China and Japan form unlikely partnership
Last Friday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang met in Beijing to discuss deeper economic and political cooperation. The meeting also acknowledged China’s overtaking of Japan’s economy and an end to China’s receival of Japanese foreign aid, usually reserved for poorer countries. The trip is the first official Beijing visit by a Japanese leader since 2011.
As President Trump has grown more volatile, Japan and China have shed much of the tension that existed between them. After a ceremonial welcome, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in a statement, “From competition to cooperation, the Japan-China relationship is shifting to a new phase now.” More than 1,000 businesspeople joined the meeting to discuss joint infrastructure projects throughout the region.
Premier Li Keqiang stated relations were back to “their normal trajectory,” and that he hoped “for even more progress,” referring to China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative. Japan has refused to sign onto the initiative, but a spokesman said Abe is willing to consider such negotiations should China commit to international standards of transparency, environmental protection and economic viability.
Far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro likely to win in Brazil
Polls show far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro is likely to win Brazil’s presidential election this Sunday. Bolsonaro has promised to be tough on crime, a high priority for Brazilian voters. There were a record 63,880 murders in Brazil last year. Bolsonaro vows to liberalize gun laws, reduce the age of criminal responsibility and give more shooting discretion to police officers.
The opposing Workers’ Party has seen a fall from grace in recent years, with one president serving a 12-year sentence for corruption and another impeached for illegal manipulation of the government budget. Brazilian stocks have risen along with Bolsonaro’s popularity, as investors see the candidate as more stable than his left-wing rival Fernando Haddad.
Critics view Bolsonaro’s rise as a return to Brazil’s past, when it was governed under a dictatorship. Bolsonaro has attacked women, Black and LGBTQ people, but he’s also successfully positioned himself as a wrecking ball against the current establishment.
Putin and Trump hint at nuclear arms race
Last Wednesday, Putin spoke in Moscow of a “possible counter strike” should the United States withdraw from a nuclear treaty and place new intermediate-range missiles in Europe. After complaining that China had not signed and that Russia was cheating on the deal, President Trump signaled some intention of backing out of the 1987 agreement banning short- and intermediate-range land-launched missiles.
After the president claimed American officials would look into producing weapons currently prohibited by the treaty, Putin warned of a potential arms race. Any European nation that would accept America’s weapons “will have to understand that they put their own territory under the threat of a possible counter strike,” Putin said.
United States national security adviser John Bolton, speaking in Moscow last Tuesday, asserted that Russia had already broken the treaty by developing missiles capable of striking European targets. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg tried to ease tensions and said that European allies would be unlikely to respond aggressively to Russia’s missile development.
“We don’t want a new Cold War,” he said last Wednesday.