Inside a brightly-lit classroom, around 20 schoolchildren are enthusiastically singing the Chinese national anthem.

That song is followed by another tune in Chinese -- one typically sung during the Lunar New Year.

But this scene is not taking place in a Chinese school but at Lakewood Premier school, thousands of kilometers away in Nairobi. Here, schoolchildren are learning Mandarin, a language spoken by nearly 1 billion people almost 8,000 kilometers away from their home.

Sandra Wanjiru, 13, is one of hundreds of African schoolchildren who are increasingly proficient in the Chinese language. More will join their ranks in 2020 when Mandarin will be officially taught in all Kenyan schools alongside French, Arabic and German, which are already on the curriculum.

Lakewood Premier School, where Wanjiru studies, has begun the program a year early to give its pupils a head start.

"I chose to learn Chinese first because it's interesting to learn a foreign language but also because I would want to travel and do business in China," said Wanjiru.

Julius Jwan, CEO of the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), told Chinese state-owned Chinese news agency Xinhua: "The place of China in the world economy has also grown to be so strong that Kenya stands to benefit if its citizens can understand Mandarin."

 

China's growing influence in Africa

 

China has become increasingly powerful and prominent across Africa over the past two decades.

Through President Xi Jinping's flagship Belt and Road Initiative, China has loaned money to African countries to build highways, dams, stadiums, airports and skyscrapers. The Asian powerhouse has given out more than $143 billion in loans to African countries since 2000, according to the Johns Hopkins SAIS China-Africa Research Initiative.

Kenya is not the only country teaching its youngsters Chinese; in South Africa, Mandarin has been an optional language course for students since 2014, and in December 2018, Uganda introduced Mandarin to secondary students in selected schools.

Henry Adramunguni, a curriculum specialist at Uganda's National Curriculum Development Centre, said Mandarin was included in the curriculum because it is one of the United Nations' languages of work. Ugandan students also have the choice of learning French, Arabic and Latin or German in school.

"We want to give the opportunity for our young Ugandans to have access to jobs, education, and business beyond our borders. That's why we've given them this opportunity to learn Chinese," he said.

CNN Illustration/Getty Images
Teachers in the program were trained by tutors at the Confucius Institute, a non-profit organization, working to promote Chinese language and culture around the world.
Confucius launched its first outpost in Africa at the University of Nairobi in 2005 and has since expanded to 48 centers across the continent. They are run by Hanban (the Office of Chinese Language Council International) and are part-funded by the Chinese government and the universities that host them.
China ranks second only to France as the country with the most number of cultural institutions in Africa; a remarkable rise given China has no colonial ties with any country on the continent unlike France and the UK, which have traditionally used cultural institutes such as Institut Français or the British Council to wield influence abroad.
The continued expansion of Chinese cultural institutes on the continent is part of the country's strategy to increase its influence in Africa through 'soft power,' says Ilaria Carrozza, a researcher on China-Africa relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
China hopes that by encouraging the study of its language, it can boost its soft power and appeal abroad, says Carrozza.
"Soft power, if successful, may lead to more influence -- as a matter of fact, it is more than just influence and rather works through persuasion and attraction," Carrozza said.
She added that African governments see the introduction of Mandarin and Chinese institutes as an investment in the future of young Africans.
"African governments hope that introducing Mandarin in school curricula will lead to a future workforce that gets better jobs either in China or with Chinese companies operating in the continent," she said.

Confucius concerns

Despite the apparent advantages, Carrozza warned that African governments should keep a close eye on these institutes especially in the wake of closures in the US of such centers amid fears of interference from the Chinese Communist Party.
The University of North Florida joined a growing list of American schools to end its partnership with the Confucius Institute, saying the center's activities did not align with the school's goals. The decision was welcomed by US Senator Marco Rubio who has been an outspoken opponent of the institutes.
"Without degenerating into a witch-hunt, this is something African governments and institutions need to carefully consider in each individual case," Carrozza said.
China's Foreign Ministry denies accusations the government interferes in running the institutes.
Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a February media briefing in Beijing: "All the Confucius Institutes in the US are jointly established in American universities in accordance with their voluntary application and in line with the principle of mutual respect, friendly consultation, equality and mutual benefit by the Chinese and American universities.
In Kenya, the introduction of Mandarin hasn't been welcomed by all. Wycliffe Omucheyi, chair of the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT), said he believes the government is rushing into the program. Rather than Mandarin, students should be taught indigenous African languages, he said.
"The government needs to develop the vernacular languages classes first before embarking on something foreign," said Omucheyi.
Despite these concerns, Russell Kaschula, a professor of African Language Studies at Rhodes University in South Africa, said it would be naive for Africans not to learn Mandarin as China is a major trading partner to many countries on the continent.
"It is as important as the learning of English, French and Portuguese were back in the 19th century in Africa," he added, referring to a time when former colonial powers imposed their languages.
Africans often have to learn new languages as a matter of necessity and as long as foreign languages are optional, Kaschula said having them in a school's curriculum was not a problem.
"Nelson Mandela once learned Afrikaans so that he could understand the Afrikaner oppressors better," he said.
"In the same way, I think the learning of Mandarin makes sense to Africans."
 
Source: CNN
The prices of crude oil rose on Monday as hopes for an end to the year long tariff row between the United States and China approached a close.
 
Also the production cut deal by members and allies of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, contributed to price rally.
 
International Brent futures were at 65.25 dollars a barrel at 07:13 GMT, up 18 cents, or 0.3 per cent, from their last close, while US West Texas Intermediate crude futures were at 55.94 dollars per barrel, up 14 cents or 0.3 per cent.
 
There are indications that US and China are close to a deal that would roll back US tariffs on at least 200 billion dollar worth of Chinese goods, just as Beijing has also pledged structural economic changes and elimination of retaliatory tariffs on US goods, a source briefed on negotiations said on Sunday in Washington.
 
The “substantive progress” China and the US have made in their trade talks has been “well-received” in both countries and around the world, a senior Chinese official said on Monday.
 
According to a Reuters’ survey, Supply from OPEC fell to a four-year low in February, as top exporter, Saudi Arabia and its allies over-delivered on the group’s supply pact while Venezuelan output registered a further involuntary decline.
 
“OPEC exports are off by over 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) since November,” Barclays bank said in a note released on Sunday.
 
“The supply picture looks generally tighter this year,” said energy analysts at Fitch Solutions in a note on Monday, adding they expected Brent to average 73 dollars per barrel in 2019.
 
There are also indications that Oil prices have been further pushed up by US sanctions against OPEC-members Iran and Venezuela. Barclays bank is of the view that this has resulted in a reduction of around two million bpd in global crude supply.
 
There are also signs that the US oil production boom of the past years, which has seen crude output rise by more than two million bpd since early 2018 to more than 12 million bpd, may slow down.
 
Ugandan government is now at risk of losing its main state assets to China over unpaid huge increasing loans from Chinese government.
 
But according to Ugandan government, the growing debt is sustainable, and the country is not at risk of losing state assets to China, the country’s finance minister, Matia Kasaija.
 
News reported in December last year that Kenyan government risks losing the lucrative Mombasa port to China if the country fail to repay huge loans advanced by Chinese lenders, but both Chinese and Kenyan officials have dismissed that the port’s ownership is at risk.
 
Others think Chinese government are in some ways gangsters, taking over mines all over Africa, sending thousands of Chinese workers, destroy environment, bring the minerals such as copper, sink, gold, silver, diamonds etc home, and make deals with corrupt politicians to plunder the countries.
 
“The case is one of the examples of China’s ambitious use of loans and aid to gain influence around the world and of its willingness to play hardball to collect,” says the New York Times in December 12, 2017.
 
At a time in Somalia when local fishermen are struggling to compete with foreign vessels that are depleting fishing stocks, the government has granted 31 fishing licenses to China.
 
But Uganda’s auditor-general warned in a report released this month that public debt from June 2017 to 2018 had increased from $9.1 billion to $11.1 billion.
 
