You've probably ever heard of Ren Zhengfei. But the billionaire founder of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei is arguably one of the most important private sector figures in global politics today. On Tuesday, the reclusive Mr. Ren spoke with the media for the first time in years, amid an escalating dispute between US and China that's seen his daughter arrested in Canada, where she is now fighting extradition to the US.

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Last year, two big stories dominated the increasingly important intersection of politics and technology: a cold-war-like confrontation between the US and China over the future of advanced technologies like artificial intelligence, and a broad backlash against the growing power of digital technology firms.

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WHAT WE'RE WATCHING

US-China trade talks – Today, US and Chinese negotiators are meeting for a third day to try to hash out a deal to end the trade war. Both sides have been hurt by tit-for-tat tariffs on $360 billion of cross-border trade. China's economy is growing at its slowest clip since the global financial crisis, by some measures, while the US stock market just experienced its worst December in 80 years.

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Kevin's big story of 2018: China's rude awakening

In a year marked by US-China confrontation over technology and trade, no story captured the stakes better than the Trump administration's move in April to kneecap one of China's leading tech companies, networking giant ZTE.

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Amid a domestic political crisis, France's Emmanuel Macron has found a useful scapegoat: Big Tech. This week, France became the latest European country to slap a new tax on big tech companies operating within its borders.

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Mexico's newly-inaugurated president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), may have just scored a big political victory after a rocky start to his tenure.

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Trade negotiations between the US and China took another step forward yesterday, with the Chinese taking steps to lower tariffs on US automobiles from 40 to 15 percent. The move further eases tensions after Presidents Trump and Xi declared a "trade truce" in Buenos Aires earlier this month.

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Google boss Sundar Pichai trekked to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to answer questions from lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee. It was the Indian-born CEO's first public appearance before Congress, after he declined an earlier invitation to testify on foreign election interference alongside executives from Facebook and Twitter before the Senate Intelligence Committee in September. You can catch Pichai's full three and a half hours in the hot seat here.

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