China versus Canada. Two Canadian nationals currently detained in China, including former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig, have been accused of espionage, Xinhua reported, citing unnamed Chinese officials. The news comes as China continues to criticize Canada for moving forward with its plans to extradite to the United States Meng Wanzhou, the executive of Chinese telecommunications company Huawei who was arrested last year on allegations of financial misconduct. She plans to sue Canada for her detention, which she claims is illegal. The U.S.-China trade talks may be progressing, but this diplomatic spat appears intractable.
Missile defense in Israel. Israel Defense Forces announced today that the U.S. is deploying Terminal High Altitude Area Defense in Israel as part of an “exercise deployment.” THAAD boasts larger missiles that can travel greater distances than Israel’s Iron Dome system. The only threat that justifies this kind of hardware is Iran, so in that sense the “exercise deployment” is a dry run for defending Israel from Iranian missiles. It’s unclear how well they fared – and how long the system will remain in Israel.
Pakistan cracks down. Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper recently reported that Pakistan would soon come down hard on militant organizations operating inside its borders. Pakistan’s information minister has since confirmed the accuracy of the report, saying the decision was made by Pakistan’s National Security Committee on Feb. 21. He did not provide any more details, though he noted that the impending crackdown had nothing to do with the recent dust-up between India and Pakistan – an incident that was sparked when Pakistan-based jihadist group Jaish-e-Mohammed attacked Indian police in Kashmir.
China at sea. Argentina’s coast guard fired at a Chinese fishing vessel that was illegally fishing in its exclusive economic zone. It reportedly pursued the Chinese vessel for three hours before losing jurisdiction in international waters. A statement from China’s agriculture ministry says the company that operates the vessel has sent delegates to Argentina to investigate, noting that Argentina has not provided boundary coordinates of its EEZ. Meanwhile, in the Pacific, a Philippine mayor said that China is blocking Filipino fishermen from Pag-asa Island in the South China Sea.
- Venezuela’s opposition leader and self-proclaimed president Juan Guaido, who violated a travel ban to visit Colombia, Brazil, Paraguay, Ecuador and Argentina in the past week, plans to return to Venezuela today. He has called for mass protests upon his return.
- China’s Academy of Information and Communications Technology says the country will spend as much as $224 billion on 5G network construction in the next six years.
- Qatar is considering purchasing Russia’s S-400 air defense system.
- The IDF attacked two Hamas targets in Gaza after militants there floated explosive balloons toward Israel on Saturday.
- Indonesia and Australia signed a free trade agreement.
- New Zealand and Tuvalu signed a deal over the weekend to prioritize cooperation on climate change and regional security.
- Anti-government protests took place over the weekend in Serbia, Montenegro, Albania and Croatia.