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December 12, 2020

  • ​Midwest to Middle Kingdom?

    Former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg is reportedly being floated as the next U.S. Ambassador to China. Many analysts see the potential post as a way to propel Buttigieg deeper into the political sphere and strengthen his next presidential run. And, while the 38-year old former mayor does not speak Chinese or have much direct experience with China, his midwestern background and his support for hard-hit American farmers could boost his credibility. 

    Buttigieg penned an op-ed earlier this year for the Washington Post about Trump's fumbling of China-U.S. relations, which he says hurt Americans in the process. "The president's vaunted 'phase one' trade agreement, on the heels of a trade war that cost tens of billions of dollars and pushed many American farmers into bankruptcy, is unlikely to even recoup its own costs, and has made no real progress on the original casus belli: the theft of intellectual property and unfair subsidies," he wrote in May. 

    Besides the China post, it was also announced that Katherine Tai will be nominated by Biden to be the U.S.'s next top trade representative. Tai, who is a trade lawyer by practice and is fluent in Mandarin, has a history of being tough on China. If confirmed, Tai, who is Taiwanese-American, would be the first woman of color to take up the position. "Under Biden, Tai could be instrumental in implementing the strategy of recruiting allies and ganging up on China at the WTO," according to Wu Xinbo, director of Fudan University's American studies center. Read more on Professor Wu Xinbo's interpretation of the U.S.-China relationship on China-US Focus.

  • ​Surging Demand

    China exported a record $268 billion in goods in November, and logged a trade surplus of $75.4 billion, the highest recorded since the 1990s. As much of the world continues to focus on the Covid-19 pandemic, Chinese products were poised to sell well, with PPE and home goods being the most popular. The approaching holiday season also contributed to China's surging exports, aiding the country's swift economic recovery. 

    As China's economy continues to strengthen, the world eagerly awaits a vaccine. China and the U.S. both are undergoing extensive vaccine trials, with American pharmaceutical company Pfizer receiving approval for the emergency use of its Covid vaccine this week. While still in the experimental phase, China's Sinopharm has developed a vaccine that the UAE's Health Ministry has called 86% effective. International markets continue to be volatile, as news of the vaccines develops.

  • ​Suspicions and Sanctions

    China plans to slap sanctions on U.S. officials accused of "democracy-building" in Hong Kong, including people in the executive and legislative branches. This move follows earlier restrictions and sanctions from both Beijing and Washington, including U.S. sanctions and a travel ban on 14 members of China's National People's Congress for their role in the Hong Kong National Security Law. On Tuesday, China's foreign ministry summoned the current acting representative for the U.S. embassy to challenge the measures, promising retaliation. 

    Amidst the wave of sanctions, Axios reported this week that a Chinese counterintelligence operative gained significant footing inside prominent American political circles from 2011-2015. Authorities don't believe Christine Fang, who frequently campaigned and fundraised for political candidates across the country, was able to access sensitive information, but the story shows the degree of suspicion Americans harbor over Chinese espionage.

About China This Week

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.

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