Happy Lunar New Year, today is the first day of the Year of the Dog. China is now on holiday for the next week so today’s issue is short and sweet.
A Chinese Year of the Dog lantern show at Yuyuan Garden in 2018. Photo: VCG/VCG via Getty Images
Many Chinese believe that every year of your birth animal (your 本命年) can be challenging. President Trump was born in the Year of the Dog, so Quartz interviewed 3 well-known feng shui masters for their predictions for Donald Trump.
Overall they foresee, per Quartz:
The Year of the Dog will definitely see "relationship problems" between the U.S. and China, with little hope of improvement, according to two recent foreign policy essays.
1. America’s multi-decade China policy is a failure, according to 2 former Obama officials and Clinton advisers in an essay in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs.
"Neither carrots nor sticks have swayed China as predicted. Diplomatic and commercial engagement have not brought political and economic openness. Neither U.S. military power nor regional balancing has stopped Beijing from seeking to displace core components of the U.S.-led system. And the liberal international order has failed to lure or bind China as powerfully as expected. China has instead pursued its own course, belying a range of American expectations in the process."
2. What might have been? James Mann, author of then-controversial 2007 book "The China Fantasy," sent me the following comments after reading the Campbell/Ratner piece, which he says validates the premise in his book:
Be smart: There were lots of good reasons at the time to pursue engagement with China, and it's too late and risky to completely undo it now. But the fundamental American policy framework towards China is shifting again, and with near bipartisan consensus.
FBI director Christopher Wray before his Feb. 13 testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on "world wide threats." Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
A Senate Intelligence Committee Hearing earlier this week made clear the shifting views towards China.
Chinese students could be a threat since they could be gathering intelligence for China while studying here, FBI director Christopher Wray testified, according to The Daily Beast.
“We do share concerns about the Confucius Institutes. ... We’ve been watching that development for a while. ... We have seen some decrease recently in their own enthusiasm and commitment to that particular program, but it is something that we’re watching warily and in certain instances have developed appropriate investigations into them.”
China intends to eventually supplant the U.S. as the world's preeminent power, director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said in response to a question from Sen. Marco Rubio, per Business Insider. Coats said multiple agencies are conducting "intensive studies" into China's global agenda, BI said, which quoted Coats before the panel:
"There is no question that what you have just articulated is what's happening with China. ... They're doing it in a very smart way; they're doing it in a very effective way; they are looking beyond their own region."
My thought bubble: Expect the Year of the Dog to also be the Year of the Focus on CCP Influence in America. Chinese Communist Party influence is a real issue — but so is the risk of this tipping over into an anti-Chinese, Yellow Peril 2.0 witch hunt.
Photo: Olivier Douliery / Getty Images
Axios' Jonathan Swan reports: The Department of Commerce will recommend tariffs on steel and aluminum that, if applied, would be the first shots in a global trade war, according to two sources briefed on the report.
Background: The fight over whether to use the Section 232 law to impose tariffs has already become the hottest trade fight inside the Trump White House.
Quoted: A former senior government trade official said that without major exemptions, these recommendations would represent:
"[T]he opening shot in a trade war... a declaration of war against the world on aluminum and steel... These are some of our closest treaty allies... These are some serious numbers."
Go deeper: Read Jonathan's full story here.
Saipan is the largest island of the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. It also is home to a $2 billion per month gambling operation run by Chinese casino operator Imperial Pacific International Holdings.
The gritty details, per Bloomberg Businessweek's Matthew Campbell: The casino operator is said to cut deals with local politicians and their relatives. It tends to hire political heavyweights as advisers or directors, including Ed Rendell, Louis Freeh and James Woolsey
Go deeper: Read Campbell full piece, as it documents an astounding tale of corruption, duffel bags of cash, Chinese capital flight and illegal labor practices in this week’s blockbuster story.
The Chinese delegation in the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. Photo: Aris Messenis / AFP via Getty Images
Axios' Erica Pandey writes: China’s first appearance in the Winter Olympics was at Lake Placid in 1980, where its 24 athletes won zero medals.
Now: Thirty-five years later, Beijing won a bid to host the 2022 winter games. China’s goal? To turn millions into ski enthusiasts by then.
The big picture: China has won 546 total medals in the Summer Olympics, but just 54 in the winter games. The Chinese are determined to impress when the world comes to Beijing in four years time, and to create a ski culture that will last far beyond the games.
What's happening now: Similar to its reaction to hosting the 2008 Summer Games, China is going all out to build up its infrastructure, groom its athletes and generate Chinese overall interest in winter sports.
Go deeper: Read Erica's full story on China's plans for both 2018 and 2022 Winter Olympics.
Separately: While the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics will most likely be a success, the snow will be most likely be fake. Beijing has a long-term water crisis, and this year the municipality has seen worst dry spell in 47 years, according to Xinhua.
SEC chairman Jay Clayton. Photo: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rejected a bid from China-based investors for the Chicago Stock Exchange (CHX), despite it already having been approved last August, Reuters reports.
Why it matters: Trump-appointed SEC chairman Jay Clayton put the deal on hold minutes after it was approved. Per Reuters, the sale "drew harsh criticism from U.S. lawmakers who questioned the SEC's ability to regulate and monitor the foreign owners if approved."
Quartz — "The death of a Chinese flu patient reminds China’s middle class their lives hinge on personal connections"
Xinhua — "China’s ketamine research shines light on antidepression"
The New York Times — "Seven Years Old and Kicked Out of Beijing"
Sinica Podcast — "Kishore Mahbubani on China’s rise and America’s myopia"
South China Morning Post — "Chinese couple in US wins stay of deportation that spares them from ‘persecution’ in China"
Sinocism — “人民领袖"-- "The People's 'Leader' Xi Jinping Gets A New Propaganda Title"
Defense One — "Beijing Has Started Giving Latin American Generals ‘Lavish,’ All-Expenses-Paid Trips to China"
Financial Times Magazine — "‘I was locked inside a steel cage’: Peter Humphrey on his life inside a Chinese prison"
South China Morning Post — "A beam, a bomb and a burning question: could China be rebooting a nuclear doomsday device?"
This week's Sinocism China Newsletters for a daily, deeper look at China.