China Delegation Reportedly Open to Meeting Trump’s Team At Davos
Gemma Acton, CNBC
China’s Communist leader Xi Jinping’s delegation to the World Economic Forum (WEF) to be held in Davos next week is open to a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump’s team, according to the Associated Press, citing a remark made by an official on Wednesday. The AP article quotes Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong telling reporters at a press briefing that “there are open channels of communication” with Trump’s delegation. The open stance comes despite Trump having berated China in a series of tweets in recent months, accusing the country of protectionism and threatening to impose punitive barriers to its imports.
Taiwan Scrambles Jets as China Aircraft Carrier Enters Taiwan Strait
Taiwan scrambled jets Wednesday as China’s sole aircraft carrier led Chinese warships through the Taiwan Strait amid heightened tensions between the mainland and self-governing island it claims as its own territory, Reuters reported. A ministry statement said the aircraft carrier was traveling northwest along the center line dividing the strait, along with its battle group. It said the military was closely monitoring the vessels’ passage and urged the public not to be alarmed.
US May Hold Fire on “Non-Threatening” North Korea Missiles
US Defense Secretary Ash Carter has said the US would not necessarily shoot down a North Korean missile, if it was not threatening. He said the US military would want to gather intelligence from the missile’s flight instead of intercepting it. Mr. Carter’s remarks follow President-elect Donald Trump’s Twitter comments on North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.
Russia Waging Information War Against Sweden, Study Finds
Jon Henley, THE GUARDIAN
Sweden’s most authoritative foreign policy institute has accused Russia of using fake news, false documents and disinformation as part of a coordinated campaign to influence public opinion and decision-making in the Scandinavian country. The Swedish Institute of International Affairs said in a comprehensive study that Sweden had been the target of “a wide array of active measures” aimed at “hampering its ability to generate public support in pursuing its policies.” The study said Russia had used misleading reports on its state-run news website Sputnik, and public interventions by Russian politicians in Swedish domestic affairs, as well as more covert methods.
Intel Chiefs Presented Trump with Claims of Russian Efforts To Compromise Him
Evan Perez and Jim Sciutto, CNN
Classified documents presented last week to President Obama and President-elect Trump included allegations that Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump, multiple US officials with direct knowledge of the briefings tell CNN. The allegations were presented in a two-page synopsis that was appended to a report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. The allegations came, in part, from memos compiled by a former British intelligence operative, whose past work US intelligence officials consider credible. The FBI is investigating the credibility and accuracy of these allegations, which are based primarily on information from Russian sources, but has not confirmed many essential details in the memos about Mr. Trump.
Senators Propose New Sanctions on Russia
Jay Solomon and William Mauldin, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Leading US senators from both parties proposed new sanctions against Russia that would markedly increase Moscow’s economic isolation and could limit President-elect Donald Trump’s ability to improve ties with the Kremlin. Tuesday’s proposed legislation would set in stone many of the sanctions the Obama administration levied against Russia after revelations of election-related cyber hacking, and significantly broaden the restrictions against companies seeking to invest in Russia’s energy sector and the state-run corporations that dominate the country’s economy.
Tillerson to Face Questions on Russian Ties at Confirmation Hearing
Lesley Wroughton and Patricia Zengerle, REUTERS
President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, faces tough questioning at his confirmation hearing on Wednesday over his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin as both Democrats and Republicans worry about Moscow’s increasingly aggressive behavior. The central question facing Tillerson, 64, the former chairman of Exxon Mobil, is how effectively he can transform himself from a Big Oil “dealmaker” to being America’s top diplomat with little government experience. According to excerpts from his opening statement released before the hearing, Tillerson will say that Russia poses a danger and NATO allies are right to be alarmed at a resurgent Moscow.