May 22, 2018

The state of play: A Trump-Rubio rematch on China

Erica Pandey, author of @Work

Photos: Getty Images

Among the most vocal critics of President Trump's cave on his trade threats to China is Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, his former opponent on the 2016 campaign trail.

What's happening: A perfect storm of North Korea, Steve Mnuchin and a lack of internal focus has Trump backing away from tariffs against Chinese goods and reportedly floating a deal for rogue Chinese phone maker ZTE. Rubio, one of the co-chairs of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, is tweeting a steady stream of rebukes of the White House's moves — and hinting that Congress may act to overrule Trump's decisions.

The context

Saturday saw a joint statement from the U.S. and China issued about the ongoing trade war:

  • "There was a consensus on taking effective measures to substantially reduce the United States trade deficit in goods with China ... China will significantly increase purchases of United States goods and services."
  • "Both sides agreed to encourage two-way investment and to strive to create a fair, level playing field for competition."

The next day, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin made things clearer on Fox News Sunday:

  • "We're putting the trade war on hold, so right now we have agreed to put the tariffs on hold while we try to execute the framework."

And today, The Wall Street Journal reported that Chinese phonemaker ZTE had become part of the deal:

  • "The U.S. and China have agreed on the broad outline of a deal that would save imperiled Chinese telecom giant ZTE Corp."
  • The background: The Commerce Department's ban that killed ZTE was put in place due to the company's repeated violations of U.S. sanctions against Iran and North Korea. The Pentagon has also banned ZTE's phones from retail outlets on U.S. military bases due to concerns from intelligence agencies that the Chinese are using its devices to spy on Americans.
Rubio on ZTE
Rubio on the China moves

Go deeper: Rubio told Axios earlier this month that the U.S. can't remain silent on Chinese human rights violations in order to secure a better trade deal.

Go deeper

Amid racial unrest, a test at the polls

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Eight states plus D.C. are holding primary elections today following a week of intense protests across the country over the brutal police killing of George Floyd.

Why it matters: It's the first major test for voting since the national outcry. Concerns over civil unrest and the police — as well as the coronavirus and expanded absentee voting — could reduce the number of voters showing up in person but heighten tensions for those who do.

Axios-Ipsos poll: America’s big racial divide on police, virus

Data: Ipsos/Axios survey; Note: ±3.2% margin of error; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

A new Axios-Ipsos poll finds that America has a massive racial gulf on each of our twin calamities — trust in police, and fear of the coronavirus.

  • 77% of whites say they trust local police, compared with just 36% of African Americans — one of many measures of a throbbing racial divide in Week 11 of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index, taken the week George Floyd was killed by a white policeman in Minneapolis.
Updated 50 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Updates: George Floyd protests nationwide

Police officers wearing riot gear push back demonstrators outside of the White House on Monday. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued for a seventh day across the U.S., with President Trump threatening on Monday to deploy the military if the unrest continues.

The latest: Four police officers were struck by gunfire while standing near a line in St Louis on Monday after a peaceful demonstration, Police Chief John Hayden said early Tuesday. They were all taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries. He said a small group of people had thrown rocks and fireworks at police officers.