August 5, 2022
China and Taiwan
Since U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi stopped in Taiwan on August 2, the PRC has announced a series of actions against Taiwan across military, economic, diplomatic, and other domains. Beijing announced “live-fire military drills” from Thursday through Sunday around the island, including in Taiwan’s territorial waters, banned Chinese companies and individuals from interacting with certain Taiwanese companies, halted various agricultural imports, stopped natural sand exports (a key component for Taiwan’s semiconductor manufacturing), and issued a formal demarche to U.S. Ambassador Nicholas Burns. Relatedly, a CCP spokesperson stated that Taiwan “separatists” will be held accountable under the PRC’s anti-secession law, and reports of cyberattacks on Taiwanese government websites from PRC sources emerged shortly after Speaker Pelosi’s visit.
As one of few foreign visitors to the PRC since the Covid pandemic, Indonesian president Joko Widodo met with Chinese president Xi Jinping in Beijing to discuss issues ranging from trade and food to agricultural cooperation. China committed to increasing imports of palm oil as Indonesia is a key partner in China acquiring natural resources like palm oil, coal, and natural gas. Widodo also reportedly secured China’s support for Indonesia’s chairmanship of ASEAN next year, a political and economic success for ASEAN’s largest nation. The two countries also expressed their similar attitudes towards Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by advocating for a peaceful resolution and offering their respective cooperation in addressing the ongoing crisis.
They Flocked to China for Boom Times. Now They’re Thinking Twice, The New York Times
South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin agreed to expand bilateral military exercises and resume a strategic dialogue on extended deterrence. Both ministers acknowledged the security threats posed by North Korea and vowed to enhance their deterrence posture, including the deployment of U.S. strategic assets. In response to North Korea’s nuclear tests, both ministers also agreed to restart their countries’ Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group (EDSCG). An EDSCG meeting will be held before the end of September, and an “operational exercise” for U.S. extended deterrence will be conducted soon.
ASEAN is new centerpiece of Korea’s Indo-Pacific initiative, The Korea Herald
Attending the South Korea-ASEAN foreign ministers’ session in Cambodia, South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin said the Korean government would strengthen its economic partnership with ASEAN while also expanding its strategic ties with member countries. During the ASEAN-Plus Three (APT) meeting, which included the top diplomats of China, Japan, and South Korea, Park suggested the three countries resume an annual trilateral summit, which was last held in 2019 in China. On the sidelines of the ASEAN meetings, Park also held a bilateral talk with Japanese foreign minister Hayashion having future-oriented relations.
Seoul wary of ‘Pelosi effect’ on ties with Beijing, The Korea Times
In Japan, ties between politics and religion run deep, The Japan Times
In the wake of Shinzo Abe’s assassination, the relationship between Japanese politics and religious groups, particularly the Unification Church, has become increasingly scrutinized. In the past, the Unification Church has provided unpaid volunteer support to some LDP lawmakers on the campaign trail, including the defense minister and Abe’s younger brother Nobuo Kishi. The LDP’s junior coalition partner Komeito also generates much of its support through its connection to the Soka Gakkai Buddhist movement, which has historically been Japan’s biggest and most influential organized voting bloc and a major source of votes for both Komeito and the LDP.
Part of Japan’s new economic security legislation came into effect on Monday amid challenges posed by global technological competition with China and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The two pillars entering effect this week will reinforce supply chains to secure the production of vital products, such as semiconductors, and contribute to the development of AI and other advanced technologies through public-private partnerships. The law’s other two pillars– infrastructure screening by the government and withholding patents of sensitive technologies– will come into force next year. On the same day, the government also launched an inter-ministry and agency office with about 50 personnel to promote economic security.
China cancels bilateral meeting with Japan after G-7 Taiwan statement, The Asahi Shimbun
The Indian government announced Wednesday that the parliamentary panel has withdrawn its controversial data protection and privacy bill. First introduced in 2019, the law proposed stringent regulations on cross-border data flows, giving the Indian government the right to seek user data from companies. The new bill presented introduces a “comprehensive legal framework” that will adhere to global standards of regulation. The decision has received positive feedback, with many agreeing that the amendments will emphasize privacy as a fundamental right for Indian citizens and improve cybersecurity in India’s economic sector.
