Despite the truce struck between the world's two largest economies to ease trade tensions and resume negotiations, there is no guarantee that China and the United States will strike a deal anytime soon. Senior level negotiators have resumed their discussions - U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and Commerce Minister Zhong Shan with the goal of ironing out the remaining differences between the two sides.
Beijing is asking that Washington end the tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese imports, although President Trump has said that the penalties won't be lifted until China agrees to a deal. Washington, for its part, wants Beijing to address intellectual property theft and buy more U.S. goods. In a recent Tweet, President Trump said China was 'letting [the U.S.] down' by not buying enough agricultural produce. Some experts, like Columbia University Professor Jeffrey Sachs, are hoping for a long-term solution. Professor Sachs advocates for a "return to a rule-based WTO trading system" in his latest piece for China-US Focus.
The global economy continues to suffer from the ongoing trade dispute, and forecasts continue to be grim. Chinese imports from the U.S. have dropped 31.4% from 2018, and U.S. imports from China are down by 7.8%. China's trade surplus with the U.S. grew by 3%.
China-U.S. relations are being further tested by the tentative approval of U.S. weapons sales to Taiwan. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of two potential weapons sales this week, coinciding with Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen's controversial visit to the United States. The weapons would provide Taiwan with further deterrence capabilities against a possible threat from China. China has denounced the possible weapons sales, saying it is a violation of international law. In an op-ed for China-US Focus, Ted Carpenter writes that the US should take seriously Beijing's increasingly assertive behavior towards Taiwan.
During her trip to New York, Tsai said that the Taiwanese people would "never be intimidated" by China. The visit was approved by the Trump administration despite objections from Beijing, a move sure to place further strain on the fractured ties between China and the U.S.
A former U.S. State Department official based in Beijing and Shanghai has pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about receiving money from Chinese intelligence agents in exchange for U.S. government information. The official and her family received cash, overseas trips, a fully furnished apartment, and tuition at a Chinese fashion school. She has been sentenced to 40 months in prison and levied a fine of $40,000.
U.S. officials have warned that Chinese espionage is a major threat to the United States. This case comes on the heels of several high profile espionage cases, including a CIA officer pleading guilty to spying for China this past Wednesday.
Prepared by China-US Focus editorial teams in Hong Kong and New York, this weekly newsletter offers you snap shots of latest trends and developments emerging from China every week, while adding a dose of historical perspective.