Challenges of Chinese investment in Tibetan areas

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? The economist Carsten Holz of Hongkong University of Science and Technology has spent many months on the Tibetan plateau in Western Sichuan to study how Beijing’s policies affect local people’s lives. Roads have improved and access to education has increased, he says. But restrictions on travel, unequal pay and a heavy security presence fuel resentment.

"Civil society still has an enormous role to play in China"

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and independent journalists have played a vital role in raising awareness in China of the dangers of air pollution and other environmental challenges. Yet under the leadership of Xi Jinping, the climate for NGOs has become noticeably chillier, especially with the introduction of a new law earlier this year on overseas organizations.

Anti-Western nationalism in China can work for or against the CCP

Until the 20th century, the concept of competitive nationalism was unknown in China. It was Sun Yat-sen who, after founding the republic, established nationalism as a concept to pull the nation together. "Before, China didn't have a sense of nationhood, yet nowadays it is perhaps one of the most artful practicioners of nationalism," said Orville Shell, director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at Asia Society in New York, on the panel moderated by MERICS researcher Kristin Shi-Kupfer.

"There is a huge appetite for independent journalism"

The online platform “Initium” is one of several media start-ups in Hong Kong that defy tighter censorship and media controls in China. Within a year it has attracted more than two million regular readers although the site quickly got blocked on the mainland. Chief editor Zhang Jieping says there’s a huge appetite for independent journalism. In this new podcast she talks about how to keep up journalistic principles in a restrictive political environment.

Questions: Ruth Kirchner

“Beijing-Berlin connection” revisited


German Chancellor Angela Merkel was showered with honours during her 9th visit to China. Clad in a red and black robe, she received the honorary doctorate of the University of Nanjing. A day later, she and half of her cabinet descended on Beijing for government consultations. This event, which both sides have held regularly since 2011, goes beyond the dialogues other Western nations have with China and has become a symbol of the close Sino-German relationship.

Censorship in China: Why a Hong Kong paper slipped behind the Great Firewall


A few days ago, reports emerged that the Hong Kong based South China Morning Post (SCMP) has been censored on the Chinese Internet. The newspaper’s accounts on various social media platforms, including Twitter-like Sina Weibo, Tencent Weibo, and WeChat, are no longer accessible. Web services such as GreatFire and BlockedInChina, which allow users to check whether a particular website is blocked in mainland China, return contradictory results about the accessibility of the SCMP’s English and Chinese web portals.

Empowered or embattled? We don’t know what hexin means for Xi Jinping


A sudden, novel use of the term “核心” (hexin, or “core” in English) to describe General Secretary Xi Jinping generated a stir in China-watcher circles recently.  The new use appeared early in 2016, as dozens of municipal and provincial cadres employed the novel phrase (坚决维护习近平总书记这个核心, or “resolutely safeguard the core, General Secretary Xi Jinping”) in successive rounds of meetings<

The yuan: China’s problem, the world’s concern?

In 1971, US treasury secretary John Connally coined this famous statement: “The dollar is our currency, but it’s your problem.” Back then, the dollar’s status as the leading international mode of payment and store of value was unchallenged – and the US enjoyed all the privileges. The US enjoyed – and continues to enjoy – the benefit of paying low interest on its sovereign debt, which is denominated in dollar and therefore faces no exchange rate risks. It can finance domestic consumption through access to external savings, and it can foot foreign bills by printing its own currency.