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ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 28/01/2019

ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 28/01/2019

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The Guardian – Dominic Rushe & Lily Kuo / Huawei’s problems deepen as western suspicions mount

  • What began as a trade spat and grievances over corporate intellectual property theft has developed into a global standoff between China and the US over Huawei, involving “hostage diplomacy”, death sentences and allegations of Chinese espionage.
  • US legislators introduced a rare bipartisan bill last week that would ban the sale of US chips or other components to Huawei or other Chinese companies deemed to have violated US sanctions or export control laws.
  • Concerns about Huawei’s relationship with the Chinese government have led US politicians and telecoms executives to call for banning Huawei from the rollout of the 5G network in the US, the next generation of the cellular technology.
  • Poland, where a Chinese employee of Huawei has been arrested on allegations of spying, has called on the European Union and Nato to decide whether to exclude Huawei from their markets. Even the Chinese firm’s sideline business in solar panels is under investigation.
  • Foreign Policy – Keith Johnson / Just how much is China’s economy slowing?

Financial Times – Wolfgang Münchau / The commitment to EU integration must not be underestimated

  • We would be wrong to underestimate the significance of the treaty of Aachen, signed last week by German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Emmanuel Macron. In fact, one of the many reasons why the UK is leaving the EU has been a persistent tendency to underestimate such symbolism.
  • In 1969, EU leaders held a summit to set up a working group, headed by Pierre Werner, to study monetary union. The ensuing Werner Report was an unrealistic road map to a single currency. But it nevertheless managed to put this hugely significant policy agenda on the table.
  • Being in denial about integration does not square with the facts on the ground. There is no doubt about Germany’s ultimate commitment to monetary integration. The Aachen treaty provides no concrete solutions, but at the very least it underlines that commitment.
  • In the discussion on common defense, we may only be at the point where we were in 1969 on monetary integration. Aachen will not shift German political views on defense. But, over time, it could become more acceptable for a German government to raise defense spending targets — so long as this occurs in a European context. The way to a common army is not only paved with good intentions but with many small steps, such as a pooling of defense procurement.

Foreign Affairs – Harold Trinkunas / The Venezuelan opposition’s high-stakes assault on Maduro

  • The Venezuelan National Assembly’s bold and energetic move shows that the opposition has, at least temporarily, overcome its tendency toward self-sabotage and factionalism. Moreover, it has developed a successful new approach to mobilizing discontented Venezuelans against the government.
  • The opposition has conveyed to the armed forces credible assurances that military officers would receive amnesty for any crimes they had previously committed if they supported a transition. And it has signaled to Maduro’s supporters that much of the international community is committed to change.
  • However, Maduro continues to have the support and recognition of its most important international allies: China, Cuba, Russia, and Turkey. In addition, the incentive structure facing the military is still heavily stacked in favor of supporting the government.
  • Maduro may lose his nerve and flee the country. Alternatively, lower-ranking officers may simply gamble on a spontaneous rebellion to force the hand of senior officers, precipitating a violent outcome.
  • But there is also a very significant risk that Maduro will remain in power, although he will be more internationally isolated than ever before. The opposition’s gamble may end with its leaders imprisoned or in exile. This would leave the Trump administration in a very difficult position.

The New York Times – Ivan Krastev / Putin’s next playground or the EU’s last moral stand?

  • “In the Balkans the transition is over,” said Remzi Lani, an Albanian political analyst. “We transitioned from repressive to depressive regimes.” The question now is how these depressive regimes fit into a growing geopolitical rivalry.
  • In the last decade, Russia was actively defending its economic and cultural presence in the Balkans, but it never openly challenged NATO or European Union hegemony. That is no longer the case. Still, the conventional wisdom is that Russia might be a troublemaker but could hardly be more.
  • The conventional wisdom could be wrong. Moscow has sensed a vulnerability in the West’s position in the Balkans: While in places like Ukraine the EU has been perceived as a symbol of change, in the Balkans it’s seen as the defender of a status quo that may be ready for disruption.
  • Moscow wants to replace the EU as the mediator for solving regional conflicts, in the way it is attempting — largely successfully — to replace the US as a mediator in the Middle East. If it wants to remain relevant in the region, the EU should push Serbia and Kosovo to find a compromise.

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces.


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