A look ahead at the key events leading the news agenda next week, from the team at Foresight News. Delivered to your inbox on Fridays.
Leading the week
After hosting South Korean leader (and surprisingly accomplished crooner) Yoon Suk-yeol this week, President Biden keeps the focus on Asia next week when Philippine president Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr visits the White House on Monday (May 1). Marcos’s first trip to Washington since taking office last summer comes amid a reset of relations between Manila and Washington in the post-Duterte era, as the Philippines finds itself increasingly entangled in the broader power struggle between the US and China. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visited in February when an agreement on increased US access to military bases in the Philippines was announced, and earlier this month Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken hosted their Philippine counterparts for joint talks just ahead of the largest-ever joint military drills between the countries.
China’s new foreign minister Qin Gang, meanwhile, used a visit to Manila later in the month to reiterate Beijing’s concerns about the increased US military presence in the Philippines, particularly since the February agreement included deals on access to bases near the disputed South China Sea and close to Taiwan. Monday’s talks, as well as a planned address by Marcos at the CSIS on Thursday (May 4) are therefore likely to be closely watched in Beijing as Biden prepares to visit the region later in May for the G7 and Quad summits in Japan and Australia.
In less existentially ominous news, the Met Gala takes place in New York City on Monday (May 1) night, with some of the biggest names from fashion, entertainment, sports and beyond descending on the Big Apple to attend the annual fundraiser for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. The theme for this year’s ‘Oscars of Fashion’ is Karl Lagerfeld, in honor of the late giant of fashion who passed away in 2019 and is the subject of this year’s spring exhibition, which opens to the public on Friday (May 5). Hosts this year, alongside Anna Wintour, are singer Dua Lipa, writer and actor Michaela Coel, actress Penélope Cruz and former tennis star Roger Federer.
All eyes will be on the Fed when it announces its latest interest rate decision on Wednesday (May 3), followed by the traditional press conference with Jerome Powell. Most observers are expecting a further 0.25% hike, which would mark the tenth consecutive rate rise by the US central bank as it attempts to bring down inflation. Whether it is the last such hike may well hinge on April’s inflation data, which isn’t out until May 10, though this week’s disappointing growth data makes that a more likely scenario.
After the last-minute 72-hour extension to the shaky ceasefire between the warring parties in Sudan amid a rush to secure the evacuation of foreign nationals from the country, Monday (May 1) has become the new focus for international efforts to bring the country back from the brink of a full-blown civil war with potentially catastrophic consequences for the country and broader region. Diplomatic efforts to broker talks between the Rapid Support Forces, led by Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo aka ‘Hemedti’, and the Sudanese army, led by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, are being spearheaded by the so-called Quad, made up of the UK, US, Saudi Arabia and UEA, and Trilateral Mechanism (made up of the AU, IGAD and UN). However, planned talks in the South Sudanese capital for today between the RSF and Sudanese Army do not appear to have materialized at the time of writing, perhaps an ominous signal that, despite the ceasefire extension, the parties are in no mood to talk.
Western leaders will also be keeping a close eye on Goa, where Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang is expected to attend a two-day gathering of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization on Thursday and Friday (May 4 and 5) alongside his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov and likely Iran’s Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. The meeting of key non-Western players is likely to discuss the war in Ukraine, among other topics, and China-watchers will be looking out for new insights into Beijing’s stance in the wake of the recent phone call between Xi Jinping and Volodymyr Zelenskyy, their first since Russia’s invasion in February last year.
In the UK, next week sees history made as King Charles III is crowned King on Saturday (May 6) following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, last September. Charles III will be crowned at Westminster Abbey before proceeding to Buckingham Palace where he’ll appear on the balcony alongside Queen Camilla, Prince William and his family. As a non-working royal, Prince Harry won’t be included in the balcony moment, and he’ll attend his father’s coronation without his wife, Meghan, or their children, who are remaining in California to celebrate Archie’s fourth birthday. A litany of famous political figures and dignitaries are confirmed to be attending the ceremony, with the US delegation led by First Lady Jill Biden.
Predictably, the coronation invitation list is not without its controversies. This week, Sinn Fein leader Michelle O’Neil confirmed she would attend the ceremony, saying she was committed to ‘being a First Minister for all, representing the whole community’. Meanwhile, Chinese Vice President Han Zheng, who previously oversaw a crackdown on civil liberties across Hong Kong, is heading up the Chinese delegation, much to the opprobrium of human rights activists and a number of Conservative MPs. Nor will all of the British public be sharing in the adulation surrounding the crowning of a new King. Anti-monarchist campaign group Republic are planning to stage a #NotMyKing protest along the coronation procession route to call for the abolition of the royal institution, while Scottish independence campaigning group All Under One Banner (AUOB) are planning a similarly timed march in Glasgow to call for a second independence referendum.