The World This Week

Photo Source: South China Morning Post
   NIAS Course on Global Politics
National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS)
Indian Institute of Science Campus, Bangalore
For any further information or to subscribe to GP alerts send an email to

The World This Week
China's Three Child policy, the US ban on investments in China, Biden's support for COVAX, and Israel's new government

  GP Team

The World This Week #122, Vol. 3, No. 23

Dincy Adlakha, Keerthana Rajesh Nambiar, Vibha Venugopal, Udbhav Krishna P

China: Following the census, a new three-child policy
What happened?
On 1 June, President Xi Jinping chaired a meeting with the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee. The meeting resulted in a major policy shift, marking an end to the two-child policy and raising the limit to three children per couple. 

On 2 June, Xinhua, the official state-run media agency, conducted an online survey asking "#AreYouReady?" to which more than 90 per cent of the respondents replied they were "not ready to consider" having three children. 

What is the background?
First, the latest census report. On 11 May, The National Bureau of Statistics in China released the Seventh National Population Census. It confirmed with numbers what many experts had been warning for years. In 2020, China recorded the least population growth in more than six decades; and the lowest number of births since 1961. The fertility rate dropped to 1.3 children per woman, which is lower than the required 2.1 replacement rate. Low retirement ages have reduced the working population of China, and with the increased percentage of the elderly population, China is now a greying society. The census brought out the complications of an ageing population and a shrinking labour force. 

Second, the impact of the earlier one-child policy. The one-child policy of 1979 has left deep marks on the Chinese demography. Stringent laws,  sterilization, and abortions have led to highly coerced family planning. The one-child policy created a generation of overburdened individuals who have to support elderly parents, spend on education and child care for their offspring(s), and pay instalments of their costly housing mortgage debts. The two-child policy of 2016 did not improve the declining birth rate. In the few families with two children, parents are forced to leave one of their children in villages with their old grandparents due to the high cost of living in cities and harsh working hours. It is now a norm to have only one child. 

Third, the socio-economic factors. When China witnessed its highest growth rate, it was an agrarian economy with low life expectancy and high infant mortality rate. The highest population growth was recorded between 1949 and 1957 when China was recovering from World War II and excessive poverty. More children in a family meant more hands to work in the field/factories. Over time, the medical facilities have improved which helps people to live longer and children to stay healthier. The average age when women get married has shifted from less than 20 during the 1950s to around 29 in 2020. An older average age of getting married means fewer children. A typical citizen is now more aware of their capabilities to raise. Parents now choose to provide a good life to one child rather than an average one to two children.

Fourth, the response to the policy. The three-child policy is facing severe apprehension from young couples who do not wish to expand their family; they demand supporting mechanisms to lighten their burdens and uplift their living standards. Families that earlier paid fines for having two/three children are now agitated over the timing of this new policy. Amnesty International calls it a violation of sexual and reproductive rights, saying: "Governments have no business regulating how many children people have". Many experts have shown their distrust in the policy, calling it 'hollow'. 

What does it mean?
This decision is two decades too late. The desired growth rate of the population seems a distant reality. But the policy may lead to a rural-urban divide in terms of birth rate, employment pressures, and poverty. The failure of the two-child policy makes the success of this new policy suspicious. However, the immediate question is, how far will the state go to make the policy appealing to young couples? 

The US: President Biden bans American investments in Chinese companies
What happened?
On 3 June, US President Joe Biden signed an executive order sanctioning investments in Chinese companies with alleged ties to defence and surveillance technology firms. In this order, the US government expressed concerns over Chinese technology companies both inside and outside China facilitating "repression or serious human rights abuses" and "unusual and extraordinary threats" - of religious and ethnic minorities. Biden prohibited US investors from investing in 59 Chinese companies, originally 31 in former President Donald Trump's list. 

On 4 June, at a press briefing, China strictly opposed Washington's move and declared the US had 'unscrupulously suppressed' and restricted Chinese companies. The ban will take effect from 2 August 2021, giving investors one year to withdraw. 

