Yu Jie

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Cooling off in the Yangtze River during a heatwave in China which saw its water level to fall to its lowest since records began, affecting food production, factories, power supply, and transport. Photo by Ren Yong/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images.

Since joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, China has regularly unveiled a grand new strategic concept every four years or so.

Each has been deeply rooted in the Chinese political system and communicated via ambitious slogans, such as A Harmonious World, or New Types of Great Power Relations. And all have reliably generated both excitement and confusion abroad and within China.

China’s latest grand concept, the Global Development Initiative (GDI), is no exception. When Chinese president Xi Jinping introduced it at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in September 2021, it made hardly any splash in the West, perhaps because China has already signalled its determination to shape international development in the post-COVID era.…  Seguir leyendo »

An outdoor screen shows the live speech of Chinese president Xi Jinping during the opening session of the 20th Chinese Communist Party Congress, in Yanan city, in China's Shaanxi province. Photo by JADE GAO/AFP via Getty Images.

The 20th Party Congress report is significantly shorter than the 19th, which is a clear indication of Xi’s success in centralizing power. The report acts as a summary of the party’s achievements and its plans – expressed as the lowest common denominator of consensus between competing factions. A shorter political report would seem to represent fewer factions now seeking consensus.

In the 20th Party Congress report, the language on Taiwan has been revised, reflecting the changes in tone and the policies of the CCP senior leadership. In addition to the conventional ‘peaceful reunification’ term, there is also an addition of more hawkish language on Taiwan to ‘not exclude the use of force as a last resort’.…  Seguir leyendo »

US Speaker of the House Of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, poses with Taiwan President, Tsai Ing-wen, in Taipei, Taiwan on 3 August 2022. Photo: Handout/Getty Images.

China’s fading ties with Washington?

Dr Yu Jie

US House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi’s, visit to Taiwan has plunged China-US relations into a new low as the reservoir of trust forged between the two sides over the last 40 years appears to be almost exhausted.

However, her move will likely not result in the full-scale crisis across the Taiwan strait that some hawkish voices in both Beijing and Washington believe. Instead, Beijing will most likely offer a combination of military posturing toward the US navy and economic sanctions on Taiwanese agricultural and manufacturing products in order to send a clear bellwether to any future potential visits by high-level Western political figures.…  Seguir leyendo »

A man plays Chinese chess with his grandson at a park in Beijing, China. Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images.

President Vladimir Putin’s full military escalation in Ukraine has unsettled his seemingly best friend in international affairs, the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, who has invested in the bilateral relationship personally and politically.

Beijing’s axis with Moscow was recently strengthened during the 2022 Winter Olympics, with their joint declaration to proclaim ‘their cooperation with no limit’.

The Western foreign affairs community then rushed to conclude that Moscow and Beijing were forming – if one had not already been formed – a ‘strategic alliance’ aimed at destabilising the liberal, rules-based world order. Some in the West assume Beijing will inevitably support Russia’s military actions in Ukraine.…  Seguir leyendo »

Chinese president Xi Jinping delivers his speech during the November 2021 China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) meeting in Dakar, Senegal, pledging to offer one billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to Africa. Photo by SEYLLOU/AFP via Getty Imag

More than 20 low-income African countries were in debt distress or at risk of debt distress in autumn 2021 according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The good news is that while overall debt levels have generally risen, action requested by African governments from development finance institutions (DFIs) and multilateral lenders has meant many African countries have been able to support their economies without taking on too much additional private debt.

The IMF has also allocated Africa $33 billion in special drawing rights (SDRs), providing an immediate liquidity boost without adding to the debt portfolio.

At the same time, the G20’s short-term crisis management tool – the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) – has just ended and its intended replacement – the ‘Common Framework for Debt Treatment beyond the DSSI’ – has been implemented far more slowly than originally envisaged with only Chad, Ethiopia and Zambia engaging with it so far.…  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 »

Children play on sculptures in the shape of hearts in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Photo by Getty Images.

With its conceptual ambiguity, 'Indo-Pacific' is the latest geopolitical buzzword between the United States and its allies. Behind its increased use is an overt aim to curb China’s growing economic, political, and military influence between the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Beijing’s foreign policy deliberation is being rigorously tested with this increasing tilt by the West towards the Indo-Pacific. For China, this tilt complicates the already erratic relations between Beijing and Taipei, escalates the sabre-rattling in the South China Sea, and disrupts its flagship Belt and Road Initiative, which the country has invested heavily in.

But the growing geopolitical significance of the region goes well beyond China’s relations with liberal democracies and regional economies.…  Seguir leyendo »

A pedestrian walks past a Huawei product stand at a telecommunications shop in central London on 29 April 2019. Photo: Getty Images.

The UK’s decision on banning mobile providers from buying new Huawei 5G equipment after December 2020 and removing all the company’s 5G kit from their networks by 2027 is a blow to Huawei and China, but that is one battle in a long war that the West is currently losing.

5G’s significance for the next generation of technology is indisputable and so is its key role in helping countries achieve digital transformation and economic success due to not only the faster and better connection speeds and greater capacity it offers, but also to its role in transforming the way we interact with the critical services and its ability to allow industry to automate and optimize processes that are not possible today.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Chinese security officer wears a protective mask at the end of the closing session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People. Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images.

Beijing holds its conservative maxim that, no matter how complicated the international situation has become, China must prioritise the management of its own affairs. Despite the current global crisis, that message still resonated loud and clear from the long-delayed National People Congress (NPC).