A decline in demand in Bangladesh’s garment industry has taken a significant hit to its already waning economy. The second highest exporter after China, the decrease in shipment orders from Western markets has significantly impacted both employment rates and Bangladesh’s gross domestic product. As the war in Ukraine continues, Bangladesh authorities are resorting to preserving fuel reserves, which has only exacerbated the reduction of productivity in the garment sector. The energy crisis and the impact of inflation has placed Bangladesh’s economy at severe risk, in turn threatening the nation’s ability to meet global demand.
Indonesia, US begin ‘Super Garuda Shield’ military exercise, The Strait Times
At least 4,000 U.S. and Indonesian soldiers will be joined by forces from Australia, Singapore, and Japan (which is participating for the first time) for a two-week joint military exercise known as “Super Garuda Shield”. The exercise will last until August 14, encompassing army, navy, air force and marine drills, on the western Indonesian island of Sumatra and the Riau Islands. Canada, France, India, Malaysia, South Korea, Papua New Guinea, East Timor, and Britain will participate as observer nations.
Philippines president Ferdinand Marcos Jr. announced on August 1 that the country would not rejoin the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Philippines withdrew from the court in 2019 when it came under investigation for former president Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody “war on drugs,” which has been plagued with allegations of extrajudicial killings by police. The ICC suspended the investigation into the country in November 2021 at Manila’s request. ICC rules only allow the court to investigate member states so long as its own criminal justice system fails to investigate its crimes.
Asean foreign ministers to push for tougher action on Myanmar, The Straits Times
Long a Climate Straggler, Australia Advances a Major Bill to Cut Emissions, The New York Times
Australia’s Parliament passed a bill committing the government to reducing carbon emissions by at least 43 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, and reaching net zero by 2050, which Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said would put the country “on the right side of history.” Many call the commitment long overdue, and just the start of a vital economic transition in a country that is the world’s third-largest fossil fuel exporter. The bill has been called a “springboard” that will require the government to hold itself accountable while creating a framework for investment in renewable energy, and “a huge leap forward” for Australia in its fight against climate change.
The Albanese Government announced the Australian Defence Force (ADF) will undergo a major review for the first time in a decade. The Defence Strategic Review, led by former Australian Defence Force chief Angus Houston and former Labor defence minister Stephen Smith, will be the most comprehensive reassessment of the ADF in 35 years. While China is not specifically mentioned in the review’s terms of reference, the “risk of state-on-state conflict” is outlined as a key factor complicating Australia’s strategic circumstances. The review is expected to be presented to the National Security Committee of Cabinet for consideration by March 2023.
Additional NewsTop U.S. diplomat to arrive in Pacific amid battle for influence with China, Reuters
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is finishing a five-nation tour of Southeast Asia and Africa this week amid growing tensions with China and Russia over Taiwan and the Russia-Ukraine war. He will represent Washington at the U.S.-ASEAN Ministerial Meeting, the East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, and the ASEAN Regional Forum to “emphasize the United States’ commitment to ASEAN centrality.” Blinken will also seek to hold sideline meetings with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen as Washington becomes increasingly concerned with Beijing’s growing influence in the country, particularly its role in the refurbishment of a Cambodian naval base.
Last week, the U.S. Congress passed the CHIPS and Science Act, a funding package which includes $52 billion in subsidies for the semiconductor industry. The act intends to bolster domestic chip manufacturing and enhance American international competitiveness. Companies receiving government subsidies will be restricted from “making any ‘significant transaction’ to materially expand their chipmaking capacity in… countries of concern” such as China. This restriction may force companies to choose between the United States and China for manufacturing and investment. Certain exceptions may be granted to allow “legacy semiconductors,” such as those produced by Intel and Qualcomm, to continue their existing operations in China.
US: ‘All Options on Table’ to Punish Myanmar Junta Over Executions, Voice of America
July 22, 2022
China and Taiwan
China is attempting to prevent United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, from releasing a report on Xinjiang. The report contains over three years of evidence on alleged abuses by Beijing against Uyghurs, including forced labor in internment camps. China has begun circulating a letter among diplomatic missions in Geneva, expressing “grave concern” over the report and claiming it will “intensify politicization…and harm the cooperation between the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and member states.” China is looking for other countries to sign onto the letter, a common practice for building political support within the UN Human Rights Council.
