JOIN GLOBAL TRANSLATIONS THIS WEEK
Thursday, Mar. 11 — Margrethe Vestager, Europe’s top tech and antitrust enforcer, turns the tables on Ryan Heath and Kara Swisher, interviewing them at 11.30 a.m. ET (registration required).
At 2.30 p.m. ET, Ryan interviews Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee (D) as part of POLITICO’s “The Fifty: America’s Governors” summit. Register to watch live.
Friday Mar. 12 — Canada calling: Join POLITICO Canada’s Ottawa team on Clubhouse at 3 p.m. ET to debate the country’s 2021 Budget, featuring Abacus Data’s David Coletto, economist Armine Yalnizyan, Scotiabank’s Rebekah Young, and Mostafa Askari of the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy.
NEW SPACE RACE — CHINA AND RUSSIA STEAL A MARCH TO THE MOON
How will the United States respond to China and Russia agreeing to jointly construct a lunar space station, and a data center for the exploration of both the moon and deep space?
While NASA successfully cooperated with the Russian space community for the International Space Station, U.S. federal legislation bars cooperation with Beijing on space projects. President Joe Biden’s space transition team has urged cooperation with China, given China aims to be the second country to land people on the moon, and brought back lunar rocks in a successful December 2020 unmanned mission.
The China National Space Administration said the new lunar effort will be “open to all countries” while Russian space agency Roscosmos called it an “open-access international lunar scientific research station.” The European Space Agency has expressed interest in cooperating.
Both China and the U.S. achieved successful missions to Mars in February. NASA’s Perseverance rover is already on the red planet, while China’s Tianwen 1 will attempt a landing in May or June.
Perspective: Tuesday’s other global defense news, that Germany and France have established a joint airlift squadron with an integrated command structure, now seems rather limited in comparison.
For All Mankind: editor Ben Pauker recommends fiction for context: The streaming TV series For All Mankind is based on “an alternate history wherein the Russians landed on the moon first and America’s playing catch up. Spoiler alert: political tensions on Earth don’t mix well with space diplomacy.”
DEMOCRACY MEETS WORLD
TRADING JABS — LOTS OF WAYS TO BLOCK A VACCINE EXPORT: The EU and U.K. are fighting each other again over whether either side has banned Covid vaccine exports. Both implausibly claim that they haven’t — more from David Herszenhorn here. But whatever you want to call it, Strive Masiyiwa, the head of the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT), told Global Translations no vaccines from Western factories have arrived in Africa yet. While he has struck deals with some Western drug makers, he said the ten million or so doses that have arrived are either made in Africa (J&J in South Africa), come from India’s Serum Institute (which is producing AstraZeneca’s vaccine under license), the global COVAX vaccine sharing project, or bilateral deals with Chinese producers.
Reality check: When leaders like European Council president Charles Michel travel to Rwanda and claim “nobody will be safe until everyone is,” a lot of locals think the words ring hollow. The International Rescue Committee has calculated that Western countries don’t need to choose between their own people and being generous: excess vaccine doses purchased by rich countries are enough to vaccinate all adults in IRC’s top 20 “watchlist” (vulnerable) countries in 2021, if the West can organize itself properly to vaccinate quickly at home then share the rest.
‘A CREEPING AUTHORITARIAN COUP’: That’s how Adam Michnik, the longtime editor-in-chief of Poland’s Gazeta Wyborcza characterizes the press crackdowns from Warsaw and Budapest in an English-language clarion call. “Those who attack independent media hope to murder language as a tool for finding truth,” Michnik writes.
Coming to America: The trial of Andrea Sahouri, a U.S. journalist arrested while covering protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death kicked off this week.
CLIMATE — US AND EUROPE SEARCH FOR A CHINA DOCTRINE: John Kerry’s visit to Brussels, London and Paris was focused on what to do about China. Despite years of careful relationship building with Beijing, EU officials admit that China’s latest Five-Year Plan is a rebuff of their climate hopes, and that Washington and Brussels need a common line on what to do if China fails to play ball on climate this year.
