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Ukraine Corruption Scandals Won't Affect War Efforts | World In :60 | GZERO Media

Ukraine anti-corruption moves won't hurt war effort

Will resignations and a political shake-up in Ukraine negatively affect its war efforts?

No, not at all. This is anti-corruption efforts, getting rid of a bunch of people that are seen as problematic in terms of skimming money within the government. Russia's been more corrupt than Ukraine historically, but actually, it's quite close. There's a lot of work to be done, and as people start thinking about Ukraine attracting major funds from the Europeans, the Americans, others, multilaterals to rebuild the country, they really need to make sure that the money is going where it needs to, and that means running the economy well. So this is the effort that's being tried here, but it doesn't really matter with the war effort at all.

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Sri Lankan Commando Regiment members in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

What We’re Watching: Sri Lanka’s shrinking military, mass shootings in America, McCarthy’s Taiwan visit, a common currency pipedream

Sri Lanka’s military downsize

In its latest bid to cut the economic fat, Sri Lanka's government announced that it will downsize its army, aiming to reduce the number of military personnel from 200,783 to 135,000 by next year and to 100,000 by 2030. Sri Lankan defense officials say the army is restructuring in order to boost its tech capabilities, primarily in cyberspace. But analysts highlight that this is part of President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s pledge to slash the bloated public sector, a precondition to unlocking a $2.9 billion bailout package from the International Monetary Fund. Crucially, military salaries make up around 37% of public wage costs. Cash-strapped Sri Lanka defaulted on its external debt for the first time in May 2022, after years of economic mismanagement led to acute fuel and food shortages – and forced Colombo to borrow heavily from India and China. With the bulk of Sri Lanka’s defense spending going to salaries rather than investment in equipment, this plan presents an opportunity for the country to correct its balance sheet. But some critics worry that Colombo, facing an internal terror threat, could be moving too hard too fast.

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Police secures the area in Berlin after 25 suspected members and supporters of a far-right group were detained during raids across Germany.

REUTERS/Christian Mang

What We’re Watching: German coup plotters, Peru’s self-coup, Xi’s Saudi visit, TSMC’s big investment

A thwarted German Jan. 6?

Is there a single German word for "narrowly averted right-wing coup attempt"? We aren't sure, but on Wednesday German authorities arrested 25 people accused of belonging to a domestic terror organization with plans to overthrow the government and replace it with German nobility in a throwback to pre-Weimar times. Some 3,000 police conducted raids in several German states as well as in Austria and Italy, detaining people associated with the Reichsbürger, a right-wing German conspiracy group, the far-right Alternativ für Deutschland party, and at least one Russian citizen. You’ll likely remember that a member of the AfD – a euroskeptic party that has capitalized on anti-immigrant sentiment in recent years to grow its base – tweeted after the Jan. 6 riot at the US Capitol that "Trump is fighting the same political fight — you have to call it a culture war." Harboring beliefs that Germany is being run by a “deep state'' (sound familiar?), the group reportedly planned to launch an armed attack on the Reichstag, Germany’s parliament. This is just the most recent reflection of a far-right extremist problem in Deutschland. Last year, the German government placed the AfD under surveillance for its far-right extremist affiliations, and early this year the government found that more than 300 employees in Germany's security apparatus harbored far-right views.

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Luisa Vieira

GOP-led US House will get tougher on China — but not as much as you'd think

Republicans succeeded in unseating Democratic leadership of the House in this US midterm election and will take control of the lower chamber early next year. Still, one foreign policy issue that seems to enjoy unusual bipartisan consensus in Washington is China. While there’s some truth to that assessment, there are differences in the China-related issues that each party tends to emphasize. There’s also quite a lot of partisan politics undergirding deliberation and debate over China.

Both parties are vying to position themselves as the better choice to lead the United States in rising to the China challenge. The Republican primary for the 2024 presidential race will get underway soon, and GOP hopefuls will be competing with each other, seeking to convey to voters their credentials as critics of the Chinese Communist Party. More than 80% of Americans now hold unfavorable views of China, but Republican voters express comparatively greater concern, and that is reflected in GOP candidates’ relatively outspoken support for hawkish China policy.