What is the background?
First, the case of sanctions against Chinese entities. The trade restrictions were initiated under the Trump administration, wherein the US investors were banned from buying or selling publicly traded securities from those companies. Trump's sanction prohibited the leading smartphone maker, Huawei, and Hikvision, a major manufacturer and supplier of facial-recognition technology, both of which have been retained in the new order. TikTok was initially issued with a set of restrictions after both Democrats and Republicans in Congress claimed that the app posed a national security threat and US federal employees should elude from using it on government-owned devices.

Biden's new executive order includes major Chinese firms that were on the previous executive order list like Huawei, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology, and Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC). SMIC has enhanced China's domestic chip sector. TikTok was eluded from the new list; the Biden administration has not taken any steps to neither accept nor deny that the Chinese government could be hoarding sensitive data of Americans. Xiaomi was also excluded from the list after successfully lobbying against its inclusion on the Trump-era list and dismissing claims that they were tied to the Chinese military as groundless. 

Second, Biden following Trump's China footsteps. Biden's policies have always been reversing Trump's from the day he took over the office. From successfully withdrawing the army in Afghanistan to resuming warm relations with Europe, rejoining the Paris climate agreement, returning to the Iran nuclear deal, eliminating tariffs on European goods, and so on. But Biden seems to be following in the footsteps of Trump when it comes to China. It is the broadest executive order targeting Chinese tech entities after the issue of re-investigating the origins of Covid-19. 

Third, the Chinese resistance. China is the US' largest trading partner, and it is proven that the economies of China and the US are inseparable. Wang Wenbin, the spokesperson for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, remarks that this order compromises the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies and the interests of global investors, including the US. The US will quickly be losing its resources amid increasingly sour relations between the world's two most powerful countries. 

What does it mean?
First, the new order is one of the most aggressive moves against China that the Biden administration has adopted. It advances many of the tactics used by the Trump administration in its efforts to stay competitive with China. 

Second, this order takes the world a step closer to strategic decoupling with significant implications in the global financial sector. 

Third, political clashes have already soured tensions between the two countries. American financial firms are going to face difficulties while they sort out the ties to these Chinese firms in the coming future.

The US: Biden extends support towards the global COVAX Program
What happened?
On 3 June, US President Joe Biden issued a statement on the Global Vaccine Distribution, published by the White House. He said: "My administration supports attempts to temporarily waive intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines because, over time, other firms will be needed to produce life-saving doses of proven vaccines that are distributed fairly."

He further provided details about the allocation of the first 25 million doses of the vaccines that look at global coverage and the needs of the most vulnerable countries. At least 75 per cent of these doses—nearly 19 million—will be distributed through COVAX, with about 6 million doses going to Latin America and the Caribbean, 7 million to South and Southeast Asia, and 5 million to Africa. The remaining doses, totalling little over 6 million, will be distributed directly to countries suffering surges, those in crisis, as well as other allies and neighbours such as Canada, Mexico, India, and the Republic of Korea. 

What is the background?
First, The status of COVID across the globe. Developed countries like the US, Europe, and China in the early 2020s were the first to be struck by the severity of the pandemic. The surge in cases resulted from their global interconnectedness, which involved large-scale travel and tourism. But with their timely public health interventions, they were able to prove effective and have relatively since then been able to prevent to an extent the overwhelming surge of COVID – 19 cases and relatively stabilize the situation. The lack of equipment required to care for COVID-19 patients, such as personal protective equipment, oxygen supply, pulse oximeters, ventilators, ICU beds, has harmed many healthcare and public health systems. In developing countries, the situation has worsened. 

Second, the status of vaccination. It's no easy effort to vaccinate the entire world against COVID-19 and keep it immunized. An estimated 70 per cent of any given population must have been vaccinated or should generate antibodies to the virus to establish adequate immunity. The world has undoubtedly agreed to end the pandemic by vaccinating everyone. Still, the pros and cons can be seen in terms of the operationalization of the plan or the extent to support it. Only 14 per cent of the Latin American population, 4.8 per cent population in Asia, and just 1.2 per cent in Africa have been vaccinated. These underfunded vaccine efforts will surely put countries to reimagine their vaccination efforts.