The report — without naming China — warned that conditions placed on major loans were a threat to Uganda’s sovereign assets.
 
It said that in some loans, Uganda had agreed to waive sovereignty over properties if it defaults on the debt — a possibility that Kasaija rejected.
 
“China taking over assets? … in Uganda, I have told you, as long as some of us are still in charge, unless there is really a catastrophe, and which I don’t see at all, that will make this economy going behind. So, … I’m not worried about China taking assets. They can do it elsewhere, I don’t know. But here, I don’t think it will come,” he said.
 
China is one of Uganda’s biggest country-lenders, with about $3 billion in development projects through state-owned banks.
 
In December 2017, the Sri Lankan government handed its Hambantota port to China for a lease period of 99 years after failing to show commitment in the payment of billions of dollars in loans.
 
Also in September 2018, News reported that China was taking over Zambia’s state power company and Kenneth Kaunda International Airport over unpaid debt rippled across Africa, despite government denials.
 
China’s Exim Bank has funded about 85 percent of two major Ugandan power projects — Karuma and Isimba dams. It also financed and built Kampala’s $476 million Entebbe Express Highway to the airport, which cuts driving time by more than half. China’s National Offshore Oil Corporation, France’s Total, and Britain’s Tullow Oil co-own Uganda’s western oil fields, set to be tapped by 2021.
 
Economist Fred Muhumuza says China’s foot in Uganda’s oil could be one way it decides to take back what is owed.
 
“They might determine the price, as part of recovering their loan,” he said. “By having a foot in there they will say fine, we are going to pay you for oil. But instead of giving you $60 a barrel, you owe us. We’ll give you $55. The $5 you are paying the old debt. But we are reaching a level where you don’t see this oil being an answer to the current debt problem.”
 
The prices of crude oil declined on Thursday on the back of a record high production by the United States and weakening factory output in China and Japan.
 
International Brent crude prices were at $66.20 per barrel at 0525 GMT, after losing 19 cents, or 0.3 per cent from their last close.
 
The U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures were at $56.90 per barrel, declining four cents from their last settlement.
 
American crude oil production has surged to an unprecedented 12.1 million barrels per day over the last year.
 
Traders are also of the view that China’s weakening economy also weighed on oil prices.
 
Factory activity in China, the world’s biggest oil importer, shrank for a third straight month in February as export orders fell at the fastest pace since the global financial crisis a decade ago, official data showed on Thursday.
 
Amid weak demand from China, oil producers are having to cut prices.
 
Russia’s Surgutneftegaz is selling April-loading ESPO crude oil at the lowest level in three months, charging $2.20 to $2.40 per barrel over benchmark Dubai quotes.
 
In Japan, Asia’s second-biggest economy, factory output posted the biggest decline in a year in January as China’s slowdown affected the entire region.
 

President Donald Trump said on Friday there was "a very good chance" the United States would strike a deal with China to end their trade war and that he was inclined to extend his March 1 tariff deadline and meet soon with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

U.S. and Chinese negotiators had made progress and will extend this week's round of negotiations by two days through Sunday, Trump told reporters at the White House as he met with his top negotiators and their counterpart, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He.

"I think that we both feel there's a very good chance a deal will happen," Trump said.

Liu agreed there had been "great progress".

"From China, we believe that (it) is very likely that it will happen and we hope that ultimately we'll have a deal. And the Chinese side is ready to make our utmost effort," he said at the White House.

The Republican president said he probably would meet with Xi in March in Florida to decide on the most important terms of a trade deal.

Extending the deadline would put on hold Trump's threatened tariff increase to 25 percent from 10 percent on $200 billion (153 billion pounds) of Chinese imports into the United States. That would prevent a further escalation in a trade war that already has disrupted commerce in goods worth hundreds of billions of dollars, slowed global economic growth and roiled markets.

Optimism that the two sides will find a way to end the trade war lifted stocks, especially technology shares. The S&P 500 stock index reached its highest closing level since Nov. 8. Oil prices rose to their highest since mid-November, with Brent crude reaching a high of $67.73 a barrel.

