A truce, an arrest and a suicide

The Chinese establishment has been hit by three major interlocking incidents since the beginning of December. On December 1, a much awaited meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump, on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Argentina, ended in applause. A truce in a bruising trade war between China and the U.S. had been achieved.For the next 90 days, negotiators from the two countries were instructed to burn the midnight oil to define a blue print of reconciliation that would cover at least three areas — U.S. market access in China, a deal on intellectual property and reforms of China’s state -owned enterprises (SOEs). Washington has been complaining that these SOEs, enjoying subsidies and government support, have been edging out U.S. private companies in the international marketplace, by making them less competitive.But at the heart of the U.S.-China friction is technology. Washington fears that China is winning the race of advanced technology, in cutting edge areas such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data. Chinese companies are apparently ahead in 5G technology. Beijing’s Made-in-China 2025 plan, riding on core technologies such as 5G, can make a significant impact in raising China’s stature as a high-technology giant. U.S. officials, including Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer have made it plain that they are determined to deflate the Made-in-China 2025 plan.

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