🌍 The EU's State of the Union
Plus: China opens its doors to Taiwan
⏱️ Around the world in sixty seconds
🇯🇵 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.
🇫🇷 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.
🇹🇻 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.
🇷🇼 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.
🇬🇹 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:
🚗 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.
🤗 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.
🇺🇦 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.
🖊️ 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
“It's ‘political extremism’ to open investigation against Biden, White House says”
🔗 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:
➕ Extra Intrigue
Here’s what people around the world were googling yesterday, 13 September:
🇫🇮 Finnish tech-heads searched for the latest on the new ‘Apple Watch’ launched earlier this week.
🇻🇳 Folks in Vietnam looked up ‘Cháy chung cư mini Khương Hạ’, an apartment building fire which has left at least 56 people dead.
🇹🇷 Turks buffed up on the ‘Reeder Teknoloji halka arz’ (Reeder Tech IPO) after Turkey’s top smartphone manufacturer announced it was going public.
🗳️ Poll time!
Do you think the EU should add more members?
🏁 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.”