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Geopolitics Newsletter Nov. 28 – Dec. 4 2023


Geopolitics Newsletter Nov. 28 – Dec. 4 2023

New Zealand Foreign Minister


Geopolitics Newsletter Nov. 28 – Dec. 4 2023


Winston Peters— now New Zealand’s deputy prime minister and foreign minister—returned to office as part of a newly-elected center-right New Zealand (NZ) coalition government led by Prime Minister Christopher Luxon this week.

In his first policy speech, Peters stated his intention to advocate for greater US engagement in the Pacific and greater cooperation between the two countries on strategic and security matters. This almost certainly means a rejuvenated “Pacific Reset”—a policy he championed in his previous 2017-2020 stint as foreign minister under then center-left Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Significantly, Peters is on recent record as being positive about New Zealand signing up to Pillar II of the AUKUS Alliance—the part of the AUKUS agreement that envisages cooperation and information-sharing between partners on cutting-edge military technology such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and cyber-warfare capabilities. Joining Pillar II was a step that split political opinion in the last government. Signing up to such a rung of a military alliance is also likely to be controversial in New Zealand where its “Independent foreign policy” generally opposes NZ entering into military alliances. Furthermore, the country’s decades-old anti-nuclear laws—which effectively bans all US naval vessels for their potential nuclear propulsion and any future Australian nuclear-powered submarines—still retain broad bipartisan political and public support.

However, Pillar II envisages non-nuclear military technology—a nuance that provides a loophole for Peters to advocate for joining that part of the AUKUS alliance. Read more [External]

Indo-Pacific Geopolitics

Campaign for the 2024 Indonesian presidential election began – Nov. 28

Incumbent Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto is leading in opinion polls. After two previous unsuccessful attempts, his victory could see the country take a more nationalist stance and develop a more assertive foreign policy. Read more

AUKUS defense ministers met in California for the Alliance’s Pillar II talks – Dec. 1

US Secretary of State Lloyd Austin met with his Australian and British counterparts. They agreed to cooperate in research, training, and acquiring major military technology such as drones, artificial intelligence, and deep space technology. Read more [External]

Cambodia’s National Assembly president concluded a visit to Vietnam – Dec. 2

Cambodia’s version of the speaker of the Assembly, Khuon Sudary, marked the 55th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the one-party states. Both countries regularly collaborate on harmonizing laws between the two countries to aid trade and migration flows. Read more

US plans to deploy intermediate-range missiles to the Indo-Pacific in 2024 – Dec. 3

The plans were revealed to Japanese newspaper Nikkei by Ron Phillips, spokesperson for US Pacific Command, this week. The ground-based missiles—with ranges between 500km to 5,500km—were banned under the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which expired in 2019. Read more [External]

Vietnamese PM concluded his visit to Turkiye – Dec. 3

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and concluded an agreement with his Turkish counterpart, Vice-President Cevdet Yilmaz, to increase bilateral trade by 50% to $4 billion annually. Turkish investment in Vietnam potentially opens further trade and investment opportunities in ASEAN. Read more


Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi hosted UNSC meeting on Gaza – Nov. 28

Beijing has been careful not to support either side in the conflict due to existing ties with both Israel and Arab countries. At the same time, Chinese neutrality and its mediation efforts could increase its diplomatic clout. Read more

The China-Italy Science, Technology, and Innovation Summit concluded in Beijing – Nov. 29

China and Italy are likely to increase cooperation in the areas of science and technology even as bilateral relations otherwise worsen. Read more

OSCE ministerial council meeting commenced in Skopje, North Macedonia – Nov. 30

The OSCE is the successor to a Cold War-era forum of Western and Eastern states to facilitate dialogue and breach political differences. However, the participation of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov caused a boycott by some NATO members for blocking NATO member Estonia’s candidacy for the rotating chairpersonship of the forum. Members eventually approved EU member, Malta, for the next chair as a compromise solution. Read More.

See Also

China removed entry visa requirements for citizens of Germany, Malaysia, France, Spain, Italy, and the Netherlands – Dec. 1

Beijing aims to increase trade ties with Europe amid frosty public perceptions of China and its support for Russia in the Russia-Ukraine war. Germany has been the focus of intense Chinese diplomacy to increase trade volumes due to existing economic ties. Read more

National Security

NATO Foreign Ministers met in Brussels – Nov. 28

The majority of discussions focused on Sweden’s NATO bid, which is likely to be completed in the next few months. Sweden’s imminent entry into NATO has complicated the strategic situation for Russia because once Sweden becomes a member, NATO will surround Russia in the Baltics.  Read more

Finland closed border with Russia – Nov. 28

Amid growing bilateral tensions and fears that asylum seekers will be weaponized by the Russian side, the border will remain closed until December 13. With Finland’s accession to NATO earlier this year, Russo-Finnish relations are tense.  Read more [External]

Politics & Society

The trial of the opposition candidate for the Egyptian presidency began – Nov. 28

Ahmed al-Tantawi was the most high-profile challenger to incumbent autocratic President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and was accused of falsifying electoral endorsement forms required for his candidacy to be legal. Al-Tantawi’s trial effectively sidelines him from contesting the election and puts Fattah el-Sisi in pole position to win. Read more

Germany introduced new citizenship laws to parliament – Nov. 30

The German government is easing the process of obtaining German citizenship and removing dual citizenship restrictions. The country aims to ease its labor shortage and looming demographic issues stemming from an aging population. Read more [External]

Venezuela held referendum on Guyanese-administered region – Dec. 3

The oil-rich Guyanese Essequibo region has been disputed between the two countries since the 19th century but of immediate issue in this referendum is Venezuela’s rejection of the International Court of Justices’ jurisdiction over the dispute—Guyana’s preferred dispute-resolution mechanism. Read more

The Week Ahead

French defense and foreign ministers to host South Pacific defense ministers – Dec. 4-8

The meeting will take place in the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia and represents one part of a major geopolitical strategy aimed at increasing French influence in the Indo-Pacific region. Read more [External]

EU finance ministers meeting to be held – Dec. 8

On the agenda are discussions of changes to EU debt and deficit reduction rules. Read more [External]

Egyptian Presidential Elections to be held – Dec. 10-12

Military-supported incumbent President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi will almost certainly win, as his administration has sidelined the main opposition candidates. Read more [External]

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