U.S.-China Relations — Still Poor; Teamsters and UPS Will Return to the Bargaining Table
Author: Greg Valliere
July 21, 2023
EARLIER THIS SUMMER, there was hope that a U.S. charm offensive might yield results — as Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, climate czar John Kerry and even Henry Kissinger all visited Beijing and talked with their counterparts. But there were no agreements; Kerry in particular was rebuffed.
THE FALLBACK ARGUMENT in Washington is that communication has improved, but even that modest accomplishment has been clouded in the past day by the bombshell disclosure in the Wall Street Journal that hackers linked to Beijing accessed the email account of the U.S. ambassador to China, Nicholas Burns, in an attack that is believed to have compromised at least hundreds of thousands of individual U.S. government emails.
WIDESPREAD HACKING: Daniel Kritenbrink, the assistant secretary of state for East Asia, was also hacked in the cyber-espionage attack, sources told the Journal. This means officials in Beijing had access to U.S. thinking ahead of the visits by Blinken and others.
THE RECENT HACK was pulled off by leveraging a flaw in Microsoft’s cloud-computing environment that has since been fixed, according to the company,
WHILE MANY COUNTRIES SPY AGAINST EACH OTHER, this disclosure is certain to sour relations between Washington and Beijing. Perhaps a likely meeting this fall between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping will help, but there’s widespread disagreements on virtually every key issue, from computer chips to harassment of U.S. aircraft and ships.
ANY DEAL BETWEEN THE COUNTRIES would encounter fierce opposition in Washington, where antipathy toward China is pervasive. Biden must know that any deal would increase criticism by Republicans who believe he was involved in a lucrative deal that Hunter Biden brokered with China. A fierce Republican offensive has erupted over the Bidens’ dealings with China and Ukraine.
SO WE THINK THERE’S LITTLE CHANCE of real breakthroughs between Washington and Beijing. Both sides are talking, which is good, but they have produced nothing — even as China’s economy weakens.
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WITH A UPS STRIKE DEADLINE fast approaching, both sides confirmed yesterday that they will return to the bargaining table next Wednesday, just days before the July 31 deadline set by the Teamsters for a deal with UPS before a strike would begin on Aug. 1.
MANY OF THE KEY DETAILS have been resolved, including a raise for full-time workers, who now make about $40 an hour, but there’s no agreement on part-time workers, who earn $16 to $20 per hour. Retailers who use UPS have notified their customers of a likely disruption of deliveries; even if there’s a deal by late next week, it would take a few days to ratify, so a brief strike — at the least — is increasingly likely.
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