23 July, 2021

Can the chaos in Afghanistan end without the US's turmoil?

In recent days, Afghanistan has ushered in an important Eid al-Adha. On this major Islamic holiday, the fighting between the Taliban and the Afghan government has a brief calm.

But skirmishes still occur from time to time. Three days ago, there was a rocket attack near the Presidential Palace in Afghanistan. The Taliban denied that the attack was theirs. The Associated Press pointed out that the Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility.

On July 20, 2021 local time, in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, the presidential palace was suspected of being attacked. A rocket fell near the presidential palace. /IC photo

"Kabul has been attacked by rockets before. I encountered it near my home in November last year, but I don't know who started it." Amra said in an interview with the Beijing News. Eighteen years ago, Amra left Afghanistan where she had lived since she was a child and came to China. After the United States entered Afghanistan, his hometown no longer made him feel safe. But he would go back to Kabul once or twice a year to meet with his family still there.

In the nearly 20 years since the US military has been stationed in Afghanistan, the country has become more torn apart, and the US "Afghanistan Transformation Plan" has failed. After the US military left, the Taliban made a comeback, and the domestic situation in Afghanistan suddenly became tense.

But with the departure of third-party external forces, Afghanistan has gained the opportunity to independently find a way to rebuild the country. Whether the Taliban and the Afghan government can successfully negotiate a peace agreement is the key to the healing of divisions and regaining peace in this country.

"I don't know what the future of Afghanistan looks like"

In Kabul, Amra personally experienced the war in Afghanistan launched by the United States in 2001. He was working in a shoe factory when he was in his early 20s and suddenly heard a loud bombing. It was an air strike by the US military against the Taliban's military target. The bombing lasted for nearly 20 days, the Taliban quickly fled, and then the Afghan militia and US troops began to enter Kabul.

At present, the fighting between the Taliban and the Afghan government continues, and Amla is at a loss for the future of Afghanistan.

"Actually I don't support either of these. The Afghan government is too corrupt and doesn't spend money to do things for the people. When the Taliban was in power, life was a little safer and there was less worry. But there was no economic development when the Taliban ruled, and Their policy is stricter for girls, and girls can't stand it." Amra said.

On July 12, 2021 local time, in Kandahar, Afghanistan, the Afghan government forces and the Taliban continued fierce fighting, and people fled their homes. /IC photo

On the current battlefield, the Taliban are constantly seizing new regional control, advancing from the peripheral areas of Afghanistan to the central area of ​​​​​​the capital, and controlling several key points between Afghanistan and its neighbors Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. Border crossings and ports. After the US military announced a complete withdrawal, many analysts in the US predicted that as the Taliban's power continues to grow, the Afghan government may collapse in the next six months to two years.

However, the current battlefield situation is not clear, the number of areas controlled by the Taliban cannot be accurately known, and all parties have different opinions on the status of territorial control.

The Taliban had previously claimed that they had controlled 85% of Afghanistan's territory. The Afghan government denied this, saying it was just a Taliban propaganda strategy. The latest data from the US news website Long War Journal shows that the Taliban controls more than half of the areas. Al Jazeera reported that the Taliban has surrounded 17 of the 34 provincial capitals, but has not yet controlled any of them.

Regarding the comparison of the military power between the two parties, Qian Feng, director of the Research Department of the National Institute of Strategic Studies of Tsinghua University, said in an interview with the Beijing News that the Taliban is not as unstoppable as the report has shown, and the Afghan government forces are not vulnerable.. "Many reports say that the Taliban have captured new areas, but few reports mention that the Afghan government forces have retaken some areas from the Taliban."

On July 14, 2021 local time, Afghan security forces are standing by at the checkpoint in Spinboldek on the Afghan border. /IC photo

Regarding whether the Taliban will capture the capital Kabul and win a nationwide military victory as they did more than 20 years ago, Qian Feng believes that it is unlikely because the current international situation has changed. "In the mid-1990s, even before the ' 9.11' terrorist attacks, Afghanistan on the whole was a bit like a corner forgotten by the international community. But now, international pressure is real. The international community is generally opposed to the internal Afghanistan. It is hoped that the conflict will be resolved through peaceful negotiations between the two sides."

However, the US "Foreign Affairs" magazine analyzes that the Taliban's combat power is stronger and can gain an advantage on the battlefield. One of the most important factors is the deep-rooted awareness of resistance to foreign enemies in Afghan culture, which inspires Taliban soldiers. On the other hand, the Afghan government forces were unable to inspire the same spirit of resistance in their hearts because of their alliance with the US military. This asymmetry in belief also explains why in many battlefields in Afghanistan, even though government forces have numerical advantages and possess at least the same amount of ammunition and supplies, they still abandon defense without fighting too much.

