As for President Trump, he has expressed increasing concern about how his trade dispute with China is dragging down markets. For the moment, administration insiders say Trump is siding more with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin‘s penchant for deal-making, rather than U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer’s harder line approach, that seeks more fundamental changes in how China operates.
Though it is harder to “price in” the potential impact of an escalating U.S.-Chinese tech war, the impact on the global economy and geopolitics will be far greater and of generational consequence. History has shown that the societies that dominate technological advance also gain other advantage, from military superiority to national prosperity.
This week’s news that a federal investigation into Huawei had reached an advanced stage further escalates tensions after last month’s arrest in Canada of Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou on fraud charges linked to Iranian sanctions violations.
At the same time, a bipartisan group of U.S. legislators introduced bills that would ban the sale of U.S. chips or other components to Huawei, ZTE Corp or other Chinese telecommunications companies that violate US sanctions or export control laws.
Those actions come at a time when the U.S. intelligence is increasingly concerned that at current trajectories, China could come to dominate emerging technologies. The concern is most critical in the area of artificial intelligence, where China’s complete control of vast reservoirs of data without privacy protections could be decisive.
The growing danger is that the tech race could become the primary battleground in a struggle between democracy and autocracy – and between China and the U.S. The dangers of a technological cold war, a zero-sum contest for global dominance that ultimately separates Chinese and U.S. tech sectors from each other and divides up the world, are increasing.
A better outcome would be a collaborative future where the two sides manage their differences, competing vigorously for markets and global influence; while at the same time agreeing to common, transparent and accountable international standards that protect third parties and individual rights.
On current trajectories, however, conflict is more likely.
As Henry Kissinger recently said: “We’re in a position in which the peace and prosperity of the world depend on whether China and the United States can find a method to work together, not always in agreement, but to handle our disagreements. … This is the key problem of our time.”
Frederick Kempe is a best-selling author, prize-winning journalist and president & CEO of the Atlantic Council, one of the United States’ most influential think tanks on global affairs. He worked at The Wall Street Journal for more than 25 years as a foreign correspondent, assistant managing editor and as the longest-serving editor of the paper’s European edition. His latest book – “Berlin 1961: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the Most Dangerous Place on Earth” – was a New York Times best-seller and has been published in more than a dozen languages. Follow him on Twitter @FredKempe and subscribe here to Inflection Points, his look each Saturday at the past week’s top stories and trends.
For more insight from CNBC contributors, follow @CNBCopinion
‘Bloomberg’s kind of money buys a lot of loyalty — or at least silence. Anyone else would be toast.’
White. Male. Old. A Wall Street billionaire.
At first glance, Michael Bloomberg would seem to have zero appeal in a Democratic Party where progressive populism is on the rise and activists and elites say it’s time for a woman or a person of color to win the White House.
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But unlike any of the other presidential hopefuls, Bloomberg plays a dominant leadership role on two of the top issues on the minds of progressives heading into the 2020 cycle: climate change and gun control. He’s spent a decade as the nation’s preeminent financier on those issues, buying considerable goodwill in progressive circles. If he runs, those familiar with his thinking say, they’ll be the pillars of his campaign.
No successful presidential campaign has ever been anchored to those issues. But the politics surrounding climate change and gun control have changed dramatically in recent years, and nowhere more than in the Democratic Party. In a splintered field where the former New York mayor’s message would be reinforced by a theme of governing competence and private sector success, those close to him believe Bloomberg could find traction despite his seemingly awkward fit.
“He’s not going to be running to the far left like the other candidates are. He describes himself as fiscally moderate, fiscally conservative, but he’s clearly socially liberal and he’s a key driver of social policies,” said a top Bloomberg insider. “For Mike, it’s not ideologically driven, It’s pragmatic. People die from an excess of guns in America. People are dying and suffering and will continue to from the effects of climate change.”
Bloomberg is polling and collecting “data,” the source said, and climate change and guns are “going to drive Democrats to the polls.” The politics of climate change have been front and center with the opening of the new Congress as Democrats discuss making a “Green New Deal.”
Bloomberg’s top boosters insist he hasn’t made up his mind yet about running. He’ll make an official announcement within a month.
If he decides to run, Bloomberg told reporters in Iowa last month, he would make climate change “the issue.”
Guns won’t be far behind.
