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Amex sticker in Chicago, Illinois on January 24. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

American Express gained greater access to China's spenders on Saturday after the People's Bank of China cleared the company to operate its card-clearing network in the mainland.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Felix Salmon: Until now it has been hard for Chinese nationals to obtain a card that is accepted by a broad range of international merchants, and it has been almost impossible for non-Chinese nationals to obtain a card (or app) that is accepted by a broad range of Chinese merchants.

  • It remains to be seen whether Amex will gain any traction in China, but this news has the potential to bridge two systems that until now have been almost entirely separate.

The big picture: American Express said in a Saturday press release that it is the first foreign payment network to be allowed to process domestic payments in yuan in China.

  • Amex said it expects to begin processing transactions through Express Company, made in partnership with a Chinese fintech services company, later this year.

Go deeper: China's V-shaped coronavirus recovery looks too good to be true

Go deeper

New downloads of TikTok, WeChat to be blocked in U.S. on Sunday

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Commerce Department issued Friday an order blocking new downloads of WeChat and TikTok in the U.S. as of Sept. 20.

The state of play: President Trump has been in a standoff with TikTok, threatening to ban the app if its Chinese owner, ByteDance, does not relinquish control to a U.S. company. A deal is in the works with the American tech company Oracle, but would need to go through before Sunday to prevent TikTok from being ousted from app stores.

Congress plots COVID pandemic-era office upgrades

oving crates outside Rep. Elise Stefanik's old office Tuesday. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The House plans to renovate members' suites even though staff are worried about an influx of contractors and D.C. is tightening restrictions on large gatherings, some staffers told Axios.

Why it matters: The Capitol has been closed to public tours since March. Work over the holiday season comes as U.S. coronavirus cases spike, Americans beg for more pandemic assistance and food lines grow.

Trump pressures Barr to release so-called Durham report

Bill Barr. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Trump and his allies are piling extreme pressure on Attorney General Bill Barr to release a report that Trump believes could hurt perceived Obama-era enemies — and view Barr's designation of John Durham as special counsel as a stall tactic, sources familiar with the conversations tell Axios.

Why it matters: Speculation over Barr's fate grew on Tuesday, with just 49 days remaining in Trump's presidency, after Barr gave an interview to the Associated Press in which he said the Justice Department has not uncovered evidence of widespread fraud that could change the election's outcome.