The World This Week

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The World This Week
Macron's China Visit, Tsai's US Visit, Artemis-II Mission and OPEC's Crude Oil Cuts

  GP Team

The World This Week #208, Vol. 5, No. 12

France and China: The Macron-Xi meeting 
Femy Francis

What happened?
On 5 April, French President Emmanuel Macron, along with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, arrived in China for a three days visit to meet with President Xi Jinping. The visit was aimed at garnering peace amid growing tensions. Macron told President Xi during the visit: "I know I can count on you to bring Russia back to reason and everybody to the negotiation table."

He also said: "We do not simply want an end to the conflict, but respect for Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, which is the only condition for lasting peace." Whereas Xi Jinping said France and China "have the ability and responsibility to transcend differences and constraints" and that "China is willing to call on the international community, along with France, to maintain rationality and restraint, and avoid taking actions that will further escalate the crisis or make it out of control," China- France bilateral trade has grown in the past few years and amid new tensions, France hopes to continue the development of "balanced and mutually beneficial" economic and technology cooperation with China. 

What is the background?
First, the French hope for China for Ukraine-Russia reconciliation. Since the war, several EU counterparts have not only supported the Ukrainian cause but also looking for peace. Macron wants to arrest the mounting tension between China and the West. Macron's spokesperson said: "China is the only country in the world capable of having an immediate and radical impact on the conflict, in one direction or the other." France observes China as a vital "game-changer" in the war and the only country that could put effective diplomatic pressure on Russia.

Second, China's position as a neutral actor and peacemaker. China released a twelve-point peace plan. The document does not directly condemn anyone but vaguely urges peace. The document reflects China's complex international interests. This document comes from the Western allegation that China supports Russia, while the two hold years of diplomatic relationship with trade, weapons and economic exchanges. On the other hand, Beijing cannot openly support the Russian cause as it brings China under Western sanctions and affecting access to Western technology, finances and market.

Third, France's de-hyphenated China approach. The major focus of the Macron-Xi meeting included de-escalating the Ukraine war and reigniting trade and economic relations with China. Von der Leyen stressed the need to "de-risk" trade with China. Macron arrived with 50 French business and cooperate delegates to discuss the future of economic and business investments. Both countries agreed to promote cultural relationships by announcing 2024 as the "China-France Year of Culture and Tourism." Besides brokering peace, France aims to relaunch an economic strategic partnership with the second largest economy China.  

What does it mean?
First, China is unlikely to side with the European cause for Ukraine. Macron's visit is less likely to change China's stance. 

Second, China is the only country with credible access and influence on Russia. Beijing has urged to refrain from using nuclear weapons and to opt for a peace plan. As Russia remains isolated and shunned by the world, Beijing is the only gateway to reach Moscow. 

Third, China's economic advantages cannot be ignored. China is a big market and vital for France's trade development, and therefore Europe wants to reignite economic relationships benefiting both. While talking about the Ukraine issue, the meeting also focused on mending their bilateral ties with China, de-stressing the hostilities towards Chinese trade and development, which was furthered in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine war.


Taiwan: President Tsai meets with US Speaker, despite the Chinese threats McCarthy 
Avishka Ashok

What happened?
On 5 April, the US Speaker of the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, met with the Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in South California. Tsai said: "The unwavering support reassures the people of Taiwan that we are not isolated, we are not alone. To preserve peace, we must be strong." The meeting is part of Tsai's 10-day visit to Central America.

Before the meeting, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued multiple warnings urging the US to cancel the meeting and threatened to take retaliatory measures. On 6 April, the Foreign Ministry accused Tsai and McCarthy of promoting the notion of Taiwanese Independence. The statement read: "In response to the seriously wrong acts of collusion between the United States and Taiwan, China will take resolute and effective measures to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity."

On the same day, China's aircraft carrier Shandong conducted a drill 200 nautical miles from Taiwan's East Coast. Before the meeting, other Chinese navy vessels also passed through the Bashi Channel and entered the Pacific. China also sent a large-scale patrol and rescue vessel for a three-day joint patrol and inspection operation in the central and northern Taiwan Strait.