According to Xinhua News Agency, with regard to the current tensions in Afghanistan, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said when meeting with Afghan Foreign Minister Atmar in Dushanbe on July 14 that the top priority is to avoid civil war and restart Afghan internal negotiations . China supports the principle of "Afghanistan owns and Afghan leads", through dialogue and consultation, to make Azerbaijan an independent, autonomous and neutral country.

The Afghan Government "Failed to Be Transformed"

The Taliban are currently engaged in large-scale territorial competition, which not only exposes the inadequacy of the Afghan government's military and security capabilities, but also shows the failure of the United States' “Plan to Transform Afghanistan”.

After the United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001, it not only drove away the Taliban regime, but also supported an Afghan government under the Western political framework in an attempt to "reform Afghanistan." However, the overconfident US forcefully excluded the Taliban from the process of national reconstruction in Afghanistan, which further tore Afghanistan apart.

"The Bush administration put forward the so-called'Greater Middle East Project' at the time in an attempt to transform the Middle East countries, but it has now become a joke. In addition, Afghanistan's geographical location is very important, and it is located at the intersection of the four parties. Therefore, the United States wants to stand firm here. Eurasia has acquired a strategic base." Qian Feng said in an interview with a reporter from the Beijing News.

However, the political reconstruction led by the United States has caused serious "unacceptable" phenomenon in Afghanistan. Problems such as election chaos, insufficient governance capabilities, and corruption have reduced the authority and dominance of the Afghan government.

In the two recent general elections in Afghanistan, there has been confusion in which candidates did not accept the election results.

In 2014, two candidates, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, both claimed victory in the election. The 2019 general election was even more chaotic. Abdullah accused of fraud in the election and refused to accept the result of Ghani's victory. After that, there was even a "strange" confrontation between the two holding the presidential inauguration ceremony. In the end, under the continuous lobbying of the US representatives, Ghani became president again, and Abdullah became the chairman of the High Commission for National Reconciliation.

The Afghan government still has serious internal corruption. A 2012 survey report of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime pointed out that corruption, insecurity and unemployment in Afghanistan are the main challenges it faces.

"If the government gets 1,000 yuan, only 100 yuan will be spent on the people at most, and the rest will go into their own pockets," said Amra, who has lived in Afghanistan for nearly 30 years.

In addition, the Afghan government has never been able to achieve full rule of the country. "The decree cannot go out of Kabul" is a sentence of many media describing the Afghan government. In many rural areas and small cities, the Afghan government's control power is seriously insufficient. Taliban combat forces have also been challenging the rule of the Afghan government.

The analysis of the US's failure in Afghanistan by the US "Foreign Affairs" magazine pointed out that it was a major mistake for the Bush administration to completely exclude the Taliban from the solution of the Afghan national reconstruction.

After the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001, it tried to conduct peace talks, willing to lay down its arms, and admitted that Karzai, the chairman of the interim government elected by the Afghan militia at the time, was the country’s legitimate leader, but the U.S. government rejected this negotiation request at the time. . From 2002 to 2004, the Taliban also continued to seek peace talks, but they were rejected by the United States. In the end, the Taliban did not get a seat on the Afghan reconstruction conference table.

The Bush administration was not aware of the complexity of the competition among various forces in Afghanistan, and confidently declared the "mission complete" after defeating the Taliban. However, because of being excluded from national construction, the Taliban were forced to return to the battlefield and dragged the U.S. military back into the war quagmire for more than ten years.

Taliban comeback

As the Taliban’s territorial battle continues to expand, many people worry that the Taliban regime that followed strict Shariah rule 20 years ago will return, but the current Taliban seems to have changed on the surface.

The Taliban armed forces were originally formed by students from the Islamic school in southern Kandahar, Afghanistan, and developed and expanded in the mid-1990s. In 1996, the Taliban swept across the country in the Afghan civil war and established a fundamentalist "Islamic Emirate "and began a five-year rule thereafter.

Under his rule, women's social life was strictly restricted. Women cannot get the opportunity to receive education and go out to work, and they need to cover themselves from head to toe in their clothes. Without the company of a male family member, women cannot go out alone.

