Wednesday, July 17, 2019
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US to put pressure on UK government after leaked Huawei decision

The US has arranged for a representative from the state department, which has repeatedly warned of the risks of using Huawei, to give a briefing on Monday. The latest US lobbying comes after the leak of a decision by the normally secret UK National Security Council, which agreed to allow Huawei to supply 5G technology after a contested meeting in which five cabinet members raised objections. But while Downing Street may regard the Huawei decision as final there are signs that it could yet be reversed once Theresa May steps aside, with sources close to Boris Johnson indicating the former foreign secretary could be willing to “look again” at the Huawei approval if he were to become prime minister. The chancellor, Philip Hammond, was the first minister to publicly confirm that a leak inquiry had started, when asked about Huawei at an Chinese government investment forum in Beijing – and said it needed to be dealt with. “I think it is very important that we get to the bottom of what happened here.” On Thursday it emerged that the cabinet secretary, Sir Mark Sedwill, had written to the senior ministers present at the meeting to demand that they and their aides cooperate with the inquiry and state whether they were aware of the leak. It is understood that Sedwill’s letter did not spell out exactly what would happen next, but the inquiry process could involve phone and email records being examined and politicians and aides interviewed by investigators appointed by Sedwill. Some Conservative backbenchers want the police or MI5 to be called in to help with the investigation, which could become a criminal prosecution under the Official Secrets Act. Allies of Hammond say he also categorically denies being involved in any leaks from the meeting. The others were Theresa May, the prime minister; David Lidington, her effective deputy; Greg Clark, the business secretary; and Jeremy Wright, the culture secretary, who is ultimately responsible for the security of the UK’s telecoms networks. It also emerged on Friday that the Dutch telecoms giant KPN will select a “western company” to work on the core of its 5G rollout across the Netherlands after the US ambassador criticised its apparent plans to give the contract to Huawei.

Huawei leak highlights collapse of discipline in May’s cabinet

Leaks from deep within Theresa May’s bitterly divided administration have become widespread and common: as one despairing official remarked recently, “this government is a sieve”. But the revelation of the highly sensitive news that ministers have decided to set aside cybersecurity concerns and involve the Chinese firm Huawei in the creation of Britain’s 5G network is regarded by many as a leak too far. The decision was taken at the national security council, on which ministers sit alongside officials and members of the security services. The secrecy of its discussions has never before been breached. A full-scale inquiry is now expected to be launched, but a slew of other briefings and counter-briefings from private meetings in recent weeks and months has not just gone unpunished but become almost unremarkable. There are several, allied reasons for this pervasive culture of briefing and counter-briefing, which means multiple competing accounts of cabinet meetings are available shortly after ministers walk out of Downing Street. One is simply the ready availability of instant electronic communication – a string of WhatsApp messages is a lot quicker and more straightforward than the old-fashioned gossip over lunch or in a Westminster bar (though that still happens too, of course). Another is the historic significance of the issues at stake and the lack of trust on both sides of the Brexit debate, which means all the key players want to ensure their point is heard even if they lost the argument in the room. There has been a complete breakdown of discipline. One exasperated minister said it was obvious when colleagues around the polished cabinet table in Downing Street were making the strident, often over-long intervention they would then allow to be briefed to the press later.

How US–China political tensions are affecting science

Meanwhile, Chinese scientists planning to attend conferences or meetings in the United States have told Nature that they are experiencing significant delays in obtaining short-term visas. Last August, Collins wrote a letter to the more than 10,000 US institutions that it funds, stating that the agency was concerned that “some foreign entities” were interfering in the funding, research and peer-review of NIH-supported projects. Then, last week, Collins said that investigations at 55 US universities had found some “egregious” breaches of rules governing the agency’s grants — including grant recipients not disclosing foreign government money or diverting intellectual property from their US institution to other countries such as China. “If students are told they cannot do cutting-edge research at US institutions, they are going to go elsewhere,” Mowery says. What about visas? Pan told Nature that he has missed two conferences in the United States this year, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting, at which he was to have collected the prestigious Newcomb Cleveland Prize for an outstanding paper published in the journal Science, because he was not granted a visa in time. Several major scientific conferences in the United States have also reported visa delays for Chinese nationals. An official at the Chinese embassy in Washington DC, who asked not to be named owing to the sensitivity of the situation, said the embassy is aware that increased numbers of Chinese students and academics have been unable to obtain US visas for China–US student exchange programmes, conferences and meetings over the past 12 months. Are the tensions affecting science in China? Universities need to be more vigilant against foreign interference in research, Smith says, but also to balance that with the need for academic openness and international collaboration.

