New: Axios interviews Tim Cook, Elon Musk and Bill Gates in the tech-heavy final two episodes of "Axios on HBO," airing the next two Sundays at 6:30pm ET/PT.
Next week the newsletter will be off for Thanksgiving, so I'll see you Nov. 30.
Thanks for reading, and if you want a daily and deeper look at China, please check out my daily Sinocism China Newsletter, now with a special discount for Axios readers, and follow me on Twitter @niubi.
1 big thing: U.S.-China trade deal is a stretch...
There are only 13 days until President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are to meet in Argentina — and the leaks, rumors and guesses are flying fast.
The best case scenario appears to be a tariff ceasefire with some sort of framework deal to keep talking, but based on what I am hearing, even that may be a stretch.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross commented on the prospects for the meeting yesterday, per Bloomberg:
An unnamed senior U.S. official spoke with Reuters yesterday and downplayed the possibility of a breakthrough deal with China anytime soon. Reuters reports...
What we're watching: Expect more leaks, speculation and probably market-moving tweets between now and the meeting. Asset Management firm Miller Tabak, I think, nailed it in their prediction of how Trump might communicate with the markets between now and the meeting,
- As CNBC's Carl Quintanilla tweeted:
- Quick take: At some point, won’t there be Presidential China Deal Tweet Fatigue?
What we're hearing: A source tells me to expect Liu He, top economic policymaker and Xi's point man for the trade negotiations, to come to D.C. after Thanksgiving for the talks.
Go deeper: China Fund Managers Have Low Expectations for Xi-Trump Meet (Bloomberg)
2. ... as Pence spells out U.S. demands
Speaking of the possible trade deal, if Vice President Mike Pence speaks for the Trump administration on China policy, then his comments in an interview with Josh Rogin of the Washington Post should quell any optimism for a deal.
Why? There's little prospect that China would agree to much of what Pence lays out. Rogin writes...
3. Commission: U.S. faces worst national security crisis in decades
David Lawler writes for from his Axios World newsletter (sign up here) ...
U.S. national security is in greater peril “than at any time in decades,” according to a recent report from a panel of top national security experts tasked by Congress with reviewing the state of American national defense.
Why it matters: The U.S. has entered into an era of "great power competition" with China, which poses an unprecedented challenge to U.S. dominance both economically and militarily, and with an increasingly assertive Russia.
Threat level: American military superiority has deteriorated to the point where the U.S. “might struggle to win, or perhaps lose, a war against China or Russia.” As U.S. superiority fades, the authors write, the likelihood of war rises, according to the report from the National Defense Strategy Commission.
More from the report...
- “Rivals and adversaries are challenging the United States on many fronts and in many domains. America’s ability to defend its allies, its partners, and its own vital interests is increasingly in doubt. If the nation does not act promptly to remedy these circumstances, the consequences will be grave and lasting.”
- “Authoritarian competitors — especially China and Russia — are seeking regional hegemony and the means to project power globally. They are pursuing determined military buildups aimed at neutralizing U.S. strengths. Threats posed by Iran and North Korea have worsened as those countries have developed more advanced weapons and creatively employed asymmetric tactics.”
- “In multiple regions, gray-zone aggression — intimidation and coercion in the space between war and peace — has become the tool of choice for many. The dangers posed by transnational threat organizations, particularly radical jihadist groups, have also evolved and intensified. Around the world, the proliferation of advanced technology is allowing more actors to contest U.S. military power in more threatening ways.”
- “Finally, due to political dysfunction and decisions made by both major political parties... America has significantly weakened its own defense.”
Between the lines: Ambassador Eric Edelman, a co-chair of the commission, tells Michael Morell on the latest Intelligence Matters podcast that many of these warnings have been issued before: “I think what we had to wrestle with was the consequences of all those warnings having been ignored.”
4. China's campus crackdown intensifies
The government has decided that college campuses are in need of enhanced security and ideological hardening, and is implementing different control measures, Reuters reports. The article states:
My thought bubble: New Beida Party Secretary Qiu Shuiping is wasting little time. As I wrote in the October 26 issue of Axios China when he was appointed...
Go deeper: Chinese campus crackdown on young Marxist activists expands in major cities ( South China Morning Post)
5. Tightening the screws on the internet
The government also does not think current internet regulations are strong enough — so it's implementing a campaign to rein in "self-media," like blogs and social media accounts.
Details: As part of the campaign, per Global Times...
And starting Nov. 30, new regulations will apply to any companies or services with a “public opinion or social mobilization capacity" 具有舆论属性或社会动员能力. The Financial Times reports...
My thought bubble: This move certainly looks related to the crackdown against labor activists and students, and is another sign that the political atmosphere will likely tighten even more (at least from now until June 5 after we have safely passed the 100th anniversary of the May 4 movement and the 30th anniversary of June 4).
- But if you are a pessimist you might wonder why they would loosen up then, especially if U.S.-China relations and the PRC economy continue in downward trajectories?
Go deeper: Web Czar’s Handwritten Confession Showcased at Reform Exhibition (Caixin)
6. Report: Secret plot to infiltrate UN
The Sydney Morning Herald has an interesting story, about a secret plot by China to infiltrate the United Nations via Australian insider Sheri Yan. Here's part of it...
7. Worthy of your time
Reuters — China's Xi makes push into Pacific; scores 'own goal' with block on media
SCMP — What does ‘opening up’ exhibition giving credit to SOEs and Xi Jinping say to China’s private firms?
MacroPolo — From Windfalls to Pitfalls: Qualcomm’s China Conundrum
TeaLeaves Podcast — Kurt Campbell talks to Elizabeth Economy
The Guardian — NZ police investigate after prominent China critic's car 'sabotaged'
The National Interest — The Chinese Century? An Early Appraisal
Technode —Faraday Future: How a "Tesla-killer" became a zombie company
Wall Street Journal — In China’s New Space Odyssey, 80 Startups Race to Get Into Orbit
MIT Technology Review — China’s giant transmission grid could be the key to cutting climate emissions
Financial Times — China’s Belt and Road hits problems but is still popular
Caixin — Tax Crackdown Sends Chill Through Movie Biz
The Spectator — Social credit is just one part of China’s new state control
This week's issues of my Sinocism China Newsletter, now with a special 20% discount for Axios readers.