MERICS Blog, European Voices on China, Header

 

For months now Hong Kong has gone through a rollercoaster of escalating protest, police action and government intransigence. The impression is left of a government that is out of touch with the population, unable or unwilling to represent Hong Kong’s interests against China and, most of all, without a game plan.

Washington is escalating its campaign to contain China by blacklisting technology firms. It’s not clear if Europe is prepared to follow suit. Either way, there will be a price to pay.

Lavender Au, Mats Kuuskemaa

China’s personal social credit scoring has sparked controversy, but many in China appear willing to accept it. Lavender Au and Mats Kuuskemaa ask how far this acceptance goes. This article is part 4 of a mini-series to present the outcomes of the MERICS European China Talent Program 2019.

Manlai Nyamdorj

Do artists like Higher Brothers have the potential to boost the image of China abroad and finally bring Chinese societal resources to generate soft power?

 

The Communist Party praises itself no end on the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. But let’s not forget the truth on October 1 – China’s people are the power behind the country’s phenomenal rise over recent decades, says Kristin Shi-Kupfer.

In areas such as data protection and ethics AI, Europe should use debates with China to present itself as a role model, argue Kai von Carnap and Kristin Shi-Kupfer.

The protests in Hong Kong that have been going on for weeks and the tough attitude of the city’s government, which is remotely controlled from Beijing, now make it unmistakably clear to everyone that the coexistence of totalitarian politics and a liberal economy does not work with China, says Kristin Shi-Kupfer.

Dozens of European companies have business ties to Xinjiang, where according to UN estimates Chinese authorities have detained more than a million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities. European governments need to take a more active interest in their companies’ operations in the region, says MERICS Visiting Policy Fellow Benjamin Haas.

In 2019, an estimated record number of graduates will enter China's labor market – and there are indications that many will struggle to find a position. How does the country create jobs for the 8.34 million students who will graduate from its universities this year? To deal with the challenge, different regions have been experimenting with different solutions.

Who are China’s key opinion leaders on social media? What are their views on the trade war with the US, and how much influence do they have on government policy? Analysis of their early discussion offers insights into Beijing’s approach to the trade war.

Supress and conceal: China is an emerging world power, yet it has still failed to find any other way of dealing with the legacy of the bloodily crushed protest movement of 1989.

Lauren A. Johnston

Before we write off China’s economic dynamism for a decade, we should consider the significant ways in which it differs from Japan. Differences in the timing of demographic change in the two countries in particular suggest that China’s experience will not mimic Japan’s. With appropriately targeted polices, China will avoid a “lost decade.”  

China is a world leader in blockchain development and is testing it in applications from civil administration and tax documents to evidence in the criminal justice system. Yet the technology creates a dilemma for China’s leaders. Their priority on centralized control contradicts the decentralized distribution of data through a blockchain. 

No precise count of the number of people currently detained in camps in Xinjiang has made its way out of China. In the absence of officially reported numbers or other hard evidence, researchers of various stripes have converged on the figure of one million. Former MERICS Visiting Academic Fellow Jessica Batke explains how international observers arrived at this figure.

The news that two genetically edited babies might have been born in China revealed the country’s deficiency in defining ethical norms and a dangerous lack of transparency in technological research and development. Whereas China is investing vastly into “hard science,” the negligence of “soft science” and humanities could undermine trust in China as a tech-superpower – and it could ultimately put humanity at risk. 

Karen Fisher, Haiqing Yu

The digital economy offers new employment opportunities for China’s disabled people. Expanding the digital economy to include broader parts of the population combines the economic goal of China’s transition to a high-tech nation with the political imperatives of growth and social stability. This is the fourth part of a series based on a MERICS publication on social services in China.

Barbara Schulte

Digital solutions have not delivered on the promise to guarantee high-quality education for all in China. The introduction of information and communication technology has encountered resistance from teachers and parents. It has also created a new divide between the producers and the consumers of ICT content. This is the third part of a series based on a MERICS publication on social services in China.

Matthias Stepan

China counts on non-state actors, from charities to private companies, for the modernization of its social service delivery systems. Given the CCP’s preference for maintaining operational and ideological control, this approach has limitations. This is part one of a four-part series based on a MERICS publication on social services in China.

Interview with Mareike Ohlberg (via Young China Watchers)

The collection of citizens' personal data is a global issue, but China's social credit system is unique in its ambitions. Its uses range from assessing individual credit risks to forcing companies to comply with environmental standards, but also to discouraging dissenting political opinions. In this interview MERICS researcher Mareike Ohlberg describes China's struggle to define the standards for a nationwide system.

Unrest over Chinese online financing platforms shows that the combination of unregulated market forces and uninformed individual decision making can lead to undesirable outcomes. Unless the CCP is willing and able to foster comprehensive reforms, events might again spiral out of control when new innovative financial solutions are introduced.

Felix Turbanisch
China uses civil associations to lobby for CCP causes among overseas Chinese in New Zealand, Australia and the United States. The same organizations are active in Germany, but the spectrum of Chinese associations is much broader. Their focus on technology reflects China’s ambitions for industrial upgrading.

MERICS Guest Author Genia Kostka

Educated and wealthy urban Chinese have an overwhelmingly positive view of commercial and government-run systems that rate the “trustworthiness” of citizens, businesses and social organizations. Rather than perceiving them as instruments of surveillance, they see them as a way to protect consumers from food scandals or financial fraud – and to access benefits connected to a high social credit score.

Interview with Frank N. Pieke

For years, many China observers believed that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) would eventually crumble under the contradictions between a Leninist political system and a dynamic society. “But we were all proved wrong,” says Frank N. Pieke, the new head of MERICS. The CCP is more modern, more powerful and confident than ever, he says. Yet, Xi Jinping, who likes to present himself as an all-powerful state and party leader, might find it more difficult than expected to secure a third term.

Frank N. Pieke plans to build on MERICS' successful first five years as the institute's new director and CEO. The former head of the Leiden Asia Center and the Oxford China Center sees the Communist Party's transformation as the key to understanding China's global rise. At the helm of MERICS, Pieke and his deputy Mikko Huotari want to facilitate more coordinated information-sharing on China in Europe.

Interview with Rogier Creemers (via Young China Watchers)

The aim of China's social credit system, as Rogier Creemers of Leiden University sees it, is "to ensure that people who behave in a sincere and trustworthy way in society are incentivized to do so." In this interview, the postdoctoral scholar in the Law and Governance of China describes the current state of the social credit system and its intended uses for government oversight and moral education.