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The new way of politics and business. Illustration: Greg Ruben/Axios

American and Chinese corporate titans share something in common: jittery slavishness to their president, and sometimes even each other's president. In the U.S., presidential tweets, and even the threat of one, send powerful CEOs scrambling to announce hiring sprees, factory openings, and profit repatriation.

What's going on: Beth Bao, a strategic planning executive with JD Logistics, says the company is deliberately aligning company strategy with Belt and Road. Others are doing the same. Among the examples:

  • JD is shipping cargo on dedicated rail cars twice a week from Hamburg to the Chinese provinces of Xi'an and Chengdu, along the Belt and Road route, Bao said this week.
  • Last year, Jack Ma, founder of JD's e-commerce rival Alibaba, called Belt and Road "a responsibility and an opportunity."
  • Western companies, too, frequently cite investments along Belt and Road in what appear to be conspicuous toadying to Xi.

According to an account last year in the New Yorker, Xi himself leveraged Trump's soft spot for jobs and obsequiousness for a foreign policy purpose: A month after the 2016 election, Trump had taken a call from Tsai Ing-wen, the president of Taiwan, which China regards as a province, not a country. Xi wanted to be sure that there were no such repeats.

  • So, according to this account, Xi dispatched Alibaba's Ma to have a chat with Trump.
  • Meeting the U.S. president-elect at Trump Tower, Ma said that Alibaba would create 1 million jobs in the U.S.
  • The piece quotes a Chinese university professor, "China knows Trump can be unpredictable, so we have weapons to make him predictable, to contain him. He would trade Taiwan for jobs."

Go deeper

Schumer's m(aj)ority checklist

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Capitalizing on the Georgia runoffs, achieving a 50-50 Senate and launching an impeachment trial are weighty to-dos for getting Joe Biden's administration up and running on Day One.

What to watch: A blend of ceremonies, hearings and legal timelines will come into play on Tuesday and Wednesday so Chuck Schumer can actually claim the Senate majority and propel the new president's agenda.

The dark new reality in Congress

National Guard troops keep watch at security fencing. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

This is how bad things are for elected officials and others working in a post-insurrection Congress:

  • Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.) said she had a panic attack while grocery shopping back home.
  • Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said police may also have to be at his constituent meetings.
  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) told a podcaster he brought a gun to his office on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 because he anticipated trouble with the proceedings that day.
Off the Rails

Episode 3: Descent into madness ... Trump: "Sometimes you need a little crazy"

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 3: The conspiracy goes too far. Trump's outside lawyers plot to seize voting machines and spin theories about communists, spies and computer software.

President Trump was sitting in the Oval Office one day in late November when a call came in from lawyer Sidney Powell. "Ugh, Sidney," he told the staff in the room before he picked up. "She's getting a little crazy, isn't she? She's really gotta tone it down. No one believes this stuff. It's just too much."