It’s been almost a month since the previous edition, so there is no way to cover everything. Below I provide a healthy crop of links and some summaries, but this is a good time to note that the daily e-mail newsletter from SupChina (sign up here) has emerged as a great resource for China news junkies and U.S.–China relations followers. Bill Bishop’s Sinocism, the seminal China wonk e-mail blast, is also back to frequent publication as of this month. So with their archives as recommended references, welcome to Issue 83 of U.S.–China Week—a roundup of recent events. Next week’s edition will return to the usual format including more analysis.
As always: Please encourage friends and colleagues to subscribe to U.S.–China Week. Here is the web version of this issue, ideal for sharing on social media. You can also find U.S.–China Week on Medium and on Facebook, and you can follow me on Twitter at @gwbstr. Please send your comments, quibbles, and suggestions to [email protected].
Trump team takes shape and China-related controversies continue
- 12/21: Peter Navarro, a professor and author of such alarm-raising volumes as Death by China, was named to head a new National Trade Council within the White House. [FT, NYT, WSJ on Chinese reaction]
- 12/26: WaPo reported on Trump Hotels’ efforts to gain a foothold in the China market.
- 12/27: A Ministry of Commerce representative said it will “wait and see” whether Trump tariff plans come through.
- 12/30: Matt Pottinger, former U.S. Marine and China-based Wall Street Journal reporter, reportedly selected as senior director for Asia at the National Security Council (NSC).
- 12/30: The Idaho Statesman profiled Steve Yates, who reportedly played a role in Trump’s phone call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.
- 1/5: The Chinese government has compiled possible countermeasures to Trump trade policy, sources told Bloomberg.
- 1/7: NYT reported incoming White House adviser Jared Kushner kept working a deal with Anbang after father-in-law Trump was elected president.
- 1/9: Pottinger was reportedly already operating in his incoming NSC Asia role.
- 1/9: Monica Crowley, who was tapped to head strategic communications for the NSC, was accused of plagiarizing significant passages of her Columbia Ph.D. dissertation on U.S.–China relations in the Truman and Nixon eras. –Politico
- 1/9: Trump met with Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma in New York, with Ma pushing “plans to create 1 million U.S. jobs by growing trade between U.S. small businesses and Chinese consumers.” [Alibaba’s tweet, What’s on Weibo] (Meanwhile, on Dec. 22, the U.S. government had named Alibaba’s Taobao as a “notorious market” for counterfeit goods. This week Alibaba announced big data platform to fight counterfeits.)
- 11/11: Rex Tillerson, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State, said during a Senate hearing that “China’s multibillion-dollar island-building campaign in the oil-and-gas rich sea was illegal and ‘akin to Russia’s taking of Crimea.’ / ‘We’re going to have to send China a clear signal that, first, the island-building stops,’ Mr. Tillerson told the senators [according to NYT]. ‘And second, your access to those islands also is not going to be allowed.’” This statement produced an enormous reaction, since it implicitly carried the threat of military blockade. As Bonnie Glaser said, if the U.S. military sent “a cordon of ships around one or all of the islands, and the Chinese flew in aircraft to one of their new islands, what are we going to do? Shoot it down? … We’d certainly end up in a shooting war with China.” Tillerson’s prepared remarks were nothing out of the ordinary. After listing standard areas of disagreement, the text reads: “We have to deal with what we see, not with what we hope. But we need to see the positive dimensions in our relationship with China as well. The economic well-being of our two nations is deeply intertwined. China has been a valuable ally in curtailing elements of radical Islam. We should not let disagreements over other issues exclude areas for productive partnership.”
- 1/13: WSJ interview: “Asked if he supported the One China policy on Taiwan, Mr. Trump said: ‘Everything is under negotiation including One China.‘”
- 1/13: Robert Lighthizer, Trump’s pick for U.S. Trade Representative, has a history of tough talk on China and action on industrial policy, wrote NYT‘s Keith Bradsher.
- 1/14: Tillerson “did not misspeak,” a transition source authorized to speak to Reuters said.
- 1/15: Foreign Ministry spokesperson: “The one-China principle, which is the political foundation of the China-U.S. relations [sic.], is non-negotiable.“
- 1/16: “China will ‘take off the gloves‘ if Trump continues on Taiwan, state media warns” –Reuters
- 1/16: Accused plagiarist and U.S.–China relations Ph.D. Crowley was said to bow out of her NSC post.
- 1/16: WSJ reported the Chinese embassy in Washington asked the State Department whether Tillerson’s comment reflected “personal or policy” views.
WHAT GETS MISSED
THAAD developments, North Korea’s ICBM bluster, Tsai transits U.S.
