China

China is expanding its nuclear arsenal, from a few hundred weapons to roughly 1,000 by 2030. It may have 1,550 warheads or more by the mid-2030s—the limit agreed to by Russia and America in a deal originally signed between them in 2010. This Chinese buildup is changing geopolitics. The American-Russian bipolar nuclear system, which has dominated the nuclear balance for over half a century, is evolving into a less stable tripolar system that risks undermining long-standing pillars of deterrence and triggering a nuclear arms race.

All this comes as America prepares to modernise its ageing “triad” of nuclear-weapons delivery systems (land-based and submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and long-range bombers).…  Seguir leyendo »

U.S. vessels conduct a passing honors ceremony with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force in the Pacific Ocean in 2021. (Haydn N. Smith/U.S. Navy/AP)

Most world leaders, including President Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, agree that the defense of Taiwan is crucial for regional security. But most options for improving deterrence will take too long. Building Taiwan’s self-defense, developing more U.S. firepower in the region, creating the economic resilience to make severe sanctions feasible: None of these will come to fruition before 2030.

Japan could change the game now. Allied forces, responding immediately and en masse, have a chance of thwarting a Chinese invasion, according to a recent report from the Center for Strategic & International Studies. But, in meetings with high-level officials in Tokyo last month, I sensed a mismatch between talk and walk.…  Seguir leyendo »

A makeshift hospital for Covid-19 patients in China in 2020. EPA, via Shutterstock

I caught Covid for the first time in early December.

I panicked when I saw the two lines on my rapid antigen test indicating a positive result. China’s government was still clinging to its “zero Covid” approach of using mass lockdowns and testing in a vain attempt to stop the virus from spreading. Would the dreaded health workers in their head-to-toe protective white suits, who seemed to have taken over the country, come to drag me away to a grim quarantine facility?

Millions of Chinese had been living in fear of that knock on the door. So I hid in my Beijing apartment.…  Seguir leyendo »

Implicaciones económicas y geopolíticas del parón demográfico en China

Tema

Se analizan las implicaciones de la evolución demográfica de China sobre su economía y su nivel de protagonismo dentro de la escena internacional.

Resumen

La población de China se está contrayendo antes de lo previsto y va a derivar en un hundimiento demográfico sin precedentes. Este proceso va a constreñir muy sensiblemente tanto el crecimiento de la economía china como sus posibilidades de desafiar la hegemonía estadounidense.

Análisis

A mediados de enero, la Oficina Nacional de Estadísticas de China anunció que la población del país había descendido en 2022 en casi un millón de personas respecto al año anterior. Esta es la segunda vez en la historia de la República Popular China (RPC) que desciende la población del país.…  Seguir leyendo »

Chinese and Russian ships conducting joint naval drills off the coast of Guangdong Province, China, September 2016. Reuters

In December 2022, Japan released its first national security strategy in nearly ten years. The document committed Tokyo to strengthening the U.S.-Japanese alliance “in all areas”. And Japan is not alone. Over the last half decade, almost all U.S. allies across the Indo-Pacific have deepened their partnerships with Washington and formed new networks with one another.

At first blush, this might seem puzzling. Chinese President Xi Jinping has voiced his desire for the United States to withdraw from the Indo-Pacific, and his government has upheld China’s long tradition of expressing hostility toward Washington’s alliances, which form the foundation of the U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

China, el imperio de la mentira

El año nuevo, denominado del conejo, coincide con un vuelco histórico en la epopeya china: la población está disminuyendo e India es ahora el país más poblado del mundo. Se esperaba este cambio demográfico, pero está ocurriendo más deprisa de lo previsto. La absurda política del Partido Comunista Chino es la causa. Desde que tomó el poder en 1949, el Partido ha querido controlarlo todo, incluida la vida íntima de las parejas. Esto en sí mismo es indignante, pero, lo que es aún peor, el Partido ha ido cambiando de opinión sobre el tema, aplicando sus sucesivos caprichos por medio de la coacción.…  Seguir leyendo »

U.S. President Joe Biden meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Bali, Indonesia, November 2022. Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

For all the talk of how we have entered a new global era, the last year bears a striking resemblance to 2008. That year, Russia invaded its neighbor, Georgia. Tensions with Iran and North Korea were perennially high. And the world faced severe global economic challenges.

One notable difference, however, is the state of Chinese-U.S. relations. At that time, self-interested cooperation was possible even amid political and ideological differences, clashing security interests, and divergent views about the global economy, including China’s currency valuation and its industrial subsidies. As Treasury secretary, I worked with Chinese leaders during the 2008 financial crisis to forestall contagion, mitigate the worst effects of the crisis, and restore macroeconomic stability.…  Seguir leyendo »

Taiwanese soldiers in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, January 2023. Ann Wang / Reuters

Since the Ukraine war began, a growing number of U.S. officials have stressed the urgency of deterring Chinese military action against Taiwan. President Xi Jinping’s comments in October reinforced this view when he declared that China was prepared to take “all measures necessary” against foreign “interference” on the island and that “the wheels of history are rolling on toward China’s reunification” with it. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned that Beijing may intend to seize Taiwan on a “much faster timeline” than previously thought.

Despite this assessment, the United States has not devoted sufficient attention to the current approach to deterrence—and whether it is adequate to meet an accelerated threat.…  Seguir leyendo »

Police officers in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China, May 2021. Thomas Peter / Reuters

Starting in late 2017, Uyghur and Kazakh émigrés from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China began hearing frightening reports from relatives and friends at home—or began losing contact with those relatives and friends entirely. Through early 2018, journalists and researchers began to flesh out the story: in the vast Central Asian territory annexed by China in 1949, also known to many exiles as Eastern Turkestan, the government was rounding up people who do not belong to the country’s Han ethnic majority (including the Uyghurs, a Turkic ethnic group) and locking them in camps. At their peak, these facilities interned between one and two million people, and detainees were subjected to psychological and physical torture, rape and sexual assault, forced administration of pills and injections, persistent hunger, and sleep deprivation.…  Seguir leyendo »

Chinese leader Xi Jinping. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images Asia Pac/Bloomberg)

Chinese President Xi Jinping likes to cultivate an aura of careful, well-planned policy. He claims that’s the advantage of autocracy. But the past few months have looked more like an impulsive, zigzag journey along the edge of a cliff.

Xi in December announced a stunning reversal of major covid-19, economic and technology policies. This turnabout came just two months after an arrogant display at the Communist Party’s 20th Congress, during which Xi had seemed to be doubling down on failing strategies.

Xi didn’t explain or apologize in December. He just changed course. That illustrates his tactical agility, and also his shamelessness about rewriting party doctrine.…  Seguir leyendo »

Passengers at a Shanghai railway station during the travel rush ahead of Lunar New Year, January 16, 2023. Aly Song/Reuters

When I was a little boy in rural China, one of my happiest moments was seeing my dad getting off the ship from Shanghai, carrying the load of goods he had purchased for the Lunar New Year – also known as the Spring Festival.

At that time, my dad worked for a tailor factory in suburban Shanghai, and only returned home when the Lunar New Year was around the corner.

This, after all, is the most important festival in China, with roughly 4,000 years of history.

For hundreds of millions of migrant workers across China, the 2023 Lunar New Year – happening on January 22 – will be a particularly special celebration.…  Seguir leyendo »

La población de China se redujo. ¿Por qué es un problema?

La población china disminuyó el año pasado por primera vez desde las muertes masivas asociadas con la desastrosa campaña del Gran Salto Adelante de Mao Zedong en la década de 1960. O tal vez sería más preciso decir que China ha anunciado que su población disminuyó. Muchos observadores están escépticos frente a los datos chinos. He estado en conferencias en las que, cuando China divulga, por ejemplo, nuevos datos sobre crecimiento económico, mucha gente no responde preguntando “¿Por qué el crecimiento fue del 7,3 por ciento?”, sino más bien: “¿Por qué el gobierno chino quiso decir que fue del 7,3 por ciento?”.…  Seguir leyendo »

¿Volvió China?

Cuando Joe Biden asumió como presidente en 2021, el primer mensaje que envió al resto del mundo fue: «EE. UU. ha vuelto». Después de asumir por tercera vez como secretario general del Partido Comunista de China (PCCh), Xi Jinping parece estar proclamando algo similar.

