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June 21, 2024
Focus This Week
A community space to discuss the China-U.S. relationship and beyond.

Dear Focus Reader,

Dueling claims between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea heightened tensions this week, as the Philippines accused China's Coast Guard of "intentional high-speed ramming" of a supply ship near the disputed Spratly Islands, while China countered that the craft "ignored China's repeated solemn warnings" and was responsible for the collision. The U.S. stepped in to affirm that its "ironclad" mutual defense treaty with the Philippines would cover "armed attacks" in the South China Sea, although the Philippines later calmed tensions by saying it was "probably a misunderstanding or an accident" and that it could resolve the matter with China.

Meanwhile, China raised concerns with the European Union (EU) over proposed tariffs on Chinese electric vehicle imports and threatened a "trade war". The issue is expected to be a hot topic during German Economy Minister Robert Habeck's three-day visit to China starting today, as Germany is seeking to diffuse tensions and avoid a potentially damaging economic conflict with a critical trade partner. The Minister also surprisingly criticized his own country's strategy towards China as short-sighted and out of sync with the strategies of other EU countries.

In other international developments, the meeting between Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un that resulted in a defense pact between Russia and North Korea raised questions about potential shifts in regional power dynamics and its impact on China's influence. China's silence on the agreement has led to speculation about its view of the pact, and whether it may be concerned about the potential for increased instability on the Korean Peninsula, or the loss of influence in the region.

Stay up to date on China's foreign policy by catching up on our latest Focus content, including topics on the South China Sea disputes, EU-China bilateral relations, EU tariffs on Chinese EV imports, and more.

Focus Insights
Quote of the Week
The world would have been much better off if major powers had found a way to negotiate a common pro-climate subsidy scheme for EVs, and a common tax on carbon emissions. Instead, we may get a self-destructive race to the bottom.
Shang-Jin Wei
Professor of Finance and Economics at Columbia University

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​Question of the Week

In our Focus Insights section, we shared an article by Du Lan, Deputy Director at China Institute of International Studies, analyzing the Philippines' stance in the South China Sea amid territorial disputes and regional tensions.

We want to hear from you:

What steps do you think stakeholders involved should take to promote peaceful dialogue and resolution of disputes in the South China Sea region?

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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