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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »