Sunday, July 14, 2019

Monday in Washington, July 15, 2019

HOW THE U.S. HELPS ALLIES DEFEND AGAINST DIGITAL ATTACKS ON ELECTIONS. 7/15, Noon. Sponsors: Public Diplomacy Association of America; USC Center on Communication Leadership and Policy; Public Diplomacy Council. Speaker: J. Kenneth Blackwell, Board Chair, International Foundation for Electoral Systems; Vasu Mohan, Regional Director for Asia- Pacific, International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES); Dr. Beata Martin-Rozumilowicz, Regional Director for Europe and Eurasia, IFES; Erica Shein, Director for the Center for Applied Research and Learning, IFES.

SPECIAL OPEN FORUM LUNCHEON WITH DR. ANIES BASWEDAN, GOVERNOR OF JAKARTA. 7/15, Noon-2:00pm. Sponsor: US-Indonesia Society (USINDO). Speaker: Dr. Anies Baswedan, Governor of Jakarta. Location: Cosmos Club, 2121 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Powell Room.

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THE LEGALITY OF NUCLEAR DETERRENCE. 7/15, 2:00-4:00pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Carnegie. Speaker: Newell Highsmith, Former Attorney, US Department of State. Moderator: George Perkovich, Ken Olivier and Angela Nomellini Chair and Vice President for Studies, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

LESSONS ON COMPETITION POLICY FROM THE TELEGRAPH TO TWITTER: A BOOK TALK WITH HAROLD FELD, GIGI SOHN AND MIGNON L. CLYBURN. 7/15, 2:00pm. Sponsor: German Marshall of the United States (GMF). Speakers: Harold Feld, Senior Vice President, Public Knowledge; Gigi Sohn, Distinguished Fellow, Georgetown Law Institute for Technology Law & Policy; Senior Fellow and Public Advocate, Benton Foundation; Mignon L. Clyburn, Former Commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission.

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PROSPECTS FOR U.S.-RUSSIA RELATIONS: A PERSPECTIVE FROM MOSCOW. 7/15, 3:00-4:00pm. Sponsor: CSIS. Speaker: Dmitry Suslov, Deputy Director, Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, Higher School of Economics. Moderator: Jeffrey Mankoff, Senior Fellow, Russia and Eurasia Program, CSIS.

SHARIA AND THE STATE IN PAKISTAN: BLASPHEMY POLITICS. 7/15, 3:00-5:00pm. Sponsor: Wilson Center. Speakers: author Farhat Haq, Fellow, Professor of Political Science, Monmouth College; Hassan Abbas, Professor and Chair, Department of Regional and Analytical Studies, National Defense University; Anwar Iqbal, Washington DC Correspondent, Dawn newspaper. Moderator: Michael Kugelman, Deputy Director and Senior Associate for South Asia.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

How will the first year of Reiwa go?

With Michael Cucek, Temple University
June 23, 2019

Shinzo Abe is a historic figure.
Solid control over his party and thus the Japanese government.
Put his own person as head of the Cabinet Legislation Bureau 
thus making whatever he wants constitutional.
Abe excellent at abrogating himself to wealthy rightwing men like Trump.
Beloved by Japanese rightwing.
Presents himself as head, however, of the liberal international order.
Eliminate bad news by eliminating Lower House Budget Sessions and 
stop Cabinet Members from speaking to the FCCJ.
Imposing Consumption Tax  in fall will seriously hurt the economy.
Abe will get his constitutional revision by the end of the year to change Article 9.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Japan's Upper House Elections

Is Abe's Nightmare Coming True?

By Daniel Sneider, Lecturer, International Policy at Stanford University and APP member
First appeared in the Toyo Keizai, July 5, 2019

The election campaign for Japan's House of Councilors (July 21) is now in full swing (July 4). At the center of Prime Minister Abe Shinzo's appeal to be given a new mandate, and even to extend his rule, is his claim to "lead the world toward solution of global issues," as the election manifesto proclaims.

