Council on Foreign Relations – Daily news brief Nov. 14, 2022

Editor’s note: For the duration of the twenty-seventh Conference of the Parties (COP27), the Daily News Brief will include a special section dedicated to developments at the climate conference.
Top of the Agenda

Biden, Xi Hold First In-Person Meeting

U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping signaled an interest in improving cooperation (Nikkei) on global issues during their first in-person meeting of Biden’s presidency. The meeting lasted three hours, and they also discussed policy toward Taiwan (NYT), China’s human rights record, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to a White House readout. The readout said Biden told Xi that U.S. policy toward Taiwan has not changed, and that Washington objects to Beijing’s “coercive and increasingly aggressive reactions” toward the island. The leaders spoke in Bali, Indonesia, where they will attend the Group of Twenty (G20) summit this week. Their meeting comes amid tensions related to U.S. restrictions on China’s chip sector and Chinese military drills that followed U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in August.

“Respectful, positive opening statements by [Biden] & Xi at Bali a far and welcome cry from what took place when senior officials met in Anchorage last year,” CFR President Richard Haass tweets. “It is no longer clear whether time is on Washington’s or Beijing’s side—whether the future will increasingly favor China or the United States. That means both sides have every reason to seek greater stability in the near term, even as they invest in their ability to compete for the years to come,” Cornell University’s Jessica Chen Weiss writes for Foreign Affairs.  This timeline traces U.S.-China relations.
Pacific Rim

Chinese Authorities Unveil Plans to Support Property Sector

Financial regulators announced sixteen measures (AFP) to bolster the sector, including credit support for indebted developers, financial aid to ensure the completion of projects, and assistance for deferred-payment loans for homebuyers. 
South and Central Asia

Taliban Leader Orders Implementation of Sharia Punishments

The Taliban’s supreme commander, Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada, commanded judges (BBC) to penalize certain crimes with physical punishments rarely implemented under Islamic law, including public executions, stonings, and floggings, his spokesperson said. This Backgrounder looks at sharia and the intersection of Islam and the law

U.S./India/Russia: U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said it would be “fine” for India to continue buying discounted Russian oil (Reuters) under a price cap on Russian exports that Group of Seven (G7) nations aim to impose next month, as long as New Delhi doesn’t use Western services to do so.
Middle East and North Africa

Iran Issues First Death Sentence Linked to Ongoing Anti-government Protests

A court issued the sentence for a protester found guilty of setting fire to a building (BBC). Authorities did not release their name. At least twenty people are facing charges that could result in death sentences, the Norway-based group Iran Human Rights said. On The President’s Inbox podcast, Suzanne Maloney discusses the causes and consequences of Iran’s protests

U.S./UAE: The U.S. National Intelligence Council briefed lawmakers on a classified report detailing legal and illegal efforts by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to influence U.S. politics and foreign policy over multiple U.S. administrations, the Washington Post reported. The efforts reportedly included hiring former U.S. officials to help surveil dissidents, politicians, journalists, and companies.
Sub-Saharan Africa

Ethiopian Government, Tigrayan Rebels Announce Deal on Humanitarian Access

As part of talks to end Ethiopia’s civil war, both sides announced that they will facilitate humanitarian access (AFP) to Tigray and neighboring regions.  

DRC: Former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta traveled to Kinshasa on behalf of the East African Community regional bloc to prepare for talks (East African) between the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and local armed groups. 

France, UK Announce Deal on Migration Enforcement

The United Kingdom (UK) will pay France (BBC) an additional $9 million per year to help stop migrants from illegally crossing the English Channel. Turkey: Authorities arrested a man (Hürriyet) suspected of planting a bomb that killed six people in central Istanbul yesterday. Police detained more than forty people in relation to the attack.

Mexicans Protest Proposed Changes to Election Agency

Tens of thousands of people protested in Mexico City after President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador proposed scrapping (WSJ) the authority that regulates elections in favor of a system that critics say would provide less independent oversight. In Foreign Affairs, Denise Dresser discusses how Lopez Obrador has weakened Mexico’s democratic institutions

U.S./Mexico: Mexican state oil company Petróleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, announced that it will work with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reduce methane emissions (Reuters).
United States

Democrats Hold Control of Senate

After Victory in Nevada Catherine Cortez Masto’s reelection in Nevada gives Democrats fifty seats (CBS) in the next Senate. Control of the House of Representatives is yet to be determined as vote counting continues.

In Designated Protest Area, COP27 Demonstrators Call for Climate Reparations

Hundreds of protesters held a march (NYT) at COP27 calling for rich countries to pay more for poor countries’ climate efforts and demanding that Egypt free jailed dissident Alaa Abd El Fattah. The protest occurred in an area under the United Nations’ jurisdiction, not Egypt’s, as protests are banned in the country. Indian negotiators are leading a push for the conference to conclude with an agreement to “phase down” use of all fossil fuels, going beyond previous language that focused on coal, Bloomberg reported. The concluding document at last year’s conference originally called for a “phase out” of coal, but the United States, China, and India pushed to instead use the phrase to “phase down.”
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