In terms of religious beliefs, the Taliban regime at the time allowed no exception. In 2001, the Taliban regime blew up two Bamiyan Buddhas carved in Afghanistan's Bamiyan Valley, which aroused the anger of the local people and the international community.

In addition, the production and trade of drugs in Afghanistan has become more uncontrolled. A report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in October 2003 stated that Afghanistan supplies three-quarters of the world's drugs, and the land used to grow opium poppy in Afghanistan has increased by 8% in the past 10 years. After the defeat of the Taliban regime, its forces in the mountainous areas still rely heavily on the drug trade to obtain funds.

However, in the current anxious situation in Afghanistan, while the Taliban have shown to the international community that they have a willingness to negotiate for peace, they also revealed that they will make changes to the previous strict adherence to Islamic law.

On July 8 this year, the Taliban delegation expressed its willingness to respect women’s rights under the Islamic faith and promised to completely eradicate the problem of drug proliferation after the chaotic war in Afghanistan ends.

In addition, according to Al Jazeera, during the peace talks in Doha in April 2019, Taliban spokesman Muzahid said that for the first time a female lieutenant in the Taliban delegation will be present. He also said that the Taliban has changed and will encourage women to receive education and encourage women to be given other rights under the framework of Sharia law.

Regarding these commitments made by the Taliban, Qian Feng told the Beijing News, "This may be a stopgap measure for the Taliban to win the hearts of the Afghan people and the understanding of the international community."

Qian Feng believes that there are indeed signs that the Taliban are developing from the activist policy of the year to a slightly moderate and pragmatic direction. However, it is not yet fully determined that the Taliban have indeed changed, and we need to wait and see their actual practices in the future. The Taliban may now realize that their policies 20 years ago are unpopular and need to adapt to social changes to make adjustments. But it is also possible to make verbal changes in order to gain the support of more Afghans and gain the understanding of the international community in the negotiations.

How long is Afghanistan from achieving lasting peace?

After the US military has completed a full withdrawal, Amra said, "This is a good thing. They stay here without bringing any benefits to Afghanistan."

After the US military entered Afghanistan in 2001 to overthrow the Taliban regime, it remained in Afghanistan to encircle and suppress its remaining forces. However, no matter how the United States invests its military power and funds, it cannot completely suppress the Taliban's power. Under the pressure of huge war costs and domestic opposition, the two previous presidents of the United States have tried to make the United States withdraw its troops completely, but they all failed. Until April 14 this year, the Biden administration finally finalized the time for a complete withdrawal. On July 2, the full withdrawal of troops was nearly complete. The war in Afghanistan that many Americans considered "doomed to fail" finally came to an end.

Data map: On May 5, 2014 local time, US soldiers stationed in Afghanistan were on duty outside the camp. /IC photo

With the departure of the third power in the United States, the decision to achieve lasting peace and stability is returned to the Afghans themselves. The current problem is whether the Afghan government and the Taliban can negotiate a peace agreement.

On July 18, the Taliban and the Afghan government held a new round of peace talks in Doha. The two sides agreed to continue the high-level peace talks and speed up the negotiation process, but the peace talks did not make substantive progress such as signing a ceasefire agreement. In recent days, Afghanistan has ushered in an important Eid al-Adha. Although the Taliban did not explicitly state a ceasefire during this period, they said they would maintain a "defensive state."

The outside world generally believes that the Taliban have a greater advantage on the battlefield, but the Taliban has shown a willingness to resolve conflicts through peace talks. Qian Feng believes that under the pressure of the international community to generally oppose the fierce civil war in Afghanistan , the Taliban will show this attitude of willingness to negotiate, so as to relieve international pressure, and at the same time use their own advantages on the battlefield to improve negotiations." Asking price" to promote peace and talk.

Regarding whether the peace talks can be realized, the American think tank "Diplomatic Relations Association" once analyzed and pointed out that there are two possibilities for the failure of the peace talks. One is that the two sides cannot share political power plans, constitution formulation , religious rights arrangements, women's rights, and prisoners of war. The exchange and other aspects reached an agreement. The agreement reached between the United States and the Taliban in February 2020 did not solve these problems well, causing the peace agreement to become a dead letter. Another possibility is that after a peace agreement is reached, some anti-Taliban factions within the Afghan government will not accept the peace talks.

Qian Feng believes that the current peace dialogue process has not yet reached its end, and there is still hope for a peaceful settlement of the conflict. “For the peaceful future of Afghanistan, we must first rely on the Afghan people themselves. The leaders of both sides of Afghanistan must take national development and improve people's livelihood as the prerequisite, abandon past grievances and grievances, and both sides will make concessions. In addition, the realization of peace talks also requires the efforts of the international community. All parties need to urge them to resolve the conflict peacefully and prevent the Afghan people from falling into the chaos of war again."

