Biden-Xi virtual summit shows breakthroughs in US-China relationship

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week with a look at his return to international travel, Joe Biden & Xi Jinping's virtual summit, and the Belarus-Poland border crisis.

How was your return to international travel?

Well, actually it was pretty straightforward. I mean, you think that you hear all these lockdowns and all these quarantines, but the fact is Singapore is incredibly efficient. The one thing that's kind of unusual is you have this app you have to put on your phone. You turn it on, you have to keep your phone on and they track you absolutely everywhere, which is pretty weird and kind of dystopian, but it works for closing down COVID. Aside from that though, no problems getting in here. No problem walking around.


Were there any breakthroughs at Biden & Xi's virtual summit?

They say there weren't any breakthroughs, but frankly, I would argue that in terms of the relationship itself, there really have been. Number one, you did get a willingness of the Americans and the Chinese to engage on climate and before they were saying no. Given that the two largest carbon emitters in the world, that's a big deal. Secondly, some agreements on how they're going to treat journalists and visas from both the countries, which had been really dysfunctional. Number three, there's going to be ongoing engagement on nuclear and security policy, high level conversations and dialogue. None of these things are like sudden big announcements that say that there is trust between two countries, but it is actually a change in trajectory in the relationship and very clearly not cold war.

What do you think of US Secretary of State Blinken suggesting that Belarus migrant crisis is an attempt to distract from Russia's increased troop presence near Ukraine?

It's plausible. Having said that, I think they can walk and chew gum at the same time, the Kremlin. And what I see is Lukashenko, President Lukashenko, is under a lot of economic pressure and he's more than happy to push, use his rogue status to make life unpleasant for the Poles, for the Lithuanians. But the Kremlin is clearly helping him. The bigger issue here I think is not the distraction on Ukraine. The bigger issue is that the Russians are sitting on a significant amount of cash because energy prices are higher, because Putin feels like he's got a lot of leverage over the Europeans on downstream energy given their problems. And as a consequence, he feels more emboldened to do all of the things that he would normally feel a little bit more cautious about. That includes Belarus. That includes Ukraine.

An abstract image of a brain with high tech neural connections. Get the latest from Microsoft on the most pressing policy issues.

Visit Microsoft on The Issues for a front-row seat to see how Microsoft is thinking about the future of sustainability, accessibility, cybersecurity and more. Check back regularly to watch videos, and read blogs and feature stories to see how Microsoft is approaching the issues that matter most. For the latest, visit Microsoft on the Issues.

A man eats by a newspaper stand that displays a cover story on the preliminary results of the general election in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, November 29, 2021

The small Central American nation of Honduras is in many ways a full blown narco-state. President Juan Orlando Hernandez – who’s governed the country for close to a decade – has been linked to the country’s booming drug trafficking trade. His brother Tony, a former congressman who is buds with Mexican drug lord El-Chapo, was sentenced to life-in prison this year for smuggling cocaine into the US. Narco-trafficking gangs run riot in the country, fueling one of the world’s highest murder rates, while corruption and poverty abound.

More Show less
The Graphic Truth: Who's arriving at the US-Mex border

Despite a recent dip, migrant arrivals at the US-Mexico border have surged over the past 10 months, driven by economic hardship, violence, and the perception that President Biden would be more welcoming to migrants than his predecessor. Most of those coming to the US from the South hail from Mexico, but a large number have also fled violence and poverty in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. We take a look at migration patterns from Central America in 2021 compared to 2020.

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week with a look at the omicron variant, the Honduras presidential election, and the pros and cons of getting stuck in a UK pub for three days in a snowstorm.

As the omicron variant emerges, is a return to lockdown next?

The answer is, only in a few play places, because people are exhausted from lockdowns. They're angry with their governments from doing it. Governments are going to be very reluctant to have the economic hit as a consequence, especially when they know they can't pay out the relief money that they've been paying over the last couple of years, and they're not yet sure about just how much of a danger omicron is. I think all sorts of travel restrictions, but unless and until you see that the spread starts leading to significant lethality, hospitalizations, and once again, the potential for ICUs to be overwhelmed, I do not expect many significant lockdowns that are countrywide at this point. Not least in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the populations are very young and as a consequence, you can have a lot of spread and they're not paying attention to it, frankly.

More Show less
Eric Zemmour, presidential candidate for the 2022 election, speaks on French TV channel TF1.

Zemmour for president. After months of rising in opinion polls, far-right French polemicist Erich Zemmour has made it official: he’s running in next year’s French presidential election. Zemmour, who blames Muslims, liberals, elites, and the EU for what he sees as the decline and emasculation of France, says he is running in order to “prevent our children and our grandchildren from experiencing barbarity.” Could he win? Never say jamais these days, particularly as Zemmour has something of Donald Trump’s provocative star power and media savvy. Still, most polls show that while he could reach a second-round runoff against current President Emmanuel Macron, he would then lose decisively as moderates from across the political spectrum unite behind the incumbent. The more immediate political problem is for far-right stalwart Marine Le Pen who, in trying to broaden her appeal beyond the far right, now finds herself outflanked by the more unapologetically extreme Zemmour.

More Show less
Hard Numbers: China pledges jabs for Africa, Brazil burns boats, pub-bound Brits, billions without internet

1 billion: With the emergence of the (potentially dangerous) omicron variant in Southern Africa stoking fresh debate over vaccine hoarding in wealthy countries, China has announced it will deliver an additional 1 billion vaccine doses to the continent over the next three years.

More Show less

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Good morning everybody and I hope everyone is okay this Monday. I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving, those of you that celebrate. Of course, pretty difficult news over the weekend, and even this morning, the World Health Organization, referring to the new variant omicron of COVID as a very high global risk. And when I hear those words, obviously we get moving at Eurasia Group, a firm very much concerned about that. And indeed, this is in terms of new news about this pandemic that we've all been living with now for almost two years, this is some of the most concerning new headlines that we've seen thus far.

There are some things we know and some things we don't know, there are three things we need to know, if you want to really assess what the omicron risk represents for us and for the world: rates of infection, sickness and mortality and vaccine effectiveness. We only have strong answers about the first, which is we know that this is a lot more infectious as a variant than Delta has been, which itself was much more infectious than the original virus. And that is a very serious problem. I've spoken with a lot of the epidemiologists we know about this over the weekend, they're all extremely concerned about that.

More Show less
Don’t jump out the omicron window

With cases, and fears, of the new omicron variant spreading rapidly around the world, we sat down with Eurasia Group’s top public health expert, Scott Rosenstein, for a little perspective on what to worry about, what not to, and whether the pandemic will ever actually end.

More Show less

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal

Don’t jump out the omicron window

Viewpoint

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal