Zelensky Invites Xi, King Charles In Germany, Amsterdam v. British Lads
👋 Hyvää päivää!*
Welcome to Wednesday, where Volodymyr Zelensky formally invites Xi Jinping to Kyiv, top French banks raided in fraud probe, and Amsterdam is trying to keep British bachelor parties at bay. Meanwhile, Chinese-language media The Initium shines a light on the quiet emergence of China's gay senior community.
How Russia and China are trying to drive France out of Africa
Fueled by the Kremlin, anti-French sentiment in Africa has been spreading for years. Meanwhile, China is also increasing its influence on the continent as Africa's focus shifts from west to east, writes Maria Oleksa Yeschenko for Ukrainian news website Livy Bereg.
France is losing influence in its former colonies in Africa. After French President Emmanuel Macron decided last year to withdraw the military from the Sahel and the Central African Republic, a line was drawn under the "old French policy" on the continent. But the decision to withdraw was not solely a Parisian initiative.
October 23-24, 2019, Sochi. Russia holds the first large-scale Russia-Africa summit with the participation of four dozen African heads of state. At the time, French soldiers were still helping Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Chad, and Niger fight terrorism as part of Operation Barkhane.
Few people have heard of the Wagner group. The government of Mali is led by Paris-friendly Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, although the country has already seen several pro-Russian demonstrations. At that time, Moscow was preparing a big return to the African continent, similar to what happened in the 1960s during the Soviet Union.
So what did France miss, and where did it all go wrong?
Mali is the most striking example of an African country where France went from a happy symbiosis to a scandalous divorce in just ten years. When then-President François Hollande and Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian launched Operation Serval in 2013, they did so at the request of Bamako, which feared an offensive by jihadists from regional groups affiliated with al-Qaeda and ISIS.
The situation deteriorated catastrophically with two military coups in 2020 and 2021, which brought a junta to power and the arrest of pro-French President Keita. In December 2021, Macron canceled a visit to Mali, where he was supposed to celebrate Christmas with the French military, as he had done in previous years in Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, and on the Charles de Gaulle nuclear-powered aircraft carrier off the coast of Egypt.
At the time, the French leader cited pandemic and sanitary restrictions but later admitted his unwillingness to see representatives of the junta: "We cannot remain militarily linked to the authorities of a country whose strategy and hidden goals we do not share." [...]
— Read the full Livy Bereg article by Maria Oleksa Yeschenko, translated into English by Worldcrunch.
🌎 7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW
• Zelensky invites Xi Jinping to Ukraine: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has invited his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to visit Ukraine. This comes a week after Xi Jinping met with Vladimir Putin in Moscow to discuss the conflict and Beijing's 12-point peace plan to end the war. Meanwhile, Russia has started exercises with the Yars intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) system and several thousand troops in what is likely to be seen as another attempt to flex its nuclear capabilities.
• French prosecutors raid five banks in massive tax fraud case: French authorities have searched the Paris offices of five banks, including Société Générale, BNP Paribas and HSBC, on suspicion of fiscal fraud, part of a broad European probe into avoiding tax payments.
• Taiwan president defiant after China threatens retaliation for U.S. trip: President Tsai Ing-wen said on Wednesday as she left for the United States that external pressure will not stop Taiwan from engaging with the rest of the world. This comes after China threatened retaliation if she met U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. China has also repeatedly warned U.S. officials not to meet with Tsai as it shows support for the island’s desire to be seen as a separate country.
• Migrant center fire toll rises: Surveillance video of the fire at the migrant detention center in Ciudad Juarez where at least 38 people died on Monday shows guards at the detention center leaving as flames engulfed a cell with people trapped inside.
• Two women stabbed to death at Lisbon’s Islamic center: Two women were killed and several others were injured in a stabbing at an Islamic center in the Portuguese capital Lisbon on Tuesday. The suspect, “armed with a large knife,” has been taken into custody after he was shot by police. Police say terrorism is the likely motive, but have not ruled out other motives.
