Council on Foreign Relations – Daily News Brief Dec. 27, 2022

Top of the Agenda

China Makes Sweeping Changes to COVID-19 Travel Restrictions

From January 8, China will no longer require (Nikkei) passengers to undergo mandatory testing and quarantines upon arrival and will relax limits on the number of flights entering the country, authorities announced yesterday. The policy shift follows the easing (NYT) of domestic pandemic restrictions in the wake of mass protests over the country’s harsh zero-COVID strategy.
Beijing also said that citizens will regain permission to go abroad “in an orderly manner” after almost three years of what was effectively a ban on nonessential travel. Amid the reopening, COVID-19 has strained health-care facilities across the country and Beijing has limited official reporting on the number of cases and deaths. In response, Japan announced that it will require negative tests upon arrival (SCMP) from travelers from mainland China.

“I’m afraid [China’s COVID-19] mitigation strategy that is supposed to be focusing on the elderly and the vulnerable will be relegated to the back burner,” CFR’s Yanzhong Huang tells the New York Times.
“What [China’s situation] means for the whole world is there will be less medical supplies available because China is the major producer and now needs the supply,” the University of Washington’s Ali H. Mokdad tells Think Global Health. “Everybody in the world will feel what’s happening in China.”
Pacific Rim

Taiwan Lengthens Men’s Mandatory Military Service

Amid heightened tensions with China, Taiwan will increase the length of mandatory service (Nikkei) from four months to one year beginning in 2024. It will also raise the pay for conscripts. For the Asia Unbound blog, CFR’s David Sacks discusses how Taiwan is responding to growing threats from China.
South and Central Asia

Maoist Sworn In as Nepal’s Prime Minister

Pushpa Kamal Dahal, widely known as Prachanda, is seen as leaning toward China (WaPo), in contrast to outgoing Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba. Nepal has had thirteen prime ministers in the last sixteen years.  

Afghanistan: The acting head of the United Nations mission in Afghanistan met with Taliban officials (Reuters) to call for a reversal of the group’s ban on women working for nongovernmental organizations.
Middle East and North Africa

Iranian Soccer Star Says Family Faced Travel Ban Over Support for Protests

Former soccer player Ali Daei said his wife and daughter were blocked (AP) from leaving the country yesterday.  

Syria: Fighters from the self-declared Islamic State killed six members (AP) of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the city of Raqqa, an SDF spokesperson said. A United Kingdom–based war monitor said it was the latest in a series of attacks this month. This timeline looks at the Kurds’ long struggle with statelessness.
Sub-Saharan Africa

Ethiopian Government Delegation Travels to Tigray

It is the first official government visit (AFP) to the war-torn region since a peace deal was signed on November 2. 

Niger: Authorities detected (Reuters) the contagious H5N1 strain of bird flu among poultry in the country’s south.
EuropeUkraine Reportedly Strikes Air Base Deep Within RussiaUkraine did not publicly acknowledge the missile attack, which the Russian Defense Ministry said killed three Russian fighters (NYT)Serbia: Serbia put its army on high alert (Bloomberg) after the Serb minority in neighboring Kosovo held protests and blocked roads in objection to Pristina’s new registration requirements. This Backgrounder looks at how Moscow has leveraged tensions between Serbia and Kosovo.

Peruvian Authorities Detain Six Generals in Corruption Probe

The attorney general’s office said the generals are suspected of paying bribes (MercoPress) in exchange for their promotion under former President Pedro Castillo Terrones. 

Brazil: A man who attempted to detonate a bomb over the weekend in protest of Brazil’s election results was inspired to take up arms by outgoing President Jair Bolsonaro, according to police testimony seen by Reuters
United States

Winter Storm Kills at Least Forty-Nine People

Around half of those deaths were in New York State (CNN), where the mayor of Buffalo called the storm “once in a generation” (NPR)
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