Charlotte Street Partners

DAILY BRIEFING

DAILY BRIEFING

Xi’s year of the tiger

Written by Maria Julia Pieraccioni, senior associate 
Edited by Iain Gibson, partner
24 February 2022

Good morning,

There is a time and place for everything, including aggressive military invasions. Or, at least that’s what Chinese president Xi Jinping allegedly warned Vladimir Putin over fears that a Russian invasion of Ukraine would thwart media attention away from Beijing’s Winter Olympics. With the Olympics out of the way, and no invasion until today, it seems Putin took Xi’s advice on board.
 
Now, as the crisis in Ukraine unfolds before the world’s gaze, there are many who wonder if Xi will heed to his own wisdom when it comes to the question of occupying Taiwan and claiming Chinese sovereignty over the island.
 
Following breaking news from the Eastern Front, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen has called for raising the island’s security alert. Tsai, at a meeting of the working group on the Ukraine crisis set up by her National Security Council, said that security and military units must “raise their surveillance and early warning of military developments around the Taiwan Strait”. Tsai, alongside many in the region, fears China might be emboldened by the present lack of aggressive countermeasures the world is enforcing on Russia. After all, there are parallels between Ukraine and Taiwan that are hard to overlook.
 
Taiwan and Ukraine are both Western-friendly democracies dangerously close to two of the most powerful, Western-phobic autocracies. Russia has claimed in the past it is seeking to “reunify” Ukrainian and Russian peoples, who have a shared historical and cultural matrix. China’s Communist party has also never been shy of inclusive rhetoric, one that seeks a reunification between those islands it perceives as its own—such as Taiwan—and the mainland. President Tsai has said in the past that Taiwan could “empathise” with Ukraine’s situation, given its experience with Chinese encroachment and intimidation tactics.  
 
Taiwan’s breakaway history, while not as recent as the fall of the USSR, is the keystone to understanding China’s claims over its territory. The state of Taiwan is officially known as the People’s Republic of China, which was set up by fleeing defeated politicians in 1949, after losing the civil war to the Communists. China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying, dismissed the similarities between Ukraine and Taiwan whilst addressing raised security alerts on the island. But she also added that Taiwan “has always been an inalienable part of China” and that it’s “an indisputable legal and historical fact”.
 
Hua’s comment should give us pause when it comes to the actual legality of China’s claims. Some Chinese scholars who specialise in Russian affairs have called it “ignorant” to imagine that the Communist party might see the invasion of Ukraine as a “trial run” for China’s ambitions in Taiwan. They say China considers war a grave, last resort.
 
Ultimately, what we must remember is that China is not Russia and we’ve come to understand that its every step seems to be more calculated and balanced, with an awareness of what an act of war on its own doorstep could cost in terms of the bigger picture.

News

Vladimir Putin has launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, ordering troops across the border and targeting major cities with ballistic missiles, including Kiev. Attacks coming in from the north, south and east of the country have already started a process of mass emigration from the country’s major cities. (£)
 
As the government in Kiev declared a month-long state of emergency, the United States warned that Russian aggression could trigger the world’s worst refugee crisis and a potential famine of global significance. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US ambassador to the United Nations, told a meeting of the general assembly in New York that these may be the dire consequences of Russia’s “war of choice”. (£)
 
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has commented on former SNP leader Alex Salmond’s continued talk show on Russian state broadcaster RT, calling it “unthinkable” and urging him to “reflect” on matters. Culture secretary Nadine Dorries has written to Ofcom calling for a review of RT’s license, while the government considers an increase in economic sanctions against Russia.
 
Donald Trump’s former attorney Rudy Giuliani is expected to cooperate with the House select committee investigating the events of January 6 2021. His insider account could mark a breakthrough moment for the inquiry, as Giuliani is in a position to inform House investigators about the possible culpability of other Trump allies involved in the attempted insurrection last year.

Business and economy

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is expected to promise to cut taxes in a keynote speech he will be delivering at the annual Mais Lecture. Sunak is facing pressure from some Tories to pursue less interventionist economic policies, after he came under pressure for increasing the UK’s tax burden to its highest level in 70 years.
 
In its annual assessment of the UK economy, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) called for Rishi Sunak to bring forward planned tax increases to limit the effect of persistently high inflation on poorer households. The IMF warned that unless a significant tax is imposed on higher incomes, the Bank of England will be forced to raise interest rates significantly, risking a recession next year. (£)
 
According to the motoring organisation RAC, petrol costs hit an all-time high this week, as tensions between Russia and Ukraine continue to drive global oil prices higher. Petrol hit a reported 149.3p a litre, while diesel priced in at 152.68p, adding to the cost of living crisis. 

Columns of note

Perhaps Putin is neither mentally unstable nor isolated in a bubble of yes-man—perhaps he’s all of the above and more, writes Jonathan Steele in The Guardian. He says that to understand Putin’s obsession with Ukraine is to understand the history of Russia itself, one that predates the USSR, and the cultural significance of Ukraine to Russia. And to understand Putin is to understand Russian history and culture—one does not exist without the other.
 
