This is the week that financial markets should abandon any remaining illusion that U.S.-China trade talks would be a time-constrained, tradable event that ultimately would result in a deal reassuring investors. Near dead is the notion that both sides would inevitably compromise because they so badly need an agreement for their own political and economic purposes. 

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When Chinese negotiators reportedly walked back some of their commitments to structural changes within the framework of a US-China trade deal late last week, US President Donald J. Trump threatened to increase tariffs on Chinese imports from 10 percent to 25 percent despite ongoing negotiations — a threat that became a reality at midnight on May 10. China announced retaliatory tariffs and Trump said he would impose tariffs of 25 percent on $325 billion in Chinese imports to the United States that are not currently taxed if there is no trade deal within the next few weeks. Trump’s focus could next shift to a different front: a May 18 deadline to decide on how to react to a US Commerce Department report — a decision that could result in tariffs on imported cars and car parts. How might this week’s developments impact his decision? And what does this mean for the prospect of commencing formal US-European Union (EU) trade negotiations?

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According to a Western physician who returned days ago from a mission of mercy into Syria’s northwestern Idlib Province, no fewer than thirteen hospitals have been successfully targeted by Russian combat aircraft; three of them had previously declared their geographic coordinates to the United Nations. Thus far, Russia’s hospital offensive and the Assad regime’s barrel bombings have reportedly killed dozens of civilians and put 150,000 terrified people on the road. Provided the regime of Bashar al-Assad refrains from using chemical weapons, it seems very unlikely that anyone will lift a finger to protect Syrian civilians and, by extension, defend the West.

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A trade war between the United States and China heated up, rockets fired by militants in Gaza provoked airstrikes from Israel, and attention focused on Iran as conflicts simmered across the globe this week. Do you remember what happened during a tense week? Take our quiz to prove you were paying attention.

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US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo has urged the United Kingdom not to give Chinese telecom giant Huawei a role in building its 5G telecommunications network warning that China wants to “divide Western alliances through bits and bytes, not bullets and bombs.”

In a speech in London on May 8, Pompeo also said US intelligence sharing relationships with its friends and allies are at stake. He stressed that “insufficient security will impede the United States’ ability to share certain information with trusted networks.”

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The United States' sanctions strategy is increasingly burdened by the involvement of systemically important financial institutions and sovereign investors in global financial statecraft. In the post-9/11 world, Washington’s strategy was highly effective in pursuing non-state actors like al-Qaeda or ISIS, as well as small, rogue nations like Iran. Yet in addressing larger sovereigns like the Kremlin, US strategy has struggled to maintain the same effectiveness given the cross-border financial connections linking these entities to Western markets. As an era of great power competition among Washington, Moscow, and Beijing sets in, these foes will crowd out smaller, non-state actors, thus demanding an adequate response from the Treasury.

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A strong economy and the support of his base have created the conditions necessary for US President Donald J. Trump to ratchet up pressure on China in trade talks, according to the Atlantic Council’s Bart Oosterveld.

The stock market’s “muted overall reaction to the threat of tariff escalation” and the fact “that the United States is performing exceptionally well on jobs and growth” have provided the administration “the economic leeway to take drastic measures against China,” said Oosterveld, who is the director of the Atlantic Council’s Global Business and Economics Program and C. Boyden Gray Fellow on Global Finance and Growth.

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In his new book, Atlantic Council’s Anders Åslund says the United States Should Demand Transparency

The ability for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his oligarch allies to hide money in banks and real estate in the United States is “a real strategic danger,” US Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) warned on May 7.

The senator lamented the fact that the United States is “now number two in terms of the nations that support secret financing and funding and allow for the hiding of assets behind shell corporations. We should not be on that list at all, much less number two.”

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The latest round of fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants in Hamas-ruled Gaza ended abruptly on the morning of May 6, when an apparent ceasefire came into effect. Details of the deal — brokered between the parties by Egypt, Qatar, and the United Nations — still remain sketchy at this time, but neither Israel nor Hamas seems to have emerged as a clear victor from the skirmish.


Although similar to earlier occasions on which blows were traded over Israel's Gaza frontier, this past week’s altercation was extraordinary nonetheless for its intensity, including the highest fatality numbers on record since Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014: four Israelis and twenty-five Palestinians lost their lives in the two-day battle which followed the violent protest along the border fence on May 3.

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Washington – This one is both highly personal and disturbingly global.


On Wednesday afternoon last week, fifth grade students of Sidwell Friends Middle School walked down Wisconsin Avenue to the Washington National Cathedral to say goodbye to one of their own. A suicide terrorist’s bomb – at an Easter Sunday brunch at a Sri Lankan hotel – had taken the life of their classmate, Kieran Shafritz de Zoysa, age 11.

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