China

Trump Approves Tough Tariffs on China

President Trump “has approved a plan to impose punishing tariffs on tens of billions of dollars of Chinese goods as early as Friday, a move that could put his trade policies on a collision course with his push to rid the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons,” the AP reports.

“Trump met Thursday with several Cabinet members and trade advisers and was expected to impose tariffs on at least $35 billion to $40 billion of Chinese imports… The amount of goods could reach $55 billion.”

New York Times: “Beijing has said it will retaliate by imposing its own tariffs on a list of roughly $50 billion in American exports, a list likely to include agricultural products and manufactured goods.”

U.S. Tries to Thwart Chinese Spying at Summit

NBC News reports that China may try to spy on President Trump’s talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un next week in Singapore.

“U.S. officials are concerned China has recruited informants among the waiters and other staff in Singapore’s restaurants and bars, who are paid to eavesdrop on American customers and report back to their Chinese handlers.”

“Officials also expect electronic surveillance of the summit meeting sites. Americans will sweep for bugs in rooms at the Capella Hotel that could be used for side discussions, and could erect tents inside hotel meeting rooms to block any concealed cameras from viewing classified documents.”

Trump Agrees to Bailout Chinese Company

President Trump “said he had allowed embattled Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE Corp. to remain open despite fierce bipartisan opposition on Capitol Hill, defying lawmakers who have warned that the huge technology company should be severely punished for breaking U.S. law,” the Washington Post reports.

“Sensing such a move, top Democrats and at least one Republican on Friday said the White House’s decision was tantamount to a bailout of a large Chinese company with little benefit for the United States.”

China Calls Trump’s Bluff

New York Times: “Chinese negotiators left Washington this weekend with a significant win: a willingness by the Trump administration to hold off for now on imposing tariffs on up to $150 billion in Chinese imports. China gave up little in return, spurning the administration’s nudges for a concrete commitment to buy more goods from the United States, and avoiding limits on its efforts to build new high-tech Chinese industries.”

“The trade fight is far from over. And large Chinese technology companies in particular could be vulnerable if the United States starts punching again, with administration officials appearing to back away from Mr. Trump’s pledges to help ZTE, a Chinese telecommunications company hit with severe American penalties.”

“Still, the latest round of negotiations showed that a confident China could be more than a match for divided American officials who have made often discordant demands.”

Make China Great Again?

Associated Press: “President Trump said Sunday he has instructed his Commerce Department to help get a Chinese telecommunications company ‘back into business’ after the U.S. government cut off access to its American suppliers. At issue is that department’s move last month to block the ZTE Corp., a major supplier of telecoms networks and smartphones based in southern China, from importing American components for seven years. The U.S. accused ZTE of misleading American regulators after it settled charges of violating sanctions against North Korea and Iran.”

A Skirmish In China Over the Nuclear Football

When President Trump and his team visited Beijing last November, Chief of Staff John Kelly and a U.S. Secret Service agent skirmished with Chinese security officials over the nuclear football, according to Jonathan Swan.

“When the U.S. military aide carrying the nuclear football entered the Great Hall, Chinese security officials blocked his entry… Then a U.S. Secret Service agent grabbed the Chinese security official and tackled him to the ground.”

“The whole scuffle was over in a flash, and the U.S. officials told about the incident were asked to keep quiet about it. Trump’s team followed the normal security procedure to brief the Chinese before their visit to Beijing… but somebody at the Chinese end either didn’t get the memo or decided to mess with the Americans anyway.”

Bannon’s Back and Targeting China

Joshua Green: “Bannon, who’s been consulting with Henry Kissinger and other foreign policy veterans, is preparing a project to sound an alarm about what he views as the primary economic threat to America: China.”

Said Bannon: “If we don’t get our situation sorted with China, we’ll be destroyed economically. The forced technology transfer of American innovation to China is the single biggest economic and business issue of our time. Until we sort that out, they will continue to appropriate our innovation to their own system and leave us as a colony—our Jamestown to their Great Britain, a tributary state.”

In case you missed it: We recently spoke with Green on Political Wire Conversations about his excellent book about Bannon.

Trump Warns China He’ll Go It Alone on North Korea

President Trump, “frustrated by China’s unwillingness to lean on North Korea, has told the Chinese leader that the United States is prepared to act on its own in pressuring the nuclear-armed government in Pyongyang,” the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Trump’s warning, delivered in a cordial but blunt phone call on Sunday night to President Xi Jinping, came after a flurry of actions by the United States — selling weapons to Taiwan, threatening trade sanctions and branding China for human trafficking — that rankled the Chinese and left little doubt that the honeymoon between the two leaders was over.”

Washington Post: North Korea claims successful test of intercontinental ballistic missile.

Trump Hands China a Chance for Global Leadership

New York Times: “In pulling out of the Paris climate accord, Mr. Trump has created a vacuum of global leadership that presents ripe opportunities to allies and adversaries alike to reorder the world’s power structure. His decision is perhaps the greatest strategic gift to the Chinese, who are eager to fill the void that Washington is leaving around the world on everything from setting the rules of trade and environmental standards to financing the infrastructure projects that give Beijing vast influence.”

“Mr. Trump’s remarks in the Rose Garden on Thursday were also a retreat from leadership on the one issue, climate change, that unified America’s European allies, its rising superpower competitor in the Pacific, and even some of its adversaries, including Iran.”

Foreign Policy: In dumping the Paris accord, Trump cedes the energy future to China.

China Crippled U.S. Spying by Killing Informants

“The Chinese government systematically dismantled C.I.A. spying operations in the country starting in 2010, killing or imprisoning more than a dozen sources over two years and crippling intelligence gathering there for years afterward,” the New York Times reports.

“Current and former American officials described the intelligence breach as one of the worst in decades. It set off a scramble in Washington’s intelligence and law enforcement agencies to contain the fallout, but investigators were bitterly divided over the cause. Some were convinced that a mole within the C.I.A. had betrayed the United States. Others believed that the Chinese had hacked the covert system the C.I.A. used to communicate with its foreign sources. Years later, that debate remains unresolved.”