China-U.S. relations suffered another week of tensions. U.S. trade advisor Peter Navarro labeled the Phase One trade deal "over," causing stocks to take a tumble. Hours later Trump backpedaled, tweeting, "The China Trade Deal is fully intact," and Navarro claimed that his comments were taken "wildly out of context." As tensions between the two countries have flared over China's handling of COVID-19, the survival of the deal has been called into question
Trump also continued to use terms to describe the coronavirus that generated significant criticism as racist slurs among Americans and Chinese alike. As Beijing is seeing a resurgence of the virus, the country is taking stronger measures to prevent the spread— curtailing food imports, vowing to strengthen inspections of all shipments from overseas, and banning poultry imports from Tyson, a U.S. meat supplier.
The Trump administration also doubled down on its restrictions of Chinese media outlets this week, designating four new organizations as propaganda organs for a foreign government. China is expected to retaliate, as it did the last time the Trump administration issued designations for Chinese media, leading to the expulsion from China of thirteen journalists from the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal.
Hong Kong's new national security law could go into effect as early as next week, as protests in Hong Kong continue. Meetings between representatives from the central government's liaison office in the city and 120 politicians and businesspeople showed unanimous support for the law; many said that they hoped the law would be enacted as soon as possible. Some details of the bill were released by Beijing last Saturday, with critics noting it appears to allow Beijing to override local laws and to extradite and try certain criminal suspects on the mainland.
Hong Kong will mark the 23rd anniversary of its handover from Britain on Wednesday. Additional protests are expected on this anniversary, although gatherings larger than 50 people remain illegal under coronavirus protection measures enacted by the city. On the same day, Taiwan plans to open an office dedicated to helping Hongkongers looking to leave, a move that has angered Beijing and threatens to further freeze cross-strait ties. Activists already estimate that at least 200 Hongkongers have quietly received an extension to their tourist visas and been given permission to remain in Taiwan.
An E.U. Shift from China
China and the E.U. met virtually on Monday to discuss a range of matters, including trade and coronavirus cooperation. Relations between the two powers have been frosty since last year, after the E.U. called China a "systemic rival". Many hoped the conference would improve the tense relationship. However, there was no joint statement issued after the conference, nor was there any material movement on developing a trade agreement between the two trading partners.
The President of the European Commission asked for "a higher level of attention" from Beijing in countering the bloc's trade imbalance with China; she also said that they had raised concerns about China's actions in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, an issue that the E.U.'s 27 members have remained quiet on. Only Sweden has called for sanctions. For its part, the Chinese side's statement on the conference highlighted consensus-building, saying that "Chinese and E.U. leaders noted that the talks have achieved progress, and repeated their efforts to reach the agreement within 2020." For more on relations between China and the E.U., read "China-EU at Crossroads" by Cui Hongjian, Director of the Department of European Studies at the China Institute of International Studies.