Beyond Labels

A 360° Discussion of Foreign, National and Local Policy Issues

Scott Miller

May 13: China

President Xi’s recent trip to Europe and the passage of new Tik Tok legislation, we decided it’s a good time to revisit “China.”

It started with this suggestion:

“What were the objectives of Xi Jinping’s grand European tour, and did he achieve them?”

Chinese President Xi’s trip to Europe: ‘Charm offensive’ or canny bid to divide the West? (

When Xi publicly embraced Putin after the start of the Ukraine war he inadvertently unleashed the unintended consequence of uniting the European and U.S. interests in mutual fear of China as a geopolitical as well as economic threat.  His European tour is an attempt to reverse that disastrous (for Xi) consequence.  How well will he succeed in reestablishing the divide between Europe and U.S. – between western Europe and eastern Europe?  

Closer to home, the TikTok “ban” has been getting a lot of press (TikTok faces toughest challenge yet with lawsuit against divest-or-ban bill | The Hill).

And there continue to be regional frictions between China and its maritime neighbors (Malaysia’s appetite for oil and gas puts it on collision course with China | Washington Post)

Presidential Immunity

We agreed to discuss Trump’s claim of presidential immunity from criminal prosecution on Monday, May 6.

  • Should POTUS be immune from criminal prosecution for:
    • all acts taken during the time they are president? (As I think Trump’s attorneys are arguing.)
    • all acts reasonably connected to the scope of their official duties?
    • all acts which only they can take (such as vetoing legislation or making appointments to certain Executive Branch positions–“core” responsibilities)?
    • only those acts in which the underlying criminal statute expressly exempts the president?
    • no acts?

Although there have been lots of op/eds written on the subject, I think the best starting point for research would be arguments made in Trump’s case before the Supreme Court.

  • For the “Cliff Notes” version, ScotusBlog is usually a good source for reporting and summarizing key Supreme Court cases.
  • For those who want to review the source materials, here is:
    • A link to the oral arguments (audio and transcript) as they took place last Monday.
    • The Supreme Court docket page, with links to the various filings made by the parties in the case and amicus briefs filed by third parties.

Campus Protests and Free Speech

At last week’s meeting, we decided to have a discussion around the protests at Columbia University—with less focus on the subject of the protest and more on Columbia’s (or, since then, many other universities’) role in governing these activities.

Since that decision, protests have become much more widespread and there has been plenty of journalistic ink (or pixels) devoted to the back-and-forth between the protesters, the universities, and, perhaps unusual in this particular case, a group of non-protesters who feel threatened or harassed by the protest activities.

I won’t try to select from amongst the many articles and op-eds on the subject—there are plenty to choose from. I will just post the following opinion from a Princeton professor (a founding member of the Academic Freedom Alliance). I think it’s a sensible starting point for our discussion.

See you on Monday.

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