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Diplomacy
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Estonia Catches Taiwan Fever: What Will the Side Effects Be?

by Thomas J. Shattuck

In early November 2023, Estonia announced a decision to allow Taiwan to open an unofficial, non-diplomatic economic and cultural representative office in Tallinn. The opening of an office does not mean that Tallinn and Taipei are establishing official diplomatic relations, nor does it mean that Estonia is opening its own office in Taiwan. It is following in the footsteps of countries around the world that have unofficial ties with Taipei and want an unofficial government presence in the country to facilitate economic relations. For its part, Beijing has expressly condemned the decision by Tallinn to allow Taipei to decide if it wants an office in Estonia, with China’s Foreign Ministry making a clear statement calling for Estonia to reverse course. Estonia’s announcement occurred just before Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu embarked on a three-country tour of the Baltic states — a rare trip for the foreign minister to visit three countries with which Taiwan does not have formal diplomatic relations. Baltic leaders and ministers stated that they had no plans to meet directly with Wu, though Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis spoke at the same event as Wu, and his grandfather, the first president of post-Soviet, Lithuania Vytautas Landsbergis, did meet with Wu. Estonia’s move to open a representative office comes after Lithuania made a similar decision, sparking controversy and drawing political and economic ire from Beijing. The Vilnius office, which opened in November 2021, is called the “Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania,” which balks the traditional use of “Taipei” over “Taiwan” to avoid Beijing’s complaints and any alleged notions of formal relations. The opening of the Vilnius office resulted in the downgrading of the bilateral relationship with China and the expulsion of the Lithuanian ambassador from Beijing; the removal of Lithuania as a “country of origin” for Chinese trade; and a formal World Trade Organization complaint against China, supported by the United States and European Union. Beijing’s main complaint at the time was that the office provided legitimacy to Taiwan by using the word “Taiwanese,” thus the reason for the strong reaction. Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda conceded the point, “I think it was not the opening of the Taiwanese office that was a mistake, it was its name, which was not coordinated with me.” Now, with Estonia’s announcement, that complaint has proven hollow. It is not the “Taiwanese” reference with which Beijing has a problem — the real issue is the expansion of Taiwan’s international space. As I argued in January 2022, “The name of the office [in Lithuania] is the supposed sticking point, but the reality of the matter is that Beijing wants to prevent the expansion of Taiwan’s international space. The mere opening of an office, regardless of name, represents the expansion of Taiwan-Lithuania ties. Likewise, any new de facto embassy would be perceived as offensive to Beijing. … As more countries build ties with Taiwan, leaders will be able to better assess the risks and benefits of diplomacy with Taiwan. Beijing’s wolf warriors now cry foul at any perceived attempt to foster closer relations with Taipei.” Beijing perceives any “win” by Taiwan as a direct threat to its long-term plan to completely isolate Taipei. A possible office in Estonia provides Taipei with the ability to more easily interact with the Estonian people, expand bilateral trade, and demonstrate itself to be a good international partner — all of which threaten Beijing’s ability to shape the narrative regarding cross-Strait relations. As expected, PRC Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin made clear the Lithuania office name issue was fake. During his regular press conference on November 8, Wang called for Estonia to change course, making no mention of the prospective name of a future office: “We firmly oppose any form of official interaction between the Taiwan region and countries having diplomatic ties with China and oppose any action supporting ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces. We call on Estonia to stay committed to its solemn commitment of adhering to the one-China principle, not to allow Taiwan to set up any organization of official nature, and earnestly safeguard the political foundation of its relations with China.” Wang’s language and warnings are less strident than what could be expected, but given that the announcement of the office in Estonia was just made, details are not yet firm. Estonian Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna hinted to Politico that the office would be “representation—economical representation—of Taipei, not Taiwan,” which, if the name is the true issue, should appease Beijing’s concerns. As more is known, Beijing will assuredly increase its pressure on Estonia, which already includes the Chinese ambassador in Estonia threatening to leave the country if the office opens. The true test will come once details about the office are released. How will Beijing seek to punish Estonia for the move? Will the reaction be less severe than what China did to Lithuania? How will the European Union and the United States support Tallinn should Beijing utilize its coercive toolkit again? Beijing’s response to the office will demonstrate a few key things in the aftermath of the Lithuania example. How Beijing responded to Lithuania created immense international support and attention for Vilnius. Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen opened up a $1 billion fund for joint Taiwanese-Lithuanian projects and another $200 million fund for Taiwanese investment in Lithuania’s industrial sector to show support for the decision, and the Biden administration announced a $600 million credit line. Because Beijing initiated pressure on other countries, such as Germany, to push Lithuania to change course, the overreaction became a critical case study in China’s coercive toolkit. The collective West closed ranks, supported Lithuania for the decision, and warned Beijing against further reprisals. If Beijing treats Tallinn in a similar way as Vilnius, then it will be clear that Beijing will ignore international warnings to serve its own goals — bluster over substance and compromise. The most important thing for Estonia to do in the coming days and weeks is to be resolute in the decision. Divisions within Vilnius prolonged Beijing’s attempt to pressure politicians into changing course. Knowing how angry President Nausėda was about the ordeal provided an opening, but other actors did not back down. At the moment, Estonia’s Foreign Minister Tsahkna is taking the lead in publicly responding, but the coalition government needs to adhere to the same line to diminish Beijing’s ability to pressure specific politicians. If Estonia does not back down, the country could stand to benefit from new Taiwanese-Estonian projects. Since the Taiwanese and Lithuanian offices opened in the respective capitals, Taipei has agreed to assist in building an 8-inch semiconductor wafer production line in Lithuania. The two also agreed to open a joint research center on laser technology in Taiwan. Lithuania is home to two projects funded by Taiwan’s National Development Fund (NDF). Another Lithuanian company, Solitek, received around $8.5 million from the $1 billion fund. During a recent visit to Taipei by Seimas Speaker Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen, the two sides signed a memorandum of understanding on health and made a decision to eliminate double taxation — the latter of which is still an issue that Taiwan has with the United States. Progress between Taipei and Vilnius has been slow, but it has gained steam with these investments. Tallinn can expect to reap some new investments with a Taiwan office and take part in the NDF. However, the benefits that Tallinn receives not only from Taiwan but also from the United States will likely depend on how loudly and forcefully Beijing complains — and acts on those complaints. No matter how much investment Estonia receives as a result of this new office opening, Tallinn is now a part of the cross-Strait competition — in an election year. With the upcoming January 2024 presidential election in Taiwan, Tallinn may have inadvertently become a foreign policy issue for the candidates, but that largely depends on Chinese retaliation. Any office will likely open under a new leader in Taipei, so while the announcement and prospective investment promises will occur under President Tsai, the implementation of such things will be up to her successor. After Lithuania defied China and its intense pressure to reverse course, Beijing is now in a situation where another Baltic country has allowed Taiwan to expand its unofficial international space — and thus expanded the threat landscape in its push to eliminate Taiwan’s presence abroad. The more these seemingly small countries defy China and the more they are backed by large countries (and, more importantly, fulfilled promises from Taiwan), the harder it will be for Beijing to keep the next case of Taiwan fever from spreading. The views and opinions expressed in this article solely belong to the author and do not represent the perspectives or stance of World and New World Journal, nor do they reflect the opinions of any of our employees. World and New World Journal does not endorse or take responsibility for the content, opinions, or information presented in this article. Readers are encouraged to consider multiple sources and viewpoints for a comprehensive understanding of the subject matter. Thank you for your understanding.

