Notre Dame won't host debate; India bans Chinese apps; this year's Hajj

Ian Bremmer brings you his perspective on this week's World In (More Than) 60 Seconds:

Notre Dame withdrew from hosting the first presidential debate this fall. What does this mean for the debates in general?

I don't think it means very much. I mean, it obviously means that coronavirus is still very much with us and President Trump is in crisis mode. I mean, we just had Major League Baseball opening day, in a 60-game season, and some over a dozen players and coaches of the Miami team are found to have coronavirus. And so, they had to suspend some games. And the Yankees and Phillies are suspending a game. And, you know, it's all a mess, right? And whether or not we're even going to be able to have baseball is a question, so clearly, the presidential debate is going to be affected. You're not going to have a big live audience. It's going to be small and socially distant. But it is interesting that at this point, both Trump and Biden are planning to move ahead with a series of debates, given how unprecedented this campaign has been with it all about Trump and Biden essentially suspending anything that looks like a rally. A lot of the campaigning happening from videos from his basement. It was conceivable that one or both sides would disagree on format, number, or even whether they should have presidential debates. That's not going to happen. I do think that the expectations from Trump of Biden have been set so low, so sleepy, so low energy, so incapable, so incoherent, that if Biden has a reasonable showing, he's likely to come off comparatively a little hit. And that's, again, Biden's strategy is, this needs to all be about Trump. And so far, Trump is making that comparatively easy for him to do.


India is blocking more Chinese apps. How serious are tensions between the two countries?

Well, I mean, they're not serious in the sense that these are two nuclear powers, and no one's really concerned that they're going to go to war against each other. In other words, India-Pakistan years ago when they had their serious tensions in the months after 9/11, you'll remember people were concerned, might we be at the precipice of a regional nuclear war? Nobody is thinking about that with the Indians and the Chinese. Chinese massively outgun the Indians militarily and the Indians are standing down militarily. But the Indians are leaning in economically. It is largely about Indian nationalism. It's very widely popular for Narendra Modi in India, much as the unilateral decision to abrogate the autonomy for Kashmir was very popular domestically. And so, I think the economic tensions between the two countries are likely going to grow a lot of insecurity. And on the tech side is where you're particularly seeing it.

What's going on in Malaysia?

Well, the former prime minister, Najib, has been found guilty of corruption. About $10 million looks to have been siphoned to him illegally through the 1MDB, the former sovereign wealth fund that Goldman Sachs got caught up in, and they have to pay big fines and the US government's involved, and it's all really ugly. It's first time a former Malaysian prime minister has been so sentenced for corruption. There will be an appeal, surely, but I don't think it's going anywhere. The defense has been pretty bad. Doesn't really lead to a lot of instability in Malaysia, though.

How is this year's Hajj different from past pilgrimages?

Well, not a lot of people, right? I mean, you know, basically a tiny number of folks being allowed to the Hajj. And this was quite controversial in Saudi Arabia, but they saw that in other countries where they weren't suspending mass prayers, Pakistan in the early days in particular, you saw a massive explosion of cases. There's real concern about that in Saudi Arabia and so one of the most conservative societies in the region, but with a leader, Mohammad bin Salman, the crown prince, who is very happy to take on religious authorities on issues that he thinks are problematic for Saudi economic development, like, for example, ending the autonomy for the military police, the religious police who no longer have the ability to, you know, sort of walk the streets and harass citizens for breaches of religious law, that's been a pretty meaningful change, saying that we're going to shut down the Hajj to all but a few pilgrims because we want to make sure that we don't have further outbreak, something that other Saudi leaders would have had a harder time with, MBS did not. So, you know, it's a dual-edged sword, as it were, in Saudi Arabia. There've been a lot of problems on human rights with this leadership, but also a lot of ability to go after the religious authorities. And on this front, the Saudis will likely benefit from it.

