While the US rebalances east to Asia, China marches west. Beijing’s project to build a “new silk road” connecting Asia and Europe is the most visible statement of its geostrategic interests. The success of the project, officially known as “One belt, one road” (OBOR), depends in large part on developments in the volatile Mideast.
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.
When China’s Communists hold their 19th Party Congress in October, the choreography of the event will be as stiff as ever and broadcast the image of a rigid and unchanging political system. This image is wrong. With the help of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence, the Chinese leadership is thoroughly reshaping its approach to economic and social governance. China’s determined pursuit of the digital transformation presents a fundamental challenge to democratic political systems.
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.
The results of China’s changing R&D profile are evident in high-profile state-led projects such as China’s space, fast rail and commercial airliner programs, which admittedly face their share of obstacles.