The DailyBrief

Friday February 10, 2017

Diplomacy has been the order of the day for US President Donald Trump, with his first task being a chat with his Chinese counterpart. In the first phone conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Trump, presumably via a translator, reaffirmed Washington’s “One China” policy in an apparent effort to ease tensions after angering Beijing by questioning a major plank of Sino-US relations. Trump “agreed, at the request of President Xi, to honor our ‘One China’ policy,” the White House said, adding the leaders had “extended invitations to meet in their respective countries.”

Still in a diplomatic mood, Trump is expected to be a congenial host during a visit by Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie Abe, whose jet landed at Joint Base Andrews just outside the US capital, Washington. Harry J. Kazianis writes that both leaders have an agenda – Abe will be keen to lock in critical commitments in the flesh from Trump on two key threats Japan faces: China and North Korea, while the Donald will be keen to have some positive stories in the news cycle.

Last but by no means least on diplomacy and relationships, or should it be hardware, the Philippines took delivery of a shipment of new counterinsurgency equipment from the United States – 400 grenade launchers, 85 sniper rifles and three unmanned aerial vehicles, writes Richard Javad Heydarian. The February 1 delivery aimed at tackling rebels in Mindanao is the latest indication that President Rodrigo Duterte aims to put relations back on track with the US under Trump.

In a three-part series, Doug Tsuruoka investigates the challenges for the Trump administration in rebuilding crumbling infrastructure in the US. How will the president raise the money needed to fund the US$1 trillion plan, how railways are the biggest hurdle to his plan to renovate and modernise the country’s infrastructure and that he may need the cutting-edge technology of both Japan and China to bring American infrastructure into the 21st century.

From foreign policy, we head back to China, where the central bank is getting ready to wield a big stick over Chinese bitcoin trading platforms, which run the risk of closure if they breach new controls on the virtual currency. As authorities step up efforts to curb the flow of money offshore, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) inspection team unveiled a series of restrictions on the digital unit following a meeting on Wednesday with officials from nine Beijing-based bitcoin trading platforms.