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SnapshotsAug 7, 2020 | 20:48 GMT
With Tech Bans and Hong Kong Sanctions, Trump Hits China With a One-Two Punch
In the United States' pressure campaign against China, President Donald Trump's threshold for action is decreasing and his tolerance for risk of blowback to U.S. economic interests appears to be rising -- a trend confirmed by the White House's move to both restrict transactions by U.S. entities with China's TikTok and WeChat apps, as well as impose sanctions against Chinese and Hong Kong officials involved in the Hong Kong crisis. Such blowback includes the impact of U.S. restrictions on U.S. businesses in China, as well as the threat of Chinese retaliation. Although both of these moves are part of a long-term bipartisan trend towards greater confrontation with China, U.S. President Donald Trump's electoral challenges will lead to an increasingly volatile dynamic ahead of the November vote, even as he tries to walk the line of preserving, at least in name, the U.S.-China trade deal as a key campaign promise. 
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On GeopoliticsAug 7, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A U.S. soldier (left) stands guard next to a South Korean soldier (right) in Panmunjom, South Korea, on July 27, 2019, during a ceremony commemorating the 66th anniversary of the signing of the Korean War Armistice Agreement.
With the Drawdown of U.S. Forces in Germany, Is South Korea Next?
With the drawdown of U.S. forces in Germany underway, a reduction of U.S. forces in South Korea is now more likely than ever, given evolving U.S. defense priorities and longstanding trends on the Korean Peninsula. Rumors of an imminent U.S. force drawdown in Korea have been circulating since at least 2019, and President Donald Trump has made it clear he wants to reduce large overseas basing. South Korea, however, is a particularly contentious case, as any changes to the size and structure of U.S. forces must take into consideration both the local mission of deterring against North Korea, as well as the broader U.S. strategic mission of refocusing on great power competition, particularly with China. And that will require reassessing South Korea's own national defense capabilities, the benefits and risks of having a large forward force based on the Asian mainland, and the impact of any shift in forces on
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SITUATION REPORTAug 6, 2020 | 18:52 GMT
U.S., China: Beijing Condemns Health Secretary’s Upcoming Visit to Taiwan
China’s foreign ministry said it firmly opposes any official U.S. exchanges with Taiwan, warning that a visit to the island by a U.S. Cabinet official would threaten “peace and stability” in the region, AFP reported Aug. 5. The statement comes a day after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that Secretary Alex Azar would lead a delegation to Taipai in the coming days to discuss Taiwan’s successful COVID-19 strategy.
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On GeopoliticsJul 30, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A display shows the national flags of China and the United States at the Group of 20 (G-20) Summit in Osaka, Japan, on June 29, 2019.
The U.S.-China Ideological Divide and the Challenge of Cohesion
A series of foreign policy speeches by key officials in U.S. President Donald Trump's administration has sought to redefine the U.S.-China strategic competition as one based on conflicting core ideologies between those of the Chinese Communist Party and those of the free world. But to be effective, the United States needs to revive domestic unity and engender global cooperation, while China only needs to maintain domestic unity and exploit global divisions. 
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AssessmentsJul 22, 2020 | 21:37 GMT
A group of people stand outside the Chinese consulate in Houston, Texas, after the United States ordered Beijing to immediately close the office on July 22, 2020.
What the Closure of a Consulate Could Mean for U.S.-China Tensions
Washington's closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston introduces a new conflict point in U.S.-China relations, but the impact will depend on the narrative and justification for the U.S. decision and whether Beijing retaliates proportionately or further escalates tensions. If it becomes apparent that the United States closed the consulate in response to an immediate security threat, it would indicate a continuation of the administration's more measured approach to Chinese threats in recent months. However, if the move is not linked to particularly egregious activity at the consulate, it may indicate that the White House is adopting a more aggressive posture against Beijing ahead of the November election. 
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SITUATION REPORTJul 21, 2020 | 20:52 GMT
Jordan: Prime Minister Hints at Support for Single Israeli-Palestinian State
Jordanian Prime Minister Omar Razzaz said in an interview that he would “look favorably” on a single democratic, binational state that guarantees equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians in the event that Israel’s planned annexation of territory in the West Bank renders a two-state solution impossible, AP reported July 21. 