China’s Communist Party tells its members to celebrate two birthdays: The day they were...

Feng Li/Getty The Communist Party of China (CPC) is making its members celebrate their "political birthday," or the day they joined the party. Celebrations are not like typical birthdays: Members are told to host study groups and discussions on CPC's politics. Applicants have to go through multiple background screenings, exams, and interviews in order to join the CPC. The CPC's new "political birthday" directive comes as it ramps up members' loyalty to the party and its leader, President Xi Jinping. The Communist Party of China (CPC) is telling its members to celebrate two birthdays a year: The day they were born, and the day they joined the party. "But for Chinese Communist Party members, there are two birthdays. At the top is Chinese President Xi Jinping, while many prominent Chinese people like Alibaba founder Jack Ma, whose membership was revealed last year, are part of the party. The CPC's push for loyalty The CPC's new "political birthday" directive comes as it ramps up members' loyalty to the party and its leadership. The country has also been on a massive anti-corruption campaign since Xi became president in 2012. Under his rule, the CPC has punished at least 1.3 million party members, many of whom are high-profile figures in the country, according to the South China Morning Post.

Europe-China political unity still far off despite Xi’s nimble diplomacy

The politics around Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to France were far from auspicious. Beijing has several reasons to dislike the China policy of Emmanuel Macron: This, in the language of Chinese foreign policy, amounts to a lack of “strategic trust”. These commercial deals reflect mutual corporate interests but also a Chinese effort to build trust on this state visit to France. French President Emmanuel Macron has been reluctant to sign a memorandum of understanding to take part in China’s “Belt and Road Initiative”. Xi Jinping’s Paris visit showed how hard it is for China and Europe to go beyond principled statements on critical issues such as the global reduction of carbon emissions. Photo: EPA-EFE Today, the issue that dominates Europe-China political discussions is the architecture of global governance. It is unnatural for a Chinese leader to hold an exchange with the German chancellor and the president of the European Commission during a state visit to France. In sum, Xi’s state visit to France ended on a positive note despite the quasi impossibility to agree on an international agenda of cooperation. Chinese diplomacy took Europe as it is, working in Rome with a divided and weakened Italy, in Paris with a Franco-German-EU coalition, treating the latter slightly better from the perspective of commercial deals. This clearly does not solve the problem of a lack of a political engine for Europe-China cooperation, not does it solve the numerous divergences between China and Europe on political values, governance models and the state of international affairs.

China Politics and YOUR Business

With all that is going on with China’s economy and with its trade discussions with the United States and with US tariffs and with the EU’s mounting frustration with China, our China lawyers are finding themselves more often engaged in “big picture” discussions with our clients than ever before. What are you seeing in China? We are well-trained and well-positioned to answer some of these, such as the one regarding China’s new laws and we write about those. See China’s New Foreign Investment Law and Forced Technology Transfer: Same As it Ever Was and China Approves New Foreign Investment Law to Level Playing Field for Foreign Companies. Our client had read the report, found it exceedingly helpful, and thought we too would benefit from it. Yesterday, my law firm had its bi-weekly “international team” meeting. One of the things I love discussing at these meetings is what I call the 360 nature of our practice and in our meeting yesterday I talked of how the EU lead at a multinational company had contacted us because he had heard of our having opened a Madrid office and he was based right outside Madrid. I just assumed from this that he was seeking Spain legal help, but it turned out he wanted to work with our Spain lawyers on a China matter. The Special Report is 20 pages, but Ms. Minehardt nicely summarizes it on APCO’s blog here. Stability is the government’s top priority amid the continuation of China’s economic slowdown.

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Trump administration hoped for more progress from China: Bloomberg source

The Trump administration was reportedly hoping for more progress from China on market-oriented reforms after a meeting between President Trump and his Chinese counterpart. A senior administration official told Bloomberg News that the U.S. is worried about subsidies, excess capacity and industrial policy. The official told Bloomberg that the U.S. had expected more progress to be made after a meeting earlier this year between Trump and President Xi Jinping. Trump is expected to go to Beijing next month. He will also go to a meeting of leaders from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Vietnam. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last week hit China over what he deemed as its efforts to subvert and undermine global order, while outlining a broad commitment to increasing cooperation with India. Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a foreign policy think tank, Tillerson said that the Trump administration was "determined to dramatically deepen" cooperation with India, which he cast as a stabilizing influence in Asia. China, on the other hand, poses a threat to stability in the region and the greater world order, he said. "China, while rising alongside India, has done so less responsibly, at times undermining the international, rules-based order even as countries like India operate within a framework that protects other nations’ sovereignty," Tillerson said.