Third, the WHO statement on the Global Vaccine Initiative. The idea of the WHO stands on a new commitment on Vaccine Equity and Defeating the Pandemic. On 2 June, Director-General of WHO in his speech at the G7 Global Vaccine Confidence Summit, said: "To put an end to the pandemic, we need to eliminate and vaccine inequities want everyone to get immunized everywhere. This would require increased funding for equitable global vaccine distribution and sharing technology and know-how."

Fourth, the charge of hoarding. Since the early days of the pandemic, when the first batch of vaccinations was approved for emergency use across, many countries like the UK, EU, and Canada started hoarding. They started negotiating with manufacturers before the clinical trials were finished, in some cases even before the trials were completed. It can be said that these countries were forced to release these vaccines over criticism for not assisting the massive rise in cases in developing countries. 

What does it mean?
Biden's administration has surely put across something on the table by initiating this program but is it too late, or too little for them to do so? However, it falls well short of meeting the entire world's immunization requirements. Rather than risking the world's health at the mercy of the coronavirus's mutant whims, more countries must step forward to ensure equal access.

Israel: End of Netanyahu era 
What happened?
On 31 May, far-right party leader Naftali Bennett threw support behind a 'unity government' in Israel to unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

On 2 June, Israel's opposition cobbled together an eight-member coalition of right-wing, leftist, and centrist parties with a thin majority in a bid to end Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's 12-year run. 

On 3 June, after his rivals reached an agreement on forming a new government in Israel, Netanyahu signaled that he would not go down without a struggle. He called the proposed new diverse coalition that would oust him a "dangerous, left-wing government."

What is the background?
First, Israel's electoral system. The 120 members legislative assembly, the Knesset, has a nationwide proportional representation system. Rather than electing individual candidates, voters cast ballots for an entire party. Due to such a system, one single party gaining a majority is very unlikely. This system results in many parties coming together to form a coalition government. After the fourth election in two years, Netanyahu's Likud Party and coalition allied parties could not cross the 61-seat threshold. Thus, the opposition leader Yair Lapid was given 28 days to form a coalition government by the Israeli President on 5 May. 

Second, Yair Lapid as an alternative to Netanyahu.  Lapid's party finished second to Netanyahu's right-wing Likud, with 17 seats in an inconclusive 23 March national ballot. He was given a 2 June deadline from the Israeli President to announce a new government. Lapid's chances of success rested largely with Naftali Bennett, 49, a former defense chief and tech millionaire whose Yamina party's seven seats in the Parliament was enough to gain him the status of kingmaker.  According to the BBC, under a rotation arrangement Naftali Bennett, would serve as a prime minister until 2023 before handing over to Lapid.

Third, the new coalition. It contains eight very different political parties -  Yesh Atid (centrist) - led by Yair Lapid (17 seats), Kahol Lavan (Blue and White) (centrist) - led by Benny Gantz (eight), Yisrael Beiteinu (center-right to right-wing nationalist) - led by Avigdor Lieberman (seven), Labor (social-democratic) - led by Merav Michaeli (seven), Yamina (right-wing) - led by Naftali Bennett (seven), New Hope (center-right to right-wing)- led by Gideon Sa'ar (six), Meretz (left-wing, social-democratic) - led by Nitzan Horowitz (six), Raam (Arab Islamist) - led by Mansour Abbas (four) with affiliations from left to the far right are working together. United Arab List (Raam) party, whose leader Mansour Abbas won four seats in the Knesset, became the first Arab party to join a right-leaning coalition in Israeli history. 

Fourth, a likely agenda for the new coalition. Members are diverse members and do not have anything in common other than removing PM Netanyahu from his 12 years' run as Prime Minister. The issues facing Israel are substantial: economic recovery from the pandemic, contentious issues like Palestinian statehood, religion and society. 

