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Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during their meeting in Budapest.

Reuters.

What We're Watching: Hungarian holdout, hope in Shanghai, US troops return to Somalia

Is Hungary holding the EU “hostage”?

The European Commission is pushing hard for a bloc-wide ban on Russian oil imports. But one member state — Hungary — has gone rogue and is holding up the embargo. At a meeting of EU foreign ministers on Monday, Lithuania’s representative accused Hungary of holding the bloc “hostage,” after PM Viktor Orbán demanded that Brussels dole out hundreds of millions of dollars to offset losses from moving away from cheap Russian fossil fuels. Orbán is buddies with Vladimir Putin and has been trying to expand Hungary’s economic relationship with the Kremlin in recent months, so he is driving a hard bargain, saying that ditching Russian oil would be an “atomic bomb” for his country’s economy. Landlocked Hungary relies on Russia for around 45% of its total oil imports, and finding alternative sources could lead to shortages and price hikes at a time when Hungarians are already grappling with sky-high inflation. Still, Brussels says Budapest is being greedy because Hungary has already been given a longer window — until the end of 2024 — to phase out Russian imports. But Orbán is hoping to get more concessions ahead of a big EU summit on May 30, when the bloc aims to find a political solution to this stalemate.

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China Isn't Budging on Zero-COVID | Quick Take | GZERO Media

China isn't budging on zero-COVID

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi everybody, Ian Bremmer here. And yes, we are seven weeks into the war, but we also have real problems in containing COVID in China.

In the United States and the rest of the developed world, everyone's saying, "We're done with COVID. We don't want to wear masks anymore. We want to get our lives back." But in China, the zero-COVID policy means that they've got still major lockdowns. In particular, in Shanghai, the largest city in China, which is now entering a second week of lockdown. And record numbers of cases in Shanghai, nothing close to the numbers of cases you were seeing in the United States or in Europe, but in China -- where very few people have gotten COVID, and so there's no natural immunity, vaccines don't work very well and the hospitals would get overwhelmed very quickly if they were just going to let COVID rip -- understandable that they are extremely nervous about these small numbers and as a consequence, they're locking down the entire city.

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Should China Learn to Live With COVID? | GZERO World

Should China learn to live with COVID?

If omicron makes cases explode in China, the country's leaders will have to choose between weathering short-term or long-term pain.

Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, predicts that sticking to the zero-COVID approach at all costs will hurt the Chinese and global economy. In his view, learning to live with the virus is the way to go.

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China vs COVID in 2022 | GZERO World

China vs COVID in 2022

Omicron has arrived. It's more contagious, but less severe. Some parts of the world are even looking forward to the pandemic becoming endemic.

Not China. Xi Jinping's zero-COVID strategy has worked wonders until now, but it's unlikely to survive omicron, explains Ian Bremmer on GZERO World.

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COVID at the Beijing Winter Olympics | GZERO World

COVID at the Beijing Winter Olympics

China's zero-COVID strategy will be put to its biggest test to date with the Beijing Winter Olympics approach.

Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, says Chinese officials think they are taking the safest approach, but that may not be enough against the more transmissible omicron variant.

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Podcast: The problem with China’s Zero COVID strategy

Listen: Xi Jinping's zero-COVID approach faces its toughest test to date with omicron. Why? Because China lacks mRNA jabs, and so few Chinese people have gotten COVID that overall protection is very low. A wave of lockdowns could disrupt the world's second-largest economy — just a month out from the Beijing Winter Olympics.

That could spell disaster for Beijing, Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, tells Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast. If things get really bad, though, Huang believes China will pivot to living with the virus, especially as the cost of keeping zero COVID in the age of omicron becomes too high.

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

Ian Bremmer: Zero COVID No Longer Works, and China Will Pay a Price | Top Risks 2022 | GZERO Media

Ian Bremmer: Zero COVID no longer works, and China will pay a price

For Ian Bremmer, China has the strongest political governance of any major economy today. Sometime that's good, and has allowed China to become the world's second largest economy.

But there's also a downside we're going to see this year, Bremmer said during a livestream conversation to launch Eurasia Group's annual Top Risks report. China's zero-COVID policy, which worked incredibly well in 2020 to respond to the pandemic, no longer works because the virus has changed.

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