Happy Saturday ... President Trump has started his weekend in Asia, where he will be for the next 11 days visiting Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines. The expectations seem so low that perhaps anything short of triggering a trade or hot war will be considered a success?
Thanks for reading.
The New York Times has a good overview of the strategic backdrop to Trump's Asian tour:
So far I'm not hearing to expect any substantive breakthroughs with China on either trade or North Korea. China and the U.S. will sign a lot of deals during the visit, but deals are easy for the Chinese and, once you wade through the pr spin, many of the signed "agreements" may actually be non-binding MOUs. I hope I am wrong but it sounds like the US President will shy away from any specific, hard asks around the metastasizing structural issues in the US-China economic relationship.
Other things to watch:
The China-South Korea "rapprochement" just before the Trump visit is noteworthy. This newsletter has suggested a few times over the last several weeks that Xi might find some sort of face-saving solution over THAAD to allow Beijing to back away from its hysterical reaction and rebuild ties with South Korea, with a goal towards driving a wedge between Seoul and Washington over North Korea.
I did a fun Sinica podcast on the 19th Party Congress:
Xi JInping's college roommate, Chen Xi, is taking over a party school, the latest close ally given a senior role, according to the South China Morning Post:
Other Jobs For Team Xi: Zhao Kezhi is the new head of the Ministry of Public Security and, as Sinocism predicted in the 10.25 newsletter, Xi loyalists Huang Kunming and Ding Xuexiang have been named Minister of Propaganda and head of the Central Committee General Office, respectively. The new head of the important Central Policy Research Office remains a mystery, as does the role that Hu Chunhua will take on.
They always do these propaganda campaigns after Party Congresses. The intensity, the focus on one individual — Xi — and the inclusion of Politburo member Chen Min'er on the "central publicity team" looks a bit different than years past. Party members will spend a lot of time in the coming weeks on this.
The details from Xinhua:
More on Chen from the South China Morning Post:
Ian Bremmer of The Eurasia Group goes full pundit in his cover story China's Economy Is Poised to Win the Future:
"The China striding into that spotlight is not guaranteed to win the future. In this fragmenting world, no one government will have the international influence required to continue to set the political and economic rules that govern the global system. But if you had to bet on one country that is best positioned today to extend its influence with partners and rivals alike, you wouldn't be wise to back the U.S. The smart money would probably be on China."
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