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Podcast: Unpacking the complicated US-Japan relationship with Ambassador Rahm Emanuel


Ian Bremmer is in Tokyo, Japan, to check in on America’s “pivot to Asia.” How’s that going? Given that neither Ukraine nor Israel is located in the Asia Pacific, it is not so great!

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US CEOs too influential on China policy, says Rahm Emanuel
US CEOs too influential on China policy, says Rahm Emanuel | GZERO World

US CEOs too influential on China policy, says Rahm Emanuel

US CEOs are too cozy with Beijing, says US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel.

At the APEC summit last November in San Francisco, heads of state and diplomats from nations in the Asia-Pacific met to address a wide array of strategic interests and challenges. But no other meeting was as closely watched as that between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping. As successful as that meeting may have been on a PR level (at least according to the delegations of each leader), one man present took special note of what happened afterward. US Ambassador to Japan, Rahm Emanuel, told Ian Bremmer about that summit during an exclusive interview in the latest episode of GZERO World, filmed at the Ambassador's residence in Tokyo, Japan.

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When Biden met Xi (and what's going on with the US and China) | TED
When Biden Met Xi (and What's Going On with the US and China) | Ian Bremmer | TED

When Biden met Xi (and what's going on with the US and China) | TED

Better or Worse? What happened when two frenemies -- China's President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden -- met at the APEC Summit in San Francisco? Did the two superpowers move closer to conflict or actually get something positive done? What will make a difference? Ian Bremmer was in San Francisco and took in the big event, and he sits down for an exclusive conversation with GZERO's new partner, TED, to explain what it all means.

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President Joe Biden shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, in California, on Nov. 15, 2023.

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Last dance with China?​

Slide to the right.
Slide to the left.
And … pivot.

The diplomatic dance, dubbed “the pivot” by President Barack Obama back in 2011, is all the rage again in San Francisco, where 21 countries have gathered for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC), and this year everyone is watching one dysfunctional couple on the dance floor: Biden and Xi.

The original Obama pivot was about increasing US influence in the Asia Pacific — read: pushing back on growing Chinese influence, military might, and Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative – and it also meant pivoting away from places like the Middle East. So, choreographically speaking, it was a step from the Middle East to a bigger step to the Far East, as it were, and it caused friction with China. But the steps are more complicated today.

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Biden & Xi set to agree on regulating military use of AI
AI military regulation: Possible Biden-XI collaboration? | World In: 60 | GZERO Media

Biden & Xi set to agree on regulating military use of AI

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week on World In :60.

Will Biden and Xi come together to regulate military use of AI?

I think that's one of the areas that we are going to see a level of cooperation. The Chinese are concerned about, first, the Americans being ahead of them in AI, but secondly, about the fact that this could escalate and spiral into mutually assured destruction quickly, if there isn't a level of transparency. That's very different from the unwillingness of the Chinese to engage in high level military talks, for example, on South China Sea or on Taiwan recently. This is an area that I think will be constructive. I'm glad to see it.

Can the Qatari mediation secure a breakthrough for hostage release in Gaza?

Well, we've been hearing about this for weeks now and it's been imminent and then not happening. Imminent, Not happening. I do think that the level of pressure on Israel, on the Israeli government for not having secured the release of women, of children, I mean, we're talking about a couple of hundred plus civilian hostages living in the most unimaginably horrible environment in Gaza. And I do believe that a breakthrough is pretty likely. We're also going to find out that a lot of these hostages, of course, are already dead. But I'm hopeful and let's keep fingers crossed on that.

Has time run out for Ukraine's counteroffensive?

The much-vaunted counteroffensive, yet it looks like they're not going to be able to take much more territory at this point. And it's hard to imagine they're going to have the military capacity or the troop capacity to do anything else in the foreseeable future. And that means that de facto, the 18% of Ukraine's territory that Russia presently occupies, they're going to continue to occupy going forward. No one's going to accept a partition. No one is going to say that Russia legitimately owns that territory because it is Ukrainian territory. But the reality is unacceptable. And that is where we're going to be an uncomfortable position going forward.

President Joe Biden shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping as they meet on the sidelines of the G20 leaders' summit in Bali, Indonesia, Nov. 14, 2022.

White House/Handout via EYEPRESS via Reuters

Viewpoint: Don’t expect too much from Xi-Biden meeting

Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping are preparing for talks next week to stabilize relations between their two countries and prevent a dangerous flare-up of hostilities over Taiwan. The meeting represents the culmination of months of preparatory work by lower-level officials and is expected to take place on Nov. 14 or Nov. 15 on the sidelines of the APEC leaders’ summit in San Francisco.

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Israel control in Gaza: No end in sight
Israel control in Gaza: No end in sight | World In: 60 | GZERO Media

Israel control in Gaza: No end in sight

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week on World In :60.

How long will Israel's indefinite security control in Gaza last?

I think a long, long time. Was it a Colin Powell that said, you know, you break it, you own it in terms of Iraq and Americans were there for a long, long time. I can't see anyone willing to come in and play a security role that will work after the Israelis have wrought absolute destruction on the people and infrastructure of Gaza, which is clearly what is required if you want to destroy Hamas. And indeed Netanyahu has said that they're going to stay and as long as it takes, essentially in terms of security. By the way, the Israeli people strongly don't want that. They don't want an occupation, but they're kind of stuck in one. And that's one of the reasons why a ground war was something to think more carefully about. And look, there are no easy answers for anyone here. This is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

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U.S. President Joe Biden meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 leaders' summit in Bali, Indonesia, in November 2022.

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

Can US & China keep things calm ahead of Biden-Xi meeting?

China’s second highest-ranking leader, former Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, died suddenly late last week of a heart attack, aged 68. An economist, the English-speaking Li was known for his openness to private business and Western ideas. He and Xi Jinping did not see eye-to-eye on economic policy, and as Xi’s power grew, Li was sidelined and notably forced out of the Party’s Standing Committee last October, two years short of the usual retirement age of 70. Li was critical of the damage caused by Xi's heavyhanded zero-COVID approach to both the economy and average Chinese citizens.

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