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enodo economics
China and America - The Great Decoupling?
Your questions answered as the relationship evolves
enodo economics
China and America - The Great Decoupling?
Your questions answered as the relationship evolves

The international order is undergoing a tectonic shift, as the rules of engagement between the existing superpower, the US, and the aspiring superpower, China, are being rewritten.

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The two countries are rapidly drifting apart and this divergence is set to shape global politics, economics and markets in the years to come.

To help you navigate these choppy waters, Enodo Economics has created The Great Decoupling, a website where you can find publicly available information to make it easier to grasp how the Sino-US relationship is evolving and how it impacts you – the investor, analyst, policymaker or business leader.

Key News

Key News

  • 4th May 2018

    Xi Jinping called for China to become self-sufficient in emerging technologies as officials pledged to produce domestic optoelectronic communication chips for commercial use by 2025. 

    China's State-backed semiconductor fund will close a Rmb120bn investment round for a second fund to support the domestic chip sector and cut reliance on imports. 

    In a major breakthrough for China with computer chips, ARM Holdings ceded control of its Chinese operations to a joint venture involving itself and Chinese partners.

    The US is considering measures to block Chinese citizens from performing sensitive research at American universities and research institutes. Washington worries China will vault ahead in artificial intelligence because Beijing can collect and manipulate vast volumes of data without the privacy concerns that constrain Western governments and companies.

  • 11th May 2018

    Europe shares Donald Trump’s frustration with China over its trade and investment practices. As US and Chinese officials held fresh trade talks in Washington, pending a visit by Xi’s top economic adviser, Europe appeared set to tighten controls over foreign investment by Chinese firms.

    A Bloomberg survey showed unmistakable signs of wariness across Europe of China’s efforts to become a dominant global economic power. At least 15 of the European Union’s 28 member states actively or tacitly support draft legislation that would screen investments from outside the bloc. 

    The European Chamber of Commerce in Beijing has been an increasingly vocal critic of what it sees as an unlevel playing field for foreign businesses in China.


  • 18th May 2018

    Days after Washington crippled ZTE Corp by banning it from buying US components, another U-turn by Donald Trump as he promised to help the Chinese firm “get back into business, fast”. 

    In return, China scrapped punitive tariffs it had imposed on imports of US sorghum, and denied on Friday that it had offered to slash the surplus by $200bn.

    Trump was criticised by U.S. lawmakers, who called the firm a security threat. FBI Director Christopher Wray told a Senate panel that he was “deeply concerned” about any company like ZTE gaining positions of power in the U.S. telecommunications market.

    State media called Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s Japan visit a new chapter in bilateral ties; it appeared part of a charm offensive by Beijing at a time of strained trade relations with the US.

  • 25th May 2018

    The US and China declared a trade war truce but a solution to Trump’s demand that China reduce its $375bn trade surplus by $200bn looked as distant as ever. Talks in Washington ended with a bland agreement to increase trade and cooperate on IP protection.

    As Washington readied to lift its ban on U.S. firms supplying Chinese telecoms gear maker ZTE Corp, Congress was furious with Trump and passed a bill to punish the company. 

    Trump’s decision to ease sanctions on ZTE and to hold off imposing tariffs on Chinese goods partly reflected White House concern about harming negotiations with North Korea.

    China landed bombers on islands in the South China Sea. In response to Beijing’s militarisation of islands, the Pentagon withdrew an invitation to China to join a major U.S.-hosted naval drill.

    An industry white paper revealed China seeking to take the lead in adopting blockchain.

  • 1st June 2018

    China announced cuts in import tariffs on a range of items including home appliances, apparel, cosmetics and fitness products, amid intense criticism by Washington of China’s big trade surplus with the US. Trump reaffirmed his intention to impose a 25% tariff on $50bn worth of Chinese imports.

    The US President wants to reduce the surplus by $200bn by 2020 and to preserve America’s technological lead by disrupting Xi Jinping’’ “Made in China 2025” industrial upgrading plan. 

    The White House statement confirming the coming tariffs on China said they would focus on goods containing “industrially significant technology”.

    “We hope the US will stop acting on impulse. But we will not be afraid if the US takes a tough line,” Xinhua commented. “China will firmly defend the interests of the country and its people at all costs.”

  • 8th June 2018

    Beijing’s unexpected cut in solar subsidies, coupled with a freeze on new solar installations, showed Beijing means what it says about cutting excess capacity. 

    Shares in big US solar companies also plummeted, on anticipation of a solar panel glut dragging down prices globally - not what Trump had in mind when he slapped tariffs on Chinese solar panels in January.

    ZTE agreed to pay the $1bn fine imposed by Trump, in return for ending a ban on its purchases of US components. 

    China’s annual college entrance exams began in tandem with extraordinary high-tech efforts to prevent cheating, further proof of Chinese tech progress. 

    China entered its first international AI competition in 2011, and Chinese organisations now take four of the top five places in Stanford’s Question Answering Dataset.

  • 15th June 2018

    Beijing was one of the big winners of the Trump-Kim summit in Singapore, according to pundits, not least because the US president seemingly promised to scrap regular US-South Korean military exercises. 

    But anti-Chinese protests in Vietnam showed yet again that China’s ambition to play a greater role in the region is meeting push-back.

    China’s navy carried out new drills in the South China Sea to simulate fending off an aerial attack, a day after China and the US traded barbs over who is responsible for heightened tensions in the disputed waterways.

  • 22nd June 2018

    Both sides made efforts but doubts remained that the looming US-China trade war, largely responsible for Chinese equity markets tumbling, could be averted. 

    A number of White House officials attempted to restart talks with China before the tariffs take effect on July 6, and Xi Jinping enlisted the help of foreign chief executives - including the CEOs of some US companies.

    Beijing wants to avoid firmer measures against the US, observers say, but may consider moves that would restrict US investment in China and make it difficult for Chinese companies to transact business with US firms.

  • 29th June 2018

    “No other country will be able to compare,” said one expert after China Telecom announced its “Three Clouds” 5G network structure, another example of China leading the world in the development of the fifth generation of mobile technology, allowing far greater data processing speeds than current 4G technology, and challenging US tech dominance. 

    The US government passed a bill to tighten foreign investment rules, spurred by concerns about Chinese acquisitions of companies producing politically sensitive or sophisticated technology. 

    Congress also advanced laws to toughen national security reviews of foreign deals , with investment sanctions targeting sectors such as aerospace and robotics mentioned in Beijing’s “Made in China 2025” industrial plan. 

    Despite many differences, China and the EU planned a working group to revamp the WTO and counter US unilateralism.

  • 6th July 2018

    China continued to insist it will not use its currency as a weapon in any trade war, yet recent yuan depreciation likely reflects investor concerns to the contrary. 

    Central bankers vowed to keep the currency stable - Yi Gang, PBoC governor, published an article on the bank's website promising to "keep the exchange rate stable at a reasonable and balanced level".

    The weaker the yuan, the stronger China’s position would be in any trade war, but any escalation from China immediately after Washington’s trade tariffs come into effect would appear highly provocative, so it seemed unlikely Beijing would manipulate the currency so soon. 

    For the time being, the central bank appeared to have friends, both at home and abroad.

  • 13th July 2018

    President Trump announced tariffs on a further $200bn of imports from China, raising the stakes in the trade war between the two nations and prompting angry reaction from Beijing, which called the move "totally unacceptable". 

    China’s yuan and stock indexes fell. A spokesperson for China's Ministry of Commerce vowed that countermeasures would be taken, although no specific actions were mentioned.

    Beijing said closer ties with North Korea were key to its economic revival plans. Trump claimed China was “exerting negative pressure” on North Korea.

    As trade tensions tighten, the US upped the geopolitical stakes by sailing two US warships through the Taiwan Strait, prompting Beijing to slam Washington for "playing the Taiwan card".

  • 20th July 2018

    Rumours spread of whispers in the corners of the State Council building in Beijing that could spell trouble for President Xi Jinping. Some claim tensions arising from the Sino-US trade war are being leveraged against Xi.

    Many have dismissed these rumours, but such whispers often find a way of sticking, and long-term political risk has certainly increased in China. 

    The biggest current concern is that Xi's anti-corruption campaign has amassed far too much power in the months since its launch and could be leveraged in moves that ultimately could be Xi’s undoing.

  • 27th July 2018

    Worried about the impact on economic growth of the trade war with the US, and the de-risking campaign, China's policy makers took action. 

    New moves aimed at averting an excessive domestic slowdown came from both the monetary and fiscal sides. The central bank reportedly told some banks that it will relax a specific capital requirement to support lending.

    The State Council, responding to calls for more fiscal spending, announced it would pursue a more active fiscal policy to help tackle the uncertainties facing the economy, offered deeper cuts in tax and nontax fees, and faster issuance of local government special bonds amounting to Rmb1.35trn to support ongoing infrastructure projects.

  • 3rd Aug 2018

    While Trump raised the stakes in the Sino-US trade war, threatening to double the tariff rates on Chinese goods, US Treasury officials reportedly held private talks with China's Vice Premier Liu He on how to re-engage in negotiations

    As Beijing’s language descended into accusations of blackmail, Congress passed a bill seeking to tighten US national-security reviews of existing Chinese deals and revamp controls on US technologies going abroad.

    Washington has issued restrictions on several Chinese companies, including state-owned military technology developers, for reasons of national security. 

    As China extends its $1tn "Belt and Road Initiative", the Trump administration responded with a $113m package of energy and infrastructure initiatives in emerging Asia.

  • 10th Aug 2018

    Trade tensions with the US caused China’s yuan to lose ground against the dollar, but the People’s Bank of China has grown wary of traditional intervention - selling billions of dollar reserves to buy yuan - in favour of using foreign-exchange swaps to “guide expectations in the forward market”.

    The state re-introduced a requirement that financial institutions hold a deposit at the central bank when they purchase foreign exchange forward contracts for their clients. 

    Beijing’s moves raised hopes the yuan will regain some of its recent sharp losses against the dollar and appreciate over the next year - if trade tensions between Washington and Beijing subside.

  • 17th Aug 2018

    Trump signed a $716bn defence bill that included controls on government defence contracts with China’s ZTE Corp and Huawei Technologies Co. China’s defence ministry criticised the bill for being "filled with a cold-war mentality" that advocated confrontations between the two countries.

    As the Philippine President publicly criticised China’s South China Sea policy, and warned of a "flashpoint" for conflict, China reported progress on a new satellite system for closer monitoring and tighter control, and the US Navy kept up “Freedom of Navigation” operations.

    Amid the growing tensions, a delegation from China's commerce ministry will head for Washington by late August for the first trade talks since the US imposed tariffs on Chinese goods. 

    China’s central bank said it won’t use the yuan as a tool to cope with trade tensions with the US, and that it won’t conduct any “strong” economic stimulus.

  • 24th Aug 2018

    The US slapped tariffs on a further $16bn of Chinese imports , triggering reciprocal levies by Beijing even as negotiators from the two governments met in Washington to explore ways of defusing the trade war. 

    Two American airlines cut routes between China and the US, underscoring increasingly tough competition from state-backed Chinese rivals.     

    China won’t resort to competitive currency devaluation, or to strong stimulus to support the slowing economy, said senior officials from the central bank. Their rare news conference followed a sharp drop in the yuan, that Trump claimed showed Beijing was deliberately manipulating its currency

  • 7th Sep 2018

    While trade conflict has soured relations between China and the US, increasing détente across Asia-Pacific raised hopes for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. The US will not attend November talks, which could provide impetus for the 16 nations to finalise the world’s biggest regional free-trade agreement.

    Two years before the next Presidential election, and a small group of manufacturers in eastern Zhejiang province already know the result: orders for Trump merchandise exceeded all forecasts. The baseball cap manufacturer in Zhejiang appeared just as invested in Trump’s future as the Pennsylvanian steelworker. 

  • 14th Sep 2018

    As Washington prepared details of new tariffs on a further $200bn of Chinese goods, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin invited senior Chinese officials for talks on the escalating trade war. 

    A new trilateral forum of the US, Japan and European Union represented a potentially critical shift in the confrontation between Washington and Beijing.

    The US grabbed back from China the crown of “world’s fastest supercomputer” this summer, but a Chinese team used domestically developed technology to build a next-generation computer to compete on speed with the US, Japan and the EU. 

    China boasts the world’s biggest e-commerce market, with sales in the first half of 2018 eclipsing by more than half the $250bn in online retail sales seen in the US in the same period.

  • 21st Sep 2018

    Trump launched another package of punitive tariffs: from 24 Sept 2018, the US will impose 10% tariffs on an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese products, rising to 25% from 1 Jan 2019 unless China makes concessions. 

    If Beijing retaliates, the President promised a further round, meaning almost all imports from China would be subject to higher duties.

    China’s government responded by imposing tariffs on $60 billion worth of US goods. This escalating trade war could last for “decades”, warned Alibaba founder Jack Ma

    US officials will demand two key Chinese propaganda platforms, Xinhua and CGTN, register as “foreign agents”, to curb their access and influence. 

