Xi Jinping’s promise to introduce legal accountability in China is undermined by the Communist Party’s absolute control. But Xi is no Frederick the Great. The new National Supervision Law may increase predictability, but unlike the Prussian king's legal reforms, it will not limit state power.
By Samantha Hoffman
China's holistic approach to state security does not differentiate between policies to respond to external versus internal threats. The CCP mobilizes the entire society - with a mix of persuasion and coercion - to preempt threats from both inside and outside China’s borders and from both inside and outside the CCP.
The CCP reasserts its control over the private sector by extending its reach far inside foreign and Chinese companies. For foreign investors, such close and often involuntary cooperation with the party-state can bring lucrative opportunities but also lead to questionable business decisions.
After his re-election as General Secretary of the CCP at the 19th Party Congress, Xi Jinping faces the challenging task of launching and speeding up numerous ambitious political programs that were adopted during his first term. To make that happen, China’s top leader counts on technocrats from high-tech industries.
Interview with Willy Lam
The 19th Congress of the Communist Party is an opportunity to take stock of five years of Xi Jinping rule. “Xi has benefitted tremendously from the world leadership vacuum left by US President Donald Trump”, says Willy Lam of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. But, he warns, China’s power projection won’t go very far unless Beijing addresses its “soft power deficit” and starts to respect international rules and laws.
Economic planning and societal control: The digital transformation is changing the rules of the game in the global systemic competition. China's determined pursuit of a "digital Leninism" presents a major challenge to liberal market economies and democratic political systems.
China's Internet economy is developing rapidly with the help of government funding and a protected domestic market. European governments have to rethink their digital policies to be prepared for the Chinese competition.
(via The Diplomat)
The increasing digitalization of life in China has increased the need for the security of personal data. To ensure effective data protection, the party-state would have to create a unified legal framework and to subject itself to supervision.
Interview with Carsten Holz
The Chinese government spends millions to develop the Tibetan areas of China. But what can investment achieve in these remote regions? Can it create sustainable jobs and change people’s lives? In this MERICS Experts Podcast, the economist Carsten Holz of Hongkong University of Science and Technology accounts his research trip on the Tibetan plateau in Western Sichuan.
China’s party-and-state leader tries to bring government officials under the reach of the legal system. But the purpose of this approach is less about ensuring compliance with the law than about ensuring the top leadership’s control over its bureaucracy.
Tiffany G. Wong
On the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to the People’s Republic of China, the city is grappling with an identity question that threatens its relationship with the mainland. Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s political career will depend on how she deals with this challenge.
Beijing’s modern sister city will be a symbol of political power rather than economic development. In many ways, Xiongan is designed as an antithesis of Shenzhen and Pudong.
This fall, the Chinese Communist Party will kick off its twice-a-decade National Party Congress. At a time when the U.S. retreats from its global leadership responsibilities and China tries to assert itself as a global leader, changes to the political agenda of China’s governing party and its top leadership are of increasing importance to the rest of the world.
Charlotte Roehren (via The Diplomat)
With its growing international integration, China is becoming a major actor in global health issues. Beijing has valuable experience in fighting pandemics and in providing health and medical support to Africa. The G20 Summit in Hamburg will be an opportunity for China to step up its multilateral health engagement.
Beijing wants to end excessive land grabs and evictions of Chinese farmers. But the planned reform of the land administration law does not remove the root causes of the problem: urbanization pressure and fiscal problems at the local level.
Britain and Europe are too busy with their own divorce to care about Hong Kong’s future. The crack-down on pro-democracy activists after the election of Beijing-backed candidate Carrie Lam as the SAR’s new chief executive has only drawn muted responses from London and Brussels.
(via The Diplomat)
International businesses in China struggle to comply with new regulations, which force them to store critical data within China's borders, limit the application of foreign encryption services, and require handing over customer data of terror suspects.
As many feared, the new law in practice seems designed to make life difficult for international organizations. Many foreign NGOs, especially those working in political sensitive areas like legal advocacy or political education, are left in legal Limbo.
Speaker interview with Fan Popo (范坡坡): Filmmaker and LGBT activist
Fan Popo is an independent filmmaker and LGBT activist based in Beijing. He studied screenwriting at the Beijing Film Academy. After his graduation in 2007 he became a leading figure of China's queer cinema scene. His documentaries on LGBT and gender issues have been screened at film festivals around the world.
Fan Popo spoke at a Young China Watchers (YCW) event at MERICS in Berlin in February 2017.
China's new system of circuit tribunals improves citizens’ access to the justice system. But the regional courts under direct control of the Supreme Court also tighten the Communist Party’s grip over the judiciary.
(via The Diplomat)
Europe’s increasing police and judicial cooperation with China raises difficult questions, especially with regard to extradition. Governments should make sure the cooperation does not undermine international and European legal norms.
The Xi Jinping administration plans to institutionalize its anti-corruption campaign in a new powerful state organ, creating a permanent tool for investigation and prosecution. The reform suggests the introduction of extra-party supervision while it actually expands the CCP’s reach.
Government intervention has so far averted a crisis in China’s booming property market. But local and central efforts to prevent bubbles from building up have created new risks for the economy.
Anna Wang and Matthias Stepan
China struggles to rein in the accumulation of public sector debt at the provincial and municipal level through new financing vehicles. The promotion of public-private partnerships (PPPs) will not solve the problem as long as many of the “private” partners in such infrastructure funding projects are state-owned enterprises.