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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The Trump administration is planning to launch a major, "administration-wide," broadside against China, according to two sources briefed on the sensitive internal discussions. These sources, who weren't authorized to discuss the plans with the media, told me the effort is expected to launch in the next few weeks.

What we're hearing: The broadside against China — which is planned to be both rhetorical and substantive — will be "administration-wide," including the White House (led by senior officials on the National Security Council), Treasury, Commerce and Defense. "We're not just going to let Russia be the bogeyman," one White House official told me. "It's Russia and China."

  • The White House plans to unveil new information about China's hostile actions against America's public and private sectors, and to act on it.
  • Administration officials will call out China for its "malign activity" in cyberattacks, election interference and industrial warfare (e.g., intellectual property theft), an administration source told me.
  • The administration has marshaled tons of data to support its charges against China. "We are going to show how the Chinese have infiltrated the U.S. and what we are doing to counter it," the source said.

Behind the scenes: "The push is coming from the national security apparatus," the source added. "Cyber theft has been appearing more often in the PDBs [President's Daily Brief]."

The unknowns: Neither administration official explained why the administration is pursuing this now. China has been an aggressor on trade and cyber issues for years, and the Trump administration has started a trade war with the country. At the same time, Trump has maintained cheery rhetoric toward President Xi Jinping in hopes of cooperating on some issues.

  • The extent to which Trump will lead this rhetorical push isn’t clear. But he's green lit it, according to a source familiar with the planning.
  • There's a good chance Trump will keep saying positive things about Xi to protect their relationship, delegating the hottest rhetoric to China hawks like Peter Navarro.

Go deeper

Virginia attorney general fires Jan. 6 investigator from university post

McIntire Amphitheater at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia. Photo: Robert Knopes/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The lead investigator for the Jan. 6 House select committee investigating the Capitol riot has been fired from his position as the University of Virginia's counsel by the state's new Republican attorney general, per the Washington Post.

Why it matters: Democrats say the removal of Tim Heaphy from his post after some three years while he's on leave from the university to investigate the insurrection is likely "retribution" for the House probe — an accusation strongly denied by the office of state Attorney General Jason Miyares (R).

4 hours ago - World

Taiwan's military scrambles jets after detecting 39 Chinese warplanes

J-20 stealth fighter jets in Zhuhai in the Guangdong Province of China last year. Photo: Chen Jimin/China News Service via Getty Images

Taiwan's defense force said 39 Chinese warplanes flew into its Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) on Sunday.

Why it matters: The largest Chinese air force incursion into the zone since October came a day after the U.S. and Japanese navies conducted a joint exercise in the Philippine Sea.

5 hours ago - Sports

Gonzaga University revokes NBA great John Stockton's tickets over mask stance

Former Utah Jazz player John Stockton during a 2017 press conference in Salt Lake City. Photo: Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Gonzaga University suspended the season tickets of notable alumni John Stockton after the NBA Hall of Famer failed to comply with the school's basketball games mask mandate, the Spokesman-Review first reported.

Driving the news: "Basically, it came down to, they were asking me to wear a mask to the games and being a public figure, someone a little bit more visible, I stuck out in the crowd a little bit," the former Utah Jazz point guard told the outlet in an interview Saturday.