The Week That Was: Global News in Review

Foreign Policy Brief #107 | By: Ibrahim Castro | December 21, 2023
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Earthquake in China

Last week a 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck one of China’s poorest regions, the northwestern Gansu province. In Gansu, 113 people have been found dead with 782 injured. More than 207,000 homes were wrecked and nearly 15,000 collapsed, affecting more than 145,000 people. The death toll is the highest since an August 2014 quake that killed 617 people in southwest China’s Yunnan province. Many of the affected families are Hui people, an ethnic minority mostly found in western Chinese provinces and regions such as Gansu, Ningxia and Shaanxi. Survivors of the quake face uncertainty in the coming freezing months ahead without suitable shelter. Roads, power and water lines and agricultural production facilities have also suffered damage, and will compound the effects of the quake on the population.

EU Agreement to Overhaul Migration System

The European Union has reached an agreement on a series of reforms designed to limit the numbers of people coming into the bloc after years of discussion on how to overhaul its asylum rules. The reform includes speedier vetting of irregular arrivals, creating border detention centers, accelerated deportation for rejected asylum applicants and a solidarity mechanism to take pressure off southern countries experiencing big inflows of migrants.

Multiple refugee rights groups have said the deal will create a cruel system that is unfeasible and will cause what would amount to prison camps at the EU’s borders. They warn of the deal allowing increased immigration detention, including for children and families, increased racial profiling within EU member states, the use of the ‘crisis’ procedures to enable pushbacks, and return individuals to so called ‘safe third countries’ where they are at risk of violence, torture, and arbitrary imprisonment.

Argentina’s Milei Signs Decree to Boost Exports, Deregulation

Last week libertarian Argentine President Javier Milei signed a decree outlining economic reforms including an end to limits on exports, and measures to loosen regulations as his new government attempts to combat a severe economic crisis that has gripped the country for years. His government, which has already devalued the Argentine peso by over 50%, has said it plans to impose tax hikes for Argentina’s grains exports – a key source of global supply for processed soybeans, corn and wheat. Among the reforms are plans to privatize state-owned companies, such as the privatization of the country’s state-owned oil company. Since his inauguration on Dec. 10, Milei has pledged and is now carrying out his vision of “shock” therapy for the economy which will also include austerity cuts in an effort to tame the country’s triple-digit inflation.

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