BRAZIL — WHAT’S ON LULA’S MIND: Brazil was convulsed Monday by Brazil’s Supreme Court voiding several judgements against the former president, universally known as “Lula.” Anand Giriharadas interviewed Lula about his comeback plans. Eurasia Group’s Ian Bremmer has more.
SAUDI — “THE DISSIDENT”, THE ROYALS, AND GLOBAL PRECEDENTS: This new film, now available on demand, looks at the mechanics of state-sponsored killings such as Jamal Khashoggi’s and draws on a full transcript of what the Turkish government found in its Khashoggi investigation. In a Zoom call Tuesday, director Bryan Fogel urged viewers to see the film as a contribution to the historical record, and said Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) needs more than “a slap on the wrist.” The noted Kremlin critic Bill Browder said that upping the U.S. response to the Khashoggi murder matters because if heads of state get the message that “you can get away with murder,” he and other Kremlin critics, for example, are at a heightened risk. Saudi exile Omar Abdulaziz — now in Canada — has expressed his fear of being the next Saudi government target.
BIDEN MEETS WORLD
CHINESE TALKS ON CARDS: China and the United States are in talks for their top diplomats to meet in Alaska in a bid to reset a volatile but pivotal relationship, South China Morning Post reported. The State Department did not deny the report to POLITICO, which is consistent with administration plans to move gently toward top-level engagement between the two countries.
The Chinese delegation could include two heavyweights: Yang Jiechi, the Communist Party official in charge of foreign affairs who often serves as President Xi Jinping’s envoy, and State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. The two men are China’s most senior diplomats and Xi’s trusted lieutenants. Yang met then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a similar top-level meeting in Hawaii mid-2020.
AMERICA FIRST: Get ready for the Biden blitz. The president is scheduled to deliver his first prime-time address on Thursday night, focused on Covid, his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, and the $1,400 checks it will deliver for most Americans. America’s stimulus spending is now set to top $5 trillion in one year, and there’s more spending planned on infrastructure.
Get to know Ron Klain: my former colleagues Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman interviewed the White House chief of staff.
BIDEN’S DOUBLES HIS CRACK ANTITRUST HIRES: President Biden has nominated Lina Khan, a Columbia University legal scholar championed by anti-Big Tech activists, to the Federal Trade Commission. Along with the recent hiring of Tim Wu as a White House economic adviser, that sets the stage for an aggressive tech regulatory agenda.
IMMIGRATION LIMBO: The new administration arrived with a long to-do list, aiming for a kinder, gentler and quicker immigration system. But despite a big immigration package on Day 1, most immigrants and prospective immigrants are still waiting. (Note: your author’s hopes for a Green Card could be subject to a 32-month processing time, according to government websites). My colleague Anita Kumar describes Biden’s challenge as “a complicated puzzle — a convoluted system designed to do the exact opposite of what he wants it to do.” [Might want to just add a quick note here about the influx of migrants on the Southern border and a ramp-up in tensions]
TOUGH ON IRAN: The administration sent signals Tuesday that it’s willing to hold a muscular line on Iran, while remaining open to rejoining the Iran nuclear deal. Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) interrogators Ali Hemmatian and Masoud Safdari (and their families) were added to the U.S. visa ban list for “gross violations of human rights, namely the torture and/or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment (CIDTP) of political prisoners and persons detained during protests in 2019 and 2020 in Iran.”
FOREIGN POLICY CONSENSUS SWEET SPOT: A Roadmap for U.S. Global Leadership, from the U.S. Global Leadership Commission, analyzed over 100 foreign and security policy reports to pinpoint key areas of consensus. We salute the poor soul who had to read all of these.
EU BRINGS ITS BREXIT PITCH TO WASHINGTON: Suzanne Lynch reports that Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney and the European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic are briefing Friends of Ireland caucus members in Congress today. The virtual gathering is in lieu of the usual week-long St Patrick’s Day tour Irish politicians normally conduct in Washington.
CHINA MEETS WORLD
UIGHUR TREATMENT IS GENOCIDE, XI IS TO BLAME: REPORT China’s campaign against its Uighur minority violates every article in the UN genocide convention, a landmark independent review by the Newlines Institute has found. The report by more than 50 international law experts runs to 25,000 pages — making it the most substantial body of evidence over Beijing’s Uighur actions.