A critical first step taken by China and the United States? The Chinese official announced late at night! The US Deputy Secretary of State's visit to the location is intriguing

Since US President Biden took office, actions to contain China have been one after another! In addition to suppressing Chinese high-tech enterprises, they also arbitrarily interfere in China's internal affairs on Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and Taiwan issues. In this regard, the Chinese side has repeatedly pointed out that the US should follow the trend of the times, discard the outdated Cold War zero-sum mentality, view China objectively and rationally, adopt a proactive China policy, meet the Chinese side halfway, strengthen dialogue, manage differences , and focus on cooperation. Promote the development of Sino-US relations along a healthy and stable track.

On July 21, local time, the US State Department issued a public statement announcing that the US Deputy Secretary of State Sherman, who is visiting Asia, will visit China from July 25 to 26, and visit Oman on July 27. The statement stated that During her visit to China, Sherman will hold meetings with Chinese officials. These meetings are part of the United States' efforts to conduct candid exchanges with Chinese officials. The purpose is to advance the interests and values ​​​​​​of the United States and to manage the two countries responsibly. relation. The statement also pointed out that Sherman will discuss the US's “area of ​​​​​​serious concern” about China's actions and “areas that are consistent with its own interests.”

After the US State Department issued a statement, late at night on July 21, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the news of Sherman's visit to China. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the United States has proposed to arrange for the US Deputy Secretary of State Sherman to visit China in the near future to exchange views with China on Sino-US relations. After mutual agreement, Sherman will visit Tianjin from July 25th to 26th. At that time, Vice Minister Xie Feng, who is in charge of Sino-US relations at the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will hold talks with Sherman. Later, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will meet with Sherman.China will make clear to the United States its principled position on the development of Sino-US relations and its firm attitude in safeguarding its sovereignty, security and development interests, and demand that the United States stop interfering in China's internal affairs and harm China's interests.

It is reported that Sherman's visit to China was arranged after she concluded her visits to Japan, South Korea and Mongolia. This trip was also her second visit to Asia in less than two months. However, before Sherman leaves for Asia, Hong Kong's South China Morning Post has quoted sources as saying that Washington will send Sherman to China, "an important step towards the possible Sino-US summit."

Sherman's "China Tour" was placed in the late stage of his Asia tour. What is the significance? In this regard, Zhang Tengjun, an expert on international issues in China, pointed out that this is the "careful thinking" of the Biden administration , creating an atmosphere in which after discussions with allies, they will come back to the Chinese side to master the rhythm. Zhang Tengjun said that this is another small routine to maintain a psychological advantage, but the Chinese side is calm and talks about it when it comes. It doesn't matter if it doesn't come. There is no so-called "deliberate consideration" and no deliberate arrangement.

Companies can't hire employees, Biden asks for a salary increase. Restaurant owner Huiyi: Would you like to spend $50 on a hamburger?

According to a report on the CNN website and the Daily Mail on the 22nd, at Cincinnati City Hall on Wednesday night, President Biden was asked by restaurant owner John Lanney what measures the government would take to solve the problem of the company's lack of employees. Recruitment should increase wages. He also said that the reason it is difficult for restaurants to recruit people is that workers are considering "other opportunities."

Biden's statement was severely criticized by business owners, who claimed that Biden knew very little about the country's labor crisis, and that this move would only push up inflation and eventually bring the company to bankruptcy. Even the restaurant owner responded directly to Biden: Would you like to spend $50 on a burger?

Cincinnati City Hall, the company cannot hire employees, Biden is hiring salary increases. Source: CNN website

According to reports, more than 12 million people in the United States still apply for some degree of unemployment. Last week, the number of people applying for unemployment benefits rose to 419,000, the highest in nearly two months.

The states with the highest unemployment rate (over 7%, 2% higher than the national average) are California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, and New York, all of which are Democrats State.

Source of recruitment advertisements everywhere: Reuters

Despite the large number of unemployed people, due to the inflation of unemployment benefits, it is 300 dollars more per week than before the pandemic. People can do nothing and get the same amount of income, or even more. Therefore, people's desire to work is getting lower and lower, and accordingly, business owners are less and less able to recruit workers.

A restaurant owner in New York City said that President Biden has never run a business and his approach is out of touch with reality. At present, the minimum wage is already US$15/hour, and companies are already operating with meager profits, and some are even at a loss.