Energy & Economics
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Poland: hope for rule-of-law correction, but serious economic challenges ahead

by Marek Dabrowski

Obstacles created by Poland’s outgoing government and the deteriorating economic situation make the post-election outlook highly challenging. The victory of the opposition alliance in Poland’s 15 October elections showed that even an unfair and manipulated election can lead to a peaceful rejection of autocratic regime if society is mobilised sufficiently. However, tackling the populist legacy of the Law and Justice Party (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość, PiS) government will be neither easy nor fast, for several reasons. First, it remains unclear when a political transition can take place. President Andrzej Duda (closely associated with PiS) has sworn in a PiS minority government that is likely to be short-lived, and has made clear that he will defend PiS’s political and institutional legacy and use his veto power to stop legislation adopted by the new parliament. Overcoming a presidential veto requires a 60% majority in the Sejm (a lower house of the Polish parliament), which a democratic coalition is short of. This will make it challenging for a post-PiS government to restore constitutional principles of democracy, rule of law, the legal independence of many institutions (which have been packed with PiS loyalists, especially in the judiciary) and public media pluralism, at least until summer 2025, when President Duda’s term expires. Most of these changes will require new legislation. Rolling back unconstitutional PiS legislation in the Constitutional Court will be hard. The terms of PiS placemen and women in the court will expire between 2024 and 2031. The Constitutional Court can also block legislation passed by a new majority. This could mean difficulties with unfreezing money earmarked for Poland from the European Union’s Recovery and Resilience Facility. Access to the funds is conditional on meeting rule-of-law criteria that have been violated systematically by the PiS government. However, the most significant challenges wait for the new government in the economic sphere. Eight years of socioeconomic populism, with large-scale spending programmes (including generous family benefits, which will increase by 60% from January 2024), chaotic tax system changes and a freeze on energy tariffs, have led to an explosion of the general government deficit, set to reach 5.8% of GDP in 2023. The transparency of public finances deteriorated dramatically because of several off-budget funds and quasi-fiscal operations conducted by state-owned banks and energy companies. Therefore, the actual deficit may be higher than officially reported. Because of ultra-loose and politically motivated monetary policy since 2016, inflation has been above the National Bank of Poland target (2.5%) since December 2019. has been above the National Bank of Poland target (2.5%) since December 2019In March 2022, it jumped to a two-digit level, reaching 17.2% in March 2023. Since then, it has started decreasing, but its October 2023 level (6.3%) is still too high and may increase. Despite highly accommodating monetary and fiscal policies, the annual real GDP growth rate, once varying between 4% and 6%, is expected to decline to 0.4% in 2023. Thus, the Polish economy is experiencing stagflation. Meanwhile, a gradual increase in the retirement age to 67 for both men and women, introduced in 2013, was reversed by PiS in 2017, despite Poland’s shrinking working-age population – a consequence of population aging and large-scale emigration. The share of state ownership has been increased, especially in the banking and energy sectors. The latter became less competitive after several administrative mergers of state-controlled companies (for example, creating a super-conglomerate ORLEN). Investment in green energy has slowed in the face of various administrative and financial obstacles. To what extent a new government will be ready to tackle these problems remains unclear. During the election campaign, opposition parties sought to compete with PiS by offering more public spending programmes and lower taxes. They promised never to increase the retirement age. They were silent about privatisation, only pledging more professional and nepotism-free management of state-controlled companies. Since the election, several opposition promises detrimental to public finances have been repeated. The economic chapter in the coalition agreement between parties forming the future government is vague. The multi-party character of a future government (from the left to centre-right), and forthcoming local and European elections (both in spring 2024), may further discourage necessary economic reforms and fiscal adjustment. If such a political scenario prevails, the Polish economy risks slipping towards even deeper macroeconomic disequilibria and zero growth. This will not guarantee popularity and future election success for a coalition government. Therefore, despite all the political and legislative obstacles, the incoming government’s economic policy programme must address the root causes of the current troubles and respect fiscal constraints. Acknowledgements The author would like to thank Heather Grabbe, Ivo Maes, Lucio Pench, and Nicolas Veron for their comments and suggestions on a draft of this commentary.

Defense & Security
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PM Netanyahu Meets with UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron

by Benjamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today, at the Knesset in Jerusalem, met with UK Foreign Secretary and former Prime Minister David Cameron and said at the start of their meeting: "Thank you, David, for coming here and standing with Israel. We hope to get our hostages out. It's not without its challenges. But we have to, we hope to get this first tranche out. And then we're committed to getting everyone out. We'll continue with our war aims, namely to eradicate Hamas, because Hamas has already promised that they will do this again and again and again. They're a genocidal terrorist cult. There's no hope for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, between Israel and the Arab states, if we don't eradicate this murderous movement that threatens the future of all of us. It's a larger battle of civilization against barbarism, the kind of savagery that you saw on your visit. It's the worst savagery perpetrated on Jews since the Holocaust. And just as the world united to vanquish the Nazis or vanquish al-Qaeda after 9/11 or vanquish ISIS, we have to unite to vanquish Hamas. Israel sustained proportionately twenty 9/11s – twenty 9/11s. It's as though 50,000 Americans were slaughtered in a single day and 10,000 were held hostage, including a nine-month-old baby. He can't walk, he can't talk, he's a hostage. What kind of people do this? The answer is these are not people; these are monsters. These monsters have to go. They'll go. We'll pursue the battle until that goal is achieved, and we give a different future for Gaza and for us." UK Foreign Secretary Cameron: "I just want to say thank you very much for finding the time to see me. I wanted to come in person and go to the sites of the country and go to Kibbutz Be'eri to see just the true nature of the horrific attacks that you faced. I think it's very important to do that and see that. And, you know, we stand with the people of Israel in sympathy for what you have gone through. I think that was important. Today, obviously, it's important we talk about this potential humanitarian pause. I think it's an opportunity to crucially get hostages out and to get aid into Gaza. There's never an excuse for this sort of hostage taking. All the hostages should be released. I hope everyone who's responsible and behind this agreement can make it happen, to bring relief to those families, including, of course, there are British nationals who have been taken hostage. And so that, let's hope that that can be delivered. Thank you for the time. There's lots of things to talk about. It's very good to see you again." Attending the meeting for the Israeli side were the Strategic Affairs Minister, the Director of the National Security Council, the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff, the Prime Minister's Military Secretary, the Prime Minister's Foreign Policy Adviser and the Israeli Ambassador to the UK. Attending for the British side were the British Ambassador to Israel and head of the Foreign Office Middle East and North Africa Division, among others.

Defense & Security
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What would it take for a cease-fire to happen in Gaza?

by Laurie Nathan

Calls for a cease-fire and other limits on military operations and violence were made by governments, advocacy groups and political leaders around the world almost immediately after the Oct. 7, 2023, massacre of 1,200 Israeli civilians by Hamas. Israel immediately declared war on Hamas and began shelling and then invaded Gaza, leading to more than 11,000 civilian deaths and massive destruction. Global calls for cease-fires have continued to be made by hundreds of disparate organizations and tens of thousands of demonstrators. The United Nations General Assembly and Security Council have issued calls for fighting to stop, to ensure “the immediate, continuous, sufficient and unhindered provision of essential goods and services to civilians throughout the Gaza Strip” and to ensure “immediate, full, sustained, safe and unhindered humanitarian access” for the U.N. and other agencies. To date, there has been no cease-fire, though in early November, Israel agreed to stop attacks for four hours a day to allow refugees to flee and aid to be distributed. And other efforts to establish a cease-fire agreement are reportedly underway. Those demanding a cease-fire are driven by humanitarian compassion and principles, primarily the need to protect civilians caught up in a terrible war. But as a scholar of mediation who also works as an international mediator, I know that cease-fires are technically complicated military and political undertakings that always entail risk and require specialist expertise. The basic requirements In addition to providing mediation training to senior international diplomats, I have done comparative research on what constitutes a strong cease-fire. I also have practical experience: In 2005 and 2006 I was a member of the African Union mediation team for ending violent conflict in Darfur, responsible for drafting the peace agreement’s cease-fire provisions. To this end, I facilitated tense negotiations between Sudanese military officers and Darfur rebels. On the basis of my research and experience, it is clear that a strong cease-fire agreement must always have clear and viable rules and timelines, including about the use and control of weapons, the movements of fighters and the activities of humanitarian agencies. The leadership and rank and file of the opposing forces must understand precisely what their responsibilities are in a cease-fire. They must know exactly what activities are prohibited and what activities are permitted. Moreover, the rules and procedures must be tailored to the particular political, military and geographic circumstances of each conflict. The details of a humanitarian cease-fire agreement for Gaza would look completely different from, say, the cease-fire agreement for Darfur. And it needs political will from the opposing parties, which varies from case to case and can change over time. A cease-fire for Gaza The relevant circumstances of Gaza include these facts: - Israel has much more powerful military capabilities than Hamas. - The fighting in Gaza is taking place in a densely populated area. - Hamas fighters are physically close to and perhaps even immersed in the civilian population of Gaza. - The U.N. and numerous other organizations have said it is essential for Hamas to release the Israeli hostages it holds. - The people of Gaza have critical humanitarian needs for food, water, shelter and safety, as well as hospital and medical support. - The Israeli government and Hamas would have to negotiate mutually acceptable ways of addressing these challenges.   It would also be important to consult the U.N. and other humanitarian agencies to determine what they need in order to provide humanitarian support and protect children, injured people and other vulnerable groups. The role of trust – and mistrust Opposing groups who are in violent conflicts inevitably hate and mistrust each other. It is therefore helpful for cease-fire negotiations to be supported by a mediator who is sufficiently trusted by the parties. The mediator can facilitate these negotiations through indirect dialogue – referred to as “shuttle diplomacy” – when the parties are unwilling or unable to meet face-to-face. In the Gaza crisis, Qatar, supported by the United States, is playing the mediator role. Qatari mediators are attempting to negotiate a deal between Hamas and Israel that could include the release of roughly 50 civilian hostages from Gaza in exchange for a three-day cease-fire. There are two other ways cease-fires can be strengthened in order to mitigate the hatred and mistrust between the parties. The first is by deploying cease-fire monitors – independent observers on the field of battle – who investigate alleged cease-fire violations. Their presence can help to deter violations. The second way is by setting up communication channels between the mediator and representatives of the warring parties to resolve disputes and address violations that inevitably arise. The goal is to prevent small-scale violations from escalating into large-scale violations that could herald a return to hostilities. Political will is important Israel and Hamas can overcome the technical difficulties of a Gaza cease-fire if they have the political will to do so. It is relevant that Israel and Hamas have previously negotiated cease-fires and truces in Gaza. And in 2023 a truce between Israel and the Gaza-based Islamic Jihad militant group was brokered by Egyptian mediators after cross-border attacks. A cease-fire brokered by the U.S. in November 2012 lasted 18 months. But none of the cease-fires was likely to hold in the long term because they were not linked to a political resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict. In responding to the Gaza crisis, some world leaders have appeared confused about the distinction between a truce, a humanitarian pause, a cease-fire and a cessation of hostilities. In general, there is no international consensus on the meaning of these terms. In Gaza, as in every case, the cease-fire objectives, rules and procedures matter more than the labels that are used. The current focus of international calls for a cease-fire is on humanitarian relief as a short-term objective. But the humanitarian situation, and the need to protect civilians in Gaza, will remain critical in the medium to long term. The question of a permanent cease-fire and long-term security arrangement will have to be part of any negotiations to finally resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If the vision of a two-state solution is realized, the challenge will be to ensure that both Israel and an independent Palestinian state can enjoy sovereignty and adequate self-defense without threatening each other.