Beginning in April, banks in Henan and Anhui provinces began to suddenly freeze the savings accounts of thousands of residents who the local government accused of participating in illegal activities. Thousands of citizens subsequently protested nonviolently outside of the banks to raise national and international awareness to their situation. In response, the banks announced they would begin a phased release of frozen accounts and assets. These public protests come at a particularly sensitive time for the Chinese Communist Party, as Xi Jinping is expected to assume a third term as General Secretary at the 20th Party Congress this fall and continued zero-Covid lockdowns in major metropolitan areas have created tensions and economic challenges.
Chinese scientists plan ‘disposable’ nuclear reactor for long-range torpedo, South China Morning Post
South Korea and Britain held their first vice-ministerial strategic defense dialogue in London to discuss bilateral security cooperation. Building from the meeting between President Yoon and former PM Johnson which established a framework for cooperation in politics, trade, security, and other areas on the margins of a North Atlantic Treaty Organization gathering on June 30. South Korea and Britain held their first dialogue to implement the defense segment of the framework. Seoul’s Vice Defense Minister asked for Britain’s support for Seoul’s policy for North Korea’s denuclearization. The two sides also discussed the war in Ukraine, personnel exchanges between the two countries’ defense ministries, and expanding cooperation in emerging security areas.
Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin agreed to seek an early settlement on the issue of wartime labor compensation during the first formal sit-down with the new South Korean administration. While a gap remains between the two sides on how to address the long-standing issue, Park stated he will make efforts to produce “desirable solutions” before the liquidation of Japanese corporate assets. South Korea’s top court is expected to issue a ruling on the envisioned liquidation in August or September. The comfort women issue was also discussed at the meeting, as Park and Hayashi confirmed the two governments will accelerate discussions on matter.
New U.S. envoy to Seoul vows to expand alliance, Yonhap News Agency
S.Korea’s first homegrown KF-21 fighter jet takes first flight, The Korea Herald
According to a government and ruling party source, Japan intends to hold a state funeral for the former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. It will likely take place on September 27th at Nippon Budokan in Tokyo. Traditionally tax-funded, it would be only the second postwar state funeral since that of former premier Shigeru Yoshida. This statement sparked debate amongst Japanese citizens over the use of taxes and possible politicization of Abe’s death, compounding ongoing divisions over the late politician’s legacy. A poll by NHK found participants were 49% for and 38% against a state funeral. The Cabinet will announce an official decision on Friday.
According to a preliminary report released by Japan’s Finance Ministry, the country faced its largest half-year trade deficit of 7.9 trillion yen ($57 billion) in the first half of 2022. The deficit was caused by high import costs and energy prices, largely due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as well as the yen’s depreciation. Crude oil and coal imports have risen significantly in the half-year period, and petroleum imports from Saudi Arabia and other countries have more than doubled. To address this issue, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi recently met with his Saudi counterpart to cooperate on stabilizing the global oil market.
Japan logs more than 150,000 COVID-19 cases, hits record high, The Asahi Shimbun
Ranil Wickremesinghe was voted in on Wednesday as the new president of Sri Lanka, amidst the nation’s worsening economic crisis. The lawmakers’ decision was not well-received by the public, who protested the election of yet another elite after months of shortages. While protesters argue that the removal of previous President Rajapaksa was a major achievement, they fear that the election of Wickremesinghe will enable another loss of autonomy for citizens. Some protesters remain optimistic, labeling Wickremesinghe’s pragmatism as a better alternative to Rajapaksa’s populist approach. The rise of a new government provides hope that new economically beneficial policies will be introduced. Otherwise, thousands emphasized their commitment to continuing protests.
Former Prime Minister Imran Khan has renewed calls for new general elections after a surprise victory in Punjab assembly elections. Unofficial results have estimated that Khan’s PTI party will win 16 seats, moreover, the joint party candidate for PTI and PMLQ Chaudhary Parvez Elahi will likely become the Chief Minister of Punjab. These crucial wins have driven Khan to call for snap elections, putting additional pressure on Prime Minister Shebaz Sharif. With Khan adding pressure on the political establishment, he has also begun to put pressure on Pakistan’s military establishment who continues to hold indirect control over Pakistan’s democratic process.