    The US may impose special sanctions against China for its repression in Xinjiang, where up to a million Uighur Muslims have been detained without trial in re-education camps.

  • 28th Sep 2018

    “He may not be a friend of mine anymore,” Trump said of Xi Jinping as the US President added a new complaint against China to his growing list: Beijing is meddling in the upcoming US midterm elections, as payback for Trump’s tough trade stance. 

    Beijing rejects the charge, and insisted it remains open to talks but not with a knife at its throat.  China’s foreign minister spoke of “total destruction” to the US-China relationship should Washington retain a “cold war mentality”.  

    While the trade war dominated headlines, the machines of war shadowed each other on and above the high seas. US B-52 bombers conducted transit operations in the South China Sea and East China Sea this week; Japanese and British warships conducted drills in the Indian Ocean before heading towards the contested seas. 

    Military talks between the US and China are currently postponed.

  • 5th Oct 2018

    Washington hoped that its revamped NAFTA deal with Mexico and Canada will hurt China’s economy and weaken its position in the global trading system. 

    Combined with punitive tariffs, the USMCA could convince foreign firms to move investment out of China, and force Beijing to make concessions. One provision prevents Chinese firms from using America’s neighbours as a "back door" to ship products tariff-free into the US.

    A Chinese destroyer’s near collision with a US warship in the South China Sea was the latest in a lengthening list of confrontations. The US Navy planned a major show of strength in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait in November. 

    Beijing is spending big on military hardware, including a new laser satellite tipped to become a "Death Star" for submarines; the Pentagon also worried about US reliance on Chinese suppliers.

  • 12th Oct 2018

    The Sino-US rivalry continued to build on multiple fronts as the trade war escalated. China’s monthly trade surplus with the US reached a record high September, and Trump warned there was much more he could do that would hurt China's economy further. Beijing represents the greatest long-term counter-intelligence threat to the United States.

    Stop finding excuses for US unilateralism and trade protectionism, shot back a Chinese spokesman. VP Pence’s highly damning speech gathered weight as an inflection point in US-China relations. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned Beijing not to engage in the competitive devaluation of its currency, yet Washington appeared unlikely to label China a currency manipulator.

  • 19th Oct 2018

    Declining to help Trump escalate his trade fight, the Treasury stated in a report that Beijing was not intentionally devaluing its currency. 

    Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin still warned China about lack of transparency and the yuan’s relative weakness, and his department sharpened its language in what appears a final warning.

    PBOC governor Yi Gang insisted the government would continue to let the market play a decisive role, and refrain from weaponizing the yuan. In Geneva, Washington pushed the WTO to confront China’s trade abuses, and Beijing defended its preferential rights as a “developing” nation. 

    Trump signalled US withdrawal from a 144-year-old international postal body that allows China major discounts. Sidestepping the trade war, Exxon Mobil planned to open its first import and storage hub for LNG in China. Progressing with ‘Made in China 2025’, Beijing hopes home-grown 5G mobile technology will push it to the forefront.

  • 26th Oct 2018

    After months of talking about talks, the US and China agreed to meet in Brazil in late November. Washington was refusing to resume trade negotiations until Beijing produced a concrete proposal to address forced technology transfers and other complaints. 

    The US declined to send senior officials to attend the Xi-backed import expo in Shanghai.

    The former commander of the US Army in Europe warned that it is very likely the United States will be at war with China in 15 years.

    One area of potential conflict may see real concessions from Beijing: a new, top-level court is planned, to hear appeals in IPR cases.

  • 2nd Nov 2018

    The central bank denied devaluing its currency to weather the trade war, while Trump said trade discussions are “moving along nicely” ahead of a dinner date with Xi on 1 December. 

    Two prominent Chinese economists broke with Communist party orthodoxy to blame the China Model for the trade tensions. 

    The US charged ten Chinese spies with hacking into aviation firms to steal trade secrets, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered the FBI and the Justice Department to step up enforcement actions against Chinese companies.

    Taiwan’s deputy defence minister said it had budgeted several billion US dollars for arms procurement to build up its defence industry in the next two years; Washington has been approving arms deals at a much faster pace

    National reunification will not be stopped by any force, stressed China’s Taiwan affairs chief. Xi Jinping told Chinese soldiers to “prepare for war”.

  • 9th Nov 2018

    In Singapore, Xi’s envoy Wang Qishan told a forum that China is willing to engage with Washington amid their escalating trade war, but he warned that the country wouldn’t again be bullied and oppressed by foreign powers. 

    Henry Paulson, long a champion of US engagement with China, said it’s failing and an economic "iron curtain" may soon fall between them.

    The World Internet Conference in east China reaffirmed Beijing’s vision of (tight) internet governance. Tesla, Amazon, Microsoft and Qualcomm were the only four foreign firms to receive special mention in Wuzhen, a sign Beijing still favours them despite the US-China war. 

    Washington is unnerved by China's "military-civil fusion" on AI, a party demand that new technologies developed by the private sector must be shared with the military.

  • 16th Nov 2018

    China delivered a written response to U.S. demands for wide-ranging trade reforms, including possible concessions, but the US still planned to raise tariffs on Chinese goods in January, as the two Presidents will likely at best agree to a "framework" for further talks on the trade war, said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

    VP Pence spoke of a new “Cold War” and “aggression” at sea, and a commission of security and economic experts convened by Congress warned that China’s tech prowess threatens US national security

    American executives who once pushed for engagement have also become sceptics and follow Trump in agitating for confrontation. One prominent VC expected the US to lose its technological edge over China in the next five years thanks to Beijing’s support.

  • 23rd Nov 2018

    China allowed a US aircraft carrier into Hong Kong as a goodwill gesture ahead of the crunch bilateral meeting between Trump and Xi on December 1 in Buenos Aires. 

    The last US-China encounter offered little hope of reaching a trade deal: Xi and Mike Pence traded barbs at APEC in PNG. China engaged in "tantrum diplomacy" there – “pushy, insecure, out of control” – yet Beijing blamed the US for the summit’s failure.

    The US planned to tighten export controls against China – citing national security threats in its request for public comment identifying emerging technologies with dual civilian and military applications. 

    One of Trump’s advisers suggested China could be "evicted" from the WTO.

  • 30th Nov 2018

    Trump flew to Brazil for the G20 - and a supper with Xi that stole the spotlight. “I think we’re very close to doing something with China but I don’t know that I want to do it,” teased the US President, claiming that the US enjoyed billions of dollars in Chinese tariffs. 

    US Trade Rep. Lighthizer examined all available tools to raise tariffs on Chinese vehicles to the 40% Beijing charges on US-produced vehicles.

    Some of the most ardent US supporters of engagement with China accused Beijing of trying to influence American politics and society and undermine democratic values. 

    Their report called for “constructive vigilance”, while the Trump administration considered new background checks and other restrictions on Chinese students in the US, underlining widespread concern about Chinese spying and IP theft.

  • 7th Dec 2018

    Mike Pompeo promised a new democratic world order in which Washington stops “bad actors” such as China, Russia and Iran by reshaping the post-World War Two system on the basis of sovereign states, not multilateral institutions. 

    In a stunning development, Huawei’s CFO was detained in Canada ahead of possible extradition to the US on sanctions-breaking charges. The firm denied any wrongdoing.

    Meng Wanzhou was held on the same day Trump had a “wonderful” dinner with Xi Jinping - Trump may not have known but members of his team did

    The head of MI6 warned of Huawei’s growing security threat, and BT confirmed it will strip Huawei equipment out of its core 4G network within two years. 

    China moved to address intellectual property theft, announcing an array of punishments for Chinese firms if they continue to cheat.

  • 14th Dec 2018

    Washington and Beijing made trade talk progress as China agreed to some early concessions. IPR protection and punishments could be boosted with an amendment to China's patent law, said a Chinese official. 

    Secretary Ross said it was clear China has been de-emphasizing “Made in China 2025”, Beijing’s masterplan for global technological dominance 2025 plan, “but that doesn’t mean they’ve dropped it.”

    Chinese economic espionage comprises America’s “most severe counterintelligence threat”, warned a senior FBI official. 

    While China’s threat to US tech dominance is debatable, it’s fast catching up in military technology. Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou achieved bail in Canada ahead of extradition hearings brought by the US government. 

    President Trump said he would intervene with the Justice Dept if it would help secure a China deal, but a US official insisted that justice is not “a tool of trade”.

  • 21st Dec 2018

    As talks about further talks continued, Beijing readied to buy two million more tonnes of US soybeans - to the relief of American farmers. 

    The US hit back at years of Chinese cheating by charging hackers linked to Chinese state security with stealing information from at least 45 U.S. tech companies and government agencies to boost its own firms and military.

    “China’s goal, simply put, is to replace the US as the world’s leading superpower and they’re using illegal methods to get there,” said the FBI director. Beijing denied the accusations

    The scholar who warned about the Thucydides Trap of conflict said the pair are “in a dangerous period”. Their sparring will hurt global growth and could spark armed conflict next year, concluded a US think tank. Some US funds continued to add Chinese stocks to their holdings in recent months, while locals exited the bloodbath.

  • 4th Jan 2019

    Amid the trade war “truce”, a US delegation will shortly head for talks in Beijing, four decades after the USA and China established diplomatic relations. 

    The State Dept’s new travel warning for China urged “increased caution”. A clash of civilisations lies at the heart of the bitter geostrategic competition, explained one expert.

    China’s top prosecutor declared there is “no doubt” the two Canadians detained in retaliation for the arrest of Huawei’s CFO broke Chinese law. 

    China’s Chang’e 4 lunar spacecraft made history as the first probe to visit the far side of the moon. And score a major geopolitical win for Beijing in its military-backed space race with Washington. “Today the fight (between China and the US) is on trade. Tomorrow it can be on the moon,” said one researcher.

  • 11th Jan 2019

    Trade talks in Beijing delivered modest progress – China will buy more US goods and services – but left multiple hurdles to clear if the tariff war is not to resume come March 1. 

    US suspicion of Chinese tech was highlighted by two senators seeking to create a White House office to fight state-sponsored technology theft. “We are not saying don’t invest in China or with China, but know the risk,” warned the head of a US government campaign against foreign hackers. More than 90% of economic espionage cases brought by the US Justice Department since 2011 have involved China.

    As car sales fell for the first time in two decades, Elon Musk broke ground in Shanghai for the Tesla “Gigafactory”, and was so effusive China´s Premier offered him a green card

    A strong yuan was helped by the Fed’s lack of rate increases.

  • 18th Jan 2019

    The verdict of US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, after trade war negotiations in Beijing last week: No progress on structural issues, but some analysts sounded upbeat that a short-term resolution will happen by the summer

    While US lawmakers introduced bills to ban the sale of US chips to Chinese telecoms firms that violate sanctions or export laws, the Huawei founder rejected spying claims and said he would never harm his customers or other countries.

    China’s army is “on the verge of fielding some of the most modern weapon systems in the world,” noted a major new US assessment. “In some areas, it already leads the world.” 

    In one potential flashpoint, the UK and US held joint naval drills in the South China Sea. Top planner Lian Weiliang pledged that China will press ahead with investments in AI and 5G in 2019.

  • 25th Jan 2019

    Ahead of trade war talks in the US, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross warned that the two sides remain “miles and miles” from resolving trade issues such as the structural reforms Washington seeks, and enforcement mechanisms. But Ross estimated there´s a fair chance of reaching a deal.

    At Davos, foreign executives told one of China’s top regulators their concerns about intellectual property, the ownership structure of state-owned enterprises, and the Made in China 2025 policy. 

    Xi didn’t attend – and so missed being called the “most dangerous opponent of open societies” by billionaire financier George Soros. “China is not the only authoritarian regime in the world but it is the wealthiest, strongest and technologically most advanced,” said Soros.

  • 1st Feb 2019

    The US Justice Department filed nearly two dozen criminal charges against Huawei. The indictments, marking an escalation in the US-China confrontation, represent a primer on “how they do IP theft”, suggested one US lawyer. 

    The FBI is investigating Chinese economic espionage in nearly all of its 56 field offices nationwide. “China writ large is the most significant counterintelligence threat we face,” warned its director.

    Trump met Xi’s top economic aide, Liu He, after trade talks in D.C. The President cautioned that no final deal will be made until he met “my friend President Xi” to “agree on some of the long standing and more difficult points”. 

    China is rushing through a new foreign investment law to supersede existing legislation. The move, timed to influence the trade talks, should ban “forced” technology transfers.

  • 8th Feb 2019

    There’s “a lot of work left to do”, admitted US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as he headed to Beijing for the third round of talks to resolve the trade war before the March 1 deadline and a dramatic rise in tariffs between China and the USA. 

    In his State of the Union address, Trump insisted any trade deal “must include real, structural change to end unfair trade practices, reduce our chronic trade deficit and protect American jobs.”

    The US’ top cyber diplomat warned that allowing Huawei and other Chinese firms into next-generation telecoms networks would permit Beijing to expand its surveillance state globally. 

    Huawei asked suppliers to move some production to China ahead of possible restrictions on access to essential US technology.