En los últimos dos meses los líderes chinos anunciaron que darán marcha atrás en una serie de importantes políticas, o dieron señales de ello: pusieron fin abruptamente a las fuertes restricciones de la política de cero COVID que mantuvieron durante tres años, flexibilizaron la ofensiva contra las empresas tecnológicas y el sector de bienes raíces, reafirmaron su compromiso con el crecimiento económico y ofrecieron una rama de olivo a Estados Unidos en el G20.…  Seguir leyendo »

El Salvadorian President Nayib Bukele at an amusement park financed by China, La Libertad, El Salvador, August 2022. Jose Cabezas / Reuters

China’s footprint in Latin America is large and growing. It is the region’s second-largest trade partner after the United States and the biggest sovereign lender to Latin American governments. Indeed, as a lender, China is overtaking long-standing multilateral financial institutions such as the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank in the region. Those two organizations are just barely edging out the $131 billion the Chinese extended in credit in Latin America between 2008 and 2019. All signs are that China will soon be the largest holder of debt in the region.

That should worry both Latin American and U.S. policymakers.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Biden administration is determined to challenge China’s high-tech aspirations. After a series of smaller moves, it has in recent months launched new export controls that broaden and deepen its denial of semiconductor technology to China in dramatic fashion.The rules add three big restrictions. First, they go beyond targeting specific companies and now start by denying exports to China of any chips that perform above a certain threshold. Second, they prevent any American citizen, green-card holder or company that does not have a licence to do so from working with any Chinese company to manufacture chips. Third, the new rules restrict the use of American tools, equipment or software anywhere in the world to manufacture and export advanced chips to China.…  Seguir leyendo »

La crisis de la autocracia china

Hasta hace muy poco el presidente chino Xi Jinping promocionaba su política de cero COVID como una prueba de que los estados autoritarios unipartidistas como China están mejor equipados para lidiar con las pandemias (y otras crisis) que las desordenadas democracias, limitadas por el egoísmo de los políticos y la inconstancia de los votantes.

Tal vez sonara plausible para muchos en 2020, mientras morían cientos de miles de estadounidenses y el expresidente Donald Trump promovía medicamentos contra la malaria e inyecciones de lejía como remedios contra la COVID-19. Mientras tanto, Xi implementaba por la pandemia inflexibles restricciones que prácticamente asfixiaron al país, obligaba a la gente a permanecer en campos de concentración e insistía en que los ciudadanos chinos que viajaran al extranjero usaran trajes de protección contra materiales peligrosos como si trabajaran en un laboratorio tóxico gigantesco.…  Seguir leyendo »

At the emergency department of a hospital in Chengdu, China, December 2022. Tingshu Wang / Reuters

China experienced monumental upheaval at the end of 2022. For three years, Chinese President Xi Jinping waged what he termed a “people’s war against COVID-19”, an uncompromising campaign to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infections that became both a nationalistic rallying cry and a symbol of Chinese pride. In that time, his government subjected citizens to intense digital surveillance, frequent harsh lockdowns, and the constant threat of being consigned to quarantine facilities in the event of a positive test. These measures did have the effect of preventing outbreaks in China of the scale that occurred in other countries, such as neighboring India or the United States.…  Seguir leyendo »

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, foreground left, meets with soldiers at a military base in Chiayi, Taiwan, on Friday. (Taiwanese presidential office/AP)

It is both thrilling and sobering to visit Taiwan nearly a year after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

It’s inspiring to see the achievements of the Taiwanese people in building a flourishing democracy — the first in China’s long history — under the constant shadow of attack from the People’s Republic of China. Taipei is a vibrant city of 2.6 million people full of high-rise office and apartment buildings, shopping malls and “night markets”, beef noodle parlors and bubble tea shops. It is the capital of a de facto nation that is far freer and wealthier than the mainland (per capita gross domestic product is nearly three times higher).…  Seguir leyendo »

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 »

Las imágenes que vemos estos días de los hospitales de China nos retrotraen a los primeros meses de 2020 en España y otros países europeos. Un contraste que nos aturde, pues estos días de Navidad hemos actuado como si la pandemia fuera ya parte del pasado, solo a la espera de la declaración oficial de su finalización por la Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS). Los únicos restos que nos quedan de los momentos más duros son las mascarillas en el transporte, en algunos casos de manera muy relajada.

¿Qué está pasando? ¿Estamos de nuevo en marzo de 2020, con Wuhan al fondo y viendo cómo se acerca el virus por la Ruta de la Seda a la atemorizada Europa, afectando en primer lugar a Italia?…  Seguir leyendo »