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US-China: Temperature rising

Over the past eight days, the US-China relationship got notably hotter. None of the new developments detailed below is big enough by itself to kill hopes for better relations next year, but collectively they point in a dangerous direction.

US jabs over Hong Kong: On September 14, the US State Department issued a travel warning for the city because of what it calls China's "arbitrary enforcement of local laws" by police. The US is closely monitoring the case of 10 people detained by China while attempting to flee to Taiwan by boat. China's response to US criticism of its new security law in Hong Kong remains muted. That could change if relations deteriorate further.

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US election seen from China: Worries about a "hot war"

Wang Xiangwei is an editorial adviser for the South China Morning Post. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Carlos Santamaria: What are, in your opinion, two or three issues that people in Hong Kong and China are concerned about regarding the upcoming US election?

WX: As you know, China and the US are now engaged in a rising confrontation. In this part of the world, we are watching the unfolding presidential election with keen interest. Over the past few weeks, the Trump administration has ordered an end to Hong Kong's special status, and also signed legislation that sanctions the Chinese and Hong Kong officials responsible for cracking down on political dissent in the city. To me, it is very sad to see that Hong Kong has become the battleground where the two great powers have been at each other for political influence.

Secondly, here in Hong Kong lots of people are wondering what else Trump will do to hurt Hong Kong in his efforts to compete with China in the next few months, in the run-up to the presidential election. Also, in China there is a great concern that these two great powers are not only heading for a Cold War — there is an increasing worry that there could be a hot war over the South China Sea, over Taiwan.

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Lebanon won't get the billions they need without structural reform

Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics on this week's World In (More Than) 60 Seconds:

The Lebanese government resigns. What's next for Lebanon?

Well, not a lot of money. They need billions. I mean, $3 billion minimum just to rebuild the damage from the explosion, plus the billions because their economy is in freefall, and their banking system sucks, and their sanitation system doesn't work, and they're massively corrupt. And the humanitarian UN conference has thrown a couple hundred million at them, but nowhere near the billions they need. That requires major reform, which is being demanded by the people, and the IMF, and President Macron, who's sort of taking the lead in trying to build some international support for Lebanon. But, you know, a lot of people have problems right now. A lot of people need help. And if the Lebanese government that finally comes together is not more effective at structural reform, which is super challenging in a place that's massively corrupt, well, they're not going to get a lot of money. So this is going to be borne on the backs of Lebanese people. The one thing I will say is it's hard to imagine Hezbollah getting stronger in this environment. They are seen as part of the problem. And maybe this helps shake loose both them and the Iranian influence, which does not help the Lebanese people at all over that country.

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China's global ambitions & plummeting relationship with the US

"US/China relations have been plummeting. Pretty much everything is getting worse," Ian Bremmer tells viewers in this week's episode of GZERO World. In this commentary on the current state of play between the two global powerhouses, Bremmer breaks down the chess game that could be leading to a new Cold War: Travel between the two sides is restricted. Trade and tech competition abound. Beijing is consolidating control over Hong Kong and threatening Taiwan, while its internment of Uighurs has grown more severe. Meanwhile, Europe and developing nations alike are left with a very difficult choice.

US/China pandemic blame game

President Trump calls COVID-19 the "China Flu." Chinese diplomats have hurled accusations that the virus came from the US military. And even in more rational discourse, there is ongoing global debate about what responsibility China has to the world for failing to disclose and respond to a new health threat before it left its borders. But in a new interview with GZERO World host Ian Bremmer, Zanny Minton Beddoes, Editor-in-Chief of The Economist, says the blame game is futile and counterproductive at this point. "There's an enormous amount that we need to work together on. It's not just getting a vaccine, it's making sure that the vaccine is globally available. And one would hope that you would have the world's two biggest economies working hand in glove," she told Bremmer.

Watch this episode of GZERO World with Ian Bremmer.

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