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US-CHINA: A TWEET, A SWIPE, AND A BARBED OVERTURE

US-CHINA: A TWEET, A SWIPE, AND A BARBED OVERTURE

The past few days have been a mini-roller coaster for those of us watching the increasingly fraught relationship between the US and China. Late last week, President Trump announced that he’d had a good chat with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, bolstering hopes of a breakthrough on trade when the two men get together at the G20 meetings in Argentina later this month.


Then, over the weekend, Mr. Xi took an implicit swipe at the US, warning against its “law of the jungle” approach to global trade. Yesterday, Mr. Xi's top adviser Wang Qishan struck a softer tone, telling the Bloomberg New Economy Forum that China is open to working things out with Washington. But with a catch: China, he said, would not be "bullied and oppressed by imperialist powers."

As a reminder, over the past several months, China and the US have slapped tariffs on more than $360 billion worth of each other's goods. Trump is prepared to up the ante further if the Chinese don't agree to key demands, such as cutting support for Chinese firms and ending the squeeze of sensitive technologies from Western ones.

The trouble is that China isn't in much of a mood to capitulate. President Trump is, of course, on (very) firm ground when he says that China has, for many years, gotten away with unfairly supporting its own state companies while extracting technology from foreign ones as the price of entry into China's massive market.

But from Beijing's perspective, as Mr. Wang's comments make clear, what's at stake here isn't just the narrow issue of trade, industrial policy, or technology. It's about something bigger: China's rise as a world power. In Washington's attempts to change a state-backed economic model that has made China powerful, the Communist Party leadership sees a replay of old Western attempts to stifle China's bid to "take center stage globally" as President Xi put it last year.

Few issues in global affairs are as pressing today as the question of whether the world's two largest economies can reconcile what appear to be increasingly divergent national interests. To quote one seasoned observer not given to hyperbole – their failure to do so would "destroy hope for the world order."

Khant Thaw Htoo is a young engineer who works in Eni's Sakura Tower office in the heart of Yangon. As an HSE engineer, he monitors the safety and environmental impact of onshore and offshore operations. He also looks out for his parents' well-being, in keeping with Myanmar's traditions.

Learn more about Khant in the final episode of the Faces of Eni series, which focuses on Eni's employees around the world.

Over the weekend, some 40,000 Russians braved subzero temperatures to turn out in the streets in support of imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. More than 3,000 protesters were arrested, and Navalny called on his followers to prepare for more action in the coming weeks.

But just who is Alexei Navalny, and how significant is the threat that he may pose to Vladimir Putin's stranglehold on power in Russia?

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The United States has never been more divided, and it's safe to say that social media's role in our national discourse is a big part of the problem. But renowned tech journalist Kara Swisher doesn't see any easy fix. "I don't know how you fix the architecture of a building that is just purposely dangerous for everybody." Swisher joins Ian Bremmer to talk about how some of the richest companies on Earth, whose business models benefit from discord and division, can be compelled to see their better angels. Their conversation was part of the latest episode of GZERO World.

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take (part 1):

Ian Bremmer here, happy Monday. And have your Quick Take to start off the week.

Maybe start off with Biden because now President Biden has had a week, almost a week, right? How was it? How's he doing? Well, for the first week, I would say pretty good. Not exceptional, but not bad, not bad. Normal. I know everyone's excited that there's normalcy. We will not be excited there's normalcy when crises start hitting and when life gets harder and we are still in the middle of a horrible pandemic and he has to respond to it. But for the first week, it was okay.

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Russian opposition leader Navalny in jail. Hundreds of thousands demonstrating across the country in Russia over well over 100 cities, well over 3000 arrested. And Putin responding by saying that this video that was put out that showed what Navalny said was Putin's palace that costs well over a billion dollars to create and Putin, I got to say, usually he doesn't respond to this stuff very quickly. Looked a little defensive, said didn't really watch it, saw some of it, but it definitely wasn't owned by him or owned by his relatives.

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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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