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Trump's Confrontation

Trump's Confrontation

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.


Hit with a seven-year ban on acquiring the US hardware and software needed to make its internet gear work, the Chinese giant nearly went bankrupt before Trump granted it a last-minute reprieve.

For China, the episode exposed a glaring vulnerability: despite President Xi Jinping's ambitions to turn his country into a high-tech superpower, China is still dependent on US exports and knowhow. Xi is now more determined than ever to break that dependence. President Trump and the China hawks around him learned an important lesson about their own leverage. That's crucial for how the world's most important fight plays out in 2019.

His big question for 2019: How resilient is American democracy?

In 2019, Trump's more immediate challenge will hit much closer to home, and the world will learn how much faith Americans still have in their political institutions. Since Trump took office, the president's critics have warned that his broadsides against the press, attacks on the Justice Department, and other norm-defying behavior risk undermining American democracy. So far, the traditional checks appear to be working. Congress and the courts have both imposed limits on the president's agenda at various points during his nearly two years in office.

Next year will bring sterner tests: House Democrats will have subpoena power and the final results of the Mueller investigation will almost certainly be announced. If Mueller clears Trump, will his opponents accept the findings? Would a damning report provoke impeachment or a constitutional crisis? How would lawmakers and the public respond to findings that aren't so clear-cut?

In short, if political or legal push comes to shove, will Americans and their elected officials put country before party?Trump

Pop quiz: what percentage of plastic currently gets recycled worldwide? Watch this video in Eni's Energy Shot series to find out and learn what needs to be done to prevent plastic from ending up in our oceans. Plastic is a precious resource that should be valued, not wasted.

This Monday, March 8, is International Women's Day, a holiday with roots in a protest led by the Russian feminist Alexandra Kollontai that helped topple the Tsar of Russia in 1917. More than a hundred years later, amid a global pandemic that has affected women with particular fury, there are dozens of women-led protests and social movements reshaping politics around the globe. Here we take a look at a few key ones to watch this year.

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Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny shocked the world last year when he recovered from an attempted assassination plot by poisoning — an attempt that bore all the fingerprints of Russian government. Then he shocked the world again by returning to Russia and timing that return with the release of an hours-long documentary that catalogued the Putin regime's extensive history of corruption. Virtually no one, therefore, was shocked when he was immediately sentenced to a lengthy prison term. Anne Applebaum, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and expert on authoritarian regimes, believes there was a method to Navalny's madness. "His decision of '….I'm going to do something that harms me personally, but is going to be a lesson for Russians. I'm going teach a generation of Russians how to be brave.' I mean, not very many people would have the guts to do that."

Applebaum's conversation with Ian Bremmer is part of the latest episode of GZERO World, airing on public television stations nationwide starting Friday, March 5. Check local listings.

It's not like things are going well in Mexico.

COVID has killed more people there than in any country except the United States and Brazil. Just 2 percent of Mexicans have gotten a first vaccine jab, compared with nearly 24 in the US. The Biden administration made clear this week that it won't send vaccines to its southern neighbor until many more Americans have been vaccinated. Mexico's government has cut deals for doses from China, Russia, and India.

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A body blow for Pakistan's Prime Minister: Imran Khan suffered an embarrassing defeat this week when members of the National Assembly, the country's lower house, voted to give the opposition bloc a majority in the Senate. (In Pakistan, lower house legislators and provincial assemblies elect senators in a secret ballot.) The big drama of it all is that Khan's own Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party holds a lower house majority, which means that lawmakers supposedly loyal to his party voted in secret for opposition candidates. Khan's allies claim that PTI members were bribed to support the opposition, and the prime minister says he will ask for a lower house vote of confidence in his leadership. That vote will not be secret, but even if he survives, the political damage is done. Without a Senate majority, he has no chance of passing key reform plans, including constitutional amendments meant to centralize financial and administrative control in the federal government. Khan has, however, refused to resign.

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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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