Good morning, and welcome to the Global Situation Report for Tuesday, 5 July 2023.
- FIRST UP: China’s Hong Kong puts bounty on Australian pro-democracy activists
- Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said it was unacceptable that Hong Kong security services put bounties on an Australian citizen and a resident alien wanted under Hong Kong’s new national security law against dissident activity.
- Hong Kong police offered HK$1 million ($127,656) for information leading to the arrest of Melbourne lawyer and Australian citizen Kevin Yam and former Hong Kong lawmaker Ted Hui, who has lived in Australia since 2021.
Why It Matters: China and its client city-state of Hong Kong are using expansive jurisdictional claims in their new national security laws to target foreigners and expats who are critical of the Chinese Communist Party. The U.S. set a precedent for this during the Obama administration’s pursuit of whistleblowers and later administrations over violators of U.S. sanctions on various foreign regimes. The ramifications of such laws were evident when Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee said overseas-based Hong Kong activists who were issued with arrest warrants for alleged national security offenses would be “pursued for life.” – M.M.
- BRAZIL GETS NEW CHINESE EV PLANT: Chinese automaker BYD says it will invest $620 million in an industrial complex in northeastern Brazil.
- The investment is aimed at boosting local production of BYD automobiles at more competitive prices.
- Brazil reportedly provided incentives to BYD to build the electric vehicle facility after Ford Motor Company closed its plant in the state.
Why It Matters: BYD’s investment in Brazil is just another component of the increasingly friendly relations between China and Brazil. Expect further investments and deepening relations between the two countries as China uses Brazil to gain greater access and influence in South America. – M.M.
- HUNGARY WELCOMES RUSSIAN OFFICIAL: Hungary hosted Russia’s Health Minister this week in a bid to maintain cordial relations with Moscow
- Hungary’s Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó held a joint press conference in Budapest, saying his country wanted to keep communication channels open and pursue sensible and pragmatic cooperation with Russia.
- Hungary still buys most of its oil and natural gas from Russia, although the E.U. has halted most of its Russian imports.
Why It Matters: Hungary, a member of NATO and the European Union, has supplied millions of dollars in arms to Kiev in its fight with Russia; however, Budapest is now taking a practical approach to the situation and keeping all options on the table. Budapest halted aid to Ukraine after Kiev put Hungary’s OTP Bank on its list of international sponsors of war. Expect similar moves by other E.U. member states as the war in Ukraine works towards its eventual conclusion. – M.M.
- CHINESE JETS BUZZ TAIWAN AGAIN: Chinese warplanes again crossed the median line in the Taiwan Straits, which delineates Taiwanese territory, on Tuesday.
- Taiwan’s defense ministry said that eight Chinese fighters had crossed the median line along with four Chinese warships in a “joint combat readiness patrol.”
- There were no reported signs of public alarm.
Why It Matters: Two weeks ago, Taiwan officials said they would attack any planes or ships that crossed into its territory. Since then, Chinese warplanes and warships have crossed the median line daily without resistance from Taipei. Taiwan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Roy Lee said everything is calm in Taiwan, and Taipei is not making any provocative moves. He added that Taipei would not respond in kind to China’s provocations. This apparent change in direction by Taipei could signal a change in expectations for its future vis-a-vis China. – M.M.
- ARGENTINA ELECTION NARROWS TO LEFT VS. RIGHT: Argentina’s presidential election narrowed to a contest between the Peronist ruling party and Argentina’s right-wing libertarian party
- Argentina is suffering from 100%+ inflation and dwindling foreign reserves due to global inflationary pressures and high levels of national debt.
- Libertarian candidate Javier Milei, a far-right economist, has pledged to dollarize the economy and shut the central bank, tapping into voter anger over triple-digit inflation and increasing poverty.
Why It Matters: Argentina is a financial mess and is increasingly close to economic collapse. The ruling Peronist party agenda appears to be “let them eat cake,” which has resulted in a libertarian candidate taking over the political opposition. Regardless of the race results, Argentina will need to get its house to head off growing resentment in the working classes that could bubble up into revolution. – M.M.
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THAT’S A WRAP: This does it for today’s edition. Thank you for reading. If you know folks who would also like to receive this email, would you please forward it to them? We appreciate you spreading the word. – M.M.