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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
For decades, the U.S. and China have circled uneasily as current and future global superpowers. Now, President Trump's continued escalation of actions against Beijing threatens to push the two powers close to direct conflict.
Driving the news: This week, the U.S. took perhaps its most provocative action yet, springing a trap in Belgium that captured Yanjun Xu, a senior Chinese intelligence operative, and arraigning him in Cincinnati for economic espionage. This afternoon, Xu pleaded not guilty.
The big picture: This was only one of three substantial U.S. escalations against China this week. The Trump administration also tightened scrutiny of Chinese investment in U.S. technology, and issued new restrictions on the sale of civilian nuclear technology to Beijing.
But the trio of actions — coming after last month's enactment of tariffs on half of Chinese exports to the U.S., amounting to $250 billion — amounts to a significant intensification of the U.S. offensive against Beijing.
"As it turns out trade wars are not easy, as some have proclaimed. And when you have the two most consequential nations on the planet trading increasingly damaging blows, accompanied with increasingly inflammatory rhetoric, the race to the bottom will be harmful to Americans and Chinese alike."— Gen. John Allen
The bottom line: One worrying thing is that, while Trump has sought to force U.S. allies to join the offensive, it has failed to do the diplomacy to create that kind of united front.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
When it comes to the forecast driverless car revolution, Ford says it isn't worried about being first to market; it just wants to be sure its vehicles are profitable.
The big picture: Hackett says the secret is high utilization rates — keeping one's self-driving fleet on the road, collecting revenue, as much as possible.
What's next: Ford recently carved out its AV project as a separate business to accelerate development and attract investors, and expects to invest $4 billion through 2023.
Go deeper: Read Joann's full piece
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
Nuance: A love story (Meghan Daum - Medium)
The plunging U.S. share of venture investment (Marisa Fernandez - Axios)
The Chinese electronic supermarket (The Economist) (subscription)
Amazon, the former trillion-dollar company (Richard Waters - FT)
An automated Japanese warehouse cut workers by 90% (Yomiuri Shimbun) (h/t Mark Bain)
For its latest trick, a dog-like robot from Boston Dynamics noses around a construction site and scuttles up stairs on four legs — a demonstration, the company hopes, for why the market should buy its creations.
Why it matters: Boston Dynamics is trying to figure out how to sell its robots, including Spot, the robot that in the clip above is moving with an agility and versatility that possibly no rival has matched, Axios' Kaveh Waddell reports.
What's going on: Boston Dynamics likes to cloud its work with mystery, teasing the watching world with showy videos in which robots do amazing feats.
Reality check: We asked Boston Dynamics whether the robot above is autonomous or human-driven, but it did not answer.
What's next: Beyond putting out flashy demos, the company has been plagued with questions about how it will make money. Just last week, Rethink, a storied robotics company, folded. An executive told the Boston Globe it crumbled under pressure from competitors, not because of wider monetization problems in the industry.