Bracing for a Superpower Showdown: Weekend Reads

Balance of Power
Bloomberg

Relations between the world's two biggest economies plunged to new depths this week after the U.S. ordered Beijing to close its consulate in Houston, saying it was involved in espionage activities. China retaliated by telling Washington to shut its consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu.

On the campaign trail, presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden used some of his strongest language yet, calling Donald Trump a "racist," while the president described his rival as "mentally shot."

Elsewhere, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is seeing some of the limits of his "Global Britain" drive, while Friday prayers echoed in Istanbul's iconic Hagia Sophia for the first time in almost half a century.

Take a look at these and other topics in our latest edition of Weekend Reads.

Karl Maier

An attendee wears a "Trump" cowboy hat during a July 23 speech by Secretary of State Michael Pompeo at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library & Museum in which Pompeo described China's leaders as tyrants bent on global hegemony.

Photographer: Eric Thayer/Bloomberg

Click here for Bloomberg's most compelling political images from the past week and tell us how we're doing or what we're missing at balancepower@bloomberg.net.

China Consulate Fight Shows Trump's Hardliners Are in Charge
The U.S. decision to force the closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston shows the hawks in Trump's administration are now in charge. Nick Wadhams and Peter Martin outline the change in Washington's approach to Beijing.

Xi's Own Campaign to Stay in Power Pits China Against the World
Trump isn't the only one who's playing to his home base. As he prepares for China's leadership contest in 2022, President Xi Jinping is trying to reinforce a crucial pillar of his support by standing "tall and firm" in the world.

Economists Say $1 Trillion or More Needed to Avert U.S. Disaster
Economists are warning the U.S. is in danger of careening off a fiscal cliff unless Congress approves a rescue package to succeed the $2 trillion CARES Act, Christopher Condon and Erik Wasson report.

Trump Seeks to Revive Campaign by Canceling Its Biggest Event
The president canceled the Republican party convention as Florida, the host state, posted record deaths from the coronavirus. Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou and Gregory Korte explain that Trump has been battered by polls showing the public disapproves of his handling of the pandemic.

Trump's decision to skip all of his campaign's virtual fundraisers in the first few months of the pandemic has given Biden an edge. Read here how civil rights groups are growing increasingly concerned that voter misinformation will flood social media sites before the November election.

Istanbul's Hagia Sophia Opens for Islamic Prayers
Cagan Koc reports on how President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hopes to capitalize on the reconversion of the Hagia Sophia into a mosque to boost his popularity at home and in the broader Muslim world.

Boris Johnson's Global Britain Collides With Global Reality
As the post-Brexit version of the U.K. is taking shape, Alan Crawford, Archana Chaudhary and Kait Bolongaro examine the question of whether the rest of the world is even watching.

Combative TikTok Founder Races to Save App Before Trump Ban
After building TikTok into one of the most promising franchises on the internet, Chinese entrepreneur Zhang Yiming is under pressure to save the business from Trump administration threats. Zheping Huang and Katie Roof explain why. 

India's Water Crisis Is Becoming a Problem for Modi
Bibhudatta Pradhan and Pratik Parija report on the problems facing Prime Minister Narendra Modi's attempt to convince India's farmers to switch to crops that guzzle less water.

Farmers harvest wheat in the Bulandshahr district of Uttar Pradesh on April 21.

Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg

Africa Starts to Have Second Thoughts About That Chinese Money 
A growing number of African policymakers and activists are starting to question the deluge of Chinese loans that their governments accepted, as Alonso Soto and Matthew Hill explain.

Covid Crackdown Snuffs Out Flickering Embers of the Arab Spring
Souhail Karam investigates how Morocco's leadership is using the pandemic to complete its reversal of democratic reforms that won it praise from the U.S. and Europe and made the country a standout in a turbulent region.  

And finally ... Harry Suhartono and Arys Aditya report on how body stealing, island hopping and smiling are the latest challenges facing Indonesia as the virus spreads along the world's largest archipelago, turning it into the latest cautionary tale about how long the battle against the pandemic will last.

A beach in Kuta, Bali that is temporarily closed due to the pandemic, on June 22.

Photographer: Putu Sayoga/Bloomberg

 

 

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