Xi Jingping Visits Vladimir Putin
Arguably the most talked-about piece of news over the last week was the official state visit of Chinese leader Xi Jingping to Moscow between the 20th and 22nd for an official meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Even under normal circumstances, such a meeting would be of huge significance in geopolitical affairs, considering the powerful status that China and Russia hold in the world today. However, these are not normal circumstances that the world is experiencing today. Analysts and commentators around the world have been keeping their eyes on both the meeting itself as well as the media coverage surrounding the meeting between the two leaders, wondering what exactly they would be speaking about, against the backdrop of both the war in Ukraine as well as China and Russia’s rapidly deteriorating relations with the West.
Xi Jingping’s visit to Russia was preceded by a few other notable geopolitical developments. The first development was Jingping’s recent re-election as leader of China (although it can safely be assumed that he will effectively serve as leader of China for life); the second development was that China had successfully overseen a re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, much to the chagrin of the West, which continues to view Iran as an enemy state and Saudi Arabia as a potential partner (and source of oil) that has been lost; the third development was that Jingping’s visit was announced mere hours after the International Criminal Court (ICC) had issued a warrant for the arrest of Vladimir Putin for war crimes – allegedly for the “kidnapping” of ethnically Russian children from Ukraine and evacuating them to Russia – thus making the official meeting between the two state leaders all the more troubling for the West.
One of the main reasons for Xi Jingping’s visit to Russia was to discuss with Putin China’s proposed peace plan for the war in Ukraine. While the content of the published peace plan remains about as vague as most other proposed peace plans written up by other nations, nevertheless, given the ever-growing relations between China and Russia, one would be justified in assuming that China’s peace plan would be far more favourable to Russia and their conditions for peace than Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had also put forward his own peace plan to the United Nations last year, which effectively demanded that Russia pull out all of its troops from Ukraine, return all gained territory to Ukraine – including Crimea – and the rapid accession of Ukraine into the European Union and NATO. Given lessons that we have all learnt from history, a 21st-century equivalent of the Treaty of Versailles against Russia can also be predicted in the event that the conflict does not go Russia’s way. The United States and the European Union have also pleaded with Xi Jingping to either meet with or call Zelensky himself in order to discuss Ukraine’s own peace plan. No meeting or phone call was ever held.
Many media outlets have concluded that one of the main results of the meeting between Xi Jingping and Vladimir Putin was to send a message of defiance to the West, and that China would ultimately not be aligning their foreign policies with the West in matters surrounding the war in Ukraine. What is also interesting is that Jingping did not explicitly make any reference to the war itself, instead emphasising the need for China and Russia to co-operate economically, militarily and politically in the long-term future. It is likely that Jingping’s lack of attention on Ukraine was a subtle move in order to not subliminally give away any hints to the West regarding China’s own policies towards Taiwan. Any explicit word of support to Russia over Ukraine would be viewed by the West as a sign that China would also seek to invade Taiwan themselves. Of course, most already predict that China will invade Taiwan at some point in the near future, but it is just a matter of “when”, not “if”.
France Continues to Riot
Violent protests and riots continue to ravage France in the wake of a government pensions reform bill that would raise France’s retirement age from 62 to 64. A simple two-year increase in the working age was enough to spark some of the most visceral and destructive rioting seen in France since the Yellow Vest Movement protests several years ago. While many may be curious as to why exactly the French populace would react so angrily at the prospect of the retirement age being raised by only two years, the government move that followed was far more significant and justified French anger to a great degree. This particular move came about on Thursday 16th March, when the French Government enacted the pensions reform bill without a parliamentary vote. In a so-called democracy, any proposed bill should go through a parliamentary and/or popular vote before being enacted. However, this was not the case, and such a unilateral act by the French government was enough to make the violent protests across France even worse. A viral video from an unknown location (many have claimed Paris as the most likely) showed footage of a seemingly peaceful and quiet restaurant filled with respectable diners. The camera then pans to the right and we are shown the view out of the restaurant windows – several fires burning outside on the streets. Many working protestors have also gone on strike, with even garbage collectors rebelling and simply dumping piles of trash on every street corner, including outside of several government buildings.
On Friday 17th March, two motions of no-confidence in the French government were put forward, but both were struck down and the French government survives, for now. The reason that I say “for now” is because these riots and protests show no signs of stopping, and the increasing levels of police violence against the protestors, as well as a number of rioters calling for the treatment of President Macron to be “akin to that of Louis XVI”, are reasons enough to assume that France is in for a troubling few weeks ahead, at least. For those who may not be aware, King Louis XVI was the French monarch who was executed by guillotine in 1793 during the French Revolution. As much as many of us may not like our own national leaders, let us hope that the rioters do not carry out any similar acts of violence against President Macron himself.
Uganda Bans the LGBT Community
No, this not a misleading sub-heading, nor is it a cheap attempt at keeping your attention on this article. This is real.
The Central African nation of Uganda has officially passed a law that completely criminalises EVERYTHING LGBT. I put that in all caps just to emphasise that they really do mean everything related to the LGBT community. Even if one personally identifies as a member of the LGBT community, they would be at risk of serving between 10 to 20 years in prison. The new law also criminalises – similarly to Russia and Hungary – all forms of LGBT propaganda, as well as the full criminalisation of the engaging in homosexual activity of any kind. Even kissing and hand-holding is deemed illegal now. These are measures which are also not unlike many legal measures taken in several Islamic countries, where individuals and groups attempting to spread any form of LGBT propaganda are immediately prosecuted.
As expected, the 2023 Anti-Homosexuality Bill was met with a universally hostile reception from Western nations, deeming the bill to be “against basic human rights”. Many have forgotten, however, that Uganda – among many other African nations – already had many anti-LGBT measures in place for years prior to this new bill. However, despite the overwhelmingly negative response from the Western world, it is unlikely that many movements outside of Amnesty International will be making much effort in intervening in Uganda’s domestic affairs, especially with regards to the country’s anti-LGBT laws. Why is this the case? Largely because Uganda and many other sub-Saharan African nations are currently of little to no interest to the overall foreign policies of the Western world, so there is little desire among politicians in the West to get involved directly in speaking and acting out against Uganda’s anti-LGBT laws. The West would rather spend their time speaking out and paying NGOs to intervene in Hungary and Russia regarding their anti-LGBT laws because these two countries are of far more interest as geopolitical targets for the left-wing and liberal governments of the West. A small country in the centre of the African continent that few in the West would even be able to locate in an atlas is surely of little significance to the wider foreign policy of the great powers of the modern world.
Trump argues for the expansion of the death penalty, but lethal injection has become too complicated. Maybe the guillotine will make a comeback. Would you watch the Execution Channel?