Fake Indian Cricket League Swindles Russian Gamblers, New York Times
Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and Philippine Foreign Minister Enrique Manalo agreed to pursue closer collaboration between Japan’s Self-Defense Forces and the Philippine military in order to strengthen security and coast guard cooperation. During the phone call, the two foreign ministers also discussed the 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague on the South China Sea and confirmed that they will seek a peaceful resolution to the disputes in accordance with the judgment. Foreign Minister Hayashi praised the Philippines for having “consistently complied” with the judgment and showing its “commitment to a peaceful settlement.”
On July 19, Timor Leste’s President Jose Ramos-Horta and his Indonesian counterpart Joko Widodo held a joint news conference where Ramos-Horta shared his hope to have Asia’s youngest country join the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) when Indonesia chairs the bloc in 2023. While Timor-Leste applied for membership to ASEAN in 2011, it has not been admitted yet due to its small economy and relatively high poverty levels. Ramos-Horta is conducting his first bilateral visit as President of Timor-Leste in Indonesia, during which he will also meet with ASEAN Secretary General Lim Jock Hoi.
Australia is retiring its conventional submarines which it had hoped to replace with 8 new models through the AUKUS deal. However, the United States is struggling to meet its own submarine targets due to cost growths and supply chain bottlenecks, leaving the United States with no submarines to spare for sale. The United Kingdom is also facing similar production capacity shortages. Researchers predict that Australia will have to purchase next-generation U.S. submarines that cost AUD$3 billion more than current models. The Albanese government says it continues to explore options and will commit to a purchase plan by early 2023.
At the close of the Pacific Islands Forum on July 15th, the leaders emerged from their retreat smiling, with Albanese crediting Australia’s increased ambition on climate change. Yet despite feelings of optimism and what Albanese called “a good spirit of cooperation and dialogue,” certain questions remain unresolved. Specifically, the prospect of Australia approving new coal projects threatens to drive a wedge once again between Australia and the rest of the region. At the same time, Pacific countries will still meet with China later this year at a post-forum event to consider a region-wide security deal first introduced last May.
China tightens negotiations with Australia over iron ore, The Sydney Morning Herald
‘Catastrophic’ effect on human rights from pandemic says Samoan report, Radio New Zealand
Nancy Pelosi’s plan to visit Taiwan prompts outrage from China, Financial Times
Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, reportedly plans to visit Taiwan in August as a show of support for the island as it faces increasing pressure from China. Members of the Chinese government have repeatedly warned against the trip, including China’s foreign ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian, who stated that China will take “forceful measures to firmly safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity” if Pelosi does visit Taiwan. Members of the U.S. government are divided over whether Pelosi should make the visit. Pelosi’s office did not confirm whether she was planning on following through with the travel plans.
U.S. confronts the reality of North Korea’s nuclear program, The Wall Street Journal
From May 23-24, U.S. intelligence officials, military officers, and security analysts gathered at U.S. Strategic Command in Omaha, Nebraska to assess the threat posed by North Korea as they develop new tactical nuclear weapons that are smaller and are intended for targets within a few hundred miles. This was the first meeting held at U.S. Strategic Command solely focused on the DPRK regime. One takeaway by attendees was to begin thinking of the regime as a deterrence, rather than a disarmament, challenge. The meeting was coordinated by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Defense Intelligence Agency.
U.S.: China not doing enough to avert African food crisis, Voice of America
July 8, 2022
Breaking News: The Assassination of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
On Friday, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe died after being shot while delivering a stump speech in the western city of Nara two days ahead of a national election. The suspect in the attack, Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, was arrested at the scene. He is a former member of Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force and used a homemade gun in the attack. Abe’s assassination came as a shock to Japan and to the world, as the country’s strict gun regulations have made shootings rare. Until Abe’s death, no Japanese prime minister had been killed since the World War II era.
Shinzo Abe obituary, The Guardian
As Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, Shinzo Abe drove an influential host of major political reforms and a globally recognized brand of economic stimulus, “Abenomics.” However, Abe’s greatest achievements lay in foreign policy, where he diversified Japan’s traditional alliances to forge security and economic partnerships worldwide. He strengthened the U.S.-Japan alliance amid pressure from the Trump administration to step up Japan’s contributions and kept the Trans-Pacific Partnership alive following the United States’ withdrawal. Throughout his career, Abe also sought to revise the nation’s constitution – particularly Article 9, concerning Japan’s right to war – but struggled to gain support for the measure among the largely pacifist public.
