China’s Grumpy Envoys Show Superpower Strains
When Donald Trump won the 2016 U.S. election after threatening to upend the global trading system, it looked like China had a rare chance to win friends and garner influence.
China’s envoy to Canada publicly accused his hosts of “white supremacy,” its ambassador in Sweden blasted the country’s “so-called freedom of expression,” and its chief emissary in South Africa said Trump’s policies were making the U.S. “the enemy of the whole world.” Foreign diplomats say their Chinese counterparts have become more aggressive and ideological in private meetings.
The shift in tone appears to stem from the changing political climate in Beijing: Proving loyalty to President Xi Jinping has become a top imperative, and officials worry that publicly expressing dovish views could hurt their careers.
Socialism scare | It’s been a conservative attack line for generations, and now Trump and fellow Republicans have begun painting proposals embraced by many 2020 Democratic hopefuls as socialist. While Trump’s happy to embrace communist leaders from China, North Korea and Vietnam, his dire warnings that the U.S. risks Venezuela-style chaos if Democrats have their way are being amplified by Republican lawmakers in the fight for congressional seats and the White House.
- Click here for four reasons why House Democrats are likely to avoid a high-stakes attempt to impeach Trump and instead look for ways to wound him politically heading into the 2020 election.
Brexit brinkmanship | Against the odds, Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal is clinging to life before next week’s crunch vote in Parliament. To reach this point, she’s survived votes of no confidence and endured the worst parliamentary defeat in more than 100 years. Tim Ross, Kitty Donaldson and Alex Morales document the meticulousness and perseverance, as well as the chaos and missteps, that have put the U.K. within reach of leaving the European Union.
Where's the proof? | A week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government sent Indian fighter jets to bomb a training camp of the terrorist group Jaish e-Mohammed in neighboring Pakistan, his ruling party is increasingly defensive about what they actually hit. As Iain Marlow reports, Modi’s administration isn't letting doubts get in the way of exploiting the military assault ahead of next month’s general election.
Khashoggi’s shadow | Trump’s nominee to serve as ambassador to Saudi Arabia said the U.S. must engage and partner with the kingdom to counter threats from Sunni-Muslim extremism and Iran despite the killing of columnist Jamal Khashoggi and frustration over the war in Yemen. Retired Army General John Abizaid’s comments may complicate his confirmation and anger lawmakers who’ve criticized the administration’s response to Khashoggi’s death.
Defense dispute | President Recep Tayyip Erdogan rebuffed a U.S. threat to punish NATO ally Turkey if it buys a Russian missile-defense system. Erdogan, who’s greatly expanded his military’s global footprint, called the agreement a “done deal” in a TV24 interview. The U.S. warned this week that it could retaliate by blocking Turkey’s planned purchase of the next-generation F-35 fighters, fearing the Russian system could be used to collect intelligence on the jet’s stealth capabilities.
What to Watch
- Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort faces up to 24 years in prison when he’s sentenced today after being convicted last year of bank and tax fraud, as well as failing to disclose offshore accounts as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plans a press conference today in Ottawa under increasing pressure to address a scandal sparked by a former minister’s claim that he and key aides pressed her to end the prosecution of construction firm SNC-Lavalin Group on corruption charges.
And finally…Journalists received coffee cups bearing the slogan “The lighthouse is waiting. Wanzhou please come home” at Huawei’s Shenzhen headquarters this week, part of a legal and public-relations offensive in support of finance chief Meng Wanzhou. She’s in Canada awaiting possible extradition to the U.S. The message plays on Meng’s Chinese first name, which can also mean “late-arriving boat.” China's biggest technology company is also suing the U.S. government for barring its communications equipment from certain networks amid claims it helps Beijing spy on foreign powers.
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