Interview with Isabel Hilton
The working conditions for NGOs and independent journalists in China have become harder under the leadership of Xi Jinping. But according to Isabel Hilton, “civil society still has an enormous role to play.” In the new MERICS Experts Podcast, the editor of China Dialogue, an environmental website based in London and Beijing, talks about how NGOs and the media in today’s China navigate a tricky political environment.
Economic sanctions are the foreign policy instrument of choice against many of the world’s dictators. But the resilience of the Kim regime and China’s unwillingness to support a complete economic boycott have made them ineffective in North Korea.
Air pollution is a severe problem across China, but the levels of pollution vary greatly between regions. Though still a major challenge, air quality in urban centers like Beijing and Guangzhou is improving. Cities in the industrial heartland on the other hand have seen little to no Progress.
China has invited international leaders to weigh in on shaping the future design of its Belt and Road Initiative at a summit in Beijing. European governments are curious to find out if China is truly willing to multilateralize and institutionalize its flagship foreign policy Project.
This fall, the Chinese Communist Party will kick off its twice-a-decade National Party Congress. At a time when the U.S. retreats from its global leadership responsibilities and China tries to assert itself as a global leader, changes to the political agenda of China’s governing party and its top leadership are of increasing importance to the rest of the world.
After decades of prioritizing economic development, Chinese society is engaged in a search for values to fill the spiritual vacuum. Young China Watchers spoke with New York Times journalist Ian Johnson, who is also a Senior Policy Fellow at MERICS, about his new book “The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao” (2017).
Charlotte Roehren (via The Diplomat)
With its growing international integration, China is becoming a major actor in global health issues. Beijing has valuable experience in fighting pandemics and in providing health and medical support to Africa. The G20 Summit in Hamburg will be an opportunity for China to step up its multilateral health engagement.
Washington and Beijing have to accept that there can be no more business as usual in dealing with the Kim regime. The two principal actors in this crisis have to work towards political change in North Korea through a new regional order in East Asia.
Beijing wants to end excessive land grabs and evictions of Chinese farmers. But the planned reform of the land administration law does not remove the root causes of the problem: urbanization pressure and fiscal problems at the local level.
Punitive levies on Chinese imports would hurt American consumers and U.S. companies that are part of the global supply chain. At the same time, they would strengthen Beijing's resolve to speed up its quest for independence from foreign technology.
Rolf J. Langhammer
A transatlantic shift in financial burden sharing within NATO would reverberate all the way to China. A weaker U.S. role in global security would lead to a weaker dollar – with serious consequences for China’s monetary policy and real economy.
Britain and Europe are too busy with their own divorce to care about Hong Kong’s future. The crack-down on pro-democracy activists after the election of Beijing-backed candidate Carrie Lam as the SAR’s new chief executive has only drawn muted responses from London and Brussels.
(via The Diplomat)
International businesses in China struggle to comply with new regulations, which force them to store critical data within China's borders, limit the application of foreign encryption services, and require handing over customer data of terror suspects.
As the U.S. President pursues his strategy of “America First,” China strives to increase its role and influence on the world stage. Participants of a panel hosted by MERICS and its partners China File, Asia Society and Young China Watchers in New York discussed the consequences of this shift in the global order.
China sets its hopes on e-mobility. Smart and forceful industrial policies are geared toward grooming domestic brands and keeping foreign competition at bay. Governments and manufacturers in industrial countries will have to act fast to counter this trend.
As many feared, the new law in practice seems designed to make life difficult for international organizations. Many foreign NGOs, especially those working in political sensitive areas like legal advocacy or political education, are left in legal Limbo.
As the U.S. and Europe struggle with political and economic crises, Chinese party-state media highlight the deficiencies of “Western” systems. The leadership in Beijing offers the “China Path” as an alternative. Under what conditions could we see a rise in anti-Western nationalism in China? What does this mean for the stability of the government? These questions were up for debate at a MERICS China Dispute on 22 February that was attended by around 100 guests.
Speaker interview with Fan Popo (范坡坡): Filmmaker and LGBT activist
Fan Popo is an independent filmmaker and LGBT activist based in Beijing. He studied screenwriting at the Beijing Film Academy. After his graduation in 2007 he became a leading figure of China's queer cinema scene. His documentaries on LGBT and gender issues have been screened at film festivals around the world.
Fan Popo spoke at a Young China Watchers (YCW) event at MERICS in Berlin in February 2017.
China’s industrial policies aim to build national champions via acquiring technological knowledge abroad. This goal may be in line with the current worldwide wave of economic nationalism, but it is likely to collide with the strategic aims of increasingly globalized Chinese companies.
In the French election campaign, trade with China and Chinese investment raise similar controversies as in the U.S. last fall. Even if a moderate candidate wins, France is likely to adopt a tougher stance vis-à-vis China.
China’s military ambitions are approaching Europe‘s backyard. There is potential for cooperation – but over the longer term, the two sides may find their interests conflict more often than not.
China's new system of circuit tribunals improves citizens’ access to the justice system. But the regional courts under direct control of the Supreme Court also tighten the Communist Party’s grip over the judiciary.
The U.S. withdrawal from TPP and TTIP leaves the EU as the main advocate of high regulatory standards in international trade agreements. The Trump administration’s anti-trade rhetoric may have created an opening for Brussels to get concessions from Beijing and to bolster its position through agreements with other Asian countries.
(via The Diplomat)
Europe’s increasing police and judicial cooperation with China raises difficult questions, especially with regard to extradition. Governments should make sure the cooperation does not undermine international and European legal norms.
In the absence of U.S. and European leadership, China is emerging as the world’s best hope in the fight for climate change. Despite tremendous near-term challenges, Beijing’s political commitment and forward-looking policies could turn China into a model for building an alternative energy economy.