James Kynge

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Xi Jinping’s plan to reset China’s economy and win back friends

The costs of China’s chaotic exit from its zero-Covid strategy are surging. In spite of a virtually static official death toll, a slew of obituaries for elderly public figures from academics to opera singers demonstrate the impact of the virus among its vulnerable population.

Hospitals in several parts of the country are overwhelmed, and a scramble for antiviral drugs and painkillers is creating shortages across Asia. Unofficial projections are putting the number of people that could die in China’s exit wave at about 1mn.

Such prospects not only damage the image of Xi Jinping, China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong.…  Seguir leyendo »

China reckons with its first overseas debt crisis

The 350m Lotus Tower that looms over the skyline in Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo is one of the tallest buildings in South Asia. Funded by a Chinese state bank and designed to look like a giant lotus bud about to burst into flower, it was intended to be a metaphor for the flourishing of Sri Lanka’s economy and the “brilliant future” of the bilateral co-operation between Beijing and Colombo.

Instead, the tower has become a symbol of the mounting problems facing China’s overseas lending scheme, the “Belt and Road Initiative”. The construction suffered from lengthy delays and an allegation of corruption levelled by Sri Lanka’s then-president Maithripala Sirisena against one of the Chinese contractors.…  Seguir leyendo »

The rising costs of China’s friendship with Russia

When the Russian invasion of Ukraine started two weeks ago, Jane Yan, a senior executive at a machine parts maker in eastern China, says she was not too worried about the impact. After all, buyers in Russia and Ukraine accounted for less than 5 per cent of the company’s overseas sales last year.

But as the full ferocity of the Russian onslaught started to become apparent, the outlook shifted dramatically. Important clients in countries such as Poland and Germany cancelled orders with the Zhejiang-based company.

“A Munich-based client said ‘it feels terribly wrong to send money to a country that is tolerating war in Ukraine — sorry’”, said Yan, who asked that her employer not be identified.…  Seguir leyendo »