As images of apocalyptic smog in Beijing travelled around the world earlier this year, it would seem like a grotesque idea to envision a leading role for China in shaping global climate and energy policy in the near future. Yet China does have the potential to surpass the U.S. and the EU in energy, propulsion and environmental technologies in the medium to long term – and to become a model for reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
China’s fight against corruption seemed to have hit a roadblock last year. Reports suggested that the harsh campaign had tarnished rather than lifted the reputation of the central government – fueling speculations that the Xi Jinping leadership might prepare to dial it down. As it turned out, the opposite was the case. It soon became clear that the campaign would not only continue in the future, but that it would actually intensify.
China has launched a high-tech revolution. Recognizing that the country can no longer play the role of the world’s factory for cheap products, the leadership in Beijing has devised a master plan to catch up with leading industrial nations by 2049. “Made in China 2025,” intended to give Chinese industry a leg up in entering the age of smart manufacturing and interconnected production, is China’s answer to Germany’s “Industry 4.0” and to the “Industrial Internet” in the United States.
After his election as the future US president, Donald Trump has renewed his previous rants against China. In a recent series of angry tweets, he accused the country of impeding US exports and threatening US manufacturing jobs by depreciating its currency. Nothing could be further from the truth. While it is right to assume that China manipulates its currency, Trump barks up the wrong tree if he accuses China of having an undervalued currency.
China’s real estate market is heating up. Despite the recent slowdown in economic growth, house prices in China’s cities are rapidly increasing. In Shenzhen, a hub for innovation, prices grew by up to 40 per cent this year alone. The situation is similar in many coastal cities, causing concern among Chinese officials and economists. Yet, at least until now, there are no signs for an acute overheating. Warnings of “bubbles” in China’s markets go back to the 1990s, especially in the real estate sector.
The outlines of a future Trump foreign policy may be blurry at best, but this much is clear: the world can no longer count on the US to participate, let alone to lead, on big multilateral issues such as trade and climate change. The implications of this shift became clear during the recent APEC summit in Lima as well as the climate conference in Marrakech, the follow-up meeting on the Paris Agreement.
The newly elected U.S. President Donald Trump used his first executive order to withdraw from negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement on January 23 – dismantling the centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s ‘pivot to Asia,’ undermining American influence in the region and ceding a lot of space to China.
The Chinese government’s reaction to Trump’s stunning win was as predictable as it was restrained. President Xi Jinping congratulated Trump and told him that he looked forward to working with him. A commentary in the official Xinhua news agency called Trump’s victory a "quiet revolt of ordinary Americans“ against the Washington elites. But there was no triumphant finger pointing or open criticism.
“Only one of the two ‘mountains’ will stay”. The title of this article, which was published on 27 October on the overseas Chinese website aboluowang.com, speculates about the political fate that awaits two high-ranking cadres of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) at next year’s 19th Party Congress. Wang Qishan and Liu Yunshan have both reached the CCP’s unofficial retirement age of 68. Both names end with “shan”, the Chinese character for mountain.
For years, China has been the United States’ main antagonist in cyberspace – despite the fact that Russia has made a comeback as the evil foe during this year’s presidential election campaign. But in recent weeks, China has been back in the spotlight – though not for the reasons you may have expected.