Rishi Sunak has slowly but surely scaled up the Tory ladder and is considered by many to be the “frontrunner in the leadership race”. How will he hold onto it while balancing competing views in terms of tax and spend, asks Iain Martin in The Times. Martin concludes that it could be done, but it may require a grown-up discussion and an equally grown-up audience.

Markets

What happened yesterday?

London stocks closed in a mixed state on Wednesday, as well-received results from Barclays were clouded by developments in the Russo-Ukrainian crisis. The FTSE 100 index ended the session up 0.05%, while sterling traded below the waterline, losing 0.18% against the dollar and 0.13% against the euro, trading at $1.35 and at €1.198 at close respectively.
 
News of further potential sanctions on Russia shook European stocks, causing the pan-regional Stoxx 600 to lose 0.28%, the German Dax to lose 0.42% and the French Cac-40 to slip 0.1%.
 
Meanwhile, American stocks closed at their lowest levels since last June as tensions escalated over Ukraine, exacerbating an equity stock sell-off. The S&P 500 fell 1.8% while the Nasdaq Composite lost a significant 2.6% at close.

What’s happening today?

AGM
Bankers Investment Trust     
Ediston Prprty
IntegraFin Holdings   
Victorian Plum
 
Annual Report
Bankers Investment Trust     
 
Final Results
Rathbone       
Conduit Hldg  
Derwent London        
Spectris          
Aston Martin Lagonda
Hikma Pharmaceuticals         
Centrica         
Morgan Sindall Group
Serco 
St James Place          
Inchcape        
Lloyds
Howden Joinery         
BAE Systems 
Drax   
WPP   
Macfarlane Grp.         
Resolute Mining         
 
Final Ex-Dividend Date
Driver Grp      
Tate & L.6h%pf          
Plus500          
Standard Chartered   
 
Interim Dividend Payment Date
Brickability     
 
Interim Results
Genus
Hays

Interim Ex-Dividend Date
Appreciate Grp.         
Samuel Heath
Fairpoint Group          
Ideagen          
City Lon Inv    
Hargreaves Serv        
Ecofin U.s.     
Ecofin U.s. $  
Diageo
Impact Health
Alumasc Group          
AstraZeneca  
Redrow          
Witan  
Dunedin Ent.it.           
BHP Group    
Jarvis Securities        
Mom Mult Tst 
BBGI  
Riverstone Cred         
Jpmorgan Euro.         
Nb Global       
Abstd Asiafocus         
Avast  
 
Quarterly Dividend Payment Date
Sme Credit Real        
 
Quarterly Ex-Dividend Date
Unilever          
Glaxosmithkline         
Honeywell Int.
Brunner Inv.tst
 
Special Ex-Dividend Date
City Lon Inv    
Dunelm          
Plus500          
 
Intl Economic Announcements
(15:00) New Homes Sales (US)
(10:00) Services Sentiment (EU)
(10:00) Economic Sentiment Indicator (EU)
(07:00) Gross Domestic Product (GER)
(13:30) Continuing Claims (US)
(10:00) Business Climate Indicator (EU)
(10:00) Industrial Confidence (EU)
(10:00) Consumer Confidence (EU)
(13:30) Initial Jobless Claims (US)
(15:30) Crude Oil Inventories (US)
(13:30) GDP (Preliminary) (US)

Source: Financial Times

did you know

According to new fossil evidence from a sauropod, dinosaurs sometimes got respiratory infections. Symptoms likely included headaches and a sore throat – and sauropod throats could be up to 15 meters long. (source: @qikipedia)

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

Oral questions
Cabinet Office (including Topical Questions)
 
Business Statement
Business Questions to the Leader of the House
 
Backbench Business
Debate on a Motion on the UK’s relationship with Russia and China
General Debate on the matter of the UK Government recognition of the State of Palestine alongside the State of Israel
 
Adjournment
Recognition of the condition long covid
 
Westminster Hall debate
United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Persecution of Christians and religious minorities in India

House of Lords 

Oral questions
Various
 
Legislation
Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill – third reading
 
Orders and regulations
Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) (Amendment) Regulations 2022
 
Legislation
Judicial Review and Courts Bill – committee stage (day 2)
Building Safety Bill – committee stage (day 2)

Scottish parliament 

Parliamentary Bureau Motions
 
General Questions
 
First Minister’s Questions
 
Members’ Business
S6M-02776 Craig Hoy: Decommissioning of Torness Nuclear Power Station
 
Parliamentary Bureau Motions
 
Portfolio Questions
Education and Skills
 
Ministerial Statement
Building Industrial Clusters Around Scotland’s Ports
 
Scottish Government Debate
Solidarity with Ukraine
 
Business Motions
 
Parliamentary Bureau Motions
 
Decision Time

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