“I’ve devoted a lot of my life now to fighting gun violence,” Bloomberg said Thursday in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at an event for Everytown for Gun Safety, a group he formed five years ago after he was New York Mayor. “When I left office, I knew that I couldn’t walk away from that responsibility … I’m going to devote my life to a job that has not been finished.”
As the philanthropist and founder of an eponymous news and information company publicly mulls a presidential bid, Bloomberg is already acting like a major candidate, except he has a net worth estimated at $51 billion, a vast network of activists who have depended on him for years and a private plane that can take him wherever he wants to hold events with them and soak up free media coverage.
In the past four months, Bloomberg has visited 27 cities, dropping off checks with grateful activists and mayors who want to fight global warming or the gun lobby or both. Bloomberg has contributed so much to gun control and climate change groups that aides can’t give a precise figure of the total donated to all over the years, estimating it at “hundreds of millions” — $110 million of which was given to the Sierra Club alone for its “Beyond Coal”effort.
Bloomberg, meanwhile, has privately met with political players about a potential 2020 bid, as he did in Iowa where he ostensibly traveled in December to screen a new documentary he financed about climate change, “Paris to Pittsburgh,” and spoke to Moms Demand Action, a gun control group affiliated with Everytown. He’s also hired an aide just to handle press inquiries about a potential bid and this month re-released his book, “Bloomberg by Bloomberg.”
On Jan. 29, Bloomberg returns to New Hampshire for his second visit, after making scheduled appearances in Northern Virginia, Annapolis and Washington D.C., where he’s scheduled to speak Monday at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration Breakfast with Rev. Al Sharpton.
It’s there, at a memorial for the civil rights icon with Sharpton, that the limits of Bloomberg’s progressive bonafides come into sharper focus. Sharpton, other black leaders and even federal courts havecriticized the racially biased “stop-and-frisk” New York policing policies that Bloomberg embraced as mayor and that he recently stood behind as a necessary crime-fighting tool, despite evidence to the contrary. On his Iowa trip, protesters harangued him about stop and frisk and other issues.
Bloomberg insiders privately acknowledge stop and frisk is aliability in a Democratic primary. It’s not the only one.
At 76 years old, Bloomberg probably has one last chance to have a reasonable shot at the White House. And insiders are keenly aware that a Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat will struggle in a party that’s drifted leftward. Also, the billionaire financial tycoon who saw Occupy Wall Street erupt in his city in 2011 when he was mayor will have some explaining to do to a party that’s concerned about wealth disparity.
But in a crowded Democratic primary where everyone moves left, the centrist, self-funding billionaire could have enough money and voters to sustain a long campaign that could last until the 2020 convention.
There’s also hope that, if Bloomberg runs, his activism on guns and climate will mute some of the incoming he would otherwise get from the left. So might the fact that he contributed an estimated $110 million to help 21 Democratic congressional candidates win in November.
“Bloomberg’s kind of money buys a lot of loyalty — or at least silence,” said one top Florida Democrat. “Anyone else would be toast.”
It’s not that Bloomberg has merely purchased or rented support. Instead, Bloomberg has earned credibility by picking big fights long ago that weren’t so popular.
Climate change barely registered as an issue as recently as 2008 when Barack Obama he first ran for president. As an Illinois senator, Obama still had a measure of loyalty to the coal industry, and the jobs that came with it, in the south of the state. Since then, climate change has steadily risen in importance amid increased warnings from scientists, concerns about the intensity of killer storms and, especially for Democrats, President Trump’s labeling global warming a “hoax” and his decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accords.
In reaction, Bloomberg help found a group called America’s Pledge to get cities, states, business and universities to meet climate change goals under the accords. He’s also the U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Action, and chairs a financial task force and board concerningClimate-Related Financial Disclosures and Sustainability Accounting Standards for private enterprise.
The Sierra Club’s executive director, Michael Brune, said Bloomberg has been “a leader on climate for 20 years.” And Heather Hargreaves, executive director of the NextGen America group funded by billionaire Tom Steyer, said Bloomberg has “obviously put his money where his mouth is.”
Hargreaves said that in 2008 even activists weren’t talking about climate change much. Now the major Democratic presidential hopefuls all have platforms.
The same is true of guns. When Bloomberg a decade started his first gun control group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, taking on the National Rifle Association was considered political suicide. On the 2008 campaign trail, Obama would only go so far as to say he supported “some common-sense gun safety laws.”
