U.S. poised for wider tech bans against China
- The White House “is talking about a theory where they would stop capital flows into sectors of the economy like AI, quantum, cyber, 5G, and, of course, advanced semiconductors — all those things,” House Foreign Affairs Chair Michael McCaul (R-TX) said last week in an interview when talking about U.S. technology investment in China.
- A spokesperson for the White House National Security Council responded to the comment, saying “I won’t get into specific sectors. But we know the importance of precisely defining which investments would be covered under an outbound investment regime and which would not be.” The spokesperson’s remarks are consistent with the administration’s manner when handling the tech controls — impactful but “carefully tailored restrictions,” as National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said about U.S. semiconductor restrictions on China in November last year. The scope of the measure remains to be seen, but military-related, state-own, and leading private companies are likely to be the main targets.
- Meanwhile, the Biden administration is mulling cutting off Huawei from all U.S. suppliers.
- The newly inaugurated Congress is gathering momentums to take on TikTok. McCaul is planning to introduce a bill to grant the president authority to ban TikTok, hoping to get his committee to vote on it in February. However, the free speech issue could be a significant obstacle. Last month, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) introduced a pair of bipartisan bills (S.5245, R.9508) against the short-video platform in both chambers. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) introduced their versions (S.85, H.R.503) a week later. The government spending bill that became law at the end of last year already banned TikTok from all federal governmental devices.
- Facing mounting pressure from the U.S. government, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew agreed to testify in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on March 23. TikTok first appeared at a Congressional hearing in October 2021, when its vice president and head of public policy Michael Beckerman attended a hearing of a subcommittee of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.
Blinken visits Middle East
- U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken started his three-day visit to Egypt, Israel, and the West Bank on Sunday. The Palestinian issue and Iran nuclear issue are at the core of the trip.
- During his stay in Egypt from Sunday to Monday, Blinken met with President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and held a joint press availability with Shoukry. Blinken emphasized the economic cooperation with Egypt and hailed the country for spearheading efforts to promote regional security and prosperity. The state secretary downplayed the human rights issue despite Washington’s outspoken concerns about this.
- Blinken talked with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Eli Cohen in Israel. Blinken and Netanyahu spoke to the media after their meeting, both criticizing Iran for its attempt to acquire nuclear weapons. Blinken further condemned the weaponry trade between Russia and Iran.
- Blinken will meet with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas today.
IMF gets more optimistic about China, world growth
- In its latest Economic Outlook Update, the International Monetary Fund lifts its prospect of China’s 2023 economic growth to 5.2%, up 0.8% from its October estimation. The IMF also raised its forecast about the global economic expansion in 2023 by 0.2% to 2.9%.
- Here are estimations of China’s economic growth by other institutes at the end of last year:
- Morgan Stanley: 5.4%
- Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) 5.2%
- Goldman Sachs’s 4.5%
- Nikkei Asia: 4.7%
- OECD: 4.6%
- J.P. Morgan: 4.3%
Commentaries of the day
Possible U.S.-China fight: China’s Global Times responded to General Mike Minihan's comments on a possible 2025 fight over Taiwan. “What Minihan said in his memo is not simply from his gut, it represents the real attitude of some people in the US military,” the outlet’s editorial board said. In 2021, Admiral Philip Davidson famously predicted (hearing from 1:03:30) a military conflict over Taiwan by 2027. Admiral Michael Gilday commented (interview from 16:00) on the Davidson window last year that the military should prepare for a 2022 or 2023 window. “Apparently none of these predictions is reliable,” the board said. The authors warned that the U.S. is “making real preparations” for a possible fight with China.
Great Fracture: Andrew Sheng and Xiao Geng reflected António Guterres’s recent “Great Fracture” warning and gave a timely reminder: “when we externalize blame for our problems, we divert valuable resources away from effective solutions, exacerbating the problems and increasing the amount of wasted resources.”
EU strategic autonomy: Rajan Menon called for a revisit of the EU’s psychological dependence on the U.S., saying the current security relations between the EU and the U.S. have “become progressively divorced from reality.”
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