US China Tensions, Trump’s $250m Election Fraud ‘Ripoff’

Biden spoke with Xi via video link in November. Photographer: Sarah Silbiger/UPI
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When Jake Sullivan and Yang Jiechi talk, it usually means one thing: their bosses are preparing to pow-wow.

Meetings between the top US and Chinese diplomats in October and March both led to calls between Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping.

Key reading:

Now there are fresh signals. US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also held his first face-to-face talks with Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe in Singapore on Friday. Previously, the US had wanted Austin to deal with a senior military official not a Communist Party minister, but ultimately shelved their quibbles over rank.

It all suggests leaders of the world’s two largest economies want to keep high-level communication open, amid tensions over everything from Taiwan to alleged forced labor in China’s Xinjiang region and Xi’s muted response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Recent Chinese claims the Taiwan Strait is part of their exclusive economic zone has raised the possibility of a clash on a route US warships transit several times a year.

The White House called Sullivan and Yang’s four-and-half-hour meeting on Monday “candid, substantive, and productive.” They discussed the South China Sea, the war in Ukraine and North Korea’s nuclear program, China’s official Xinhua News Agency said.

That suggests security will be the focus of any contact between the presidents.

Their November call saw prisoners released on both sides and the March talks set US red lines for Beijing’s economic response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war. But finding middle ground on China’s long-standing territorial disputes is a much taller order.

Personal diplomacy won’t be helped by the fact that Biden and Xi will be oceans apart. The Chinese leader still isn’t leaving his nation’s Covid Zero bubble.  Jenni Marsh

Biden spoke with Xi via video link in November. Photographer: Sarah Silbiger/UPI

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Global Headlines

  • Trump ‘ripoff’ | The House panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 assault on the US Capitol aired new testimony showing members of former President Donald Trump’s inner circle advised him against pursuing claims the 2020 election was stolen. Yet he pressed on, raising about $250 million from supporters in fundraising appeals that one committee member said were then diverted to other purposes in a “big ripoff.”
  • Sievierodonetsk fighting | Russian forces now control as much as 80% of the eastern Donbas city of Sievierodonetsk, with all three bridges linking it to western territory destroyed, according to the Luhansk region’s Ukrainian governor. The fighting has prevented the further evacuation of civilians and delivery of humanitarian aid, he said. Follow our rolling coverage of the war in Ukraine here.
  • The European Union continues to explore two “ major” energy projects with Israel as it works to reduce its reliance on Russian fossil fuels, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said today.

US equity futures rebounded, and Treasuries snapped a four-day selloff, signaling some relief after a rout erased $1.3 trillion in market capitalization yesterday. This quarter is set to deliver the biggest combined loss for global bonds and stocks on record, in data going back to 1990.

  • Trouble brewing | UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is heading for a fresh fight with his Conservative Party after the government published plans to override the Northern Ireland protocol in its Brexit deal with the EU. The proposal was condemned by the bloc, panned by legal experts and may face stiff opposition in Parliament, including from some of Johnson’s own lawmakers.

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Independence target | Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is starting a fresh drive to convince the public of the merits of leaving the UK. But as Rodney Jefferson reports, her dilemma is that while pro-independence sentiment has grown since Britain quit the EU, she’ll have trouble finding a legal way to call a referendum over the opposition of London.

 

Explainers you can use

Voter rage | Presidential candidate Rodolfo Hernandez has tapped into public anger in Colombia, railing against corrupt politicians, crooked cops and bureaucrats who show up to work at 10 a.m. But as Matthew Bristow reports, the former mayor of Bucaramanga is under indictment himself for allegedly interfering with the bidding process for an energy project. A hearing is due after his June 19 run-off against Gustavo Petro.

A Hernandez campaign sign in Bucaramanga, Colombia, on June 5. Photographer: Natalia Ortiz Mantilla/Bloomberg

Bloomberg TV and Radio air Balance of Power with David Westin weekdays from 12 to 1 p.m. ET, with a second hour on Bloomberg Radio from 1 to 2 p.m. ET. Our guests will include Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens and Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations. You can watch and listen on Bloomberg channels and online here or check out prior episodes and guest clips here.

News to Note

  • French President Emmanuel Macron’s setback in the first round of legislative elections will force him to contend with an emboldened leftist opposition seeking to undo his pro-business agenda.
  • China dismissed the need for a United Nations mission to review its labor standards in the Xinjiang region, after a committee branded its policies for Uyghurs as “discriminatory.”
  • Finnish President Sauli Niinisto voiced frustration with Turkey over a lack of progress in a dispute that’s preventing the accession of Finland and Sweden into NATO, saying the process is “stuck.”
  • Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese downplayed the possibility of a reset in relations with Beijing after his deputy premier met the Chinese defense minister in Singapore.
  • Biden will travel to Saudi Arabia next month and is set to meet the country’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, NBC reported.

And finally … New schoolbooks will teach students in Hong Kong that it wasn’t a British colony, according to the South China Morning Post, highlighting Beijing’s campaign to revamp education in the city. Four sets of textbooks for a class on citizenship say the Chinese government never recognized the 19th-century treaties that handed the UK control of Hong Kong until 1997. They also blame sometimes violent protests in 2019 on “external forces.”

A pro-democracy advocate draped in a UK flag outside a court hearing for activists charged with violating Hong Kong’s national security law in 2021. Photographer: Lam Yik/Bloomberg
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