Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

China today significantly escalated the stakes in its brinkmanship with the U.S., sentencing a Canadian man to death in a case rooted in an unrelated extradition request from the United States. The move is another sign of a global shift to tough-guy politics.

The sentence against Robert Schellenberg, a Canadian, appears to be retribution for Canada's jailing of a senior Chinese executive on a U.S. warrant for allegedly violating sanctions against Iran. Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei and daughter of the company's founder, is out on bail awaiting possible extradition to the U.S.

The big picture: Beijing appears to be furious about the case. But, as we reported last week, Schellenberg is also a pawn in a larger game — the new age of hostage diplomacy, in which leading countries are now imprisoning each other's nationals as part of their disputes, trade or otherwise.

  • Robert Kagan, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, says this is a prime example of a return to the more brute-force state of global dispute settlement prior to World War II, when "trade wars became real wars."
  • In his latest book, "The Jungle Grows Back," Kagan argues that nations are resorting to strongman-wins-out global politics. "I would consider this new round of hostage-taking a sign of such escalation," he tells Axios.
"So, yes, it's another sign of the jungle growing back — international relations becoming more conflictual as old rules of the order break down."
— Robert Kagan

Go deeper: Review of The Jungle Grows Back

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Health

U.S. hits highest daily COVID-19 case count since pandemic began

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COVID Tracking Project

The U.S. confirmed at least 83,010 coronavirus cases on Friday, the country's highest daily total since the pandemic started, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.

By the numbers: Friday's total surpassed the U.S.'s previous record set on July 17 when 76,842 cases were recorded. 

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

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3 hours ago - Health

Fauci: Trump hasn't been to a COVID task force meeting in months

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump has not attended a White House coronavirus task force meeting in “several months,” NIAID director Anthony Fauci told MSNBC on Friday.

Why it matters: At the beginning of the pandemic, the task force, led by Vice President Mike Pence, met every day, but in the "last several weeks," members have held virtual meetings once a week, Fauci said, even as the number of new cases continues to surge in the country.

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