“I believe in the Second Amendment. I believe in people’s lawful right to bear arms,” Obama said. “I will not take your shotgun away. I will not take your rifle away. I won’t take your handgun away.”
But today, all the major Democratic candidates and likely candidates for president advocate for issues like an assault weapons ban or universal background checks, said Peter Ambler, executive director with the gun control group Giffords, which works in tandem with Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety.
Exit polls after last year’s elections showed that Democrats ranked gun control as the second-most important issue behind healthcare. Ambler said Bloomberg’s advocacy has been so deep and long that he’s earned an air of “authenticity” among activists.
“I don’t think when he started focusing on this 10 years ago that the issue would have been as politically powerful as it is today,” Ambler said. “I’m certainly old enough to remember John Kerry dressing up in a duck hunting outfit because he felt he needed to appeal to the NRA in some way shape or form. The politics have changed.”
Leslie Jones has expressed anger over the announcement of a new Ghostbusters movie that will follow the timeline of the 1984 original.
Although the characters in the new movie haven’t been revealed, Jones said she hopes it won’t exclude women.
The Saturday Night Live star was one of four actresses to headline the 2016 reboot directed by Paul Feig, which told a female-centered Ghostbusters story featuring new characters who were unconnected to the first film or its 1989 sequel.
Last week, Up in the Air director Jason Reitman announced that he will be directing a film for summer 2020 that follows new characters through the same world that was saved from the apocalypse in the original story. His father Ivan Reitman directed the first two movies and produced the 2016 reboot, and will also produce this new film.
Jones, who was the focus of horrendous abuse from online trolls who objected to women being the stars of a new Ghostbusters movie, expressed her frustration on Twitter Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon.
“So insulting. Like f—- us,” she tweeted. “We dint count. It’s like something trump would do. (Trump voice)’Gonna redo ghostbusteeeeers, better with men, will be huge. Those women ain’t ghostbusteeeeers’ ugh so annoying. Such a dick move. And I don’t give f— I’m saying something!!”
In an interview with EW last week, Reitman praised the all-female Ghostbusters film and said he did not want his movie to be interpreted as a sign of disrespect to the work Jones, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, or Melissa McCarthy did.
He said the only reason the films wouldn’t link to each other is because Feig’s film created an original timeline, starting fresh without the events of the earlier movies. Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, and Annie Potts appeared in cameos as entirely different characters.
“I have so much respect for what Paul created with those brilliant actresses, and would love to see more stories from them. However, this new movie will follow the trajectory of the original film,” Reitman said.
On Sunday afternoon, Jones tweeted again about her unhappiness with the new project.
Reitman has not specified who the new Ghostbusters characters will be. His filmography is full of movies with lead female characters, such as Juno, Up in the Air, Young Adult, and Tully.
Jones’ tweets Sunday suggested her primary concern was that the new movie would feature “all men.”
“… The point is if they make this new one with all men and it does well which it will. It might feel that ‘boys are better’ it makes my heart drop,” she tweeted. “Maybe I could have use different words but I’m allowed to have my feelings just like them.”
Sony and Reitman did not respond to requests for additional comment on Sunday.
A government scheme designed to allow European citizens to continue living in the UK after Brexit was launched in public test phase on Monday, amid warnings that it could leave tens of thousands of people undocumented in years to come.
The 3.5 million citizens of the EU’s 27 countries residing in the UK must go through an online application process to apply for “settled status” if they have lived in the UK for at least five years, or “pre-settled status” if they haven’t reached that threshold.
The scheme will be fully opened by March 30.
By July 2021, it will become mandatory for EU citizens living in the UK to hold settled or pre-settled status. That deadline would become the end of 2020 should the UK exit the EU without a deal.
A report released today by the think-tank British Future warns of a new “Windrush-type scandal” unless the government addresses potential pitfalls in the system, steps up its information campaign and pays particular attention to vulnerable cases including the elderly and those with patchy employment and residence histories.
“The Home Office must invest in getting the EU Settlement Scheme right from the start. Failure to do so could cause massive problems in years to come, on a far bigger scale than the ‘Windrush scandal’,” said Jill Rutter, director of Strategy for British Future and co-author of the report, referring to the denial of health services, detention and in some cases deportation of Commonwealth citizens after they were retroactively asked to prove their right to reside in the UK.