John Stratidis, a restaurant manager in Manhattan, told the Daily Mail on Thursday that higher wages will only lead to more and more serious inflation, "In order to continue to operate, everything will rise. Who will pay the bill in the end?" "Spend 40 or 50 dollars Would you like to buy a hamburger?" He asked Biden across the air.

Restaurant manager John Stratidis returned to Biden. Source: Daily Mail website

Restaurant owners say the only way to get employees back is to cancel the high unemployment benefits that keep them at home.

Sean Kennedy, executive vice president of public affairs at the National Restaurant Association, said: "When there are not enough people in the workforce to fill millions of vacant positions, raising wages alone will not solve the problem."

Republican lawmakers on Thursday also criticized Biden's remarks for being "out of touch" with reality, and said that his relief payments were too much, causing people to stay at home and causing labor shortages.

Biden warning!

According to news from Agence France-Presse, Washington, on the 22nd local time, the United States imposed sanctions on the Cuban Defense Minister and a special force of the country. US President Biden warned that this move is only the "beginning" of "punitive measures" against Havana.

Biden data map, courtesy Xinhua News Agency

According to reports, the US Treasury Department stated that its Office of Foreign Assets Control has frozen the assets of Cuban Defense Secretary Alvaro Lopez Miera and the National Special Brigade (SNB) under the Cuban Ministry of Interior.

According to reports, Biden said in a statement: "This is just the beginning."

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs introduces relevant arrangements for the China-U.S. Tianjin talks

A reporter asked questions. It is reported that US Deputy Secretary of State Sherman will visit China from the 25th to the 26th. Please confirm with the spokesperson. Who will China conduct with her? Will State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi still meet with her?

Zhao Lijian Data Map

Zhao Lijian said, what I want to tell you is that the main talk is the Vice Minister of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs Xie Feng who is in charge of Sino-US relations. The United States has repeatedly proposed that it also hopes to meet with Chinese leaders. China is considering arranging State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi as usual to meet with Sherman in Tianjin after Vice Minister Xie Feng has talks with Sherman.

US senior officials said harshly, should negotiations start from the "strength status"? The Chinese don't eat your set

[Southern + July 23 News] According to domestic media reports, after a series of twists and turns, the No. 2 figure in the US State Department finally finalized the matter of coming to China, but he came with so-called "strength. " On July 21, local time, at a regular press conference of the US State Department, White House Spokesperson Price said that US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman "will start from a position of strength" and fly to China to initiate dialogue.

According to the report, according to the news previously announced by the US State Department, Sherman is currently visiting Asia and plans to come to China from July 25th to 26th. Regarding "why did you choose to visit China at this time, and for what goals," Price said that Sherman hopes to have "frank exchanges" with Chinese officials and believes that the talks will be "constructive and substantive." At the same time, Sherman will also Dealing with the "extremely important" Sino-US bilateral relationship and advancing US interests and values. Among them, Price also particularly emphasized that Sherman will "start from the position of strength" to talk with Chinese officials and show China "responsible and healthy competition."

Price's phrase "starting from the status of strength" is believed to be no stranger to the Chinese. In March of this year, during the Anchorage China-US High-level Strategic Dialogue, US Secretary of State Blincoln said this to China. At that time, Yang Jiechi responded loudly and loudly: "You are not qualified to speak in front of China. Starting from the status of talking with China."

Some analysts pointed out that the US quoted Yang Jiechi's words to show that the US wanted to show its sincerity and prove that the US will conduct the meeting with respect. But in fact, Sherman's previous trips to Asia were "targeted at China." Sherman has been discussing the South China Sea, Hong Kong and Taiwan Strait issues when he visited Japan and South Korea and had conversations with officials at the vice ministerial level of the two countries. In addition, US Secretary of Defense Austin is also about to leave for visits to Vietnam, the Philippines and Singapore. This is enough to show that the United States still does not abandon the idea of ​​​​"Asian NATO."

The United States may not realize it, but the Chinese people see it clearly. When a White House spokesperson said, "US officials will start talks with China from a position of strength", it actually means that the US has no cards to play against China, and can only do one thing. Quick talk. Although it did not take much advantage in substance, the lip service of American politicians still maintained the "high level" of the past.

