Kerry Brown

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Si hay una conclusión inmediata que podemos extraer del discurso que Xi Jinping pronunció en el congreso del Partido Comunista de China el pasado día 16 es que la continuidad y no la innovación radical o audaz son el camino a seguir en la mente de la élite dirigente. El mundo que nos rodea puede estar convulsionado a causa de un cambio preocupante, con divisiones cada vez más profundas en Estados Unidos, una Europa acosada por los continuos problemas energéticos, de inflación y económicos más amplios y una Asia central centrada en la invasión rusa de Ucrania. Para China, el esfuerzo consistirá en atenerse a los compromisos ya decididos, y simplemente tratar de acelerarlos.…  Seguir leyendo »

Xi Jinping Is a Captive of the Communist Party Too

To Western eyes, Chinese President Xi Jinping may appear as the embodiment of tyrannical one-man rule, and for good reason.

Since taking leadership of the Chinese Communist Party a decade ago, he mothballed a power-sharing arrangement among party factions, transforming one of the world’s largest political organizations into a unified whole in which his words, thoughts and visage are everywhere. Speaking in 2016, he used a phrase once uttered by Mao Zedong in describing the party as China’s “east, west, south, north and center”. He may as well have been speaking of himself.

Mr. Xi now stands ready to assume an unprecedented third five-year term as supreme leader during the Communist Party Congress, which begins on Oct.…  Seguir leyendo »

HMS Astute nuclear submarine, equipped with cruise missiles and torpedoes, has more firepower than any previous British attack submarine. Photo by BAE Systems via Getty Images.

Technology and cyber threats

Dr Beyza Unal

The announcement mentions developing joint capabilities and information and technology sharing across the UK, US, and Australia and picks up on cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and quantum communications.

As part of this defence agreement, the UK, US, and Australia are aiming to protect the undersea fibre optic cables that provide part of the military and civilian communication for the West. Both Russia and China possess cyber and submarine technology. They could tap into these cables, allowing for eavesdropping and collecting data through cyber means. It is a matter of national and of NATO Alliance’s security to protect undersea cables.…  Seguir leyendo »

Xi Jinping speaks at the opening session of the 19th Communist Party Congress in October 2017. Photo: Getty Images.

Around the 18th Communist Party Congress in 2012, there was speculation that the reason why the Politburo Standing Committee was being reduced in size from nine to seven members was because, in the Hu Jintao era, there had been perpetual stalemate over big issues. Fewer people meant a smaller group to sign off on things, and few chances of time-consuming, and sometimes debilitating, intra-elite dissent.

If that was indeed the intention, it seemed to work. From 2013, the new leadership seemed infected with a zeal to attend to everything from intra-party discipline to reforming the household registration system and doing something about the complex relationship between the central and provincial governments.…  Seguir leyendo »

A poster promoting Xi Jinping's 'Chinese Dream' slogan in Beijing. Photo: Getty Images.

We look to power to be visible. We seek signs and clues about it. Xi Jinping standing surveying the vast, new naval fleet in April affirmed something many in the Pacific region suspected; this is a country that means to have impact. It was a great performance. Dressed in military gear with the grand panorama of different vessels in the water around him, his statement was simple. A great power needs a strong military, the ability to project its will, the assets to enforce its desire on the world around it.

Meanwhile, in Washington, it is clear the counterattack has started. …  Seguir leyendo »

Narendra Modi visits the Terracotta Warriors exhibition on a visit to China in 2015. Photo: Getty Images.

Between them, Xi Jinping and Narendra Modi have clocked up a little over a decade as leaders of their respective countries. Both men — China’s president and India’s prime minister — have captured international attention by disrupting perceptions of their countries’ roles and prospects. But their fates, and how confidently they deal with each other and the world, rest on the success or failure of their domestic programmes.

In many ways, Xi Jinping seems the more secure of the two. He was reappointed secretary of the Chinese Communist Party at the 19th congress last October. Following last month’s constitutional changes removing time limits on the presidency, he looks increasingly likely to stick around beyond 2023, when his current term ends.…  Seguir leyendo »

Xi Jinping speaks at the BRICS Summit in Xiamen, China on 4 September. Photo: Getty Images.

With the series of events over the last three weeks in North Korea, from firing of ballistic missiles over Japan to the testing of what looked to be a hydrogen bomb on 3 September, Pyongyang’s direction seems clear enough. Despite immense effort over two decades, from sanctions to increasing isolation and international ostracization, the impoverished country with a population of just 23 million and one of the lowest per capita GDPs in the world has, far more effectively and quickly than anyone had predicted, created something close to a viable, projectible, nuclear weapon capability.

