Bickering leaders

Balance of Power

While the terms of the TikTok deal are largely set, the agreement is at risk of being derailed by arguing between Donald Trump and Xi Jinping about who ceded the most ground.

Lagging in opinion polls ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election, Trump is pushing the narrative that he forced China to surrender the American operations of the popular video-sharing app. He's now threatening to veto the deal after TikTok owner ByteDance clarified it would remain in control of a new U.S.-based entity in the tie-up with Oracle and Walmart.

Xi, for his part, can't afford any perception at home that Beijing gave into Trump's demands on TikTok. He's accused America of trying to act as the "boss of the world." State media have turned sour on the deal, saying it's "the same as a gangster forcing an unreasonable and unfair business deal on a legitimate company."

With billions of dollars at stake, the companies involved are pushing for a solution.

Trump and Xi showed in marathon trade talks over the past few years that they could ultimately come to a compromise.

Now, though, the stakes might be even higher, given the economic damage wrought in both countries by the pandemic: The deal could set a precedent for who controls the technologies that will drive growth for decades to come.

Daniel Ten Kate 

A symbol of TikTok is pictured at The Place shopping mall in Beijing on Aug. 22.

Source: VCG via Getty Images 

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Global Headlines

On a roll | Trump's plan to replace late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg gained momentum yesterday after Senate Republicans all but quashed Democrats' hopes of stalling a nominee until Inauguration Day. Trump said he'll likely announce his pick at 5 p.m. on Saturday. Key Republican senator Mitt Romney, a frequent Trump critic, said he supports moving forward.

  • Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh has emerged as an unlikely high court swing vote.

Campaign 2020

There are 41 days until the election. Here's the latest on the race for control of the White House and Congress.

Secretary of State Michael Pompeo's increasingly frequent domestic appearances before overwhelmingly Republican audiences are garnering criticism. Trump meets with Republican state attorneys general today to discuss allegations of online censorship against conservatives.

Other developments:

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Avoiding ruin | U.K. Chancellor Rishi Sunak is under pressure to detail how the government plans to save businesses and jobs after it unveiled fresh coronavirus restrictions, including early closures for bars and restaurants, that will last until the spring. Initial support programs are winding down and the U.K., with Europe's highest death toll, faces "unquestionably difficult months to come," Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned.

  • The pound fell today to a two-month low as investors fretted over the possibility of a new lockdown in Britain.

Duterte pivot | Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte strongly backed a 2016 ruling by an arbitration tribunal in the Hague that found China's territorial claims in the South China Sea breached international law, another sign his policy of closer ties with Beijing is starting to fray. At the United Nations General Assembly, he called the outcome "beyond compromise and beyond the reach of passing governments to dilute, diminish or abandon."

NATO angst | Russia's presence in Belarus, where strongman President Alexander Lukashenko has faced weeks of protests, is putting NATO's Baltic members on alert, Ott Ummelas reports. If Vladimir Putin secures deeper integration with Belarus, it will fuel more violence and instability, Estonia's defense chief said in an interview, citing Putin's 2014 annexation of Crimea and Trump's move to withdraw U.S. troops from Europe.

  • Lukashenko was sworn in for his sixth term in an unannounced ceremony today that caught his opponents by surprise.

Chance of lifetime | Italy has so much cash available from European Union rescue funds and central bank-backed cheap borrowing that it could transform its stagnant economy. Or, as Alessandra Migliaccio and Chiara Albanese explain, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte's government could squander the windfall, as it faces pressure to throw funds at protecting jobs rather than investing in new ones.

What to Watch

  • German doctors said they believe Alexey Navalny could make a full recovery from his poisoning, after the Russian opposition leader was discharged from a Berlin hospital.

  • The U.S. House passed a stopgap funding bill to keep the government operating through Dec. 11, sending the measure to the Senate. Final passage is needed before Sept. 30 to avoid a shutdown.
  • Malaysia's Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin urged people to reject moves to destabilize the country, after opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said he had the backing of a majority of lawmakers to form a government.
  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today unveils a new plan to try to contain the spread of Covid-19 that likely will show his lofty ambitions for "building back better" after the pandemic have in fact hit a wall.

And finally ... India and China agreed to stop sending troops to the front line of their disputed Himalayan border. The move to back down from open confrontation, in which gunshots were fired for the first time since 1975, came after a commander-level meeting on Monday that the two sides said produced a "candid and in-depth exchanges of views."

Indian Army vehicles on a road in the northern Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir state near the border with China on June 17.

Source: AFP via Getty Images



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