CURRENCY AGREEMENT

Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the two sides had reached an agreement on currency. Trump declined to provide details, but U.S. officials long have expressed concerns that China's yuan is undervalued, giving China a trade advantage and partly offsetting U.S. tariffs.

Announcement of a pact aimed at limiting yuan depreciation was putting "the currency cart before the trade horse," but would likely be positive for Asian emerging market currencies, said Alan Ruskin, global head of currency strategy at Deutsche Bank in New York.

"How can you agree to avoid excessive Chinese yuan depreciation or volatility if you have not made an agreement on trade that could have huge FX implications?" Ruskin asked in a note to clients.

In a letter to Trump read aloud by an aide to Liu at the White House, Xi called on negotiators to work hard to strike a deal that benefits both country.

Trump said a deal with China may extend beyond trade to encompass Chinese telecommunications companies Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corp.

The Justice Department has accused Huawei of conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions on Iran and of stealing robotic technology from T-Mobile US Inc.

Chinese peer ZTE was last year prevented from buying essential components from U.S. firms after pleading guilty to similar charges, crippling its operations.

MEMORANDUMS NO MORE

Trump appeared at odds with his top negotiator, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, on the preliminary terms that his team is outlining in memorandums of understanding for a deal with China. Trump said he did not like MOUs because they are short term, and he wanted a long-term deal.

"I don't like MOUs because they don't mean anything," Trump said. "Either you are going to make a deal or you're not."

Lighthizer responded testily that MOUs were binding, but that he would never use the term again.

Reuters reported exclusively on Wednesday that the two sides were drafting the language for six MOUs covering the most difficult issues in the trade talks that would require structural economic change in China.

Negotiators have struggled this week to agree on specific language within those memorandums to address tough U.S. demands, according to sources familiar with the talks. The six memorandums include cyber theft, intellectual property rights, services, agriculture and non-tariff barriers to trade, including subsidies.

An industry source briefed on the talks said both sides have narrowed differences on intellectual property rights, market access and narrowing a nearly $400 billion U.S. trade deficit with China. But bigger differences remain on changes to China's treatment of state-owned enterprises, subsidies, forced technology transfers and cyber theft of U.S. trade secrets.

Lighthizer pushed back when questioned on forced technology transfers, saying the two sides made "a lot of progress" on the issue, but did not elaborate.

The United States has said foreign firms in China are often coerced to transfer their technology to Chinese firms if they want to operate there. China denies this.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Friday urged the U.S. government to ensure the deal was comprehensive and addressed core issues, rather than one based on more Chinese short-term purchases of goods.

China has pledged to increase purchases of agricultural produce, energy, semiconductors and industrial goods to reduce its trade surplus with the United States.

China committed to buying an additional 10 million tonnes of U.S. soybeans on Friday, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said on Twitter. China bought about 32 million tonnes of U.S. soybeans in 2017. The commitments are a "show of good faith by the Chinese" and "indications of more good news to come," Perdue wrote.

China was the top buyer of U.S. soybeans before the trade war, but Beijing's retaliatory tariffs on U.S. soybeans slashed business that had been worth $12 billion annually.

 

- Reuters

A military court on Wednesday convicted Fang Fenghui, former Chief of Staff of China’s Central Military Commission Joint Staff Department, on three counts of crime.

The court sentenced him to life imprisonment according to the law.

Fang was found guilty of accepting and offering bribe as well as holding a huge amount of property from unidentified sources.

“He was also deprived of his political rights for life and had his personal properties confiscated,’’ the judgment stated.

Report says the illicit money and properties confiscated will be turned over to the state coffers.

China firmly opposes mercenary activities in Africa, and will always support African nations' pursuit of peace and prosperity, said Chinese Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ma Zhaoxu.

Mercenary activities are a threat to peace and stability in African countries, and China calls for greater international efforts to address the problem, said Ma, as Chinese President Xi Jinping's special representative at a UN Security Council meeting on mercenary activities in Africa.

He said these activities interfere with the internal affairs of the developing countries, and infringe on their sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, adding that China stands firmly against such activities.

