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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week delivered a scorched-earth assessment of just how bad things have gotten between the United States and China. He cited huge disagreements over theft of intellectual property, Chinese claims to the entire South China Sea, competition in 5G networking, antagonistic forays in cyberspace, trade and tariff violations, the crackdown in Hong Kong, pressure on Taiwan — the list of disputes seems endless.

Now each side has closed an important consulate in the other’s territory, ships and aircraft from both nations are maneuvering dangerously in the western Pacific, and even the phase-one trade deal — touted as a significant achievement just a few months ago — appears to be at risk. U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has clearly decided China will be a pinata from now until the November election.

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