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The Maastricht Diplomat

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Another week of dealing with the usual suspects

Updated: May 2, 2023

The last week of April has officially ended, which calls for another episode of: “powerful men stirring up a lot of trouble in the international scene” (again - ughhh)


Let´s dive right into it and start with our first candidate: Xi Jinping. As the destructive war in Ukraine continues to rage, fears about a conflict as consequential as this one is starting to loom: a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. As tension increases, the Chinese military has once again conducted military exercises near Taiwan. According to the Taiwanese Ministry of Defense, this time the exercise involved 38 fighter jets and another 10 aircrafts. As British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, James Cleverly put it: “no country could shield itself from the repercussions of a war in Taiwan.” In addition to a complete inversion of the current liberal world order and its corresponding traditional hegemonic power structures, the conflict would also cause an estimated damage of $2.6tn to the global economy. Being the world's largest export country of lithium and cobalt materials as well as computer chips, two ingredients essential in electric car batteries, this would particularly affect Europe and the US.


On the other side of the Pacific Ocean, Joe Biden has announced his second election campaign, claiming that “his battle for the American nation is not over yet”. Even though surveys about his age (he is 80 years old, after all) have demonstrated serious concerns - also among Democrats - it seems like no other democratic challenger can be taken seriously. To win the elections, Biden would especially need to convince young and Black voters, particularly women as well as disenchanted Republicans that had already helped him in the 2020 elections. In the end, the thrill of anticipation and surprise for the next presidential campaign can be broken down to a battle between two white men in their 70 and 80s – being the exact same players as four years ago.


Moving to our next troublemaker(s): Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burha, Sudanese army general and ruler of Sudan, and Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemedti, general of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces. It has been more than a week now since the regular army and a powerful paramilitary force in Sudan have started to engage in violent fights, causing more than 400 deaths in only a few days. In light of this, more and more countries, including France, Germany, and Italy have evacuated diplomats and citizens in response to the continuing fights in Khartoum.


Whereas the battle had only recently reached a new climax, its beginning can be traced back to 2019, when several international and regional powers had assisted in “peace negotiations”. Unsurprisingly, the interests of the several “facilitator countries”, including the United Arab Emirates, which had taken advantage of Sudan's political and economic weakness to advance its own interests by supplying Hemedti´s troops with money and equipment to continue waging the war in Yemen, had played a major role in the talks. After the United States had considerably downsized its engagement under Obama, Russia had not hesitated to seize the opportunity and gain power over the gold mines, one of Sudan's most important export products. Interestingly, the profits drawn from the mining activities have to a large extent, been spent on the Russian arsenal in the war against Ukraine.


Enough with bad news for now and turning towards our last character: Brazilian President Lula da Silva has recently decreed six new indigenous reserves, implying the prohibition of mining and the restriction of commercial farming. More precisely, this new law grants indigenous people exclusive use of natural resources, which consequently could be an important step towards more encompassing climate protection. However, that’s not all: as announced by indigenous activist and environmentalist Sônia Bone de Souza Silva Santos, a total area of almost 900.000 hectares is under preparation for further designation.


Last but not least, and to end on a good note: Japan has finally approved an abortion pill, allowing it to end pregnancies up to nine weeks. While abortion has been legal for up to 22 weeks with consent required from a partner, the approval of the pill will allow women to gain more autonomy over their bodies.



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