Suspected gunman says ‘no political grudge’ against Abe, The Asahi Shimbun
Despite shock of Abe’s death, Upper House poll to proceed as planned, The Japan Times
Kishida says shooting of Abe a ‘cowardly, barbaric act’, The Asahi Shimbun
China and Taiwan
Hong Kong’s New Chief Symbolizes Continuing Crackdown on Dissent, The Wall Street Journal
On July 1, President Xi Jinping swore in John Lee as Hong Kong’s new chief executive. Lee is a “hardliner on national security issues” who has also served as a policeman and security official; he previously supported the 2019 bill allowing extraditions from Hong Kong to mainland China. Lee was the only candidate for chief executive in an election decided by Beijing loyalists and “orchestrated by China’s central government.” Following his election, Lee echoed Xi’s rhetoric by emphasizing Hong Kong’s role in “realizing China’s dream of national rejuvenation” and voicing support for a plan to economically integrate Hong Kong with China’s southern provinces.
Chinese Police Database Was Left Unsecured Long Before Hackers Seized It, The New York Times
A leak in the Shanghai police database exposed the personal information of around one billion Chinese citizens and visitors, in the largest known breach of the Chinese government’s computer systems. This information, including names, police records, and records of personal purchases, was discovered for purchase on a public online forum through an anonymous user. While the government has censored mention of the leak on social media and news platforms, this incident comes as citizens increasingly demand that the Chinese government better utilize security measures for information they are collecting.
Wary of China threat, Taiwanese join Ukraine’s fight against Russia, The Washington Post
China Offers Women Perks for Having Babies. Single Moms Don’t Qualify, The New York Times
South Korea’s senior presidential secretary for economic affairs said that the country’s export boom era through China is coming to an end and that it should diversify its overseas export markets. Speaking on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Madrid, Choi Sang-mok argued that South Korea should also expand its economic and security cooperation beyond the United States and diversify to Europe because it hosts new major industries in addition to traditional industries such as chips and steel. Also, it is necessary for South Korea to expand its scope of economic and security cooperation beyond the United States. President Yoon Suk-yeol’s economic diplomacy at the NATO summit has been described as the beginning of “sales diplomacy” for opening up new export channels for South Korea’s flagship industries.
N. Korean leader urges ‘absolute obedience’ to ruling party, Yonhap News Agency
North Korea held its first-ever “special workshop” to strengthen the leadership of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea. The workshop, which took place at the April 25 House of Culture in Pyongyang, aimed to reinforce internal discipline within the party, with Kim Jong-un stressing the importance of “more thoroughly” establishing the “monolithic leadership system” across party and societal lines. Kim also called on party organizations to be absolutely obedient to the leadership of the Party Central Committee, calling it the “main iron rule.” North Korea analysts believe the workshop is meant to strengthen internal cohesion amid challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Korea, US, Japan in sync on security cooperation against NK provocations, The Korea Herald
Korea to open the era of space economy: Yoon, The Korea Herald
Yoon orders military to swiftly punish N. Korea in case of provocations, Yonhap News Agency
Japan’s NATO Outreach Bears Fruit, The Diplomat
Kishida Fumio became the first Japanese prime minister to attend a NATO summit on June 29. In Madrid, he called for a significant upgrade of Japan’s ties with NATO, including upgrading the 2014 Japan-NATO Individual Partnership and Cooperation Program, dispatching Japanese Self-Defense Forces officials to NATO headquarters, hosting Japanese and NATO observers at each other’s exercises, and inviting Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea to NATO summits on a regular basis. Kishida’s strong support for NATO comes after he announced additional sanctions on Russia on June 26.
A record number of women and LGBTQ-identifying candidates are campaigning for seats in the Diet’s upper house, the House of Councillors, ahead of elections on July 10. Competing for 125 open seats in the triennial elections, 181 (33.2%) of 545 candidates are women, along with four LGBTQ candidates. This figure suggests progress toward the government’s goal to reach 35% of female representation by 2025. However, female candidates still cite gender roles, stereotypes, and sexual harassment as barriers to representation. Meanwhile, the Diet appears slow or even resistant toward more inclusive policies on issues like same-sex marriage, even as most Japanese citizens favor its legalization.
