President of Taiwan Tsai Ing-wen’s US visits put President Joe Biden in a precarious position, as he is tasked with ensuring a warm and unofficial diplomatic welcome to Taiwan’s leader without infuriating the Chinese government. China interprets any US-Taiwan contact as an affront to Beijing’s claim of sovereignty over the self-governing island, and is already signalling that Tsai’s presence in the US will further damage already frosty US-China ties. Biden’s dilemma is further complicated by balancing the demands of China hawks in the GOP prompting deeper and more official military, economic, and diplomatic links to Taiwan to prevent a military invasion of the island.
Video-sharing app TikTok’s fight for survival provides insight into the limitations of lobbying to protect a company at the centre of a geopolitical firestorm. Former members of Congress and aides to Kevin McCarthy and Nancy Pelosi prepared TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer for his Congressional hearing. Meanwhile, an army of operatives had been preparing for the moment for years, amassing a network of lobbyists connecting the company to power centres across the world. The company’s battle for survival in the US and Europe, with calls for a TikTok ban on the rise, has become a vivid study of how a wealthy, foreign-owned corporation can build an impressive-looking network of influence.
President of China, Xi Jinping, has been invited by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to visit Ukraine, representing the first direct communication between the two since the start of Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine. Meanwhile, Attorney General Merrick Garland has defended the Justice Department’s surveillance authority known as Section 702, as an essential weapon against Chinese espionage. While China has criticised President Biden’s Summit for Democracy, the president noted that his vision for democracies was “getting stronger, not weaker” and detailed plans to channel, if Congress cooperates, $9.5bn over the next three years to fund efforts to advance democracy across the world.
Finally, the government of Honduras has broken diplomatic relations with Taiwan in favour of Beijing ties, after Taiwan’s refusal to provide $2.45bn in aid to the Central American country. The new ties with Beijing were criticised by Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to the US, while China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning accused Taiwan’s government of “dollar diplomacy”.