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January 05, 2024
Focus This Week
A community space to discuss the China-U.S. relationship and beyond.

Dear Focus Reader,

Happy New Year! We hope everyone had a safe and peaceful holiday.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping concluded the year with his annual televised New Year's Eve speech, where he acknowledged ongoing economic concerns in the country, such as struggling businesses and difficulties finding work. In efforts to solve these problems, he emphasized that Beijing will "consolidate and enhance the positive trend of its economic recovery in 2024, and sustain long-term economic development with deeper reforms."

As we wait to see if 2024 continues the momentum in bilateral engagement between China and the U.S. that occurred in 2023, analysts see the pre-New Year appointment of a new Chinese Defense Minister as a potential positive step toward revitalizing military-to-military engagements. Unlike his predecessor Li Shangfu, who was dismissed from the position in October, the new defense minister, Admiral Dong Jun, isn't on any U.S. sanctions list. While official appointments will likely happen at the National People's Congress in March and the next Third Plenum meeting, the announcement comes just a few weeks after the agreement between Presidents Joe Biden and Xi during their November meeting at APEC to reinstate these contacts. Beijing had previously refused to let Li Shangfu have direct contact with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin until Washington lifted sanctions on Li—an action it declined to take.

Additionally, Xi convened the Central Conference on Work Relating to Foreign Affairs at the end of December, a meeting that has occurred roughly once every five years during Xi's leadership. At the meeting, Xi presented a systematic overview of work done during his tenure and discussed the future tasks at hand.

"We must focus on the central task of the CPC and the country, seek progress while maintaining stability, break new ground while upholding fundamental principles, and firmly safeguard China's sovereignty, security and development interests," he said.

Stay up to date on global developments by catching up on our latest Focus content, including topics covering China's role on the world stage, global climate governance, and China-EU relations.

Focus Insights
Quote of the Week
"Next year will see the emergence of both positive factors and numerous challenges to China-U.S. relations. While there are optimistic expectations, several challenges have the potential to slow positive momentum, putting the resilience of the relationship to a new test."
Su Liuqiang
Research Fellow, SIIS Student
Notable Number

The annual growth pace of China's economy as it recovers from the pandemic-control days of 2022.

Read more in "Will China GDP Grow at 5 Percent?" by He Weiwen Senior Fellow, Center for China and Globalization, CCG.

Discover More
A look into cultural stories from our affiliate platform, The China Current.

Discovering Dim Sum | Tasmin Little

Watch Video
With a history dating back over 2000 years, dim sum is a delightful Chinese culinary tradition featuring an array of bite-sized savory and sweet dishes, often enjoyed with tea.
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Question of the Week:

In our Focus Insights section, we shared the video remarks from Max Baucus, former U.S. Senator and Ambassador to China, at CUSEF'S recent Hong Forum on China-US Relations, where he discusses the increasing distrust between China and the United States, and China's evolving role on the global stage.

We want to hear from you:

How do you perceive the evolution of China's role on the global stage based on Senator Baucus's insights? How important do you believe cultural understanding and communication are in addressing the current tensions between the U.S. and China?

Submit your thoughts to for a chance to be featured in next week's Focus This Week.

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About Focus 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 and the U.S. every week. It is a community space to exchange thoughts and ideas about the China-U.S. relationship and beyond.

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