  • 15th Feb 2019

    Further trade talks in Beijing continued without a breakthrough. The negotiations are like “pulling teeth”, said one source, although Trump sounded conciliatory about pushing back the deadline for imposition of higher tariffs on Chinese imports. 

    After many broken promises in the past, US Trade Rep Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin were urged to create an effective enforcement mechanism.

    As other Western nations considered restrictions on Huawei , the firm lashed out at Trump’s “co-ordinated, tactical political campaign”.

    A US commander pushed for more funding to counter Beijing’s attempts to “bend, break and replace the existing rules-based international order”.


  • 20th Feb 2019

    Chinese leader Xi Jinping 习近平 was set to meet senior US officials on Friday after further trade talks in Beijing.

    However, Trump appears ready to push back the deadline for imposition of higher tariffs on Chinese imports by 60 days. “If we’re close to a deal where we think we can make a real deal and it’s going to get done, I could see myself letting that slide for a little while,” said Trump in a conciliatory moment.

  • 22nd Feb 2019

    The US-China trade war talks switched to DC, and some optimistic signs followed. Negotiators drafted memorandums of understanding on six structural issues of great concern to all companies and countries doing business with China: forced technology transfer and cyber theft, intellectual property rights, services, currency, agriculture, and non-tariff barriers to trade. 

    Beijing may buy an additional $30bn a year of US agricultural products. 

    While a wing of British intelligence concluded Huawei is a manageable risk for 5G operations, and Germany unlikely to ban Huawei equipment outright, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that the US won´t partner or share information with countries that adopt Huawei systems.

  • 24th Feb 2019

    With the 1 March deadline looming for an end to the truce, and a sharp escalation in US tariffs, Trump said he would extend that deadline and plan to meet his counterpart Xi Jinping to seal a trade deal. 

    “The U.S. has made substantial progress in our trade talks with China on important structural issues including intellectual property protection, technology transfer, agriculture, services, currency, and many other issues,” the US President Tweeted. 

    “As a result of these very productive talks, I will be delaying the U.S. increase in tariffs now scheduled for March 1. Assuming both sides make additional progress, we will be planning a Summit for President Xi and myself, at Mar-a-Lago, to conclude an agreement. A very good weekend for U.S. & China!”

  • 1st March 2019

    No new deadline appeared after Trump extended the trade war truce. After abandoning unsuccessful talks with North Korea, he suggested he could do the same with China: “I am always prepared to walk,” he said. 

    US Trade Rep Robert Lighthizer played down hopes of a quick deal and warned that new problems are likely.

    One apparent breakthrough: an enforcement mechanism for promised reforms, with punishment if complaints are not resolved, but plenty of experts consider enforcement difficult if not impossible

    The structural reforms to economic and trade policies demanded by Washington could take years to enact, warned China’s ambassador. 

    Huawei pleaded not guilty to US charges of trade secrets theft, and its chairman argued the US CLOUD Act was a greater security risk than Chinese telecoms equipment.

  • 8th March 2019

    The US trade deficit with China widened to an all-time record of $419.2bn, and Beijing’s purchases of agricultural commodities, energy products and manufactured goods as part of a trade deal may only make a short-term “dent” in the deficit. 

    Trump sounds optimistic that a landmark trade deal is close, with some whispering of a 27 March summit with Xi. But Chinese officials worry that the final terms may be less favourable.

    Beijing will make forced technology transfer illegal, a top official promised, while Huawei took on Washington. Citing the US Constitution, Huawei challenged a law signed by Trump in August, and accused the US of hacking into its servers to steal source code. 

    China hit back against Canada for arresting Huawei’s CFO: two Canadians were accused of stealing state secrets and canola seed shipments were stopped from a Canadian supplier.

  • 15th March 2019

    The NPC passed China’s new foreign investment law, which had been rushed through to address issues raised by Washington in the Sino-US trade war, such as unequal treatment on market access and government procurement, and forced technology transfer to Chinese partners. 

    A meeting between Presidents Trump and Xi to finalise an agreement appeared more likely in April at the earliest, as the US President claimed he was “in no rush” to strike a deal.

    US public opinion has soured on China, but decoupling from the US is “not realistic”, said Premier Li Keqiang, who also denied China would ask tech firms to spy. 

    The US increased pressure on Europe to avoid Huawei in building 5G telecoms. Two US B-52 strategic bombers flew over the contested South China Sea week, ignoring Chinese objections to make the second such flight in 10 days.

  • 22nd March 2019

    Trump threatened to keep high tariffs against Chinese goods until he’s certain Beijing is complying with any new trade agreement. 

    US officials downplayed the likelihood of a quick deal, as the US trade representative and Treasury secretary readied for another Beijing trip next week. He pushed his team to get China to “double or triple” its offer to buy US goods.

    The US-China trade war could cost the American economy US$1trn over the next decade. Senators are considering a partial ban on Chinese trains and buses, while several US colleges have closed their Beijing-backed Confucius Institutes. 

    US firms are helping build China’s Orwellian state, as tech partnerships empower new methods of control and surveillance. EU leaders weighed a more defensive strategy on China, ending the unfettered access Chinese business has enjoyed in Europe.

  • 29th March 2019

    Trump’s negotiators are in Beijing again for trade war talks, with a Chinese delegation bound for DC next week. 

    These negotiations could stretch for weeks or months, warned economic adviser Larry Kudlow. “This is not time-dependent. This is policy- and enforcement-dependent,” he said. 

    Beijing has made proposals that go further than before, including on forced technology transfer, US officials told Reuters. Yet history haunts the discussions as China, very conscious of the “unequal treaties” imposed after the first Opium War, pushes back against US demands. 

    As Huawei celebrated joining the likes of Apple in the ranks of multinational technology companies with revenue of $100bn, Steve Bannon and others revived a Cold War-era advocacy organisation to lobby the US public about the “existential and ideological threat” posed by China today.

  • 5th April 2019

    Smiles, but no celebrations. “If we have a deal, we’ll have a summit,” said President Trump, with China’s top negotiator at his side. It might be another four weeks before he could announce a meeting with Xi

    Their war-ending accord could be “very monumental,” once they clear the remaining sticking points: intellectual-property protection, tariffs and enforcement. “We’ve agreed to far more than we have left to agree to,” he said.

    China hands said Trump risked falling into a familiar trap: believing in “mythical reformers” Beijing conjures to deflect foreign demands. If China becomes this century’s dominant power, “there is a risk the United States and the world will be less free, less prosperous, and less safe,” warned the Center for American Progress.

    US national security adviser John Bolton offered Taipei strong backing after China despatched two fighter jets across the “median line” dividing the Taiwan Strait.

  • 12th April 2019

    No timetable for finalising a US-China deal to end the trade war, but the latest round of talks produced one major breakthrough with agreement to set up enforcement offices to monitor each other’s implementation of trade pledges. 

    The US has insisted on an enforcement mechanism, while China worried that checks by US officials would infringe its sovereignty. 

    “While things look positive, it’s never over till it’s over with the Chinese,” warned Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue about reducing Beijing’s tariff on US ethanol products.

    In the US, the mystery deepened over the Chinese “spy” caught at Trump’s Florida resort, and the businessman with multiple identities whose association had “troubling connections to the Chinese government”. 

    In the South China Sea, the US sent a message to China by dispatching a fighter-jet-carrying warship to join drills near the disputed Scarborough Shoal for the first time.

  • 19th April 2019

    The US will emerge from the trade war with China as a winner, no matter what happens, boasted Trump .

    What happens next is two more rounds of talks by early May, with Robert Lighthizer and Steven Mnuchin headed to Beijing in the week of 29 April, and Liu He to DC the following week, which officials hope will lead to the announcement of a deal and a signing summit in late May.

    A senior US official denounced as “coercion” Chinese military drills near Taiwan, while the commander in charge of US military operations in the Pacific asked for more money to counter the threat from Beijing

    The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission opposed China Mobile’s application to provide cell service to Americans on security concerns. Frustrated US businesses can no longer be counted on as a “positive anchor” in US-China relations, said AmCham in China.

  • 26th April 2019

    Critical of Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative, the US sent no senior representative to Xi’s high-profile forum this week in Beijing, where he pledged the global infrastructure drive would deliver green, sustainable “high quality” growth for everyone.

    At the largest naval parade China has ever held, China showed off recent additions including the Type 055, the biggest destroyer ever built in Asia, and the world’s second most powerful vessel of its class after the US Navy’s Zumwalt-class destroyer.

    Trump said he would soon host his Chinese counterpart at the White House, raising hopes of agreement to end the trade war. Two of Trump’s top negotiators visit Beijing next week, with Vice Premier Liu He bound for DC the following week. 

    Agenda items include intellectual property, where China continues to engage in “unfair and harmful conduct” that damages US IPR, said Washington.

  • 3rd May 2019

    “Productive” talks between Sino-US trade negotiators in Beijing spurred hopes that next week’s round in DC will prove conclusive. The two sides are reported to be close to a deal on rolling back some of Trump’s tariffs.

    The US President may have dropped one central demand, as Washington prepares to accept a watered-down commitment to reduce cyber-theft. In an important concession from Beijing, China announced plans to open up its massive financial sector to the world.

    As more US spies for China are charged, the FBI Director described the “multi-layered threat” from a nation “determined to steal its way up the economic ladder at our expense.” 

    The State Department controversially warned of a clash of civilisations and races. “It’s the first time that we will have a great power competitor that is not Caucasian.”


  • 8th May 2019

    Frustrated that trade talks were moving too slowly, Trump tweeted on 5 May that the US would raise tariffs from 10 May on $200bn worth of Chinese goods from 10 to 25%. 

    His top trade rep added that China has been retreating from commitments already made in many months of negotiations.

    After speculation he would cancel his planned trip to DC, Beijing confirmed that Xi Jinping’s top negotiator, Liu He, will still travel for talks 8-9 May, but with a smaller delegation and for a shorter visit. 

    The Communist Party newspaper, the People’s Daily, insisted that Beijing will not make concessions in trade talks in response to Trump’s latest tariff threats.

  • 10th May 2019

    Just as many observers hoped a deal was close, President Trump surprised global stock markets by raising tariffs from 10 May on $200bn worth of Chinese goods from 10 to 25%. 

    He’s also “starting the paperwork” to impose a 25% tariff on the $325bn untouched so far by the trade war.

    His top trade rep explained that China has been retreating from commitments already made in many months of negotiations. Xi’s chief negotiator, Liu He, still travelled for talks in DC this week, but there was no time or sufficient will to avert the tariff hike.

    “Good man,” Trump said of Liu, “but they broke the deal.” Beijing quickly vowed to take “the necessary countermeasures.”

  • 11th May 2019

    US and Chinese trade negotiators ended the talks in Washington on Friday without an agreement because of differences in “significant issues of principle”, according to Vice Premier Liu He

    The two sides will continue the discussions, but according to the FT, “both sides felt the need to manage market expectations and avoid the perception of a full breakdown”.

    China’s Ministry of Commerce expressed "deep regrets" at the United States' move to impose additional tariffs on Chinese imports and vowed to take necessary countermeasures. 

    Meanwhile, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said, “The President also ordered us to begin the process of raising tariffs on essentially all remaining imports from China, which are valued at approximately $300 billion.”

  • 13th May 2019

    As anticipated, and despite tweeted warnings from Trump not to retaliate, China’s finance ministry said it plans to set import tariffs of  between 5% and 25% on approximately $60bn worth of US goods.  

    The tariffs are due to take effect on June 1.

    “China’s adjustment of tariff-adding measures is a response to US unilateralism and trade protectionism,” said China’s Ministry of Finance in a statement.  

    Full statement can be found here (in Chinese).


  • 17th May 2019

    Beijing will fight “to the end” in the trade war, warned China’s state broadcaster, as the government announced its response to Trump’s tariff hike: raised duties on $60bn of American goods from 1 June, with tariffs rising up to 25% from the original 10%. 

    “After 5,000 years of wind and rain, what hasn’t the Chinese nation weathered?” said the anchor in a widely-watched, punchy commentary. 

    Despite tough rhetoric from both sides, Trump predicted “a very fruitful meeting” with Xi late next month at the G20 in Japan.

    In a double-pronged attack, Trump blacklisted Huawei from buying parts and components from US companies without US government approval, and issued an executive order declaring a national emergency that blocks US firms from using telecoms equipment made by companies considered a threat to national security.

What Others Are Saying

  • 1st March 2019





    The prosperity of any economy relies on a variety of factors that drive productivity. One way of measuring these elements is by examining competitiveness, which the World Economic Forum (WEF) defines as “the set of institutions, policies and factors th...

    1st April 2019






    People trade and governments open markets because it is in their interest to do so. Trade and market openness has historically gone hand-in-hand with better economic performance in countries at all levels of development, creating new opportunities for workers, consumers an...

    1st April 2019





    Over the past several decades, Chinese trade has expanded at a breakneck pace. In 1995, the value of China’s imports and exports of goods totaled $280.9 billion or 3 percent of global trade. By 2017, its total trade...