The Chinese representative urged the international community to support African countries in accelerating their development, reducing poverty, eliminating the root causes for conflict and turmoil, and stepping up socio-economic development in African countries.

Ma also pledged China's continued support for Africa to achieve peace, stability and development, and expressed the hope for China and Africa to jointly build a closer community with a shared future.

Monday's meeting was called by Equatorial Guinea, which holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council in February.

Shortly before the meeting, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, president of Equatorial Guinea, spoke highly of the bilateral relations between his country and China during his meeting with Ma.

Obiang also said he attached importance to Equatorial Guinea's relations with China, adding that he was willing to further promote cooperation between the two countries in various fields.

GNA

The complex relationship between Africa and China has become even more complicated this year. Initially, 2018 was set to reaffirm the bond through the latest Forum on China-Africa Cooperation summit held in Beijing in September.

The summit delivered its usual pageant of African leaders, side deals, and the announcement of a USD$60 billion financing package. The year also saw the recurrence of misgivings about the relationship.

The most explicit theme of this conversation was debt. Donald Trump’s US administration added fuel to smouldering anxiety, and China found itself having to defend its lending to Africa – at home and globally. At the same time, African governments are battling rumours that they are about to hand over state assets to the Chinese.

The debt debate is flawed – not least for underestimating Western contributions to African debt. Nevertheless, it is revealing. In particular, the debate reflects an anxiety that has haunted relations between China and the continent since the beginning of this century: the massive power gap between China and individual African countries.

Power imbalances

The constant rhetoric of win-win cooperation between China and Africa has never adequately answered the simple structural question at the heart of the relationship. That is: how is an economy the size of Benin’s or Togo’s, for example, supposed to meaningfully engage with the Chinese behemoth? It’s a bit like trying to speed up your bicycle by grabbing on to a passing jumbo jet. It can take you to the next level, or it can simply rip off your arms.

The fundamental economic and power imbalance between China and African countries has led to the relationship being criticised as neocolonial. The truth, however, is that African governments exercise more agency than they are given credit for. This includes frequently playing China and traditional Western development partners off against one another.

The word “agency” is key here: to what extent is Africa able to freely make its own decisions and drive the best deals with China?

Our new research focused on this issue. We looked at two emerging areas shaping African agency in relation to China. These are reforms to the African Union (AU) and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The initiative involves a massive infrastructure rollout aimed at linking China to Europe and beyond. The aim is to set up a zone of shared development that encompasses Central and Western Asia and Africa.

The AU and the Belt and Road initiative

The AU has proposed a set of reforms to streamline African negotiations at events like the FOCAC under the auspices of the continental body. This could be seen as a step towards the frequently repeated goal of Africa negotiating collectively with China. But, in fact, we show that it faces significant resistance from within the continent. This comes both from powerful states worried about losing control of their bilateral relationships with China, and from smaller states worried about being excluded.

China’s BRI reveals other aspects of African agency. It’s structured by numerous bilateral agreements, but is also subject to regional as well as local pressures. The way the initiative’s projects have been pulled into national debates involving opposition politics shows that the range of actors constituting African agency is potentially much wider than national governments.

We argue that before African agency can be maximised, this aspect of relations between China and particular African governments needs to be taken into account. Thinking about the issue has so far fixated on the role of national governments, to the exclusion of other actors. The biggest include regional economic communities such as Nepad and the AU. The smaller ones comprise opposition parties, civil society, local businesses and communities. All contribute to and constitute African agency.

What is this agency, how does it work and how can it be strengthened?

Understanding African agency

We identified three key areas where African agency can be located.

Firstly, African agency is expressed in the frameworks and documents that govern bodies like the forum. For example, in the early days arrangements paid relatively little attention to the issue of industrialisation. That changed after the formal adoption in 2015 of the AU’s Agenda 2063 – its blueprint for Africa’s sustainable development. The forum held that year saw an uptick in how many times the issue was mentioned.

By 2016, African industrialisation had become a key initiative of China’s presidency of the G20. Beijing directed an unprecedented level of G20 attention to the continent.

