The Washington Post reports, "With U.S. trade talks at a delicate moment, China on Friday hurriedly passed a foreign investment law meant to placate the Americans amid some skepticism from Western business groups. China's largely ceremonial parliament, the National People's Congress, overwhelmingly passed the law that sought to stiffen prohibitions against Chinese officials and companies pilfering trade secrets. It would also open up more sectors for foreign investment and strive — in broad strokes — to protect the 'legitimate rights and interests' of foreign firms. As votes were cast at the Great Hall of the People Friday morning — with just a handful in token opposition — state media sprung into action touting the bill's benefits for foreign companies and highlighting how efficiently it moved through the Chinese bureaucracy in recent months. The measure was tweaked as recently as this week in what was widely seen as an effort by Beijing to address a core complaint raised by Washington's trade negotiators and foreign business groups."
CNBC reports, "With a U.S.-China trade deal at least weeks away, Chinese negotiators have suggested combining a long-discussed state visit by President Xi Jinping to the United States with the announcement of any forthcoming agreement, according to three sources briefed on discussions. The two countries had been planning a meeting between the two leaders at President Donald Trump's private Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida to follow Xi's late-March visit to Europe, to avoid the optics of a standalone trip to announce a trade deal on U.S. soil. But U.S. officials have suggested there are too many outstanding details to conclude negotiations by then, making a meeting in March unlikely. 'Our hope is we are in the final weeks of having an agreement,' Robert Lighthizer, the Trump administration's top trade official, testified to the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday."
The New York Times reports, "As Beijing grows wary of pro-independence groups seeking to forge closer ties in Hong Kong and Taiwan, activists say they are coming under increased surveillance and harassment from pro-China media outlets and unofficial 'operatives.' Visits to Taiwan in January by several Hong Kong activists including Tony Chung generated heavy coverage by two pro-China newspapers, including detailed reports of their movements and meetings. The coverage prompted Taiwan to investigate the activities of the Hong Kong-based Wen Wei Po and Ta Kung Pao newspapers on 'national security' grounds. The government found that the papers committed 'unlawful' acts, including invasive surveillance, and spread 'fake news.' Officials said journalists from those papers would be banned from traveling to Taiwan for up to three years if the media outlets did not provide a 'reasonable explanation' for their activities there."