What is the background?
First, the significance of the meeting. The last meeting between the Taiwanese President and a Speaker of the US House took place in August 2022 when US Speaker Nancy Pelosi met Tsai in Taipei. Before Pelosi's visit, a meeting of that level only took place 25 years ago, in 1997. The meeting with McCarthy was also scheduled in Taiwan but was later rescheduled to take place in the US. The visit is also Tsai's last in her political capacity as the President.

Second, China's previous reactions to similar visits and meetings. In response to Pelosi's visit to Taiwan, the Chinese People's Liberation Army and Navy conducted months-long military drills in the Taiwan Straits. The duration of these drills has been extended numerous times while the incursions into the Taiwanese territories have also surged in the last year. In 2022, the PLA was responsible for 1727 incursions into Taiwan's ADIZ. Compared to the 960 incursions in 2021 and 380 incidents in 2020, there is a definite uptick in the Chinese military's activities around the island.

Third, the frequency of visits. After Pelosi's visit, the number of political meetings between the Taiwanese government and foreign diplomats has increased relatively. In September 2022, five French lawmakers landed in Taipei, followed by a German delegation in October 2022.

Fourth, Taiwan's attempt to shore up alliances. On 26 March, Honduras announced its decision to sever ties with Taiwan and accept the one-China principle to support its weakening economy, which was bound to benefit through relations with the PRC. In 2021, Nicaragua also severed ties after receiving a USD 100 million loan from China. After the sudden departures in diplomatic ties, Taiwan is now left with 13 allies from the Americas and Africa.

What does it mean?
First, looking beyond relations with the US. Tsai's trip to Central America and the US is seen as an attempt to shore up and maintain relations with its remaining allies in light of Honduras' decision to sever ties. For the Taiwanese administration, this is a crucial moment to broad base its support for itself against China. The meeting with McCarthy also signifies the US support and defiance against China.

However, the change in venue for the meeting is also seen as the US attempt to pacify China by not holding the political meet-up in Taipei or the US capital city. Even though the US Speaker and other lawmakers participate in meetings with the Taiwanese administration, the country does not recognize Taiwan as a sovereign country. However, the US deems it necessary to display its defiance towards China by continuing its engagements with Taiwan.

Lastly, China's Taiwan Conundrum. China is expected to react aggressively in the Taiwan Strait as the increase in political conferences makes the CPC wary of promoting the idea of two separate Chinese sovereign territories. Despite its stringent requirement to adhere to the one-China principle to pursue relations with the PRC, foreign delegates meeting the Taiwanese executives threatens its standing as the People's Republic of China. However, the military drills are as far as China can go to establish its discontent with the meetings.


Space: NASA announces crew for the Artemis II mission
Harini Madhusudan

What happened?
On 3 April, NASA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) announced the four astronauts chosen for the Artemis II mission. The mission is scheduled for 2024 and will mark the first crewed mission of the Artemis series of Moon missions towards establishing a long-term human presence on the lunar surface. The crew will be the first spacecraft with humans to travel towards the Moon or beyond the low-Earth orbit since Apollo 17. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said: "The Artemis II crew represents thousands of people working tirelessly to bring us to the stars. This is their crew, this is our crew, this is humanity's crew." 

The approximately 21-day lunar flyby mission will be aboard the Orion MPCV spacecraft using the Block 1 variant of the Space Launch System (SLS). Commander Reid Wiseman, Pilot Victor Glover, Mission Specialist 1 Christina Hammock Koch, and Mission Specialist 2 Jeremy Hansen were announced during an event at Ellington Field near NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. NASA's Artemis mission manager stated, "The unique Artemis 2 mission profile will build upon the uncrewed Artemis 1 flight test by demonstrating a broad range of SLS and Orion's capabilities needed on deep space missions."

What is the background?
First, a brief background to the Artemis missions. The primary aim of the Artemis mission is to establish a long-term presence on the Moon with the goal of extending human reach towards interplanetary movement in deep space. The program is led by the US National Aeronautics and NASA and three partner agencies - ESA, JAXA and the Canadian Space Agency. The renewed interest in the Moon comes when the space industry is thriving with more space players, a reduction in mission costs, and the increased participation of the commercial space industry. During the Artemis II mission, the four crew members would perform extensive testing in Earth orbit, including the various checkouts of the spacecraft's life support systems and an in-space rendezvous and proximity operations demonstration. The mission will set the tone for the Artemis III crew landing mission.

