Southeast Asia and South Asia
The political crisis in Sri Lanka intensified this week. Last month, President Maithripala Sirisena replaced Prime Minister Wickremesinghe with Rajapaksa by dissolving the parliament and calling for elections. The ousted Prime Minister questioned this move unconstitutional, while the two Prime Ministers both claimed themselves legitimate. This week, the pro-China candidate Rajapaksa approved $50 million deals with Chinese firms on a port upgrade project this week. Sri Lanka is not only one of Beijing's targets in the Belt and Road Initiative, but also a strategic region for India. Thus, China and India may closely monitor Sri Lanka's political institution. On the other hand, domestic farm prices in India are falling, resulting in losses of rural votes for Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In the forthcoming state elections, a coalition government may take place. In Myanmar, a boat carrying 93 Rohingya Muslims who fled from camps was seized on their voyage to Malaysia. If Myanmar does not address the root causes such as Rohingya citizenship and legal protection, most refugees will not come back as the repatriation plan expects. Additionally, the monsoon rains are almost over and the weather is calmer; hence, it is expected to have a new wave of fleeing tries.
Things to watch: how can the Sri Lankan president manage to not reinstate Wickremesinghe if he wins the parliament majority; whether there would be a coalition government in India.
The Middle East
Chad, a Muslim majority country in north-central Africa, announced that they will recognize Israel and establish diplomatic ties. It is possible that Chad’s decision to recognize Israel will spur neighboring countries such as Niger and Sudan to do the same. Earlier this week, a British doctoral student was sentenced to life in prison in the United Arab Emirates allegedly for espionage. He was given a full pardon days later and has now returned to the UK. This might lower the number of British tourists taking vacations in the UAE. The Senate voted 63-37 on Wednesday to advance a resolution aimed at limiting US involvement in the war in Yemen. Instead of condemning Saudi Arabia, President Trump has in recent days thanked the Saudis for keeping oil prices low. Furthermore, It is likely that it will be vetoed by President Trump if this resolution is passed by the Senate and Congress. The Trump administration wants to maintain the US-Saudi alliance and has warned that conducting military action against Iran is a viable option in dealing with the revolutionary Shiite Muslim power.
Things to watch: whether other north-central African countries would establish diplomatic ties with Israel; whether Trump would veto the resolution condemning Saudi Arabia if it passed through Congress.
Taiwan’s local referendums and elections showed not only the increasing disapproval rate of Tsai and DPP but also the increasing popularity of keeping the name of Taiwan’s athletic team as Chinese Taipei, and the increasing popularity of voting against same-sex marriage having equal footing as heterosexual marriage. This shows Taiwanese people’s exercise of their democratic right and they are prioritizing of the athletes’ future rather than world image. At the same time, after the local elections, the United States sent two Navy ships through the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday during the third such operation this year, as the US military increased the frequency of transits through the strategic waterway despite opposition from China. The voyage risks further highlighted the tensions with China and will likely be viewed in Taiwan as a sign of support from U.S. President Donald Trump's government amid growing friction between Taipei and Beijing; however, it may not affect as much on cross-Strait relation in light of the local election and China’s stance on it.
Regarding Japan, the government will aim to convert the Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF)'s Izumo-class helicopter carriers into vessels capable of operating fighter jets and the ships will be deployed to defend the country's remote southwestern islands and counter China's maritime expansion into the Pacific Ocean and other waters.
Things to Watch: The rise of Japanese military power and their effects on the balance of power in the South China Sea; effects of Taiwan’s local elections on Tsai’s policies.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan said in a conference call with reporters Monday that an additional 69 migrants were arrested on the California side, while nearly 1,000 people ran through vehicle lanes or tried to cross at other parts of the border. The situation becomes violent and chaotic as the US police fired tear gas into Mexico on Sunday. Tensions will grow between the US and Mexico over this immigration issue and spark more protests from the migrant side.
