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Pompeo, Mnuchin say no clash exists between them over China-related E.O., after WSJ report

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A day after The Wall Street Journal published an exclusive report detailing a behind-the-scenes “clash” between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and their departments from people familiar with the matter over disagreements regarding a recent executive order barring Americans from investing in companies tied to China’s military complex, both stated Friday afternoon that there is no clash.

Both high-ranking Cabinet officials, in tweets posted one minute apart, wrote that that no clash exists between them and that they and their respective departments are working together on this executive order. On top of that, both tweets had near-identical messaging.

“There is no disagreement between @SecPompeo and me regarding the implementation of the President’s Executive Order,” wrote Mnuchin. “We are coordinating closely on an interagency basis.”

“There is no clash between Secretary @stevenmnuchin1 and me,” tweeted Pompeo a minute later. “We are simply working to resolve interagency mechanics of an important executive order.”

Starting back in November, the White House prohibited American investors from investing in 35 Chinese companies that the Pentagon has classified as aiding China’s defense, intelligence, and security apparatus.

“The U.S. government,” according to the Thursday Journal report, “is at odds over whether the blacklist should include subsidiaries of the companies. Another battlefront is over whether affiliates should be included. The question affects how much teeth the ban will have.”

State and Defense Department officials want the executive order to have the widest reach possible, whereas the Treasury Department wants the blacklist to only include the companies specifically flagged by the Pentagon, and not affiliates or subsidiaries, people familiar with the matter told The Journal.

As a result, this situation created by these disagreements pitted Pompeo and Mnuchin, as well as their respective departments, against each other. Particularly, the funding of Chinese state-tied companies by U.S. investors, Pompeo has said for a long time, threatens national security.

For more details about the dispute and the executive order, read the full original WSJ report from Thursday here.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Taiwan President Confirms US Troops Are In The Country To Help Protect Against China

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During a CNN interview on Wednesday, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen confirmed that U.S. troops were on the ground in Taiwan to assist in strengthening the country’s defenses as the threat from China is “increasing every day.”

Tsai told CNN’s Will Ripley that the situation has gone south in recent years as “China’s plan towards the region” has become “very different.”

“That plan includes war threats over Taiwan, clashes with Japan and the East China Sea and militarizing manmade islands in the South China Sea, posing a direct challenge to seven decades of U.S. military supremacy in the Indo-Pacific,” Ripley said. “In response, the U.S. ramped up arms sales to Taiwan, selling the island $5 billion in weapons last year. President Tsai confirms exclusively to CNN, U.S. support goes beyond selling weapons. Does that support include sending some U.S. service members to help train Taiwanese troops?”

“Well, yes,” Tsai responded. “We have a wide range of cooperation with the U.S., aiming at increasing our defense capability.”

Later in the interview, Ripley asked, “Do you have faith that the United States would defend Taiwan if the Mainland were to try to move on Taiwan?”

“I do have faith, and given the long-term relationship that we have the U.S. and also the support the people of the U.S., as well as the Congress, and the administration has been very helpful,” Tsai said, later adding that Taiwan needs to “expedite our military reform so that we have the ability to defend ourselves. And given the size of Taiwan compared to the size of [China], developing asymmetric capability is the key for us.”

Tsai’s comments come a few weeks after China sent over 150 military planes into Taiwanese air space, the largest incursion ever by the Communist country.

“The defense of Taiwan is in our own hands, and we are absolutely committed to that,” Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu told ABC Australia in response to China’s aggression.

“If China is going to launch a war against Taiwan we will fight to the end, and that is our commitment. I’m sure that if China is going to launch an attack against Taiwan, I think they are going to suffer tremendously as well.”

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