🌍 The EU's State of the Union

Plus: China opens its doors to Taiwan

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Hi there Intriguer. Ever left a party without the host noticing? That’s known as ‘leaving French-style’ in half of Europe, while the other half calls it ‘leaving English-style’. But it seems both halves can at least agree on one thing: sometimes you just gotta go.

Today’s briefing is a 5 min read:

  • 🇪🇺 The State of the (European) Union.

  • 🔗 China proposes integration with Taiwan.

  • Plus: An action-packed flag, how the world’s papers are covering an impeachment inquiry into US President Biden, and why Turks are googling ‘Reeder tech’.

¿Hablas español? ¡Check out our weekly edition in Spanish!

⏱️ Around the world in sixty seconds

  1. 🇯🇵 Japan: Prime Minister Fumio Kishida shuffled his cabinet yesterday (Wednesday) for the second time since taking office in 2021. The changes include new foreign and defence ministers, reportedly with an eye on firming up Kishida’s factional support.

  2. 🇫🇷 France: A French regulator has ordered Apple to take its iPhone 12 off the market and recall those already sold, citing high radiation levels. Apple says the phone complies with existing rules.

  3. 🇹🇻 Tuvalu: ​​Several island nation prime ministers are giving evidence before a Germany-based international court, in a case to determine if carbon emissions breach the law of the sea. Tuvalu’s leader Kausea Natano says sea-level rises could make his country uninhabitable.

  4. 🇷🇼 Rwanda: Kigali has signed a deal with a German-Canadian start-up to build a small civilian nuclear reactor. Rwanda signed an agreement with Russia's nuclear agency Rosatom in 2019 to set up a nuclear power plant by 2024.

  5. 🇬🇹 Guatemala: President-elect Bernardo Arévalo announced Tuesday (12 September) he was temporarily suspending the transition process following a raid on several electoral offices. He also called on the country’s attorney-general to resign.

🇪🇺 EU | Politics

Von der Leyen lays out her legacy and vision

You know summer is officially over when European officials are back at it: for European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, it was time for her annual State of the European Union address yesterday (Wednesday).

Didn’t catch the (hour-long) speech? Here are some key points:

  1. 🚗 China - von der Leyen specifically took aim at China-made electric vehicles, whose “price is kept artificially low”; she announced an anti-subsidy inquiry, to avoid the EU’s carmakers meeting the same fate as the bloc’s beleaguered solar sector.

  2. 🤗 Enlargement - the president said the EU must “complete our union” and bring in new states, but she didn’t give a timeline. The current EU ‘candidates’ are Turkey, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Albania, Moldova, Ukraine, and Bosnia & Herzegovina.

  3. 🇺🇦 Ukraine - von der Leyen again promised to back Ukraine "for as long as it takes", with the EU ramping up ammunition production and proposing €50B towards longer-term investment and reform.

  4. 🖊️ Trade - the president also said the EU should aim to wrap up its long-running trade negotiations with Australia, Mexico and Mercosur by the end of the year. As things currently stand, that doesn’t seem likely.

Sometimes speeches are also intriguing for what they don’t say: in this case, von der Leyen didn’t share whether she’ll run for a second term next year.

Intrigue's take: This speech captured so many of the EU’s dilemmas:

  • how to leverage AI without losing control

  • how to uphold standards without strangling productivity

  • how to expand the EU without undermining its integration, and

  • how to decarbonise the economy without an overreliance on China.

Mostly, the EU isn’t alone here. But its ability (or not) to find and nail each sweet spot really will shape its future (plus von der Leyen’s legacy).

Also worth noting:

  • The European Parliament gave von der Leyen a standing ovation after her address, which used English, French and her native German.

📰 How newspapers covered…

An impeachment inquiry into US President Joe Biden

Lagos, Nigeria

“US Speaker McCarthy calls for formal impeachment inquiry into Biden”

Mexico City, Mexico

“It's ‘political extremism’ to open investigation against Biden, White House says”


“McCarthy directs opening of Biden impeachment inquiry over son’s business activities”

Today’s newsletter is supported by: The Daily Upside

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🔗 China-Taiwan | Geopolitics

China plays good cop

China unveiled on Tuesday (12 September) a new plan to deepen ties between its coastal province of Fujian and nearby Taiwan.

The 21-piece plan is designed to “promote the process of [Taiwan’s] peaceful reunification with the motherland,” and includes provisions for:

  • 🎓 Taiwanese students and workers to live, work, and receive social benefits in Fujian without applying for temporary residence

  • 🔀 Social and cultural exchanges between citizens, and

  • 🚧 Joint infrastructure projects between the Chinese city of Xiamen and Taiwan’s Kinmen islands (just ~10km away).

Meanwhile, Taiwanese authorities have reported dozens of China’s warships and fighter jets circling Taiwan this week.

Intrigue’s take: If this all seems like mixed messaging, that’s precisely the point. It’s designed to show the Taiwanese people which options they have: integration by peace, or integration by force.

But Taiwanese citizens are increasingly saying they have a third option in mind: 49% say they want independence (with just 12% seeking unification).

Also worth noting:

  • Polls show Taiwan’s Vice President Lai Ching-te of the independence-leaning incumbent party leading ahead of January’s election.

  • Some Kinmen residents have proposed a bridge to the mainland as part of a broader effort to turn the islands into a demilitarised zone.

Extra Intrigue

Here’s what people around the world were googling yesterday, 13 September:

🗳️ Poll time!

Do you think the EU should add more members?

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🏁 Flag of the day

The Northern Mariana Islands really managed to pack a tonne into that flag. On a light blue background representing the Pacific Ocean, you’ll find a wreath of local flowers around a white star, to symbolise its status as a US commonwealth. The latte stone pillar represents the local Chamorro people.

Extra fun fact: The Northern Mariana Islands actually used the UN flag between 1947 and 1965, when the territory’s status was still uncertain.

Intrigue rating: 9.1/10

Yesterday’s poll: Which Big Tech firm do you think is the world's most influential today?

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 🇺🇸 Google/Alphabet (50%)

⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 🇨🇳 Huawei (2%)

🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 🇺🇸 Apple (15%)

⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 🇹🇼 TSMC (6%)

⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 🇰🇷 Samsung (1%)

⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 🇺🇸 Microsoft (6%)

⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 🇺🇸 Nvidia (4%)

🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 🇺🇸 Amazon (13%)

⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 🇨🇳 Tencent (2%)

⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ ✍️ Other (write in!) (1%)

Your two cents:

  • 🇺🇸 N.K: “You go through Google to get to all the rest of these...”

  • 🇹🇼 D : “If TSMC were to stop production suddenly, the resulting chip shortage would grind much of the world’s economy to a halt, and there’s really no one currently able to challenge or replace them.”

  • 🇨🇳 S.M: “Tencent's share of the global entertainment industry cannot be underestimated.”


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