Second, the return to Moon after five decades and its significance to reach MarsEarlier, the US had a series of Apollo missions to land humans on the Moon. The Apollo programme had 11 spaceflights, six of which landed 12 astronauts on the Moon. These missions conducted scientific experiments and sample collections to understand the lunar surface. The renewed interest and political support for Moon missions began in the 2010s. NASA renamed the programme Artemis and under the leadership of Donald Trump's Space Policy Directive 1, NASA focused on lunar missions. This directive allowed for an integrated program with private sector partners for a human return to the Moon, with an eventual goal of reaching Mars and beyond. Challenges of funding and perfecting the technologies remained one of the primary reasons for the delay. 

Third, the geopolitical importance of Lunar presence. Two blocks have emerged with varied interests in the Moon. One is the commercialized US-led Artemis Plan, and the second is the Sino-Russian plan for a lunar research system. The goal of establishing a permanent human presence on the Moon remains constant for both sides. The Moon offers the perfect base for interplanetary travel. The resources of the lunar surface, the moon mining and the lunar orbits provide a commercial value for lunar exploration. While international cooperation remains divided, the development of space technology and private industry participation would speed human advancement towards the Moon.

What does it mean?
Apollo 8, was the first mission to circle the Moon, and Apollo 13 was the only Apollo mission that flew past the Moon by a free-return trajectory. The mission is expected to test the technology, the space suits and other technical details to ensure the existing knowledge of space can be verified. If Artemis II succeeds in the free-run trajectory, plans of taking humans beyond the Moon would be strengthened. 

Second, Artemis II data would help understand Orion spacecraft's ability to protect astronauts from radiation and keep them safe. The mission will prove that the critical life support systems of the spacecraft are ready to sustain humans on longer duration missions. However, the mission delays may continue to affect the Artemis programme. Experts estimate that Artemis II is likely to be delayed until 2025.


OPEC: Reducing crude oil production 
Ankit Singh

What happened?
On 3 April, the 48th Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC) of OPEC members noted additional voluntary production adjustments whereby OPEC+ countries will reduce crude oil production by 1.66 million barrels/day (b/d). As of October 2022, total crude production worldwide was 82 million b/d. Saudi Arabia, which will drive the largest production cut by 500,000 million b/d said that voluntary reduction was a precautionary measure to support the stability of the oil market. As of October 2022, total crude production worldwide was 82 million b/d.

The production cuts come amid the recent statement by the US energy secretary on 24 March when she said that the US could take years to refill its strategic petroleum reserve contrary to what the Biden administration claimed on refilling the reserves soon. A spokesperson for the National Security Council of the Biden administration said: "We don't think cuts are advisable at this moment given market uncertainty - and we've made that clear."

What is the background?
First, the US is seen as an oil price speculator. Owing to the Ukraine-Russia crisis, the US has far released up to 180-million-barrel oil from its strategic petroleum reserve in a coordinated effort among 31 members of the International Energy Agency (IEA). However, that distorted the revenue of OPEC+ members who lost customers. The US is also considering bringing legislation known as NOPEC, which will enable the seizure of OPEC's assets on the US territory if market collusion is proved.

Second, the OPEC unity. During the 1970 oil crisis, the struggle to maintain monopoly was asserted by OPEC countries and this time, the OPEC members united again over sanctions on Russia. Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iraq (all OPEC+ members) are three of the five countries which produce 51 per cent of the total crude oil production in the world. The leverage of OPEC as an oil cartel is crucial for OPEC+ countries to assert their weight in oil pricing dynamics and desire for interdependence on the West.

Third, oil networks and data. According to the OPEC annual report 2021, OPEC produced 55.1 per cent of net annual crude oil production, and 73.2 per cent of the crude oil from OPEC goes to Asia (India and China). According to a Financial Express report, market intelligence firm Kpler was quoted saying that the market share of Asia in buying crude oil from OPEC+ was 61 per cent in 2017. Therefore, the production cuts will induce short-term distortion. However, in the medium term, the prices will stabilize as the oil network is not entirely insinuated to West's version of recovery.

Fourth, the banking Crisis in the West. Following the recent banking crisis in advanced economies, crude oil has fallen below USD 70 per barrel since 2021, and oil rich economies do not want damage to their revenue in current uncertainty. Signs of a recession were perceived strongly contrary to rebound and push from the West.

