Kelly Flaherty

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Kelly Flaherty is a program manager and research associate with the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). She works on a variety of projects focused on Chinese foreign and security policy, US-China bilateral relations, and cross-strait relations. Prior to joining CSIS, she was a marketing and recruiting manager at the Ameson Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating educational and cultural exchange opportunities between the US and China. Flaherty graduated from Harvard University with a B.A. in East Asian Studies, concentrating on China and government.

Articles by Kelly Flaherty
A Deal is Struck in Buenos Aires

On the sidelines of the G20 summit, Donald Trump and Xi Jinping put tariff hikes on hold and agreed to resume trade negotiations. Prior to the agreement, the US-China spat spilled over into the multilateral arena causing the first-ever failure to reach a joint communique at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. The imposition of sanctions by the US on the People’s Liberation Army’s Equipment Development Department and its director resulted in a temporary setback in military ties. The US took actions against Chinese individuals and hacking rings for allegedly stealing US technology to gain commercial advantage. The second US-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue was held in Washington DC. Trump and Xi talked by phone in November and December.

Tit-for-Tat Tariffs

US - China

May — August 2018

Tit-for-Tat Tariffs

Negotiations to resolve US-China trade friction failed to produce an agreement and the US-China trade war entered into high gear as both sides imposed tariffs on large quantities of imported goods from the other. President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping kickstarted their relations with North Korea and held separate meetings with Kim Jong Un. Trump later accused China of undermining progress in US-North Korea negotiations. Secretary of Defense James Mattis traveled to Beijing in mid-June, the first visit to China by a US defense secretary since 2014. On Aug. 13, Trump signed into law the FY2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which requires the president to develop a whole-of-government strategy toward China, including how to respond to China’s influence operations, cyber activities, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and use of economic tools to gain access to sensitive US industries. The Trump administration pushed back against Chinese bullying of Taiwan.

Hurtling Toward a Trade War

The US and China engaged in tit-for-tat trade actions as bilateral trade talks failed to produce a compromise. The Trump administration doubled down on its characterization of China as a threat to US interests in the National Defense Strategy and “Worldwide Threats” hearings on Capitol Hill. President Trump signed the Taiwan Travel Act, which calls for the US government to encourage visits between officials from the United States and Taiwan at all levels, provoking China’s ire. Cracks in US-China cooperation on North Korea were revealed as the Trump administration imposed sanctions on Chinese shipping and trading companies allegedly conducting illicit business with North Korea, and Beijing failed to notify Washington in advance of Kim Jong Un’s visit to China. The US conducted two Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPS) in the South China Sea.