  • 1st January 2019




    Outright trade war between the world's two largest economies would be devastating to the working people of both countries, as well as destructive to the future of the entire world economy. The costs of conflict between China and the United States far outweigh the current causes...

    1st February 2019







    The automation of processes and procedures with cutting-edge technologies, such as advanced robotics and artificial intelligence (AI), has the potential to fundamentally change the global econom...

    1st February 2019






    President Donald Trump’s 2018 tariff spree has resulted in 14.9 percent of US imports now being covered by some sort of special trade protection. Most of those affected imports were hit by Trump’s own actions. But some had already been subjected to tariffs...

  • 1st December 2018






    A major source of friction in the economic negotiations between the United States and China is the accusation by the US government that US firms that want to do business in China are forced into joint venture arrangements in which they must surrender access to their advanc...

    1st December 2018






    President Donald Trump’s trade war with the world involves multiple battles with US allies and others alike. Each battle uses a particular US legal rationale, such as calling foreign imports a “national security threat,” followed by Trump imposing tariffs and/or quotas on...

    1st January 2019






    This paper argues that we need a different narrative to describe the role of AI in the escalating competition between the United States and China. 

    Even as artificial intelligence is contributing to an intensifying bilateral rivalry, it also...

  • 1st October 2018







    The current trade war between the United States and China is a central dimension of the emerging Cold War between the two superpowers. The conflict also highlights and threatens to aggravate the contest for global economic leadership between the two countries, w...

    11th November 2018





    In this analysis we show that, contrary to public opinion, the greatest share of the tariff burden falls not on American consumers or firms, but on Chinese exporters.

    1st December 2018






    There have been warnings from both the private and public sectors about the potential spillover effects of the ongoing trade war between the US and China. But frictions between the two sides go well beyond tariff disputes. The potential for trade te...

  • 1st October 2018






    The paper investigates the impact of US-China trade tensions on financial markets.

    1st October 2018







    The paper exploits a decomposition of gross trade flows into their value added components to re-assess the relationship between increased imports from China and manufacturing jobs in US local labour markets . The paper finds considera...

    1st October 2018








    Washington – The U.S. Department of the Treasury today delivered to Congress the semiannual Report on Macroeconomic and Foreign Exchange Policies of Major Trading Partners of the United States.  The Report conclude...

  • 1st July 2018





    Since 1949, U.S.-China relations have evolved from tense standoffs to a complex mix of intensifying diplomacy, growing international rivalry, and increasingly intertwined economies.

    1st July 2018








    This report provides an overview of U.S.-China commercial ties,identifies major issues of contention, describes the Trump Administration’s trade policies toward China, and reviews possible outcomes.

    1st September 2018

    Ever  since  President  Richard  Nixon  opened  the  door  to  China  in  1972,  it  has  been  axiomatic  that  extensive interaction and engagement with Beijing has been in the U.S. national interest. The decisive question we face today is, should such broad-based interaction be continued in a new era of increasing rivalry,  or  should  it  be ...

  • 1st June 2018







    The Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE), along with the China Finance 40 Forum (CF40), the noted independent economic think tank based in Beijing, held a discussion on "US-China Economic Relations: From Conflict to Solutions" on June 11, 2018.<...

    1st June 2018

    At the core of the Trump administration’s dispute with China lies a real problem—China’s persistent misappropriation of foreign technology. The administration has repeatedly threatened a strategy of broad-based retaliation that will arguably cause US firms and workers more economic pain than the Chinese behavior that US trade negotiators are seeking to change. Instead of indiscriminate tariffs, carefully targeted sanctions should be imposed on the...

    1st June 2018







    After weeks of on-again off-again threats, the Trump administration on June 15 produced its list of specific Chinese products on which it soon plans to impose tariffs. The newly announced tariffs will almost exclusively attack intermediate inputs and capital equ...

  • 1st February 2018





    The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission was created by the United States Congress in October 2000 with the legislative mandate to monitor, investigate, and submit to Congress an annual report on the national security implications of the bilateral trade and economic rel...

    6th March 2018







    As the United States and China look to protect their national security needs and economic interests, the fight between the two financial superpowers is increasingly focused on a single area: technology.

    1st April 2018




    Decades of economic growth coupled with its ongoing military modernization have enabled China to emerge as a major player in the global arms trade. For years, Beijing imported several times more conventional weapons than it sold overseas, but since 2013 the value of Chinese arms...

  • 1st February 2017







    Using firm level data, the authors examine how global industrial concentration has changed over the last decade in relation to the rise of China. Between 2006 and 2014, global concentration has declined in most industries and is f...

    1st September 2017






    China's economy has made huge strides over the past several decades. These strides have had profound implications for its citizens and have left large footprints on the global economy. The article explores...

    1st December 2017





    This paper examines the extent to which government policies are responsible for the pattern of current account (trade) imbalances and, by implication, the extent to which such policies might be used to achieve the G-20 goal of reducing imbalances. Fiscal b...

  • 1st September 2016





    A longstanding challenge for the global economy is the possibility that some countries compete for export markets through artificially low prices. Political leaders and pundits sometimes propose import tariffs to offset the supposed...

    1st September 2016






    This article completes a three-part series on China and international trade. Unlike the two previous articles, this last one compares China's and the United States' trade relationships with other countries. The first part of the article looks at the percent...

    1st January 2017





    Today, the US-China trade relationship actually supports roughly 2.6 million jobs in the United States across a range of industries, including jobs that Chinese companies have created in America. And as the Chinese middle class continues its rapid expa...

  • 1st January 2016



    Financial markets around the globe reacted strongly in August 2015, when China started showing signs of economic slowdown. Financial markets weakened again in January 2016, when Chinese stocks fell dramatically after further devaluation of the yuan. Additionally, abundant supplies of oil a...

    1st May 2016




    Clearly, China has become a major player in global trade. Continuing the theme of the previous article, "Trade Dynamics and China, Part 1: The United States," this article explores China's global influence by looking at its merchandise trade with the rest of the...

  • 1st April 2019





    Over the past several decades, Chinese trade has expanded at a breakneck pace. In 1995, the value of China’s imports and exports of goods totaled $280.9 billion or 3 percent of global trade. By 2017, its total trade...

  • 1st April 2019






    People trade and governments open markets because it is in their interest to do so. Trade and market openness has historically gone hand-in-hand with better economic performance in countries at all levels of development, creating new opportunities for workers, consumers an...

  • 1st March 2019





    The prosperity of any economy relies on a variety of factors that drive productivity. One way of measuring these elements is by examining competitiveness, which the World Economic Forum (WEF) defines as “the set of institutions, policies and factors th...

  • 1st February 2019






    President Donald Trump’s 2018 tariff spree has resulted in 14.9 percent of US imports now being covered by some sort of special trade protection. Most of those affected imports were hit by Trump’s own actions. But some had already been subjected to tariffs...

  • 1st February 2019







    The automation of processes and procedures with cutting-edge technologies, such as advanced robotics and artificial intelligence (AI), has the potential to fundamentally change the global econom...

  • 1st January 2019




    Outright trade war between the world's two largest economies would be devastating to the working people of both countries, as well as destructive to the future of the entire world economy. The costs of conflict between China and the United States far outweigh the current causes...

  • 1st January 2019






    This paper argues that we need a different narrative to describe the role of AI in the escalating competition between the United States and China. 

    Even as artificial intelligence is contributing to an intensifying bilateral rivalry, it also...

  • 1st December 2018






    President Donald Trump’s trade war with the world involves multiple battles with US allies and others alike. Each battle uses a particular US legal rationale, such as calling foreign imports a “national security threat,” followed by Trump imposing tariffs and/or quotas on...

  • 1st December 2018






    A major source of friction in the economic negotiations between the United States and China is the accusation by the US government that US firms that want to do business in China are forced into joint venture arrangements in which they must surrender access to their advanc...

  • 1st December 2018






    There have been warnings from both the private and public sectors about the potential spillover effects of the ongoing trade war between the US and China. But frictions between the two sides go well beyond tariff disputes. The potential for trade te...

  • 11th November 2018





    In this analysis we show that, contrary to public opinion, the greatest share of the tariff burden falls not on American consumers or firms, but on Chinese exporters.

  • 1st October 2018







    The current trade war between the United States and China is a central dimension of the emerging Cold War between the two superpowers. The conflict also highlights and threatens to aggravate the contest for global economic leadership between the two countries, w...

  • 1st October 2018








    Washington – The U.S. Department of the Treasury today delivered to Congress the semiannual Report on Macroeconomic and Foreign Exchange Policies of Major Trading Partners of the United States.  The Report conclude...

  • 1st October 2018







    The paper exploits a decomposition of gross trade flows into their value added components to re-assess the relationship between increased imports from China and manufacturing jobs in US local labour markets . The paper finds considera...

  • 1st October 2018






    The paper investigates the impact of US-China trade tensions on financial markets.

  • 1st September 2018

    Ever  since  President  Richard  Nixon  opened  the  door  to  China  in  1972,  it  has  been  axiomatic  that  extensive interaction and engagement with Beijing has been in the U.S. national interest. The decisive question we face today is, should such broad-based interaction be continued in a new era of increasing rivalry,  or  should  it  be ...

  • 1st July 2018








    This report provides an overview of U.S.-China commercial ties,identifies major issues of contention, describes the Trump Administration’s trade policies toward China, and reviews possible outcomes.

  • 1st July 2018





    Since 1949, U.S.-China relations have evolved from tense standoffs to a complex mix of intensifying diplomacy, growing international rivalry, and increasingly intertwined economies.

  • 1st June 2018







    After weeks of on-again off-again threats, the Trump administration on June 15 produced its list of specific Chinese products on which it soon plans to impose tariffs. The newly announced tariffs will almost exclusively attack intermediate inputs and capital equ...

  • 1st June 2018

    At the core of the Trump administration’s dispute with China lies a real problem—China’s persistent misappropriation of foreign technology. The administration has repeatedly threatened a strategy of broad-based retaliation that will arguably cause US firms and workers more economic pain than the Chinese behavior that US trade negotiators are seeking to change. Instead of indiscriminate tariffs, carefully targeted sanctions should be imposed on the...

  • 1st June 2018







    The Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE), along with the China Finance 40 Forum (CF40), the noted independent economic think tank based in Beijing, held a discussion on "US-China Economic Relations: From Conflict to Solutions" on June 11, 2018.<...

  • 1st April 2018




    Decades of economic growth coupled with its ongoing military modernization have enabled China to emerge as a major player in the global arms trade. For years, Beijing imported several times more conventional weapons than it sold overseas, but since 2013 the value of Chinese arms...

  • 6th March 2018







    As the United States and China look to protect their national security needs and economic interests, the fight between the two financial superpowers is increasingly focused on a single area: technology.

  • 1st February 2018





    The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission was created by the United States Congress in October 2000 with the legislative mandate to monitor, investigate, and submit to Congress an annual report on the national security implications of the bilateral trade and economic rel...

  • 1st December 2017





    This paper examines the extent to which government policies are responsible for the pattern of current account (trade) imbalances and, by implication, the extent to which such policies might be used to achieve the G-20 goal of reducing imbalances. Fiscal b...

  • 1st September 2017






    China's economy has made huge strides over the past several decades. These strides have had profound implications for its citizens and have left large footprints on the global economy. The article explores...

  • 1st February 2017







    Using firm level data, the authors examine how global industrial concentration has changed over the last decade in relation to the rise of China. Between 2006 and 2014, global concentration has declined in most industries and is f...

  • 1st January 2017





    Today, the US-China trade relationship actually supports roughly 2.6 million jobs in the United States across a range of industries, including jobs that Chinese companies have created in America. And as the Chinese middle class continues its rapid expa...

  • 1st September 2016






    This article completes a three-part series on China and international trade. Unlike the two previous articles, this last one compares China's and the United States' trade relationships with other countries. The first part of the article looks at the percent...

  • 1st September 2016





    A longstanding challenge for the global economy is the possibility that some countries compete for export markets through artificially low prices. Political leaders and pundits sometimes propose import tariffs to offset the supposed...

  • 1st May 2016




    Clearly, China has become a major player in global trade. Continuing the theme of the previous article, "Trade Dynamics and China, Part 1: The United States," this article explores China's global influence by looking at its merchandise trade with the rest of the...

  • 1st January 2016



    Financial markets around the globe reacted strongly in August 2015, when China started showing signs of economic slowdown. Financial markets weakened again in January 2016, when Chinese stocks fell dramatically after further devaluation of the yuan. Additionally, abundant supplies of oil a...

      The Main Players

      • John R. Bolton
        National Security Adviser (April 2018). Born November 20, 1948

        John Bolton, Trump’s third national security adviser, has served in some capacity in every Republican administration since 1981. He was not part of Trump’s election campaign but impressed the president with his appearances as an analyst on the Fox News channel. He was appointed in April 2018 after the incumbent H.R. McMaster, a U.S. army general, was forced out after disagreeing with the president over his foreign policies.

