A World Health Organization team of researchers arrived in Wuhan, China, Thursday ahead of their investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Driving the news: Dominic Dwyer, a Sydney virologist based who's among the scientists on the visit, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation they don't expect to find a "patient zero." "But we may have a much better indication of whether the virus truly started in Wuhan," he said.
The Trump administration has declassified a report which lays out its Indo-Pacific strategy, including “accelerating India’s rise,” blocking China from establishing “illiberal spheres of influence,” and maintaining “U.S. strategic primacy” in the region, according to a copy viewed by Axios.
Why it matters: The strategy laid out in the ten-page report, written in early 2018, has guided the U.S. approach to China, India, North Korea and other nations in the Indo-Pacific region for the past three years. Its release sheds light on the geopolitical and security challenges soon to be inherited by the Biden administration.
In China, President Xi Jinping has silenced Alibaba founder Jack Ma and launched an antitrust investigation into his company after the e-commerce tycoon publicly criticized state regulators. In the U.S., Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has suspended President Donald Trump's accounts after the president used the platform to incite violence.
The big picture: The juxtaposition of two almost perfectly inverse situations reveals how differently China and the U.S. have approached the management of tech giants and digital information.
In the weeks leading up to the November presidential election, Chinese dissidents across the U.S. and at least five other countries found their homes blockaded by dozens of angry and sometimes violent protesters accusing them, without evidence, of being spies for China.
Why it matters: The protesters were mobilized through a disinformation ecosystem that overlaps with the one that led to violence in the U.S. Capitol last week. The harassment targeting the global Chinese diaspora was an early warning sign.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared Yemen's Houthi rebels a terror group, labeled Cuba a state sponsor of terrorism and risked provoking China by lifting restrictions on interactions between U.S. and Taiwanese officials — all within 48 hours, and with less than two weeks left in President Trump's term.
Why it matters: The administration, and in particular Pompeo, has made little secret of the fact that it's trying to tie President-elect Biden's hands, in particular when it comes to Trump's hardline policies on Iran and China.
Despite the pandemic ravaging investor confidence early in 2020, U.S. and European investors flocked to Chinese debt, pushing the level of foreign investment in China's bonds to a record high and more than double its 2019 level, data from the Institute of International Finance show.
What happened: Chinese government and policy bank bonds were added to the Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate Index beginning in April 2019 and in September JPMorgan announced that they would add China's government bonds to its highly followed EM global bond index.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Saturday that he was lifting the "self-imposed restrictions" on the U.S.-Taiwan relationship.
The big picture: Pompeo's announcement comes as Kelly Craft, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, prepares to visit Taiwan next week to "reinforce the U.S. government’s strong and ongoing support for Taiwan’s international space.” The news of Craft's expected visit has angered China, which said the U.S. would pay a "heavy price for its wrong action."
A coronavirus vaccine produced by Chinese company Sinovac is 78% effective, Brazil officials announced Thursday.
Why it matters: Regulators in other countries are closely following the Phase 3 trials in Brazil. If the vaccine is approved for use, it could help fill a gap in access to coronavirus vaccines for many low- and middle-income countries.
Here's how 2021 is beginning: On one side of the Pacific, a show of strength that has shocked the world. On the other side, a show of weakness that has shocked the world.
Why it matters: The chaos that unfolded on Capitol Hill Wednesday afternoon is a sign that the U.S. can't even run an orderly transition of power, let alone project its soft power internationally.
On Jan. 6, Hong Kong authorities arrested more than 50 pro-democracy activists and politicians who participated in primary elections last year, charging them with "subverting state power" under the national security law that China forced on the city last year.
The big picture: The arrests indicate Chinese Communist Party leaders see any form of true participatory government as an illegitimate subversion of their power.