🌍 Taiwan proposes to meet the US on US soil to avoid China's ire
Plus: Japan and South Korea reach an agreement over War-era grievances
Hi there Intriguer. Ah, the joys of learning a language. The wonder. The lols. For instance, did you know Charlie & the Chocolate Factory was released in Danish as The Boy Who Drowned In Chocolate Sauce? Or that The Sixth Sense was released in Chinese as He's A Ghost? Something's kinda... lost in translation. Speaking of which: Lost In Translation was released in Spanish as Lost In Tokyo.
Today’s edition is a 4.8 min read:
- 🇹🇼 Taiwan's president opts to meet US officials on US soil.
- 🇰🇷 South Korea and Japan manage to bury the hatchet.
- ➕ Plus: The latest Map of Women in Politics, how the papers are covering the battle for Bakhmut, and the mysterious disappearance of flight MH370, 9 years ago today.
- Valentina, Ethan & Jeremy
🎧 Be sure to check out today’s Intrigue Outloud to go deeper on the French reset of Africa relations, and the breakthrough in Japan's stalemate with Korea.
🗺️ AROUND THE WORLD
- 🇦🇲 Armenia: Five people died as a result of a deadly new clash between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces in the contested region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The incident came just as mediation talks between the two parties were getting underway.
- 🇩🇪 Germany: Berlin is blocking an EU proposal to ban the sale of new combustion engine cars from 2035. To protect Germany's car industry, a party in the ruling coalition is demanding the EU allow combustion cars running on zero emission synthetic fuels.
- 🇧🇩 Bangladesh: A huge fire has destroyed a section of the world’s largest refugee camp in Bangladesh. Around 12,000 Rohingya refugees, most of whom have fled persecution in Myanmar, are now without shelter.
- 🇨🇴 Colombia: The government has successfully negotiated the release of 88 hostages taken during a protest against an oil company. The protesters are demanding Emerald Energy provide compensation for the environmental damage caused by its operations.
- 🇹🇳 Tunisia: The World Bank has announced it is pausing work with Tunisia after anti-immigration remarks by President Kais Saied triggered racist attacks on Black migrants.
🇹🇼 TAIWAN | FOREIGN POLICY
Taiwan nudges US Speaker of the House to meet on US soil
Briefly: Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen will reportedly meet US Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy in the US rather than Taiwan, to avoid another escalation with China. The meeting will likely happen in April, when Tsai is scheduled to pass through the US en route to Central America.
Some context: Tsai’s proposal aims to avoid a repeat of last year’s drama, when former US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan led to China's massive and unprecedented live-fire drills near the island.
McCarthy had previously pledged to do a Pelosi (visit Taiwan, not master the art of sarcastic applause). But Taiwan seems to have quietly steered him to meet in the US instead. They'll likely meet in California (McCarthy's home state), where the optics will be less 'official' and so less provocative from Beijing's perspective.
Intrigue’s take: One can understand the impulse to show solidarity with a small democracy facing an existential threat. But Pelosi's visit to Taiwan last year offered China a pretext to ramp up pressure on Taiwan, while doing little to support Taiwan in practice.
So Taiwan's California solution tries to thread that needle: McCarthy can show US solidarity, without inviting another major escalatory response from Beijing.
Logical, right? But Beijing has its own logic: regardless of location, China says it doesn't want its 'renegade province' meeting the second in line to the US presidency. So either way, we can probably expect more fireworks over the Taiwan Strait.
Also worth noting:
- On Tuesday, China’s new Foreign Minister Qin Gang accused the US of pursuing policies that increased the probability of a US-China conflict.
- The US recently approved a $619M arms procurement deal with the Taiwanese military.
📰 GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES
How different newspapers covered: The ongoing battle for Bakhmut, a strategic town in Eastern Ukraine.
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🇰🇷 SOUTH KOREA | DIPLOMACY
South Korea and Japan agree to heal simmering rift
Briefly: South Korea has agreed to compensate 15 South Koreans forced to work in Japan during World War II, ending a protracted dispute with Japan. A Korean court originally ordered Japanese companies to pay up, but those companies (like Mitsubishi) said their War-era debts had already been settled.
Japan and Korea share a complicated history, owing to Japan’s brutal colonisation of Korea from 1910-1945.
And politicians on both sides have continued to trade jabs over the period’s legacy, in line with the broader public mood: Japanese sentiment towards Korea plunged to records lows recently, while some 72% of Koreans would say the feeling's mutual.
Intrigue’s take: Nothing unites earthlings like a threat from Mars. And nothing unites two nations like a threat from China. While past settlements have yielded only short-lived détentes, this one might last: both leaders have ambitious goals for their partnership in the face of an assertive China on their doorstep.
Meanwhile, US President Biden is clearly happy; it's hard to balance China when your two key allies in the region are barely on speaking terms with one another.
Also worth noting:
- The US, Japan, and Korea conducted joint missile defence drills last month after repeated North Korean missile tests.
- Marking the anniversary of Korea’s independence movement on 1 March, Korean President Yoon said Japan had “transformed from a militaristic aggressor into a partner that shares the same universal values with us.”
🗺️ MAP OF THE DAY
To mark International Women's Day (today!) take a look at the 2023 Map of Women in Politics. It finds that more women than ever now serve in cabinet, but gender parity is still far off.
There are only 13 countries (including Albania and Nicaragua) where women make up at least half the cabinet. And nine (like Azerbaijan and Sri Lanka) with no women in cabinet at all.
👀 EXTRA INTRIGUE
On this day in 2014, Malaysia Airlines flight 370 mysteriously disappeared while travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. And we still know very little about what happened.
- About halfway through the journey, the plane made an unexpected westward turn, and military radars then lost contact with it over the Indian Ocean.
- The first debris from the flight was found by a fisherman off Madagascar, a year after the plane’s disappearance.
- A three-year underwater search failed to find the plane.
🗳️ POLL TIME!
Do you think US Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy should visit Taiwan?
Yesterday's poll: What do you think is the most important policy we need to protect our oceans?
🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 🎣 Stricter fishing regulation (40%)
⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 🛳️ Expedite clean fuel ships (5%)
🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨⬜️ 🧴 Ban single use plastic (37%)
🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 🛢️ Restrict underwater mining (11%)
🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 🖊️ Other (write in!) (7%)
Your two cents:
- 🖊️ R.S: "All of the above. Any one measure is just a slow trickle into the main torrent that is ocean endangerment."
- 🎣 A.P: "Overfishing destroyed our ocean life biosystems and overconsumption of fish has hurt the environment".