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Indo-Pacific Geopolitics Newsletter 08/21/2022


Indo-Pacific Geopolitics Newsletter 08/21/2022

Pitch Black


Geopolitics Newsletter August 14-21 2022


The three-week Pitch Black aerial exercises began on August 19 and include the air forces of Australia, Indonesia, India, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and the US. Japan, South Korea and Germany are participating for the first time. The drills involve 100 aircraft and 2500 troops hosted at various Australian airbases across Northern Australia.

These wargames come at a time of heightened tension between China and the US in the aftermath of the US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan. Exercise Pitch Black is also the latest military drill held in the Indo-Pacific in recent weeks following China’s predominantly live-fire naval and air force drills in the seas around Taiwan. Others include two joint US-Indonesian military exercises in the past month.

The exercises also highlight the complicated geopolitical relationships at play in the region, with one of the Pitch Black participants—Thailand—also hosting China in separate 10-day military drills this week. Read more

Pitch Black
Japan’s F2 Viper Zero fighters are taking part in Exercise Pitch Black for the first time. Source: Shimizu Brothers/ SJST Spotters/

Indo-Pacific Geopolitics

US-Indonesia military exercise Garuda Shield 2022 concluded – August 14

The joint military exercise Garuda Shield, hosted in Indonesia this year, concluded on August 14. The purpose is to increase the development of military interoperability amid Beijing’s territorial pressures around Southeast Asia. Read more

Chinese military vessel docked in Sri Lanka – August 15

Chinese research and surveillance vessel Yuan Wang 5 arrived in Hambantota Port this week. After first being denied entry into Sri Lanka, the vessel made its way to port as Colombo’s economic woes continue to worsen. Beijing has long been criticized of using Hambantota for geopolitical leverage. Read more

China concludes military exercises in Bohai and Yellow Sea — August 15

Chinese exercises aimed at responding to Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan concluded. Further actions are expected to occur in the Bohai Sea as the US-China rivalry in the Indo-Pacific continues. Read more.

Former Malaysian Prime Minister appealed corruption conviction – August 15

Disgraced former Prime Minister Najib Razak appealed his 2020 corruption conviction for embezzlement of public funds to Malaysia’s highest court this week. He is currently serving 12 years imprisonment and faces 42 other graft charges in separate court cases. Read more

Saudi flag carrier begins flights to Seoul – August 16

The Saudi Arabian national airline advised flights between Jeddah and Seoul resumed normal post-Covid schedules this week. The expansion of the Jeddah-Seoul route was announced in conjunction with the 60th anniversary of diplomacy between both nations. Read more.


Moscow conference on international security – August 16

A total of 35 predominately authoritarian countries attended the Conference, in which Russia increased its attempts at diplomacy and cooperation with developing states.    Read more.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights concludes Bangladesh trip – August 18

Michele Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, concluded her visit to Bangladesh in response to the growing concern surrounding human rights violations in the nation. Her delegation took a specific interest in raising awareness about the Rohingya refugee camps and their squalid conditions. Read more

Estonia bans most Russian visa holders from entering Estonia – August 18

Although there are exemptions for some visa-holders, including Russians with permanent residency in Estonia, Tallinn banned most other Russians from visiting or transiting to and through Estonia. It is the latest action by Estonia to protest Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Read more

Southern African Development Community Summit concludes – August 18

An economic and political development bloc for Southern African states, this year’s summit was hosted by the Democratic Republic of Congo in Kinshasa. Members agreed to promote political stability and democratic institutions by strengthening the bloc’s parliament to draft model laws for member states to implement domestically. Read more

National Security

US-Tajikistan military exercises concluded – August 20

The Tajikistan-based military exercises involved five other Eurasian countries over the 11 days of the drills. A particular focus for this year’s event was on intercepting terrorist activity and the transnational narcotics trade. It is a key platform for American military and diplomatic cooperation in a region traditionally dominated by Russia and China. Read more

Iran military delegation concludes trip to Azerbaijan – August 20

The Iranian delegation toured territory reclaimed by Azerbaijan off Armenia following the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war. Given Azerbaijan’s close ties with Israel, relations between Tehran and Baku soured during that conflict, when Iran was caught supplying arms to Armenia. This trip is part of a wider military and diplomatic thaw within the past year. Read more

See Also

Finance, Economics and Technology

Greece’s post-bailout surveillance regime ends – August 20

The EU ended its post-bailout surveillance of Greece this week following a decade of economic hardship for the country since the 2008 global financial crisis. Athens is expected to recover both in investment opportunity and governance despite numerous economic hurdles to tackle in the long term. Read more

CARICOM Agri-Investment Forum – August 19

The Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM) Agri-Investment Forum opened this week the objective of attracting private investment in the agricultural sectors of Caribbean nations, in a bid to reduce imports and reliance on the US. Read more


Chinese culture event concludes in Brazil – August 19

The Chinese cinema exhibition, in celebration of the Chinese-Brazilian 48th anniversary of diplomatic relations, began on August 16. It directly followed the successful Brasilia Chinese culture experience weekend which showcased the significance of Chinese cultural soft power in the region. Read more.

Jamaican diaspora marks 60th Independence with Jubilee Gala in New York – August 20

The event featured week-long celebrations in Jamaica recognizing the significant Jamaican diaspora communities in the US. Notable Americans of Jamaican heritage include US Vice President Kamala Harris and the late former US Secretary of State General Colin Powell. The event also raised funds for humanitarian causes in Jamaica. Read more

Finland’s Prime Minister took drug test in the fallout from summer party video – August 20

Leader of NATO’s newest member-state, Finnish Prime Minister, 36-year-old Sanna Marin, voluntarily took a drug test on Friday to prove to critics that a video showing her partying with friends over the summer was undertaken while she was not under the influence of illegal drugs. Read more [External]


California-Quebec emissions reduction auction held – August 17

Both the US state and Canadian province held a cap-and-trade auction this week as part of their ongoing policies to reduce emissions. The program started in 2014 and was originally envisioned to include more states and provinces across North America but it has largely been confined to California and Quebec thus far. Read more


INDO-PACIFIC – China to hold military drills in Hong Kong and Macao – August 23

The exercises will be held in waters off the restive Hong Kong administrative region and come after weekly military exercises in the Taiwan Strait and Yellow Sea since US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. Read more [External Link]

INDO-PACIFIC – Disputed final day of Thai Prime Minister’s term – August 23

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha officially concludes his term in March 2023. However, opposition parties argue his years spent as leader of the military junta, arising out of the 2014 military coup, should count towards his eight-year constitutionally mandated term. The courts are unlikely to agree. Read more [External Link]

NATIONAL SECURITY – Joint Russian-Belarussian air force drills – August 22

To be held at a Russian air force base in its southwest regions, the drills come as Ukraine goes on the offensive in the south with daily strikes into Crimea and Russia’s border city of Belgorod in Ukraine’s northeast. Read more [External Link]

DIPLOMACY – Deadline for Hungary to respond to EU rule of law concerns – August 22

If Hungary fails to satisfy Brussels that Budapest is upholding the rule of law, the EU will move to cut funding to Hungary in the bloc’s 2021-2027 budget. Read more [External Link]


Contributions by: John Milo, Joseph Egidio, Sabrine Donohoe

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