What does it mean?
First, strategic decoupling of oil markets of OPEC+. Increasing oil production coordination among OPEC+ member countries indicates that West Asia is retrying to use its oil sovereignty to remain a stakeholder in West-led growth rather than remain a victim.

Second, Saudi Arabia and its autonomy: Following reconciliation with Iran, Saudi Arabia is utilizing the scope of diversifying its multi-pronged approach with hegemons. The trend will be utilized by other developing or resource rich countries.

Third, the effects of production cuts will not be the same. The effects might bring more inflation in advanced economies, gazing at an uncertain recovery. Global south countries which have shied away from fully supporting the West version of the Ukraine-Russia crisis will get comfort from the Russian oil buffer. India has already announced cuts in windfall taxes on the sale of oil; this will keep oil marketing companies from going to any loss, and market sentiment will not remain that uncertain.


News from around the World
Regional Roundups

 

East and Southeast Asia This Week
China: CDC urges WHO to follow scientific impartiality for Covid origin tracing
On 8 April, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urged the World Health Organisation to follow scientific impartiality when tracing the origins of Covid-19. They reiterated to refrain from politicizing the source of the virus and that it should not be used as a tool. CDC director Shen Hongbing said: "Some forces and figures who instigated and participated in politicizing the origin-tracing issue and attempting to smear China should not think that the eyes of the scientific community around the world will be fooled by their clumsy manipulation."

Myanmar: Christian pastor detained over terrorism and illegal assembly charges
On 7 April, the Junta detained a high-profile Christian pastor for six years. He was charged with terrorism and illegal assembly. Since the military coup, they have detained those considered threats to the regime. Pastor Hkalam Samson, over the years, has expressed outrage against the religious persecution. He faced charges for three years of terrorism. The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners estimated that 20,000 people had been arrested against political charges since the coup.

South Asia This Week
India: King of Bhutan visits New Delhi
On 4 April, the King of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, met Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi as a part of a two-day visit to India. Both leaders discussed developmental reforms of Bhutan, rail connectivity, shared national interests, and investments. Minister of External Affairs, S Jaishankar tweeted: "Honoured to welcome His Majesty the King of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, on his arrival in India. His visit will further strengthen the close and unique India-Bhutan partnership." Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said: "India and Bhutan remain in close touch and close coordination relating to our shared national interests, including security interests."

India: ISRO successfully tests reusable space plane prototype
On 2 April, ISRO announced the completion of its second round of experiments designed to prepare its robotic Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) space-ready. It was conducted in a test facility owned by the country's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in Karnataka. The 21-foot-long reusable space plane was airlifted by a Chinook helicopter, flown by the Indian Air Force, to an altitude of 2.8 miles. In January 2021, ISRO unveiled plans to build reusable rocket-launch technology before the end of this decade, which is "one of the most technologically challenging endeavors of ISRO."

India: South Korean Foreign Minister's visit
On 7 April, South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin arrived in India for a two-day visit. The visit marks 50 years of India-South Korea diplomatic relations. He met the Indian Minister of External Affairs, S Jaishankar, and discussed the vision of the Indo-Pacific and shared interests on global and multilateral issues, including the Ukraine conflict. They also discussed various issues, including trade and investments, defense, S&T, energy, space, semiconductors, emerging technologies, and cultural exchanges.

Nepal: Foreign Secretary visits China
On 6 April, Nepal's Foreign Secretary Bharat Raj Paudyal met China's Foreign Minister Qin Gang in Beijing. Both sides discussed bilateral issues. He also participated in the 15th meeting of the Bilateral Diplomatic Consultation Mechanism. According to the statement released after the meeting: "Both sides took stock of the existing Nepal-China bilateral relations and cooperation and deliberated on the ways to further expand and consolidate cooperation in various areas, including the exchange of bilateral visits, economic cooperation; promotion of trade, investment and tourism," It added: "The Chinese side agreed to encourage Chinese investors to make investments in mutually beneficial areas."

Pakistan: Thar's contaminated water, local people suffering
On 4 April, Activists from the Thar region announced that excessive levels of toxic metals were found in drinking water, which has poisoned the waters. Thar is considered the least developed region in Pakistan, and over the past few years, it has become the destination for coal projects to aid the energy woes. The high level of mercury, lead and arsenic in water is blamed on the environmentally harmful mining process. This has resulted in local people suffering from health problems without being properly treated.