Japan to start research on places on moon, Mars for humans, The Asahi Shimbun
Nepal’s Finance Minister Janardan Sharma resigned on July 6 amidst allegations of allowing unauthorized persons to make changes to the national budget prior to its presentation to Parliament. An 11-member committee will investigate the allegations surrounding unlawful discussion of the proposed budget, which was intended for the 2022-23 fiscal year. After allegedly discussing the budget and taxation policy in the presence of private business representatives, Sharma allegedly amended the tax proposals at the last minute. Sharma’s resignation follows significant public pressure for the Minister’s dismissal, and the accusations have since placed the credibility and objectivity of Nepal’s economic priorities in question.
On July 5, Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, declared bankruptcy after months of protests due to shortages of energy, fuel, food, and other basic necessities. During this time, schools have been ordered to close their doors and people not working in essential services are being asked to work from home in order to save what little fuel is left in the country. Sri Lanka has begun negotiations with the IMF, China, Japan, and India on various aid packages, but many citizens continue to protest, and UNICEF recently warned that the nation is nearing a humanitarian crisis.
Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Manila on Wednesday. Many have wondered what kind of relationship the new Philippine president would pursue with China, particularly in regard to the South China Sea dispute. Few details on the discussion have come out; Marcos confirmed that the South China Sea dispute was on the agenda, but said that the meeting’s focus would be on “agriculture, infrastructure, energy, and our commitment to maintaining the strong relationship.” Wang voiced optimism for bilateral ties, stating that “we can surely open up a new golden era for the bilateral relationship.”
This week, foreign ministers will meet in Bali for the Group of 20 (G20) summit. Indonesian president Joko Widodo, who is serving as the summit’s chair, conducted an international tour to persuade attendance after Western countries threatened to boycott due to Russia’s inclusion. Russia has yet to confirm if its president is attending the summit in-person or remotely, while the Ukrainian foreign minister is set to deliver a virtual address. Although the Russian invasion of Ukraine has set the tone of the summit, countries have advocated for issues such as post-pandemic recovery and trade to be on the agenda.
Indonesia raises palm oil export quota as farmers face ‘emergency’ The Straits Times
Albanese vows to confront Putin as Wong confirms first in-person meeting with China, The Sydney Morning Herald
Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong is set to meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the November G20 meeting in Bali. Wong has recently criticized Beijing’s ongoing support for Russia regarding its war in Ukraine. Nevertheless, she said the meeting also presents an opportunity to stabilize bilateral relations, which have deteriorated through trade disputes and diplomatic hostility over the last three years. Wong also plans to lobby Pacific Island nations against entering security agreements with China, following recent remarks from Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare saying he welcomed a permanent Chinese police presence in his country.
In a speech to the Lowy Institute, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said regional architecture such as the Pacific Islands Forum were “critical” in resolving regional challenges. Her remarks come as leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum countries prepare to gather in Fiji next week for an annual meeting and amid growing concern about Chinese influence in the region. Ardern went on to say that while Pacific cooperation should be shaped by various existing agreements and regional groupings, that did not mean that others would not have an interest in engaging with the region, and that it would be wrong to force Pacific Island countries to “pick sides.”
PNG voters angry after being turned away at the polling station, Radio New Zealand
U.S., allies seek to meet Chinese challenge with ‘Blue Pacific’ grouping, Voice of America
The United States, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom launched the Partners in the Blue Pacific initiative in June, with the goal of upholding a free and open, rules-based order in the Pacific Islands amid increasing Chinese diplomatic, economic, and military influence, particularly in the South Pacific. The five countries in the partnership have already provided a combined $2.1 billion in development assistance to nations in the South Pacific, emphasizing transparency and recipient countries’ permission with this aid.
Congress has stalled in passing the CHIPS Act, which would provide financial incentives for Asian semiconductor producers, such as Taiwanese chipmakers like Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company and GlobalWafers, to shift to U.S. manufacturing. American stakeholders have emphasized that CHIPS would enhance the United States’ global competitiveness in technology research and development. However, CHIPS has stalled as lawmakers work to reconcile discrepancies between the versions passed by the two chambers of Congress, as well as disagreements on the necessity of government subsidies for semiconductor companies. Taiwanese executives have signaled that if Congress continues to delay passage, they will “have to adjust [their] plans.”
