The Final Laps?
United States Treasury Secretary Mnunchin left Beijing this week, hopeful that the U.S.-China trade talks are once again nearing completion. Negotiators made progress on a variety of thorny issues, including access to key markets and ways to roll back a portion of the United States' punitive tariffs on over $250-billion worth of Chinese goods. It is yet to be seen whether China would lift its retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports.
Chinese Vice Premier Liu He will travel to Washington D.C. next week for further negotiations. The White House released a statement suggesting that Trump and Xi will then decide whether to finalize the deal, further suggesting the end is near. In its own statement, Beijing did not exude the same optimism, calling the U.S.'s positive outlook a tactic to "increase tensions and generate pressure."
A former CIA agent has been charged with conspiracy to provide classified information to the Chinese government about the CIA's operations in China. On Wednesday, Jerry Chun Shing Lee pleaded guilty to the charge of delivering national defense information to aid a foreign government.
Lee was contacted by the Chinese government while working for the CIA in Hong Kong, and divulged covert assets that ultimately led to the killing or jailing of about 20 CIA informants between 2010-2012, one of the largest U.S. intelligence failures in history.
Meanwhile, Chinese espionage is regarded as one of the top strategic threats facing the United States, and this is just the latest in a string of cases involving the U.S. and China. The battle between U.S. and China spies is turning into a new "Cold War," according to some analysts.
Xi Hails Patriotism at Key Centennial Event
President Xi Jinping commemorated the centenary anniversary of the May 4 protests in 1919 against Western colonialism in a speech at the Great Hall of the People, next to Tiananmen Square. Stirring up patriotism and nationalism, Xi urged China's youth to be loyal to the country, to the party, and to socialism.
The popular Chinese student uprising exploded after the victorious World War One powers handed German concessions in China to Japan, after China sided with the Allies during the war. Ignoring the anti-authority themes of the protest, Xi spoke of the students' patriotism in standing up for their national self-determination, and used the opportunity to demand obedience to the party.
China will face a number of sensitive political anniversaries this year, including the thirty year anniversary of the Tiananmen Square incident, as well as the 70th anniversary of Mao Zedong's forming of the People's Republic of China.