Amid the flurry of speculation over the still-possible Trump-Kim summit, “two facts remain incontestable,” writes Jonathan Pollack. “There is as yet no U.S.-North Korea agreement on the terms of a summit, and time is running out to reach such an understanding.” He concludes with a question: “Kim Jong-un knows what he wants from the summit. Does President Trump?”
Last month, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced sanctions on ZTE, one of China’s largest telecom firms. The order threatened to put the company out of business, but recent developments suggest that ZTE will probably get a lifeline, writes David Dollar. The company’s sanctions relief is likely to form part of an economic package and be indirectly linked to the North Korea negotiations.
In a chapter of the newly released book "Poisonous Pandas: Chinese Cigarette Manufacturing in Critical Historical Perspectives" from Stanford University Press, Cheng Li explores the dynamics—and conflicting incentives—among China's political elites, local governments, and other interest groups when it comes to China's "tobacco economy."
This month, the John L. Thornton China Center and The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands hosted the third U.S.-China Leaders Forum at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse and Jinhai Lake Resort in Beijing.
The Forum, which was held in China for the first time and sponsored locally by Tsinghua University, brought together a select group of participants that included high-level policymakers, business entrepreneurs, innovators, military strategists, scholars, and public intellectuals to develop and promote ideas for increased collaboration between the two countries.
Western-educated Chinese return home in droves. In an article about China’s so-called “sea turtles”— citizens educated in the West who then return to China—The Economist cites research by Cheng Li, who calculates that “at least one-fifth of the 370-odd members of the party’s current Central Committee, appointed last October, have spent at least a year on a foreign campus, mostly in the West. That is twice as many as ten years earlier.”
Cancelled Trump-Kim summit could raise trade pressure on China. To the extent that alignment in U.S. and Chinese goals for a non-nuclear North Korea have helped stabilize the bilateral trade relationship, that ballast appears to have weakened. “President Trump will feel fewer constraints on pressing China to acquiesce to his requests,” Ryan Hass tells Bloomberg. David Dollar echoes that assessment in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, but adds that the possibility of rescheduling the Trump-Kim summit “pushes the U.S. to be less hawkish” with China than it might otherwise be.
Outcome of U.S.-China trade talks depends on Trump and Xi. The visit of a high-level U.S. delegation to Beijing earlier this month shows the importance the Trump administration places on this issue. But any trade agreement between the two countries will ultimately come down to Presidents Trump and Xi, Cheng Li tells Phoenix TV (in Chinese).
U.S. withdrawal from Iran nuclear agreement may affect negotiations with North Korea. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Jonathan Pollack says, “If the U.S. walks away from negotiated agreements, particularly ones agreed to by prior administrations, I don’t think that would give North Korea any particular incentives to turn over what it’s got.”
Xi Jinping's vision for Xiong'an New Area takes shape. Although the project to develop Xiong'an is still in its infant stages, and significant challenges abound, it is clear that Xi Jinping is placing significant political stock in the successful development of this new "digital city." An article in the Financial Times quotes recent analysis from Cheng Li: "Just as Shenzhen and Pudong [in Shanghai] are considered gems of the Deng era, Xi aspires to see his name associated with a new urban miracle."
About The China Center
The John L. Thornton China Center develops timely, independent analysis and policy recommendations to help U.S. and Chinese leaders address key long-term challenges, both in terms of U.S.-China relations and China's internal development.