1 big thing: Next rough wave of tariffs looming
President Trump plans to evaluate public comments before deciding on the latest proposed tariffs on Chinese imports, according to White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow this morning, dimming speculation that they could announce the next round as early as today.
Driving the news: The comment period for the next round of U.S. tariffs ended Thursday. Per Reuters:
There's still no clear pathway to resolving the disputes. Bob Davis and Lingling Wei of the Wall Street Journal report that the U.S. may be counting on deals with Japan, EU, Mexico and Canada to provide more leverage:
On the other side: Chinese officials continue to give no public indication they will make the kinds of structural concessions the Trump administration is demanding.
- The latest issue of Qiushi, an authoritative theoretical journal under the Communist Party Central Committee, has a commentary defending China's economic system and arguing that America's real goal in launching the trade war is to thwart China's rise.
My thought bubble: There's a school of thought that the increasingly repetitive messaging (that America’s real goal is China containment) is just propaganda posturing for negotiating leverage. I think the fact that this line keeps appearing in the most authoritative publications for Communist Party members and officials, not foreign audiences, likely undermines that view.
The bottom line: Maybe the Chinese will eventually cave, but the White House should be preparing for a much longer and more protracted trade war.
2. Nauru stands up to China
Nauru, an island nation that has formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, hosted the Forty-Ninth Pacific Islands Forum this week.
The details: First, the country refused to stamp the official diplomatic passports of the PRC diplomats. Then Nauru President Baron Waqa prevented the PRC representative from speaking out of turn at the forum, leading to the Chinese diplomat walking out. ABC News Australia reports:
Why it matters: It's rare to see any foreign leader take such a strong stance towards Beijing and its growing diplomatic assertiveness. The South Pacific is a focus for Beijing as part of its efforts to pick off Taiwan's few remaining diplomatic allies. Importantly, it's also because the People's Liberation Army is looking for ways to extend beyond the first island chain into the broader Pacific Ocean.
Go deeper: The Australian reported Friday that Australia "successfully blocked China from funding a major regional military base in Fiji, a move that reveals intensifying concern in Canberra over strategic competition in the South Pacific region."
3. Top U.S. spy official talks PRC espionage
China is absolutely the largest threat to U.S. security, according to William Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center. He recently joined Michael Morell, former acting CIA director, on the "Intelligence Matters" podcast to talk about foreign espionage efforts in America, especially that of China.
Some key excerpts:
Go deeper: Listen to the podcast.
Why it matters: The trade issues with China are just a part of the much deeper and intensifying competition between the U.S. and China. Even if some kind of deal is struck, the overall the trajectory of the Sino-U.S. relationship is unlikely to change.
4. China-Africa forum strengthens ties
Xi and his colleagues spent the last week feting the leaders from 53 of 54 African nations at the Forum of China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit.
What's happening: Xi promised another $60 billion in financing to Africa along with eight initiatives for PRC-Africa cooperation. The $60 billion amount was the same as promised in 2015, but with changes to the composition, as Yun Sun wrote in Brookings Institution note:
What we're hearing: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa spoke to reporters after the summit, telling them China's relationship with Africa has "now entered a golden age," according to Caixin. Per the report:
Quick take: Much of Western media coverage about the summit has been critical, but we shouldn't forget that the African leaders have agency. Plus, there doesn't seem to be a better offer/plan for them coming from the West.
5. Trump's Taiwan policy facing challenges
Josh Rogin of the Washington Post wrote an opinion piece on Thursday that Trump is failing to counter China’s diplomatic assault on Taiwan:
Why it matters: There are officials in the administration who want to move the U.S. much closer to Taiwan, but President Trump really seems to have no strong feeling about Taiwan. That means Taiwan will be very careful about what it asks for and accepts from the U.S., as they can not have confidence the President will not flip flop after a chat with Xi Jinping.
6. "I’d Like to Build the World a Road”
China's Communist Party paper People's Daily created a music video to commemorate the 5th anniversary of Xi's articulation of the vision for the Belt & Road Initiative. The song is modified from the old Coca Cola advertisement jingle "I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke".
Some of the lyrics, courtesy of Quartz:
Watch it here on Tencent Video.
Go deeper: Read the CSIS brief China's Belt and Road Is Full Of Holes
7. Worthy of your time
Peak Xi Jinping? — ChinaFile
#MeToo on the Chinese Blogosphere: Justice, Victimization and Intellectual Revolt — Chublic Opinion
Huawei unveils world's most advanced chip to counter Apple — Nikkei Asian Review
Ambitious Banker’s ‘Shadow Banking’ Scheme Leaves ICBC on Hook for Billions — Caixin
China’s Lessons for Fighting Fake News — Foreign Policy
Survey of more than 500 China scholars provides data on how frequently they experience Chinese state repression — Inside Higher Education
Engine boost for China’s J-15 fighter jets as Beijing tries to build up navy — South China Morning Post
Xi's upcoming visit to Russia to inject new impetus to ties — Xinhua
Chinese Embassies are Becoming Increasingly Assertive: the Case of Sweden – Taiwan Sentinel
China Reserves Steady as Yuan Declines Fail to Trigger Outflows — Bloomberg
China inquisitors in dock over death of Hong Kong businessman — Financial Times
Uyghur Poetry in Translation: Perhat Tursun’s “Elegy” — Fairbank Center
This week's issues of my Sinocism China Newsletter