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Hamburg is a hub for European trade with China, and many Chinese companies are headquartered in the city. At a time when the German public is concerned about growing competition with China over innovation and technology, European entrepreneurs stressed the need to cooperate at a MERICS China Dispute organised in cooperation with the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce.

The dynamics of Chinese politics have changed considerably under Xi Jinping. In “China’s Core Executive”, the first MERICS Paper on China, international China experts examine decision-making structures and processes in Xi’s China. But before we start to debate leadership in China, Jessica Batke challenges us to check our own frame of reference.

Chinese investors worry about access to the EU’s single market while the political leadership in Beijing fears losing the UK as an advocate in Brussels and witnessing a further decline of the EU’s global influence.

Interview with Alec Ash (via Young China Watchers)

Chinese millennials have high expectations for the future, but their ambitions often hit a wall of societal and political pressures, according to Alec Ash, the author of the portrait collection "Wish Lanterns." This interview was previously published on the blog of Young China Watchers, a MERICS partner. Young China Watchers is a global network of China-focused young professionals.

Germany has built a more cooperative relationship with China than most Western nations. But even Angela Merkel’s influence in Beijing only goes so far, as her recent trip has shown. In light of Beijing's more aggressive foreign policy, Germany is well advised to coordinate its China policy as closely as possible with its European and non-European partners.

The surge of Chinese FDI in Europe poses a novel challenge to investment regimes and competition policy. Policymakers should take concrete steps to deal with China's aggressive outbound industrial and technology policies and to prevent market distortions by state-controlled investors.

Interview with Arthur Kroeber

China will need economic and political reforms to keep up growth, says Arthur Kroeber of Gavecal Dragonomics, an independent research firm in Beijing. In this Podcast he argues that the transition to a new growth model won’t be possible without cutting back state-owned enterprises, restructuring financial markets, and promoting globally competitive innovation. “President Xi seems willing to sacrifice economic vitality to maintain political control.”

China has to introduce regional solidarity if it wants to become a high-income country. Fiscal redistribution could bridge the gap between rich and poor provinces.

In times of slower growth, the Chinese government’s promise to abolish poverty in China by 2020 will be hard to keep. Beijing will have to actively support weak segments of Society.

Ting Guan

China allows local governments a lot of say in implementing environmental policy. This system may lead to uneven outcomes, especially when compared to environmental pioneers like Germany. But in light of vast regional differences, ‘one size fits all environmental policy implementation’ will not work in China. 

Interview with Thomas Eder

Tensions in the South China Sea could further escalate after a ruling by a UN tribunal expected within the next few weeks. China is likely to take provocative action should the court rule in favour of the Philippines, said MERICS fellow Thomas Eder. In our latest Podcast, Eder warns that the EU cannot afford to ignore this challenge in a region that includes important shipping routes for its trade with Asia.

China’s acquisition of Mediterranean ports is a logistical move to facilitate its growing trade with Europe. But the ports also serve to augment China’s naval presence in the region, increasing its capability to counter risks to its trade flows and citizens.

 

Declaring the end of China’s one-child policy as a victory for civil liberties is premature. The Chinese government continues to intervene heavily in one of life’s most personal decisions and does not intend to give up control over family planning any time soon.

The Chinese bid for a substantial share of robotics maker Kuka is a serious dilemma for Germany. Chinese acquisitions of global leaders in high-end manufacturing risk hollowing out Germany’s Industry 4.0 strategy.

China’s rise as a global player is forcing EU member states to rethink the way they pursue their security interests. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), presently chaired by Germany, could become a valuable tool for engaging China on critical security challenges, particularly in Central Asia.

Interview with Daniel Leese

50 years after the start of the Cultural Revolution Xi Jinping tries to reconnect to China's Maoist heritage. But he won’t allow to mobilise the masses as Mao did, because he is afraid of losing control. Listen to Daniel Leese, professor of Chinese history at Freiburg University, in our MERICS Podcast.

Investors’ fears over China selling off its foreign currency reserves are short sighted. Rather than signalling an impending crisis, the development shows that China is now investing globally and that the yuan is on track to become an international currency.

China’s decision to subject foreign NGOs to strict government control has triggered international outrage. But the Overseas NGO Law, while further narrowing the space for political engagement in China, is not primarily an attempt to shut China off from Western influences. Rather, it is part of a strategy to develop a domestic – and domesticated – non-profit sector.

Donald Trump’s rants against China have not hurt his popularity in Chinese social media debates. China’s netizens view the Republican presidential candidate as a pragmatic businessman who could fix relations between the world’s two biggest economic powers. And many would certainly prefer him to Hillary Clinton. 

From book clubs to real estate and e-commerce – Ekkehard Rathgeber’s career in China mirrors the country’s tumultuous development since 1989. The German entrepreneur spoke about his experiences at the MERICS China Lounge.

Australia’s decision to buy French, not Japanese, submarines is far from an attempt to appease Beijing. On the contrary, the arms deal is bound to strengthen US-led efforts to push back against China’s muscular posture in the Asia-Pacific.

Worker unrest mirrors China’s falling growth rates. A growing number of labour protests in the private construction and manufacturing sector may cause the government to reconsider its plans for much-needed reforms in the state sector.

The Detroit Auto Show has long set the tone for the global car industry, but a new player on the other side of the world could prove to be a bigger player. As the Beijing Motor Show begins on Monday, it’s worth taking a closer look at China’s auto industry. 

The US claims that China’s internet controls may violate the rules of global trade. This line of argument exposes a dilemma for China’s leaders who struggle to uphold an increasingly authoritarian system in an era of deepening international Integration.

Interview with Yuen-ying Chan

Media freedom in China has suffered under president Xi Jinping, and Professor Yuen-ying Chan agrees that these are hard times for Chinese journalists. In our MERICS Podcast, the director of the Journalism and Media Studies Centre at Hongkong University also argues that independent journalism in China still exists.