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
China and Russia: True Love or Marriage of Convenience?
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
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.
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
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
Remember Trump’s “One China” Threat? It Was a Stupid Bluff
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