While the G7’s “Build Back Better World” (B3W) offers an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, it remains a nascent proposition that may not suit every government, especially not the more authoritarian ones.
China’s deteriorating international relationships could see countries work with the United States to curb China’s ability to use the South China Sea, or provide basing and logistical support to the US, or both, leaving China prevented from importing its sea-borne energy requirements and exporting its manufactured goods. Beijing, therefore, needs to be able to access its energy sources from Turkmenistan and Iran via overland routes that run through Central Asia, and to export its manufactured goods along them. Those routes need to be securitised, however, requiring China to extend its influence over Central Asia. That objective could encounter some severe challenges.
In the face of a water crisis started by arsenic poisoning of groundwater and further compounded by climate change-induced salinity, the Bangladeshi Government will need to act swiftly to prevent a future surge of climate refugees.
The British Government recently released its long-awaited and highly-anticipated Integrated Review. The review sets out the government’s vision for a “Global Britain”, as well as the UK’s international role following its withdrawal from the European Union. Although no longer a superpower, the UK remains a significant global actor, with an internal security architecture that maintains a global reach.
For Canadian exporters and service providers, ICA-CEPA presents an opportunity to expand into a youthful, growing and technologically-aware market that is also the largest economy in South-East Asia. It will also complement the rising awareness in Canada of the increasing strategic and economic importance of the Indo-Pacific.
While officials in the Biden Administration have emphasised that Pakistan is important to US foreign policy, especially in the context of achieving the withdrawal of the remaining US troops in Afghanistan, many believe that the White House should have been more pro-active in its engagement with Pakistan. For Islamabad, having drawn closer to Beijing, striking a balance between its relationships with the US and China has become more difficult and the US-Pakistan relationship will be greatly influenced by the Beijing-Washington nexus.
While France has undertaken to work with both sides and to respect the outcome of the vote, if this year’s referendum results in a “yes” to New Caledonian independence, the loss of territory and influence will not be welcomed. For partners such as Australia, New Zealand and the United States, a potentially reduced French presence in the south-west Pacific at a time of growing Chinese influence in the region is likely to be viewed with some concern.
Unlike when it first struck a year ago, the recent Covid-19 wave has affected several ASEAN countries severely. While the absolute numbers of fatalities are not high in countries other than Thailand and Malaysia due to strict restrictions having been imposed, the slow rate of inoculation remains a concern.