Yasheng Huang

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Xi Broke the Social Contract That Helped China Prosper

The protests in China against the government’s draconian Covid controls have been compared to those in 1989, when students demonstrated for political reforms and democracy. The 1989 pro-democracy movement occurred in the most liberal, tolerant and enlightening period in the history of the People’s Republic of China, and the regime opened fire in Tiananmen Square — after the ouster of the liberal leader, Zhao Ziyang — because it had run out of every other control tool in its possession. This is called the Tocqueville paradox: An autocracy is most vulnerable when it is least autocratic.

But a closer analogy is April 5, 1976.…  Seguir leyendo »

La respuesta de China a la guerra de Rusia contra Ucrania ha sido objeto de intensos escrutinios y fuertes críticas. Si bien los funcionarios chinos han expresado inquietud sobre las víctimas civiles, han evitado condenar el ataque, que consideran una respuesta a la expansión de la OTAN, y han declarado que no se unirán a Occidente en la imposición de sanciones financieras contra Rusia. Sin embargo, China no ha dado su pleno e incondicional apoyo al Presidente ruso Vladimir Putin. La pregunta es si esta postura relativamente neutra de China será crucial para evitar una escalada militar potencialmente más peligrosa.

Para la mayoría de los políticos occidentales, la respuesta de China a la violencia desatada por Putin ha sido terriblemente equivocada.…  Seguir leyendo »

Beijing’s Central Business District in January. The Chinese government is asserting more control over the private sector. Credit Wang Zhao/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A decade ago, after the 2008 global financial crisis, China seemed to save its economy by decoupling it from the rest of the world’s with a massive domestic investment program. Today, it is progress on the trade war with the United States, or the recoupling of China’s economy with those of other countries, that is seen as the way for it to regain momentum.

But to think in these terms is to miss the main point: The trade war has merely compounded an economic slowdown in China that is substantially of the country’s own making.

The deceleration is serious. In 2018, China’s gross domestic product grew by about 6.5 percent, the lowest rate since 1990.…  Seguir leyendo »

Los críticos a menudo afirman que China está utilizando su masiva “Iniciativa del Cinturón y Ruta de la Seda” (BRI) como una forma de “diplomacia coercitiva de la trampa de la deuda”, con el propósito de ejercer control sobre los países que se unen a su esquema de inversión transnacional en infraestructura. Tal como señaló recientemente Deborah Brautigam de la Universidad John Hopkins, los medios de comunicación a menudo exageran este riesgo. De hecho, la Iniciativa BRI puede tener inmerso un tipo de riesgo distinto: un riesgo para la propia China.

En la reciente cumbre sobre la Iniciativa BRI en Pekín, el presidente chino Xi Jinping aparentemente reconoció las críticas relativas a la “trampa de la deuda”.…  Seguir leyendo »

Jack Ma at the World Economic Forum meeting in Tianjin, China, this month. Credit China Network/Reuters

Earlier this month, Jack Ma announced that he was stepping down as executive chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, the world’s largest e-commerce company. His decision caught many by surprise. At an economic forum in Russia, President Vladimir V. Putin reportedly asked him, “You are still so young. Why are you retiring?”

Maybe Mr. Ma, 54, knows something that Mr. Putin does not. Two of the three forces, globalization and marketization, that have propelled Alibaba to its current $500 billion valuation are dissipating. The third force, technology, is mired in the trade war between China and the United States, and its prospects in China are now uncertain.…  Seguir leyendo »

La semana pasada, en una señal descarada de rechazo a las nuevas y duras sanciones de las Naciones Unidas, el régimen del líder norcoreano Kim Jong-un disparó un misil balístico sobre la isla japonesa de Hokkaido, ubicada al norte -su segundo lanzamiento sobre Japón en menos de tres semanas-. Pero, lejos de indicar que las sanciones no funcionan, el accionar de Kim demuestra que todavía no son lo suficientemente duras.

Las últimas sanciones limitan las importaciones de petróleo, prohíben las exportaciones textiles y penalizan a determinadas entidades de gobierno norcoreanas. Luego de la respuesta de Kim, las sanciones deberían endurecerse aún más, hasta interrumpir todo comercio con Corea del Norte, e inclusive frenar todas las importaciones de combustible.…  Seguir leyendo »

In 1992, Bill Clinton came up with the famous formula that won him the White House: “It’s the economy, stupid.” Chinese leaders have taken this approach to a stratospheric level. They feel a need to deliver economic miracles at all times and under all circumstances. This insistence on appearing to be omnipotent is among the reasons why the Chinese government allowed a stock market bubble to form and why it is now trying desperately to prevent it from bursting.

Since mid-June, the Shanghai Stock Exchange Index has declined by about 30 percent. While a precipitous fall of share prices is worrisome, even after the recent market routs the Shanghai index is still some 65 percent higher than it was a year earlier, while the shares of China’s small- and medium-cap companies remain among the most expensive in the world.…  Seguir leyendo »

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, many western and Chinese analysts came to the conclusion that China was spared the same fate in 1989 because it did not liberalise its political system. This is a flawed reading of history. The reason why China did not collapse in 1989 has very little to do with lack of political reforms (China experimented with meaningful political reforms in the 1980s). The real reason China did not collapse was that its rural population was reasonably content.

As usual, the most astute observation of Chinese politics came from Deng Xiaoping. At the height of the Tiananmen turmoil, Deng reportedly made the following remarks to other Chinese leaders: "The economy is still the base; if we didn't have that economic base, the farmers would have risen in rebellion after only 10 days of student protests – never mind a whole month".…  Seguir leyendo »