World Neither the US nor China will soon have ambassadors in each other's capitals. Will it make a difference?
Biden meets with foreign leaders as ambassadorships sit vacant
President Biden's lack of ambassadors nearly five months into his term is on prominent display during his first trip overseas as he meets with leaders of the Group of Seven (G-7) nations, none of which even have an ambassador nominee.Experts says the lack of confirmed appointees on the ground may actually hurt the future ambassadors more than it hurts Biden's ability to have a successful trip. Ambassadors are missing out on chances to sit in on meetings and build their own relationships with their foreign counterparts over the course of a week where Biden is meeting with leaders from the G-7 and NATO - as well as Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Editor's note: CNN has launched the Meanwhile in China newsletter, a three-times-a-week update exploring what you need to know about the country's rise and how it impacts the world.
China's longest-serving ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai, hashe is standing down after eight years, adding another layer of uncertainty in the relationship between the two great powers.
Cui, 68, whose time in Washington spanned the presidencies of Barack Obama, Donald Trump and Joe Biden, has been witness to a profound shift in US-China relations. During his tenure, Beijing has grown increasingly confident and assertive, demanding that it is treated as an equal. Washington, on the other hand, has become wary of China's rise, seeing it as a strategic rival and potential threat to the US-led world order.
China's maritime militia breaks rules and charts course for global dominance
China's quest to become a maritime superpower has turned its massive fishing fleet into a floating militia that actively engages in aggressive, and often illegal, practices at sea. Left unchecked, China's dominance would not only undermine international regulations but could also threaten the very existence of America's allies and reshape the global fishing industry forever.The U.S.
"Relations between China and the US are at a critical crossroads, with the US engaging in a new round of restructuring in its government policy towards China, and it is facing a choice between cooperation and confrontation," Cui wrote in apublished on the embassy's website Tuesday.
And until his yet-to-be-announced successor arrives, neither Beijing nor Washington will have a top envoy in each other's capital.
The former US ambassador to China, Terry Branstad,Beijing last year before the November election. Nicholas Burns, , is a to fill the role, but the Biden administration has yet to make a formal announcement.
The unusual diplomatic vacuum is just the latest sign of the ongoing breakdown in formal relations in what is considered the world's most important bilateral relationship.
China's maritime fleet uses predatory fishing practices to feast on smaller countries
China has spent decades overfishing its waters and decimating its sea life. Now, with nowhere left to go, the country's massive fishing fleet has pushed itself into international waters and at times resorted to predatory (and illegal) fishing practices in other countries' coastal domains.China typically targets small nations that can't defend themselves or lack the resources to put up much of a fight.
Under the Trump administration, tensions between the US and China flared across a range of fronts, from trade to technology, geopolitics and national defense.
And with Biden casting China as an authoritarian rival to Western democracy, while seeking to form an alliance to counter Beijing, tensions are likely to further escalate.
Cui, who has stayed on well past the traditional retirement age of 65, is widely seen as a rare stabilizing element in this volatile mix. He is typical of China's old-school diplomats, adept at expressing a firm stance in a moderate manner and measured tone. And that sets him apart from Beijing's younger and growing cohort of "" diplomats, known for their aggressive defense of China and hostile public attacks of its critics.
In March last year, Cui famously denounced the conspiracy theory promoted by his colleague Zhao Lijian -- a foreign ministry spokesperson and the face of China's "wolf warrior" diplomacy -- that theoriginated from a US military lab. "How can we believe all these crazy things?" he said in an with "Axios on HBO."
The Dolce & Gabbana Karen Mok backlash shows label is still struggling to win back China
The social media uproar surrounding pop singer Karen Mok's decision to wear Dolce & Gabbana has underscored the Italian label's ongoing difficulties in China following 2018's racism allegations.Almost three years after the luxury fashion brand was dragged into a race row over a series of controversial ads -- and offensive private messages allegedly sent from co-founder Stefano Gabbana's Instagram account in response -- D&G appears to still be a label non grata on Chinese social media.
Cui is widely tipped to be succeeded by Qin Gang, a career diplomat who currently serves as a deputy foreign minister responsible for overseeing European affairs. Qin is seen as a trusted aide of President Xi Jinping, having accompanied the Chinese leader on many overseas trips as his chief protocol officer.
But unlike Cui, Qin has never been an ambassador and has no direct experience with the US.
Before Cui was dispatched to Washington in 2013, he already had close dealings with the Obama administration during his four-year stint as the foreign vice-minister in charge of the Americas and Oceania.
But for Qin, it is a much more difficult time to build bridges in Washington, which has taken a bipartisan hardline stance toward China.