As for whether the United States has the power to talk to China, it has already been selected by the US Treasury Secretary. According to the New York Times, US Secretary of the Treasury Yellen stated in an interview that the imposition of tariffs on Chinese goods hurts American consumers, because the increased tariffs actually end up paying for American consumers. She also warned that the United States is likely to see "rapid inflation" in the future, and that tariffs on China will increase inflationary pressures in the United States. In addition, the US Congressional Budget Office also stated that the scale of US public debt has exceeded 28 trillion US dollars, and the government will face the risk of debt default.

In the face of the United States, which "beats anyone who wants to fight", China has not been intimidated; however, the United States still wants to persecute China based on its "power status." In the face of today's America, which is "dare to be angry and dare to speak, but dare not to fight", how can Sherman expect to take advantage of China?

As Yang Jiechi once emphasized, "20 years ago or 30 years ago, you did not have the position in the United States to say this, because the Chinese did not eat this kind of thing." "Aren't we suffering from foreigners? Is it too short for us to be besieged by foreign countries? As long as China's system is right, the Chinese people are smart! We can't be stuck if we are stuck. History will prove that we will “stuck the neck” to suppress China. In the end, the one who suffers in the end is oneself."

In response to Sherman's visit to China, the spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded on the evening of July 21, expressing to the United States its principled position on the development of Sino-US relations and its firm attitude in safeguarding its own sovereignty , security, and development interests, and demanded that the United States stop interfering in China's internal affairs. Harm China's interests.

Sino-US trade is more prosperous, and the US media sighed in a daze: as if a tariff war never happened

According to US media reports, the US business news media "Business Times" published an article titled "US-China trade is more prosperous, as if the tariff war and the new crown epidemic have never happened."

Report title screenshot

The article stated that China and the United States are shipping goods to each other at the fastest speed in many years, as if the tariff war and the new crown epidemic provoked by Trump had never happened before.

The article mentioned that after the Trump administration took the lead in raising tariffs and slandering China with all kinds of "conspiracy theories" without evidence, China also raised an eye for an eye and raised US tariffs on entry. However, bilateral trade in goods is still a stable area in the relations between the two countries.

The article quoted official Chinese data as saying that last year due to the new crown epidemic, Chinese factories shut down, and monthly two-way trade fell to 19 billion US dollars in February. However, when China recovered from the epidemic, two-way trade rebounded and even set a new record.. And this boom seems to continue. China bought millions of tons of American agricultural products, and American consumers staying at home also bought record numbers from China. Such a scene made the US media feel a little dazed for a while.

According to the article, the prosperous trade is beyond everyone's expectations. Everyone believes that tariffs on goods worth hundreds of billions of dollars will force the decoupling of the Sino-US supply chain. But neither China nor the United States seem to be affected. Chinese companies buy more goods to fulfill the terms of the 2020 trade agreement, while American companies buy goods that are only available in China to meet the growing needs of many Americans.

According to the article, almost half of the US$259 billion in cargo entering and leaving the port of Los Angeles, the largest in the United States, came from China. US demand for Chinese goods has continued unabated. With trading companies starting to replenish goods before the Christmas shopping season, inbound shipments at the port hit a record high in May.

The article stated that the Biden administration has not yet indicated whether it plans to continue to implement the agreement and is still reviewing the US policy toward China, but US Trade Representative Katherine Tai insisted that "trade relations are not balanced." In addition to these tensions, the Sino-US trade agreement will expire at the end of 2021. The author of the article admits that these procurement targets are too high, and that issues such as the new crown epidemic and the grounding of Boeing 737Max jets have made it more difficult for China to achieve the previously promised targets.

Hong Kong media: China's appointment of a new special envoy for Afghanistan is a signal

According to a report on the website of Hong Kong's South China Morning Post on July 21, China appointed Yue Xiaoyong, a senior diplomat who had worked in the United States and the Middle East, as its new special envoy for Afghanistan. He will succeed Liu Jian, who was appointed to this position more than a year ago. Diplomatic observers said that the appointment of Yue Xiaoyong is a signal that Beijing is willing to play a greater role in Afghanistan after the United States withdraws its troops.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said in Beijing on Wednesday: "China has been actively participating in and promoting the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan."

He said: "Special Envoy Yue Xiaoyong is a senior diplomat... Mr. Yue Xiaoyong will establish working relationships with colleagues from all relevant parties as soon as possible and maintain close communication and coordination."

According to the report, Yue Xiaoyong had previously served as the Political Counselor of the Chinese Embassy in the United States and Deputy Director of the Policy Planning Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He later served as China's ambassador to Qatar, Jordan, and Ireland before leaving in 2019.

Published under Blog on 23 July, 2021.