Council on Foreign relations – Daily news brief Nov. 28, 2022

Top of the Agenda

Outrage Over COVID-19 Restrictions Prompts Rare Protests in China

Tens of thousands of people joined demonstrations (FT) in at least ten cities across China over the weekend, at times clashing with security forces. In addition to objecting to harsh restrictions under the country’s zero-COVID policy, many protesters denounced limitations on freedom of speech and some called for Chinese President Xi Jinping to step down (NYT).  The protests were sparked by a deadly fire in a locked-down area of the Xinjiang region on Friday. Demonstrators marched in urban centers and at universities, and today police patrolled areas of Beijing and Shanghai (Reuters) where the demonstrations occurred. Authorities eased some pandemic restrictions (AP) in Beijing and Guangzhou today, but did not mention the demonstrations. 

Analysis

“[A heavy-handed response from authorities] risks creating martyrs, fuelling another wave and giving a rallying cry to the protesters that have already come out,” Yonsei University’s John Delury tells the Financial Times.  “[The protests are the] most severe test for Xi since taking power, and at a complex time, domestically and geopolitically. [The Chinese Communist Party] is stuck: having staked Xi authority on Zero Covid, it finds it impossible to take only sensible route out, namely importing MRNA vaccines,” the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ James Crabtree tweets.  For Foreign Affairs, CFR’s Yanzhong Huang discusses how Beijing’s harsh COVID-19 measures risk undermining its hold on power.
Pacific Rim

Taiwanese President Resigns From Party LeadershipTsai Ing-wen stepped down (Nikkei) as leader of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party after its poor showing in local elections. She will continue to serve as Taiwan’s president until 2024.
South and Central Asia

UN Panel: Taliban’s Treatment of Women Could Be a Crime Against Humanity

The Taliban’s oppression of women and girls could amount to gender persecution (UN News), which is a crime against humanity, a panel of UN-appointed independent human rights experts said in a statement released on Friday. India: In the state of Kerala, demonstrators opposed to the construction of what will be India’s largest port attacked a police station (BBC) and injured thirty-six police officers.
 Middle East and North Africa

Arab Monetary Fund Signs $1 Billion Aid Deal With Yemeni GovernmentThe money from the fund, a suborganization of the twenty-two-country Arab League, is meant to help Yemen’s internationally recognized government stabilize the country’s economy (AP) as the war against the Houthi rebels enters its eighth year.  This Backgrounder looks at Yemen’s civil war

Israel: Lawmakers from the outgoing ruling coalition criticized the incoming government (Times of Israel) for naming far-right lawmaker Avi Maoz as head of a new body focused on “Jewish identity.” His responsibilities will reportedly include overseeing the processing of immigrants (Times of Israel) to Israel from former Soviet countries. For Foreign Affairs, Dahlia Scheindlin looks at Israel’s hard-right turn.
Sub-Saharan Africa

Water Shortage Halts Electricity Generation at Southern Africa’s Largest Dam Zimbabwe’s Kariba Dam will resume supplying energy (Bloomberg) in January, authorities said. 

Uganda: President Yoweri Museveni extended the quarantine (Reuters) in two districts at the center of the country’s Ebola outbreak. Fifty-five people have died since the outbreak was declared on September 20.
Europe

Police Arrest Forty-Nine People in Operation Against Cocaine ‘Super Cartel’

The European Union’s crime agency said the cartel controls around one-third (AP) of the cocaine trade in Europe. The probe spanned six countries. Belarus: Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei died suddenly (WaPo), the foreign ministry said. It did not provide details of his death.
AmericasVenezuelan Negotiations Restart as U.S. Lifts Some Oil SanctionsThe United States announced it will allow Chevron to resume pumping some oil (NYT) from Venezuela after the Venezuelan government and opposition resumed negotiations. The two sides agreed that billions of dollars in frozen government funds should be moved to a UN-administered humanitarian fund.  This In Brief looks at U.S. sanctions on VenezuelaCanada: The Canadian government called China “an increasingly disruptive global power” in its new Indo-Pacific strategy, which also includes around half a billion dollars (CBC) in military and intelligence spending over five years.
United StatesU.S. Soccer Federation’s Social Media Posts Show Solidarity With Iranian ProtestersThe federation’s social media accounts temporarily displayed (CNBC) a version of the Iranian flag that has been used by anti-government protesters. The U.S. and Iranian teams face each other in a World Cup match tomorrow.
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