Biden Visits Mexico to Talk Trade and Immigration

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at U.S. President Joe Biden’s visit to Mexico, China’s reopening of its borders amid a COVID-19 surge, and former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s supporters storming Congress.

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Biden Visits Mexico

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at U.S. President Joe Biden’s visit to Mexico, China’s reopening of its borders amid a COVID-19 surge, and former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s supporters storming Congress.

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.

U.S. President Joe Biden is meeting his Mexican and Canadian counterparts, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in Mexico on Monday, Jan. 9, and Tuesday, Jan. 10.

The three are expected to discuss the economy, security, and immigration.

Trade is likely to be one prominent subject of conversation. The United States and Canada have both filed for consultations, a step that comes before trade complaints, because López Obrador favors Mexico’s power company. Canada and the United States have said favoring a domestic company over its Canadian and U.S. counterparts is a violation of United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the trilateral trade deal that was negotiated and came to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement during the Trump administration.

Another subject for discussion—and another possible sticking point—will be immigration, particularly immigration from and through Mexico and to the United States. The visit in Mexico follows Biden’s visit to the U.S.-Mexican border and also comes as his administration expands expulsions under Title 42, part of the U.S. public health code invoked by the Trump administration to authorize the expulsion of migrants without allowing them to apply for asylum. The Biden administration’s plan also has increased opportunities for migrants to legally enter the country, though that pathway would be capped at 30,000 admissions per month.

The visit was also preceded by Mexican authorities arresting the son of drug cartel leader Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, whom U.S. officials suspect was involved in contributing to America’s deadly fentanyl crisis. Mexican authorities deny that the raid and arrest were timed for political purposes or to signal to Washington that they are a partner in the fight against fentanyl.

Twenty-nine people were killed during the raid and arrest, and a Mexico City federal judge halted El Chapos extradition to the United States. Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said formalities of law prevented immediate extradition—perhaps another subject that will come up between Biden and his Mexican counterpart.

Monday, Jan. 9: French President Emmanuel Macron meets with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida as part of the latter’s tour marking Japan’s G-7 presidency.

Tuesday, Jan. 10: Margrethe Vestager, vice president of the European Commission for a Europe Fit for the Digital Age, will meet with TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew.

Wednesday, Jan. 11: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will take part in a U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee (or 2+2 meeting) with their counterparts, Japanese Foreign Affairs Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada.

Thursday, Jan. 12: Human Rights Watch launches its 2023 global report.

Friday, Jan. 13, and Saturday, Jan. 14: The Czech Republic holds presidential elections.

What Were Following Today

Bolsonaristas storm Brazil’s National Congress. Protesters stormed Brazil’s National Congress in support of former President Jair Bolsonaro on Sunday, climbing on its roof, breaking windows, and assaulting journalists—including one from the Washington Post. The countrys presidential palace and supreme court were also stormed.

The incident, which was immediately likened by some to the storming of the U.S. Capitol by former U.S. President Donald Trump’s supporters on Jan. 6, 2021, comes a week after the inauguration of Brazil’s new president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Lula was visibly angered by the violence, referring to those who stormed the government buildings as “fascists” and laying the blame squarely on Bolsonaro. “This genocidal person … provoked this,” Lula said. “He encouraged the invasion.”

Bolsonaro was in Florida during the riots and eventually condemned the violence several hours after it began, tweeting, “Peaceful demonstrations, in the form of the law, are part of democracy. However, depredations and invasions of public buildings as occurred today, as well as those practiced by the left in 2013 and 2017, escape the rule.”

“This absurd attempt to impose the will by force will not prevail,” vowed Brazilian Justice Minister Flávio Dino, who previously authorized Brazils armed forces to set up barriers and guard the National Congress. (Those were the barriers that Bolsonaros supporters breached.)

Authorities regained control of the government complex after arresting at least 400 people.

China reopens its borders. After three years, China has seemingly fully abandoned its so-called zero-COVID approach to the COVID-19 pandemic and opened its borders, welcoming visitors without strict quarantine measures and allowing its own citizens to travel overseas. However, this is happening as COVID-19 cases surge in China, a trend that is expected to get worse, not better, as millions of people travel across the country for the Lunar New Year in late January. On Friday, China’s ministry of transport said it expected more than 2 billion passengers in the coming 40 days.

Keep an Eye On

Does Sunak use the NHS? British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak refused to say whether he uses private health care. Under pressure as people endure long lines for the National Health Service (NHS), the prime minister said his own health care was “not really relevant” and a “distraction.”

Health workers—including those leading the strike to get better pay for nurses—and his opponents in the Labour Party have criticized Sunak as being out of touch and unaware of the challenges facing the NHS as well as their impact on the average person in Britain.

Reclaimed Kyiv cathedral holds Ukrainian service. During Orthodox Christmas services, the Dormition Cathedral at the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, a monastery, conducted services in Ukrainian for the first time in independent Ukraines existence. The move was an expression of independence from the Russian Orthodox Church.

The Ukrainian government took over administration of the cathedral and allowed the Orthodox Church of Ukraine to use the space for Christmas. Previously, it had been under the control of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC), which had been formally tied to the Russian Orthodox Church. (After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the UOC declared independence from the Moscow Patriarchate.)

It’s High Time to Prepare for Russia’s Collapse by Alexander J. Motyl 

Lessons for the Next War by FP Contributors

How Countries Use Food to Win Friends and Influence People by Fabio Parasecoli 

An old NASA satellite fell from the sky this weekend. The sky wasn’t falling this weekend, but a 38-year-old satellite was. It was expected to come down on Sunday night—give or take 17 hours. Happily, NASA estimated that the odds of injury from falling debris were roughly 1 in 9,400.

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