By 2018, the Beijing summit ended with fewer declarations of intent relating to industrialisation. Instead, it had become integrated into the continental and bilateral planning processes. In particular, it features regularly in discussions on development financing. Likewise the word “training” was mentioned over 40 times and in virtually every section of the Beijing Action Plan.

This suggests there is a shift from declarations of intent to more specific engagement towards industrialisation. This doesn’t necessarily guarantee the success of Africa’s industrialisation. But it shows that China responds to African agenda-setting.

Secondly, African agency is diffused across various levels and among various actors. Any analysis of African agency has to consider the complex interactions between continental bodies like the AU, regional economic blocs, national governments, civil society, business, and local communities. Each plays a role in shaping African decision making in relation to China. Partnerships that cut across the state-business-civil society divide are as important as state led initiatives in articulating policy initiatives in relation to China.

Thirdly, it’s important to think of the changing terms of agency as African governments face growing debt burdens via such initiatives as the BRI. For instance, rumours that the Zambian government offered its national electricity supplier as collateral in exchange for a new tranche of Chinese loans have reportedly caused political division at home.

Critics have focused on debt as diminishing African agency. What they’ve ignored are the significant financial and reputational risks to China.

Maximising African agency

As Africa becomes more involved in global initiatives, and as it moves towards greater continental integration via AU reforms and the Continental Free Trade Agreement, the need increases to think harder and more creatively about what African agency means. It isn’t enough to simply reiterate the call for Africa to negotiate collectively with China – not least because this disregards the complex interactions between African governments.

Rather, it’s time for more comprehensive thinking about how African agency manifests across actors and geographic scales. Only once we have a firmer handle on this can we move towards maximising it.The Conversation

 

Yu-Shan Wu, Foreign policy researcher and doctoral candidate, University of the Witwatersrand; Chris Alden, Professor of International Relations, London School of Economics and Political Science, and Cobus van Staden, Senior Researcher: China Africa, South African Institute of International Affairs

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Asian shares crept back from four-month highs on Friday as a dismal survey on Chinese factory activity dulled optimism about the prospects for a Sino-U.S. deal on tariffs.

The Australian dollar, a liquid barometer of investor sentiment toward China, skidded 0.5 per cent after the Caixin/Markit index of manufacturing fell to its lowest since February 2016.

That was more downbeat than the official version of the index and inflamed fears for the economy.

Investor caution is also mounting ahead of U.S. jobs data later in the session with analysts unsure what impact the government shutdown might have had employment.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan slipped 0.2 per cent, though that followed a stellar 7.2 percent gain in January.

Japan’s Nikkei went flat, while Shanghai blue chips held onto a 0.7 per cent gain. E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 eased 0.1 per cent and spread betters pointed to a marginally mixed start for European bourses.

Stocks had taken heart after U.S. President Donald Trump said he would meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping soon to try to seal a comprehensive trade deal as the top U.S. negotiator reported “substantial progress” in the talks.

Beijing’s trade delegation said the talks made “important progress” for the current stage, China’s official Xinhua news agency reported on Friday.

The previously upbeat mood was also chilled somewhat by White House insistence that March 1 was a hard deadline for a deal, a failure of which would lead to an increase in U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods.

“Analysts mostly remain deeply skeptical that a genuine trade deal can be done on this time frame,” economists from Commonwealth Bank of Australia said in a note.

“We are less pessimistic since these negotiations are being conducted by senior politicians, not by trade bureaucrats,” they added.

“Both sides also have an incentive, and arguably a growing incentive, to get a meaningful deal done.”

The optimism supported Wall Street with the S&P 500 ending Thursday with a gain of 0.86 per cent.

The Nasdaq jumped 1.37 per cent on the back of a near 11 per cent rise in Facebook Inc. The Dow slipped 0.06 per cent.

Over January, the S&P 500 rose 7.9 per cent, its best monthly performance since late 2015 and its strongest start to a year since 1987.

The Nasdaq gained 9.7 per cent in the month and the Dow rose 7.2 per cent.