What does it mean?
Will the coalition succeed? The coalition is diverse, and Netanyahu's likely response. While it is easier to build a coalition against a single person, it would be difficult to sustain. On the other hand, Netanyahu will try to break the fragile coalition government and remain in power because losing his constitutional position would be troublesome due to the corruption charges against him. He would want his country to go for a fifth election to gain more right-wing votes after the recent Gaza conflict.  

Also, in the news …
By Sukanya Bali and Avishka Ashok

East and Southeast Asia This Week 
China: Economic and trade talks begin with the US 
On 2 June, the Chinese Vice Premier and the US Treasury Secretary held a second virtual discussion on trade and the economy. Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesperson said the talk had a "smooth start." After the long-imposed trade restriction, the US and China once again started negotiations, in the field of trade and economy. According to Xinhua News Agency statement, the economic relationship between the US and China is "very important" and "the two sides had broad discussions over the macroeconomic situation and multilateral and bilateral cooperation with an attitude of equality and mutual respect and candidly exchanged views on each other's issues of concern."

China: WHO approves Sinovac vaccine
On 1 June, WHO validated the Sinovac vaccine for COVID-19 for emergency use giving the countries, agencies, and funders assurance of international standards of safety, efficacy, and manufacturing. WHO Assistant-Director General said: "The world desperately needs multiple COVID-19 vaccines to address the huge access inequity across the globe" and "We urge manufacturers to participate in the COVAX Facility, share their know-how and data and contribute to bringing the pandemic under control." WHO had in the past already listed the Pfizer/BioNTech, Astrazeneca-SK Bio, Serum Institute of India, Astra Zeneca EU, Janssen, Moderna, and Sinopharm vaccines for emergency use.

Hong Kong: Tiananmen Park blocked to prevent gathering on 32nd anniversary 
On 4 June, Hong Kong police blocked a former British colony's Victoria Park, to prevent people's gathering for the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. The police also arrested the vigil organizer. Across the city, thousands of police were deployed over the concerns of the unrest. Vice-chairwoman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China was arrested over concern for promoting an unauthorized assembly. Reuters reported, an executive member of the alliance said: "She only wanted to go to Victoria Park, light a candle and commemorate." Authorities warned the arrested citizen could face five years of imprisonment

Japan: Tokyo Olympics gets a green signal amid COVID-19  
On 3 June, the Japan Olympic organizing committee ruled out the suspension of the Game. Committee President said: "We cannot postpone again." So far, the postponement had already cost an extra USD 3.5 billion. Earlier this week, on 2 June, more than 10,000 volunteers for Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games had quit. In a series of polls conducted, the majority of citizens had opposed hosting the Games.

Myanmar: ASEAN envoy meets junta chief 
On 3 June, two envoys from the ASEAN Secretary-General and the Foreign Minister of Brunei held talks with Myanmar military ruler. The meeting aims to resolve the crisis in Myanmar since the 01 February coup. Opposition leaders said ASEAN envoys should meet with them as well, just not only the military. The party spokesperson said: "Any discussion, any meeting about the future of the people of Myanmar must include the people of Myanmar, (their) voices must be heard."

Malaysia: China accused of breaching airspace 
On 31 May, Kuala Lumpur accused China of breaching its sovereignty. Foreign Minister criticized "intrusion" to which China spokesperson said: "activities are routine flight training of the Chinese air force and do not target any country" and "according to relevant international law, Chinese military aircraft enjoy the freedom of overflight in the relevant airspace." The Straits Time reported: "Malaysian Foreign Minister said they had entered the country's 'maritime zone' - an area that extends much further from the coast - and described the incident as a 'breach of the Malaysian airspace and sovereignty.'"

South Asia This Week
India: Hosted BRICS Foreign Minister virtual meeting 
On 01 June, India hosted the virtual meeting of BRICS Foreign Ministers. In the meet, India's Foreign Minister emphasized the key principles guiding the grouping. India's Foreign Minister said: "We strive for a fair, just, inclusive, equitable, and representative multipolar international system. It is one based on international law and the UN Charter, that recognizes the sovereign equality of all States, and respects their territorial integrity while displaying mutual respect for interests and concerns of all." The meeting discussions focused on reforming the multilateral system, counter-terrorism cooperation, and enhancing people-to-people cooperation.  Leaders also shared concerns over the COVID-19 situation in India.