Pakistan: Iran's Taftan Bazarcha Business Gateway to open on a trial basis
On 8 April, authorities will reopen Taftan Bazarcha Business Gateway on a trial basis which was closed in 2014 over security reasons. Business leaders of the Quetta Chamber of Commerce and Industry (QCCI), which have long demanded the reopening of the gateway, have reached Taftan to make arrangements. QCCI senior vice president mentioned that reopening the Bazarcha Gateway will prove a breath of fresh air for local businesses.

Central Asia, Middle East and Africa This Week
Caucuses: Armenia and Azerbaijan no longer towards definitive peace
On 3 April, it was reported that Azerbaijan continued to block traffic into Nagorno-Karabakh for almost four months. This move has left more than 120,000 Armenians stranded in the region. Recently, the country is said to have pressured Armenia by blocking the alternative movement route. In February, the International Court of Justice had negated the Azerbaijan government's reasoning for the blockade and ordered them to end it. The blockade has begun to affect the local population with food, healthcare, and energy supply shortages. Tensions between the two countries are expected to continue rising.

Iran and Saudi Arabia: Iran's new ambassador to UAE; Foreign Ministers hold talks in Beijing
On 4 April, Iran appointed Reza Ameri as the new ambassador to the UAE after seven years. UAE had downgraded its relationship after Saudi Arabia's downfall of diplomatic relations with Tehran. On 6 April, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud and Hossein Amirabdollahain, the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and Iran, respectively, met in Beijing for the first formal talks since China brokered an agreement. The joint statement spelt that the "technical teams will continue coordination to examine the ways of expanding cooperation including resumption of flights and bilateral visits… and granting of visas." Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning reiterated China's support to improve relations between the regional rivals and called on the international community to help resolve differences in the Middle East.

Kenya: Opposition demands review of the constitution
On 6 April, Kenya's opposition Azimo coalition demanded a review of the constitution to be a part of the discussion the government had proposed to end the protests in the country. Opposition leader Raila Odinga stated that they will demand a review of the constitution "to remove the last vestiges of an imperial presidency." He mentioned Kenya's "winner-take-all culture." In February, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua was criticized for referring to the government as a company having large stakes and others as none at all. Later, he defended himself  claiming that he was referring to government appointments, which he said must be given to people who support the President's agenda.

South Africa: Government to revoke the national state of disaster
On 5 April, the South African government decided to revoke a national state of disaster that it declared in February to address the power crisis. There had been widespread concern that the decision would further corruption in the state-owned power company, Eskom. It has been facing scandals and is more than USD 20 in debt. The government says that it can deal with the crisis through existing legislation. The opposition criticized the decision as accepting corruption in the power sector.

Nigeria: China Development Bank new financier of a rail project
On 5 April, Nigeria's senate approved the China Development Bank as the new creditor for a one billion worth rail project. Another Chinese company was due to fund the line between Kaduna and Kano, but it pulled out in 2020. Funding has been a major constraint during former President Muhammadu Buhari's term, though he prioritized upgrading the poor transport network and power supply. As president-elect Bola Tinubu takes over in May, he has to deal with many challenges, including double-digit inflation and widespread insecurity.

Europe and the Americas This Week
Russia: Military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky killed in a "terrorist" bombing
On 2 April, a Russian military blogger popular for his daily reporting of the developments of the War on the ground, was killed in St Petersburg. He was also a part of the militia in 2014 in Donbas. He was killed when an explosive device concealed in a gift statuette exploded during an event. More than 30 people were reported wounded. The woman who handed the gift to him has been detained and was identified as Darya Trepova, who is known to be a supporter of Alexey Navalny. She has been charged with a terrorist attack. President Putin awarded him the Order of Courage, and the Wagner Group listed him as their company's roster posthumously.