The Trump administration escalated U.S. pressure on Nicaragua, sanctioning President Daniel Ortega’s wife and vice president, Rosario Murillo, and expanding its power to impose financial penalties on those connected to a regime. Washington accused the Nicaraguan regime of its widespread corruption and deadly political repressions. This sanction from the US on Nicaragua aims to pressure Nicaragua government to hold a new election that shall be fair and free, but the power of the sanctions remain questionable.
Argentina and China are aiming to close a deal within days for the construction of the South American nation’s fourth nuclear power plant, a multi-billion dollar project that would cement Beijing’s deepening influence on a key regional U.S. ally. This potential deal between China and Argentina could strengthen the economic and diplomatic ties between two countries. The deal at this time may also give China some confidence for the upcoming G20 meeting to settle some deals with the US on the trade conflicts.
Mexican President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), a left-wing Labor Party representative, will take office this Saturday, December 1. As AMLO promised in the elections, he will put an immense amount of effort into anti-corruption campaigns. Washington Post commented on this: “A new Mexican president takes office Saturday riding a wave of anti-corruption furor.” Corruption has long been a drag in Mexico and even in Latin America, and it shaves an estimated two percentage points off Mexico’s GDP per year. Obrador’s policies on anti-corruption will perhaps help Mexico’s economy and even the anti-corruption process in Latin America, and his policy direction will be very different from the current administration.
Things to Watch:
Caravans’ final destination; The effect of sanctions on Nicaragua; China’s influence in South America; New Mexican President’s policies on anti-corruption.
Former South African finance minister Pravin Gordhan on Monday filed a police case against opposition leader Julius Malema for allegedly inciting violence, and said it was now up to the police officers to investigate. Malema and Gordhan are both important figures in the country that is quickly developing. The combination of the attack on one’s dignity will only affect their own unity and needs to be prohibited.
Chinese nationals of the Kenya Overseas Chinese Association residing in Kenya donated foods and other daily necessities to more than 100 needy Kenyans on Tuesday, as a way of celebrating the bond between the two countries. China and Kenya always have a good relationship, presidents Xi Jinping and Uhuru Kenyatta have met three times in the past three years.
At the same time, Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa will host the high-level forum with China next week. Ethiopia also expressed high hopes to hold the Africa-China business forum on December to further deepen ties between Chinese and African businesses. Chinese companies are aspiring to create more business partnerships with Africa, especially the countries that are part of the Belt and Road Initiative. African countries like Kenya and Ethiopia are also hoping to take the leading position with China.
On Thursday, the World Bank’s emulation on Nigeria indicates that the World Bank expects Nigeria’s economy to grow slightly less than 2 percent this year, which means a deceleration of GDP growth rate. The World Bank said that higher oil exports had helped current account data in the first half, but non-oil revenue had come in lower than expected despite reforms to improve the economy. The non-oil industry and services sectors make up more than half of Nigeria’s economy. The pace may come back as Nigeria keeps developing their non-oil sectors.
Things to watch: The Africa-China Business forum on December&The actual result of Nigeria’s GDP and evolution.
On the latest news regarding the Ukraine-Russian crisis, Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko asked the NATO to deploy warships in the Sea of Azov for protecting Ukraine sovereignty and independence. In response, the Russian Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov claimed that this is clearly aimed at further tensions. The president responded that the only language Putin knows is the unity of the western world. The Russian aggression had been confirmed, and the western countries are likely to deal with such matter seriously by unity. Russia is heading to a more authoritarian-ultranationalist orientation in the western value. The Ukraine President can also gain more popularity for himself through this accident.
Regarding the post-Brexit UK, US President Donald Trump showed concerns about the Brexit deal and doubted it would help the bilateral trade agreement between the US and UK. Under the latest Brexit agreement, UK must still follow EU rules if the nation seeks to sign all forms of trade agreements with other nations until 2021 January. Besides the strong opposition from May’s conservative party and the Labour Party, US now started to doubt the validity and efficiency of such “divorce” plan. US is the current single biggest export market for the UK, and it is extremely important for US to sign a bilateral trade agreement with the UK without any EU interventions. However, this would only happen until 2021 under the latest Brexit agreement.
Things to Watch: The response of the NATO; the attitude of President Trump towards the Brexit deal.