U.S. Aims to Expand Export Bans on China Over Security and Human Rights, The New York Times
June 24, 2022
China and Taiwan
On June 17, China launched its third aircraft carrier, the Fujian. Named after China’s province opposite Taiwan, the Fujian is equipped with advanced technology, including a catapult launch system for aircraft. China’s other two carriers, Liaoning and Shandong, possess older launch technology. The carrier is part of President Xi Jinping’s mission to overhaul China’s armed forces by 2035, as U.S.-China tensions rise over Taiwan and the South China Sea. Taiwanese authorities view the launch of the Fujian as a signal that China will continue to project its power in the Pacific. Taiwan is in the process of modernizing its own military forces to include an “aircraft carrier killer.”
In their first call since late February, President Xi Jinping again signaled his commitment to strengthening Russia-China relations despite Russia’s ongoing aggression in Ukraine. While Xi refrained from explicit promises of material support to the Russian war effort, he informed Putin that China would “make its own judgments on the issue” and urged both sides to “reach an appropriate resolution.” However, there were competing readouts by Russian and Chinese broadcasters following the call. While the Kremlin’s readout indicated that X noted the “legitimacy of Russia’s actions,” the Chinese readout pointed out that Xi actively promoted peace and stability of the global order, including the peaceful resolution of the ongoing crisis.
Cop 15: UN Biodiversity Conference set to move from China to Canada after Covid-19 delays, South China Morning Post China regions set power consumption records; premier issues warning, Nikkei Asia
6 ways China thinks it can offset zero-Covid impact to get its economy back on track, South China Morning Post
South Korea, US, Japan close ranks amid growing North Korean threats, The Korea Times
North Korea’s growing threats appear to be creating fresh momentum for South Korea, Japan, and the United States to revitalize their trilateral security cooperation following the long-standing diplomatic feud between South Korea and Japan. During their talks in Singapore on June 11, the defense ministers of the three countries agreed to consistently hold tripartite military exercises. This implies a noticeable improvement of Seoul-Tokyo ties, alongside South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin’s public remark on “normalizing” the General Security of Military Information Agreement with Japan at a joint press conference on June 13 with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Korea to open diplomatic mission to NATO, Korea JoongAng Daily
South Korea has decided to establish a diplomatic mission to NATO in Brussels, which coincides with President Yoon Suk-yeol’s participation in the NATO summit in Madrid next week. It will be the first time a Korean leader takes part in a NATO summit, and marks Yoon’s first overseas trip since taking office. According to South Korea’s National Security Office, the mission will help to “increase information sharing” and strengthen relations with NATO allies and partners. At the summit, Yoon is expected to focus on liberal democratic values and security issues, including cyber, aerospace, and maritime security threats.
Defense Minister stresses commitment to supporting local defense industry, Yonhap News Agency
Defense ministry pushes for new post focusing on NK threats: sources, The Korea Herald
Ahead of a NATO leaders gathering in Spain next week, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand are considering holding a four-way summit on the fringes. The potential summit would aim to keep an assertive China in check as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has heightened concerns, as well as focus on realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific and increasing support for Pacific Island nations. If realized, the four-way meeting would add a new dimension to multilateral cooperation to strengthen the ideals of a free and open Indo-Pacific.
Following its policy meeting, the Bank of Japan declared it would maintain its low interest rates and refuse tightening monetary policy. However, in response to sharp depreciation of the yen, the Bank stated it would “closely watch” exchange rate changes. Central banks in Europe have increased interest rates in response to the U.S. Federal Reserve policy, further weakening the yen to 24-year lows. Nevertheless, analysts doubt Japan will have permission from G7 members for a joint intervention, as it could contradict G7 policy that currency rates are to reflect the market.