This was not the way things were meant to be.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hong Kong and Chinese flags hang in preparation for President Xi Jinping's visit. Photo: Getty Images.

How sustainable is the ‘one country, two systems’ framework? Will the arrangement last the full 50 years (until 2047) as originally envisioned?

It is questionable whether the arrangement that exists today was the one envisioned in 1997 when the handover happened. It was always a very abstract, flexible system, granting Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy, meaning it could maintain its capitalist system. Of course, in the lead up to 1997 all these things were broadly seen as being in Beijing's interests to preserve.

But these days, the one thing that few said in 1997 has come to pass – the People's Republic has maintained one-party rule as a political system, but become one of the world's great economies.…  Seguir leyendo »

A statue of a Chinese air force soldier from the Korean war looks out from Dandong in the direction of North Korea. Photo via Getty Images.

The greatest challenge of handling North Korea is not so much the highly volatile, unpredictable nature of the country itself. Were a country with the political system and behavioural traits of North Korea to be located, for instance, in Africa, or Central Asia, or even Latin America, it would be far less problematic. The greatest issue is that it sits right next door to China, the world’s great emerging power, and acts as a frontier between Chinese ambition and its reach into the wider world and US constraint.

Seen in this context, Donald Trump blithely telling President Xi Jinping that if the Chinese cannot deal with North Korea, then the US unilaterally will, is an incendiary comment.…  Seguir leyendo »

Figurines of G20 country leaders at the 2016 Hangzhou Summit. Photo via Getty Images.

Japan’s foreign policy will now be dominated by the need to maintain positive relations with the US.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s November meeting with Donald Trump has been an important first step in building a relationship with the new administrations, and initial contacts with key Trump officials (most notably Michael Flynn, the new national security adviser) have encouraged some in Tokyo to believe that a major bilateral row over defence burden sharing is unlikely. Abe will take some reassurance from initial signs that a number of key former Bush administration Asia hands are being considered for senior level positions, and a tougher US posture on security policy towards China may be an opportunity for closer coordination between Tokyo and Washington.…  Seguir leyendo »

These days, the slightest sign of Xi Jinping accruing more power sets off an avalanche of speculation. Is this the final irrefutable sign that we are, indeed, looking at an authentic autocrat? Xi’s quick amassing of a suite of powers in his first year as president was taken as the first sign of his power hunger. Then the anti-corruption struggle from 2013 onwards, with its cast of culprits and villains, was often read as a huge clean-up of his so-called opponents. Finally, the simple words 'core of the leadership' were added after Xi’s name at the Communist Party annual plenum in late October, the key moment when the leadership publically lays out its policy and strategic ideas for the year ahead.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hu Jintao is a gambler. Not just any old gambler, but the man who has just committed one of the biggest wagers in history. It’s a bet on which the fate of his country, and the rest of the world, depends. It carries almost incalculable risks, but if Hu is right China will be the dominant power of the coming century.

Like most gambles, this was a simple one. In 2004, the Communist Party’s central committee met for its annual plenary sessions. The talk that year was of shifting from the party’s traditional objective of the previous two decades of taking economic growth and lifting people into prosperity as its key aim to addressing the more complex issues that lay beyond just pumping out G.D.P.…  Seguir leyendo »

While much of the world sinks in a welter of public and ­private debt, and stock ­markets ­continue to ­struggle, there is one place where the money is still looking good. China's £2 trillion of foreign currency reserves – accrued through two decades of strong exports and foreign investment – is ­casting a long shadow.

While the developed world has spent, China has been saving. This mountain of capital, in the hands of the world's last major one-party state, is the result partly of the non-convertibility of the Chinese currency, the yuan, and part of the hunger of the EU and the US in the last decade for cheap goods from China.…  Seguir leyendo »

The clashes turned bloody on the streets of Rangoon yesterday, as soldiers opened fire on protesters. But Burma's afflictions reach back far beyond the events that have made headlines over the past two weeks. Students of the country know only too well how entrenched the problems of this reclusive country have become over recent decades.The make-up of the current leadership is the product of the struggle in the 1940s and 50s against the British, and before that against the Chinese and, to some extent, the Indians. Of all the countries under British colonial rule in the region, Burma's "liberation" in 1948 was to leave the most bitter aftertaste.…  Seguir leyendo »