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Two types of cicadas that resurface every 13 and 17 years, respectively, are making their rare appearance this spring.

USA TODAY via Reuters

HARD NUMBERS: Cicadas plan historic reunion, China uncorks stimulus binge, Collusion claim rocks shale, Argentina gets more IMF money, Melinda Gates walks out the door

221: Can you hear it? If you’re in the US Midwest you sure can. After 221 years, two local broods of cicadas – red-eyed, beetle-like insects that grow underground for years before emerging for a single summer of cacophonous buzzing and mating – will emerge at the same time. Brood XIII, based in Illinois, comes up every 17 years, while Brood XIX does so every 13 years. For context, the last time they were out at the same time, Illinois wasn’t even a state yet.

140 billion: As its GDP growth picks up again, the Chinese government is looking for some further stimulus, and what better way to invigorate the economic senses than $140 billion in long-dated sovereign bonds? Beijing will start selling the paper this week, putting the funds towards “modernization.” China is looking to wean itself off of an economic model that relies heavily on property investment.

10: At least 10 new class action lawsuits allege that US shale oil producers colluded to keep crude prices up, driving up gasoline prices too. The shale oil industry, which uses advanced technologies to pull petroleum hard-to-develop shale rock formations, has boomed in the past decade, catapulting the US into the global top spot in oil production.

800 million: The IMF is set to disburse another $800 million in support for Argentina after determining that new President Javier Milei’s radical austerity reforms have helped to stabilize the economy. The eccentric Milei, a self-described “anarcho-capitalist,” has slashed spending since he was elected on promises to fix a moribund economy mired in triple-digit inflation. For a deeper look at how and why Milei is succeeding, see this Quick Take by Ian Bremmer.

12.5 billion: Philanthropist Melinda Gates, formerly married to Microsoft founder Bill, is stepping down from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, one of the largest donor organizations in the world. As part of her agreement, she will keep $12.5 billion to direct towards her own work supporting women, minority groups, and families. To date, the foundation has given out more than $75 billion in grants to development and healthcare projects. Melinda and Bill divorced in 2021.

A broken ethernet cable is seen in front of a US flag and TikTok logo.

REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File photo

The clock is ticking for … TikTok

President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed a law that could see TikTok banned nationwide unless its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, sells the popular app within a year. The law was motivated by national security concerns.

TikTok promptly vowed to challenge the “unconstitutional” law in court, saying it would “silence” millions of Americans – setting the stage for a battle over whether the law violates First Amendment rights.

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Taiwan's Vice President Lai Ching-te, who heads the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, raises his fist after winning the presidential election in Taipei on Jan. 13, 2024.

Kyodo via Reuters

Taiwan elects pro-independence candidate, calls Beijing’s bluff

Taiwan, one of the freest democracies in Asia, went to the polls on Saturday for a highly anticipated election with implications for both cross-strait and US-China relations.

As we told you last week, Taiwan’s presidential campaign ended up being a close race between independence-leaning candidate William Lai Ching-te of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, or DPP, and Hou You-ih of the Kuomintang, aka KMT, who favors closer relations with China.

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Chinese Premier Li Qiang speaks at his first press conference after his appointment to the post at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing last March.

Kyodo via Reuters

China’s charm offensive: Li Qiang works to woo back foreign investment

China suffered an outflow of foreign direct investment last year (in Q3) for the first time since records began in 1979. It was a sure sign that foreign, particularly American, firms have chosen to “friend-shore” their business, pulling money out of China.

Investors are spooked by Xi Jinping’s vague national security laws and America’s policy of encouraging a reduction of investment in China, particularly in sectors deemed strategically important like semiconductors.

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Supporters of Lai Ching-te, Taiwan's vice president and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party's presidential candidate attend, a campaign event in New Taipei City, Taiwan, on Jan. 6, 2024.


Taiwan holds first big election of 2024

The world will be watching when Taiwanese voters head to the polls on Jan. 13 to choose their next president. The first in a series of elections with global ramifications in 2024, Taiwan’s vote will be a flashpoint in the tense US-China relationship. China regards Taiwan as a breakaway territory and has vowed to unify with it, by force if necessary. Taiwan has the backing of the US, which would feel pressured to come to the island’s defense in the event of a conflict with China.

The election is shaping up into a close contest between the independence-leaning candidate William Lai Ching-te of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, or DPP, and Hou You-ih of the Kuomintang, aka KMT, who favors closer relations with China.

We asked Eurasia Group expert Ava Shen what to watch for.

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Flags of the European Union and China are seen in this multiple-exposure illustration.

illustration by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Reuters

Viewpoint: Amid deepening divisions, EU and Chinese leaders set to meet this week

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel will visit Beijing on Dec. 7 for in-person meetings with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Qiang. The two sides want to show a commitment to dialog at a time when their relations are coming under mounting strain, as underscored by the recent opening of an EU probe into unfair Chinese competition in the electric vehicle sector.

Similar to last month’s meeting between Xi and US President Joe Biden, this week’s EU-China summit is not expected to produce any major breakthroughs. To find out more, we spoke with Emre Peker, a director for Eurasia Group’s Europe practice, and Anna Ashton, a director for the China practice.

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Hou Yu-ih, left, candidate for Taiwan's presidency from the main opposition Kuomintang Party, and Jaw Shaw-Kong, vice presidential candidate, wave at the Central Election Commission in Taipei on Nov. 24, 2023.


Taiwan’s unity ticket falls apart at the altar

The opposition’s shotgun wedding is off in Taiwan. Just two weeks ago, with the blessing of Beijing, the Kuomintang Party and the Taiwan People’s Party announced their intention to field a single candidate in the country’s Jan. 13 election in the hopes of defeating the ruling Democratic Progressive Party. It was a move cheered by China, which is no fan of the current frontrunner, DPP’s pro-independence candidate, William Lai Ching-te.

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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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