India: World Bank report of melting glaciers in the Himalayas
On 4 June, The Hindu reported, according to the World Bank's new research "Black carbon (BC) deposits produced by human activity which accelerates the pace of glacier and snowmelt in the Himalayan region can be sharply reduced through new, currently feasible policies by an additional 50% from current levels." The report titled, "Glaciers of the Himalayas, Climate Change, Black Carbon and Regional Resilience," extensively cover the Himalayas, Karakoram, and Hindu Kush Mountain ranges which are melting faster. The report said: "BC is a short-lived pollutant that is the second-largest contributor to warming the planet behind carbon dioxide (CO2). Unlike other greenhouse gas emissions, BC is quickly washed out and can be eliminated from the atmosphere if emissions stop."

Sri Lanka: Chemical cargo ship sinks after two weeks of fire 
On 2 June, a cargo ship with tons of chemicals sank off Sri Lanka's west coast. On the same day, the government suspended fishing along 50 miles stretch of coastline, affecting 5,600 fishing boats. Reuters reported the fire erupted on 20 May, in the MV X-Press Pearl cargo, carrying 1,486 containers, including 25 tons of nitric acid along with other chemicals and cosmetics. The ship was on its way to Singapore via Colombo and was anchored off Sri Lanka's west coast. Navy spokesperson said: "The towing of the fire-engulfed X-Press Pearl ship was stopped due to the rear end of the vessel hitting the seabed."

Pakistan: Fourth trilateral meeting with Afghanistan and China
On 4 June, China, Afghanistan, and Pakistan Foreign Ministers held their fourth trilateral meeting. The three countries agreed to advance cooperation along COVID, jointly fight terrorism and reaffirmed their commitment to the Belt and Road Initiative, Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA), The Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process (HoA/IP), and other regional economic initiatives. They also highlighted Afghanistan's need to pursue a "moderate Muslim policy." The joint statement issued after the talk stated: "The three sides underlined the importance of a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Afghanistan and called on all parties in Afghanistan for an early declaration of a comprehensive ceasefire and an end to the senseless violence, to create the conditions needed for negotiation between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban."

Afghanistan: UN report says "Taliban and Al Qaeda remain closely aligned"
On 1 June, UN Monitoring Team released a report which highlighted, "the Taliban and Al-Qaeda remain closely aligned and show no indication of breaking ties." The report stated that "While the Doha agreement has set some expectations for a break in the longstanding relationship between the Taliban and Al Qaeda, the publicly available text of the agreement does not define expectations, and its annexes remain secret." It also said: "Member States reported that a significant part of Al Qaeda leadership remains based in the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the core is joined by and works closely with Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent." Tolo News reported: According to UN member state information, "Al Qaeda is resident in at least 15 Afghan provinces, primarily in the east, southern and south-eastern regions, and are led by Al-Qaeda's Jabhat-al-Nasr wing under the direction of Sheikh Mahmood."

Central Asia, Middle East and Africa This Week
Armenia: Trilateral working group with Azerbaijan and Russia suspended
On 1 June, the Deputy Prime Minister of Armenia announced in the Parliament that the trilateral working group, which includes Azerbaijan and Russia, had suspended all operations on the construction of new transportation routes. He said: "When the situation on the border is like it is, I don't think that constructive work is possible in this format. Contacts in this format have stopped, we will see what happens in the future." The obstacles in negotiating the reopening of the borders between Armenia and Azerbaijan and the current suspension of construction of transport routes showcase a potential instability between the two countries. 

Iran: Foreign Minister blames the US for arrears and delay in payments
On 3 June, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif expressed his discontent after the country's voting rights were suspended in the United Nations. He used the social media platform Twitter and said: "Iran's inability to fulfill its financial obligation toward the United Nations is directly caused by 'unlawful unilateral sanctions' imposed by the United States." In January 2021, the UNGA announced the suspension of Iran's voting rights as it had failed to pay its arrears. On 28 May, the UN Secretary-General allowed for the resumption of voting rights if the conditions which led to delay in payments were uncontrollable. According to Zarif, the UN's decision to suspend Iran's voting rights are "entirely unacceptable and completely unjustified."

