Episode 239
Jul 21, 2020

U.S.-China relations are bad, but are they ‘new Cold War’ bad?

On today's show, Marketplace's China correspondent, Jennifer Pak, tells us about the view from Shanghai, what state media are saying about the trade war and what's going on with TikTok.

Plenty of Americans are only just starting to put masks on. But in Shanghai, they’re coming off, as the coronavirus appears to be under control.

Masks are only required while riding public transit and in a handful of public places such as shopping malls, Marketplace’s China correspondent, Jennifer Pak, told us. “It’s been sort of what you would call, quote unquote, ‘back to normal’ for a while,” she said.

Still, the pandemic has taken a toll on small businesses in China, many of which were already reeling from the ongoing trade war with the United States.

Broadly, the relationship between the world’s two largest economies is at a very, very low point. Trade talks have stalled out. U.S. leaders have raised security concerns surrounding Chinese tech firms like Huawei and ByteDance. The U.S. and several allies have condemned China’s treatment of Uighur Muslims. And China’s actions to erode Hong Kong’s autonomy have sown further divisions.

All that adds up to a situation some are calling a new Cold War.

Today, Pak told us about the view from her home base in Shanghai, what state media are saying and what’s going on with a potential ban on ByteDance’s mega-popular video app, TikTok. Later in the show, we’ll hear from a listener who’s wrestling with the child care crisis here at home and another who’s using lockdown to pick up (and stick with!) a new hobby. Plus Jed Kim, host of Marketplace’s newest podcast, “Million Bazillion,” answers the Make Me Smart question.

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You can find all of Pak’s reporting from Shanghai here. Here’s a list of everything we talked about today:

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The team

Molly Wood Host
Jody Becker Interim Senior Producer
Tony Wagner Digital Producer
Sam Anderson Associate Producer