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

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 19,193,661 — Total deaths: 716,735 — Total recoveries — 11,611,029Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 4,918,927 — Total deaths: 160,737 — Total recoveries: 1,598,624 — Total tests: 59,652,675Map.
  3. Politics: White House recommends Trump issue executive orders on coronavirus aid.
  4. Education: Cuomo says all New York schools can reopen for in-person learning.
  5. Public health: Surgeon general urges flu shots to prevent "double whammy" with coronavirus — Massachusetts pauses reopening after uptick in coronavirus cases
  6. World: Africa records over 1 million coronavirus cases — Gates Foundation puts $150 million behind coronavirus vaccine production.

Trump: "We are going a different way" on coronavirus aid

President Trump. Photo: Jim Watsonn/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump tweeted on Friday that his administration is "going a different way" with coronavirus aid after negotiations with congressional Democrats stalled again, suggesting he will use an executive order to address stimulus spending.

What he's saying: "Pelosi and Schumer only interested in Bailout Money for poorly run Democrat cities and states. Nothing to do with China Virus! Want one trillion dollars. No interest. We are going a different way!" Trump tweeted.

Trump's swift, sweeping China offensive

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump's rhetoric on China has tended to run hotter than his actions — until now.

Why it matters: Even at the height of Trump's trade war, his administration never hit China as hard, as fast, and on as many fronts as it is right now.