Tuesday September 25, 2018

March 2018 News

April News

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Term Limits for Chinese Presidents Removed
Liu He Visits U.S.
President Trump Announces Tariffs
U.S.-North Korea Talks

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Term Limits for Chinese Presidents Removed

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On February 25, 2018, the Chinese Communist Party proposed removing term limits for Chinese presidents and vice-presidents. The Constitutional clause limiting terms was added in 1982 by Deng Xiaoping, who sought to prevent the rise of personality cults following the destruction and chaos caused by Mao Zedong’s time in power.

Many experts anticipated President Xi Jinping would take measures to extend his presidency because a successor was not appointed during the most recent Chinese Communist Party Congress. The appointment of a successor has been the norm for Chinese presidents starting their second term.

Few have been able to voice their disapproval publicly. Dissent on the internet was largely restricted, with phrases such as “I don’t agree” and ” proclaiming oneself an emperor” being censored.

The National People’s Congress, which started its session on March 5, is expected to approve the repeal on March 11. Members of the Congress report that this measure is supported by the “common folk” and is ” the will of the people.”

Update, March 13: The National People’s Congress approved the repeal with a vote of 2,958 in favor. Only two delegates opposed the repeal. Three abstained from the vote.

Read More:

USCPF News Brief – Changes to China’s Constitution
BBC –
China’s Xi Jinping: Extending president’s rule would be farce, says critic
China Daily –
Proposed constitutional amendment package unveiled
The Economist –
China’s leader, Xi Jinping, will be allowed to reign forever
People’s Daily – Making proper amendments to Constitution is necessary: COMMENTARY
Quartz – Xi Jinping’s latest power grab is bad news for China’s economy
Reuters – Xi’s power grab? Will of the Chinese people, say parliamentary delegates
Washington Post – Is Xi Jinping now a ‘leader for life,’ like Mao? Here’s why this is dangerous.
Xinhua – China Focus: Proposed constitutional amendment package unveiled
New York Times – China’s Censors Ban Winnie the Pooh and the Letter ‘N’ After Xi’s Power Grab
Quartz – Xi Jinping’s latest power grab is bad news for China’s economy

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Liu He Visits U.S.

 

President Xi Jinping’s top economic advisor, Liu He, was in the U.S. from February 27 through March 3 to meet with U.S. officials and policy makers. The meetings failed to persuade the U.S. to restart the Comprehensive Economic Dialogues. These were the high-level economic talks that were established after President Trump and President Xi’s meeting in Mar-a-Lago last year. Liu He did manage to form an agreement with the U.S. to hold talks on trade issues in the future.

Read More:

China Daily – Liu’s US visit designed to ease tensions
The Diplomat – China Sends Envoy to Talk Trade as Trump Mulls Tariffs
Reuters – China leader’s top economic adviser heads to the U.S. for trade talks
South China Morning Post – How US played hardball over top Chinese economic adviser’s Washington trip

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President Trump Announces Tariffs

 

On March 1, President Trump announced he would be imposing 25% tariffs on steel imports and 10% tariffs on aluminum. This announcement greatly angered not only China, but the European Union and Canada. Trump faced widespread criticism at home, including from more than 100 members of his own party. The version of the orders signed by Trump on March 8 exempted Canada and Mexico, but will begin imposing tariffs for the rest of the world on sometime between March 23 and April 7.

Update, March 22: President Trump signed a presidential memorandum imposing tariffs on China’s high-tech sector as well as limiting opportunities for Chinese investment in the U.S.. These tariffs and restrictions aim to reduce the trade deficit with China by $50 – $60 billion and are intended to protect U.S. technology companies from intellectual property (IP) theft. A list of products to be targeted will be developed by the U.S. Trade Representative’s office. This list will be publicly available on April 6. Many are concerned that this situation could devolve into a trade war and the stock market dropped sharply following the announcement. The Chinese Ambassador to the World Trade Organization, Zhang Xiangchen, reported that China was considering filing a complaint about the tariffs with the WTO.

On March 22, U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer announced that the European Union, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, South Korea, Canada, and Mexico will not be affected by the steel and aluminum tariffs. These tariffs are set to take effect on Friday, March 23.

April’s Trade Issues News

Read More:

USCPF News Brief – President Trump Announces Tariffs Targeting China
Business Insider –
China is threatening to fire back at the US in Trump’s new trade war
New York Times – The U.S. Wants to Take On China With Trade. The Rest of the World Will Be Caught in the Middle.
New York Times –
Trump Moves Ahead With Tariffs in Defiance of Allies at Home and Abroad
Politico – Trump strikes back at Chinese tech practices with new tariffs

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U.S.-North Korea Talks in the Works

 

Cooperation between South Korea and North Korea during the 2018 Pyeonchang Winter Olympics allowed for a thawing of relations between the two countries. This cooperation and engagement led to the first meeting between South Korean officials and Kim Jong Un since the North Korean leader assumed power in 2011. A dinner held on March 5, in Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital city, was attended by a 10-member team from South Korea. On March 6, South Korea announced that North Korea was willing to discuss disarmament of its nuclear program, “but only if its own safety can be guaranteed.”

President Trump initially refused talks unless North Korea first disarmed its nuclear program. The White House later accepted North Korea’s invitation for talks to take place by the end of May. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reported on March 12 that preparations were at a “very early stage.” However, Tillerson was removed as Secretary of State by President Trump on March 13. Mike Pompeo, former director of the CIA,  is expected to become the next Secretary of State. Joseph Yun, U.S.’s Special Envoy for North Korea, retired on March 2nd. These changes in leadership could potentially hinder planning talks with North Korea.

South Korea and North Korea are planning a summit between their two leaders in the demilitarized zone to take place by the end of April. The U.S. and South Korea have continued to prepare for military drills to begin in April.

Update, March 22: A meeting between North Korean, South Korean, American, and Finnish delegates finished today in Helsinki, Finland. Delegates report that North Korea’s nuclear program was not on the table as the meeting was planned well in advance of recent positive developments in negotiations with North Korea. However, the talks were “productive” and the “atmosphere had been good.”

Update, March 26: A high-level North Korean official, rumored to be Kim Jong Un, is visiting Beijing. A North Korean train, similar to the one used by Kim Jong Il when he traveled to China, arrived in Beijing on Monday, March 26. Even if this visitor is not the North Korean leader, it is still significant because high-level meetings between China and North Korean have been few and far between since 2011 when Kim Jong Un assumed power.

South Korea and North Korea will meet for high-level talks on March 29 at a village on their shared border. The talks will focus on preparing for the summit between their leaders to be held in April.

Update, March 28: The Chinese government has confirmed the visitor to Beijing was Kim Jong Un. The North Korean leader met with President Xi Jinping to discuss the upcoming meeting between Kim, South Korea, and the U.S.. The two leaders also made an effort to reaffirm their countries’ relationship. Tensions between the two countries have been high over the past few years as North Korea has continued developing its nuclear program and China has begun fully implementing sanctions levied by the UN. This is the first confirmed visit abroad Kim has made since he assumed power in 2011.

April’s U.S.-North Korea Summit News

Read More:

BBC – North Korea is willing to discuss disarmament, says South
New York Times – Talks With North Korea? China Approves (No Matter the Outcome)
Reuters –
White House expects North Korea summit to happen despite Pyongyang’s silence
Washington Post –
Trump accepts invitation to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un
Xinhua – Trump has agreed to meet DPRK leader Kim by May: S. Korean envoy

 

Page updated: March 28

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