        Bolton joined the administration during a shake-up of senior personnel that included the firing of Rex Tillerson as secretary of state and the resignation of Gary Cohn as head of the National Economic Council. Known for being ill-tempered, his views are closely aligned with Trump’s – he is an advocate of unilateralism and protectionism who believes that international agreements signed by the U.S. undermine America’s sovereignty and security. Over the years, he has advocated regime change in Iran, Syria, Libya, Venezuela, Cuba, Somalia, Yemen and North Korea, and Trump jokingly warned him not to start any wars, according to the Washington Post.

        As national security adviser, he has focused his attention on Iran, North Korea, Russia and China, advocating Trump take more confrontational policies toward the countries, although he became more involved in Latin America from late 2018 as the crisis in Venezuela intensified. Trump hasn’t always taken his advice, however, preferring to take a more positive stance toward North Korea and its leader Kim Jong-Un.

        Although the campaign against China began well before Bolton became national security adviser, he joined the team tasked with overhauling the U.S.’ trade relationship with the country. He said imposing tariffs on China could be a “little shock therapy” for the country and that there was much more at stake than just trade and intellectual property theft. “I think all of this goes to what will be the major theme of the 21st century, which is how China and the United States get along.”




      • Cong Liang
        Secretary General of the NDRC (2018); Spokesman at the NDRC (2018). Born December 1971

        An economist by training, Cong has spent more than 20 years at the NDRC, where, in his current role, he oversees policy research, planning and reform at the agency. He was appointed as one of the NDRC’s spokespeople in 2018 and his name appeared in the list of Chinese officials who took part in negotiations with U.S. officials in Washington in February 2019 to try to end the trade stand-off.

        After joining the National Planning Commission, the predecessor of the NDRC in 1997, Cong worked his way up through the bureaucracy, becoming Director of the Comprehensive Department in 2016.

      • Cui Tiankai
        Ambassador to the U.S. (2013). Born October 1952

        Cui is the face and voice of the Chinese state in the U.S., having been ambassador to the country since 2013. As part of his diplomatic activities, he plays a prominent role in the media – writing op-eds as well as giving interviews and comments – and on the think-tank circuit, putting forward and defending the Chinese government’s stance on U.S.-China relations.

        Cui has been particularly busy since the eruption of trade tensions back in 2017 and has been responsible for negotiating the maze of the Trump administration. In an interview with Fox News in October 2018, he said it was “very confusing” trying to find out who the decision makers were. He has been part of the Chinese team involved in the trade negotiations in Washington.

        Cui has reached retirement age and is likely to step down in 2019. Zheng Zeguang, currently a vice foreign minister, is in the running to succeed him.


      • Ding Xuedong
        Deputy Secretary General of the State Council (2017); Member of the CPC Central Committee (2017); Member of the Financial Stability and Development Committee (2018). Born February 1960

        A veteran financier and bureaucrat, Ding is Deputy Secretary General of the State Council, a ministerial rank and a powerful position within the executive branch. Ding is involved in the day-to-day management of government and has direct access to the most important officials in the State Council, including Premier Li Keqiang and the five vice premiers, including Liu He. Holders of this position are usually promoted to higher positions, possibly a minister or a provincial governor or party chief. He is also a member of the Chinese team negotiating with the U.S. to end the trade war.

        Ding spent his early career at the Ministry of Finance, working his way up to assistant minister in 2006. He was appointed deputy secretary general of the State Council for the first time in May 2010, the youngest person to ever hold the position. In July 2013 he was tapped to lead China Investment Corp. (CIC), the country’s sovereign wealth fund, taking over from Lou Jiwei who was promoted to finance minister. Ding concurrently held the position of Chairman of China International Capital Corp., the country’s first joint venture investment bank, from 2014 and led its initial public offering in Hong Kong in 2015.

        These high-profile positions, which reflected the party leadership’s trust in him, propelled Ding on to the international stage – CIC was one of the world’s biggest sovereign wealth funds with $220 billion of overseas assets at the time – and 2016 he was ranked 41 on Forbes’s annual league of the world’s most powerful people. Ding stepped down in February 2017 amid speculation that he was destined for promotion, and he returned to the State Council for his second stint as deputy secretary general.

        Ding is also a member of the FSDC, sitting at the same table as Liu He, Yi Gang, and Guo Shuqing.

      • Ding Xuexiang
        Director of the General Office of the CPC Central Committee (2017); Member of the Politburo (2017). Born September 1962

        Ding has become an important political aide to Xi Jinping and his current position, which is directly under the CPC Central Committee, is often referred to as the “gatekeeper” or “head eunuch” because of its key role in controlling access to the top leadership.

        Ding spent his political career entirely in Shanghai and came to Xi’s attention when the latter was appointed party secretary of the city in 2007. Ding at the time was deputy secretary general of the city’s CPC committee and was promoted to secretary general later in 2007.

        Although Xi was only in Shanghai for a year, Ding clearly made an impression on him. After Xi became general secretary of the party in November 2012, he moved Ding up to Beijing to become deputy director of the General Office of the CPC Central Committee, which is in charge of the routine administrative affairs of the Central Committee and the Politburo, including drafting and circulating party directives and internal memos, arranging logistics for major meetings.

        In 2017 Ding was promoted to director of the office, a sign he is destined for greater things. Directors often later join the Politburo Standing Committee and one previous incumbent, Wen Jiabao, went on to become premier. However, it isn’t always a good omen. Ling Jihua, who occupied the position from 2007 to 2012 was later brought down in a graft scandal, one of the highest profile targets of Xi’s anti-corruption campaign. 

      • Kevin Hassett
        Chairman, Council of Economic Advisers (September 2017). Born March 20, 1962

        As head of the Council of Economic Advisers, Kevin Hassett advises the president on economic affairs and assesses the impact of planned policies on the economy. Previous incumbents include Alan Greenspan, Janet Yellen and Ben Bernanke.

        Some commentators have questioned how much influence Hassett has over Trump, however, because the president decided to strip the position of its Cabinet-level status. A moderate-leaning Republican, his appointment aroused the consternation among many Trump supporters because of his pro-immigration views. He is also seen as in the dovish camp with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin when it comes to dealing with China. Although he has not directly criticised Trump’s imposition tariffs, he warned in January 2019 that the trade war was damaging U.S. businesses with interests in China.

        Back in 2010 Hassett criticised politicians for “China bashing,” describing such action as a way for elites to ignore their own failures. He warned that continuing to attack the country could have real costs, potentially causing a trade war “reminiscent of the one that put the world economy into a death spiral in the 1930s.” It was also a distraction from the need for government policies to help the economy and create jobs.

        An expert on taxation, Hassett was a well-known fixture in conservative economic circles long before he joined the Trump administration. He served as a policy consultant to the Treasury Department during the administrations of both George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton and was an economic adviser to the campaigns of three Republican presidential candidates – John McCain, George W. Bush and Mitt Romney.

        Before his appointment, Hassett spent 20 years at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a conservative think tank, where he focused on tax policy and reform. He joined in the AEI in 1997 as a resident scholar and rose to become its director of research for domestic policy. He was an advocate of corporate tax cuts as a means of creating jobs and argued that increases in the minimum wage harmed the economy.

        In what was rather unfortunate timing, Hassett co-wrote a book “Dow 36,000: The New Strategy for Profiting from the Coming Rise of the Stockmarket” which was published in October 1999, three months before the benchmark index peaked and the bursting of the dotcom bubble began.

      • He Lifeng
        Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) (2017); full member of the CPC Central Committee (2012). Born February 1955

        He, a close ally of Xi Jinping, is head of the powerful economic planning agency that holds sway over vast swathes of the economy, from setting industrial policy to approving infrastructure investment, setting petrol prices and overseeing enterprise bond sales. The NDRC is also responsible for formulating the government’s Five-Year Plans, blueprints for medium-term economic development, overseeing industries including energy, and pushing forward with industrial restructuring.

        As head of the NDRC, He plays a key role in implementing and refining Xi’s supply-side structural reform strategy, which has included campaigns to cut excess capacity in the coal and steel industries. Although the NDRC’s remit doesn’t directly include overseas trade, He has been part of the Chinese delegation negotiating with the U.S. to resolve their trade dispute and will have provided important input into the domestic impact of any concessions demanded by Washington. He accompanied Xi to the G20 summit in Argentina in November 2018 where the president held talks with his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump that led to a ceasefire in the trade war.

        He met Xi as they both worked their way up the political ladder in Fujian province in the 1990s and early 2000s before Xi moved to Zhejiang province. He was deputy director and then director of the Xiamen municipal government’s finance bureau, coinciding with Xi’s stint as deputy party chief and vice mayor of Xiamen.

        He spent most of his career in various positions in Xiamen, including party chief, but moved to Tianjin, a municipality close to Beijing, in 2009 as deputy party chief. In 2014, two years after Xi came to power, He was appointed vice chairman of the NDRC and was responsible for overseeing Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative. He was elevated to chairman in February 2017, replacing Xu Shaoshi who had reached retirement age.

      • Larry Kudlow
        Director of the National Economic Council (NEC) (April 2018). Born August 20, 1947

        A financial analyst who started his career at the New York Federal Reserve, Larry Kudlow was appointed head of the NEC after Gary Cohn resigned. He endorsed Trump’s presidential campaign and served as an informal adviser. He defended Trump’s plan to rebuild an existing wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, saying it was necessary to stop terrorists entering the country.

        As Trump’s chief economic adviser, Kudlow helps formulate economic policy and oversees implementation of the president’s economic agenda. He appears regularly in the media to expound on Trump’s views on a range of economic and trade issues and has been one of the main spokesmen for the administration on the progress of trade talks with China, along with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. He suffered a mild heart attack in June 2018 but returned to work soon after.

        Kudlow is known as an advocate of free trade who, along with Mnuchin, has tried to persuade Trump to make a deal with China rather than impose tariffs and endure a potentially damaging trade war. That’s led to clashes with Peter Navarro, Trump’s key adviser on China policy, over the best approach to dealing with Beijing. He once accused Navarro of doing the president “a great disservice” by making hawkish comments about the trade talks.

        Although he has no formal economics qualification, he was an associate director for economics and planning in the Office of Management and Budget during Ronald Reagan’s administration. He also served as the chief economist at Bear Stearns from 1987 until 1994 when he was fired for his cocaine and alcohol addiction. He then became a media commentator on economic issues and hosted several shows on CNBC.

        He has described himself as an advocate of Reagan’s supply-side economics and approved of tax cuts and deregulation. Although known as a committed supporter of free trade, he backed Trump’s steel and aluminium tariffs after his appointment as head of the NEC.

        Kudlow is not famed for his economic predictions – in a 2015 book, “Superforecasting,” the authors, Philip Tetlock and Dan Gardner, referred to Kudlow as a "consistently wrong" pundit, using record of failed predictions to clarify common mistakes that poor forecasters make.

      • General Li Zuocheng
        Chief of the Joint Staff Department of the CMC (2017); General, People’s Liberation Army (2015); Member of the CPC Central Committee (2017); Member of the Central Military Commission (2017). Born October 1953

        General Li, chief of staff of China’s military, is seen as firmly in Xi’s camp and a supporter of a military overhaul that began in 2015 to transform the PLA into a more effective, modern fighting force. Li’s promotions have been relatively swift since Xi came to power – he was named commander of the Chengdu Military Region in 2013, one of seven military regions before a major reorganisation in 2015, was promoted to full general in 2015, and made head of the new PLA Ground Force in 2016. In 2017 he was appointed the military’s chief of staff, replacing Fang Fenghui who disappeared from public view and was put under investigation for corruption. Fang was sentenced to life in prison in February 2019 after being found guilty of bribery and amassing wealth he couldn’t account for.

        Li is one of the few top generals in China with combat experience and is a veteran of the country’s bloody war with Vietnam in 1979. He was awarded the title of Combat Hero for his command of his company during a battle on the Vietnamese border that lasted for 26 days.

      • Liao Min
        Vice Minister of Finance (2018); Deputy Director of the Office of the Central Financial and Economic Affairs Commission (2018). Born December 1968

        A veteran of the country’s banking regulatory commission, Liao is seen as a rising star in the Chinese government and works directly under Liu He at the Central Financial and Economic Affairs Commission. Liao was brought in to the ministry for his experience in international finance.

        A fluent English speaker, Liao has a master’s degree in economics from Peking University and an MBA from the Judge Business School at Cambridge University. He was a portfolio manager in the Treasury division of the PBOC’s international department and has held senior positions at Bank of China, one of the Big Four state-owned commercial banks, and China Everbright Group.

        He spent 13 years working for the China Banking Regulatory Commission, including three years as the head of its Shanghai branch, and in December 2016 was appointed to head the international economics department of the Office of the Central Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs, which later became the Central Financial and Economic Affairs Commission. Chinese media reports say he was recommended for the job by Fang Xinghai, a previous incumbent who had left to become vice chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission.

        Liao was promoted to deputy director of the office in early 2018, making him second in command to Vice Premier Liu He. Liao accompanied Liu to the U.S. for trade talks in May 2018 and has played a key role in formulating China’s tactics and strategy to deal with U.S. trade tensions.

