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- Tonight's edition (1,828 words, a 7-minute read) starts with submarines, covers world leaders under investigation, and ends with a megastar who disappeared.
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Welcome back to Axios World.
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Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images
President Biden is constructing and deepening new alliances to strengthen the U.S. position in its showdown with China, but he risks alienating longstanding allies in the process, Zach Basu and I write.
Why it matters: Biden heralded a new agreement to help Australia acquire nuclear submarines as part of a trilateral security pact with the U.K. and the U.S. as an "historic step" to update U.S. alliances to face new challenges.
To make matters worse, the announcement came just one day before the EU was set to present its own much-anticipated strategy for the Indo-Pacific, embarrassing the Europeans just as they sought to flex their own geopolitical muscle.
The big picture: Biden's stated China strategy has long been to bring like-minded allies together to push back on Beijing.
EU countries knew "Europe was not the focus" when Biden took office, a European diplomat told Axios this week.
What's next: Biden will host U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson next week to celebrate the AUKUS partnership, and he'll also host the first in-person "Quad" summit with the leaders of Australia, India and Japan.
President Biden looks at Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson joins them in announcement of a trilateral nuclear submarine agreement. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images
Beijing reacted furiously to the AUKUS announcement, warning it revealed an "obsolete cold war mentality" that would only end up hurting the countries involved.
Why it matters: Biden came into office contending that he would be able to position the U.S. for a prolonged competition with China, while simultaneously cooperating with Beijing on key issues. China has thus far been unwilling to separate the two.
And as tensions escalate on the Korean peninsula, with both North and South Korea testing missiles this week, the U.S. could use China's help to push Pyongyang toward diplomacy.
Then there's AUKUS and the upcoming summit of the Quad, which Beijing condemns as an anti-China bloc.
Go deeper: Biden's muddled China policy
1. Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) maintain a narrow lead in the polls with ten days to go before the election.
2. The polls are even tighter in Canada, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberals lead by less than 1%, per a CBC tracker.
3. In Russia, there is little suspense ahead of Friday's parliamentary elections, but the Kremlin has nonetheless taken pre-election repression to new heights with its campaign against independent activist groups and media outlets.
4. Japanese vaccine minister Taro Kono has been racking up key endorsements and appears to be the frontrunner to become leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Sept. 29, and thus to be Japan's next prime minister.
Screenshot via Apple Maps
Today we're visiting the landmark shown above (red pin). Dignitaries from around the world will be stopping by next week.
Scroll to bottom for answer.
Ariel Henry (seated) at a memorial ceremony for the late president. Photo: Alerie Baeriswyl/AFP via Getty
Haiti’s political crisis was complex enough before the prime minister was accused of murdering the president. Now the government may be falling apart.
Driving the news: Prime minister Ariel Henry fired a top prosecutor on Monday who wanted to question him in connection with the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, and then today fired the justice minister who had supported the prosecutor.
The backstory: Henry was appointed by Moise days before the assassination, but hadn’t yet been sworn in. That led to a power struggle between Henry and the outgoing prime minister, with the U.S. and a number of other countries publicly backing Henry’s claim.
Meanwhile, half of the victims of Haiti’s Aug. 14 earthquake still haven’t received the initial aid they need, according to the UN.
Rodrigo (L) and Sara Duterte. Photo: AFP via Getty
The International Criminal Court has authorized an investigation into the deadly drug war waged by Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, who says he’ll “die first” before facing the court.
Why it matters: Thousands of people have died in the drug war, many of them in extrajudicial killings. Duterte, 76, withdrew the Philippines from the ICC in 2019, but the court says it still has jurisdiction to investigate the killings that took place before then.
Driving the news: Duterte’s term ends in June and he’s ineligible to run for re-election in May, but his party recently nominated him for vice president.
But another Duterte currently leads the presidential opinion polls: The president’s daughter and successor as mayor of Davao City, Sara Duterte. She has been coy about a potential run.
What’s next: It’ll all be a bit clearer by Oct. 8, the deadline for candidates to declare.
Zhao Wei in 2016. Photo: Ernesto Ruscio/Getty Images
Zhao Wei is one of the biggest stars in China, but on the Chinese internet, it's as though the actress and singer doesn't exist.
Maintanance on the Taj Mahal. Photo: Pawan Sharma/AFP via Getty
"Was he an aid worker or an ISIS-K operative?"— Sen. Rand Paul to Secretary of State Tony Blinken on the target of a U.S. drone strike in Kabul that reportedly killed 10 civilians
"I don't know."— Blinken
Answer: The United Nations HQ in New York.