Xi Jinping’s “China Dream” – his catchword for a future where the Chinese people "dare to dream, work assiduously to fulfill the dreams and contribute to the revitalization of the nation" – is unfolding in a new dimension. An avid soccer fan, the Chinese President wants to make sure that his country is on a fast track to earn its proper spot in the top ranks of the world’s most popular sport.
To that end, he is committed to deploying the country’s sizable manpower and planning resources. He can also count on big financial resources devoted to the cause.
China’s president would like to be seen as the boss who cleans up in his own shop by weeding out corruption among the country’s elites. But Mr. Clean now has a serious problem. The Panama Papers, published by Süddeutsche Zeitung along with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists exposed the shady financial dealings of at least eight family members of China’s ruling class who set up shell companies in tax havens to hide their wealth. Among those implicated is Xi’s brother-in-law Deng Jiagui.
True, China has a long way to go. The world’s second largest economy still doesn't have any top-notch car manufacturers. Western companies look at the Chinese market as important for their sales, but not with regard to technological innovations.
Just how could China get the upper hand? The key race in the global automotive industry is all about the connected car – what China’s automotive industry leaders dub the “Internet of Vehicles”. It is important to realize that China has a number of natural advantages in this arena – as well as less “natural” ones.
Donald Trump does not come across as someone who would seek good relations with China as president of the United States. At a campaign rally on 1 May the presumptive Republican presidential candidate used blunt language when he accused China of engaging in unfair trading practices vis-à-vis the US. “We can’t continue to allow China to rape our country”, he told a crowd in Fort Wayne, a working-class city in the state of Indiana. “It’s the greatest theft in the history of the world.”
China has joined the club. With the passage of a law to govern the activities of foreign non-governmental organisations, Beijing has followed in the footsteps of many other authoritarian states. Western media mostly portrayed this move as an outright attack on civil society.
One of the hottest bets in today’s financial markets is over the question of how long China can keep selling US dollars (USD) before the People’s Bank of China runs dry. At the rate at which the central bank currently employs the country’s once legendary currency reserves to defend the Chinese yuan (CNY) against an unwelcome speed of depreciation, some investors are betting on less than three years.
On May 18-19, representatives from participating states and partner countries will gather in Berlin for an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) conference on economic connectivity. While China is not a part of the 57-member organization, the German OSCE chairmanship has invited senior Chinese officials to join the discussion.
The German economy’s innovative strength relies on its “Mittelstand”. Small and medium sized enterprises have helped Germany maintain its leadership in automation and smart manufacturing. Selling these companies to foreign investors would be equivalent to giving up Germany’s grip on the technological future.
This would be the opposite of what German government and industry leaders had in mind when they devised the Industry 4.0 strategy, which is designed to usher in the next revolution in manufacturing through the advanced digitisation of production.