May 13–17 United States; China: President Donald Trump followed through with his decision to increase tariffs on Chinese imports last week. Reuters reported China officially announced its decision to increase tariffs on $60 billion of U.S.–supplied goods on May 13. This prompted three major U.S. stock market indexes—NASDAQ Composite, S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Advantage—to drop by the largest margins since the beginning of 2019. Additionally, TIME reported the trade war had “wiped one trillion dollars off the global market” after just one day. On May 15, Trump signed an executive order blacklisting the tech giant Huawei. However, The Washington Post reports the wording of the order does not directly target Huawei but rather any transaction with foreign tech firms the U.S. deems a national security threat or “foreign adversary.” The order took effect on May 17.
May 16–19 Egypt: At least five Egyptian soldiers and 47 fighters associated with the Islamic State were killed during an ongoing military operation in the Sinai Peninsula, Al Jazeera reported. Egyptian Armed Forces reported the latest death toll, as well as the arrest of 158 people they called “criminal elements” and the disarmament of 385 explosives on May 16. According to Israeli news outlet i24 News, the operation—which began in February 2018—has seen some 650 militant fighters and 45 Egyptian soldiers killed.
Separately, a tourist bus near the Pyramids of Giza was targeted by an explosion on May 19, leaving 17 people wounded. The blast occurred on a road near the Grand Egyptian Museum, with Reuters reporting the device—which was detonated remotely—was of simple construction and contained nails and bits of metal. According to Al Jazeera, no deaths have been reported and most of the injured were Egyptian nationals and tourists from South Africa. No group or individual has yet to claim responsibility for the attack.
May 17 Taiwan: Taiwan made history this week when it voted to legalize gay marriage—making it the first Asian country to do so—as tens of thousands of supporters rallied outside parliament in anticipation. Taiwan News reported the Legislative Yuan voted 66-27 in favor of the landmark measure “The Enforcement Act of Judicial Yuan Interpretation No. 748” and its four key articles redefining marriage. Article Two of the bill specifically states, “Two people of the same gender may establish a permanent, exclusive relationship for the purpose of pursuing a common life.” The New York Times reports the country, which has a long history of leading the way for LGBTQ+ rights in the region, struck down the Civil Code’s definition of marriage as strictly between a man and woman in 2017, giving legislatures two years to implement a revision. President Tsai Ing-wen is expected to sign the bill into law, and on May 24, same-sex couples will be able to register their marriages.
May 18 Austria: The now-former Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache resigned from his position on May 18 following the release of a video implicating him in a corruption scandal, prompting snap elections. As reported by Deutsche Welle, the video showed Strache in a “compromising situation” with a woman, Alyona Makarova, posing as the niece of a Russian oligarch during a meeting with Johann Gudenus—parliamentary leader for the Freedom Party of Austria, FPÖ—and his wife Tajana Gudenus as they discussed a business deal. Makarova can be heard saying she wishes to buy up to 50% of the Kronen Zeitung, Austria’s main newspaper outlet, with Strache and Gudenus discussing with Makarova how donations and positive media coverage could benefit the FPÖ. Since the release of the video, Strache claimed his behavior was due to inebriation, saying, “It was typically alcohol-induced macho talk, in which, yes, I was probably trying to impress the attractive hostess [Makarova].” In response to the video, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz of the Austrian People’s Party, ÖVP, dissolved his party’s coalition with the FPÖ and has called for snap elections, Reuters reported.
May 19 India: After six weeks since elections began in the world’s most populous democracy, voting in India ended on May 19. According to BBC, 1 million polling stations were set up to assist the 900 million eligible voters, 83 million of whom were new voters since the last election in 2014. As reported by The Washington Post, 8,000 candidates vied for the 543 seats in the Parliament of India, with the main national contenders being Narendra Modi of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party against Rahul Gandhi of the Indian National Congress. According to The Hindu, voter turnout was just short of 61%, with exit polls reporting a majority in favor of the BJP. Official results will be released by the Election Commission on May 23.