Counterpoint: What genocide? It’s all tai chi, dancing and blue skies in Xinjiang according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
GLOBAL RISKS AND TRENDS
FRENCH FAR-RIGHT GAINS: Marine Le Pen has the Élysée Palace in her sights. French President Emmanel Macron is consistently losing left-wing voters, and with former president Nicholas Sarkozy’s corruption conviction sidelining him, a new Harris Interactive poll putting Le Pen on 47 percent versus Macron on 53 percent in a run-off vote due to be held 2022.
GERMAN GREEN GAINS — ON TOP IN AUTO INDUSTRY HOME STATE: The Greens scored a surprise 30 percent of the vote in the 2016 Baden–Württemberg state election, and have only consolidated their support since, ahead of a Mar. 14 state election.
INTELLIGENCE — THE DECLINING MARKET FOR SECRETS: We now live in a world of hybrid intelligence — where brainpower applied to openly available information is as valuable as secrets, and where private organization from journalists to consultancies often beat intelligence agencies at their own game. Intelligence agencies in democracies need to open up argue Zachery Tyson Brown and Carmen Medina.
CLIMATE — WILL SMART GLASSES SAVE US FROM CLIMATE CHANGE? That’s Mark Zuckerberg’s suggestion (hopefully he doesn’t mean clunky headsets). The idea is that your 2-D video meeting will become an immersive experience, saving you a bunch of flights. But don’t tell Facebook management: they might have to curtail the notoriously loose travel policies they operated pre-pandemic.
DIGITAL REALITY CHECK — EU PROMISES A DIGITAL DECADE, AGAIN: Every five years the EU rolls out a new digital plan, driven by fears that the Continent is falling behind the U.S., and now China. The plans always commit to boosting advanced tech, networks, skills and start-ups. Your author knows the playbook: he used to write it, as the EU’s tech speechwriter and spokesperson from 2010-2015. And here we are again. The latest plan focuses on boosting microchip production, speeding up 5G rollout, and doubling the number of European “tech unicorns” (billion dollar start-ups). There’s not much focus, however, on why the previous plans didn’t achieve their top goals.
TRADE — AUSTRIA CHOOSES A BRAZILIAN HILL TO DIE ON: The Austrian government has pledged firm opposition to the EU-Mercosur trade agreement, which would be the world’s largest, if ratified. Austria’s Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler warned that any intensification of industrial agriculture and food production in Mercosur’s South American member countries would threaten a “climate catastrophe.” In 2020, deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest hit a 12-year high, according to Brazil’s government space research agency.
JOBS RECOVERY SPOTLIGHT
FEW EMPLOYERS WILL MANDATE VACCINES: American employers are among the most optimistic globally: 77 percent think their workforce will return to 2019 levels in 2021. But just one in four employers plans to encourage vaccinations by promoting the benefits, and just 16 percent will require employees to be vaccinated to return to the office, according to a new survey released by Manpower.
BY THE NUMBERS — THE STATE OF THE U.S. JOBS RECOVERY
WOMENOMICS: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and IMF chief Kristaline Georgieva engaged in a revealing chat for International Women’s Day, about how economics is changing and needs to keep changing (video). Georgieva spoke of getting up at 4 a.m. to get milk for her daughter when she lived behind the Iron Curtain, and how the destruction of her mother’s life savings in two days of post-Communist upheaval was the ultimate proof for her that economic policy must be rooted in daily life experiences.
HARRY AND MEGHAN GENERATIONAL FALLOUT: Young Britons overwhelmingly back the Sussexes, older Britons feel the same way about Queen Elizabeth II, while 25-49 year olds are split. Catherine Philip, The Times of London’s diplomatic correspondent dives deeper into Monday’s Global Translations question: how much damage has been done to Britain’s brand? Oprah meanwhile revived an art form — the long TV interview — many had written off, and offered would-be interview subjects and their handlers a neat playbook for attention.
Thanks to editor Ben Pauker, Nahal Toosi, Sarah Wheaton
This Article firstly Publish on www.politico.com