Defense & Security
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Political Insights (3): Will the Israeli Aggression on Gaza Prolong?

by Prof. Dr. Mohsen Mohammad Saleh

Introduction: After 50 days of the Israeli aggression on Gaza Strip (GS), it appears that the declared objectives of the Israeli occupation are still elusive, whether in “crushing” Hamas, freeing its captives, imposing an alternative governance system, or obtaining full assurances that GS will not pose a threat to its security in the future. On the other hand, despite the large number of killed and wounded, and the widespread destruction in the region, Hamas and the resistance forces, supported by popular backing, continue to demonstrate resilient resistance, inflicting significant losses on the occupying forces. They have even succeeded in imposing their conditions in the humanitarian pause and the first prisoner exchange deal. Having achieved victory on October 7, 2023, surrendering to Israeli conditions, which only aim to uproot resistance in GS or drain it of its substance, is not on the table. Consequently, the situation leans more towards a “bone-breaking” scenario and “mutual finger-biting.” This implies that the war may prolong, but to what extent remains uncertain! Key Israeli Considerations: After the fiftieth day of the war, Israeli considerations remain governed by the following: – Recovery of the security and deterrence theory, and considering the battle as “decisive” for the Israeli state, especially after Operation Al-Aqsa Flood on 7/10/2023 have struck at its core and undermined it in the eyes of many. The failure to regain a strong, secure environment would render the Zionist state project meaningless, turning it into a hostile environment. Its role as an advanced fortress for Western powers and a stabilizer for the region would also lose its significance. – Israel is haunted by the “fear of failure” in its aggression on GS and is reluctant to admit to a new strategic failure after its major setback on October 7. Acknowledging failure might embolden the resistance forces to impose their conditions, signaling the potential beginning of a countdown for the occupation. – There is a quasi-governmental and popular Israeli consensus on seeking revenge against Hamas and GS, reclaiming Israeli captives and preventing resistance forces in GS from posing a threat to the occupation and settlements in the GS envelope. However, there is a difference in opinion regarding the duration of the war and the acceptable final form. – Israel benefits from a stark imbalance in military capabilities, possessing the latest lethal weapons by land, sea and air, fueling its confidence in its military strength. – Netanyahu and the Likud party are experiencing a significant decline in popularity. Many believe that Operation Al-Aqsa Flood ended Netanyahu’s political life, potentially pushing him to continue the war in a quest for victory or a semblance of victory to rebuild his image and avoid his fate. – The international alliance led by the United States plays a significant role in influencing the duration of the war and adjusting Israeli objectives. The alliance has provided international cover for Israel’s aggression and its commission of heinous massacres, which led to having 15 thousand killed, including more than 6 thousand children and 4 thousand women. It provided Israel with weapons and money, and brought its forces to the region to show support and prevent any regional interference. However, time pressure is mounting due to ongoing massacres, increasing public discontent in the Western world, and Israel’s continued failure to achieve tangible accomplishments beyond destruction and civilian casualties. Therefore, a state of restlessness began to emerge, pushing towards more realistic goals. – Israel benefits from a weak or complicit Arab environment, incapable or unwilling to provide real military or logistical support to the resistance that could make a qualitative difference in favor of the resistance. – The increasing military and human losses for Israel push it to conclude the war. – Escalating economic losses, the costs of war, disruptions in various facilities, tourism setbacks and a loss of security present an additional pressure factor. – The failure of Israeli forces to free the captives and Hamas’ success in imposing its conditions on the occupation. Hamas and Resistance Calculations: – The resistance is banking on its significant achievement on October 7th and its readiness for a long-term battle. It relies on the quality of its fighters, numbering over 60 thousand, and the popular support rallying around it. – For the resistance, an Israeli victory and control over GS, imposing its conditions, would mean uprooting the resistance. This would drive them to fight to the end, unwilling to accept anything less than new gains for the resistance and the Palestinian people. Having demonstrated strength, efficiency, and continued field control for fifty days, the resistance remains capable of inflicting significant and increasing losses on the Israeli forces. It can still launch missiles at most areas of the 1948 occupied Palestinian territories. The prospect of its defeat in the foreseeable future becomes highly unlikely, if not impossible. – Overall, the political and military leadership structure of Hamas remains strong and cohesive, possessing high efficiency in controlling GS. This signifies a resounding failure for Israel after fifty days of aggression. – The resistance still holds the card of Israeli captives, and the military aggression has not succeeded in freeing a single prisoner. This remains a powerful card that Hamas can play in any future arrangements. – There are immense sacrifices, especially at the level of the supporting people and the level of massive destruction of homes, infrastructure, schools, hospitals, mosques and churches. However, these sacrifices have turned into fuel for the resistance and the widening revolution. They are no longer elements of submission and subjugation to the occupation. – The escalating Arab, Islamic, and international popular support for the resistance boosts its morale and puts pressure on political regimes to halt the aggression and support the resistance. – The continuation of aggression and massacres may eventually lead to an escalation of tension in the region. The situation may deviate from the norms of continuous conflict since the beginning of the war in southern Lebanon, raising concerns among regional and international powers about the possibility of it turning into a regional or global war. Conclusion: It appears that the Israeli occupation will exert every effort to extract a victory or the semblance of victory, considering it a fundamental necessity for its existence, stability, prestige and regional standing. On the other hand, the resistance aims to reinforce the victory it achieved on October 7th, and will not accept any concessions that would lead to its uprooting or subjugation, especially after the significant sacrifices made by both the resistance and its popular base. Therefore, the possibility of prolonging the duration of the aggression remains, but the resistance’s ability to continue its qualitative performance, coupled with the anticipated significant military, human and economic losses on the Israeli side, along with the escalating Arab and international public pressure and the widening conflict in southern Lebanon, will force the international alliance to lean towards more realistic solutions. This will also compel the Israel to backtrack on most of its demands. This process may take weeks, but the more intense the resistance becomes and the fewer genuine targets or pressure points the occupation has, the shorter the time frame will become. Eventually, it may resort to solutions to save face.

Diplomacy
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Saudi visit was successful and productive – PBBM

by Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.

