Sino-American Rift Gives Russia an Opening

Vladimir Putin Xi Jinping
Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Xi Jinping of China meet on the sidelines of a summit in Benaulim, India, October 15, 2016 (Kremlin)

Aside from causing a global humanitarian crisis, COVID-19 has deepened the rift between China and the United States. President Donald Trump has politicized the pandemic, calling it the “Chinese virus” and ordering the federal government’s main pension fund to stop investing in China.

Military conflict remains unlikely. Escalation is more likely to be economic and political — which is still costly, and gives America’s other nuclear-powered adversary, Russia, a chance to strengthen its ties with Beijing. Read more “Sino-American Rift Gives Russia an Opening”

Macron Marches On, China Retaliates in Trade War

Austrian chancellor Christian Kern and French president Emmanuel Macron visit Salzburg, August 23, 2017
Austrian chancellor Christian Kern and French president Emmanuel Macron visit Salzburg, August 23, 2017 (BKA/Andy Wenzel)

The moderate French Democratic Confederation of Labor (CFDT) has joined the hardline General Confederation of Labor (CGT) in weekly strikes against a proposed overhaul of the state railway company, yet President Emmanuel Macron shows no sign of budging.

Most French voters support his effort to end generous employment terms for new — not existing — rail workers, including automatic pay rises and early retirement.

That may change as travelers are exposed to frequent disruptions, but, as I argued here the other week, falling popularity is unlikely to keep Macron up at night. He has four years left for his reforms to start bearing fruit and there is no unified opposition against him. Read more “Macron Marches On, China Retaliates in Trade War”

China and Russia: True Love or Marriage of Convenience?

Vladimir Putin Xi Jinping
Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Xi Jinping of China meet on the sidelines of a summit in Benaulim, India, October 15, 2016 (Kremlin)

China and Russia are making common cause at a time when Donald Trump’s America is turning its back on the world. Are we seeing the beginning of a global partnership? Or is this only a marriage of convenience? Experts disagree. Read more “China and Russia: True Love or Marriage of Convenience?”

Trump Cedes Initiative to China and Russia

Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Xi Jinping of China observe a military ceremony in Shanghai, May 20, 2014
Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Xi Jinping of China observe a military ceremony in Shanghai, May 20, 2014 (Kremlin)
  • Edward Luce argues in the Financial Times that Donald Trump is allowing China to take the lead in artificial intelligence and robotics. Whereas Trump is sabotaging his own country’s edge by proposing to cut investment spending, reduce visas for high-skilled migrants and pulling out of the Trans Pacific Partnership, China is spending generously, drawing in foreign talent and developing its “One Belt and One Road” trade initiative.
  • Michael Crowley reports for Politico that Trump is ceding postwar planning in Syria to Vladimir Putin, allowing not only Russia but Iran to maintain a foothold in the Eastern Mediterranean. The effect: Egypt and Turkey, once bulwarks of American influence in the Middle East, are eying an entente with Moscow.

Mar-a-Lago Summit Overshadowed by Syria Strikes

Xi Jinping
President Xi Jinping of China attends the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 17 (WEF/Valeriano Di Domenico)

The recent summit between Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping was unprecedented in its fashion and noteworthy in several respects.

Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida was an unusual venue for the first meeting between the two most powerful men on the planet. Barack Obama’s summits with the Chinese president were more formal.

The summit was expected to shed light on the policies of both leaders toward various smoldering issues: North Korea, Taiwan, territorial disputes in the South China Sea and Sino-American trade relations. Read more “Mar-a-Lago Summit Overshadowed by Syria Strikes”

For Europe, China Has Become the Lesser of Evils

Shanghai, China at night, May 4, 2012
Shanghai, China at night, May 4, 2012 (Mariusz Kluzniak)

Donald Trump’s disinterest in the transatlantic alliance, and Vladimir Putin’s attempts to undermine it, have left Europe with little choice but to turn the world’s fourth center of power: China.

The two aren’t natural allies. The EU has long irked the Chinese with its lectures on democracy and human rights. The EU insists on dealing through multilateral institutions when China would prefer to throw its weight around in bilateral talks.

But the world’s second and third economies are condemned to work together in the era of “America First”. Read more “For Europe, China Has Become the Lesser of Evils”

China, Europe Seek Closer Ties in Era of Trump

Li Keqiang Angela Merkel
China’s premier Li Keqiang speaks with German chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, May 26, 2013 (Bundesregierung/Guido Bergmann)

China and the European Union are stepping up their cooperation in the era of Donald Trump.

Reuters reports that the two are keen on a summit in the next few months in order to promote free trade and international cooperation.

For the Chinese, it’s about sending a sending a message to Washington that it has friends in Europe.

The Europeans seek Chinese support for international institutions like the World Trade Organization and the United Nations, which Trump has chided.

But that doesn’t mean a new great-power entente is in the works. Read more “China, Europe Seek Closer Ties in Era of Trump”

Remember Trump’s “One China” Threat? It Was a Stupid Bluff

American president Donald Trump reviews troops at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, February 6
American president Donald Trump reviews troops at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, February 6 (DoD/D. Myles Cullen)

Remember when Donald Trump, then newly elected, accepted a phone call from the president of Taiwan and his apologists told us it was all part of a masterplan? If it meant revising the “One China” policy, they said, well, maybe that needed revising anyway? Who’s China to say which countries America can and cannot recognize!

My interpretation was that Trump was simply ignorant of the sensitivities of Sino-Americans relations and had blundered his way into a diplomatic incident.

Trump’s first phone call with the president of China, Xi Jinping, supports that contention. Read more “Remember Trump’s “One China” Threat? It Was a Stupid Bluff”

Uncertainty in China as Trump Takes Office

Guangzhou China
Guangzhou, China at night, September 16, 2013 (Flickr/Johnas)

This weekend, more than a billion Chinese will gather with their families to celebrate the Chinese New Year and the Year of the Rooster. It is a lively tradition, the biggest family celebration in the year and, like New Year’s Eve in the West, it breathes the magic of the new.

But with the inauguration of the new American president, Donald Trump, it is even more unpredictable what this new year will bring. Read more “Uncertainty in China as Trump Takes Office”

World Upside Down: China Defends Globalization from America

President Xi Jinping of China attends the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 17
President Xi Jinping of China attends the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 17 (WEF/Valeriano Di Domenico)

Chinese president Xi Jinping defended globalization in an address to the World Economic Forum on Tuesday, likening the world’s interconnectedness to a “big ocean that you cannot escape from.”

Xi didn’t mention Donald Trump, but his speech sounded like a warning to the incoming American president.

“Pursuing protectionism is just like locking one’s self in a dark room,” Xi said: “Wind and rain might be kept outside but so are light and air.” Read more “World Upside Down: China Defends Globalization from America”