by Beijing as an effort to promote peace in Ukraine after the Russian invasion. China’s 12-point peace plan calls for a cessation of hostilities, a return to the negotiation table and the end of economic sanctions upon Russia. Noticeably absent is a call for Russia to withdraw its forces from Ukraine. The plan essentially recognizes the battle lines as they stand now by freezing the conflict; it is almost certain to be rejected by Ukraine and the West.

The trip underlines strengthening Sino-Russian relations as a bulwark against NATO and what Beijing and Moscow view as US hegemony in global geopolitics. The two capitals’ pursuit of a multipolar global order has become the founding principle of their current relations. Both Xi and Putin are likely buoyed by the largely indifferent and skeptical response from the developing world towards the US and the West’s calls to support Ukraine. Indeed, the indifference is most aptly manifested through the BRICS economic bloc—which routinely abstains from UN votes condemning Russia; promotes peace initiatives similar to China’s, openly holds Ukraine and NATO as partially responsible for the invasion and refuses to impose sanctions on Moscow.

This indifference will likely survive the International Criminal Court’s warrant for Putin’s arrest on March 17. China has already dismissed the warrant, but BRICS nations Brazil and South Africa are members of the Court and are legally obliged to arrest Putin should he visit those countries. That there is no serious contemplation of such a scenario happening—even in the West—is a testament to the success of Russia’s diplomatic efforts and the unwillingness of the BRICS nations to be drawn into the issue. However, the fact that the trip did not officially confirm Chinese military supplies to Russia does show that Beijing is still wary of US sanctions. Read more

Xi Putin meeting

Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin toast each other during their meeting in Moscow | Source: Reuters


Thailand dissolved parliament ahead of the general election – Mar. 23

The King of Thailand, Maha Vajiralongkorn, approved the dissolution of the House of Representatives earlier this week — prior to a formally scheduled end of term on March 23. The Pheu Thai Party (PTP) opposition is slowly gaining popularity as current PM Prayuth Chan-ocha vies for a win to maintain the office. Regardless of the outcome, the incumbent government will continue to be entrenched by the Thai military. Read more

China hosted a delegation for Brazilian president’s state visit – Mar. 26

Brazil’s leftist president Luis Ignacio Lula da Silva’s led a delegation including politicians, officials and over 240 business leaders on his five-day trip where 20 economic deals are due to be signed and a temporary Chinese ban on Brazilian beef exports was expected to be lifted. Read more


UN 2023 Water Conference concluded in New York – Mar. 24

Jointly hosted by the Netherlands and Tajikistan, key topics discussed included water security in conflict zones and the impact of climate change on water availability. It comes after a UN report last year predicting 1.6 billion people will lack safe drinking water by 2030. However, the final agreement fell short of the comprehensive binding accord advocates were hoping for. Read more

Netanyahu and Sunak met amid protests – Mar. 24

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with his UK counterpart Rishi Sunak in London today amid protests. Discussions were centered around Iran’s nuclear ambitions, with protests surrounding Netanyahu’s planned legal overhaul likely to continue throughout Israel and Europe. Read more

US assistant secretary of state visited South Africa – Mar. 25

US Assistant Secretary of State Michele Sidon visited South Africa on a multi-country trip across Africa and Asia. The visit followed joint naval exercises held between Russia, China, and South Africa last month, as well as the US’s objection to South Africa’s ties with China and refusal to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Read more

United States vice president visited Ghana – Mar. 25

US Vice President Kamala Harris visited Ghana as part of a three-country tour that included Tanzania and Zambia. She met with President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and other top officials to discuss developing bilateral relations, particularly in the security and economic spheres. The trip is part of a wider US strategy to woo African nations away from China’s orbit. Read more

National Security

Cobra Warrior Air exercises concluded – Mar. 24

The air forces of six countries including the UK, the US and Finland trained in high-intensity, tactical air warfighting operations. The exercise will likely be interpreted as a show of military readiness to fend off Russian aggression in Eastern Europe.  Read more

UK Delegation concluded visit to Taiwan – Mar. 25

Six lawmakers from the British-Taiwanese All-Party Parliamentary Group visited Taiwan this week. While the British government does not officially recognize Taiwan as an independent country, lawmakers are calling upon the British government to increase engagement in the region amid Chinese ambitions to conquer the island. Read more