Although the visit to Saudi Arabia was brief, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said that it was a successful and productive one with various engagements accomplished to reaffirm the Philippines’ commitment to the partnership between the GCC and ASEAN countries, as well as to promote the country to prospect investors. In his arrival speech on Saturday following his visit to Riyadh, the President ticked off his accomplishments, mentioning the business-to-business agreements that would guarantee additional employment for Filipino workers. President Marcos described the ASEAN-GCC Summit held in Riyadh as a landmark event, adding that it was the first time that ASEAN and GCC Member States gathered together to discuss regional and international issues and on future cooperation. The six GCC member countries are Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates while Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam compose the ASEAN. “The Summit provided an opportunity to project the Philippines’ long-standing promotion of a rules-based international order, which is essential to the maintenance of peace, security, and stability in our regions which sit astride two of the most vibrant sea-lanes of trade and communications in the world,” President Marcos said. The President said that the Summit also provided an opportunity for the Philippines to secure a US$120-million Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that would establish a 500-person capacity training facility in the country to upskill Filipino workers in the construction industry. “The facility aims to train at least 3,000 Filipinos a year and more than 15,000 in the next 5 years, ready for deployment at any time,” President Marcos said. Another three business-to-business agreements were also discussed among Saudi and Philippine human resource companies “for the training and employment of Filipinos across a wide range of industries including healthcare; hotel, restaurant, and catering; and maintenance and operations, amongst other operations.” “These agreements are expected to generate more than USD 4.2 billion and additional 220,000 jobs for Filipinos over the next few years,” he said. President Marcos also reported resolving the outstanding bilateral issue with Kuwait at the sidelines of the Summit, including working out the lifting of the deployment ban of Filipino workers. “Now, that will end and we will now return to the normal state of affairs with the Kuwaiti government,” he said. The President said he also had the opportunity to meet with the Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, and he referred to their discussion as “very encouraging,” with anticipated capital investments pledged by the government of Saudi Arabia to the Philippines. “We exchanged views on issues of common concern to our two countries, and I expressed hope that we can sustain the momentum of high-level exchanges as we expand cooperation in key areas of mutual benefit to our peoples,” President Marcos said. In his arrival speech, President Marcos reiterated his commitment to continue to advance the country’s interest and at the same time, expand the Philippines’ partnership with ally nations. “Let me assure you that we will continue to advance our national interests as we further expand our partnerships abroad,” Marcos said. In his speech during the Summit, President Marcos emphasized further cooperation in key areas including energy and food security and enhancement of logistic chains. He also called for safeguarding of rights and welfare of Filipino workers. President Marcos arrived at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City at 2:50 p.m. Saturday. PND

Defense & Security
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PM Netanyahu Meets with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo: - Your moral values do not stand up if you're not willing to fight for them. -

by Benjamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today, at the Prime Minister's Knesset office, met with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo. Prime Minister Netanyahu showed them sections of the horrific footage from the IDF Spokesperson's Office and told them afterwards: "We face a peculiar kind of enemy, a particularly cruel and inhuman foe. They're genocidal. They're not fighting for this or that territory; they're fighting to eliminate the Jewish state in whatever boundary. They say so. Their charter says if you find a bush and a Jew is hiding behind it, kill the Jew. Kill all the Jews. Their goal goes beyond the destruction of Israel. They're part of an axis of terror: Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, Houthis. They say death to America—that's the Great Satan. Israel is the Small Satan. I hope I don't find any offense with any of you. You're a middle-sized Satan. They hate our free civilization. They want to bury it. They have an ideology that is mad. In the 21st century, after the Enlightenment, after the Scientific Revolution, after the advance of human rights and democracy, this is sheer madness. I don't give it relative moralism that says, moral relativism that says, well, they have this society. They can do these horrible things to women. They can do these horrible things to human beings. That's their value system. That's not a value system. That's something that has to be fought. And one thing that we discovered in the 21st century is that our assumption that we can live our civilized lives in our advanced countries, seeking peace, prosperity and progress, and we can just sit back and the barbarians will not come back, they come back. They come back in many places, and if we are unwilling to fight the barbarians, they will win. There's a great historian that I admire, an American Christian Humanist by the name of Will Durant, who wrote, in the last century he wrote "The History of Civilization." And he said history does not favor Jesus Christ over Genghis Khan. History favors the strong. Your moral values do not stand up if you're not willing to fight for them. Here is a classic case of savagery and barbarism against civilization. Now, this savagery has two techniques. One is to deliberately target civilians. The whole laws of war, humanitarian law, which we're committed to completely, makes a simple distinction. On one line, they draw, they draw a line in the middle of the world and they say on one line are combatants, and the other line are non-combatants. You can target the combatants. You should target the combatants. But don't deliberately target the non-combatants. They can be hurt, unintentionally. That accompanies every legitimate war. What the terrorists do is erase the sense of sin. They say everyone is a target. These girls in a music festival, these women. They're targets. Babies. They're targets. Old people. They're targets. Holocaust survivors. They're targets. Everyone is a combatant. Everyone! They not only target everyone, every citizen, no one is a civilian, no one is exempt from their murder, from their harm. They also hide behind their civilians. They deliberately implant themselves in hospitals, in schools, in residential areas, in UN facilities. They fire their rockets from there. Thousands of them. We might have an alert as we speak. There is no symmetry here! These people target directly our cities all the time. Thousands and thousands and thousands of rockets. Falling on Barcelona, falling on Madrid, falling on Brussels, falling on Antwerp. Or any one of the European cities. Thousands! Israel is a small country. They deliberately target civilians and they deliberately hide behind civilians and use them as a human shield. That's a war crime. So what is a democracy, committed to the human, to the laws of war, supposed to do? Do the laws of war give exemption to such criminals? And the answer is: They don't. They say do your best to target the terrorists. Do your best to minimize civilian casualties. But if we, the democracies, accept, say that under no circumstances should we go in because civilians tragically get killed, then we lost. We lost before we begin. You lost and you lost. Spain lost. Belgium lost. Because this will spread. You will see it. Very soon. Because the Axis of Terror is not going to stop. If they can emerge victorious here, they intend to bring down the Middle East, and next they'll go to Europe. After that they'll go elsewhere. If you think I'm exaggerating, I am not. This is where the pivot of history now is going to be decided. Do we stop them there? Or do they come to you? Now, how do you stop them? What do you do? What did the Western countries, what did the democracy do when terrorists embed themselves amidst civilians? Let me say from the start that any civilian death is a tragedy. Any one. And to avoid them, what you do is first, you try to get the civilians out of harm's way. And that's exactly what we did. We asked, called, sent leaflets, phoned the civilians in the areas where we were going to hit the terrorists, the Hamas terrorists, and we said please leave. When they tried to leave, Hamas kept them at gunpoint. Stay, because Hamas doesn't care that their civilians are killed. This is a messianic death cult that hides in the bunkers. As one of their spokesmen said: the underground belongs to Hamas; aboveground, so civilians, that's Israel's problem and the UN problem. Not their problem. On the contrary. It's their shield. So, what do you do? We ask them to leave. Hamas tries to stop them from leaving. Thankfully, many left. We set up a safe corridor, from the north of Gaza, where we were concentrating our effort against the terrorists, to the south. A safe zone in the south, safe corridor to the south. Hamas shot the safe corridor. They fired on the safe corridor, so the people would be trapped in. But they kept on leaving. I'm happy to say that there is a decline in civilian casualties, which is our goal. Our goal is to have none. And primarily that's because of the ground action. The ground action has resulted in the fact that the warnings that we give are addressed by the population, the civilian population that goes south. When they go south, we give them humanitarian support. There are about 150 trucks now going in. Probably go up to 200 and beyond: food, medicine, water. I have not seen yet the effort that I'd like to see from the UN and the international agencies to build there shelters. Winter is coming and there is no reason not to build tens of thousands of tents in the safe zone, next to the safe zone. Because they don't enter the safe zone, the UN, which I think is shocking. I said, okay, we'll give you a lot of little zones. And they're building little safe zones to get the population out of harm's way. Israel is doing everything in its power to get the population out of harm's way. Hamas is doing everything in its power to keep that population in harm's way. That's the facts. I'll give you an example – Hitler, the original Nazis, they invade Europe, they do these horrors on a mass scale. And by the way, these killers would do exactly what Hitler did if they could away with it. The difference is only in capability, not in intent and not in savagery. Hitler invades Europe, perpetrates these horrible savageries, the Holocaust and so on. And so on. And the Allies invade. They invade Normandy. The German army is in the cities. You've seen the footage. The Allies say, "No, we can't do anything. We can't fire," because they're amid civilians? Of course not. They try to do exactly what we are doing: try to minimize the cost. And then they go through the cities of France and they go through the cities of Germany. And unfortunately, many, many, many civilian casualties occur. I don't know what history would have been like if we had demonstrations and protests in the West against the Allies for incurring civilian, German civilian casualties. I know history would have been very different. But we are the Allies, along with the moderate Arabs, with the United States, with Europe. We're the Allies. And they're the new Nazis. Israel cannot be held to a standard that no one is being held to. We have to fight the terrorists. We're in complete compliance with international law. I think in many ways, we're setting a different standard. We seek to minimize civilian casualties, and Hamas seeks to maximize it. And I would strongly urge you to make that distinction, not merely because it's right and just, but because your very societies are on the line. You're next. This is a battle for civilization. It has to be won. We will win it, because we have no other choice. We don't have a future if we don't. Hamas has already said, 'We'll do it again and again and again.' So we'll have to eradicate them. Just as you couldn't leave a reduced Nazi presence, you know, in Germany. You couldn't do that. And we are not going to leave a reduced Hamas presence in Gaza. But the consequences are much bigger. And I think that we should all unite in making sure that this kind of savagery never shows its face again. I thank you." The views and opinions expressed in this article solely belong to the author and do not represent the perspectives or stance of World and New World Journal, nor do they reflect the opinions of any of our employees. World and New World Journal does not endorse or take responsibility for the content, opinions, or information presented in this article. Readers are encouraged to consider multiple sources and viewpoints for a comprehensive understanding of the subject matter. Thank you for your understanding.

