Good citizens, splendid civilization: Culture in the 13th FYP (Part 3 of MERICS series)


Lei Feng is back! Or at least the Party wants him to be. In its recently released 13th five-year plan, Beijing makes clear that it means to take an even more active role in shaping the contours of modern Chinese culture and morality. The CCP seeks to harken back to a time when—in the official narrative, at least—the Party’s and the people’s ambitions were one and the same.

Why China keeps a low profile in Munich


In 2010, China’s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi shook up a mostly transatlantic audience when he took the stage at the Munich Security Conference (MSC) and accused the US of violating international law with a proposed arms sale to Taiwan. It was the first speech by a Chinese foreign minister in the forum’s history. Yang returned to Munich in 2015 as State Councillor, coordinating one of China’s small core groups in charge of steering foreign policy.

"China wants the Social Credit System to make people honest"


“Social Credit is seen as a means of making people, companies, entire industrial sectors and the government more honest by monitoring behaviors,” says Shazeda Ahmed, a Ph.D. student at the University of California, Berkeley, and former Visiting Academic Fellow at MERICS. The system's digital mechanism will collect data on every single person in China by 2020.​​ What motivates the government? What are the major challenges? And what do people in China think about this system? Listen to our latest MERICS experts podcast.

China’s failure in the South China Sea

The recent Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague’s long-awaited ruling on conflicting Chinese and Filipino claims in the South China Sea has delivered a stunning rebuke to Beijing. By insinuating international law into what essentially had been a standoff, many hoped that the Court’s decision would provide an off-ramp for the disputants.

Press freedom: “China cannot impose draconian controls forever”

Media freedom in China has suffered under president Xi Jinping. In its latest press freedom index, Reporters without Borders ranks China at the bottom of the list, followed only by Syria, Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea. In our MERICS Podcast, Professor Yuen-ying Chan agrees that these are hard times for journalists in China. But the founding director of the Journalism and Media Studies Centre at Hongkong University also argues that spaces for independent and investigative journalism in China remain despite tight censorship and increased controls.

One-way train from China to Central Europe


In the modern days of the Silk Road, Chinese leaders are followed not by camels but by cargo trains. The formal openings of new cargo routes were key to Xi Jinping’s visit to Germany in 2014 (Chongqing-Duisburg connection) and to Warsaw earlier this year (Chengdu-Warsaw line). This past weekend, Premier Li Keqiang visited Riga to attend the 5th Summit of Heads of State of Central and Eastern European countries and China under the so called 16+1 format, which was set up in 2012.