If economic gains are reason enough for Americans to look past the Trump administration’s flaws, why would this not be the case for Chinese?

(Originally published here on September 15, 2020 in South China Morning Post.) Don’t expect Beijing to roll over when it is collared with the same leash it puts on diplomats posted to China. Conflating one-upmanship and reciprocity as readily as US President Donald Trump portrays America’s Covid-19 disaster as a public health policy success, Chinese Foreign Ministry [...]

Why China should try to keep Donald Trump happy

(Originally published here on September 1, 2020 in South China Morning Post.) When US President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, discussed China with the Atlantic Council’s Paula Dobriansky last week, he let slip something unusual for an administration that otherwise projects nothing but confidence about its chances for a second term. “Whether [Trump] has a [...]

US curbs on China’s Confucius Institutes are welcome, but they’re not the real target

(Originally published here on August 18) Washington has finally cornered China with its move against Confucius Institutes in the US (CIUS) last week. United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s order that the US headquarters of Chinese government-funded Confucius Institutes must register as a foreign mission makes sense, but the distorted narrative that is being spun around [...]

US outrage over national security law for Hong Kong puts Donald Trump and China trade talks in an awkward spot

(Oringinally published here on May 25, 2020 in South China Morning Post.) If you missed the statement last week from the US Trade Representative’s office about hopeful progress in its phase-one deal with China, that’s entirely understandable. It came through quietly amid the uproar created by the Beijing’s plan to promulgate a new national security law for [...]

Coronavirus crisis? Trump’s bromance with Xi is going strong and he can blame everything on the Democrats anyway

(Originally published here on March 3, 2020 in South China Morning Post.) US President Donald Trump is absolutely correct to push back at critics who faulted him for the travel restrictions that the immigration authorities put in place a month ago. But to hear Trump tell the story, it was his political opponents from the Democratic Party [...]

By violating US judicial norms, Donald Trump might be putting himself and China in a lose-lose situation

(Originally published here on February 17, 2020 by South China Morning Post.) Asserting that Donald Trump feels a strong kinship with strongmen like Chinese President Xi Jinping used to be something of a rhetorical exercise. The assertion would be made to jolt those closest to Trump and also, with an overall sense of allegiance to [...]

How can the US judge China’s social credit system when American consumers are chained to big tech?

(Originally published here on January 6, 2020 by South China Morning Post.) As we move into 2020, expect China’s implementation of a social control system that leverages cutting-edge technology to keep tensions high between Washington and Beijing. China watchers have realised this effort is highly efficient, just as they finally understood last year that Beijing [...]