Forecasting model used by the CIA predicts a surprising turn in U.S.-China relations

ere’s some good news on the gloomy international scene: Tensions will ease significantly between the U.S. and China soon, as the Biden administration slashes consumer tariffs and Beijing welcomes the move, at least privately. Expect a new round of trade negotiations too. The thaw comes after U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen makes a big push for change, and as Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, long dismissed as an also-ran, becomes a key player. President Joe Biden and President Xi Jinping reluctantly go along.

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At least that’s the surprising outcome of a forecasting model that the Central Intelligence Agency has used and praised — and which was deployed for POLITICO Magazine to seek insights on where the most important geopolitical relationship is going next.

Whether the predictions come to pass is anyone’s guess, of course, but we’re already seeing some echoes in the real world as Biden and his top officials debate what to do about China tariffs. And by parsing the potential interactions between policymakers, we can get a clearer picture of the decision-making processes occurring in different capitals. The model basically seeks to answer the question: Who is calling the shots, and how will they exercise power?

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