Beyond Labels

A 360° Discussion of Foreign, National and Local Policy Issues

May 13: China

President Xi’s recent trip to Europe and the passage of new Tik Tok legislation, we decided it’s a good time to revisit “China.”

It started with this suggestion:

“What were the objectives of Xi Jinping’s grand European tour, and did he achieve them?”

Chinese President Xi’s trip to Europe: ‘Charm offensive’ or canny bid to divide the West? (

When Xi publicly embraced Putin after the start of the Ukraine war he inadvertently unleashed the unintended consequence of uniting the European and U.S. interests in mutual fear of China as a geopolitical as well as economic threat.  His European tour is an attempt to reverse that disastrous (for Xi) consequence.  How well will he succeed in reestablishing the divide between Europe and U.S. – between western Europe and eastern Europe?  

Closer to home, the TikTok “ban” has been getting a lot of press (TikTok faces toughest challenge yet with lawsuit against divest-or-ban bill | The Hill).

And there continue to be regional frictions between China and its maritime neighbors (Malaysia’s appetite for oil and gas puts it on collision course with China | Washington Post)

Possible topic for 13 May

Here’s a link ( to a column by Bret Stephens in the 9 May edition of The New York Times, arguing that Biden was wrong, for many reasons, to pause delivery to Israel of some large bombs and, possibly, other weapons in order to persuade the Netanyahu government not to invade Rafah. And here’s a link ( to a column by Tom Friedman in the 10 May edition of The Times, arguing that Biden made the right decision but taking issue with the way he announced it.

Was Biden right to “pause” (whatever that means) delivery of those bombs to try to encourage Israel not to “invade” (whatever that means) Rafah? How long should the “pause” last? If Israel decides to “invade” Rafah while the “pause” is in effect, what should the US government do then? Is Biden’s decision likely to trigger a wider war, involving Hezbollah, the Houthis, and Iran? Does Biden’s decision affect the role the US could play in future with respect to negotiating a pause in the war, a prisoner-hostage swap, a cease fire, how Gaza and the West Bank will be governed after the fighting ends, and whether and how Palestinian statehood might be achieved? How might Biden’s decision affect domestic politics in Israel or the US?

Presidential Immunity

We agreed to discuss Trump’s claim of presidential immunity from criminal prosecution on Monday, May 6.

  • Should POTUS be immune from criminal prosecution for:
    • all acts taken during the time they are president? (As I think Trump’s attorneys are arguing.)
    • all acts reasonably connected to the scope of their official duties?
    • all acts which only they can take (such as vetoing legislation or making appointments to certain Executive Branch positions–“core” responsibilities)?
    • only those acts in which the underlying criminal statute expressly exempts the president?
    • no acts?

Although there have been lots of op/eds written on the subject, I think the best starting point for research would be arguments made in Trump’s case before the Supreme Court.

  • For the “Cliff Notes” version, ScotusBlog is usually a good source for reporting and summarizing key Supreme Court cases.
  • For those who want to review the source materials, here is:
    • A link to the oral arguments (audio and transcript) as they took place last Monday.
    • The Supreme Court docket page, with links to the various filings made by the parties in the case and amicus briefs filed by third parties.
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