John Ruwitch

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One early November morning, a Peking duck cook, several construction workers and a software engineer patiently lined up outside a Beijing vaccine facility, awaiting their turn to be injected with a coronavirus vaccine still awaiting regulatory approval.

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In his victory speech last night, President-elect Joe Biden noted that U.S. elections are viewed far beyond our borders.

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Two senior U.S. officials have visited Taiwan since August, one to discuss the pandemic and the other to attend a funeral.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Undersecretary of State Keith Krach were the highest-ranking U.S. officials to travel to Taiwan on business since 1979, when Washington cut relations with Taipei and recognized Beijing as the rightful government of China.

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When the late Sen. John McCain of Arizona was in his 60s, a story came out that described a time when he was "physically mistreated by bad men who, for a while, kept [him] in prison." It was a reference to the five-and-a-half years he had spent in harsh captivity in Hanoi after his plane was shot down during the Vietnam War.

China has joined a global effort aimed at fair and equitable distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine once one becomes available — an effort the Trump administration has shunned.

The COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility, known as COVAX, is jointly led by the World Health Organization and Gavi, an alliance promoting access to vaccines.

Taiwan is not pursuing formal diplomatic ties with the United States for now, but there is "a lot" of room to further strengthen relations, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said in an interview after unprecedented visits by two senior U.S. officials.

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In recent weeks, U.S.-China relations have unraveled with alarming speed, and some analysts say they are now at their worst since the two countries normalized diplomatic ties in 1979.

On Tuesday, the Trump administration ordered China's consulate in Houston to close, a step that significantly amps up the tension in already fraught relations between the world's top two economies.

Before Justinian Huang left Shanghai for some beach time in Malaysia last winter, he took his dog Swagger to stay with a friend.

"I dropped him off. I kissed him goodbye. I was like, 'I'm going to see you in six days,' " Huang recounts. "That was Jan. 23 of this year."

That week the coronavirus spread with alarming speed in China. So Huang decided to wait it out in Malaysia a few extra days. Then he flew to Taiwan, where he has family, and finally home to the United States.

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Updated at 8:29 p.m. ET

The Trump administration on Monday rejected Beijing's maritime claims in the South China Sea, wading into a conflict that has pitted China against several Southeast Asian countries with competing claims at a time of already-strained relations between Washington and Beijing.

In a statement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the move was intended to strengthen U.S. policy "in a vital, contentious" region.

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The Trump administration on Thursday put visa and asset sanctions on several Chinese officials — including Politburo member Chen Quanguo — for what it says has been their role in "gross violations of human rights" in China's far western region of Xinjiang.

The move comes at a time when U.S.-China relations are at their worst in decades and is likely to anger Beijing, potentially leading to similar sanctions from China on American officials.

Attempts to dissuade China's ruling Communist Party from asserting more authority over Hong Kong didn't work. Now that China is imposing a new national security law on the territory, world powers are looking to punish Beijing.

The law hands the central government almost unchecked legal power in the former British colony, which was promised a "high degree of autonomy" for 50 years when it was returned to China in 1997. Drafted secretly and enacted swiftly on Tuesday, it is considered by many analysts to be even harsher than expected.

The Trump administration on Monday labeled four more Chinese news organizations as "foreign missions," expanding its restrictions on what it calls Chinese propaganda outlets in a move that's likely to anger Beijing.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi in Hawaii on Wednesday, in what Chinese state media said was a constructive exchange of views.

The meeting comes at a time of fast-deteriorating relations between Washington and Beijing over a range of issues, including human rights, Hong Kong and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Neither the U.S. nor China publicly announced the meeting in advance and it was not immediately clear which side had proposed it, highlighting the tension and mistrust that now permeate ties between the world's no. 1 and no. 2 economies.

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Protests across the United States in the wake of George Floyd's death have created an unlikely opportunity for China.

State TV has aired images of chaotic protest scenes during its widely watched evening news program, and offered searing commentary that has also highlighted the U.S. government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. "American politicians must ask themselves," one announcer said, "on what grounds do they spew their sanctimonious nonsense? Shouldn't they ask the American people for forgiveness?"

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