Midea’s bid for Kuka: Is Germany’s Industry 4.0 for sale?


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.

Family planning in China: more children, not more rights

2016 marks the beginning of a new era for prospective parents in China. For the first time in more than three decades, the government not only allows married couples to have more than one child, but it encourages them to do so. Local authorities have started offering prolonged parental leave and an expansion of childcare facilities, and the central government is reportedly debating tax incentives to help families bear the education costs for two children.

Brexit is bad news for European China policy


There is no business as usual at today’s EU-China Summit in Beijing. The meeting is overshadowed by Beijing’s refusal to recognize the ruling of the international tribunal in The Hague that China does not have historic rights to justify its expansive claims to the South China Sea. The other elephant in the room is the UK’s vote to exit the EU. China’s leaders view the outcome of the British referendum as a sign of the EU’s dysfunction.

International unity needed on South China Sea

China’s defiance of the arbitral award on the South China Sea presents a serious challenge not only to the United States and its Asian allies, but to the entire international community. The sweeping rejection of China’s claims by a tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague has increased the risk of an escalation of tensions in the contested region, especially if China chooses to reassert its own position on the ground.

Chinese media view EU crises as sign of failing "Western system"

Over the past years, the European Union has been shaken by the Greek debt crisis, a massive influx of refugees, the rise of right-wing extremism, deadly terrorist attacks and just recently the Brexit vote in Great Britain. Researchers of Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS) analysed how these multiple crises are viewed in Chinese media.

Revamping the Communist Youth League – more than a power struggle

The Communist Youth League is where many political careers in China began. China’s former party and state leader Hu Jintao and the incumbent Premier Li Keqiang were groomed in the organization and rose through its ranks before assuming national leadership positions. And as politics in China is often explained with factions, this group of leaders became known as the “tuanpai” (团派), the “Youth League Faction”.

China's whitened White Paper on human rights


A review of China’s judicial system is a laudable effort and long overdue. Unfortunately, the new paper does not provide reliable information and raises fundamental questions of legitimacy. The State Council’s positive self-assessment stands in sharp contrast to reports on the continuing lack of fair legal process within China. It also ignores accusations of human rights violations from the United Nations (UN) and other outside parties.

China's service sector frailties may thwart key reforms


China’s economy is facing tougher times. Export-oriented mass production is no longer the growth driver it used to be and the transition to a higher-value added, innovation-driven industrial model has only just begun.

Thus there are big hopes riding on the service sector’s performance. First some facts: services accounted for 50 per cent of GDP for the first time in 2015, according to official statistics. At an expansion rate of 8.3 per cent, it was the only sector that grew faster than overall GDP, outperforming industry and agriculture.