ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 06/05/2019

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South China Morning Post / Update: China still ‘preparing’ delegation for US trip despite Donald Trump’s threat to increase tariffs

  • China is still preparing to send a delegation to Washington for the trade talks despite the latest threats by US President Donald Trump to increase tariffs. Trump tweeted on Sunday that punitive tariffs on US$200 billion of imports from China will increase from 10 per cent to 25 per cent on Friday.
  • Trump also stated the US may impose extra duties on additional goods shipped from China, with US$325 billion in Chinese goods still untouched by the stand-off set to become subject to the 25 per cent “soon”.
  • Trump’s threat puts the Chinese delegation in a difficult position as any agreement could be perceived by the domestic audience as a capitulation to the White House. Sources suggest that Chinese President Xi Jinping vetoed additional concessions proposed by his negotiators.
  • Taoran Notes, a social media account used by Beijing to release trade talk information and to manage domestic expectations, said the hints from the US side that the 11th round of talks are a deadline was “merely smoke and mirrors to exert extreme pressure [on China] … You don’t have to take it seriously.”

Haaretz / Editorial: Why Netanyahu keeps mum

  • In contrast to previous rounds of violence between Israel and Hamas, when all the fatalities were suffered by the latter, four Israelis have been killed in this weekend’s conflagration. The Palestinians, meanwhile, have reported 23 deaths.
  • The Israeli Defence Forces and the Israeli security services could not have been any clearer when for months they warned that the situation in the Gaza Strip was volatile. Israel cannot claim “victory” over 2 million people in dire straits. Now, four Israelis have paid with their lives for Netanyahu’s no-policy policy.
  • While economic well-being cannot replace the Palestinians’ desire for an independent state, it could create a reasonable status quo, like that which for many years characterized the relationship between Israel and the West Bank.
  • But Netanyahu preferred to use the political pressures on him, mainly from the far right, to justify a policy of zero initiative and reliance on Egyptian mediation. The prime minister knowingly lies when he offers military action as the ultimate solution.

CNN – Zachary Cohen & Nicole Gaouette / Exclusive: Images show North Korea missile launch as Pyongyang tests Trump

  • A new satellite image obtained by CNN shows the smoke trail of a Friday rocket launch by North Korea that is likely a short-range missile. The missile test, North Korea’s first since 2017, serves as a clear warning of leader Kim Jong Un’s frustration at the state of talks with the US.
  • US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed that the projectile was “relatively short range” and “landed in the water east of North Korea and didn’t present a threat to the United States or to South Korea or Japan.” Pompeo struck a positive note, saying, “We still believe there’s an opportunity” to achieve “verified denuclearization”.
  • Kim had pledged not to fire long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles, so the launch doesn’t violate the letter of his agreement with Trump, but it does violate an understanding Pyongyang made with Seoul to stop firing missiles as a confidence building measure.
  • Jeffrey Lewis of the Middlebury Institute sees a historical parallel with a North Korean promise to declare a moratorium on long range missile tests in the early 2000s. When Pyongyang broke that moratorium in 2006, they started with a short range missile test that technically did not break the agreement.

Euractiv / US deploying carrier, bombers to Middle East to deter Iran

  • The Trump administration is deploying a carrier strike group and bombers to the Middle East in response to troubling “indications and warnings” from Iran and to show the US will retaliate with “unrelenting force” to any attack, national security adviser John Bolton said on Sunday.
  • Though Bolton cited no specific Iranian activities that have raised new concerns, Iran has recently warned it would block the Strait of Hormuz if it was barred from using the strategic waterway. About a fifth of the oil consumed globally passes through the strait.
  • A US Navy statement issued early last month said the aircraft carrier and its accompanying convoy of ships had steamed out of Norfolk, Virginia, on April 1 “for a regularly scheduled deployment”, but it did not give any destination at the time. While it is not rare for the US to have aircraft carriers in the Middle East, Bolton’s language could increase tensions.

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces. 

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