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Extraordinary BRICS summit

by Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin took part in an extraordinary BRICS summit on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, held via videoconference. The extraordinary BRICS summit on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict (held via videoconference) was attended by President of Russia Vladimir Putin, President of the Federative Republic of Brazil Luiz Lula da Silva, President of the People's Republic of China Xi Jinping, President of the Republic of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa, and Minister of External Affairs of the Republic of India Subrahmanyam Jaishankar. The states invited to join the association were represented at the summit by President of the Arab Republic of Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ebrahim Raisi, Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, President of the United Arab Emirates Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed, and Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship of the Argentine Republic Santiago Andres Cafiero. * * * Speech by the President of Russia President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Ramaphosa, colleagues, friends, We think the initiative of the President of South Africa, as the current chair of BRICS, to convene an extraordinary summit to discuss the escalation in the Gaza Strip, has come at the right time. The thousands of deaths and mass expulsion of civilians, the humanitarian disaster unfolding in the area are causing deep concern. Just now, one of our colleagues spoke of the deaths of a large number of children. It is terrible, but when you watch children being operated on without anaesthesia, it certainly evokes intense feelings. And all of that is, in fact, happening as a consequence of the United States’ aspiration to monopolise the mediation role in the Palestinian-Israeli settlement process and block the activities of the Middle East Quartet of international mediators. This is history’s way of demonstrating that attempts to single-handedly cut the “Palestinian knot” are unviable and counterproductive. Because of the sabotage of UN decisions, which clearly called for the establishment and peaceful coexistence of two independent and sovereign states – Israel and Palestine – more than one generation of Palestinians has grown up in an atmosphere of injustice, and Israelis cannot fully guarantee the security of their state either. Russia's stance is consistent and independent of momentary conditions. We urge the international community to join efforts aimed at de-escalating the situation, negotiating a ceasefire, and achieving a political solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The BRICS states and the countries in the region could play a key role in this work. For this reason, it is particularly significant that our colleagues from Middle Eastern countries, which received invitations to become full members of the BRICS this year, are joining our meeting today. I would like to take this opportunity to respectfully acknowledge their efforts to normalise the situation. In particular, I am referring to the Peace Summit hosted by Egypt and the joint Arab-Islamic extraordinary summit in Saudi Arabia. It is worth noting that all BRICS countries have similar positions on the need to collectively reach long-term and durable settlement of the long-standing Palestinian-Israeli problem. This was reflected during voting on the draft resolution on a humanitarian truce in the UN General Assembly and in discussing a UN Security Council resolution on the Middle East settlement process, which was adopted for the first time in the past seven years. Although this resolution contains merely an appeal for humanitarian pauses rather than a full ceasefire, we consider the very fact of its approval a step in the right direction. I would like to emphasise that such humanitarian pauses and, better still, a full ceasefire is essential to continue the efforts to free hostages and evacuate civilians and foreigners from the Gaza Strip. I must express again my deep gratitude to President [of Egypt Abdel Fattah] el-Sisi, and all our Egyptian colleagues for their help in resolving many challenging issues linked with receiving and sending home the Russian citizens that had left the conflict area. Of course, by all accounts, the most urgent goal is to reach a truly long-term and sustainable truce. I agree with my Brazilian colleague that it is important that other states not get drawn into a war in the Middle East and that the conflict not spread in any way, as is preserving the fragile peace between religions. In this context, we consider it extremely useful to continue discussing subsequent developments in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in BRICS. If there are no objections, colleagues, we will initiate possible contacts, including via videoconference, concerning these issues during Russia’s upcoming BRICS presidency next year. In general, the new format of emergency online summit meetings suggested by President [of South Africa Cyril] Ramaphosa appears to be quite promising. Importantly, this applies not only to the Middle East settlement but to other urgent global and regional issues. Thank you for your attention. The views and opinions expressed in this article solely belong to the author and do not represent the perspectives or stance of World and New World Journal, nor do they reflect the opinions of any of our employees. World and New World Journal does not endorse or take responsibility for the content, opinions, or information presented in this article. Readers are encouraged to consider multiple sources and viewpoints for a comprehensive understanding of the subject matter. Thank you for your understanding.

