RADAR SWEEP Geopolitics Newsletter September 11-18 2022 Xi and Putin met face-to-face – Sep. 15 Chinese President Xi Jinping and
Geopolitics Newsletter September 11-18 2022
Xi and Putin met face-to-face – Sep. 15
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin met in person for the first time since the beginning of the war in Ukraine. This also marked the first time Xi has left China since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan in early 2020. While this is a meaningful gesture from the Chinese President, demonstrating support for Russia, the fact that this meeting took place outside of Russia—roughly in between Beijing and Moscow—may also be a sign of Chinese reluctance to show outright support for Putin’s war. Furthermore, the Russian President admitted that Xi had “questions” and “concerns” about the war and that he planned to explain his position to Xi directly. The details of the two presidents’ conversation are not known, but it likely centered around Chinese economic support for Russia.
The Chinese leadership has thus far refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and will likely continue to at least display an understanding of Putin’s situation, while further increasing Russian oil imports. Russia has recently replaced Saudi Arabia as China’s most significant source of crude oil. Meanwhile, Chinese state-run media has oftentimes supported Russia’s narrative of having been provoked by NATO. At the same time, Xi has carefully avoided pledging outright support to Putin and will most likely continue to walk a fine line between supporting Moscow’s coffers through purchasing cheap Russian energy exports, while also steering clear of directly supporting Russian war efforts. Read more [EXTERNAL]
Leaders of China, Russia and India met at SCO Summit – Sep. 15-16
Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin and Narendra Modi personally attended the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit in Uzbekistan. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi used the occasion to tell Russian President Vladimir Putin that this is “not the era for war,” just a day after Putin admitted that Chinese President Xi Jinping had “concerns” about the war in Ukraine. Read more [EXTERNAL]
Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan agreed to ceasefire – Sep. 17
A border dispute between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan erupted into armed conflict while the two Central Asian countries’ leaders were attending the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit in Uzbekistan. While a ceasefire has been agreed on, the situation remains tense. Read more [EXTERNAL]
China’s top legislator visited South Korea – Sep. 16
China’s top legislator Li Zhanshu visited Seoul to meet with his counterpart and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol in an attempt to strengthen economic ties between the two countries. Both sides agreed to respect “each other’s core interests”—a likely nod to China’s opposition to further US anti-missile systems deployment in South Korea and Beijing’s stance on Taiwan, while at the same time recognizing South Korea’s alignment with Washington. Read more [EXTERNAL]
Lithuania opened a trade office in Taiwan – Sep. 12
Lithuania opened its trade office in Taiwan as part of a deal between the two countries to strengthen bilateral ties. While China had previously downgraded diplomatic ties with Lithuania, it will likely place further restrictions on the Baltic state in response to this new move. Lithuania has already seen a 91% drop in Chinese imports. Read more.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte visited Suriname – Sep. 12
The Dutch Prime Minister concluded his two-day visit to Suriname this week as part of an effort to strengthen bilateral relations. He engaged in conversations on the social impact of slavery in the country, and also discussed new budgetary measures to expand programs in education and water management. Read more.
Li Zhanshu concluded his Nepal visit – Sep. 14
Chinese legislator Li Zhanshu concluded a three-day visit to Nepal this week, in an endeavor to improve bilateral relations. The two countries signed a six-point Memorandum of Understanding on inter-parliamentary collaboration, which will open the door for mutual visits by parliamentarians. Both sides also agreed to enforce connectivity and infrastructure under the Belt and Road Initiative. Read more.
Conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia flared up again – Sep. 12
Both sides accuse each other of reigniting the conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which broke the fragile peace brokered by Moscow in 2020. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reportedly talked to both countries’ leaders on the phone hoping to reinstate the ceasefire and urging Moscow to weigh in as well. Read more [EXTERNAL]
Iran envoy Robert Malley briefed Congress on Iran Nuclear Program – Sep. 14
When Ebrahim Raisi assumed office as president of Iran in 2021, he insisted that Iran was ready to renegotiate the terms of its nuclear program with the West. However, Raisi recently accused the West of acting indifferent to the possibility of dialogue, thus stalling the process of talks. On September 14, the White House Iran envoy Robert Malley gave key insights about the current level of negotiations with Iran. This development suggests that a mutual solution is forthcoming. Read more.
