A few days ago, Princess Ubolratana announced her candidacy for the Thai prime ministership, running as a candidate of the Thai Raksa Chart Party against General Prayut. The supposedly clever strategy of Thaksin backfired when the Thai royal family publicly expressed its opposition. The reason is twofold: Since the establishment of the constitutional monarchy of Thailand in 1932, the royal family has followed the tradition of not participating in politics. Moreover, the royal family intends to maintain a close relationship with the military. It’s interesting to observe that Thailand rarely descends into chaos. This is due to three constraining forces at work: Buddhism, which imbues the society with a general sense of peace of mind, the Thai king, who is highly esteemed among the public, and the basic framework of a democracy governed by the rule of law.
Yesterday, President Trump held a rally in Texas in front of an enthusiastic crowd. The turnout would have been much smaller had the rally been held in New York or Los Angeles.
Yesterday, amid a heated debate over Trump’s proposed border wall, California governor Gavin Newsom (D) said he plan to pull the more than 300 National Guard troops from the state’s southern border, calling the the border “emergency” a “manufactured crisis” and expressing his reluctance for California to be “part of this political theater”.
But for the Democrats, there is not yet a candidate strong enough to challenge Trump’s presidency, unless the slew of congressional investigations can gradually erode Trump’s reputation and his approval rating. Will Mueller’s Russian investigation reveal new findings? 2020 is still 2 years away: There are many variables.
In addition to unwavering support from his base, Trump also has a humming economy on his side. But there are worrying signs: the stock market might lose its steam, and we see consumer confidence weakening in the most recent report. Stock market fluctuations are normal, but since Trump touted it as his performance indicator when the Dow was booming. It’s only natural for him to feel stressed when the stock market is underwhelming.
Xi Jinping is confronted with more serious problems. China’s economy grew 6.6% in 2018, the lowest pace in 28 years. But I emphasize that the situation may not be as dismal as people tend to think. At the provincial and ministerial level cadre seminar, Xi Jinping emphasized "stability" as the party leadership’s top priority. Meanwhile, the US-China trade tension is one of the main factors that might result in instability. From this perspective, both Xi Jinping and Trump have reason to resolve the trade conflicts: their goals are aligned.
There has been a lot of back-and-forth along the way: at times it looks like a deal is within reach. Only a few hours later we are told the two sides are still miles part. In terms of the location for the next Trump-Xi meeting, many options seem plausible: It could be in Florida again, or on the Chinese resort island of Hainan, or somewhere else. None of the above is crucial. Some kind of a deal has to be reached. And Trump and Xi will meet to finalize that deal.
In the past few days, the United States sent warships to the South China Sea, which, to some, will cast a shadow over the trade negotiations. Some interpret this as the US throwing a wrench into the ongoing trade negotiations. The truth is that China has aggressively laid claim to almost all of South China Sea which is important for shipping lanes and potential resources, leaving regional Asian countries with no choice but to form some kind of alliance with the US.
最近美国军事谈判小组去了菲律宾，对中国在南海行为形成制约。 昨天，英国防务大臣说要派军舰进入南海。当然不会立即出动，最快要到2020年。 未来俄罗斯、日本也会有类似行动。 可军舰到南海并不是为了打仗，而是形成威慑，形成均势，于是有了和平，有了航行自由。
In addition, the United Kingdom will deploy the Royal Navy's HMS Queen Elizabeth into the politically-fraught South China Sea, as the British Defense Minister Gavin Williamson confirmed in a speech yesterday. It won’t happen immediately, at least not before 2020. Russia and Japan will take similar actions in the future. It’s important to note that Monday's sail-by is not meant to draw Beijing’s ire and provoke it into naval war. Instead, the purpose was to challenge Beijing’s excessive maritime claims and to preserve access to the waterways. By showing its willingness to operate “wherever international law allows”, the US deters the Beijing from further aggression in the disputed South China Sea.