Syria: OPCW report accuses Assad government of using chemical weapons 
On 3 June, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, an international chemical weapons watchdog, reported that despite Syria signing the convention against the use of chemical weapons, the country may have been untruthful regarding its stocks and production. The report highlighted 17 instances of definite usage of chemical weapons. The organization intended to investigate "the presence of chemical weapons agent found in samples collected in large storage containers in September 2020." However, the team's visa applications and the official notification for inspection were rejected by the Syrian administration. On the same day, the Russian Ambassador to the UN accused the organization of being influenced by the Western countries and said that the report had several factual and technical errors. He said that the information used in the report came "from biased sources opposed to the Syrian government."

Egypt: Government donates building equipment to rebuild Gaza
On 5 June, the Egyptian state television announced that the government had sent a convoy of engineers and building equipment to Gaza to begin rebuilding the city after massive destruction had been caused by engaging in the conflict with Israel. Approximately 50 vehicles, including bulldozers, cranes, and trucks waited in line on the border to enter the Gaza Strip. 
Iran: Houthis held responsible for stranded oil tanker on the verge of explosion

On 1 June, the Houthi government in Yemen blamed the UN for the collapse of the negotiations on taking responsibility for the stranded oil tanker. The oil tanker which has been stranded off the shore of Yemen since the 1980s contains more than one million barrels of crude oil and is currently at the risk of exploding or spilling into the ocean. The UN, however, has held the Houthi regime responsible for neglecting timely checks and assessments of the ship. There is an increased risk of sinking as the water has already entered the engine compartment and has not been maintained in the last six years. According to the executive director of the UN Environment Programme, "It is estimated that up to 670,000 people's livelihoods could be impacted by a spill, and resulting in the damage to fisheries, to marine resources, coastal industries as well as to the economy and food imports."

Mali: Military regime faces suspension from the AU, ECOWAS, and French military operations
On 4 June, the Armed Forces Ministry in France issued a statement and suspended all military exercises with the Malian forces. The French military spokesperson said: "Demands and red lines have been set by ECOWAS and the African Union to clarify the framework for the political transition in Mali. It is up to the Malian authorities to respond quickly." On 1 June, the Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU) suspended Mali's membership in the organization and threatened to impose sanctions on the military regime. The Peace and Security Council spokesperson said: "The AU decides to immediately suspend the Republic of Mali from participation in all activities of the African Union, its organs and institutions, until normal constitutional order has been restored in the country." On 31 June, the ECOWAS held a meeting in Ghana and agreed to suspend Mali from the regional bloc after the second military coup in the last nine months. 

Namibia: Vice-President and Genocide Association Chief express discontent over German reparation efforts
On 5 June, the Vice-President of Namibia responded to the German infrastructure program and called it an inadequate compensation for the genocide. He said: "We need to recognize that the amount of 1.1 billion euros agreed upon between the two governments is not enough and does not adequately address the initial quantum of reparations initially submitted to the German government." The Chairman of the Namibian Genocide Association also expressed anger and resentment towards the German government and said: "If the German government wants to reconcile, they need to give us our dignity back. But that can't happen as long as they are excluding us."

Ethiopia: UN reports high possibility of famine in the Tigray region
On 1 June, Al Jazeera reported a warning issued by the United Nations which claimed that over 91 per cent of the population in the Tigray region or 5.2 million people required emergency food aid. The World Food Programme made an appeal for USD 200 million to help fight the extreme levels of hunger in the region. The WFP spokesperson said: "WFP is alarmed at the impact of conflict on already high levels of hunger. We are deeply concerned at the number of people we see in need of nutrition support and emergency food assistance." The region faces a high risk of famine as more than 90 per cent of the harvest and over 80 per cent of the livestock was lost during the looting and destruction caused by the war with the Ethiopian and Eritrean forces. 

