IF YOU DO IT IM GONNA DO IT IF YOU DO: US-CHINA TRADE

We have yet to hear the big guns pop in a US-China trade war, but both sides are now taking aim with heavier artillery. Earlier this week, US President Donald Trump threatened an additional $200 billion of tariffs on Chinese goods if Beijing has the gall to respond to Washington’s earlier proposal of $50 billion in tariffs with levies of equal measure.


Let’s just review where we’ve been and where we’re at. Take it away, Gabe and Alex:

Round one: Done. Earlier this spring, the US imposed tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from a number of countries, including China. Beijing responded with tariffs on US aluminum, pork, nuts and other goods. Each side hit about $2.5 billion of the other’s goods. Small fry stuff.

Round two: Imminent. The Trump administration announced tariffs last Friday on some $50 billion of Chinese machinery and equipment, which are to go into effect on July 6. China responded, in kind, with a list of tariffs on about $50 billion of US agricultural goods and food products, which will go into effect on the same day.

Round three: Why I oughta! In response to China’s $50 billion response to the $50 billion, Trump asked for an expanded list of Chinese exports — including a number of consumer goods — totaling some $200 billion. China has so far threatened “strong countermeasures,” but hasn’t said exactly what that means.

As you can see, a lot of threats but not a whole lot has actually happened yet. If this is a trade war, we’re still in the phony stage of conflict. So will each side go further?

It’s not really Trump’s style to back down, and the political winds are with him on this one. Trump’s approval rating among Republicans is sky-high. What’s more, a majority of Americans support more tariffs on China, including 55 percent of independents who, in fairness, Trump hasn’t exactly courted. It may be true that a wider trade war would hit his base in their wallet. What’s not clear is whether that would drive them away or further bolster Trump’s claims to be defending US workers against a hostile world. In any event, Trump appears willing to take the risk to bolster his, and the GOP’s, standing ahead of the midterms.

For Xi, Washington’s trade threats are an impediment to the broader long-term national goal of dominating the industries of the future and the global economy on which he’s staked his legacy. There is also a more immediate concern: maintaining domestic growth amid a modest slowdown and preparing for the annual meeting of the Communist Party this Fall, where he hopes to parade his political bona fides after a controversial power consolidation last year. But so far the rhetoric coming out of China suggests Xi is willing to stay tough amid mounting US pressure.

Legislators in 8 US states have recently passed laws to limit abortions, thrusting the contentious issue into the center of the country's political debate ahead of the 2020 presidential election. The bills are intended, in part, to force the US Supreme Court to revisit its landmark 1973 Roe v Wade decision, which gave women the right to choose to terminate pregnancy. Here's a look at how other countries around the world regulate abortion at the national level, as well as a region-by-region snapshot of how prevalent the practice is today, compared to 30 years ago.

Last week, as trade tensions continued to rise between China and the US, the Trump administration landed one of the heaviest blows yet on Beijing, moving to severely restrict the Chinese tech and telecoms giant Huawei's ability to do business with American firms.

What happened? Two things: The Trump administration formally banned sales of Huawei telecoms equipment in the US. More importantly, it also prohibited American firms from selling their technology to Huawei without a special license.

Why? It's complicated. Technically, Huawei was blacklisted from acquiring US technology due to alleged violations of US sanctions against Iran. But the US is also concerned that Huawei could allow Beijing to spy on or disrupt data flowing across the next-generation 5G data networks of the US or its allies. President Trump may also believe the moves will give him extra leverage in his broader fight with Beijing over trade and technology.

The fallout is already starting to hit. Here's where:

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An Austrian politician got drunk with a Russian woman in Ibiza a few years ago and said some things that have now broken up his country's government.

That's right, over the weekend the German press released a video secretly recorded on the Spanish resort island just before Austria's 2017 elections, in which Heinz-Christian Strache, the leader of the far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPO), tells a woman posing as the niece of a Kremlin-connected Russian oligarch that if she donates money to his party, she'll get lucrative government contracts.

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Direct(ed) Democracy In Russia – After thousands of people protested the construction of a new cathedral in a nice park in Yekaterinburg, Russia's fourth largest city, President Putin weighed in to stop construction until a popular referendum can be held. What does that tell us? Well, for one thing, Putin is probably a little more sensitive to public unrest after seeing his approval rating pummeled by a botched pension reform last year. But more to the point, this is a nice illustration of how democracy works in Russia: the new tsar orders accountability to happen when and where it suits his interests.

The Size of Modi's Election Victory – Eight different exit polls released over the weekend show Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's BJP party comfortably ahead in the country's 6-week national election. Voting ended on Sunday, with final results due on Thursday. How big will the BJP's margin be? In 2014, the party won the first outright parliamentary majority in India in 30 years, but after mixed economic results and rising concerns about sectarian tensions, the BJP went into this election on shakier ground. We're watching to see if Modi heads into his second 5-year term emboldened with another majority, or if he's forced to cobble together an unwieldy coalition of parties in order to govern.

What We're Ignoring: Cash for Peace and a Southern Switcheroo

The Deal of the Millennium – President Trump has a plan to secure peace between Israel and Palestine. That plan is: buy it. The administration announced over the weekend that it will hold a "economic workshop" in Bahrain in late June to get Gulf and other Arab states to funnel aid to Palestine, in exchange for which the Palestinians are expected to drop their long-held demands for an end to Israeli settlements, the designation of East Jerusalem as their capital, and (some form of) formal statehood. We're skeptical that cold cash will solve one of the most intractable conflicts on earth. Also, it's not a great sign that the Palestinians themselves don't even plan to attend.

Don't Cry for Veep, Argentina – With her country in crisis (yet again), Cristina de Fernández Kirchner, the controversial left-wing populist who ran Argentina between 2007 and 2015, is increasingly well-positioned to return to power in elections later this year. But over the weekend she pulled a surprise move, announcing that she'd be running only as vice president, allowing former aide Alberto Fernández, whose politics are seen as somewhat more moderate than hers, to top the ticket. We get that it's an electoral strategy meant to broaden Kirchner's appeal among centrist voters, but let's be serious: if the ticket wins, only one Fernández will really be running the country – AND SPOILER: IT'S NOT GOING TO BE ALBERTO.