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What We're Watching: Hariri throws in the towel, China calls for Pakistan blast probe, Poland hits EU over judiciary

Lebanon's PM-designate resigns: Things continue to deteriorate in crisis-ridden Lebanon. On Thursday, veteran politician and prime minister-designate Saad Hariri resigned eight months after being tapped to form a technocratic government after a series of crises and disasters, chief among them the devastating explosion at a Beirut port last August. Lebanon's Hezbollah-aligned President Michel Aoun refused to accept any of Hariri's proposals, because he said they did not reflect the country's sectarian power-sharing requirements. But Hariri pushed back, saying that Aoun wanted too many government spots for his allies. The Lebanese pound dipped to a new low after Hariri called it quits Thursday, reaching 21,000 to the US dollar. It's unclear who will step in now to form a government, a prerequisite to releasing billions of dollars in aid from former colonizer France and others. Meanwhile, the EU has said it'll impose sanctions on Lebanese officials if progress remains static.

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Is China too confident?

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody, Ian Bremmer here. Happy Monday. Have your Quick Take to start off the week. I want to talk a little bit about China and the backlash to China. We all know that China has been the top international focus of the Biden administration, considered to be the top national security threat, adversary, competitor of the United States. On top of the fact that there's large bipartisan agreement about that, on top of the fact that President Biden doesn't want to be seen in any way as potentially weak on China, to be vulnerable to the Republicans if he were to do so.

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Can the G7 really build back the world better than China?

Over the weekend, the Biden administration announced a G7-backed plan to build climate-friendly infrastructure projects across the developing world. Against the backdrop of rising US-China competition, the plan is widely perceived as a direct challenge to China's Belt and Road Initiative, which also aims to build roads, ports, and rails across the Global South.

But what is really in the new G7 program — known as "B3W" (Build Back Better for the World) — and what is it meant to achieve? Here are a few questions to ponder.

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What We’re Watching: Australia cancels China deals, Zuma without lawyers, US to recognize Armenian genocide

Australia rips up Belt & Road deal: Australia cancelled two 2018 deals signed between Victoria, Australia's wealthiest state, and the Chinese government, that committed the two sides to working together on initiatives under China's Belt and Road infrastructure development program. Foreign Minister Marise Payne said that the agreements "were adverse to our foreign relations." Similar deals between Victoria and institutions in Iran and Syria were also abandoned by the Australian government this week, under a 2020 law that allows Canberra to nullify international agreements struck at local and state level. (Australian universities say the "foreign veto bill" amounts to "significant overreach.") Meanwhile, Beijing hit back, calling the move "unreasonable and provocative," and accusing Canberra of further stoking divisions after a series of escalatory moves by both sides that have seen China-Australia relations deteriorate to their worst point in decades. Chinese investment in Australia dropped by 62 percent last year, a massive blow for Australia's export-reliant economy.

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China's plans for Afghanistan

Afghanistan frustrated nineteenth-century British imperialists for 40 years, and ejected the Soviet army in 1989 after a bloody decade there. And though American and NATO forces ousted the Taliban government in 2001 over its support for al-Qaeda, there's no good reason for confidence that nearly 20 years of occupation have brought lasting results for security and development across the country.

But… could China succeed where other outsiders have failed – and without a costly and risky military presence? Is the promise of lucrative trade and investment enough to ensure a power-sharing deal among Afghanistan's warring factions?

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Kevin Rudd and China's Future

This week Ian talks China all episode long. First up, what China is getting right and what it is getting wrong. Then he sits down with former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to discuss Xi Jinping’s China. And on Puppet Regime, Vladimir Putin gets a brand new look. Let’s get to it.

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