      • Robert Lighthizer
        United States Trade Representative (USTR) (May 2017). Born October 11, 1947

        Robert Lighthizer, a veteran trade negotiator and lawyer, has emerged as one of the most influential officials in President Trump’s administration with regard to trade policy and China. A longtime sceptic of globalization and an advocate for tougher policies to deal with Beijing’s trade and economic practices, his views are closely aligned with Trump’s – as far back as 2011, he defended Trump’s stance on trade and China.

        Lighthizer was tapped for the job of USTR shortly after Trump’s election. He is no stranger to Washington politics, international trade, or China – he was chief of staff to the Senate Finance Committee in the early 1980s, and was deputy USTR from 1983 to 1985 during the administration of President Ronald Reagan where he helped broker trade agreements and threatened other countries with tariffs if they failed to cut steel exports to the U.S. He then joined law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP as a partner and led its international trade practice for more than 30 years, defending American businesses, especially steel companies, against what they saw as unfair trade practices by foreign companies.

        Lighthizer has described China as an unprecedented threat to the world trading system, and maintains that the World Trade Organization (WTO) is not equipped to deal with the problem. As a result, the U.S. needs to find other ways to defend its companies, workers, farmers, and its economic system to ensure that a market-based economy prevails, he has said. One of those other ways has been to draw on the little used Section 301 of the 1974 Trade Act, which allows the U.S. president to take unilateral action against trade policies he deems to be unfair. Lighthizer seized on this tool when he became USTR to begin an investigation into China’s trade practices which formed the basis of Trump’s tariff campaign that began in March 2018.

        As USTR, Lighthizer has proposed taking a much harder line against China than others in the administration, such as Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who were also involved in China policy and urged Trump to make a quick deal with Beijing to calm markets and head off a damaging trade war. Lighthizer won out and by mid-2018 it became clear that he would in future take the leading role in formulating economic and trade policy with regard to China. His position was solidified in December 2018 when he was named to lead talks for the U.S. side after Trump and Xi agreed to call a truce in the trade dispute, taking over from Mnuchin who had led previous rounds of talks.

        As part of any agreement, Lighthizer has sought firm commitments from Beijing that can be verified and assessed rather than accepting what he has described as empty promises. He is said to keep a single-page chart listing decades of failed trade negotiations with Beijing which he passes around whenever he senses Trump or other officials might be going soft on China.

        Lighthizer has a reputation as a blunt, shrewd and effective negotiator who is not afraid to use colourful language. He is apparently known as the “missile man” in Japan, a reference to an incident in the mid-1980s when he grew so frustrated during talks with Tokyo that he took one of its proposals, turned it into a paper airplane and floated it back at the Japanese negotiators. In February 2019, when talks between Chinese and U.S. negotiators at deputy level hit an impasse, Lighthizer stepped in and “read them the riot act,” according to White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow.

        Lighthizer mostly shuns the media spotlight. Unlike Trump and Cabinet members including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, he doesn’t have his own Twitter account and doesn’t give interviews, leaving Trump, Mnuchin and White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow to make public comments about the progress of trade talks with Chinese officials.

      • Liu He
        Vice Premier of the State Council responsible for economic and financial affairs (2018); Director of the Financial Stability and Development Committee (FSDC) (2018); Director of the General Office of the Central Financial and Economic Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee (2013); Member of the Politburo (2017). Born January 25, 1952

        Liu He is one of Xi Jinping’s closest and oldest allies, his top economic adviser, and his point man in negotiations with the U.S. to resolve the trade war. An economist by training and a former professor at some of China’s top universities, he is a fluent English speaker with an MBA from Seton Hall University and an MPA from Harvard University. Low profile and relatively unknown outside the field of economics until his elevation to the Politburo in October 2017, Liu has spent most of his career as an economist and adviser in government research institutes. His international profile took off in January 2018 when he gave a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

        Liu has played an influential role in formulating China’s economic and development policies since 2003 when he was appointed to the Central Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs (renamed the Central Financial and Economic Affairs Commission in 2018). There he was responsible for overseeing macro-economic policy planning and drafting speeches for then Party Secretary Hu Jintao. He was also one of a team of policymakers who put together the country’s Five-Year Plans.

        Liu’s election to the Politburo in October 2017 and to the position of vice premier in charge of economic and financial affairs in March 2018 reflect his importance to Xi. He is a proponent of market-oriented reforms, including overhauling the bloated state sector, and is one of the architects of the shift in China’s economic model away from debt-fuelled investment and exports toward a more sustainable consumer-driven path. He is also seen as the man behind supply-side structural reform, an initiative unveiled by Xi in 2015, and the deleveraging campaign that formed a key part of the strategy.

        Liu, sometimes referred to as “Uncle He,” also heads the Financial Stability and Development Committee, a body set up in November 2017 to coordinate and improve financial and macro-prudential regulation, and prevent systemic financial risks.

        Liu has twice been given the title of “special envoy” when leading Chinese delegations negotiating with U.S. officials to end the trade war (in May 2018 and February 2019), a sign of the trust Xi places in him. Success could burnish his credentials, but failure, or domestic criticism that China has made too many concessions, exposes him to blame that could damage his prospects.

        Liu has limited experience in policy implementation at sub-central government level, at a financial institution or large industrial company. His appointment as vice premier made him a rare example of a senior politician in a position of economic management with a background almost entirely in research and academia.

      • Luo Wen
        Deputy director at the NDRC (2019).

        Until recently, Luo was a vice minister at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), the ministry with responsibility for Made in China 2025, a blueprint for industrial upgrading announced in 2015 aimed at turning the country into a globally competitive high-tech powerhouse. Its policies to support independent innovation, high-tech industries and industrial transformation have been at the heart of trade tensions between the U.S. and China.

        Luo was one of the negotiators in Liu He’s team involved in talks with the U.S. aimed at resolving the trade dispute. But in February 2019 he was moved to the NDRC where he now heads divisions responsible for the regional economy and regional revitalisation, including the development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region. It’s unclear whether he will continue to play a role in the trade negotiations.

      • Steven T. Mnuchin
        Secretary of the Treasury (February 2017); chairman of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). Born December 21, 1962

        Despite Trump’s attacks on Wall Street titans, corporate lobbyists and billionaires during his election campaign, he didn’t shy away from appointing members of the financial elite to his Cabinet once elected. Steven Mnuchin, who as treasury secretary holds one of the most important positions in the administration, is among them.

        A veteran investment banker and hedge fund manager who also made a name for himself as a financier of Hollywood films including Wonder Woman, Mnuchin was one of several alumni of investment bank Goldman Sachs tapped for key positions in Trump’s administration.

        Mnuchin, whose net worth is estimated at around $300 million, joined Trump’s presidential campaign in May 2016 as national finance chairman. He also served as a senior economic adviser to Trump, helping craft his economic positions and speeches. He subsequently formed part of the transition team and was later nominated as treasury secretary.

        Trump has described Mnuchin, who had no previous government experience, as a “financial legend with an incredible track record of success,” while Mnuchin has called Trump's economic agenda a “bold” one “that creates good-paying jobs and defends the American worker.”

        Mnuchin initially took a leading role in the administration’s dealings with China as trade hostilities intensified, and was the primary point of contact for senior Beijing officials. He was widely seen as a moderate voice who opposed a drawn-out war, instead preferring compromise to reach a quick settlement and avoid roiling markets and damaging the U.S. economy.

        But he was accused by hardliners of being too soft on China and lost an internal battle with hawks in the administration, including USTR Robert Lighthizer, over how to handle the dispute. Although Trump put Lighthizer in control of China trade policy and negotiations, Mnuchin is still a key figure in the talks and one of the main public faces of the U.S. team, updating the media through interviews and his Twitter account on progress in the negotiations.

        Mnuchin publicly supported Trump’s claim that China was controlling the yuan for its own advantage and in his confirmation hearing, he pledged to name the country a currency manipulator, with the caveat that there should be sufficient evidence. However, since Trump’s election, the Treasury Department has declined to label China a manipulator in its twice-a-year reports on the currency practices of its trading partners. Mnuchin’s tenure has not been without controversy. The Treasury Department opened an investigation into his use of government aircraft after he used a military jet to fly himself and his wife, Louise Linton, to Kentucky, ostensibly for an event relating to the government’s tax overhaul but which also coincided with a solar eclipse. It also came to light that he had requested the use of a military jet for his honeymoon in Europe, a request that was later withdrawn.

      • Peter Navarro
        Director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy (April 2017), Assistant to the President. Born July 15, 1949

        An outspoken critic of China’s economic and trade policies, Peter Navarro is among the most hostile opponents of the regime in Beijing inside Trump’s administration. A key figure behind the trade war, he has been variously described as a one-man, anti-China trade warrior, and the most dangerous man in Trump world.

        A failed politician and a professor of economics and public policy at the University of California at Irvine, Navarro became an economic adviser to Trump during his election campaign in 2016. As the only academic economist on his team, Navarro helped inform Trump’s thinking on a range of policies and issues including international trade – trade deals are bad, trade deficits are dangerous and tariffs are good – and how to deal with China.

        Navarro was the ideal candidate to implement Trump’s promise to stop China “ripping us left and right.” He was initially named director of the White House National Trade Council, a new office set up specifically for him. The council was subsequently folded into the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, an agency set up in April 2017 with a mission to “defend and serve American workers and domestic manufacturers and advise the president on policies to increase economic growth, decrease the trade deficit, and strengthen the U.S.’ manufacturing and industrial base.”

        In June 2018, the office issued a 36-page report, “How China’s Economic Aggression Threatens the Technologies and Intellectual Property of the United States and the World,” which contained a litany of criticisms of China’s policies and practices that it claimed threaten the U.S. economy and the global innovation system.

        Navarro has expounded on his views about China in several books including: “The Coming China Wars: Where They Will Be Fought and How They Can Be Won” (2006); “Death By China: Confronting the Dragon – a Global Call to Action” (2011) which called for full-scale containment of China; and “Crouching Tiger: What China’s Militarism Means for the World” (2015) which posits that China is a revisionist power readying for conflict with America.

        His extreme policies on trade and economics are seen as unorthodox and misguided by mainstream economists, and his antagonistic views on China carry little credibility among most respected China analysts. In a critique of Trump’s economic plan co-written with Wilbur Ross during the election campaign, Navarro lashed out at China, calling it “the biggest trade cheater in the world” and accusing it of being “destructive to the U.S. growth process.” The plan was heavily criticised by mainstream economists and in November 2016, 370 economists, including several Nobel laureates, issued a letter warning against the economic policies it proposed.

        Nevertheless, Navarro’s ideas have been embraced by Trump who apparently insisted on having the economist by his side when he met Xi at Mar-a-Lago in April 2017. But his hardline views on trade and China have reportedly brought him into conflict with several of the more dovish officials in the administration, who advocate a less confrontational approach. They include the then-director of the National Economic Council, Gary Cohn, who announced his resignation in March 2018 just days after Trump, encouraged by Navarro and other hawks, decided to impose tariffs on imports of steel and aluminium.

      • Ning Jizhe
        Vice Chairman of the NDRC (2015); Director of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) (2016); Alternate member of the CPC Central Committee (2017). Born December 1956

        Ning, unusually, has two roles – he is the head of the NBS and one of several vice chairmen of the NDRC. Within China he’s known more as the front man who presents GDP figures at press conferences, but he is also part of the NDRC team involved in trade negotiations with the U.S. and has accompanied Liu He to Washington for talks several times starting in May 2018.

        Ning, who has a degree in engineering and a doctorate in economics, started out as a researcher in the NDRC but spent most of his career in the State Council Research Office, an administrative office responsible for formulating policy, conducting research, making policy recommendations to the State Council and providing strategic, organizational, services-related consultancy to the State Council. He became director of the office in 2013.

        In August 2015, Ning moved back to the NDRC and in March 2016, he also took charge of the NBS after its previous incumbent, Wang Bao’an, was sacked for corruption.

      • Mike Pence
        Vice President of the United States (January 2017). Born June 7, 1959

        A seasoned politician with a reputation as a conservative ideologue, Mike Pence is believed to have been chosen by Trump’s presidential campaign as his running mate to please the conservative base of the Republican Party. His views on  trade contrast sharply with Trump’s – his record shows him to be a strong advocate of trade agreements between the U.S. and other countries and a supporter of NAFTA and the Trans Pacific Partnership.

        Pence spent 12 years as a congressman until his election as governor of the state of Indiana in 2013, providing a wealth of experience of wheeling and dealing at the highest level of Washington politics that the president himself lacked. Although not on the front line of economic and trade policy and China strategy, the vice president spreads the administration’s message at home and overseas. In October 2018 he made a wide-ranging attack on China that prompted some analysts to warn of an impending new Cold War. He has spoken out strongly against Beijing’s military aggression overseas, especially in the South China Sea. During a weeklong tour of Asia in November 2018 representing the president at the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings and at a summit with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, he criticized China’s Belt and Road Initiative and warned countries who participated in the project that they risked drowning in a sea of debt.