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SnapshotsJul 15, 2020 | 20:33 GMT
Trump Carefully Continues to Increase Pressure on China in Hong Kong
Despite growing bipartisan pressure among U.S. legislators to take more aggressive action against China, the White House's latest actions in Hong Kong indicate the administration still seeks to avoid any moves that could substantively damage the city's status as an economic hub or jeopardize the U.S.-China phase one trade deal. On July 14, U.S. President Donald Trump announced the issuing of an executive order invoking the United States-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992 to certify the city no longer warrants autonomous treatment under U.S. law, as well as the signing of the Hong Kong Autonomy Act (HKAA) into law. These two actions mark another step in the incremental escalation of U.S. pressure on China over its implementation of a severe new national security law in the city but still fall short of more extreme moves Washington could take, reflecting a still cautious White House strategy. 
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GuidanceJul 13, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
An evening view of the western half of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong's Dollar Peg Likely Remains Safe From U.S. Sanctions -- For Now
U.S. President Donald Trump's expected signature of the Hong Kong Autonomy Act (HKAA) presages a policy challenge for his administration as it seeks to pressure China without further damaging the U.S.-China trade deal. This, combined with the need to avoid creating additional economic uncertainty ahead of the November election, suggests possible new sanctions will not pose an immediate threat to Hong Kong's currency peg to the U.S. dollar.
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SnapshotsJul 10, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
The U.S. Responds to China's Uighur Crackdown With More Sanctions
The U.S. decision to sanction a Chinese Politburo member will provoke a tit-for-tat response from Beijing, adding to the mounting tensions between the two countries. On July 9, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned one Chinese government agency and four individuals for their role in the ongoing crackdown on ethnic Uighurs in Xinjiang. While such sanctions will not alone derail the U.S.-China "phase one" trade deal, they will add to the growing points of tension that, when combined, threaten the agreement. The targeted focus of these sanctions on individuals also suggests a more measured U.S. approach to the Uighur crisis in Xinjiang, similar to Washington's approach in its response to Beijing's encroachment over Hong Kong.
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AssessmentsJul 9, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A photo shows the site of a recent gas explosion at the Sina Medical Center in Tehran, Iran, on July 1, 2020. 19 people were killed in the blast.
Explosions in Iran Point to a Possible Israeli Sabotage Campaign
Israel was likely behind a July 2 explosion and fire at Iran's Natanz nuclear facility, and potentially some of the other similar incidents that have occurred near Tehran over the past two weeks, including a June 26 explosion at the Khojir missile complex. Although Tel Aviv doesn't typically claim its covert actions against Iran, motive and past history make Israel the most likely actor to conduct such sabotage operations against Iranian infrastructure and assets.  Israel is frustrated by the failure of Western and regional countries to fully rein in Iran's military and nuclear capabilities, which it views as direct threats to its domestic and regional security. With the potential for a less friendly U.S. administration to take office in January, Israel may also be calculating that it has an optimal but limited window to act more aggressively against Iran's nuclear program.
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SnapshotsJul 2, 2020 | 15:49 GMT
Amid Spiking COVID-19 Cases, Israel Slows Its Annexation Push
Israel is slowing, but not yet stopping, its annexation plans in the face of a COVID-19 resurgence and possible future changes to its relationship with the United States, forestalling Palestinian unrest and international backlash. The acceleration of these two trends -- further COVID-19 infections and U.S. President Donald Trump's sliding approval ratings -- could upend the annexation process by convincing Israel to shrink its scope or even commit to a long-term delay.
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SnapshotsJun 30, 2020 | 19:49 GMT
China's Security Law Ushers in a New and Uncertain Era in Hong Kong
The passing of China's new Hong Kong national security law marks the start of an uncertain and potentially volatile phase in the city's ongoing political crisis, as pro-democracy forces square-off with newly empowered city authorities backed by Beijing, increasing the risk of a sweeping crackdown on dissent that could also impact foreign institutions. Whether the next period sees tumultuous protests or a stifling of the pro-democracy camp will now depend on how Hong Kong authorities choose to apply their new sweeping powers and how the prosecution of such crimes proceed in the court system. Hong Kong's pro-democracy camp, for its part, will work to balance the need to maintain public furor against Beijing's ongoing erosion of the city's autonomy with the need to also save its strength for September legislative council elections, where it hopes to gain ground and challenge Beijing-aligned authorities.
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Quarterly ForecastsJun 29, 2020 | 00:02 GMT
2020 Third-Quarter Forecast
While many of the trends identified in our annual forecast remain slowed down by COVID-19, their pace is picking up as countries carefully emerge from lockdown.
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