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EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 14/12/2021

EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 14/12/2021

Financial Times – George Russell and Tom Mitchell / China reports first Omicron case as fears mount for factory supply chain

  • The Omicron coronavirus variant has appeared for the first time in China, according to health authorities, piling pressure on officials already contending with an outbreak in one of the country’s most important manufacturing hubs.
  • Officials and state media said the Omicron case was “imported” by an arrival in the port city of Tianjin, south-east of Beijing, where travellers are quarantined before they are allowed to continue on to the Chinese capital.
  • “Those infected in Tianjin are currently being treated in isolation in designated hospitals,” the city’s local government said on Tuesday. “This is the first time an Omicron variant case has been discovered in mainland China.”
  • President Xi Jinping’s administration is pursuing a “zero Covid” policy across the world’s most populous nation, in part because of concerns about the relatively low efficacy of China’s homemade vaccines and the potential death toll if Covid-19 spread freely among the country’s 1.4bn people.
  • The Atlantic – Derek Thomson / We know a lot more about Omicron now

Politico – Hans von der Burchard / EU slaps sanctions on Russian mercenary group Wagner

  • EU foreign ministers decided Monday to slap sanctions on Russian private military contractor Wagner as well as eight individuals and three entities connected to the group.
  • The sanctions include travel bans and asset freezes. The targeted people include Dimitriy Utkin, who is described in the legal announcement of the sanctions as “a former Russian military intelligence (GRU) officer” and “the founder of the Wagner Group” who is deemed “responsible for coordinating and planning operations for the deployment of Wagner Group mercenaries in Ukraine.”
  • Wagner first attracted international attention in 2014 when it supported pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. Since then, it has been involved in conflict zones including in Syria, Sudan, Mozambique and the Central African Republic (CAR).
  • Western officials consider the group to be entangled with the Russian security apparatus, although Moscow has always denied any link. POLITICO reported last week that Brussels was planning to impose sanctions against the group.
  • European Council on Foreign Relations – Andrew Lebovich / Russia, Wagner Group, and Mali: How European fears weaken European policy

Financial Times – Lauren Fedor and James Politi / White House scrambles to salvage $1.75tn Build Back Better bill by Christmas

  • The White House is rushing to save its plans to pass Joe Biden’s $1.75tn Build Back Better bill by the end of the year, with time running low to win over Democratic holdouts worried about excessive spending and persistent inflation.
  • On Monday afternoon, the US president spoke with Joe Manchin, the Democratic senator from West Virginia who has proved a frequent obstacle to passing Biden’s domestic agenda.
  • “The president and Senator Manchin had a good, constructive phone call and agreed to follow up with one another in the coming days,” Andrew Bates, a White House spokesperson, told the Financial Times.
  • Manchin told reporters on Monday that he had a “good conversation” with the president and remained “engaged” in negotiations.
  • The Washington Post – Tony Romm / Manchin, Biden discuss ‘different iterations’ of spending bill as Democrats seek consensus

Euractiv – Nelly Moussu / France to link climate and economic goals during EU presidency stint

  • Promoting a new European growth model is one of the major focuses of France’s EU Council presidency programme in the first half of 2022, President Emmanuel Macron has announced. The climate transition is not at the plan’s core but it will be closely tied to Macron’s economic ambitions. 
  • The French president detailed his project to create a more sovereign, more humane and economically dynamic Europe, with ambitious ecological objectives, on Thursday.
  • Halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and becoming carbon neutral by 2050 are two goals where the president does not want to “lose a single minute”.
  • The climate transition, while not a cornerstone of Macron’s, plan, will be closely linked to his ambitions for economic growth. The French leader, for instance, called on industrialists to “invent solutions for decarbonising our economy that are compatible with [the] growth agenda”.
  • Reuters / Macron: Carbon border adjustment mechanism key to EU climate strategy

Today’s further reading:

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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