Unfortunately for Prime Minister Abe, this claim looks rather hollow at this moment. The G20 summit turned into a platform for prancing authoritarian leaders. Despite Abe's almost desperate attempts to curry favor with the mercurial American President, Donald Trump is now heading toward a deal with North Korea that will leave its nuclear and missile threat to Japan completely intact, while threatening to tear up the US-Japan security treaty that protects Japan. At the same time, Trump seems intent on forcing Japan into a trade agreement that could trigger a recession.

"In diplomacy things don't always go as planned, especially when they involve Typhoon Trump," comments Temple University scholar Jeff Kingston. "There is a long line of people who have been humiliated and diminished by their association with Trump but no other world leader has been so comprehensively embarrassed and belittled as Abe."

The Prime Minister's office is desperately trying to reassure the Japanese public that all is going according to plan, that the President's comments can be ignored or, at worst, are just an attempt to gain electoral advantage. The spin from Kantei has its own electoral purpose.

"Abe knows it is a nightmare," a veteran Japanese political journalist told me, "but he will do whatever it takes to make it look normal. Because admitting that it is a nightmare means that his subservient diplomacy toward Washington has failed miserably."

The G20 Showcase gets cloudy

The Abe administration spent months preparing for the G20 summit in Osaka, intending to use the annual gathering as a showcase for the leadership of Japan, and of the Prime Minister. The Japanese bureaucracy prepared a bundle of measures on digital privacy, environmental protection, climate change and a defense of free trade, all designed to promote the idea of Japan as a guardian of the liberal international order.

Instead the meeting was dominated by a display of Trump's claim to lead the world and his close friendships with authoritarian leaders, from the Saudi Crown Prince to Russia's Putin and China's Xi. The final G20 communique removed any talk of fighting protectionism and settled for bland general statements about free and fair trade.

The summit signaled "an edge towards rule by might," wrote Australian National University scholar Shiro Armstrong. "The Osaka G20 summit may yet be remembered in history as the moment the global rules-based order was lost...The uncertainty that has clouded the global economy over the past few years is child's play compared with what could come now."

The Prime Minister's office got a sense of the dark clouds headed their way when Trump let loose only a couple of days before arriving with another assault on Japan's trade imbalance and repeated long-held views of Japan as a defense free-loader.

The remarks got lots of attention but inside the Prime Minister's office the reaction was calm. "We have gotten quite used to hearing outrageous comments from POTUS (President of the US)," a senior official involved in planning for the summit told me. "In that sense, there has been no 'consternation' in Japan. The Prime Minister did not think it had a serious intention but was a kind of ploy to get more concessions in the trade negotiation."

Still Abe was worried enough about how this would look to the Japanese public that the Prime Minister's Office reportedly curbed the press access to the brief bilateral meeting with Trump, fearful of what the American President would say to reporters. They could not control, however, Trump's final press conference at the end of the G20 summit. There Trump went beyond his earlier statement and told reporters that he had told Abe "for the last six months" that it was time to change the 1960 Japan-US mutual cooperation and security treaty, the foundation of the postwar partnership.

The Prime Minister and his close aides at first denied that any such conversation took place. Now the Abe admits that Trump said this many times in times in private conversation. But there is not evidence this has turned yet into policy.

According to well-informed American sources in close contact with the American military command in Japan, "Trump's call to renegotiate the alliance is news to them." They too see this as mainly an attempt to link security with trade "to gain concessions at the negotiating table."

Negotiations on Japan's contribution to U.S. defense costs in Japan will begin in six months or so and the threat to abandon the alliance is a tactic Trump already used in negotiations with South Korea to force a higher payment.

But the damage has been done. "Trump's latest salvos targeting the Mutual Security Treaty are unsettling for Tokyo and music to the ears of Beijing and Pyongyang while undermining Abe's claims that the bilateral alliance has never been stronger, arguably his sole diplomatic achievement," says Kingston. "Abe has made his desire for amending the war renouncing Article 9 of the constitution the focus of the upcoming upper house election, but now will have to convince voters that this won't mean Japan will have to fight wars at America's behest."

The Kim-Trump shock

Right after Osaka, the Japanese government got hit with another shockwave from Korea when Trump met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in an impromptu mini-summit at the DMZ. Other than the visual imagery of an American president symbolically crossing a few steps into North Korea, the ostensible outcome of this display was an agreement to restart official level talks that have been effectively suspended since the abortive second summit in Hanoi in February.

