Taiwan, Xinjiang, Nord Stream 2, Tunisia, Brazil, “El Padrino” and the Week in Review


Taiwan, Xinjiang, Nord Stream 2, Tunisia, Brazil, “El Padrino” and the Week in Review

Happy Friday, beautiful humans. If you missed our 2021 forecast, have no fear, you can read the executive summary by clicking here or you can e-mail us at to claim your copy. Also, don’t forget to check out our special emergency podcast episode with Marko Papic from earlier this week. It’s a good one. Cheers.


Taiwan and Xinjiang. The Biden administration invited Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to Biden’s inauguration and a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council described the U.S. commitment to Taiwan under Biden as “rock-solid.” Outgoing U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described China’s government policies in Xinjiang as “genocide” – and incoming Secretary of State Tony Blinken said he agreed with the characterization during his confirmation hearing.

What it means: If you were expecting a thaw in U.S.-China relations in the short-term, you’re in for a rude awakening.


Nord Stream 2. Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny was detained immediately on arrival in Moscow. The European Parliament passed a non-binding resolution condemning Navalny’s arrest and calling for the cessation of all work on Nord Stream 2. Unauthorized protests have been scheduled across Russia for Saturday.

What it means: Russia might have been better served letting Navalny do his thing. As it stands, they’ve made Navanly a lightning rod for domestic discontent. The European Parliament’s self-righteousness is notable, but until German Chancellor Angela Merkel changes her tune, there’s nothing to see her. For now, her “basic attitude has not yet changed.” Yet is the key word there.

Tunisia simmers. Thousands of Tunisians protested and rioted throughout the country this week. The powerful Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT) is lending its support to protests against the government.

What it means: The first Arab Spring was sparked by a combination of high food prices and a loss of faith in the Tunisian government. Anyone else feeling an eerie sense of déjà vu?


Brazil reconsiders. In an interview with Estadão, Brazilian Vice President Hamilton Mourão implied Chinese telecom firm Huawei would not be blocked from contracts to build out Brazil’s 5G infrastructure.

What it means: The Bolsonaro government has always been less aggressive toward China than Bolsonaro was on the campaign trail…but an about-face on Huawei’s ability to participate in the build-out of 5G networks in Brazil would be a significant shift in Brazilian foreign policy if executed.


The continuing saga of “El Padrino.” Mexico’s Fiscalía General de la República (FGR) decided not to pursue criminal charges against former Mexican Secretary of National Defense General Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda and also published a “public version” of its complete case file. The U.S. Department of Justice is “disappointed” by the decision and accused Mexico of violating the Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance by revealing privileged information in the case file.

What it means: A new nadir in security cooperation between Mexico and the U.S. The new Biden administration has its hands full reaching back out to U.S. allies and partners, but although nobody has asked, if they did, we’d suggest making Mexico prioridad número uno.

Honorable mention

Our favorite Bernie Sanders meme from the inauguration.

Jack Ma lives. We told you so.

Alexander Lukashenko lets his “dog” eat at the dinner table. Ball is in your court now, Gurbanguly.

If you’re in biotech and you haven’t read our report on why geopolitics is about to get all up in your business, now is probably a good time.

India’s government proposed a 1.5-year suspension of its controversial agricultural reform laws. India is also considering major revisions to its foreign investment rules.

The United Kingdom’s trade minister, Liz Truss, confirmed that the UK was planning on submitting an application to join the CPTPP “shortly.”

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said he would push for a resolution between South Korea and Japan and South Korea’s new ambassador to Japan reiterated Moon’s “firm intention to intensify cooperation with Japan.”

Beware ye lovers of unorthodox candle scents.

Russian wheat export prices rose above $300/mt for the first time since 2014 and have risen 17 percent month on month.

The Iranian government confiscated 45,000 high-powered computers that were being used to mine bitcoins by an unnamed Chinese-Iranian investment company.

Egypt and Qatar restored full diplomatic relations.