Equity markets have also been relieved by a change of heart at the U.S. Federal Reserve, which this week surprised many by all but abandoning plans for further rate hikes.

Investors responded by pricing in a one-in-three chance that interest rates could actually be cut this year.

Yields on two-year Treasuries were down almost 15 basis points on the week so far, which if sustained would be the largest weekly decline since mid-2010.

U.S. crude futures edged up 5 cents to $53.87 per barrel, while Brent rose 13 cents to $60.97.

Source:NAN

In Washington this week, the US and China are due to hold their highest level talks since the two sides struck a temporary truce to their trade war.
 
They have until 1 March to come up with some sort of compromise or tariffs will be hiked again, and we march back into a trade fight that affects us all.
 
China watchers tell me Beijing is under increasing pressure to make a deal.
 
Here's why:
 
A slowing economy:
The trade war may not have caused China's slowdown, but it is definitely making things worse.
 
Growth data released last week showed China posted the slowest growth rate since 1990 but that in itself is not as worrying as other data points, including that consumer sentiment and retail sales are flatlining or weakening fast.
 
Small and medium-sized companies in China are feeling the chill with lower orders and inventories.
 
How worrying is China's slowdown?
A quick guide to the US-China trade war
Just how much pressure the Communist Party is facing because of a weakening economy was reflected in a rare acknowledgement by President Xi Jinping, whose legitimacy is based in part in keeping China strong.
 
Losing its factory lustre?
There is also evidence to show that foreign firms are diversifying their sourcing, production and supply chains away from China, if not pulling out altogether.
 
This recent survey conducted by QIMA, a leading Asian supply chain auditor, shows that 30% of more than 100 global businesses are diverting their sourcing from China to other countries.
 
As many as three-quarters of these companies have started sourcing suppliers in new countries.
 
If this trend continues then jobs in Chinese factories are at risk - a recent report looking at China's economy by JP Morgan points to rising unemployment as a major near-term risks.
 
Social stability is predicated on China's economic stability, and the Communist Party is well aware that its credibility lies in delivering the Chinese dream to its people.
 
The Huawei factor:
The fate of Huawei also hangs in the balance, both from a business and diplomatic standpoint.
 
China is big on symbolism and "doesn't believe in coincidences" Einar Tangen, an advisor on economic affairs for the Chinese government, told me on the line from Beijing.
 
Mr Tangen pointed to the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei founder, which took place on the day President Xi and US President Donald Trump met at the G20 summit and declared the temporary truce between the two sides, setting the 90 day deadline for talks.
 
What's going on with Huawei?
The Huawei exec trapped in a gilded cage
Another date looms next week, with the latest round of talks taking place on the day the US has to file the extradition treaty for Ms Meng.
 
"Both of these dates are seen as attempts by the US to use Huawei as leverage in the trade talks," says Mr Tangen.
 
The US is also reportedly preparing an investigation into Huawei which could see it banned from buying American chips, a move that crippled China's ZTE last year.
 
Mr Tangen warns that pushing Beijing will backfire.
 
"The Chinese see this as the US trying to push China down," he says.
 
"This is not about right or wrong. They view this in context of the 100 years of humiliation they suffered at the hands of the West and they don't want that repeated."
 
American firms want a deal But the US is also under pressure to make a deal.
 
American firms in China have complained about the impact of Trump's tariffs on their business but want the US to make a good deal.
 
"This administration has been willing to risk the health of the US economy with tariffs," says Stephen Kho, international trade partner at law firm Akin Gump in Washington DC.
 
"So now that we've come this far, businesses want to take advantage of this moment and walk away from these talks with something significant. They will want to see China's offer to buy more American goods along with promises of systemic changes."
 
A solution to the US-China trade war is good for us all.
 
The longer these two superpowers slap tariffs on each other's goods, the more expensive products will be for us, companies will report lower profits, and global growth will slow.
 
Both sides are under pressure to make a deal. But this is ultimately, as Mr Kho also points out, "a game of chicken." Whoever blinks first could also be the biggest loser.
 
 
Source: Business Insider
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