        Pence, who has described himself as “a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order,” is a firm believer in religious freedom, and has raised the issue of China’s persecution of Muslims, Buddhists and Christians. In a speech in July 2018, he highlighted the incarceration of “hundreds of thousands, and possibly millions, of Uyghur Muslims in so-called ‘re-education camps,’ where they’re forced to endure around-the-clock political indoctrination and to denounce their religious beliefs and their cultural identity as the goal.”

        Pence is playing a key role in fundraising for Trump’s reelection campaign in 2020, targeting wealthy donors who previously shunned the president during the 2016 presidential race.

      • Mike Pompeo
        United States Secretary of State (April 2018). Born December 30, 1963

        A former army officer and three-term Republican congressman, Mike Pompeo is Trump’s top diplomat who exerts considerable influence over the president. He worked on Trump’s transition team and was initially picked to head the Central Intelligence Agency – as a three-term Congressman, he had served on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Intelligence Subcommittee on the CIA.

        A Trump loyalist and a conservative foreign-policy hawk, Pompeo was tapped for the Secretary of State position in March 2018 to replace Rex Tillerson who was fired by the president via social media after just over a year in the job.

        While head of the CIA, Pompeo warned of the “significant security threat” posed by China and said that China had “the capacity to present the greatest rivalry to America… over the medium and long term.” As secretary of state he has continued his tough stance, attacking China on issues ranging from its militarisation of the South China Sea to the Belt and Road Initiative, which he has described as a debt trap designed to give Beijing political influence.

        During a visit to Beijing in October 2018, Pompeo and China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi exchanged unusually sharp words as they criticised their respective governments’ policies, and in a speech in March 2019, he warned that the U.S. would defend the Philippines against any attack on its ships or planes in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, in a pointed reference to China.

        Pompeo has also spoken out against China’s human rights violations and its detention of Uighur Muslims in huge prison camps in the northwest region of Xinjiang. In March 2019 he met survivors of the camps and relatives of those held, and pledged U.S. support to end what he described as China’s campaign of repression against Islam and other religions.

        As secretary of state, Pompeo co-led the U.S.-China Diplomatic & Security Dialogue in Washington in November 2018, where he denied the administration was pursuing a Cold War or containment policy toward China and said that even as the two countries confronted important differences, cooperation remained essential on many issues, including the denuclearisation of North Korea  – Pompeo has been Trump’s point man on North Korea and has taken an aggressive view of the country and its leader Kim Jong-Un.

      • Matt Pottinger
        Senior director for Asian Affairs, National Security Council (February 2017)

        A fluent Mandarin speaker who spent seven years as a journalist in China, Matt Pottinger was described by former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon as “one of the most significant people in the entire U.S. government.”

        As the administration’s top Asia hand, his job involves pulling together the differing views on the region within the government and turning them into a coherent policy for the council. His views on China are influenced by his time as a reporter in the country where he was interrogated by the police and punched in the face in a Starbucks café in Beijing by a man he described as a government goon.

        Although he is seen as one of the less hawkish China advisers in the administration, he is said to be in favour of a taking a tough stance toward the country and helped craft a new National Security Strategy that labelled Beijing a revisionist power. He also contributed heavily to the USTR’s investigation into China’s policies and practices related to forced technology transfer and intellectual property theft. 

        The report, which was published in March 2018, helped formed the basis of Trump’s campaign against China’s trade and industrial policies. 

        He accompanied then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on his first visit to Beijing and played a key role in organising Trump’s 12-day tour of Asia in November 2017, which included a state visit to China where he rarely left the president’s side.

        In addition to China, Pottinger’s other main area of responsibility is North Korea. He has played a central role in coordinating the administration’s policy toward the country and accompanied Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on his visit to Pyongyang in May 2018. He was also heavily involved in preparations for Trump’s first summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

        Pottinger, who left journalism in 2005 for a career in the U.S. Marine Corps, was picked as a senior aide to oversee Asian affairs in the National Security Council on the recommendation of its then leader Michael T. Flynn, who was his commanding officer in Afghanistan. The two men are reported to have been close and co-wrote a report on how to fix intelligence operations in Afghanistan. After five years with the marines, which saw him rise to the rank of captain, Pottinger left active service and returned to the U.S. where he set up his own consultancy and later went to work for a hedge fund.

      • Wilbur Ross
        United States Secretary of Commerce (February 2017). Born November 28, 1937

        After a career as a financier specialising in bankruptcy and corporate restructuring, Wilbur Ross was picked as commerce secretary following his role as a senior policy adviser to Trump during his election campaign.

        Ross was instrumental in crafting Trump’s economic strategy that included massive tax cuts, higher infrastructure spending and a renegotiation of U.S. trade agreements. Known for his opposition to free trade – The Economist magazine dubbed him Mr Protectionism as far back as 2004 – he co-authored a critique of Trump’s economic plan with economist and China hawk Peter Navarro which aimed to demonstrate the beneficial impact the policies would have on the American economy as compared with those of his rival Hillary Clinton.

        A longtime Trump associate, Ross was expected to lead the administration’s trade policy and China strategy as part of his broad portfolio of responsibilities, working with fellow China and foreign trade hawks Robert Lighthizer, the U.S. Trade Representative, and Peter Navarro, who heads the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy. 

        After Trump and Xi met in April 2017, U.S. and Chinese negotiators embarked on a 100-day action plan to address the imbalances in their trading relationship and avoid a full blown trade war. Ross headed the U.S. negotiating team, but he made little progress in winning concessions from the Chinese and the talks ended in failure. Unimpressed with Ross’s achievements, Trump stripped him of his role as China tsar and put Lighthizer in charge, although the commerce secretary still plays a major role in the negotiations. 

        Ross has courted controversy, notably around the size of his wealth, inaccurate financial disclosures, and conflicts of interest surrounding his financial holdings. In December 2017, Forbes magazine claimed that he had exaggerated his net worth and that he had only $700 million of assets rather than the $2.9 billion attributed to him in the Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans.

        Before joining the Trump administration, Ross made his fortune as a financier who successfully turned around failed companies, especially in the textile and steel industries, earning him the nickname “king of bankruptcy.”

      • Donald J. Trump
        45th President of the United States of America (January 2017). Born, June 14, 1946

        Donald Trump’s election as U.S. president in November 2016 set the stage for the most radical change in America’s policy toward, and engagement with, China in decades. His surprise victory for the Republican party against Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton followed a campaign run on a populist and nationalist platform embodied in the slogans Make America Great Again, and America First.

        Anti-globalization and trade protectionism were two key planks of Trump’s election campaign and China loomed large in both. He accused China of “raping our country” and vowed to reduce the U.S.’s growing trade deficit with China, stop the theft of intellectual property by Chinese companies, and label China a currency manipulator in his first 100 days in office.

        Although Trump backtracked on the currency manipulation pledge, he followed through with his vow to tackle China’s unfair trade and economic practices as part of a broader shift in U.S. trade policy toward protectionism that also saw him pull out of the North American Free trade Agreement (NAFTA) and replace it with a new deal, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

        Trump has surrounded himself with China hawks, and many of the top positions in his administration are occupied by people who share his mistrust and scepticism of China and want to change how the U.S. deals with its growing rival. A National Security Strategy released by the White House in December 2017 mapped out the Trump administration’s stance toward China and how it sees the future relationship. The failure of the U.S.’ decades-long policy toward China – to support its rise and integration into the world economy in the hope that the country would liberalize – now necessitated a new approach, it said. It designated the country a strategic competitor, albeit one with which the U.S. sought continued cooperation, and described it as a revisionist power that, along with Russia, challenged American power and wanted to shape a world “antithetical to U.S. values and interests.”

        Despite Trump’s confrontational strategy toward China, he has portrayed himself as having a good personal relationship with Xi Jinping, the head of the ruling Communist Party and president of the country. Trump invited Xi and his wife to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida in April 2017 for their first face-to-face meeting to try and build the relationship, he made a state visit to Beijing at Xi’s invitation in November that year, and the two met again on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires on December 1, 2018, which resulted in a truce in their trade war.

        In an interview with the New York Times after his Beijing visit, Trump said Xi had treated him “better than anybody’s ever been treated in the history of China.” He has also described the Chinese leader as “great,” and revealed in April 2019 that he had called Xi a “king” to his face during his Beijing visit, a title Xi seemed to like, he said.

        Trump has tried to leverage that personal relationship to secure Xi’s help on a range of issues other than trade, such as stopping Chinese exports of the powerful opioid fentanyl to the U.S., and resolving the North Korean nuclear problem. 

        Although Xi has rarely commented publicly on the U.S.-China trade dispute and his relationship with Trump, the U.S. president broadcasts his views on China and everything else daily through his Twitter account, his main platform for communicating with the media and his supporters and a channel for making policy announcements and railing against his critics.

        Trump’s efforts to reset the U.S.’ relationship with China appear to have broad consensus across the political and economic spectrum in the U.S., although there are disagreements about his methods. Trump is up for reelection in 2020, but his strategy has set the stage for a change in U.S. relations with China that will persist for years to come whether he wins a second term or not.

      • Wang Huning
        Member of the Politburo Standing Committee (2017); Director, Policy Research Office of the CPC Central Committee (2002). Born October 1955

        Wang is No. 5 in the pecking order on the elite seven-member Politburo Standing Committee and the top official in charge of ideology, propaganda and party organisation. His elevation to the party’s most powerful decision-making body was a surprise because had never headed a government ministry or been party chief of a province, two of the most usual paths to the top.

        Little known to the wider public before he joined the Politburo Standing Committee, behind the scenes Wang has been a key adviser to the last three Chinese leaders. He has accompanied Xi on several overseas visits, including to the U.S., although his years of study and research have made him critical of democracy, U.S. foreign policy and society. 

        As the party’s chief theorist, Wang was the mastermind behind the “Important Thought of the Three Represents,” set out by then president Jiang Zemin in 2000, and the “Scientific Outlook on Development,” first put forward by Hu Jintao in 2003, guiding principles for the party that were subsequently written into its constitution.

        Wang is also widely thought to be the main architect of Xi’s “China Dream” concept and his political theory “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era,” which has also been enshrined in the constitution.

        A professor of international politics at the prestigious Fudan University in Shanghai, Wang moved from academia to the Policy Research Office, known as the party’s in-house think-tank, in 1995 and worked his way up to become its director in 2002.

      • Wang Qishan
        Vice President of the People’s Republic of China (2018); Member of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC (2018). Born July 19, 1948

        Veteran banker, anti-corruption tsar, and with a reputation as a fixer, Wang Qishan is one of the most experienced America hands in the leadership and one of Xi’s most trusted allies. Wang was forced to step down from the elite Politburo Standing Committee and from his position as head of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection at the 19###sup/sup### Party Congress in October 2017 because he was past the usual retirement age for senior officials.

        His comeback in March 2018 as vice president, traditionally a largely ceremonial position, was not a surprise given his relationship with Xi, and he was expected to take on a portfolio focused on foreign affairs, particularly China’s relations with the U.S. Widely considered as the “eighth member” of the elite seven-strong Politburo Standing Committee, Wang is a member of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission, the top Communist Party body in charge of diplomacy and foreign affairs headed by Xi himself.

        But so far Wang has taken a relatively low profile, leaving negotiations with Washington to defuse the trade war largely to Liu He. But he has made public appearances to meet with foreign political and business delegations visiting Beijing and gave a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2019 that expounded on Xi’s vision of a “community of shared future for mankind.” He has also used his long-standing ties in the U.S. business community, including his friendship with former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, to try and understand President Donald Trump’s thinking on trade relations with China.

        Wang has built up years of experience as a banker, economic policymaker and negotiator. He was a vice premier from 2008 to 2013 and played a key role in formulating and implementing China’s response to the global financial crisis. He was also one of the main negotiators dealing with the U.S. over trade and investment issues.

        There is no definitive information about how and when Xi and Wang become close, but Chinese reports say they became friends in their youth when they were both “sent down” to the countryside during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s.

      • Wang Shouwen
        Vice Minister of Commerce (2015); Deputy China International Trade Representative (2018). Born March 1966

        An engineer and economist by training, Wang is a veteran trade bureaucrat who has worked in the Ministry of Commerce for more than two decades, moving up from an official in the translation and interpretation department to director general of the ministry’s foreign trade department in 2006. He was sent on an 18-month posting to the city of Nanjing as vice mayor in 2009-2010 and was promoted to the position of assistant minister of commerce in 2013, with. As vice minister, Wang’s portfolio includes WTO affairs, foreign investment, and international trade and economic affairs.

        Wang has been a key figure in trade talks with U.S. officials and has been in charge of the nitty gritty aspects of the day-to-day work at vice ministerial level to push the negotiations forward. He has also led advance teams to Washington to pave the way for talks between top officials. He has gained a reputation as a feisty talker, using colourful language in his comments about the trade war. He has described the U.S. as a “trade bully,” and at a briefing in September 2018 asked: “How could you negotiate with someone when he puts a knife on your neck?”