THAAD missile-defense issue
- 1/5: Chinese official reportedly makes overt threats over THAAD deployment
- 1/11: China steps up retaliation on THAAD, S. Korea stuck with few options: experts
- 1/13: China, Russia agree to further respond to THAAD deployment
- 1/15: South Korea says securing THAAD location could be delayed
- 1/16: S.Korean presidential candidate Moon reverses position on THAAD deployment “Leading presidential candidate Moon Jae-in has suggested that the planned deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery would go ahead under his administration, in an interview with the local news agency Newsis on Sunday. / In an apparent reversal of his previous position, Moon reiterated it was ‘desirable’ to postpone the decision of the THAAD deployment until the next South Korean government begins its term, but seemed to suggest that he would not cancel the agreement if elected President.” –NK News
Kim Jong-un says long-range missile test in preparation
- 1/1: Kim Jong-un Says North Korea Is Preparing to Test Long-Range Missile
- 1/2: North Korea’s claim on ICBM test plausible: experts
- 1/3: North Korea cannot ‘tip’ missile with nuclear warhead: U.S. State Department
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen visits U.S. over Beijing’s objection
- 12/30: Taiwan announces U.S. itinerary for president, upsetting China
- 1/9: Taiwan’s President Meets With Ted Cruz in the U.S., and China Objects
- 1/14: Tsai visits Twitter headquarters
- [Related] 12/25: China Lodges Complaint Over Taiwan’s Place In U.S. Defense Bill
U.S.–China relations marches on even as speculation about the future steals the show
Two tech highlights
- Apple removes New York Times app from its China store –FT “Apple has removed the New York Times app from its app store in China at the request of mainland authorities, furthering a clampdown on foreign media outlets that has worsened since President Xi Jinping came to power. … Apple has long had to balance its access to the Chinese market — which accounted for a fifth of its sales, or $8.8bn, in the last quarter — with a string of requests from the Chinese government. These include placing data centres in the country to store Chinese users’ information, which Apple agreed to in 2014. Apple also announced last year that it would open a research and development facility in China, a move praised by the country’s vice-premier.”
- China’s Cybersecurity Efforts Could Pose New Challenge for Foreign Firms –NYT on a new document from the Cyberspace Administration of China
Regional and economic
- 12/26: Chinese carrier enters South China Sea amid renewed tension
- 12/27: SEC Charges Lawyer With Stealing Investor Money in EB-5 Offerings “The SEC alleges that Emilio Francisco raised $72 million from investors in China solicited through his marketing firm PDC Capital to invest in EB-5 projects that included opening Caffe Primo restaurants, developing assisted living facilities, and renovating a production facility for environmentally friendly agriculture and cleaning products.”
- 12/27: SEC: Chinese Traders Charged With Trading on Hacked Nonpublic Information Stolen From Two Law Firms
- 12/30: No more Phl-US military exercises in SCS
- 1/2: Envoy says PHL studying joint exploration with China in disputed waters
- 1/11: New Chinese government white paper: China’s Policies on Asia-Pacific Security Cooperation
- 1/11: Chinese bombers over Tsushima Strait said to be political message
- 1/13: U.S. launches WTO complaint over Chinese aluminum subsidies
US-CHINA WEEK 1967
‘Rusk Wary of Talk of a “War” in China’
“WASHINGTON, Jan. 12[, 1967] — Secretary of State Dean Rusk said today that it was possible the political turmoil in Communist China would lead to civil war but that it was too soon to tell. ‘It’s possible,’ Mr. Rusk said, ‘but we ought to be very cautions about saying that it’s headed that way at this time.’ He emphasized that he regarded some of the day-to-day reports for Peking as exaggerated. His comments, made during an interview on the National Broadcasting Company’s program ‘Today,’ marked a slight departure from the Administration’s policy of refraining from direct comment on the power struggle in China. The Administration has sought to avoid the appearance of interfering or of siding with one faction or another. Mr. Rusk said it was evident that ‘a considerable debate on policy’ lies beneath the surface of what he called ‘an authentic struggle of leadership among the top 12 or 15 people in that system.’ But he did not identify any of the rival factions with any particular policy lines, nor indicate what he thought the implications of the power struggle were for the United States.”
(Source: The New York Times. This entry is part of an ongoing feature of U.S.–China Week that follows U.S.–China relations as they developed in another era of change and uncertainty, 50 years ago.)
ABOUT U.S.–CHINA WEEK
U.S.–China Week is a weekly news and analysis brief that covers important developments in U.S.–China relations and features especially insightful or influential new policy analysis.
Graham Webster is a senior research scholar, lecturer, and senior fellow of the Paul Tsai China Center at Yale Law School, where he specializes in U.S.–China diplomatic, security, and economic relations through research and Track II dialogues. He is also a fellow for China and East Asia with the EastWest Institute. His website is gwbstr.com.
Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are my own (and I reserve the right to change my mind).
Subscription to U.S.–China Week by clicking here or e-mailing me is free and open to all, and an archive of past editions appears at my long-running website on East Asia and the United States, Transpacifica.
Contact: Follow me on Twitter at @gwbstr. Send e-mail to [email protected].
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