The Hanoi summit broke down over the exposed gap between the North Korean and U.S. understandings of denuclearization. The North Koreans refused to specify what facilities they were prepared to shut down in the first phases of this process, while insisting that all major sanctions be lifted. The resumption of talks could signal a North Korean willingness to put more on the table.

But it also reflects clear indications from Trump, as well as from special envoy Steve Biegun, that the U.S. is prepared to settle for a much less ambitious version of a freeze agreement, with actual denuclearization set well off into an unspecified future. As the New York Times reported, this would mean accepting North Korea's status as a nuclear weapons state, including its missile delivery systems, while capping any future production. This idea is not new - Japanese officials have been worried about this kind of bad bargain since the summer of 2017.

Senior American officials denied the report - but read more precisely, they denied their own knowledge of and support for this kind of deal. "I have heard nothing resembling what [the New York Times] describes," a senior official who has been directly involved in the North Korea talks told me. "I know [Matt] Pottinger hasn't either," he added, referring to the senior National Security Council Asia director.

In reality, National Security Advisor John Bolton and Pottinger were cut out of the DMZ talks, dispatched on an oddly timed visit to Mongolia. The North Korea operation is now entirely in the hands of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Biegun. The Secretary has tied his future political ambitions entirely to Trump and will not defy him, as Bolton might be tempted to do.

The Prime Minister's office issued ritual support for Trump's latest embrace of Kim, claiming again, without evidence, that abductees were on the agenda and that Japan's advice not to leave a nuclear-armed North Korea with its missiles aimed at Japan is being heard.

But a veteran Seoul-based Western journalist cites reports, not yet confirmed, that "Trump in his private conversation with Kim at Freedom House in the Joint Security Area may have intimated that the U.S. would not insist on N. Korea really giving up all its nukes and missiles and the means to make them."

The coming trade talks

The third nightmare for Abe is likely to be the upcoming bilateral trade talks with the U.S. With the China negotiations now moved away from the brink, American negotiators, led by Robert Lighthizer, will be able to focus on Japan. And the signals are clear that Trump wants to push hard for an agreement to limit Japanese auto exports to the U.S. "With Japan, we're negotiating with them because they send us millions of cars and we send them wheat," Trump told reporters in Osaka. "Doesn't work."

The Japanese negotiators see this coming. "I am a bit tired of hearing Amb Lighthizer and President Trump making one-sided demands," a senior member of the Japanese trade negotiating team told me. "I hope we can stand firm and defend the 'red line' for us in the end."

A restraint agreement for Japanese auto exports would be a disaster for a Japanese economy already feeling the effects of the China-US trade war and facing a sales tax increase in the fall. But for now, Abe needs to preserve the image of a close and friendly alliance with the U.S.

"Abe thinks that a good relationship with Washington gets more votes in Japan, no matter what president sits in the White House," the veteran Japanese journalist said. Winning the election and staying in power is the key goal, he noted harshly, even if means "whitewashing the grave peril of worldwide populism."

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Monday in Washington, July 8, 2019

GAMBLING WITH VIOLENCE: NON-STATE ACTORS AND OUTSOURCING OF VIOLENCE IN KASHMIR. 7/8, 2:00pm. Sponsor: Atlantic Council. Speakers: Yelena Biberman, Nonresident Senior Fellow, South Asia Center, Atlantic Council; Aparna Pande, Director, Initiative on the Future of India and South Asia, Hudson Institute; Michael Kugelman, Deputy Director and Senior Associate for South Asia, Wilson Center; Moderator: Shuja Nawaz, Distinguished Senior Fellow, South Asia Center, Atlantic Council.

THE NATIONAL SECURITY THREAT OF AUTHORITARIAN CORRUPTION: HOW DICTATORS, TERRORISTS, AND CRIMINALS ABUSE FREE MARKETS. 7/8, 3:00-4:00pm. Sponsor: AEI. Speakers: Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, Professor, New York University; Daniel Twining, President International Republican Institute, Moderator: Clay R. Fuller, Jeane Kirkpatrick Fellow, AEI.