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Don’t be fooled by Biden and Xi talks − China and the US are enduring rivals rather than engaged partners

by Michael Beckley

There were smiles for the camera, handshakes, warm words and the unveiling of a couple of agreements. But beyond the optics of the first meeting in over a year between the leaders of the world’s two biggest economies, not an awful lot had changed: There was nothing to suggest a “reset” in U.S. and China relations that in recent years have been rooted in suspicion and competition. President Joe Biden hinted as much just hours after the face-to-face talks, confirming that he still considered his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, a “dictator.” Beijing hit back, with foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning telling reporters Biden’s remark was “extremely wrong and irresponsible political manipulation.” As a scholar of U.S.-China relations, I believe the relationship between the two countries can be best described as an “enduring rivalry” – a term used by political scientists to denote two powers that have singled each other out for intense security competition. Examples from history include India and Pakistan, France and England, and the West and the Soviet Union. Over the past two centuries, such rivals have accounted for only 1% of the world’s international relationships but 80% of its wars. History suggest these rivalries last around 40 years and end only when one side loses the ability to compete – or when the two sides ally against a common enemy. Neither scenario looks likely any time soon in regards to China and the U.S. How enduring rivalries end China “is a communist country … based on a form of government totally different than ours,” Biden said after his meeting with Xi. That comment gets to the heart of why diplomacy alone cannot reset the U.S.-China relationship. Washington and Beijing are not rivals due to any misunderstanding that can be sorted out through talks alone. Rather, they are rivals because of the opposite reason: They understand each other only too well and have come to the conclusion that their respective world outlooks cannot be reconciled. The same is true for many of the issues that divide the two countries – they are framed as binary win-lose scenarios. Taiwan can be governed from Taipei or Beijing, but not both. Similarly, the East China and South China seas can be international waters or Chinese territory; Russia can be crippled or supported. For the United States, its Asian alliances are a force for stability; for China, they’re hostile encirclement. And both countries are right in their respective assessments. Diplomacy alone is insufficient to resolve a rivalry. At best, it can help manage it. When the US calls, who picks up? Part of this management of the U.S-China rivalry involves finding areas of agreement that can be committed to. And on Nov. 15, Biden and Xi announced deals over curbing China’s production of the deadly drug fentanyl and the restoring of high-level, military-to-military dialogue between the two countries. But the fentanyl announcement is very similar to the one Xi gave to then-President Donald Trump in 2019. The U.S. administration later accused China of reneging on the agreement. Similarly, committing to restarting high-level dialogue is one thing; following up on it is another. History is dotted with occasions when having an open line between Beijing and Washington hasn’t meant a whole lot in times of crisis. In 2001, when a U.S. surveillance aircraft collided with a Chinese jet over Hainan Island, Beijing didn’t pick up the phone. Likewise, during the Tiananmen Square massacre, then-President George H.W. Bush urgently tried to call his counterpart Deng Xiaoping but was unable to get through. Moreover, focusing on what was agreed to in talks also highlights what wasn’t – and is unlikely to ever be – agreed to without a substantial shift in power that forces one side to concede to the other. For example, China wants the U.S. to stop selling arms to Taiwan. But Washington has no intention of doing this, as it knows that this will make the disputed island more vulnerable to Beijing. Washington would like China to end its military displays of strength over the Taiwan Strait; Beijing knows doing so risks seeing Taiwan drift toward independence. American policymakers have long said what they want is China to “change” – by which it means to liberalize its system of governance. But the Chinese Communist Party knows that doing so means self-liquidation – every communist regime that has allowed space for alternative political parties has unraveled. Which is why American attempts to engage China are often met with suspicion in China. As former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin commented, engagement and containment policies have the same aim: to end China’s socialist system. For similar reasons, Xi has shunned attempts by the U.S. to bring China further into the rules-based international order. The Chinese leader saw what happened when Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev tried to integrate the Soviet Union into the Western order in the late 1980s – it only hastened the demise of the socialist entity. Instead, Xi calls for a massive military buildup, the reassertion of Chinese Communist Party control and an economic policy based on self-reliance. Actions speak louder … The encouraging words and limited agreements hammered out in the latest meeting between Xi and Biden should also not distract from the actions that continue to push the U.S. and China further apart. China’s show of force in the Taiwan Strait has been sustained for three years now and shows no sign of abating. Meanwhile, Beijing’s navy continues to harass other nations in the South China Sea. Similarly, Biden has continued the U.S. path toward military alliances aimed at countering China’s threat. It recently entered a trilateral agreement between the U.S., Japan and South Korea. And that came two years after the establishment of AUKUS, a security partnership between the the U.S., Australia and the U.K. that has similar aims. Meanwhile, the U.S. administration will continue to tighten the screws on China’s economy through investment restrictions. Biden is well aware that easy flowing money from Wall Street is helping China weather choppier economic waters of late and is keen to turn off the tap. The point of diplomacy This isn’t to say that diplomacy and face-to-face talks are pointless. They do, in fact, serve a number of interests. For both men involved, there is a domestic upside. For Biden, playing nice with China projects the image of a statesman – especially at a time when, due to U.S. positions on Ukraine and the Middle East, he is facing accusations from the political left of being a “warmonger.” And encouraging Beijing to tread softly during the U.S. election year may blunt a potential line of attack from Republicans that the administration’s China policy is not working. Meanwhile, Xi is able to showcase his own diplomatic skills and present China as an alternative superpower to the U.S. and to potentially cleave the Western business community – and perhaps even major European nations – from what he would see as the U.S. anti-China coalition. Moreover, summits like the one in San Francisco signal that both the U.S. and China are jointly committed to at least keep talking, helping ensure that a rocky relationship doesn’t descend into anything more belligerent – even it that doesn’t make them any friendlier.

