Six questions and the Friday open thread

For today’s open thread I have a six questions to seed a discussion but please weigh in with anything you want. I will be in and out throughout the day. Thanks

1. The Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) is, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, “conducting a sweeping investigation into allegations Chinese government agents have infiltrated the office of a NSW Labor politician to influence Australian politics”. How much worse might PRC-Australian relations get?

2. The EU-China summit does not appear to have gone as Xi hoped, and according to Politico “U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday unexpectedly declared that the U.S. had accepted a proposal to create a new U.S.-EU dialogue on China that was put forward last week by the bloc's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell”. How concerned should Xi be?

3. Will it matter in CCP elite politics when Jiang Zemin dies? If so, how? Or has Xi been mostly successful at rooting out Jiang supporters and influence in the Party and the PLA? Which other elders besides Jiang may still have meaningful influence on the CCP and the PLA?

4. Earlier this week US-National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien gave a very tough speech on the PRC and the CCP, in what he said was the first in a series of similar speeches US officials will be giving. I can not find the full transcript; it appears the speech was heavily influenced by John Garnaut and his views that are encapsulated in this talk Garnaut gave in 2017 - Engineers of the Soul: Ideology in Xi Jinping's China by John Garnaut.

Politico covered the speech in Trump national security adviser compares Xi Jinping to Josef Stalin and NSA O’Brien spoke tothe Washington Post’s Josh Rogin - Trump’s China hawks are loose and not wasting any time:

“We had hoped that through our sincere trade negotiations China’s overall behavior would change. It became very clear to the American people with the Wuhan virus outbreak and China’s global response, that China is not going to change its behavior,” national security adviser Robert C. O’Brien told me in an interview. “The Chinese have weaponized covid, they are trying to take advantage of this crisis to displace the United States as the leading global power.”

On Wednesday, O’Brien gave a speech in Phoenix that was among the toughest anti-CCP speeches a senior U.S. official has given. O’Brien attacked the CCP’s character as well as its actions, in stark language that harks back to Cold War times.

“America, under President Trump’s leadership, has finally awoken to the threat the Chinese Communist Party’s actions pose to our way of life,” O’Brien said in his speech.

Here is the video of the speech:

Is this just political positioning for the 2020 election, or are we seeing the national security and domestic political streams merging in a way that means we are likely to see much more meaningful hardline policies from the Trump administration towards China over the next several months?

5. If Joe Biden wins the US election in November, how might he change some of the Trump Administration policies towards China?

6. What will Hong Kong look like the day after the National Security Law goes into effect, which could be as soon as next Thursday?