Building on its previous commitment, Walmart is investing an additional $350 billion in products made, grown and assembled in America - supporting more than 750,000 new jobs by 2030. This pledge will aim to avoid more than 100M metric tons of CO2 emissions, advance the growth of U.S. based suppliers, and provide opportunities for more than 9,000 entrepreneurs to become Walmart suppliers and sellers through Walmart's annual Open Call.

China's GDP grew a lower-than-expected 4.9 percent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2021, a whopping three percentage points less than in the previous period. It's a big deal for the world's second-largest economy, the only major one that expanded throughout the pandemic — and now at risk of missing its growth target of 6 percent for the entire year.

Normally, such a drastic slowdown would have put the ruling Communist Party in a tizzy. But this time, Xi Jinping knows this is the price he must pay for his big plans to curb rising inequality and boost the middle class at the expense of the CCP's traditional economic mantra: high growth above all else.

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Read Ian Bremmer's wide-ranging essay in Foreign Affairs that puts in perspective both the challenge, and the opportunity, that comes from the unprecedented power of Big Tech.

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here on the road, something we haven't done very much recently, but will increasingly as we try to move through COVID. And I want to talk to you about a new article that I just put out in Foreign Affairs that I'm calling "The Technopolar Moment." Not unipolar, not bipolar, not multipolar, technopolar. What the hell does technopolar mean?

It means that increasingly big technology companies are themselves geopolitical actors. So to understand the future of the world, you can't just look at the United States, Europe and China. You need to look at the big tech companies, too.

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China gets away with a lot these days in Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and elsewhere. That's because over the past decade, its economy has experienced explosive growth, making it an indispensable trading partner for almost every country in the world. At the same time, China has been expanding its share of the global economy, and is now set to overtake the US as the world's biggest economic powerhouse in the near term. We take a look at China's annual growth rate and share of the global economy based on GDP over the past decade.

The European Union is, for better or worse, the most ambitious experiment in human history in institutionalized multinational cooperation. Its success depends on the willingness of its members to abide by its rules.

In recent years, the populist-nationalist governments of former Communist bloc members Hungary and Poland have flouted some of those rules in order to boost their own popularity with citizens suspicious of the EU's liberal values on issues like immigration and minority rights. In response, the EU has scolded these "illiberal" governments and threatened forceful action – so far without much effect.

The fight between EU institutions and Poland and Hungary has escalated.

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Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares insights on US politics:

What is the legacy of Colin Powell?

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell tragically died of complications of COVID-19. He was the first Black Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the first Black National Security Advisor and the first Black Secretary of State. And he leaves a legacy of a long career, dedicated almost entirely to public service.

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Can this guy defeat Viktor Orban? Hungary's opposition movement of odd bedfellows has finally settled on the person they think has the best chance of defeating PM Viktor Orbán at the ballot box: Péter Márki-Zay, a politically conservative small-town mayor from southeastern Hungary, who beat out left-leaning European Parliament member Klara Dobrev in a weekend poll. Márki-Zay has a lot going for him: as a devout Catholic and father of seven it will be hard for the ultraconservative Orbán to paint him as a progressive threat, even as Márki-Zay reaches out to reassure left-leaning groups that he will protect LGBTQ rights. What's more, Márki-Zay has little political baggage: until recently he was a marketing executive. But can the relatively inexperienced Márki-Zay keep the various opposition factions happy? The stakes couldn't be higher: since taking power more than a decade ago, Orbán has deliberately made Hungary into an "illiberal" state, cracking down on the press, undermining the rule of law, and clashing with the EU. Bonus: if Márki-Zay stays in the news, you get to say "Hódmezővásárhely" the name of the city he currently runs.

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5,600: Myanmar's military junta will release from prison 5,600 people who were jailed for protesting against last February's coup. The gesture, the biggest act of amnesty since the junta took power, comes just days after the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which rarely interferes in members' internal affairs, said it would exclude the head of Myanmar's military from an upcoming regional meeting.

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Colin Powell's legacy

US Politics

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