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The Month in U.S. - China Relations (January 2019) 中美关系月报

Rui Zhong
The Month in U.S. - China Relations (January 2019) 中美关系月报

China and the United States are entering the Year of the Pig with tensions left on the table from 2018 and greater challenges emerging in the New Year. In Vancouver, Meng Wanzhou is awaiting her next hearing in the case brought against telecoms giant Huawei by the U.S. Department of Justice. In Washington, former U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has added his voice to the bipartisan chorus that views China as a threat to the United States. Beijing faces a daunting slate of domestic and international challenges—economic and geopolitical—as the March 1 deadline for resolving Sino-U.S. trade disputes approaches. Although Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan characterized American and Chinese economies as ‘inseparable’ in remarks at Davos, China’s model of globalization is attracting greater scrutiny from the Five Eyes and from some countries that have accepted Chinese “Belt and Road” investments. 

Rui Zhong

Program Assistant

Kissinger Institute on China and the United States

Major Issue Tracker

China’s Global Influence

China's Chang'e 4 Probe Makes Historic Touchdown (January 3): A Chinese spacecraft has become the first to land on the far side of the moon in a historic moment for human space exploration…Read More>>

Canada vows to stand its ground as China threatens ‘repercussions’ over Huawei restrictions (January 18): Canada’s government on Friday dismissed China’s warning of repercussions if Ottawa banned Huawei Technologies Co Ltd from supplying equipment to 5G networks, saying it would not compromise on security… Read More>>

John McCallum resigns as Canada’s ambassador to China at Trudeau’s request (January 26): Prime Minister Justin Trudeau fired his ambassador to China, John McCallum, after McCallum ignored a warning from the prime minister and repeated the mistake of talking publicly about the government’s view of the Meng Wanzhou case and how it hoped to resolve the plight of two Canadians detained in China… Read More>>

Apple Says Profits Were Flat, Citing Slump in China (January 29): Apple said that profits were flat and revenues were down in its most recent quarter, indicating a difficult road ahead for a company that five months ago became the first American firm to be valued above $1 trillion. The disappointing financial performance had been expected since Jan. 2, when Apple, for the first time in 16 years, revised its forecast for the quarter because of an economic slowdown in China and diminishing demand for new iPhones…Read More>>

China just tested the world's most powerful naval gun, and US intelligence says it will be ready for warfare by 2025 (January 30): China tested the world's most powerful naval gun earlier this month and it's expected to enter China's arsenal by 2025, according to sources with direct knowledge of a U.S. intelligence report…Read More>>

U.S. Asia Policy 




·Secretary Michael R. Pompeo, Remarks to the World Economic Forum (January 22), Read More>>

  • Chinese Vice-President Wang Qishan, Speech at 2019 World Economic Forum (January 25), Read More>>


U.S. Renews China Travel Warning, Citing Risk of Arbitrary Detention (January 3): The United States renewed a travel advisory for China on Thursday that warned American citizens could face arbitrary detention there, a move that came amid tense relations between the countries dominated by trade disputes and the recent American-requested arrest of a high-profile Chinese executive in Canada…Read More>>

Trump’s dual Korean challenges: Talks with North and U.S. troop payment impasse with South (January 20): President Trump’s demands that South Korea take on far more costs for hosting U.S. troops is straining the alliance and potentially playing into North Korea’s hands ahead of a second summit with Kim Jong Un, South Korean lawmakers and experts say…Read More(subscription)>>

Amid trade and military tensions, U.S. sends B-52s over East China Sea on 'routine training' exercise (January 30): The U.S. Air Force has sent two B-52 bombers over the East China Sea for “routine training” near Okinawa Prefecture, the military has said, the latest mission in the waterway that is home to the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, which Beijing also claims to be its own Diaoyu Islands…Read More>>

President Trump Says He Must Meet with China’s Xi Jinping Before any Trade Deal is Done (January 31): “This is going to be a very big deal or it’s going to be a deal that we’re going to postpone for a little while," Trump told reporters at the White House…Read More>>

Southeast Asia and the South China Sea 

Vietnam frustrated by slow pace of talks on South China Sea code of conduct (January 17): Foreign Minister Pham Bình Minh says Southeast Asian countries are trying to strike a balance between competing US and Chinese interests in disputed waters. Hanoi and Beijing both claim areas of South China Sea but Vietnam insists it wants to avoid conflict…Read More>>

US Navy chief refuses to rule out sending carrier through Taiwan Strait despite China’s growing military capabilities (January 18): Admiral John Richardson says there are ‘no limitations’ on type of ship that can pass through what US maintains are international waters. US has stepped up operations in area as China’s military modernisation poses greater threat to American warships… Read More>>

Taiwan holds military drills to halt invasion amid rising China tensions (January 17): Taiwan's military held large-scale drills on its west coast Thursday amid growing tensions between the self-governed island and an increasingly belligerent Beijing… Read More>>

Outcry in mainland China as Taiwan’s Taipei Palace Museum lends calligraphy masterpiece to Japan (January 15): Decision to lend Tang dynasty treasure to Tokyo museum sparks uproar on mainland social media. Media reports suggest masterpiece will be put at risk by loan, but some arts experts defend it as a normal cultural exchange… Read More>>

Technology, Surveillance, and Espionage



·China's ZTE Hires Lieberman, Drawing Fire From Elizabeth Warren (January 3)

·Trump administration tells ZTE it can restart some operations (January 4)

·U.S. legislation steps up pressure on Huawei and ZTE, China calls it 'hysteria' (January 16)

