Biden’s first trip to Asia as president
- U.S. President Joe Biden started his attention-grabbing trip to Asia on Friday. After meeting with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeo in Seoul (joint statement), Biden arrived in Japan yesterday for a QUAD meeting on Tuesday. Touting his Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) during the trip, Biden appears to try to marginalize China in the region’s trade system by setting new standards with U.S. partners.
- Although the president avoided mentioning China directly, the trip is widely viewed as targeting China. Beijing, in response, expressed strong opposition against the diplomacy, referring to the Taiwan issue particularly. However, some doubt the trip could substantially impact the situation across the Taiwan Strait due to the disparity of interest among the regional powers. It is the same for the South China Sea.
- While President Biden was wrapping the first leg of the trip, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with his Pakistani counterpart Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in Guangzhou. In his maiden visit to China, Bilawal reaffirmed Pakistan’s close ties with China. At a press conference after the meeting, Wang criticized the IPEF and said the U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy was “bound to fail” (Ch/En).
China calls for BRICS expansion
- As a result of the virtual meeting of foreign ministers on Thursday, BRICS countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa —issued a joint statement (En/Ch), supporting China’s suggestion to expand the bloc. The statement is broad-gauged while pointing to a vision to increase the inclusiveness of global governance, encouraging the value of peace, cooperation, equality, and respect.
Monkeypox emerges as new global health concern
- The World Health Organization (WHO) said it is working closely with countries to cope with the Monkeypox outbreak. The disease, a cousin of smallpox and is common in some parts of Africa, is now spreading across other continents. Europe, the US, Canada, Australia, and Israel have reported more than 80 cases, and human-to-human transmission has occurred.
John Lee appointed as Hong Kong’s next CE
- Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has approved the appointment of John Lee Ka-chiu (李家超) as the Chief Executive of Hong Kong. Lee will succeed Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor (林鄭月娥) as the leader of the special administrative region.
- At a plenary meeting of the State Council on Friday, Premier Li, on top of reiterating the fundamental ideas (Ch/En) of the "one country, two systems" (“一國兩制”), vowed (Ch/En) to “ensure the central government's full jurisdiction over Hong Kong” (“落實中央對特別行政區全面管治權”).
China’s energy intensity continues to fall in 2021
- China’s energy consumption per GDP was down by 2.7% in 2021 from the year before, following a 28.7% decrease from 2011 to 2020. Despite the improvement, the energy intensity of China is still roughly 1.5 times the global average. The country’s carbon intensity — carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions each unit of GDP — has decreased by 34% in the past decade.
- China started setting energy intensity goals in its 12th Five-Year Plan (FYP) (Ch). The country achieved an 18.2% reduction in energy intensity from 2010 to 2015, exceeding the 16% target for the 12th FYP era. However, by 2020, China’s energy intensity was only 13.2% below that of 2015, falling short of its 15% target set in the 13th FYP (Ch/En). China further lowered the target to 13.5% in its 14th FYP (Ch) from 2021 to 2025.
Labor Party wins Australian general election
- Anthony Albanese led the Labor Party to win the Australian federal election on Saturday, ending the nine-year rule by Scott Morrison’s conservative Liberal-National coalition. Albanese has been sworn in today and will attend the QUAD summit with the leaders from the U.S., Japan, and India in Tokyo tomorrow.
- The two Australian parties share the U.S.’s bipartisanship that is unfriendly to China. Although the Labor Party is expected to be less aggressive in its foreign policy approach, the incoming Foreign Minister Penny Wong (黃英賢) signaled a tough stance against Australia’s biggest trade partner.