Japan a no-show as 1st meeting of U.N. nuclear ban treaty opens, The Asahi Shimbun
Pakistan to stay on FATF watchdog’s ‘gray list’, Al Jazeera
The president of the Financial Action Task Force, an international watchdog, announced that Pakistan would remain on its “gray list” of nations. The decision to keep Pakistan on the list, which includes countries that must respond appropriately against money laundering and any actions considered terrorism financing, places Pakistan at significant risk of economic loss. This inclusion may deter investors and creditors, restricting borrowing capabilities and the likelihood of conducting business with global banks. Pakistan will remain on the list until it has formally demonstrated progressive measures.
On June 22, Afghanistan was struck by a 6-magnitude earthquake leaving estimates of 1,000 people killed. In the hardest-hit region, the Paktika province’s Gayan district, most homes offer little protection to villagers, as they are built with mud bricks and primitive infrastructure. Following the Taliban’s takeover of the country, the United States and Europe have struggled to provide assistance to the millions in hunger and poverty as the new government remains unable to keep up with civilian needs. Currently, Pakistan and Iran are the first to deliver humanitarian aid, with convoys of trucks arriving the following day.
On June 22, Myanmar’s defense minister General Mya Tun Oo attended a meeting among ASEAN defense ministers as the bloc remains divided over permitting the military junta government to participate in the group. Cambodia, the current ASEAN chair, has received requests from Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia to exclude the junta until hostilities have ceased in the country. Cambodia stated that Myanmar’s inclusion in the meeting signaled a united ASEAN, while Malaysia’s defense ministry issued a statement that it still did not recognize the junta as Myanmar’s legitimate government.
Indonesian president Joko Widodo is set to visit Ukraine and Russia following the G-7 Summit in Germany, which would make him the first Asian leader to visit both countries during the ongoing conflict. Widodo will meet with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv and Russian president Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Topics discussed at the meetings may include Russia’s blockage of the Odesa port, which has stopped crucial global exports of wheat and maize. Following his visits to Ukraine and Russia, Widodo will conclude his overseas trip in Abu Dhabi.
Malaysia’s palm oil recovery hopes dashed as fertiliser, worker shortages persist, South China Morning Post
US-RMI aim for Compact wrap-up by year-end, Radio New Zealand
The Marshall Islands is one of three Pacific Island countries with a U.S. Compact of Free Association, ceding control of Marshallese defense in exchange for access to U.S. federal programs and grants. Both countries aim to sign a new Compact before the U.S. fiscal year ends to avoid funding disruptions. The United States is keen to renew military access to the islands’ maritime zones as a hedge against expanding Chinese influence in the region. Marshall Islands leaders want the United States to address the consequences of its nuclear weapons testing and to include measures for climate change adaptation and mitigation.
On June 17, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong met with Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare in Honiara, marking Australia’s first high-level visit to Solomon Islands since it signed a controversial security pact with China in April. Wong said she welcomed Sogavare’s reassurances that there will not be “a military base or persistent foreign military presence in Solomon Islands,” and that “Australia remains Solomon Islands’ first security partner of choice and development partner of choice.” In addition to security, their discussions focused on climate cooperation, which follows Australia’s recent announcement to nearly double its 2030 carbon-cutting targets. Wong also announced Australia would donate approximately 200,000 pediatric COVID-19 vaccines to Solomon Islands.
Kiribati govt declares state of disaster due to severe drought, Radio New Zealand
Pro-independence candidates in Tahiti win seats in French National Assembly, Radio New Zealand
Biden Weighs Tariff Rollback to Ease Inflation, Even a Little Bit, The New York Times
U.S. President Joe Biden is considering reducing tariffs on China previously imposed under the Trump administration. Tariff reduction is being considered to lower U.S. inflation, which hit 8.6% in May. In a study from the Peterson Institute for International Economics, removing tariffs on China and other countries could allow a gain of $797 per American household. Government supporters of tariff reduction include Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Opponents include U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, citing that China has offered no concessions warranting a tariff reduction.
On June 22, the American Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan published their annual policy paper recommending the United States to begin talks with Taiwan for a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA), including text for an agreement that would begin in 2024. AmCham Taiwan argued that a U.S.-Taiwan FTA would be a model for other like-minded partners to form their own FTAs with Taiwan, further open Taiwan’s economy, and bolster Taiwan’s chip industry. While a U.S.-Taiwan FTA is unlikely in the near term, high-level trade talks will continue in Washington towards the end of June under a new U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade.
Most land mine use by U.S. military banned, except for Korea, Associated Press