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Two intertwining arrows between China and India's Flags

Louisa Viera

Is India the new China? Not quite

India recently overtook China as the world’s most populous country – albeit just. This demographic shift inspired a flurry of hot takes suggesting that India will soon replace China to become the world’s leading manufacturing powerhouse.

For now, China remains the world’s largest manufacturing hub, but an aging population and rising labor costs raise questions about whether its position is under threat.

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Former Pakistani PM Imran Khan, gestures as he speaks with Reuters during an interview in Lahore.

REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

What We're Watching: Punjab election back on, China-India war of names, Brazil wants peace in Ukraine

Constitutional & political crises in Pakistan

Pakistan’s Supreme Court has ordered that Punjab, the country’s most populous state, can hold elections on May 14, deeming a recent government decision to postpone polls in two states as “unconstitutional.”

Quick recap: This comes after Pakistan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf Party, led by former PM Imran Khan, filed a petition challenging the government’s decision to delay the polls in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa from April to October.

The government had attributed the delay to a shortfall in funds due to economic constraints, but the top court ordered the government to release 20 billion rupees ($70 million) to fund the elections.

You’ll likely remember that Khan – who was ousted last April in a no-confidence vote and now faces corruption and terrorism charges that he says are politically motivated – is at loggerheads with the central government that’s trying to sideline him.

What’s more, this comes just days after the government introduced a bill in parliament trying to limit the power of the Supreme Court, which Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has long accused of “judicial activism.”

While the tussle between the government and the judiciary continues, there is at least one winner here: Khan, whose primary demand since being ousted has been fresh elections, particularly in his home state of Punjab. The last time Punjab held by-polls, PTI won in a landslide.

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Indian army officers and troops at a forward base in eastern Ladakh.

EYEPRESS via Reuters Connect

In the world’s highest battlefield, China has the advantage over India

Fresh clashes in a culturally and strategically important area in the Himalayas between the world’s two largest militaries are triggering questions about India’s capacity to confront China.

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Indian soldiers deployed in the Ladakh region bordering China.

REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

The hedge edge: India’s savvy but selfish non-aligned diplomacy

After facing off in the western Himalayas for over two years, with more than 100,000 troops deployed in what is considered the world’s highest battlefield, the Chinese and Indian militaries are finally disengaging.

The latest breakthrough, announced Thursday, comes after 16 rounds of negotiations conducted since June 2020, when some 20 Indian soldiers and at least four Chinese troops were killed in a rare bloody skirmish. This was the worst fighting between the two sides there since a 1962 border war won by China and strained ties between Beijing and Delhi.

But while the Indians continue to negotiate with the Chinese, what does this mean for India’s perceived position as a natural “counterweight” to China? Indeed, since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Delhi has bolstered its relationship with Moscow, Beijing’s new partner “without limits.” Are the Indians in fact trying to play all sides by moving closer to the China-Russia axis while staying a US strategic partner?

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What We're Watching: Iran plays hard to get, China gets up in India's grid, Dominicans build a wall

Iran rules out nuclear talks… for now: Iran has reportedly rejected an offer to join direct talks with the US and EU over its nuclear program, saying it won't start the conversation until sanctions on Iran's economy are eased. To be clear, this does NOT mean that prospects for reviving the Iran nuclear deal are dead. Europeans and the Biden administration want a return to the 2015 nuclear agreement, and Iran certainly needs the economic boost that would come from a removal of sanctions. But Tehran is going to try to maximize its leverage before any talks begin, especially since this is a sensitive election year in in the country. Iran's leaders are going to play hard to get for a while longer before edging their way back to the bargaining table. Still, it's high stakes diplomacy here between parties that have almost no mutual trust — and one misstep could throw things off track quickly.

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