U.S. Officials Warn Health Researchers: China May Be Trying to Steal Your Data (January 6): Scientists and universities receiving funds from the National Institutes of Health for cutting-edge research need to tighten their security procedures and take other precautions, said a panel of experts commissioned by the agency to investigate “foreign influences on research integrity…Read More (subscription)>>

‘Made in China 2025’: How 5G could put China in charge of the wireless backbone and ahead of the pack (January 16): China is determined to take more ownership of its industrial future through the development of 5G mobile technology, raising concerns amongst western governments as America tries to rally other major economies in counteraction… Read More>>

Confucius Institutes: Do they improve U.S.-China ties or harbor spies? (January 23): American colleges once viewed Confucius Institutes as an economical way to bring warmer ties with China and an influx of Chinese international students paying full tuition. But U.S. officials, particularly under President Trump, are taking aim at Confucius and other Chinese government-supported programs, warning that universities have unwittingly exposed themselves to undue influence or even spies from America’s major political and economic rival…Read More>>

Asia Tech bosses fear a US-China cold war splitting global market (January 17): The global economy faces "very serious disruption" from the escalating US-China trade war, business leaders have warned, as the U.S. renews allegations of trade theft against Huawei Technologies and lawmakers move to ban chip sales to key Chinese companies… Read More>>

Academia and Law


Why US universities should fear the feud with China (January 18): Anxiety has been rampant about the “Trump effect”, the idea that the president’s travel ban and anti-foreigner rhetoric could discourage – or prevent – top students and scholars from coming to the United States and damage the standing of American higher education globally. But perhaps American colleges should be bracing for something even more ominous on the horizon – call it the “China effect”… Read More>>

Donald Trump’s US$250 billion China tariffs likely to be investigated by WTO (January 28): The World Trade Organization investigation is expected to move ahead on Monday because the United States is unable to block the dispute inquiry for a second time. The investigation comes at a delicate moment between the world’s two largest economies with a new round of trade talks expected to begin on January 30 ahead of March 1 deadline…Read More>>

U.S. sends 70 questions to WTO about China's subsidies (January 30): The United States has accused China of hiding some trade-distorting subsidy programs from international scrutiny while disclosing others it does not need to, according to a document circulated on Wednesday at the World Trade Organization…Read More>>

Soft Power, Media, and Censorship

Closing Confucius Institutes (January 9): The tide may be turning for the Chinese government-funded centers of Chinese language and cultural education as universities grapple with calls from Washington to close the institutes down. Over past year at least 10 have closed or announced plans to close…Read More>>

McDonald's apologizes after People Said an Ad supported Taiwan independence from China (January 21): An ad from McDonald's Taiwan that sparked a debate about whether it showed support for the country's independence from China has been withdrawn…Read More>>

China blocks Microsoft's Bing search engine for one day (January 24): On Thursday, users in China reported being unable to access Bing, making it the latest foreign technology service shut behind the country’s Great Firewall. But service was restored after a day-long outage, the company says…Read More>>


Foreign Media Reporting Conditions in China Worsen (January 28):  Last year marked a “significant deterioration” in reporting conditions for foreign journalists in China, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China said on Tuesday, with no reporter saying in a new survey that conditions had improved last year…Read More>>

Top of Form


Trade and Economic Relations

Trade War

Officials Deny Report Mnuchin Proposed Lifting China Tariffs (January 17): US officials have denied that Steven Mnuchin, the US Treasury secretary, had recommended pre-emptively lifting tariffs on Chinese imports to give more room for Beijing to make concessions on structural reforms…Read More>>

China could completely cut off investment into Silicon Valley amid Huawei bust-up (January 23): Chinese tech giant Huawei is facing restrictions from several Western governments, amid concerns that its products could be used for spying. It comes at a time when the United States and China are locked in a long-running trade dispute, with investors increasingly concerned the conflict could spill over into a so-called “tech war”…Read More>>

If You Read/ Watched Nothing Else…


The fine writing and film/videography on U.S.-China relations published each month far exceeds the assimilating capacity of any institution.  It would be ridiculous to feature “the best” efforts of the past month, but KICUS would like to highlight the following work nonetheless:


Op-Eds and Commentary

China has nothing to fear from America’s Africa strategy, as it’s largely bluster (David H. Shinn and Joshua Eisenman, South China Morning Post, January 28)

Building a Better Deal with China (Daniel Rosen and Scott Kennedy, CSIS, January 28)

Blog Posts

New Pentagon Report to Congress: U.S. Defense Implications of China’s Expanding Global Access (Andrew S. Erickson, January 15)

China’s Death-Threat Diplomacy (Donald Clarke, The China Collection, January 14)

Chinese Hard Power Supports Its Growing Strategic Interests in Africa (Paul Nantulya, Africa Center for Strategic Studies, January 17)


Congress and Trump Administration China Policy: Overlapping Priorities, Uneasy Adjustments and Hardening toward Beijing (Robert Sutter, Journal of Contemporary China)

MIT Technology Review: The China Issue (January 2019)


Why Tesla Is Betting Big in China With a Shanghai ‘Gigafactory’ (The Wall Street Journal)


Last Boat Out of Shanghai: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who Fled Mao’s Revolution (Helen Zia, January 22)

About the Author

Rui Zhong

Rui Zhong

Program Associate
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Kissinger Institute on China and the United States

The mission of Kissinger Institute on China and the United States is to ensure that informed engagement remains the cornerstone of U.S.-China relations.  Read more