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Lai Ching-te attends an inaugural ceremony as president of Taiwan in Taipei, Taiwan on May 20, 2024.

The Yomiuri Shimbun via Reuters

William Lai takes the reins in Taiwan

The Democratic Progressive Party’s William Lai was inaugurated as Taiwan’s 8th president on Monday. His pro-independence inclinations cause consternation across the Strait, but Beijing’s domestic position and relations with the United States make discretion the better part of valor for the moment.

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Taiwan's Vice President Lai Ching-te, who heads the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, raises his fist after winning the presidential election in Taipei on Jan. 13, 2024.

Kyodo via Reuters

Taiwan elects pro-independence candidate, calls Beijing’s bluff

Taiwan, one of the freest democracies in Asia, went to the polls on Saturday for a highly anticipated election with implications for both cross-strait and US-China relations.

As we told you last week, Taiwan’s presidential campaign ended up being a close race between independence-leaning candidate William Lai Ching-te of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, or DPP, and Hou You-ih of the Kuomintang, aka KMT, who favors closer relations with China.

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Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister James Marape and Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanes

AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

Did Papua New Guinea just pick a side?

The Australian government on Thursday signed a security pact with its nearest neighbor, Papua New Guinea (aka PNG) that strengthens its – and America’s – position as a primary security partner in a region where China’s influence is rising.

The agreement was finalized six months later than initially scheduled, primarily because PNG harbored reservations about being perceived as favoring one side over another. During this delay, China actively sought PNG's participation in a comprehensive security pact involving nine other Pacific Island nations, though the initiative eventually collapsed. Despite having entered into a defense agreement with the United States in May, PNG asserts that it remains impartial and has not aligned itself with any particular side.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the Republic of India during Modi’s Official State Visit to Washington DC.


India and the US talk China

Between the wars in Gaza and in Ukraine, the United States has its hands full, but it’s not taking its eyes off of China. On Friday US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are holding talks with Indian officials regarding security concerns in the Indo-Pacific region. The talks come as the world prepares for the highly anticipated meeting between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping next week.
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In blow to China, US secures closer partnership with Vietnam

On his way back from the G20 meeting in India, US President Joe Biden will stop off in Vietnam on Sept. 10 to seal an agreement to deepen US ties with the Southeast Asian country. The two former enemies will upgrade their bilateral relationship from a “comprehensive partnership” to a “comprehensive strategic partnership,” the highest level in Vietnam’s diplomatic hierarchy. This new top-tier diplomatic status places the US on par with China, Russia, India, and South Korea.

The change may pave the way for weapons sales and closer maritime cooperation. But possibly even more important at a time of intense US-China competition is the symbolism of Vietnam, a Chinese neighbor and fellow communist country, moving closer to the US. We asked Eurasia Group expert Peter Mumford to explain the motivations behind the deal for both sides.

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Jess Frampton

NATO summit, the future of US-China, Elon vs. Zuck, and more: Your questions, answered

It's summer in the Northern Hemisphere, which means: you get to ask me anything.

That's right — it's the time of the year when I take your best questions on anything politics, geopolitics, and personal. Want to know what I think about the 2024 US elections? The war in Ukraine? The meaning of life? Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn and look out for future AMAs if you want a chance at getting your question answered.

I picked 10 questions this time. Some of them have been slightly edited for clarity.

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French President Emmanuel Macron and China’s President Xi Jinping gesture during a press conference in Beijing.

Blondet Eliot/ABACA via Reuters Connect

Most of the world prefers not to choose

As the US-China rivalry deepens, many countries – including close US allies – have made it clear that they don’t want to be forced to choose between the world’s two largest economies. They are engaging in an increasingly delicate dance to try and maintain constructive relations with both.

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Luisa Vieira

Trudeau and Biden line up … to take on China

In a speech last week in New York, PM Justin Trudeau took a shot at China while talking up Canada’s lithium production.

“The lithium produced in Canada is going to be more expensive because we don’t use slave labor because we put forward environmental responsibility as something we actually expect to be abided by because we count on working … in partnership with indigenous peoples, paying fair living wages, expecting security and safety standards.”

Trudeau was trying to frame a policy choice for Americans: buy virtuous, ethical Canadian lithium or unethical, Chinese lithium. This message, which Trudeau and Deputy PM & Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland keep delivering, is in line with President Joe Biden’s priority of friend-shoring, or trading with reliable partners – not China.

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