Europe: NATO foreign minister meet focused on threat rising from China's ties with Russia
On 05 April, NATO Foreign Ministers continued the meeting for the second day. The meeting focused on China's relations with Russia, where the NATO Secretary General highlighted how the legal aid of China to Russia would have "profound implications." According to him, although China stands aloof from objecting to Russia in the invasion, its growing trade partnership despite sanctions raises concerns. The discussion also focussed on the impact of war in the Indo-Pacific and "global ramifications." During the meeting, a proposal of keeping two per cent as the minimum defence target was also pledged as many EU member states, such as Germany, is yet to meet the target. On 04 April, in the NATO Foreign Affairs, the Ministers are expected to discuss increasing aid and a "muti-year support programme" to support Ukraine in moving out from the Soviet era and going forwards into Euro-Atlantic integration. The meeting is also expected to involve a discussion with Ukraine's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kuleba in boosting cooperation in the Asia-Pacific.

Lithuania: Parliament passes resolution to invite Ukraine to join NATO
On 06 April, Lithuania's Parliament adopted a resolution for the upcoming NATO summit and invited Ukraine to join NATO. The document mandates the need for Ukraine to join NATO: "to sign accession protocols, and launch the ratification process once conditions allow." According to the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Chairman highlighted how Ukraine could add value to Lithuania's security and strengthen NATO.

Ukraine: UNHRC resolution demands information on missing children
On 04 April, the UNHRC issued a resolution asking for access the information on the missing children and civilians who were reported to be transferred into the Russian-occupied territory. In the resolution, Russia was demanded to: "cease the unlawful forced transfer and deportation of civilians and other protected persons within Ukraine or to the Russian Federation." Apart from this, the UNHRC voted on extending the investigation of war crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine.

Europe: NATO declares the membership of Finland
On 04 April, NATO announced the joining of Finland as its 31st member. Finland and Sweden applied for NATO membership in May 2022, stepping out from the military non-alignment stance. Upon membership, the Finnish flag will be raised at NATO headquarters in Brussels. According to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the move assures security in Finland, Nordic and overall, NATO. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said in response to Finland's accession that Moscow would strengthen its military capacity.

Italy: Proposes to ban the use of English and foreign words in formal communication
On 01 April, Italy's Prime Minister Georgia Meloni defended the Italian language, and the national identity proposed new legislation to penalize those who use English and other foreign words in official communications. The fine will be between EUR 5,000 and EUR 100,000. The legislation has been condemned by Italy's most renowned scholars of Italian linguistics and philology. A member of Italy's lower Chamber of deputies, Fabio Rampelli, tweeted: "In the lower chamber of deputies we speak Italian, we continue our battle for the use of our language instead of English." This new proposed legislation has pushed for a conservative approach to virtually ban English words from public administration, schools, and universities. The proposed legislation is yet to go for parliamentary debate.

US: SDA launches military communications and missile tracking constellation
On 2 April, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was launched carrying ten military satellites, including two built by SpaceX to low-Earth orbit. This marks the first launch of new military communication and missile tracking constellation built by the Space Development Agency (SDA). SDA is a US Space Force Organisation created to accelerate the use of commercial space technologies in military systems. SpaceX was awarded a USD 150 million contract in 2020 for two launches dedicated to Tranche 0 satellites; the second launch, Trance 1, is expected to be completed in June with 18 satellites.

The US: Wisconsin elects liberal judge to Supreme Court ahead of rulings on abortion ban
On 4 April, Janet Protasiewicz, a liberal candidate, won in judicial elections, the campaign before the elections was heavily dominated by debates and discussions on abortion rights. According to Reuters, the judicial election in Wisconsin was the most expensive judicial election; around USD 42.3 million were spent on campaigns. With her election, the court majority will tilt to libertarian control after 15 years. 

The US: Biden cautions safe adaptation of AI-related technologies
On 4 April, US President Joe Biden, at the start of a meeting with science and technology advisers, said: "Tech companies have a responsibility, in my view, to make sure their products are safe before making them public." There is a growing debate in the US over the risks of AI to mental health risks to individuals without attending to safeguards. Last month, several tech leaders, including Tesla founder Elon Musk and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak called for a pause on the rollout of AI.  


About the Authors
Harini Madhusudan, Rashmi Ramesh, Akriti Sharma and Ankit Singh are PhD scholars in the School of Conflict and Security Studies at the National Institute of Advanced Studies. Padmashree Anandhan, Anu Maria Joseph, and Femy Francis are Research Associates at NIAS. Avishka Ashok is an independent scholar from Mumbai.

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