INDIA REFORMS SCORECARD LAUNCH RECEPTION. 7/8, 5:30-7:00pm. Sponsor: CSIS. Speaker: Richard M. Rossow, Senior Adviser and Wadhwani Chair in U.S.-India Policy Studies. No live webcast

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Remembering the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Saipan

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Battle of Saipan: a brutal invasion that claimed 55,000 lives

BY Jeff Kingston, Temple University and APP member

First appeared in the JAPAN TIMES, July 5, 2014

The American invasion of the Japanese stronghold of Saipan in the western Pacific was an incredibly brutal battle, claiming 55,000 soldiers’ and civilians’ lives in just over three weeks in the summer of 1944. The U.S. Marines spearheaded the amphibious landing, encountering a fierce and well-prepared resistance from the Japanese troops who controlled the commanding heights looming over the beach.

Artillery, snipers and automatic weapons took a deadly toll with casualties mounting under the remorseless barrage. Marines later commented on the precision of the Japanese mortars and artillery fire. A battalion caught out in the open took heavy casualties as it desperately tried to dig in and find shelter, with one of its officers recalling: “it’s hard to dig a hole when you’re lying on your stomach digging with your chin, your elbows, your knees, and your toes. … (But) it is possible to dig a hole that way, I found.” Such was a precarious beachhead established on the first day of the invasion.

The amphibious landing at Saipan drew on the lessons of previous conquests in Tarawa in November 1943 and the Kwajalein and Eniwetok atolls in the Marshall Islands in early 1944. Next up was the Mariana Islands of Guam, Saipan and Tinian, part of the island-hopping campaign adopted by the U.S. that struck deeper into the Japanese defenses, bypassing some well-fortified islands and cutting off their supply lines. Saipan was almost equidistant from the Marshall Islands and Japan, nearly 2,100 km, putting much of the archipelago within B-29 bomber range.

Unlike the flat atolls, Saipan had topography and was a relatively large 185 sq. km. It had been administered by Japan since it was taken from Germany and Tokyo was awarded a mandate by the League of Nations in 1920. Although Japan had already withdrawn from the League in 1933 due to criticism of its invasion of Manchuria, it fortified Saipan from 1934 in violation of the mandate terms, making it a formidable target. The Saipan invasion was code-named Operation Forager and involved practice landings, and training with explosives and flamethrowers for three months.

The U.S. forces confronted about 30,000 Japanese troops, double pre-invasion estimates. On June 14, some of the battleships that had been severely damaged during the attack on Pearl Harbor and since repaired, commenced the softening-up phase, pounding the Japanese defenses with their heavy guns, launching shells nearly the size of a VW Beetle. It was payback time.

The U.S. forces faced an implacable foe ready to die rather than surrender and from the outset everyone knew this would be a bloodbath. On the second night, the Japanese counterattacked with 44 tanks, losing 24 of them to the marines’ intense fusillade. In the first four days alone, the marines suffered 5,000 casualties.

On June 17, with the main Japanese fleet steaming for a showdown in the Marianas, U.S. carriers were deployed to meet them while transport and supply ships were withdrawn from their offshore support positions in Saipan. On June 19, in what military historians dub the “Great Mariana’s Turkey Shoot,” the U.S. decimated the Japanese carrier task force, sinking three carriers and shooting down 330 of the 430 planes launched and preventing relief of the Japanese forces on Saipan. The U.S. supply ships returned, but the Japanese were cut off.

The U.S. confronted a tactical nightmare of ravines, caves, cliffs and hills earning nicknames such as Hell’s Pocket, Death Valley and Purple Heart Ridge. With such favorable terrain for the dug-in defenders, the U.S. resorted to unorthodox methods. One marine observed: “The flame thrower tanks were spouting their napalm jets upward into … caves. It was quite a sight!”

Many civilians died in the battle. U.S. forces didn’t always distinguish between noncombatants and combatants when entering caves or hearing movement or voices in the jungle because Japanese troops used civilians as decoys to ambush American soldiers. The brutality of the conflict is also evident in video footage that captures the tragedy of Japanese civilians committing suicide by jumping off a cliff into the ocean.

