“President Biden urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a strong private message to halt his government’s judicial overhaul just hours before Netanyahu went on television and announced the suspension of the controversial plan,” Axios reports.
Japan Fears ‘Societal Collapse’
“Alarmed by an even faster than expected slide in the number of babies born in Japan last year, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is preparing a policy package he says is a last chance to keep society functioning,” Bloomberg reports.
China Vows Retaliation If McCarthy Meets Taiwan’s Leader
China on Wednesday threatened retaliation if House Speaker Kevin McCarthy meets with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen as she transits through the United States next week, saying it would be a “provocation,” NBC News reports.
Russia’s Economy Is Starting to Come Undone
Wall Street Journal: “As the war continues into its second year and Western sanctions bite harder, Russia’s government revenue is being squeezed and its economy has shifted to a lower-growth trajectory, likely for the long term.”
“The country’s biggest exports, gas and oil, have lost major customers. Government finances are strained. The ruble is down over 20% since November against the dollar. The labor force has shrunk as young people are sent to the front or flee the country over fears of being drafted. Uncertainty has curbed business investment.”
Bolsonaro to Return to Brazil
“Former president Jair Bolsonaro is expected to return to Brazil tomorrow for the first time since leaving office, aiming to revitalize the country’s far-right movement but facing the possibility of a ban from politics or even arrest,” the Financial Times reports.
Xi Jinping Says He Is Preparing China for War
“Chinese leader Xi Jinping says he is preparing for war,” Foreign Affairs reports.
“At the annual meeting of China’s parliament and its top political advisory body in March, Xi wove the theme of war readiness through four separate speeches, in one instance telling his generals to ‘dare to fight.’ His government also announced a 7.2 percent increase in China’s defense budget, which has doubled over the last decade, as well as plans to make the country less dependent on foreign grain imports. And in recent months, Beijing has unveiled new military readiness laws, new air-raid shelters in cities across the strait from Taiwan, and new ‘National Defense Mobilization’ offices countrywide.”
“It is too early to say for certain what these developments mean. Conflict is not certain or imminent. But something has changed in Beijing that policymakers and business leaders worldwide cannot afford to ignore. If Xi says he is readying for war, it would be foolish not to take him at his word.”
Biden Pushes Netanyahu to Change Course
President Biden on Tuesday urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “walk away” from his current judicial overhaul legislation, saying he was “very concerned” about the health of Israeli democracy, and warning that Israel “cannot continue down this road,” the Times of Israel reports.
Biden also gave an emphatic “no” when asked whether he would be inviting Netanyahu to the White House, adding: “Not in the near term.”
Associated Press: “The exchange was a rare bout of public disagreement between the two close allies and signals building friction between Israel and the U.S. over Netanyahu’s judicial changes, which he postponed after massive protests.”
Zelensky Warns Any Russian Victory Is Perilous
“Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned Tuesday that unless his nation wins a drawn-out battle in a key eastern city, Russia could begin building international support for a deal that could require Ukraine to make unacceptable compromises,” the AP reports.
“He also invited the leader of China, long aligned with Russia, to visit.”
Chip Makers Must Choose Between U.S. and China
Wall Street Journal: “The Biden administration last week proposed new rules detailing restrictions chip companies would face on operations in China and other countries of concern if the companies accept taxpayer funding. Some of the proposed restrictions, known as the China guardrails, were tougher than industry executives, lawyers and national-security analysts say they had expected.”
U.S. Pushes Europe to Line Up Against China
Politico: “With urgency like never before, European governments are restricting exports of chip-making equipment to China, banning TikTok on government devices and pushing protectionist trade policy. Even long-time holdout Germany, the European Union’s biggest economy and a heavy investor in China, is starting to question its business-first ethos.”
How the U.S. Pressured Netanyahu
New York Times: “In the 48 hours before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reluctantly delayed his effort to overhaul the Israeli judiciary, his government was bombarded by warnings from the Biden administration that he was imperiling Israel’s reputation as the true democracy at the heart of the Middle East.”
Washington Post: As Israel erupts, Biden faces politically volatile pressures.
House GOP to Subpoena Blinken
“House Republicans plan to deliver a subpoena to Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday for classified cables related to the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, marking an unprecedented effort to force the release of sensitive documents to Congress,” the AP reports.
GOP Set for Historic Foreign Policy Reversal
Ron Brownstein: “After Eisenhower’s landmark victory over Taft in 1952, every Republican presidential nominee over the next six decades – a list that extended from Richard Nixon through Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush, John McCain and Mitt Romney – identified more with the internationalist than isolationist wing of the party.”
“But Trump broke that streak when he won the nomination in 2016 behind a message of brusque economic nationalism and skepticism of international alliances. Now, the GOP appears on track for a 2024 nomination fight which may demonstrate that Trump’s rise has lastingly shifted the party’s balance of power on foreign policy – and ended the long era of GOP internationalism Eisenhower’s victory began.”
Netanyahu Set to Freeze Judicial Overhaul
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to postpone controversial plans to overhaul his country’s judiciary after mass protests have rocked the country, the New York Times reports.
Honduras Establishes Diplomatic Ties With Beijing
“Honduras has established diplomatic relations with China and formally cut ties with Taiwan, following through on a pledge this month to shift its official recognition to Beijing,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“With the loss of Honduras, Taiwan now has 13 diplomatic partners, most of them small states in Central America and the Pacific, with the Vatican its only official partner in Europe.”
French Anger Shifts From Pension Law to Macron
“The postponement of a state visit to France by King Charles III had become almost inevitable: The optics of President Emmanuel Macron dining with the British monarch at the Château de Versailles as Paris burned were not just bad, they would have looked like a brazen provocation to the blue-collar workers leading a wave of demonstrations and strikes across the country,” the New York Times reports.
“Those huge protests have shifted in character over the past week. They have become angrier and, in some cities, more violent — especially after nightfall. They have been less about the fury felt over the raising of the retirement age to 64 from 62, and more about Mr. Macron and the way he rammed the law through Parliament without a full vote.”
“Finally, they have broadened into something approaching a constitutional crisis.”
Politico: After Macron, le déluge.
Israel Boils as Netanyahu Ousts Minister
“Civil unrest broke out in parts of Israel Sunday night after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired his defense minister for criticizing the government’s divisive judicial overhaul, prompting protesters to surge into the streets, universities to shut their doors, and union leaders to hint of a looming general strike,” the New York Times reports.
China Works to Influence Local Officials
Associated Press: “China’s global campaign to win friends and influence policy has blossomed in a surprising place: Utah, a deeply religious and conservative state with few obvious ties to the world’s most powerful communist country.”
“An investigation by the Associated Press has found that China and its U.S.-based advocates spent years building relationships with the state’s officials and lawmakers. Those efforts have paid dividends at home and abroad, the AP found: Lawmakers delayed legislation Beijing didn’t like, nixed resolutions that conveyed displeasure with its actions and expressed support in ways that enhanced the Chinese government’s image.”
“Its work in Utah is emblematic of a broader effort by Beijing to secure allies at the local level as its relations with the U.S. and its western allies have turned acrimonious. U.S. officials say local leaders are at risk of being manipulated by China and have deemed the influence campaign a threat to national security.”
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