For both of these reasons, even though the Biden administration continues to take a tough line on China, Eurasia Group analyst Anna Ashton fully expects a Republican-controlled US Congress to charge that the White House is not being tough enough. We asked her how this might affect American policy toward Beijing.

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A researcher wearing cleanroom suit displaying a wafer in the lab of Shanghai Microsemi Semiconductor Co., Ltd. in Shanghai, China.

Reuters

Who’s winning the war over chips?

When it comes to semiconductor production, there’s just one superpower: Taiwan. The self-governing island produces more than two-thirds of the world’s chips, and almost all of the advanced ones.

But with Taiwan’s geopolitical fate uncertain, both Washington and Beijing are racing to build their own dominance and self-sufficiency in the chip industry.

We sat down with Eurasia Group geo-technology expert Xiaomeng Lu to learn more about where this battle is heading. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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Semiconductor manafacturing require a lot of water.

GZERO Media

Hard Numbers: Thirsty industry, global economic slump, China’s contraction, India enters the fray

264 billion: Semiconductor manufacturing is extremely water intensive. Consider that the industry consumes as much as 264 billion gallons of water per year, and by some estimates, a large chip plant can use up to 10 million gallons of water a day, equivalent to the water consumption of roughly 300,000 households.

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People gather for a vigil and hold white sheets of paper to protest COVID restrictions in Beijing, China.

REUTERS/Thomas Peter

What We're Watching: China losing on zero-COVID, "winning" in Taiwan

Chinese people vs. zero-COVID

Unprecedented protests against Xi Jinping and his controversial zero-COVID policy have hit the streets and college campuses across China. On Saturday, demonstrators in the financial hub of Shanghai, the country’s largest city, waved blank sheets of paper to show defiance and demanded the unthinkable: that the all-powerful Xi step down. Similar scenes were seen from Beijing to Nanjing.

Such widespread protests are extremely rare in tightly controlled China, especially against Xi. But zero-COVID, despite recent tweaks, has not only affected everyday life and the economy — it may also have been the cause of a recent fire that killed 10 people in Urumqi, the capital of the northwestern Xinjiang region. While the tragedy may have sparked the latest round of protests, for months snap lockdowns have been triggering clashes between residents and officials in other cities. China’s low vaccination rate, ineffective homegrown vaccines, and the high elderly population support Beijing’s insistence on zero-COVID. However, the policy isn’t working anymore, with case numbers now hitting record highs. Xi just got a third term as Communist Party boss, putting him on the path to likely rule as long as he wants. Will the recent protests — which so far have been met with strong police action — force him to rethink the policy, or double down on it?

On Monday, some big cities responded to the unrest by (slightly) relaxing COVID curbs. However, Beijing and Shanghai stepped up security in protest areas and national state media clarified that zero-COVID is here to stay.

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Supporters of opposition party KMT wearing t-shirts with the Taiwan flag at an election rally in Taoyuan.

REUTERS/Ann Wang

What We’re Watching: Taiwanese election, Trump's taxes, South African protests, ugly economic forecast

As Taiwan votes, China watches

Taiwanese go to the polls Saturday to vote in the first election since early 2020, when President Tsai Ing-wen won a second term in office right before COVID erupted. This time it’s only a local election, but as with anything political in Taiwan, China is paying close attention. Beijing is bullish on the pro-China KMT party, which is leading the polls in several key races. (Fun fact: the KMT mayoral candidate for the capital, Taipei, is the great-grandson of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, the founder of modern Taiwan.) A good overall result for the KMT would mean two things. First, it would buck historical trends — and China's declining popularity among Taiwanese — if voters sour on the ruling anti-China DPP party just months after China responded with its biggest-ever show of military force to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visiting the island. Second, it raises the stakes for the DPP ahead of the presidential election in 2024, when the popular but term-limited Tsai needs a strong candidate for the party to stay in power. Alternatively, if polls are wrong and the DPP does well, expect fire and fury from across the Taiwan Strait.

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