China has launched a high-tech revolution. Recognizing that the country can no longer play the role of the world’s factory for cheap products, the leadership in Beijing has devised a master plan to catch up with leading industrial nations by 2049. “Made in China 2025,” intended to give Chinese industry a leg up in entering the age of smart manufacturing and interconnected production, is China’s answer to Germany’s “Industry 4.0” and to the “Industrial Internet” in the United States.
China’s fight against corruption seemed to have hit a roadblock last year. Reports suggested that the harsh campaign had tarnished rather than lifted the reputation of the central government – fueling speculations that the Xi Jinping leadership might prepare to dial it down. As it turned out, the opposite was the case. It soon became clear that the campaign would not only continue in the future, but that it would actually intensify.
Over the past decade, Chinese investments in Europe in general and in Germany in particular have grown rapidly. This deal flow has remained strong and has accelerated despite, or perhaps because of, the recent slowdown of China’s economy. In fact, Chinese investments in Europe have reached new record levels in 2016.
As images of apocalyptic smog in Beijing travelled around the world earlier this year, it would seem like a grotesque idea to envision a leading role for China in shaping global climate and energy policy in the near future. Yet China does have the potential to surpass the U.S. and the EU in energy, propulsion and environmental technologies in the medium to long term – and to become a model for reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
The newly elected U.S. President Donald Trump used his first executive order to withdraw from negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement on January 23 – dismantling the centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s ‘pivot to Asia,’ undermining American influence in the region and ceding a lot of space to China.
Chinese citizens no longer need to travel far to bring a lawsuit to the Supreme People’s Court (SPC). By the end of 2016, the SPC had established six circuit tribunals all over the country. On 21 January 2017, the newly established “third circuit tribunal” of the SPC in Nanjing started to hear its first case – a dispute about the transfer of land use rights. These new tribunals were set up as permanent courts in designated cities across China.
China’s military has left no doubt that it intends to expand its international presence beyond the Asia-Pacific region. In August, during a visit to Damascus, Rear Admiral Guan Youfei confirmed that Chinese troops would step up military training and humanitarian aid to President Bashir al-Assad’s Syrian government; only a few days later, Defense Minister Chang Wanquan said that China would strengthen military relations with Saudi Arabia. Earlier in 2016, Beijing announced that China would build its first overseas military base in Djibouti.
When Emmanuel Macron speaks about China, he can sound like Donald Trump. “We are in the midst of a battle against Chinese dumping. The Chinese are selling their products at a loss and we cannot accept this,” Macron said in late 2015 when he headed the French Ministry of the Economy.
The new U.S. president and the Chinese government have one thing in common: they look at industrial policy from a national and territorial perspective. Under his slogan “America First,” Donald Trump wants to create new jobs on U.S. territory and to defend existing jobs against imports. One of the aims of China’s “Made in China 2025” strategy is to acquire foreign technological knowledge to leapfrog the development of China’s own manufacturing sector.