Updates from the Policy Change Index.
Mercatus Center at George Mason University This Week

Dear Human Readers,
We are excited to announce (1) a new study on U.S.-Taiwan trade relations powered by our machine learning tools and (2) a new “news”letter on U.S.-China competition curated by Weifeng Zhong!


A potential U.S.-Taiwan free trade agreement (FTA) continues to be debated inside the Beltway, with Taiwan increasingly in the forefront of the U.S.-China tensions. In a new policy brief, Christine McDaniel and Zhong explore the noneconomic considerations of such a trade agreement using the PCI-China.

The idea is, because trade benefits the parties involved, countries are motivated to help enrich allies who share their values, rather than adversaries who impose security risks. Analyzing Chinese propaganda shows that the United States and Taiwan are becoming closer security allies.

The PCI-China picks up a major initiative under former Chinese President Hu Jintao in 2005, “socialist harmonious society,” that included an implicit recognition of Taiwan’s de facto independence. What mattered to Beijing was that Taipei did not proclaim independence, not whether it actually was independent.

Source: McDaniel and Zhong, “Noneconomic Aspects of a US-Taiwan Free Trade Agreement: Insights with a New Tool,” Mercatus Policy Brief (2021), p. 5

After this fundamental shift, the Chinese propaganda’s attitude toward U.S.-Taiwan relations has turned increasingly negative. Because China is a defining factor in U.S.-Taiwan relations, such souring coverage in China’s mouthpiece suggests a closer tie between Washington and Taipei.

Source: McDaniel and Zhong, “Noneconomic Aspects of a US-Taiwan Free Trade Agreement: Insights with a New Tool,” Mercatus Policy Brief (2021), p. 6

In a National Interest piece, McDaniel and Zhong argue that tying the knot with Taiwan on trade not only makes strategic sense for the United States but is ever more urgent as the chaotic U.S. pullout from Afghanistan fuels doubts about the fidelity of U.S. commitments overseas.

Wei To Think Again

We are excited to announce that Zhong has launched a new “news”letter, Wei To Think Again. But instead of news, his bi-weekly letter focuses on nuanced matters in U.S.-China relations and how to think about them intelligibly. The first issue discusses China’s skin in Afghanistan—especially its rich mineral reserves—after the U.S. withdrawal. The second issue, going out tomorrow, will look at U.S.-China decoupling, who’s calling the shots, and what it means to Washington. Please sign up here if you like the content.

PCI Resources

Zhong wrote in a Dispatch piece about the failure of the United States’ secrecy-driven intelligence model and the power of open-source technologies in producing invaluable information, including propaganda analysis projects like the PCI. He also discussed it on Fox Business’ Mornings with Maria and Just the News’ John Solomon Report.

The open-sourced PCI projects are meant to crack a window to otherwise opaque political systems, so everyone can look inside—for free. You can find out more about the projects on the PCI website. Don’t hesitate to reach out!


Edited by Weifeng Zhong and Julian TszKin Chan


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