Get the latest market trends in your inbox

Stay on top of the latest market trends and economic insights with the Axios Markets newsletter. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Minneapolis-St. Paul

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa-St. Petersburg news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa-St. Petersburg

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Poland's arrest of a Huawei executive on charges of spying for China escalates an already-fraught dimension of the turbulent new era of geopolitics.

The big picture: A spate of arrests has broken out, with detentions of Americans and Canadians in China, Iran and Russia, and Chinese people jailed in Canada and now Poland. It appears to be unprecedented — political hostage-taking amid a modern trade war.

  • As we’ve reported, the tit-for-tat jailings in part suggest a new stage of hostility in the U.S.-China race for technological and economic dominance in the coming decades.
  • “The Chinese have set a very troubling precedent. You don’t like it when one of your citizens gets arrested, you nab a few folks from that country," said Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group. 

Driving the news: Poland announced today that it had arrested a man it identified only as "Weijing W.," a former diplomat in China's consulate in Gdansk. Authorities there said they also detained a former Polish security official, and charged both with spying for China, per AP.

  • Given China's actions to date, the Polish arrest seems bound to trigger a ferocious response from Beijing.
  • Already, China on Monday will begin trying Robert Schellenberg, a Canadian facing the death penalty for alleged international drug trafficking.
  • Schellenberg is one of three Canadians whom China has jailed since Dec. 1, when Canada arrested a senior Huawei official on charges of violating sanctions against Iran, reports the Globe and Mail. Huawei's chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, is out on bail now.
"It’s the first time to my knowledge that tariffs and a trade war have led to arrests/de facto hostage taking."
— Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group

Thought bubble from Bill Bishop, writer of Axios China: "There is not a big Polish population in China, and I don’t want to say anything irresponsible. But if I were a Pole in China, I would be nervous."

The practice is broader:

Wrapped up in spying and general longstanding rivalry, the Iran and Russia cases differ from the U.S.-China-Canada cases.

  • But they resemble each other in being part of how geopolitics is played now.
  • The "risk is once this becomes a tit for tat process, it provokes a downward spiral in relations that is tough to break," said Stephen Hadley, former national security adviser to George W. Bush.

Ivo Daalder, president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, said President Trump had erred by publicizing when hostages have been released. "Such public attention elevates the importance of hostages and gives nefarious actors an incentive to capture Americans in order to draw attention to their demands and causes," he said.

Go deeper: A new era of hostility in the U.S.-China fight

Go deeper

25 mins ago - Economy & Business

Clean trucks are paving the road to the electric vehicle era

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The electric vehicle revolution is underway, led by the un-sexiest of plug-in models: the commercial truck.

Why it matters: Growing demand for cleaner trucks means 2021 will be a pivotal year for electric vehicles — just not the kind you might have expected.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

The fragile recovery

Data: Department of Labor; Chart: Axios Visuals

The number of people receiving unemployment benefits is falling but remains remarkably high three weeks before pandemic assistance programs are set to expire. More than 1 million people a week are still filing for initial jobless claims, including nearly 300,000 applying for pandemic assistance.

By the numbers: As of Nov. 14, 20.2 million Americans were receiving unemployment benefits of some kind, including more than 13.4 million on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) programs that were created as part of the CARES Act and end on Dec. 26.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

The top candidates Biden is considering for key energy and climate roles

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has urged President-elect Joe Biden to nominate Mary Nichols, chair of California's air pollution regulator, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: The reported push by Schumer could boost Nichol's chances of leading an agency that will play a pivotal role in Biden's vow to enact aggressive new climate policies — especially because the plan is likely to rest heavily on executive actions.