Under increasingly strained relations, there is very little room for the Chinese ambassador to maneuver, as all important policies and decisions will be made in Beijing. But Qin can still make a difference by not further damaging relations with inflammatory remarks, like some of China's "wolf warrior" diplomats have done in other countries.
US, Russia to return ambassadors to their posts
The U.S. and Russia agreed to send their ambassadors back to their respective posts in Moscow and Washington at a summit between President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday. © Getty Images US, Russia to return ambassadors to their posts "We agreed that they would return to their service," Putin said at a news conference following a summit with President Biden in Geneva.Putin did not offer specific timing on the exchange but indicated it could happen over the next few days.
Photo of the day
A watershed trial: Police officers stand guard outside the trial of the first person charged under Hong Kong's controversial national security law. The trial of Tong Ying-kit began on Wednesday without a jury, in a marked departure from the city's common law traditions.
Tong, 24, pleaded not guilty to the two charges of inciting secession and terrorism. He was arrested on July 1 last year after allegedly driving his motorbike into a group of police officers at a pro-democracy protest, less than 24 hours after the sweeping new law came into effect. At the time, he was carrying a banner with the popular protest slogan "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times"-- which is now ground for inciting secession under the new law, prosecutors said.
Tong also faces an additional charge of dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm.
A crackdown in China is roiling cryptos
China'sis driving bitcoin to its lowest levels since January.
Bitcoin, the world's biggest crypto, briefly fell below $30,000 on Tuesday as China furtherand told major payments platforms and lenders that crypto trading won't be tolerated.
This isn't a new strategy for Beijing, which has for years forbade financial and payment institutions from transacting with bitcoin and called out cryptos for posing risks to financial stability.
US-China rivalry is extending from Earth into space. That poses a challenge to American dominance
Editor's note: CNN has today launched the Meanwhile in China newsletter, a three-times-a-week update exploring what you need to know about the country's rise and how it impacts the world. Sign up here. © Yang Zhiyuan/VCG/Getty Images The Shenzhou-12 spacecraft is launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on June 17, 2021 in Jiuquan, Gansu Province of China. China launches the Shenzhou-12 spacecraft, carried on the Long March-2F rocket, to Chinese Tiangong space station. When it comes to the intensifying rivalry between the United States and China, the sky is by no means the limit.
But the country has lately been picking up the pace of its anti-crypto campaign.
Crypto prices dove by double-digits in May after Beijing said it would "clamp down on bitcoin mining and trading activity," pushing some miners to suspend business. Crypto mining is a critical step in the process needed to put more of these coins in circulation, and China accounts for the lion's share of such activity.
Over the weekend, Chinese state media reported that Sichuan province, a mining hub, had ordered a halt to all crypto mining operations and cut off the power supply to many mining facilities. And on Monday, the People's Bank of China said it summoned digital payments giant Alipay and a slew of big commercial banks to warn them against crypto trading.
Bitcoin has since recovered a bit since its Tuesday plunge, now trading just below $34,000. But it is still way, way off the all-time high of nearly $65,000 per coin that it hit in April, and analysts are warning of more volatility ahead.
"Bitcoin is in the danger zone," wrote Edward Moya, a senior market analyst at Oanda, in a research note. If the value of the cryptocurrency plummets past $29,000, he warned an even further drop to $25,000 could come quickly.
"The bull case for Bitcoin is falling apart," Moya said, adding that some longterm investors might worry that not even a value of $20,000 per coin can be defended.
--By Laura He
- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has people who refuse to be vaccinated against the coronavirus as his country battles one of Asia's worst outbreaks. "You choose, vaccine or I will have you jailed," he said in a televised address Monday.
- Myanmar security forces backed by armored vehicles on Tuesday with a newly formed militia group in Mandalay, the country's second-biggest city.
- A Cambodian court has four environmental activists with insulting the country's king and conspiracy to plotting, a prosecutor said on Monday, following the arrest of three of them last week as they documented waste discharge into a city river.
- Meanwhile in China, Olympic champion Sun Yang's hopes of competing at the Tokyo Games ended on Tuesday when the Court of Arbitration for Sport only the Chinese swimmer's ban for doping violations to four years from eight.
Raiders' Carl Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as openly gay .
Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib made history on Monday by becoming the first active NFL player on a roster to come out as openly gay. © Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports pic.twitter.com/FpRY0Mou0a— Lindsay Jones (@bylindsayhjones) June 21, 2021 "I just want to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay," Nassib explained in a video he shared on Instagram, according to Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk. "I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now but I finally feel comfortable enough to get it off my chest. I really have the best life.