Europe and The Americas This Week
Russia: Nord Stream 2 to complete construction in two months
On 4 June, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that the Nord Stream 2 will complete its final construction in the coming two months and be ready to pump gas to Germany. After multiple US administrations sanctioned the project, President Joe Biden eased sanctions and encouraged the plan. In response, Putin said: "I think it should be completed especially given that the new US administration speaks of its intention to build up good relations with its key partners in Europe. How can you build good relations with your partners and neglect their interests? This is a nonsense."

Russia: President bans leaders of the extremist organization from participating in elections
On 4 June, President Vladimir Putin passed a law that restricts leaders of extremist or terrorist organizations from contesting elections for a period of five years. The law which was passed on the birthday of the Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny is targeted at his organization which was declared as an extremist organization in the previous week. Other members and employees of such organizations will face a three-year ban. The new law is seen as an attempt by the Russian government to ban the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) before the parliamentary elections in September. 

Turkey: President Erdogan announces discovery of new natural gas deposits
On 4 June, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that over 135 billion cubic meters of natural gas had been discovered at the Amasra-1 offshore well in the Black Sea. The recent discovery brings the total amount of gas discovered last year to 540 billion cubic meters. Turkey plans to independently begin production in this part of the sea in 2023. The country currently depends on imports to supply the demand of 50 billion cubic meters of gas every year. The demand is predicted to rise by 60 per cent. The recent discoveries will help in cutting down on gas bills by approximately USD 44 billion. 

Denmark: The UN and EU express concerns over new immigration law 
On 4 June, the immigration speaker of the government in Denmark referred to the newly passed law on asylum seekers and said: "If you apply for asylum in Denmark, you know that you will be sent back to a country outside Europe, and therefore we hope that people will stop seeking asylum in Denmark." The new law passed by the country enables it to move asylum seekers to other partner countries. The development has drawn criticism from the UN and the European Commission. An EU spokesperson said: "External processing of asylum claims raises fundamental questions about both the access to asylum procedures and effective access to protection."

Honduras: President announces shifting embassy to Jerusalem
On 4 June, President Juan Orlando Hernandez announced that the Honduran Embassy in Tel Aviv will now move to Jerusalem, a move that violates international laws. Honduras chose to tighten the bond with Israel as it believed it to be the next step in enhancing relations with the country. Hernandez said: "We are going to formalize what we have already carried out step by step, which is the installation of our embassy in Jerusalem."

Brazil: Copa America set to take place in Brasilia amid growing number of COVID cases
On 5 June, the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country reached 17 million and deaths caused by the virus reached 47,000. Brazil is preparing to host the Copa America international football tournament in the country's capital in the coming week. Brazil was chosen as the venue in May 2021 after Colombia and Argentina had to back out of hosting due to civil unrest and a spike in COVID-19 cases, respectively. However, the decision to choose Brazil as the venue is being criticized by the international community as it has the third-highest number of cases and second-highest number of deaths caused by the virus. Along with fighting the pandemic, the country is also facing great economic and political hardships. As a result, South American footballers, politicians, medical helpers, and others have expressed discontent over the decision to let Brazil host the tournament. 

The US: NASA announces two missions to Venus 
On 3 June, NASA announced that it was sending two new robotic missions to Venus after decades of inactivity related to the hottest planet of the Solar System. The last US-led mission to the planet was in 1978. The missions are called DAVINCI+ (Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging) and VERITAS (Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy.) The DAVINCI+ will investigate the atmosphere of the planet and determine if it was ever habitable. The VERITAS will attempt to capture the geological history by mapping its surface.

About the Authors
Dincy Adlakha, Keerthana Rajesh Nambiar, Vibha Venugopal, Udbhav Krishna P and Joeana Cera Matthews are research interns with the Global Politics course in the School of Conflict and Security Studies at the National Institute of Advanced Studies. Sukanya Bali and Avishka Ashok are Research Associates at NIAS. 

Print Bookmark


November 2022 | CWA # 838

Rishma Banerjee

Tracing Europe's droughts