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Martijn Rasser

While COVID-19 brings China one step closer to technology-perfected authoritarianism through improvised health apps and real-time surveillance, Europe is busy looking inward. The pandemic has reignited self-reliance ambitions and given new impetus to concepts of digital and technological ´sovereignty.´ Europe stands at an inflection point, argue Rebecca Arcesati (MERICS) and Martijn Rasser (CNAS). (via EUobserver)

As Washington and Beijing do battle over trade, Europe is seen to be in a strategic dilemma. Maximilian Kärnfelt says this ignores a simple political calculation that favors the US.

Covid-19 has boosted Beijing’s championing of traditional Chinese medicine. Tom Bayes says China should focus on more measurably effective public health efforts – starting in Africa. This article is part 10 of a MERICS blog series on China's corona struggle.

The pandemic has once again shown Berlin’s relations with Beijing to be a balancing act. Barbara Pongratz says cordial partnership plus cautious opposition does not equal clarity. This article is part 9 of a MERICS blog series on China's corona struggle.

The economic shutdown in response to the Covid-19 outbreak has left its impact on the whole of China’s economy, not least its small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Representing the lion’s share of GDP and employment, they are crucial for China’s stability. Beijing has taken steps to cushion the blow for SMEs, but there is no guarantee it will succeed. If these measures fail, China will take a severe hit not only to its economy, but also to its social stability. This article is part 8 of a MERICS blog series on China's corona struggle.

As the U.S. increases pressure on technology exports, China’s race for self-sufficiency becomes more urgent. A blogpost by MERICS expert John Lee. (via The Diplomat)

There is a tendency in politics and the media to tone down criticism of Beijing. But this is damaging to all those in China who bravely oppose the regime's dictatorship, says Kristin Shi-Kupfer. This article is part 7 of a MERICS blog series on China's corona struggle.

David Lenz

Beijing has issued rules to encourage regime-friendly online content. David Lenz sees a wave of volunteer cheerleaders crowding out the critical voices still present on the Chinese internet. This article is part 6 of a MERICS blog series on China's corona struggle.

The coronavirus pandemic threatens to wreck developing countries and lay bare the inequalities of the digital divide: diagnosis based on artificial intelligence (AI), smart working and e-learning are unthinkable in most countries. But there’s China: State media recently featured an AI-enabled COVID-19 diagnostic system, developed by two Chinese companies, being used by hospitals in Ecuador – just one of several Chinese digital health projects. This article is part 5 of a MERICS blog series on China's corona struggle.

Three major trading blocs – China, the European Union and the United States – have reacted with protectionist measures to the economic challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Industrial policy has become the preferred tool for safeguarding systemically important industries against foreign take-over, reinforcing a trend toward protectionism that was already visible before the crisis. The new wave of economic nationalism could weaken the fragile world trade order even further. This article is part 4 of a MERICS blog series on China's corona struggle.

Beijing’s response to the coronavirus pandemic could prove to be an eye-opener for Europe. Lucrezia Poggetti says many leaders will be more clear-eyed when dealing with China. This article is part 3 of a MERICS blog series on China's corona struggle. A shorter version was previously published on ChinaFile.

As the coronavirus pandemic sends governments reeling across the world, the CCP looks set to emerge strengthened from this crisis, proving once again its exceptional resilience, says Thomas des Garets Geddes. This article is part 2 of a MERICS blog series on China's corona struggle.

The West is watching the Chinese government’s fight against the coronavirus with respect and unease. Kristin Shi-Kupfer says we should also eye the country’s ever more unpredictable citizens. This article is part 1 of a MERICS blog series on China's corona struggle.

In repointing Europe’s approach to industrial policy, some policymakers have prized China as an example to follow. Luckily, the European Commission is moving towards a European approach.

Linda Liang

Nationalism is a powerful force in China – one that, once mobilized, can serve the government’s purposes. As EU member states weigh up their decision on Huawei, the possibility of a backlash by Chinese consumers has to be considered. Could the Chinese government let loose a retaliation from the bottom up? Linda Liang weighs up the odds. 

In its fight against the spread of the Coronavirus, Beijing is placing an awful lot of faith in untested AI and big data applications. Kai von Carnap says the world should use these new tools with caution.

Chinese tech companies are turning to European suppliers and collaborative projects to cut their reliance on US suppliers. Caroline Meinhardt says Europe faces some tough choices.

As European governments debate whether to allow Huawei to build critical 5G infrastructure, fears of economic retaliation by China play a major role in their thinking. While this is a legitimate concern, it would be a mistake if such concerns were allowed to dominate decision-making on strategic issues, argue Lucrezia Poggetti and Max J. Zenglein.

The WHO’s excessive acclaim of China’s response to the coronavirus is a sign of Beijing’s growing sway over the UN agency, says Thomas Geddes.

China’s leaders prize information control over information sharing, even at the risk of delaying actions to curb the spread of a disease. In that sense, the Corona epidemic has laid bare the weakness of centralized, top-down systems of authority, says Nis Grünberg.

By Mary Hennock

As the MERICS China Forecast 2020 event opened in Berlin it was already clear the outbreak of deadly coronavirus flu in Wuhan would ratchet up all the key political and economic stress patterns we were asking our panellists to consider. For China, 2020 will be shaped by the still-unknowable consequences of the outbreak.

China is pushing for its currency to be used all over the world and its renminbi trading infrastructure is particularly good in the European Union. Maximilian Kärnfelt says this looks set to bring the Europeans real commercial benefits – and create real geopolitical problems. 


The US and Europe differ on using Chinese companies for next-generation mobile-phone networks. John Lee says that reflects different assessments of whether the benefits can outweigh the risks.

"Westlessness" is the slogan of this weekend's Munich Security Conference (MSC) and a tribute in no small part to China: Beijing's rise and its growing influence on economic, political and security issues is having a clear impact on the Western-led liberal world order, argues MERICS expert Helena Legarda. (via EUobserver)

That China has a stake in the Middle East became evident just recently, when the killing of an Iranian general by a US drone strike drew a very critical response from Beijing. However, wary of further antagonizing the United States and prolonging their trade dispute, China refrained from taking concrete action to support Tehran. Faced with the choice between supporting its ally Iran or staying out of the fray, Beijing chose the status quo, says MERICS analyst Helena Legarda.