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Beijing talks up equality for foreign and domestic businesses but action is slow, say Mikko Huotari and Agatha Kratz.

Washington is escalating its campaign to contain China by blacklisting technology firms. It’s not clear if Europe is prepared to follow suit. Either way, there will be a price to pay.

Lavender Au, Mats Kuuskemaa

China’s personal social credit scoring has sparked controversy, but many in China appear willing to accept it. Lavender Au and Mats Kuuskemaa ask how far this acceptance goes. This article is part 4 of a mini-series to present the outcomes of the MERICS European China Talent Program 2019.

Linking China and Europe via the Caspian Sea, the “Middle Corridor” is one of the BRI’s six “official” corridor. But in the South Caucasus region, China is almost nowhere to be seen, says Jacob Mardell. He is currently travelling countries along the Belt and Road to investigate how the initiative is being implemented on the ground. 

 

Alice Mingay

The first in a series of Courts of the Internet to open across China utilizes Alibaba’s size and experience to pioneer online dispute resolution reform. It not only demonstrates the Chinese internet giant’s growing influence in the regulatory sphere, but more widely shows the increasing symbiosis of big tech and government, says Alice Mingay.

Julian Weber

The Indian Ocean is a critical link in global trade routes, with 80 percent of global seaborne trade passing through it. As China increasingly asserts its interests in the region, Europe cannot afford to turn a blind eye, argues Julian Weber.

As Chinese companies become ever more assertive globally, Europe needs to better support up-and-coming industries and advance cross-regional partnerships, argue Alexandra-Andreea Pop and Anne-Sophie Deman.

This article is part 3 of a mini-series to present the outcomes of the MERICS European China Talent Program 2019.

Ben Miller, Aljoscha Nau, Clémence Lizé

Brussels and Beijing should use their trading clout to forge new rules for online shopping and create new momentum for WTO-reform, argue Ben Miller, Aljoscha Nau and Clémence Lizé.

This article is part 2 of a mini-series to present the outcomes of the MERICS European China Talent Program 2019.

Selina Morell

In the space realm, Europe still seeks cooperation with China despite having framed it a systemic rival. This creates serious strategic and economic risks, because Europe is too fragmented to keep up with China’s concerted commercial and military efforts to challenge the US dominance in space.

This article is part 1 of a mini-series to present the outcomes of the MERICS European China Talent Program 2019.

The protests in Hong Kong that have been going on for weeks and the tough attitude of the city’s government, which is remotely controlled from Beijing, now make it unmistakably clear to everyone that the coexistence of totalitarian politics and a liberal economy does not work with China, says Kristin Shi-Kupfer.

Dozens of European companies have business ties to Xinjiang, where according to UN estimates Chinese authorities have detained more than a million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities. European governments need to take a more active interest in their companies’ operations in the region, says MERICS Visiting Policy Fellow Benjamin Haas.

Insa Ewert (via Young China Watchers)

In March this year, Italy became the first G7 nation to sign an official MoU with China in the context of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The move by the Italian government has been interpreted as a sign of increasing divisions within Europe over China. But to what extent might the Italian example be an indication of a shift or rift in EU-China relations?

Europe should not shy away from taking a more assertive position if it wants the relationship with China to be a healthy one. Realism is needed in dealing with the increasingly powerful and authoritarian newcomer.

In 2019, an estimated record number of graduates will enter China's labor market – and there are indications that many will struggle to find a position. How does the country create jobs for the 8.34 million students who will graduate from its universities this year? To deal with the challenge, different regions have been experimenting with different solutions.

Traditionally among the biggest investors in China, Taiwanese companies are shifting their focus to neighboring countries. Michelle Tsai says the US-China trade conflict is only one reason.  

In Athens, local resistance to investment from China is not so much about opposing China, as resistance to change, says MERICS freelance researcher Jacob Mardell. He is currently travelling countries along the Belt and Road to investigate how the initiative is being implemented on the ground.

The African continent offers Huawei and other Chinese technology giants rich opportunities. Tom Bayes unpicks the stories of their rise in Africa and warns more is at stake than technology.

Forget Beijing “weaponizing” its currency through devaluation or the “nuclear option” of it dumping US Treasuries. It could quietly shrink the US trade deficit – at Europe’s expense.

Erratic and aggressive in the trade dispute with Beijing, Donald Trump is emboldening China’s military hawks, industrial state-interventionists, and nationalistic cheerleaders.

Lauren A. Johnston

Before we write off China’s economic dynamism for a decade, we should consider the significant ways in which it differs from Japan. Differences in the timing of demographic change in the two countries in particular suggest that China’s experience will not mimic Japan’s. With appropriately targeted polices, China will avoid a “lost decade.”  

The blockchain has become one of the key technologies flanking the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Innovative data management systems could soon give Beijing access to immense amounts of personal and company data from abroad.

Lauren A. Johnston

In March, Italy signed an agreement pledging its support for China’s trans-continental Belt and Road Initiative. Rome hopes Chinese companies will invest in the country’s ageing infrastructure, while critics worry about China’s perceived geopolitical ambitions. However, Beijing's push has to be seen in a larger context:  an important driver of its outbound ambitions is the interaction of economic and demographic change at home. Faced with an ageing society, China is looking for investment opportunities in countries with younger populations along the BRI.

 

The Shanghai Stock Exchange will establish an innovation and technology equity board to turn stock market gains into technological innovation. Previous tech boards have underperformed the market for years. But increased foreign investment and bank lending to the private sector as well as an improved listing process give reason to be optimistic.

 

The historic moon landing of China’s Chang'e 4 marks a symbolic victory for the emerging space power. But lack of transparency along with concerns about dual-use plans and surveillance undermine China’s efforts to persuade the world of its peaceful rise. For Europe, Beijing can be a selective partner on space matters at best.

China is a world leader in blockchain development and is testing it in applications from civil administration and tax documents to evidence in the criminal justice system. Yet the technology creates a dilemma for China’s leaders. Their priority on centralized control contradicts the decentralized distribution of data through a blockchain.