China sanctioned Raytheon, Boeing Defense CEO’s over Taiwan – Sep. 16
Beijing announced that it will sanction the CEOs of Boeing and Raytheon due to arms sales to Taiwan. Read more.
Finance, Economics and Technology
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivered the State of the Union address – Sep. 14
The speech announced measures to be put in place to help protect European citizens from the energy crisis and introduced further initiatives to invest in renewable energy, particularly hydrogen. Von der Leyen also called for the continued support of Ukraine via both economic and military aid. Read more.
US President Joe Biden met South African President Cyril Ramaphosa – Sep. 16
The two discussed the new US strategy for sub-Saharan Africa, which aims to support strong pandemic recovery and encourage green transitions. Ramaphosa is expected to use the US’ proposed energy support to boost his electoral campaign in December. Read more.
EU court upheld record fine against Google – Sep. 14
The EU’s General Court has upheld Google’s appeal for a record-breaking 4.1 billion euros, imposed in 2018 for anti-competitive behavior over its Android operating system. The verdict might encourage other countries to file similar proceedings against Google. Read more
Human Rights Council convened in Geneva – Sep. 12
The United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council convened for its 51st regular session in Geneva, Switzerland to discuss developments in Sri Lanka and other countries. Following the collapse of Sri Lanka’s former government, nationwide protests have not yet ceased under new President Ranil Wickremesinghe. The UN has suggested an external investigation into the violent crackdowns committed during peaceful protests, though resistance from Sri Lanka is expected. Read more.
Pope Francis arrived in Kazakhstan – Sep. 13
Pope Francis participated in the 8th Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions. With figures from the Islamic, Jewish and Orthodox faiths in attendance, Kazakhstan presents itself as the geographic intersection between these traditions and ultimately shines a light on the country’s neutral alignment between the West and Russia. Read more.
US Senate Judiciary Committee held Twitter hearing – Sep. 13
The US Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing with Twitter’s former head of security, Peiter Zatko, to discuss widespread misinformation regarding spam accounts and network security. The hearing is not expected to have a major effect on US legislation targeting Twitter or similar tech firms, but could negatively affect Twitter’s overall value if spam account proliferation is confirmed. Read more.
Super typhoon made landfall in Japan – Sep. 18
Japan braced for what could become its most destructive storm in decades. Eight million people had been urged to evacuate as Typhoon Nanmadol made landfall on the southernmost main island of Kyushu on Sunday. The potentially record-breaking storm is the equivalent of a category 5 hurricane. Read more [EXTERNAL]
Flood warning for eastern Australia – Sep. 17
Parts of New South Wales—Australia’s most populous state—experienced flooding due to unusually heavy rainfall during this year’s La Nina event. Australia has been hit particularly hard by extreme weather events in recent years, a trend that is likely going to continue. Read more [EXTERNAL]
THE WEEK AHEAD
Poland, Baltic countries to start denying entry to Russian citizens – Sep. 19
While the EU has refused to jointly ban all Russian citizens from entering the bloc, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Finland announced they would take national steps to block Russian citizens from entering.
Zelensky to address the United Nations – Sep. 21
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is expected to address the United Nations General Assembly with a pre-recorded message, before the assembly is scheduled to discuss the war in Ukraine.
Cambodian Prime Minister to visit Cuba – Sep. 23
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen will meet his counterpart in Havana for bilateral discussions and to commemorate the two countries’ 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties.
US vice president to visit Japan – Sep. 25
US Vice President Kamala Harris is expected to lead the US delegation to Japan for attending former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s state funeral.
Italian general election to be held – Sep. 25
Italians are heading to the polls to elect a new parliament, following the collapse of Mario Draghi’s administration in July. The elections may result in Italy’s first far-right head of government since World War II.
Contributions by: David Song-Pehamberger, Madeline McQuillan, Keely Dion, Laurence Dynes and Shravan Krishnan Sharma