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ART OF THE DEAL: China Agrees to First Phase of Trade Deal With Trump

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On Thursday, December 12, 2019, President Donald Trump signed off on a mini-trade deal with China.

Trump then followed up with the Phase One Deal with China on Friday, December 13, 2019.

This tentative agreement, which Trump describes as a “phase one” deal, codifies what was originally agreed to back in October.

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It will demand that China significantly increase its purchases of U.S. agricultural products, open up its financial services sector, and implement new protections against the theft of intellectual property.

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Trump tweeted, “We have agreed to a very large Phase One Deal with China. They have agreed to many structural changes and massive purchases of Agricultural Product, Energy, and Manufactured Goods, plus much more. The 25% Tariffs will remain as is, with 7 1/2% put on much of the remainder….”

 

He then added, “…..The Penalty Tariffs set for December 15th will not be charged because of the fact that we made the deal. We will begin negotiations on the Phase Two Deal immediately, rather than waiting until after the 2020 Election. This is an amazing deal for all. Thank you!”

Additionally, Trump is expected to cancel a 15 percent tariff that was slated for Sunday. Trump is also expected to slash duty rates that are already imposed on previous goods affected by tariffs such as clothing, flat panel TVs, and footwear.

The trade deal will also include new rules demanding China to be more transparent in its currency valuations with respect to the dollar. The Trump administration has already declared that China is a currency manipulator because Beijing intentionally lowers the value of the renminbi— the currency’s official name — thus making exports cheaper.

The second phase of negotiations with China will attempt to tackle systemic trade issues that U.S. companies have complained about for decades, such as Beijing’s subsidization of state-owned companies and the Chinese’ government’s constant demands that multinationals transfer technology in order to operate in China.

So far, Trump has gotten the China issue right.

The country’s not too distant past of authoritarianism should worry Western countries as China becomes more powerful on the world stage.

Tough diplomacy, trade pressure, and other forms of soft power should continue to be used to contain China’s influence.

Trump’s trade deal is a good place to start, however.

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Google Unveils Orwellian Location Tracking Data for Wuhan Virus Lockdown

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According to a report from CBS News, Google will be using its massive compilation of data to track the movements of people around the world.

From there, it will provide this data to policymakers and researchers in order to combat the Wuhan Virus.

The Big Tech titan published the so-called Community Mobility Reports for 131 countries. These reports feature localized data on how to travel to places like stores and parks and has been changed during the last month. In the United States’ case, Google’s data is divided on a county by county basis, which shows a massive reduction in people’s movement in urban and suburban communities —in some cases there are drops of 80 percent — with modest declines in rural areas in comparison.

Take for example, New York. According to Google’s mobility tracking data for New York witnessed a 62% decline for retail and recreation venues, 68% decline for public transit hubs like subways, buses, and train stations, 46% decline for workplaces, and 32% decline for grocery stores and pharmacies as of March 29.

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In New York County, the reduction is even more dramatic. Movement dropped 86% for retail and recreation, 78% for transit, 57% for workplaces, and 51% for groceries and pharmacies.

The reports “aim to provide insights into what has changed in response to policies aimed at combating COVID-19,” the company stated on the website where the reports are published. “The reports chart movement trends over time by geography, across different categories of places such as retail and recreation, groceries and pharmacies, parks, transit stations, workplaces, and residential.”

The company plans on updating its figures regularly. It claims that the data is designed in a manner that protects people’s anonymity.

Damian Collins, a British Parliament member who has spearheaded efforts to investigate Google’s data practices, revealed in an email to CBS News that the reports indicate social distancing’s potential to limit the Wuhan Virus’ impact. However, he advised that people be cautious about in letting Google have the power to track people’s daily lives.

“This certainly shows the impact that the social restrictions are having on daily life, and helps policy makers determine the effectiveness of these strategies,” stated Collins. “It also illustrates the level of background surveillance that has become commonplace, without people really being aware of it.”

Jason Kint, the CEO of Digital Content Next, a trade group that represents digital publishers, agreed with Collins and is skeptical of Google’s underlying motives.

“While it’s a noble effort and the anonymous presentation is interesting, it’s asking a lot to trust a company who’s entire business model is about surveillance and monetization of as much personal data across our lives as they can collect,” Kint stated.

Collins believes that Google’s tracking data may be useful for policymakers, there are still questions about potential privacy violations and future mass surveillance abuses.

“In a crisis people may consent to this, but there has never really been a public debate about whether we agree to it in principle. The aftermath of this crisis may start such a debate,” Collins remarked.

Big Tech’s influence has been the source of public discussion since Trump got elected.

It has been instrumental in suppressing dissident voices and will now likely be greatly empowered by this new crisis.Conservatives would be wise to be skeptical of both corporations and government.

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