• King Charles III’s first trip abroad: Britain’s new king arrives in Germany on Wednesday for the first foreign trip of his monarchy. His initial itinerary had Paris as the first stop, which was altered because of ongoing anti-government protests in France.
• Amsterdam targets rowdy Brits: Amsterdam’s City Council has warned rowdy British sex and drug tourists to “stay away” through a digital discouragement campaign targeting men aged 18 to 35 in the UK. The ads, highlighting the risks associated with the excessive use of drugs and booze, will be triggered when people in Britain look online for keywords such as “stag party”, “cheap hotel” or “pub crawl” in Amsterdam.
🗞️ FRONT PAGE
Argentine sports daily Olé devotes its front page to soccer star Lionel Messi’s 100th goal for the reigning world champions, following a 7-0 friendly win over Curacao. The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner, now the country’s all-time record scorer, first scored for Argentina back in March 2006.
#️⃣ BY THE NUMBERS
The number of asylum applications filed by Turkish nationals in EU countries in 2022 has increased by 145%, with 49,720 Turks seeking shelter in Europe that year, according to the latest data from Eurostat. This is the highest number since the peaks of 2015 and 2016, which were related to the war in Syria. A large-scale witch-hunt, carried out by the Turkish government in the wake of the July 2016 coup attempt has caused thousands of people to flee Turkey.
📰 STORY OF THE DAY
My wife, my boyfriend — and grandkids: a careful coming out for China's gay seniors
A series of interviews in Wuhan with aging gay men conducted by Wang Er for Chinese-language digital media The Initium — all currently or formerly married to women — reveals a hidden story of how Chinese LGBTQ+ culture is gradually emerging from the shadows.
👬 "Becoming gay is nothing special, I found it very natural." Grandpa Shen, 71, says he discovered his homosexuality at the Martyrs' Square in Wuhan, a well-known gay men's gathering place, just before his 50th birthday. Many of the "gay grandpas" there share the same experience of discovering and/or acknowledging their homosexuality late in their lives. Now Grandpa Shen has an open relationship with a boyfriend 20 years younger than himself.
💍 All 11 seniors interviewed are or have been married to women, without exception. Grandpa Huang is still together with his wife, whom he was forced to marry when he was 24. "I did not want to get married, but I had no choice under Chairman Mao's policy, you just can't be gay for your entire life!" Some of the men continue to largely live a lie, as their wife and children know nothing about their homosexuality.
🌈 Now the major LGBTQ+ narrative in China focuses strongly on self-recognition and identity politics. But for these aging men at Martyrs' Square, perhaps it is not the path that they want. Instead of appearing in broad daylight of their choice, they would rather live quietly in their own world.
➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com
📹 THIS HAPPENED VIDEO — TODAY IN HISTORY, IN ONE ICONIC PHOTO
➡️ Watch the video: THIS HAPPENED
“Small victories, small steps.”
— “We can’t lose the steps because the war is a pie — pieces of victories. Small victories, small steps,” said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, warning that if Ukraine loses a drawn-out battle in the eastern city of Bakhmut, Russia would use it to gather international support for a deal that would force Kyiv to make unacceptable compromises. Speaking to the Associated Press, Zelensky said Russian President Vladimir Putin would “sell this victory to the West, to his society, to China, to Iran.”
📸 PHOTO DU JOUR
A man lays down a red carpet in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin ahead of British King Charles III's visit to Germany. Before his coronation in May 2023, the British king and his wife Camilla, the Queen Consort, will visit Germany for three days to cement Britain’s improving post-Brexit relations with Europe and see if he can keep up his late mother’s global appeal. —Photo: Michael Kappeler/ZUMA
👉 MORE FROM WORLDCRUNCH
• Nuclear Weapons In Belarus — Why It May Have Been Xi Jinping's Idea — LIVY BEREG
• From The Trenches Of Avdiivka, Ukraine's Hell On Earth — UKRAINSKA PRAVDA
• Why The "Captains" Of Migrant Trafficking Boats Are Often The First Victims — INTERNAZIONALE
✍️ Newsletter by Emma Albright, Ginevra Falciani, Inès Mermat and Anne-Sophie Goninet
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