The suicides in Saipan drew considerable attention and praise in Japan. A correspondent from the Yomiuri praised the women who committed suicide with their children by jumping from the cliff, writing that they were, “the pride of Japanese women.” He even went so far as to call it, “The finest act of the Showa period.” Similarly, Tokyo University professor Hiraizumi Kiyoshi gushed in the Asahi Shimbun, “100 or 1,000 instants of bravery emit brilliant flashes of light, an act without equal in history.”

Based on numerous wartime diaries and essays, Donald Keene highlights the conspiracy of silence about the gathering decline in Japan’s war fortunes in So Lovely a Country Will Never Perish.

“Not until Japan had suffered severe defeats, especially at Saipan, were voices heard warning of disaster, and even then were muted, for fear of being overheard by the feared military police,” Keene wrote.

In order to bolster morale, the government invented victories and enemy losses, a web of deceit that blinded the public and leaders to the real situation. After Saipan fell, the B-29s corrected this fallacy.

As later happened in Okinawa, Imperial troops encouraged and instigated group suicides, warning of the horrible fate that awaited anyone captured by the invaders.

The Japanese commander, Gen. Yoshitsugu Saito, reportedly said: “There is no longer any distinction between civilians and troops. It would be better for them to join in the attack with bamboo spears than be captured.”

Gen. Saito, wounded and knowing the battle was lost, committed suicide in his cave on July 6 after ordering a final banzai charge. The following day, 3,000 troops, including any wounded who could still limp or crawl their way to death, obeyed orders and mounted a final mass banzai charge. These troops were annihilated, but not before inflicting heavy casualties on the American forces. By July 9, mopping up operations were completed.

Given the horrific carnage and atrocities endured and inflicted, there is an odd ring to the chivalry claimed in the aftermath of the battle. “Several times when we tried to feed newly captured women and children first, the male would shove them aside and demand to be first for rations,” one soldier noted. “A few raps to the chest with a rifle butt soon cured them of that habit.”

Of the 71,000 U.S. troops that landed, nearly 3,000 were killed and more than 10,000 wounded. Out of the entire Japanese garrison of 30,000 troops, only 921 prisoners were captured; the rest died. The Japanese commanders, and some 5,000 others committed suicide rather than surrender.

It could have been much worse. As one survey concluded, the “unfinished state of the Japanese defenses was, in fact, a critical factor in the final American victory on Saipan. The blockading success of far-ranging submarines of the U.S. Navy had drastically reduced the supplies of cement and other construction materials destined for elaborate Saipan defenses, as well as the number of troop ships carrying Japanese reinforcements to the island.” One Japanese POW observed during an interrogation that had the American assault come three months later, the island would have been impregnable and thus the casualty rate much higher.

The subsequent Battle of Okinawa (April 1-June 22, 1945) nearly a year later demonstrated how deadly improved defenses could be for the invaders, defenders and civilians. There, as many as 200,000 Okinawan civilians died in the prolonged conflagration, perhaps one-third of the entire population, along with 77,000 Japanese and 14,000 American soldiers.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Monday in Washington, June 24, 2019


A CONVERSATION WITH PAKISTAN’S AMBASSADOR ASAD MAJEED KHAN. 6/24, 10:00-11:30am. Sponsor: Carnegie. Speaker: Asad Majeed Khan, Ambassador to the United States, Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Moderator: George Perkovich, Ken Olivier and Angela Nomellini Chair, Vice President for Studies, Technology and International Affairs Program, Nuclear Policy Program, Carnegie. 

JAM V. IFC: THE END OF ABSOLUTE IMMUNITY FOR INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS? 6/24, Reception, 5:30-7:00pm. Sponsors: Washington Foreign Law Society; American Society of International Law (ASIL). Speakers: John B. Bellinger, III, Head of Arnold & Porter’s Global Law and Public Policy practice, Former Legal Adviser, Department of State; Michael Matheson, Professor of Foreign Relations Law, GWU Law School, Former member, U.N. International Law Commission (invited); Ethiopis Tafara, Vice President and General Counsel, International Finance Corporation; Moderator: Antonia Tzinova, President, Washington Foreign Law Society, Partner, Holland & Knight. Fee

