EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 11/02/2020

Foreign Affairs – Elizabeth Economy / The coronavirus is a stress test for Xi Jinping

  • Several calls for the resignation of Xi Jinping have popped up on the Chinese Web in recent weeks, from citizens who accuse the country’s leadership of bungling the state’s response to the deadly coronavirus. These critical posts have disappeared almost immediately.
  • The coronavirus outbreak is on track to become the worst humanitarian and economic crisis of Xi’s tenure, but the Chinese president is certainly not likely to resign. In fact, Xi has spent seven years in power building a political system designed to withstand such a crisis.
  • Beijing has worked hard to bring the international community into line, responding to global anxieties with its trademark mix of diplomatic confidence and coercion. At Beijing’s direction, the WHO has refused to allow Taiwan to participate directly in briefings on the coronavirus.
  • Beijing remains as committed to stemming the free flow of information as it is determined to fight the actual virus, even when these are in clear conflict. Its determination to control the flow of information between China and the rest of the world led it to reject several offers of help made by the international community.
  • Financial Times – Nic Fildes / Coronavirus cancellations rock world’s biggest smartphone event

The Economist / The risk of Britain leaving the EU with no trade deal remains high

  • According to Michel Barnier, the EU is ready to offer a zero-tariff, zero-quota free-trade deal, if Britain observes EU rules on state aid to companies and on environmental, workplace and labour standards, allows EU access to British fishing waters and accept a dispute settlement mechanism with the ECJ in it.
  • Boris Johnson dismissed these demands in muscular terms. He wants a free trade-deal like Canada’s. But just as Canada is not bound by stringent level playing-field conditions, Britain should not be. If a Canada-style deal cannot be negotiated, then Britain would be happy to trade with the EU like Australia (ie. no-deal and WTO terms).
  • The question is whether reaching a deal is possible, even if both sides prefer a deal to no-deal. Geopolitics urges a deal too: nobody in the EU wants Britain to drift off across the Atlantic or towards Asia. Despite chatter from some of his allies, there is little sign that Mr Johnson favours either.
  • The Washington Post – Andreas Kluth / Germany is one of the biggest Brexit losers

Politico – David M. Herszenhorn and Simon Marks / African leaders call for home-grown counterterrorism force

  • African leaders from the violence-scarred Sahel region agreed to work to create their own joint counterterrorism capabilities – an initiative that highlights the growing discomfort with the presence of French troops in the region.
  • The idea reflects a deepening resolve, expressed by the African Union’s leadership, that African nations must handle their own affairs. Leaders lamented the lack of coordinated counterterrorism capabilities, particularly in the Sahel. Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa announced that the AU will hold a special summit in his country in May dedicated to ending armed conflicts on the continent as well as to combatting terrorism.
  • Assembling an effective force to counter the terror threat in the region will be challenging. Troops often have poor training, low wages and dwindling morale due to the growing number of casualties. Andrew Lebovich, a visiting fellow at the ECFR, also mentioned logistical obstacles, like better cooperation and interoperability between forces, as well as security sector reform.
  • The Guardian – Jason Burke / Civilian deaths and atrocities escalate as chaos builds in Sahel

Financial Times – David Sheppard / Global CO2 emissions static for first time in 10 years

  • The head of the International Energy Agency is “hopeful” global carbon dioxide emissions have peaked after global output flatlined in 2019 for the first time in a decade. Carbon emissions from energy fell in advanced economies, where the use of coal declined by between 15 and 25 per cent.
  • Fatih Birol, head of the IEA, said the new numbers were evidence that the world’s governments are capable of doing more. Emissions fell by almost 3 per cent in the US, in spite of its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, helped by cheap natural gas prices. Overall emissions fell by 5 per cent in the EU.
  • Emissions outside developed countries are still rising rapidly, however, threatening the reductions. Almost 80 per cent of the increase in emissions in 2019 came from rapidly developing countries in Asia, where cheap coal has continued to gain use as a fuel source in the power sector.
  • The Guardian – Stephen Burgen / ‘We have nothing to keep the sea out’: the struggle to save Spain’s Ebro Delta

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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