Finland Raced to Join NATO. What Happens Next Is Complicated. | India’s Justice System Is No Longer Independent | French Withdrawal from Niger a Further Risk to Stability, and more

The Taiwanese navy has four submarines but all are veteran: two date from the Second World War and were given by the US in the 1970s, and the other two are 1980s models bought second-hand from the Netherlands.
Taiwan decided to build its own modern fleet after an offer by President George W Bush to have replacements built in America came to nothing. The US and its European allies were at the time wary of provoking a hostile Chinese response. Instead the project received substantial assistance from Japanese technical experts and the exterior of the new vessels is based on a Japanese design.

Tensions With China Cross a New Line in the South China Sea  (Sui-Lee Wee, New York Times)
The Philippines is pushing back against China’s territorial claims. But Chinese forces have been unrelenting in using direct confrontation, raising worries about an escalation.

Is the Idea of Khalistan, a Sikh Homeland, Still Alive? (Murali Krishnan, DW)
Tensions are flaring up between India and Canada over Khalistan separatists, with the row also sending out shockwaves throughout the Sikh diaspora. But the independence movement seems to have lost steam back home.

French Withdrawal from Niger a Further Risk to Stability  (Mimi Mefo Takambou, DW)
Niger has hailed France’s withdrawal as a ‘step towards sovereignty.’ But experts argue that celebrations are premature as the move has broad implications for the country, the Sahel, ECOWAS and beyond.

India’s Justice System Is No Longer Independent: Part III  (Saraphin Dhanani, Lawfare)
The first two installments in this series detailed the nature and role of India’s justice system and how the Modi government has undermined its independence. By halting judicial appointments, exerting influence on pending cases, and offering judges who provide favorable rulings with plum political jobs, India’s justice system has been largely tamed—equal parts unable and unwilling to be the guardian of India’s democratic, secular, and egalitarian constitutional mandates. 
But a court tamed is only so useful. Far more valuable is a court mobilized and deployed. Indeed, increasing evidence suggests that attention has shifted from taming the courts to weaponizing them, in particular to undermine opposition figures ahead of next year’s general election. 

Biden Hosts Pacific Islands, With a Rising China in Mind  (Michael Crowley, New York Times)
The Pacific Island state of Niue is one of the world’s tiniest. Covering just over 100 square miles and with a population of about 1,700, it has no military, is not a member of the United Nations and was not recognized as a sovereign nation by the United States until last year.
But President Biden was talking about Niue on Monday at the White House, when he hosted the leaders of 18 Pacific Island nations, the second gathering of its kind in a year and the latest illustration of a regional competition for influence between the United States and China.
Among Mr. Biden’s announcements at the event was that the United States would, for the first time, establish formal diplomatic relations with Niue and the Cook Islands, a nearby haven for snorkelers.
Speaking to the leaders at the White House on Monday, Mr. Biden invoked America’s World War II campaign against Japan in the region, and, without naming China, implied that another kind of battle was now underway.