“The application system should work simply and efficiently for the vast majority of EU citizens. But there will always be more complex cases where people find it harder to navigate the system or to prove their residency – and the sheer scale of this task means even a low rate of failure equates to tens of thousands of people,” Rutter said.
Even if they say we shouldn’t worry, they won’t give it to everyone. You still have to apply.
Kristina, Slovakian citizen who has been living in the UK for 10 years
The report points out that if only five percent of those eligible either struggled to apply or were unjustly rejected, that would equal 175,000 people. In order to process all applications before the deadline, the Home Office would have to process 5,600 applications each working day.
The scheme will cost the British government between 500 million British pounds and 600 million pounds, while it will raise 170-190 million in revenue. The application costs 65 pounds for adults and 32.50 for children.
The British government has made a point of reassuring EU citizens that its default position will be to grant rather than deny settled status.
“I couldn’t be clearer: EU citizens living lawfully in the UK today will be able to stay,” Theresa May wrote in an open letter to EU citizens back in October 2017.
The UK government assured EU citizens they will still be able to apply for the settlement scheme should a no-deal scenario materialise.
However, there would be no transition period in which free movement rights would be guaranteed and applicants would have to be in the UK by Brexit day, currently March 29, in order to be eligible.
Critics have said that no deal could leave EU citizens vulnerable to discrimination from employers and landlords who are asked to do stringent checks before hiring or renting out a home.
Pro-Brexit protesters demonstrate outside the houses of Parliament [John Sibley/Reuters]
Despite promises, many fear for their future.
Kristina (not her real name), 30, moved to the UK from Slovakia 10 years ago. She is married to a British citizen and has two British children, but she must still apply for settled status to remain in the UK after Brexit, and she’s worried she may not get it.
“Even if they say we shouldn’t worry, they won’t give it to everyone. You still have to apply,” Kristina told Al Jazeera.
Kristina, who worked for a catering agency when she first arrived in the UK, became a full-time carer in 2012 after her husband was diagnosed with cancer and her two children with autism.
Now, she is concerned that gaps in her employment history will leave her unable to prove she has been “exercising treaty rights” – to be working, studying or self-sufficient according to EU free movement rules – throughout her stay in Britain.
Her husband does not currently meet the income requirements set for British citizens to sponsor their spouses in the UK.
“In the rules they published, they added a provision that says that home office caseworkers, if they decide that the person can be removed for not exercising treaty rights, they also have to refuse the settled status application,” Chai Patel, legal policy director at the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) told Al Jazeera.
“We don’t know who is going to be affected, it would depend on how home office caseworkers choose to apply those rules,” Patel added.
Other groups at risk include the Roma and homeless EU citizens living in temporary accommodation.
The government said the first two private test phases of the scheme had been successful. The second test phase, open to selected universities and health bodies, saw 29,987 applications submitted from November 1 to December 21, 2018. Some 27,211 decisions had been issued by January 14, with no cases refused.
The remaining 3,000 were still awaiting a decision due to their application being incomplete or needing further evidence.
“All the debates around settled status and the capacity of people to secure their position imply an ideal kind of person [that would qualify], but all the people that are not thought about may struggle with the application,” Nando Sigona, who teaches international migration at the University of Birmingham, told Al Jazeera, “there is still a sense of uncertainty about what’s going on.”
President Donald Trump looks on during a discussion after delivering his speech during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting on January 26, 2018 in Davos, eastern Switzerland. /
The absence of President Donald Trump and key members of his cabinet at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos this week probably won’t matter all that much, analysts told CNBC, but it is an accurate reflection of global affairs over the last 12 months.
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Thousands of business, political and cultural leaders are scheduled to return to the Swiss Alpine town of Davos on Monday. The annual forum is seen as an opportunity for international heads of state to come together to try and put the world to rights.
But, this year’s five-day event is without its main attraction of 2018, after Trump abruptly scrapped plans to join other world leaders at the forum due to the ongoing government shutdown.
“The U.S. does not need this quasi-public forum to communicate its thoughts, in fact I think it would be better if the current administration would communicate it’s every thought a little less often,” Steven Blitz, chief U.S. economist at TS Lombard, told CNBC via email.
“The bigger loser of the U.S. not attending in some official capacity is Davos, as Trump basically is telling them it is an expensive boondoggle that is nice to attend, but not necessary for the U.S. government. He is right,” Blitz said.