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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
As President Trump enters a tough new phase in his hardline offensive against China, he now has allies he lacked in his other high-profile attacks on the status quo — the establishment.
Unlike his attacks on NAFTA, immigrants, climate science and Obamacare — which triggered denunciation by critics in and outside the U.S. — Trump finds himself in the embrace, if conditional, of mainstream experts when it comes to China.
What's happening: It's not that Trump has moved to the center, nor that the establishment has embraced his America First mantra. Rather, in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere, senior China hands argue simply that Trump's instincts are right on this one. "I think Trump has a strange animal insight about these things. He has a keen nose for being taken," Orville Schell, director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society, tells Axios.
There is skepticism given the long history of unsuccessful U.S. attempts to move China on its policies, going back to the Truman administration. Last Thursday, a group consisting of senior Asia experts from the U.S. and across Europe released a Hoover Institution report explicitly distancing themselves from those prior efforts. They did not brand them wrong-headed, but said it's time to get tougher.
"The Chinese respect firmness and exploit the lack of it," Winston Lord, a former U.S. ambassador to Beijing and one of the most respected American experts on China, said at a presentation of the report in Washington on Thursday.
A primary worry: A miscalculation that results in a trade tiff spiraling into war. That is where the establishment departs from Trump.
Go deeper: Watch a presentation of the Hoover Institution report (video)
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
3M CEO Michael Roman wants shareholders to think of the company as anything but a conglomerate, even though it operates in a dozen industries and makes everything from Post-it notes to oil and gas pipeline coatings.
Which is to say that, like the heads of a lot of other industrial giants, Roman understands that big is now out and small is in.
Writes Axios' Courtenay Brown: Industrial conglomerates were formed in the post-WWII era after a new bout of antitrust crackdowns encouraged them to grow by buying up companies in totally different industries. But by the 1990s, most began slimming down, and now, the best-known remaining industrial conglomerates are determined either to shrink (General Electric) or shake off the conglomerate label (3M).
"It's a stigma to be called a conglomerate. It makes you sound confused," says Jerry Davis, professor of management at the University of Michigan, who wrote a 1994 research paper about the decline of conglomerates. "It's the ADHD of the corporate world."
So big companies are attempting to rebrand themselves:
But, but, but: While we're witnessing a decades-in-the-making end for industrial giants, the conglomerate concept is not entirely dead.
"A lot of Silicon Valley firms — Amazon, Google, Facebook — they really are conglomerates," Davis says. "And yet at some level you can see what the coherence is. Industrial conglomerates don't have any advantage in applying its technology to a bunch of different industries. What's different is the information technology gives you an advantage."
ExxonMobil's play offshore from Guyana in South America's northeast keeps swelling — this morning, the company said it's at 5 billion barrels, 25% more than it reported just three months ago.
What's happening: The story goes back to 2006, when explorers discovered a big oil reserve offshore from Ghana, on Africa's west coast. That ignited an industry frenzy. Recalling the breakup of Pangaea, the ancient supercontinent, drillers knew that if there was oil in Ghana, it might also be found near South America's east coast, which until 200 million years ago was fused to Africa.
The result: Exxon's massive find in offshore Guyana.
What's next: Exxon is on a Pangaea tear. In October, the company announced an exploration spree in Brazil, Namibia, South Africa, Mauritania — and, again, Ghana, all of it tied to a respect for the estimable geology of the former supercontinent.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Nice companion. Photo: Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP/Getty
You might catch a friendly capybara squiring a few squirrel monkeys around on its back, or just hanging out in a tub, taking a bath with a puppy.
Such is the agreeable life of this 2-foot-tall rodent, pictured above in Japan taking a soothing shower, writes Alan Taylor in a picture story over at The Atlantic.
Other animals just like being around the pleasant capybaras, which seem to make friends with almost anyone, including birds, deer — and people. Take a look at the photos.