US-China Relations in the Twilight Zone

It might suck having TikTok blocked, but taking away WeChat is personal

The Belt & Road Today

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A Fact

On Friday, the Trump Administration issued an executive order that bans American citizens and companies from "transactions" with Tencent, which owns the WeChat app, and ByteDance, which owns the social media app TikTok. The language used is broad and it's still unclear precisely what "transactions" means.

It goes without saying that restricting the ability of Chinese residents to download or update the WeChat app on their iPhones could be a huge negative for Apple's sales in the country. The broadest interpretation of the order would prohibit U.S. companies from advertising on Chinese apps altogether, which would hamstring them in their efforts to do business in China altogether

WeChat is central to daily life in China. The Great Firewall makes outside communication difficult and the entire Chinese diaspora uses WeChat to speak with friends and family living abroad. Over the weekend, social posts warning Chinese users to say their goodbyes to loved ones in America were widespread, underscoring concerns about the U.S. having effectively cut off this communications channel.

It is well known that Trump loves walls. By banning WeChat (in what form, it is yet to be seen) could create the biggest social rift between yet seen between the U.S. and China.

A Musing

In the last week, Donald Trump dramatically ramped up his campaign against Beijing by barring US companies from doing business with high-profile Chinese technology groups and now by sanctioning 11 specific Chinese and Hong Kong officials. Beijing called the sanctions “blatant and barbaric interference” in the affairs of the People’s Republic of China by using Hong Kong “as a pawn in its ploy to create troubles in [the] China-US relationship”.

“We are entering the Twilight Zone of US-China relations,” said Evan Medeiros, who served as top White House Asia adviser to President Barack Obama. “It is a bizarre moment in the relationship because it appears that the Trump administration is actively trying to engineer a strategic confrontation, and Beijing is saying ‘can’t we all just get along’,” he added.

My Chinese friends and family continue to console me and say that the problems between the U.S. and Chinese at a government level has no impact on the warm feelings between the people of the two countries. I often find myself wondering how long that sentiment will last.

A Book

A hundred and fifty years ago in America, if we had the social media capability we have today the slogan might have been “Red Lives Matter”. My concern over the state of the union these days has me reading more American history. This is why I picked up “The Apache Wars.” Paul Hutton does an excellent job of bringing these characters to life and provides insights that certainly escaped the media of the time.

In this sprawling, monumental work, Paul Hutton unfolds over two decades of the last war for the West through the eyes of the men and women who lived it. This is Mickey Free's story, but also the story of his contemporaries: the great Apache leaders Mangas Coloradas, Cochise, and Victorio; the soldiers Kit Carson, O. O. Howard, George Crook, and Nelson Miles; the scouts and frontiersmen Al Sieber, Tom Horn, Tom Jeffords, and Texas John Slaughter; the great White Mountain scout Alchesay and the Apache female warrior Lozen; the fierce Apache warrior Geronimo; and the Apache Kid. These lives shaped the violent history of the deserts and mountains of the Southwestern borderlands--a bleak and unforgiving world where a people would make a final, bloody stand against an American war machine bent on their destruction. -

The Apache Wars: The Hunt for Geronimo, the Apache Kid, and the Captive Boy Who Started the Longest War in American History by [Paul Andrew Hutton]

Thanks for reading BRAmble,

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