GZERO Media and The Straits Times team up to bring fresh global insight to bigger audiences

Ian sits down with Warren Fernandez, Editor-in-Chief of The Straits Times, Singapore's most-read newspaper, to talk about our new partnership, and to discuss the future of geopolitics in Asia. You can watch the full video here.

Here are the key takeaways:

We're entering a big election season in Asia, with upcoming national elections in Thailand, Indonesia, and India. In all three countries, the races are close. In Indonesia, the latest polls suggest that incumbent President Jokowi Widodo's lead is narrowing ahead of the April election. The Thai election this Sunday will likely end inconclusively with months of wrangling between pro-junta and pro-democracy forces. And in India, a national security crisis has upended an election that was set to be fought mainly over the economic record of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's BJP-led government.

There's good news on the US-China trade fight: The delay of a planned summit later this month between President Trump and President Xi is actually positive, because it suggests that unlike his Vietnam blow-up with Kim Jong-un, Trump is only willing to sit down with Xi if the two sides are close to a deal. The final agreement could actually be much more significant than most expect.

But the long-term problem for the US and China is that even if they resolve their disagreement on trade, mutual trust has vanished. That – rather than a trade deal – is the most lasting result for the world's two largest economies.

Check out GZEROMedia.com for more Asia news from The Straits Times.
A Walmart employee with a big smile wearing an employee vest

Since 2018, the Live Better U program has helped prepare more than 52,000 associates for careers at Walmart or wherever their professional ambitions take them. Now, Walmart will pay 100% of college tuition and books for eligible associates. This means approximately 1.5M associates can earn college degrees or learn trade skills without the burden of education debt. Learn more.

The Taliban’s never-ending crisis

Afghanistan has now become what the UN is labeling the planet’s worst humanitarian disaster. Indeed, last week the world body issued its largest-ever donor appeal for a single country to battle the worsening crisis there, caused by freezing temperatures, frozen assets, and the cold reception the Taliban have received from the international community since they took over last summer.

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Governments around the world are offering creative incentives for getting a jab.

If you happen to live in New York and are one of the city’s 18% of unvaccinated residents, now might be a good time to go get jabbed. But not just because of omicron.

In late December, now former NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio announced the city would start offering gift cards, free roller coaster rides on Coney Island and trips to the Statue of Liberty to those who get their shots. And it’s not just the Big Apple.

As infections jump, vaccination incentive programs have been brought back around the world. Officials in vaccine-hesitant Missouri have earmarked $11 million dollars for gift cards worth $100. Vermont is awarding schools with per-pupil bonuses if they hit rates higher than 85%.

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What We’re Watching: China's problems, UAE vs Houthis, Nord Stream 2 split

China's mounting problems. Xi Jinping is not off to a good start in 2022. First, Chinese economic growth slowed down to 4 percent in the last quarter of 2021, almost a percentage point less than the previous period. While annual GDP was up 8.1 percent year-on-year, beating government expectations, the trend is worrying for the world’s second-largest economy. Second, annual population growth fell in 2021 to its lowest rate since 1949, when the ruling Communist Party took over. Although Xi probably saw this one coming, he's running out of ideas to encourage Chinese families to have more children — which the government needs in order to sustain growth and support the elderly over the long term. Third, and most immediate: the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics canceled ticket sales for domestic spectators — foreigners were not invited — as the more transmissible omicron variant has driven up COVID infections in China to the highest level since March 2020. It's only the latest sign that Xi's controversial zero-COVID policy is setting itself up for failure against omicron without mRNA vaccines. What'll it take for China to reverse course?

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Hard Numbers: Tongan volcano, Ukrainian cyberattack, Zemmour fined over hate speech, NK-China border reopens

100,000: We're still waiting for news from the Pacific nation of Tonga, two days after a massive underwater volcanic explosion triggered a tsunami that was felt thousands of miles away and sent a plume of ash 100,000 feet into the sky. With communications mostly cut off, Australia and New Zealand have sent airplanes to assess the damage.

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Iran’s nuclear program runs hotter

Talks between Iran’s government and world powers over the future of Iran’s nuclear program continue. The US and Iran are still not communicating directly; Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia are shuttling between them.

The good news is that they’re all still talking. The bad news is that, after eight rounds of negotiations, the main players haven’t agreed on anything that would constitute a breakthrough.

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Omicron is here. The bad news is that it's more contagious. The good news is that mRNA vaccines work against death and hospitalization. COVID may soon become endemic in some parts of the world.

Not in China, where Xi Jinping's zero-COVID approach faces its toughest test to date with omicron. Why? Because China lacks mRNA jabs, and so few Chinese people have gotten COVID that overall protection is very low.

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January 6 laid bare "the deep divisions, the partisan infighting, the polarization within our society," says Fiona Hill, the former US senior director of the National Security Council. In a GZERO World interview, she spoke with Ian Bremmer about her concerns about the state of democracy in the United States.

Hill famously testified against her impeached boss, Donald Trump, who stayed in power after being acquitted by the Senate of abuse of power and obstructing Congress. She also notes that divisions actually make America look weaker on the global stage — particularly to someone like Russia’s president Vladimir Putin.

Watch this episode of GZERO World: American strife: Will US democracy survive? Fiona Hill explains post-Jan 6 stakes

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