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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

For the past year, I've had a running digital conversation with a well-known Silicon Valley investor over my criticisms of tech startups taking money from Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund. Almost any time I write the word "Khashoggi," my phone buzzes with a link to the latest human rights violation in China.

The state of play: The investor's argument is that I dove head-first down a slippery slope. Even if the Chinese government doesn't directly invest in a U.S. company, as the Saudis often do, it's very difficult to separate China's private and public enterprise. Particularly in tech.

  • So, de facto, the Chinese government is arguably investing. And, conversely, U.S. investors and firms are supporting China's government by backing Chinese companies.

The big picture: Yes, foreign direct investment between the countries has deteriorated in the past year, thanks to the endless trade war, but there's still plenty of cross-border deals and non-investment partnerships.

  • I write this against the backdrop of British soccer team Arsenal, owned by St. Louis turncoat Stan Kroenke, today publicly distancing itself from the comments of one of its own players, who criticized China's government for its mass detention of Uighur Muslims (thus causing China's state broadcaster to pull an Arsenal match).

Why it matters: There is no simple exit off the slippery slope here for me, or for those who invest in China but abhor its human rights record.

  • Except, perhaps, to first consider how you'd react if an employee or other stakeholder were to make a criticism similar to that of the Arsenal player, or when asked by a journalist.
  • If the answer is to beg forgiveness, like usually-Silent Stan, or to dodge, then don't lie down in the first place.
  • If it's to support the comments and let the chips fall where they may, then enjoy the ride.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

40 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Trump to issue at least 100 pardons and commutations before leaving office

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump plans to issue at least 100 pardons and commutations on his final full day in office Tuesday, sources familiar with the matter told Axios.

Why it matters: This is a continuation of the president's controversial December pardon spree that saw full pardons granted to more than two dozen people — including former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, longtime associate Roger Stone and Charles Kushner, the father of Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner.

  • Those set to be pardoned before Trump exits the White House will be a mix of criminal justice and people connected to the president, the sources said.
  • CNN first reported this news.

Go deeper: Convicts turn to D.C. fixers for Trump pardons

Schumer's m(aj)ority checklist

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Capitalizing on the Georgia runoffs, achieving a 50-50 Senate and launching an impeachment trial are weighty to-dos for getting Joe Biden's administration up and running on Day One.

What to watch: A blend of ceremonies, hearings and legal timelines will come into play on Tuesday and Wednesday so Chuck Schumer can actually claim the Senate majority and propel the new president's agenda.

The dark new reality in Congress

National Guard troops keep watch at security fencing. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

This is how bad things are for elected officials and others working in a post-insurrection Congress:

  • Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.) said she had a panic attack while grocery shopping back home.
  • Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said police may also have to be at his constituent meetings.
  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) told a podcaster he brought a gun to his office on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 because he anticipated trouble with the proceedings that day.