The new national security law in Hong Kong caused a blast of explosive responses internationally. But China’s critical domestic priority remains to revive a shuttered economy amid mounting unemployment. Soft power ‘pandemic’ diplomacy and the ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) were scarcely mentioned during the NPC.

Instead, Chinese leadership presented a grim assessment of the domestic and international economic landscape, as foreshadowed in previous politburo meetings.…  Seguir leyendo »

Chinese police officers wearing masks stand in front of the Tiananmen Gate on 26 January. Photo: Getty Images.

The coronavirus outbreak in China poses a tremendous test for Beijing. Beyond the immediate public health crisis, the Chinese Communist Party faces a stuttering economy, growing public anger and distrust, and a potentially heavy blow to its global reputation.

The hesitant early response to the outbreak sheds light on the way the Chinese bureaucracy approaches crises at a time when the party leadership is tightening control at almost all levels of society. At first, officials in Wuhan attempted to censor online discussions of the virus. This changed only after President Xi Jinping’s call for a much more robust approach was followed by a sudden increase in the state media coverage of the outbreak.…  Seguir leyendo »

The National Museum of China ahead of a reception on behalf of China's President Xi Jinping and his wife marking the Belt and Road Forum on 26 April. Photo via Getty Images.

Despite the twists and turns of wrestling with President Donald Trump, the Chinese Communist party has entered its summer recess and its senior leaders have gathered at the Beidaihe beach resort, 300 kilometres from Beijing, for the annual summer meeting to determine its domestic priorities for the rest of 2019 and in the lead up to the party’s centenary in 2021.

While the Beidaihe meeting is a secretive affair, it is no less important than other conclaves of the party’s senior leadership. Judging by the last public gathering of the politburo on July 30, 'stabilizing employment, boosting household consumption and mitigating major risks' are likely to dominate the Beidaihe meeting agenda, and the much discussed trade war and Sino-US decoupling has become a secondary concern.…  Seguir leyendo »

Sailing teams from Britain and China compete in a race in Sydney, Australia. Photo: Getty Images.

British Chancellor Philip Hammond's canceled trip to Beijing highlights the difficult trade-offs the UK faces in its relationship with China.

For the Chinese government, Hammond's efforts to boost economic ties cannot happily coexist with Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson's remarks about sending an aircraft carrier to the Pacific and 'oppos[ing] those who flout international law'. On top of the pressure the UK is under from other Five Eyes intelligence-sharing partners to take a tough line with Huawei's participation in critical infrastructure, such a controversy could further damage a relationship that was already turbulent.

Seen from Beijing, China has been very clear about what it wants from a relationship with Britain, but Britain appears unable to decide what it wants from China.…  Seguir leyendo »

Students holding Chinese national flags watch the live broadcast of the 40th anniversary celebration of China's reform and opening-up at Huaibei Normal University on 18 December. Photo: Getty Images.

Since Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou’s arrest last month, relations between China and Canada have been strained by what many have interpreted as Beijing’s retaliatory detentions of two Canadians – former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor – on national security charges. The actions have already sparked a global debate over the so-called ‘hostage diplomacy’ between the two countries.

But the present breakdown in ties between Beijing and Ottawa is neither morality play nor conspiracy. Instead, it is a function of the Chinese government’s need to answer to its furious domestic audience, with Canada caught in the unfortunate timing of the US–China trade war.…  Seguir leyendo »

People watch Xi Jinping's opening speech at a gathering to celebrate the 40th anniversary of reform and opening up. Photo: Getty Images.

On 18 December, President Xi Jinping summoned a grand gathering for the 40th anniversary of Deng Xiaoping’s landmark reform and opening up, attended by the most important Communist Party cadres, entrepreneurs and Olympic champions, to reveal China’s next steps in its reform agenda for the coming decades.

The event took place after a tumultuous 2018, where China found itself fighting an economic slowdown coupled with an unexpected and enduring trade war with Beijing's most important economic and strategic partner – the United States. Those two difficulties are intrinsically intertwined.

Xi’s one-and-a-half-hour speech offered little in the way of concrete solutions to these two imminent challenges, but he conveyed two clear messages.…  Seguir leyendo »

Beijing hosted the China International Import Expo this month. Photo: Getty Images.

Forty years since beginning to open up to the world, China now faces a fresh set of foreign policy challenges. One of these will be developing a global foreign policy and responding to concerns in regions that are historically little known in China but will affect and be affected by the country’s economic growth. In order to improve its global diplomacy, China needs to draw on policies that go beyond the simple purposes of securing China’s own economic interests.

The Middle Kingdom projects its power and secures its national interests in three ways: exercising might, spending money and expressing its own mindset.…  Seguir leyendo »

I have known Chen Guangcheng for almost a decade. We met as participants in the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program in 2003. It brought us both to the United States but also brought us together in our common interests and mission for China.

After our return to China, I put Chen in touch with a number of lawyers and intellectuals involved in human rights work and introduced him to veteran activist Liu Xiaobo. Back then, the three of us still enjoyed a certain degree of freedom. We were able to sit down together, as we did one morning in a bookstore near Beijing University, talking and exchanging ideas for hours.…  Seguir leyendo »

Chinese dissident writers exiled to the West today get a very different response than Soviet writers received not so long ago.

In 1975, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger advised President Ford not to meet with writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn, warning in a memorandum that doing so would offend the Soviet Union. Now, similar views are held not only by pragmatic politicians but also by multinational corporations with large investments in China as well as universities and foundations with inextricable links to China.

The Chinese communist regime’s penetration of the West far exceeds that of the former Soviet Union. In the Cold War era, the Soviet Union was blocked behind the Iron Curtain; there were few links between Soviet and Western economies.…  Seguir leyendo »