Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

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.

The bottom line: Unlike his attacks on NAFTA, immigrants, climate science, and the Affordable Care Care — which triggered denunciation by critics both in and outside of 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.

  • The shift of mainstream opinion comes as Trump emerges from the weekend G20 summit with a 90-day stand-down agreement with Chinese leader Xi Jinping. The two leaders agreed to attempt to work out their policy differences by March 1, and meanwhile observe a timeout on higher U.S. tariffs due to take effect Jan. 1.
  • If the two sides stay with their current agendas, getting to an actual deal will be hard. In remarks yesterday and today, Beijing made no mention of U.S. demands for a halt to the theft and forced transfer of U.S. technology to China, and the U.S. omitted any talk of reducing tariffs, which is a Chinese demand.
  • But U.S. officials say China had agreed to immediately lift a 40% tariff on U.S. car imports and allow U.S. companies to own the majority of Chinese firms, write Reuters' David Lawder and Jeff Mason.

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 main problem is a long-standing Chinese effort to influence the West, the group said. John Garnaut, former adviser to former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, says that in Australia, "all the major [political] parties were at threat of being dependent on Chinese money. That dependency had to be broken." A new law controls the cash flow, he said.
  • The same goes with Chinese cash to U.S. universities and think tanks, says Larry Diamond, a professor at Stanford University. "The lure of money is just overwhelming," he says. "I cannot emphasize this enough, from the standpoint of universities in general and what I have found in terms of the prospect of funding for think tanks and in Hollywood."

A primary worry: A miscalculation that results in a trade tiff spiraling into war. That is where the establishment departs from Trump.

  • Sulmaan Khan, a professor at Tufts and the author of "Haunted by Chaos: China's Grand Strategy from Mao Zedong to Xi Jinping," tells Axios that the Trump administration contains "hotheads," and because of that "the risk of miscalculation goes up."
  • "The historical phenomenon of a rising versus established power is greatly exacerbated by having two dangerous leaders in our capitals," Lord says.
  • Trump "scared us to death when he won. He still scares us to death," says Schell.

Go deeper: Watch a presentation of the Hoover Institution report (video)

Go deeper

U.S. grants temporary protected status to thousands of Venezuelans

Venezuelan citizens participate in the vote for the popular consultation in December 2020, as part of a protest against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in Doral, Florida. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP

Venezuelans living in the United States will be eligible to receive temporary protected status for 18 months, the Department of Homeland Security announced Monday.

Why it matters: Tens of thousands of Venezuelans have fled to the U.S. amid economic, political and social turmoil back home. Former President Trump, on his last full day in office, granted some protections to Venezuelans through the U.S. Deferred Enforced Departure program, but advocates and lawmakers said the move didn't go far enough.

"She-cession" threatens economic recovery

Illustration: Sarah Grillo

Decades of the slow economic progress women made catching up to men evaporated in just one year.

Why it matters: As quickly as those gains were erased, it could take much, much longer for them to return — a warning Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen issued today.

The Week America Changed

Sandberg thought Zuckerberg was "nuts" on remote work in January 2020

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Paul Marotta/Getty Image

Chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg thought Mark Zuckerberg was "nuts" when he raised the possibility in January 2020 that 50,000 Facebook employees might have to work from home. By March 6, they were.

Why it matters: In an interview Monday with Axios Re:Cap, Sandberg explained how Facebook moved quickly to respond to the pandemic with grants for small businesses and work-from-home stipends for its employees, and how the company has been watching the unfolding crisis for women in the workforce.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!