U.S.–China Week: A law enforcement and cybersecurity dialogue full of reiterations, looking beyond WTO at USTR (2017.10.09)

Welcome to Issue 115 of U.S.–China Week. This edition is slightly abbreviated as I prepare for a week of travel. Relatedly: If you are in Washington, D.C., next week, please consider coming down to New America on Tuesday, Oct. 17, from 1–2:30 p.m. for a discussion on “Digital China: What Are China’s Leaders & Scholars Saying About Their Plans for Cyberspace?” John Costello, Samm Sacks, Paul Triolo, Ian Wallace, and I will discuss what Chinese sources are saying and what we might expect to find out on the cyberspace policy front as China’s 19th Party Congress gets under way. RSVP here. Because of travel, next week’s newsletter will likely also be abbreviated or delayed.

Like it or not, the biggest story in U.S.–China relations remains the fact that the U.S. president is (perhaps not systematically, but still thoroughly) undermining his own administration’s diplomatic efforts with regard to North Korea. President Donald Trump tweeted: “Presidents and their administrations have been talking to North Korea for 25 years, agreements made and massive amounts of money paid hasn’t worked, agreements violated before the ink was dry, making fools of U.S. negotiators. Sorry, but only one thing will work!” The Republican chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker, told NYT, “I know for a fact that every single day at the White House, it’s a situation of trying to contain him.” Trump’s reckless threats could put the United States “on the path to World War III,” Corker said. Corker, who is not running for reelection, seems to have concluded that speaking truth is more important than defending the head of his party. Let’s see if others join him.

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, and you can follow me on Twitter at @gwbstr. Please send your comments, quibbles, and suggestions to [email protected].

First ‘Law Enforcement and Cybersecurity Dialogue’ meets in Washington; immigration, cyberspace norms mentioned

Minister of Public Security and State Councilor Guo Shengkun visited Washington for the first “Law Enforcement and Cybersecurity Dialogue” (LE&CD per State and LECD per Justice). According to State, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan hosted the dialogue, which was co-chaired by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke.

  • The Justice Department (English) and the Xinhua (Chinese) released lists of outcomes from the meeting.
  • In the first topic, described in the U.S. outcome list as “repatriation of foreign nationals with final orders of removal,” and in the Chinese list as “非法移民遣返” (illegal immigrant repatriation), the two sides seemed to reiterate a discussion that had been ongoing in the context of DHS-China dialogue. It’s interesting that the Chinese version seemed to reflect a Trump administration focus on undocumented immigrants, while the English used the legally distinct language of a “final order of removal.” (An non-citizen with a green card can be ordered removed, for instance, after certain types of criminal convictions.) The issue here, I believe, is that there is a backlog of Chinese citizens who have been ordered removed for various reasons but who remain in the United States awaiting Chinese government processing for their repatriation.
  • The related fourth topic is “Fugitives,” something that has been on the agendain the bilateral Joint Liaison Group on Law Enforcement Cooperation (JLG)—a channel that seems likely to have been folded into the new LE&CD.
  • On cybersecurity, we see essentially a reiteration of already existing understandings. From the U.S. English version: “Both sides will continue their implementation of the consensus reached by the Chinese and American Presidents in 2015 on U.S.-China cybersecurity cooperation, consisting of the five following points: (1) that timely responses should be provided to requests for information and assistance concerning malicious cyber activities; (2) that neither country’s government will conduct or knowingly support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property, including trade secrets or other confidential business information, with the intent of providing competitive advantages to companies or commercial sectors; (3) to make common effort to further identify and promote appropriate norms of state behavior in cyberspace within the international community; (4) to maintain a high-level joint dialogue mechanism on fighting cybercrime and related issues; and (5) to enhance law enforcement communication on cyber security incidents and to mutually provide timely responses.”
  • WSJ reported that Sessions confronted the Chinese delegation over allegations that potentially China-linked hackers had targeted the Hudson Institute website. Hudson also postponed or cancelled an event with Guo Wengui, a Chinese billionaire whom the Chinese government views as a fugitive and has been circulating salacious but hard-to-verify allegations of high-level corruption in the Chinese Communist Party.
  • The State Department briefing on the day of the dialogue was overshadowed by the question of whether Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had called Trump a “moron,” so we don’t get more there.

Asst USTR: U.S. objections to Chinese trade and investment practices go beyond WTO; 301 investigation hearing Tues.

  • “A key challenge facing the United States — and other WTO members — is not only to hold China accountable for strict adherence to its WTO obligations, but also to find effective ways to address those government policies and practices that may violate the spirit of the WTO but nevertheless may not fall squarely within existing WTO disciplines,” Acting Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for China Affairs Terrence McCartin said at a hearing, according to Politico. (Reuters attributed virtually the same comment to Assistant USTR Edward Gresser, so one of the two probably goofed.)
  • Unless there has been a change, USTR’s hearing on the Section 301 investigation announced in August will take place tomorrow. You can view some public comment submissions, including from key industry groups and, for instance, Scott Kennedy of CSIS here (that is, if regulations.gov loads for you; it’s having trouble for me).

‘Washington: Johnson, de Gaulle and Mao Tse-tung’

“By JAMES RESTON / WASHINGTON, Oct. 7[, 1967] — Three men now dominate political discussion in the world—President Johnson in the United States, General de Gaulle in Europe, and Mao Tse-tung in Asia. For the moment, what Johnson decides about the war in Vietnam, what de Gaulle thinks about the organization of Europe, and what Mao decides or thinks about the future of Asia command the attention and influence the course of world politics. But only for the moment. They are all in trouble with their own people. They dominate the news but not the deeper trends of history. On the surface they are decisive, but the tides are running against them. … The main issue of the coming generation is not Johnson, de Gaulle and Mao, not Vietnam or the glory of France or the little red book sayings of China’s aging political philosopher, but the maintenance of peace, the danger of racial war between the hungry agricultural nonwhite nations and the affluent industrial white nations, and the danger of war between the races and the classes in the United States and in Latin America. The question is how to get down to these basic issues.”

(Source: The New York TimesThis 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.)


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, and he is based in Oakland, California.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are my own (and I reserve the right to change my mind).

Free Subscription to U.S.–China Week by clicking here or e-mailing me is 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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