Photos: Bloomberg, Getty; photo illustration: Tom Hall/Bloomberg
Balance of Power: China's Elite Vie for Top Posts at Secret TalksBy and
Most world leaders like to spend August on vacation. Not Xi Jinping, who will host Communist Party elders at the Chinese beach town of Beidaihe in the coming days.
The secretive annual gathering is the last chance for the political elite to jostle over who gets promoted to top posts under Xi at the party's twice-a-decade congress this fall that will shape Chinese politics for the next 10 years.
While little is known about the discussions at Beidaihe, the disappearance of leaders from nightly newscast mentions is a clue it's under way. Sometimes details trickle out days or weeks later.
The biggest mystery is whether Xi will seek in 2022 to stay on. Last month, China confirmed one potential successor was under investigation.
If Xi pushes to stay in power past his mandated 10 years, it could spark an internal backlash and hinder his ability to carry out economic reforms. That's crucial as China examines how to avoid the fate of Japan’s epic bust in the 1990s.
Economists are warning that mounting state debt could threaten the financial system, and thus the party’s legitimacy. If that happens, Xi will need as many allies as possible.
U.S.-China trade frictions | Beijing sought to stabilize trade relations with the U.S., as the prospect of an investigation by the Trump administration on intellectual property raised the risk of tit-for-tat reprisals. China today rebuffed claims that it violates intellectual property rules, saying it wants to maintain good cooperation with the U.S., though state media regularly warns that China is ready to hit back against any trade measures if needed.
Abe recycles ministers in Japan | Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reshuffled his cabinet after a series of gaffes, seeking to revive his sagging poll numbers by bringing back experienced names like Itsunori Onodera to defense. Still, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida moved to a senior role in the ruling party, suggesting internal tensions remain: now he's released from cabinet discipline, Kishida has freer rein to challenge Abe in next year's party leadership vote.
Brazil's president avoids graft trial | Michel Temer secured enough votes in Congress to get corruption charges shelved, boosting his chances of clinging to power until his term ends in December 2018. Temer, who two months ago was at risk of being ousted, personally lobbied more than 160 lawmakers in recent weeks. Still, his survival comes at the cost of diminished clout to implement much-needed fiscal austerity measures.
Qatar seeks new friends | Grappling with a boycott led by its Gulf neighbors, Qatar has passed legislation to extend permanent residency rights to some foreigners, an unprecedented move among Arab monarchies in a region that has for decades relied on foreign labor. Ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani is looking to lure investment and reduce his reliance on energy after Saudi Arabia and three allies severed diplomatic and transport links.
Sessions gets a reprieve | Attorney General Jeff Sessions is keeping his job, at least for now. New White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has assured Sessions that President Donald Trump doesn’t intend to fire him despite a series of public criticisms. The president, meanwhile, is said to be considering reassigning Energy Secretary Rick Perry to take Kelly's old job as head of the Homeland Security Department, a switch that would leave yet another Cabinet post open.
Zuckerberg 2020? | In a move that's sure to prompt a barrage of “likes” from Trump's opponents, Mark Zuckerberg has hired a former top Obama adviser who was also chief strategist on Clinton's 2016 campaign, Politico reports. The Facebook founder and CEO's move -- as Trump's approval ratings plumb new lows -- is the latest sign he could be considering a new career in politics.
And finally… Qatar wants to show it's business as usual. Despite the embargo by its Gulf neighbors, the small natural gas-rich state is on a shopping spree. After ordering 36 F-15 fighters from the U.S. and seven warships from Italy, the latest marquee purchase is Neymar, who will become the world's most expensive footballer. He's saying goodbye to Lionel Messi at Barcelona to join Paris Saint-Germain, with the Qatari-owned club footing his $263 million buyout.
— With assistance by Kathleen Hunter