      • Wang Yi
        Minister of Foreign Affairs (2013); Member of the CPC Central Committee (2007); State Councilor (2018); Member of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission (2017). Born October 1953

        A career diplomat, Wang’s expertise lies in Asia. He majored in Japanese at university and joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1982 in the Asian department where he spent much of his career. He is an expert in Japanese affairs and was ambassador to Japan from 2004 to 2007 after serving as vice minister from 2001 to 2004.

        Although still foreign minister, Wang was promoted to state councilor responsible for foreign affairs in 2018, succeeding Yang Jiechi. It is unusual for an official to hold both positions simultaneously and is another sign of the increasing importance of diplomats in the foreign affairs decision-making structure under Xi Jinping.

        Wang has gained a reputation for his staunch and outspoken defence of China’s position in world affairs. In October 2018, he told U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the U.S. had “escalated trade friction with China, took actions that jeopardized China's rights and interests on the Taiwan issue and unwarrantedly condemned China on its domestic and foreign policies.”

      • Mark Warner
        U.S. Senator (2008); Vice Chairman, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (January 2017). Born December 15, 1954

        Senator Mark Warner is the top Democrat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, making him a powerful figure on national security issues. He has a high public profile as vice chairman of the committee and is an outspoken critic of China, frequently raising concerns about the threat the country and its companies, especially telecoms giants Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corp, pose to U.S. national security.

        He has also criticised U.S. companies for working with Chinese companies, singling out search giant Google for developing a search engine for the Chinese market that would censor and control information.

        The committee, which oversees America’s spy agencies and investigated Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election, has been heavily involved in aspects of U.S.-China relations related to technology, espionage and telecommunications. In February, Warner and the chairman of the committee, Richard Burr, were among 11 senators who signed a letter to the president urging him to broaden a ban on the use of equipment supplied by Huawei to cover the  U.S. power grid and other utilities infrastructure.

        Warner has raised concerns about the participation of Chinese technology companies in formulating standards for 5G, fifth generation wireless telecommunications technologies. In March 2019, he and Republican Senator Marco Rubio urged Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to declassify relevant information and issue a public report on China’s participation in international standard-setting bodies for 5G to allow U.S. companies to “assess any existing threats to fair competition and push back on them.”

        Warner and Rubio are also the lead sponsors of bipartisan legislation introduced in January 2019 to help combat technology-specific threats to national security posed by foreign actors like China and ensure the U.S.’s technological supremacy by improving coordination across the government.

        Warner was a vocal opponent of a deal reached between the U.S. Commerce Department and Chinese telecoms group ZTE in June 2018 under which the company agreed to pay a $1 billion fine to end sanctions that threatened to cripple its operations. He and five other senators introduced a bill in September 2018 that would reimpose sanctions on ZTE if it failed to live up to the agreement. Following the arrest of a Chinese national found trespassing at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in March 2019, Warner was among the Democratic members of the committee who called on the FBI to assess the security vulnerabilities of the complex, which has been dubbed the winter White House.

      • General Wei Fenghe
        Minister of National Defence (2018); Member of the Central Military Commission (CMC) (2017); Member of the CPC Central Committee (2012); State Councilor (2018). Born 1954

        A professional soldier, Wei was appointed Minister of National Defence in 2018 after his predecessor, General Chang Wanquan, retired, the latest promotion in a relatively rapid ascent since Xi came to power.

        Wei joined the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in 1970 and rose through the ranks to become deputy chief of staff in the PLA’s General Staff Department in 2010, the youngest man to ever hold the position. In October 2012 he was appointed commander of the Second Artillery Corps, now known as the PLA Rocket Force. A month later, days after Xi formally took over as head of the party and chairman of the CMC, Wei was promoted to general, making him, at the age of 58, the youngest to ever hold the rank. The move was part of Xi’s strategy to cement his control over the military and a clear signal of his trust in Wei.

        Although the ministry does not control the armed forces – that responsibility lies with the CMC – the minister himself is a key figure in China’s political system. He must be an active military officer and is always a member of the CMC, which allows him to take part in decision-making over the PLA.

        Wei has vigorously defended China’s actions in the South China Sea and has warned the U.S. that it will take “any necessary actions at any cost” if its sovereignty over Taiwan is challenged.

        In a speech in Beijing in October 2018, Wei blamed the U.S. for “seriously jeopardising the U.S.-Sino relationship and mutual trust” after Vice President Mike Pence alleged China was interfering in U.S. politics.  

      • Xi Jinping
        General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) (2012); President of the People’s Republic of China (2013); Chairman of the Central Military Commission (2012); Member of the Politburo Standing Committee (2012). Born June 15, 1953

        Xi, like his predecessors, is head of the Communist Party, the state, and the military. He is often described as China’s most powerful leader since Deng Xiaoping, having consolidated his position partly through a ruthless corruption crackdown that purged many of his enemies and a campaign to enforce party discipline. 

        Since becoming General Secretary in November 2012, Xi has shifted power away from the executive branch of government and into the hands of the party, and himself, earning him the nicknames Chairman of Everything and Emperor Xi. Many of Xi’s allies and key policy advisers are officials who worked with him over the years in his various political posts in Zhejiang and Fujian provinces and in Shanghai. 

        Xi’s power was further consolidated in October 2017 when the party approved the addition of his philosophy, "Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era", to the party constitution. 

        The National People’s Congress, the rubber-stamp parliament, approved its inclusion in the country’s constitution in March 2018, when it also approved the removal of a clause that limits the president to two five-year terms. Coming after potential successors for the party secretary position failed to emerge at the party’s Congress in October 2017, the move fuelled speculation that Xi intends to govern beyond 2022.

        He has set up or restructured numerous commissions and leading groups covering politics, the economy, the military, national security, and international affairs, all of which report to the party. He has also gradually increased his involvement in economic policymaking, a remit traditionally held by the premier.

        Soon after coming to power, Xi started to promote the “Chinese Dream,” his vision for the country’s future  –  building a moderately prosperous society and realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. 

        That was swiftly followed by what has become his signature foreign policy initiative One Belt One Road, now known as the Belt and Road Initiative, an ambitious but nebulous infrastructure and investment strategy that envisions linking China with western Europe through multiple land and sea routes across central Asia, Africa, the Middle East and eastern Europe.

        At home, Xi’s leadership has been characterised by increased authoritarianism that has involved tightening ideological control on all aspects of society and crackdowns on corruption and dissent, both political and religious. 

        Abroad, his leadership has been characterised by a shift away from China’s traditional low-profile foreign policy toward a much more assertive approach, seeking to boost the country’s stature and presence on the international stage, and to challenge the U.S.’s position as the world’s only superpower.

        Unlike his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump, Xi has rarely commented publicly and specifically on the trade war, leaving pronouncements to the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But in speeches, he has sought to project himself as a champion of open markets, free trade and globalisation, and has repeatedly said that confrontation in whatever form, including a trade war, produces no winners.

      • Yang Jiechi
        Member of the Politburo (2017); Director of the General Office of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee (2017). Born May 1950

        A career diplomat and one of the country’s most experienced U.S. hands, Yang has been a key beneficiary of a shake-up of the foreign affairs bureaucracy initiated by Xi to raise China’s profile and influence on the global stage. As China’s top diplomat, Yang has often accompanied Xi on his overseas state visits and has played a key role in trade negotiations with the U.S.

        Yang is a former foreign minister (2007–2013) and ambassador to the U.S. (2000–2004) and his elevation to the 25-member Politburo, which would have been unthinkable a decade earlier, demonstrates the importance Xi now places on foreign affairs. Yang is also director of the office of the party’s Central Foreign Affairs Commission, which is chaired by Xi and replaced the Central Leading Group for Foreign Affairs as the body in charge of coordinating China’s foreign policy in 2018.

        Yang co-chaired the U.S.–China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue in 2017 and 2018, a forum initiated in 2017 by Donald Trump and Xi Jinping for diplomats and military officials from the two countries to find avenues for cooperation.

        Early in his career, Yang served as an interpreter for Deng Xiaoping and George H.W. Bush and served three tours in the U.S. starting in the 1980s. His experience as a diplomat in the U.S. totals more than 12 years, making him an invaluable presence in Xi’s inner circle as geopolitical tensions have risen and China has increasingly challenged America’s position as the world’s only superpower.

      • Yi Gang
        Governor of the People’s Bank of China (2018); alternate member of the CPC Central Committee (2017); Vice Chairman of the Financial Stability and Development Committee (2018). Born March 5, 1958

        Yi is arguably the most senior figure in China’s financial sector and its regulatory system and a key member of Liu He’s team negotiating with the U.S. to end the trade war. The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) is not independent from the party and government, and while Yi has significant input into monetary policy formulation, major decisions such as interest-rate changes are made by the party leadership. But Yi is the man responsible for implementing monetary policy, managing the yuan, and overseeing the stability of the financial system. He succeeded Zhou Xiaochuan, who retired in March 2018 after 15 years at the helm.

        A U.S.-trained economist and academic and one of the country’s most famous “sea turtles,” a reference to returned overseas Chinese, Yi was an obvious choice to succeed Zhou. A fluent English speaker – he spent 14 years in U.S. academia – he was already well known and respected in the international financial community. He had 20 years’ experience at the central bank, including 10 as vice governor and seven as head of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange. He joined the PBOC in 1997 and moved up the ranks to become vice governor in 2007. But he did not ascend through the party ranks and is only an alternate member of the CPC Central Committee, a relatively low position for a PBOC governor. That explains why Guo Shuqing, a veteran central banker and regulator and head of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, was made party secretary of the PBOC.

        Widely seen as pro-reform, Yi is likely to be pushing for more progress in overhauling the financial system and the monetary policy framework, including interest-rate liberalization, capital-account opening, and making the yuan an international currency. The central bank has gained significant additional authority over the financial system since an overhaul of regulators was completed in 2017 which led to the establishment of the FDSC.

      • Zhang Xiangchen
        Ambassador and Permanent Representative of China to the WTO (2017); Deputy International Trade Representative (2015)

        Zhang is a trade veteran who has spent more than two decades at the Ministry of Commerce, most of it involved in World Trade Organisation affairs.

        China is the world’s second-largest economy and the biggest exporting nation. It is also the top target for anti-dumping actions by other members. Zhang’s job is to defend China’s interests at the WTO, especially in the face of increasing hostility from the U.S., and to ensure that Beijing gets a say in the proposed reform of the trade body and in updating its rules. In January, Zhang announced that China was joining 75 other WTO members to start negotiating new rules governing the global e-commerce market, a surprise last-minute development after it had been widely expected to stay out of the talks.

        Zhang regularly clashes with his U.S. counterpart, Dennis Shea, and has taken him to task on many occasions, most recently in December 2018 when the two traded barbs during a closed-door review of U.S. trade policies.

        Zhang was appointed deputy director general of the Department of WTO Affairs in November 2001, a month before China formally joined the global trade body, and was promoted to director in April 2005. In 2008, he was appointed deputy representative and minister of China’s Permanent Mission to the WTO and was promoted to deputy China international trade representative, a vice ministerial-level position, in April 2015. Zhang was made China’s Permanent Representative to the WTO in 2017.

      • Zheng Zeguang
        Vice Minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2015). Born October 1963

        Zheng Zeguang is a rising star in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and currently oversees relations with North America. He is widely tipped to become China’s next ambassador to the U.S. when Cui Tiankai retires.

        Zheng started his career as a teacher but quit after two years and went to study in the foreign languages department of South China Normal University. After graduation he joined the foreign ministry which sent him to the UK to study international law. His first posting to the U.S. was in 1994 as second secretary at the embassy in Washington and he returned for another three-year tour in 2005 as a minister. He was sent to Nanjing in 2010 where he served as vice mayor until 2013 when he returned to the ministry and was promoted to assistant minister.

      • Zhong Shan
        Minister of Commerce (2017); Member of the CPC Central Committee (2017). Born October 1955

        Zhong, another Xi ally, heads the Ministry of Commerce which has been at the forefront of China’s response to the trade war. His relationship with Xi dates back to their time in Zhejiang province where Xi spent five years as party chief from 2003 to 2007 while Zhong was vice governor.

        Zhong has spent most of his career in foreign trade. He was general manager of the Zhejiang Textiles Import and Export Company before moving to the provincial bureau of the foreign trade and economic cooperation ministry (the precursor to the Ministry of Commerce) in 1998. He moved up the political ranks and in 2008 was appointed a vice minister of commerce. Zhong added the ministerial-level position of international trade representative to his portfolio in 2013, throwing him into the front line of trade negotiations. After nine years as vice minister, Zhong was finally appointed Minister of Commerce in February 2017.

        He has been a key figure in negotiations with U.S. officials to try and resolve the trade dispute between the two countries. He has said that while China doesn’t want a trade war, it can handle any challenges and will defend its national interests. At the annual session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) in March 2019, Zhong said negotiations to end the dispute had been “very difficult” due to the significant differences in the economies of the two countries, but he urged Washington to work with Beijing to finalize efforts to reach an agreement.

        Zhong’s other responsibilities include oversight of foreign investment into China and China’s involvement in multilateral trade agreements. On the domestic front, his ministry is responsible for a range of issues including consumer protection and market competition. 

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