Global Political Calendar: Taiwan votes, Wang Yi's Africa trip and Putin-Erdogan meet

Kiribati President Taneti Mamau makes his first state visit to China, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi pays official visits to Egypt, Djibouti, Eritrea, Burundi and Zimbabwe, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan witness the inauguration of TurkStream and Taiwan starts leadership election. 

Kiribati president starts first state visit to China

Kiribati President Taneti Mamau kicked off his first state visit to China on Saturday at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping. 

The eight-day trip, which will be the first state visit hosted by China in the new year, will bring Mamau to Beijing, Shanghai, and Zhejiang and Guangdong. 

It will be the first visit to China by a Kiribati president since the two countries formally resumed diplomatic ties in September after the central Pacific island nation severed its so-called "diplomatic ties" with Taiwan. 

Wang Yi makes five-state African visit 

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will make official visits to Egypt, Djibouti, Eritrea, Burundi and Zimbabwe from January 7 to 13. 

The visit is in line with a long-standing tradition that has seen Chinese foreign ministers begin each year with trips to Africa. The tradition has stood since 1991. 

Wang is expected to hold bilateral talks with leaders from the five countries aimed at upholding and strengthening existing ties between China and the continent. 

Putin meets Erdogan for the inauguration of TurkStream 

Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Turkey and meet his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in January 2020, and the pair will witness the inauguration of the TurkStream, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. 

The TurkStream gas pipeline is an ambitious project stretching across the Black Sea from Russia to Turkey onto Europe, but is now facing U.S. economic sanctions. 

Diplomatic sources told Xinhua that Erdogan and Putin will discuss Turkish-Russian relations, including major projects, as well as the current situation in Syria, where the two countries are engaged in a difficult cooperation, and the delivery of Russian S-400 missile defense systems, a controversial purchase for which NATO member Turkey risks American sanctions. 

Taiwan starts leadership election 

Voters in Taiwan will elect a new leadership team on January 11 in an election that will shape the island's political climate and define cross-Strait relations over the next four years. 

Read more: Taiwan faces leadership election amid China-U.S. tensions

The three candidates are current leader Tsai Ing-wen from the Democratic Progressive Party, Han Kuo-yu from the Chinese Kuomintang (KMT) party, and Soong Chu-yu from the People First Party. 

Day by day 

Monday: Kiribati President Taneti Mamau visits China (January 4 to 11); Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith continues his visit to China (January 5 to 9); Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi meets with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and his counterpart Pham Binh Minh in Hanoi before attending the signing an agreement providing official development assistance (ODA) for Vietnam; Portugal's finance minister and Eurogroup chief Mario Centeno speaks at a parliamentary committee in Lisbon about 2020 budget;  

Tuesday: Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi pays official visits to Egypt, Djibouti, Eritrea, Burundi and Zimbabwe (to January 13); Japan's Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi visits Thailand (to January 8); U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the White House.

Wednesday: European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis presents the EU's Sustainable Investment Plan in Brussels; Russian President Vladimir Putin holds talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul. 

Thursday: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif visits New York; European Commission visits Croatia as the nation starts its Presidency of the Council of the EU (to January 10).  

Friday:  A quiet day in politics.

Saturday: Taiwan leadership election starts; ninth Anniversary of U.S.-Russia civilian nuclear cooperation agreement 

Sunday: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visits Uzbekistan (to January 13).