Twentieth anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 – Mar. 25

The invasion led to the end of then-president Saddam Hussein’s military dictatorship and his eventual execution. However, the country has struggled to obtain political stability amid deep sectarian divides between the majority Shia population, the minority Sunnis and the separatist Kurds in the north. Read more

Houthi rebels marked the eighth anniversary of Saudi intervention in the Yemen conflict – Mar. 26

The Shia rebel group fighting against the Saudi-backed Yemeni government marked the occasion earlier this week with military drills. The commemorations follow a recent prisoner swap agreement between the Iranian-backed group and the Yemeni government. Read more

Finance, Economics and Technology

UK parliament debated post-Brexit Northern Ireland EU trade rules – Mar. 22

The so-called ‘Windsor Framework’ is a breakthrough for British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s attempts to conclude a long-standing point of contention since the UK exited from EU. However, Brexit hardliners within Sunak’s ruling party and ultra-conservative unionists in Northern Ireland still oppose the deal as limiting Northern Ireland’s place in the UK. Read more

China Mobile released FY2022 financial results – Mar. 23

The wholly state-owned enterprise, China’s largest wireless telecoms carrier, has long been predicted by financial analysts as being in a strong financial position in the 2022-2024 period.  Read more


Islamic News NGO held a workshop on media coverage of Palestinian issues – Mar. 21

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) journalist group held the online workshop to combat disinformation and to provide guidance on how media organizations could fairly cover the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in the West—which the OIC views as exhibiting a bias against Palestinians. Read more

Greek Rail Service partially resumed after a major accident – Mar. 22

Following the deadliest rail collision in Greek history in March, train services have resumed. The civilian protest aimed towards the perceived inaction by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the New Democracy Party (EPP) was met with a violent response by police. Public opinion for the EPP has dropped to a new low following the disaster. Read more

Hundreds of thousands of French protested pension reforms – Mar. 23

The nationwide protests come in the aftermath of President Emmanuel Macron’s controversial pension reforms lifting the pension eligibility age from 62 to 64 years. The use of a rare constitutional mechanism allowing the passage of the pension reforms in the National Assembly—where Macron did not have the numbers to pass the legislation–without putting the bill to a vote has attracted outrage. Read more


Spanish parliament held a no-confidence vote on Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez – Mar. 21

The Congress of Deputies voted this week on a motion of censure proposed by the far-right Vox party on the prime minister’s failure to deal with various economic issues. The vote had no hope of success given that Vox holds only 52 seats in the 350-seat chamber, but served as a marketing exercise for Vox’s upcoming participation in municipal elections. Read more

Cuba held elections to rubberstamp National Assembly – Mar. 26

The only candidates eligible for election are those who are members of or aligned with the Cuban Communist Party—the only legal political party in the one-party state. The election also marks the first time since 1976 that no member of the Castro family is the leader of the party and government and comes as Cuba struggles to deal with significant post-COVID economic issues. Read more


Scottish nationalist leadership contest to begin – Mar. 27

The leadership election comes after the shock resignation of the former leader, Nicola Sturgeon. Read more [External]

Russia to conduct military exercises in the Arctic – Mar. 27

The exercises are in support of President Vladimir Putin’s long-held strategy for Russian dominance in the Arctic region. Read more [External]

China’s Xi Jinping is due to meet with Brazil’s Lula in Beijing – Mar. 28

The meeting will serve as the highlight of Lula’s week-long state visit to China. Read more [External]

More pension reforms protests expected after King Charles III’s visit canceled – Mar. 28

The British monarch was due to have begun a state visit to France today. Ongoing protests are expected instead. Read more [External]

ASEAN finance ministers and central bank governors to meet in Bali, Indonesia – Mar. 31

The meeting is part of Indonesia’s ongoing ASEAN hosting duties for 2023. Read more [External]

Finland—NATO’s newest member—due to hold parliamentary elections – Apr. 2

Electoral observers project a cliffhanger election as incumbent Prime Minister Sanna Marin faces an uphill challenge to maintain power. Read more [External]


Contributions by: John Milo, Joseph Egidio, Will Wain-Williams, and Cian Muenster