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Gang members wait to be taken to their cell after 2000 gang members were transferred to the Terrorism Confinement Center, in Tecoluca, El Salvador. Handout distributed March 15, 2023.

Secretaria de Prensa de la Presidencia/Handout via REUTERS

What We’re Watching: El Salvador’s lingering state of emergency, Northern Ireland on alert, Alibaba’s breakup, Greek election matters

El Salvador’s state of emergency one year later

This week marks one year since El Salvador’s bullish millennial president, Nayib Bukele, introduced a state of emergency, enabling his government to deal with the scourge of gang violence that has long made his country one of the world’s most dangerous.

Quick recap: To crack down on the country’s 70,000 gang members, Bukele’s government denied alleged criminals the right to know why they were detained and access to legal counsel. The arrest blitz has seen nearly 2% of the adult population locked up.

Despite these draconian measures and Bukele’s efforts to circumvent a one-term limit, he enjoys a staggering 91% approval rating.

Bukele has also sought to distinguish himself as an anti-corruption warrior, which resonates with an electorate disillusioned by years of corrupt politicians (Bukele’s three predecessors have all been charged with corruption. One is in prison; two are on the run.)

Externally, relations with the Biden administration have been icy under Bukele, with San Salvador refusing to back a US-sponsored UN resolution condemning Russia’s war in Ukraine.

What matters most to Salvadorans is the dropping crime rate, which is why Bukele will likely cruise to reelection next year.

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A central processing unit (CPU) semiconductor chip is displayed among flags of China and U.S., February 17, 2023.

REUTERS/Florence Lo

What We're Watching: US-China tech race, Ukraine-Russia confusion, Greek train politics, world's most populous "country"

Who's winning the US-China tech race?

China is now ahead of the US in 37 out of 44 types of advanced technology, according to a new report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. These include artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and robotics — all key to winning the race to dominate global tech. Beijing is finally reaping the benefits of decades and vast sums of money invested in scientific research, a priority for Xi Jinping. So, can China declare victory? Not so fast. The study points out that it’s not easy to turn cutting-edge research milestones into manufacturing prowess. In other words, the Chinese might have acquired the technology to make the most advanced quantum computers in the world, but the country still lacks the capacity to mass-produce them at the same quality standards as less powerful American-made models (this applies, for instance, to semiconductors). For now, at least, China is not yet eating America's tech lunch.

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