ROK-U.S. STRATEGIC FORUM 2019. 6/24, 11:30am-6:30pm. Sponsor: Korea Foundation, Korea Chair, CSIS. Speakers: Ambassador Richard Armitage, President, Armitage International; Ambassador Lee Sihyung, President, The Korea Foundation; Congressman Ami Bera (D-CA), Chairman, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, House Foreign Affairs Committee, Co-Chair of Congressional Study Group on Korea; Ms. Joy Yamamoto, Director, Office of Korean Affairs, U.S. Department of State; Dr. Joon Hyung Kim, Professor, Handong Global University; Dr. Sang Hyun Lee, Senior Research Fellow, Sejong Institute; Ambassador Joseph Yun, Senior Advisor to the Asia Center, United States Institute of Peace; Former Special Representative for North Korea Policy and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Korea and Japan, U.S. Department of State; Dr. Haksoon Paik, President, Sejong Institute; Dr. Ramon Pacheco Pardo, KF-VUB Korea Chair, Institute for European Studies (IES-VUB); Reader (Associate Professor) in International Relations, King's College London; Dr. Jiyoung Park, Director and Senior Fellow, Center fgor Science and Technology Policy, Asan Institute for Policy Studies; Dr. Kurt Campbell, Chairman and CEO, The Asia Group; Former Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, U.S. Department of State; Dr. Thomas Christensen, Professor of International and Public Affairs and Director of the China and the World Program, Columbia University: Dr. Jae-ho Chung, Professor of International Relations, Director of the Program on US-China Relations, Seoul National University; Dr. Sangjoon Kim, Professor of Political Science, Yonsei University; Victor Cha, Senior Adviser and Korea Chair; Mark Lippert, Senior Advisor (Non-resident), Korea Chair; Sue Mi Terry, Senior Fellow, Korea Chair.

2:00-3:30pm. Sponsor: Nuclear Policy Program, Carnegie Endowment. Speakers: Author, Renata Dwan, Still Behind the Curve, Director, Institute for Disarmament Research, United Nations; Laura Holgate, Vice President for materials risk management, NTI, Director, Gender Champions in Nuclear Policy; Moderator: James M. Acton, Jessica T. Mathews Chair, Co-director, Nuclear Policy Program, Carnegie.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Monday in Washington, June 17, 2019

CHINA’S PAYMENT SYSTEM: REVOLUTION, EVOLUTION, OR PASSING FAD? 6/17, 2:00-3:30pm. Sponsor: Brookings. Speakers: Claudia Biancotti, Visiting Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics; Frank Tuscano, Senior Manager, Royal Caribbean Cruises; Ltd.; Yiping Huang, Director, Institute of Digital Finance, Peking University; MODERATOR: David Dollar, Senior Fellow, John L. Thornton China Center, Brookings.
TRANSATLANTIC COOPERATION IN AN ERA OF CRISIS AND COMPETITION. 6/17, 3:15-5:00pm. Sponsor: Hudson Institute. Speakers: Michel Duclos, Special Advisor, Geopolitics, Institut Montaigne, Former French Ambassador to Syria and Switzerland; François Godement, Senior Advisor for Asia, Institut Montaigne; Ben Judah, Research Fellow, Hudson Institute; Peter Rough, Fellow, Hudson Institute; Ken Weinstein, President and CEO, Hudson Institute.

BEYOND GETTING GIRLS IN SCHOOL: ADDRESSING UNFINISHED BUSINESS TO ACHIEVE WOMEN’S EQUALITY. 6/17, 4:00-5:30pm. Sponsor: Center for Global Development (CGD). Speakers: Pamela Jakiela, Senior Fellow, CGD; Christina Kwauk, Fellow, Center for Universal Education, Brookings; Dana Schmidt, Senior Program Officer, Echidna Giving; Kehinde Ajayi, Economist at Africa Region Gender Innovation Lab, World Bank; Stephanie Psaki, Deputy Director of the GIRL Center, Population Council; Moderator: Justin Sandefur, Senior Fellow, CGD.

Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) holds public hearings from June 17 to June 21, 2019 and, the following week, from June 24 to June 25, 2019, regarding proposed tariffs on approximately $300 billion worth of Chinese products.