CFR Daily News Brief June 30, 2022

Top of the Agenda

China’s Xi Visits Hong Kong, Praises Its ‘Rise From Ashes’Chinese President Xi Jinping is in Hong Kong for ceremonies marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of the city’s handover from British rule. He said Hong Kong has “risen from the ashes” (SCMP) since his last visit in 2017. Since then, Beijing has cracked down on dissent and independent media in the city. While Xi’s 2017 visit was followed by a pro-democracy march (Bloomberg), Hong Kong’s streets have been empty of demonstrations this week because of the sweeping national security law Beijing imposed on the city in 2020 and warnings from police. It is Xi’s first trip outside mainland China since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The anniversary also marks the halfway point of a promise Beijing made to maintain liberal institutions in Hong Kong for fifty years. The United States and United Kingdom have accused Beijing of breaking the promise.

“What had been a small oasis of free expression, with a vibrant civil society and a critical press, is now a barren desert where democracy activists, academics, and independent media are punished with draconian laws against what the [Chinese Communist Party] deems terrorism, secession, or sedition,” Justitia’s Jacob Mchangama writes for Foreign Affairs. “[Xi] has instructed the city’s new chief executive John Lee to launch the city into a ‘new era.’ Interviews with business leaders and data compiled by the Financial Times suggest that Hong Kong will be less international and closer to China, both economically and culturally,” the Financial Times’ Chan Ho-him, Gloria Li, Andy Lin, and Primrose Riordan write. This Backgrounder looks at how China is cracking down on Hong Kong’s freedoms.
Pacific Rim

New Philippine President Praises Dictator Father in Inauguration SpeechAs he took office today, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. praised the economic legacy (Nikkei) of his father, Ferdinand Marcos. For the Asia Unbound blog, CFR’s Joshua Kurlantzick examines what Marcos Jr.’s initial policies could mean for the rest of his term.
South and Central Asia

Sri Lanka’s In-Person Talks With IMF End Without DealCrisis-hit Sri Lanka had been angling for a bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), but none was agreed to (CNBC) after ten days of meetings. Talks will continue virtually. 

Afghanistan: At the Taliban’s first national gathering of male ethnic and religious leaders, a participant called for girls’ high schools (Reuters) to reopen. The Taliban backtracked on a pledge to allow this in March. For the Asia Unbound blog, Melissa Skorka discusses how to protect girls’ education in Afghanistan.
Middle East and North Africa U.S.-Iran Talks to Revive Nuclear Deal End Without ProgressThere was no date set for the negotiations to continue after two days of talks in Doha, Qatar, ended without a breakthrough (WSJ), several Western diplomats said. 

Israel: The country’s parliament unanimously voted (Haaretz) to dissolve itself, paving the way for elections on November 1. Incoming caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid will replace his coalition partner Naftali Bennett, who said he will not run in the upcoming elections.
Sub-Saharan Africa

DRC Rebel Group Poised to Overwhelm UN Peacekeeping CapabilitiesThe UN envoy for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) warned that the increasing military capabilities of the March 23 Movement (M23) rebel group could “exceed” (Africanews) the abilities of UN forces.  

Mali: The country’s military government said it will not guarantee (Reuters) UN peacekeepers freedom of movement to investigate human rights abuses.

Russian Forces Withdraw From Ukraine’s Snake Island, Carry Out Prisoner SwapRussian troops withdrew from the Black Sea island (NYT) following repeated Ukrainian attacks. The prisoner swap reportedly included around 140 detainees (NYT) from each side, the largest exchange since the war began. For Foreign Affairs, Kirstin J.H. Brathwaite and Margarita Konaev discuss how to sustain the fight in Ukraine. 

Poland: The country completed the construction of a wall (AP) on its border with Belarus. Poland has been accused of having a double standard on migration for blocking asylum seekers from Muslim-majority countries while welcoming Ukrainians.

Colombia’s Petro Names Former Central Bank Co-chair as Finance MinisterChoosing Jose Antonio Ocampo could be a sign of moderation (Bloomberg) for leftist President-Elect Gustavo Petro.  

Mexico: Journalist Antonio de la Cruz was shot and killed (The Guardian) while leaving his house in the state of Tamaulipas. He is the twelfth Mexican journalist to be killed this year.
United States

Supreme Court Expands States’ Right to Prosecute on Tribal LandsThe Supreme Court decision undercuts a 2020 ruling (NYT), granting state authorities the right to prosecute non-Natives who commit crimes on tribal lands.
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