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Can US and China Avoid the Thucydides Trap? The Structural Limits to a US-China Reset

by Dr. Stephen Nagy

The meeting at San Francisco between Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping offers a short respite in the broader strategic conflict that both states have been waging since at least 2017. The friends and trade partners of both nations now have an opportunity to employ middle power diplomacy to advocate for their interests and also the moderation of competition. In his book Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?, Graham Allison provided historical examples of when a status quo power met a rising power and whether and why it resulted in war. Unlike his peer John Mearsheimer, author of the Tragedy of Great Power Politics, who concludes that competition and conflict between the US and China are inevitable due to the structure of the international system, Allison’s book provides a warning to both the US and China that the decisions they make could be positively or negatively consequential, leaving room for agency to be the final arbiter of the fate of bilateral relations. The pre-APEC meeting between President Joe Biden and President Xi Jinping was an invitro international relations experiment testing the premises of Allison and Mearsheimer as to whether US-China strategic competition will be shaped by the agency of leaders or the structure of the system. Superficially, the 15 November 2023 meeting allowed for an agreement limiting the precursors of fentanyl coming into the United States and, importantly, reviving regular talks under what is known as the military maritime consultation agreement. These modest but important agreements followed a throng of high-level cabinet visits to Beijing and reciprocal visits by Wang Yi, China’s foreign minister, that were meant to stabilise US-China relations. These agreements suggest that leaders in both countries can find diplomatic crosswalks to stabilise the relationship in functional areas. It also intimates that other window of cooperation such as climate change, anti-terrorism, transnational disease prevention, and poverty alleviation may be fertile ground for collaboration if leaders choose to move forward. While the modest takeaways from the meeting in San Francisco underscores that agency does have a role in bilateral relations, we should be realistic that they also reflect the deep structural challenges that exist between the United States and China. Moreover, they also represent the intractable nature of the structural challenges in the relationship, placing friends and allies of the United States and major trading partners of China, such as Australia, Japan, Canada, and Southeast Asian nations, with a difficult quandary: How to balance their economic prosperity and stability through a vibrant and beneficial trade relationship with China while maintaining a strong, comprehensive relationship with the United States as it deepens its strategic competition with China? In the US, there is bipartisan consensus that China represents a challenge to US leadership that needs to be dealt with comprehensively. Under the Biden administration, we have seen a systemic, sequential, and allied-first approach to competing with China. It has brought accolades from friends and allies and, predictably, criticism from China that Biden has not only adopted a continuation of policies towards China from the Trump administration, but that his policies are even more severe. The Biden administration has reinforced and reified its alliance partnerships with South Korea and Japan. It then enhanced its commitment to the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) and demonstrated substantial leadership in terms of pushing back against Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine. More recently, the Biden administration forged a new trilateral partnership between South Korea, Japan, and the United States, under the so-called Camp David Principles. It also strengthened the quadrilateral security dialogue and its efforts to provide public goods to the Indo Pacific region. And we’ve gradually seen a more coherent AUKUS strategy that aims to create synergy between the UK, Australia, and the United States in the areas of AI research, quantum computing, hypersonic missiles, cyber, and importantly nuclear power submarines. Last, but not least, the adoption of the Chips Act, limiting the sale of sophisticated semiconductor chips to China and the associated technologies, suggests that the United States is not stepping down from its competition with China, but stepping up in the same way that the United States transformed every aspect of its governance following the 911 attacks. Similarly, there seems to be consensus in the Chinese political elite that the US and its allies are intent on containing China and attenuating its development. Xi Jinping’s 20th Workers Party Report at the 20th Party Congress highlighted the concerns China has about its external environment and advocated for strengthening the PLA to deal with separatist forces and external threats, while consolidating it political, social, economic, and ideological systems. Through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the expansion of the BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and the advocacy of the Global Development/ Security and Civilization Initiatives, China under the leadership of Xi Jinping is aiming to transform itself, its periphery, and the international system such that all are more conducive to China’s core interests, including preserving its political system. These realities suggest that rather than fostering a reset in bilateral relations, what we are seeing is both China and the United States taking a tactical pause in their strategic competition to amass the resources they need to compete successfully in the Mearsheimer world of great power politics and the maximisation of power. In closed-door discussions on China with Japanese, South Koreans, Australians, Canadians, Southeast and South Asians, as well as Europeans, we hear similar refrains: while China represents a “systemic challenge” in the case of the Europeans and NATO, or is a “disruptive power” in the case of Canada, or as Japan writes in its 2022 National Security Strategy, “the greatest strategic challenge in ensuring the peace and security of Japan and the peace and stability of the international community,” China is also an important and largely irreplaceable economic partner and essential player in dealing with global challenges such as climate change. The question for friends and allies of the United States is how to balance the increasingly difficult and competitive relationship between China and the United States in a way that ensures that they can continue to have strong economic relationships with China while building resilience into their economies and into their economic relationship, such that the economic weaponization of supply chains and the monopolisation of resources cannot negatively affect trading partners of China. Part of these states’ responses to protect their national interests from the structural realities of Sino-U.S. strategic competition will be a middle power diplomacy that aims to shape the competitive nature of the relationship between the US and China. This will be implemented through coordinating their diplomacy and proactively lobbying, insulating, and investing in rulemaking in the realms of security, trade, and international law alongside their like-minded ally the US, but at times also in opposition to the US. This will require investing in diplomatic resources in both the US and China, in the broader Indo-Pacific region, and at the subnational level to forge strong state to state relations to effectively lobby US policy makers to inculcate the interests of allies and friends of the US in their strategic rivalry with China. Similarly, through forging stronger relations with Chinese provincial leaders though trade and investment, middle powers and stakeholders in the US-China strategic competition may be able to have their interests reflected in a moderation of China’s approach to competition with the US.