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  • Author: Shaoyu Yuan
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Tensions in the South China Sea continue to rise. China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN)’s Rear Admiral Lou Yuan, regarded as a hawkish military commentator, recently proclaimed that the continuing dispute over the ownership of the South China Sea could be resolved by sinking two US aircraft carriers. Statements like these result in a legitimate fear that China’s increasing presence in the South China Sea might spark a kinetic military conflict with the United States. However, while most Western scholars and media are paying excessive attention to the rise of China, few are contemplating China’s weaknesses in the region. Despite China’s constant verbal objections and rising tensions with the United States in the last century, the world has yet to witness any major military confrontation between the two superpowers. China will continue to avoid directly confronting the United States in the South China Sea for at least another decade because China’s military remains immature and defective.
  • Topic: Security, Power Politics, Territorial Disputes, Grand Strategy, Conflict
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, South China, United States of America
  • Author: Obert Hodzi
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: With a few exceptions, armed civil wars are no longer commonplace in Africa, but anti-government protests are. Instead of armed rebels, unarmed civilians are challenging regimes across Africa to reconsider their governance practices and deliver both political and economic change. In their responses, regimes in countries like Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Rwanda, and Burundi have favored the combat mode—responding to dissent with military and repressive means. With few options, civilian movements look to the United States for protection and support while their governments look to China for reinforcement. If the United States seeks to reassert its influence in Africa and strengthen its democratic influence, its strategy needs to go beyond counterterrorism and respond to Africa’s pressing needs while supporting the African people in their quest for democracy and human rights.
  • Topic: Security, Conflict, State Violence, Civilians
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Ian Williams
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: For decades, China has engaged in a fervent game of “catch-up” with U.S. military capabilities. This effort, which has ballooned China’s defense spending to 620 percent of its 1990 level, is beginning to bear real fruit. While still far from achieving military parity, China’s military technology and doctrine are quickly coalescing into a coherent form of warfare, tailored to overpowering the U.S. military in a short, sharp conflict in the Eastern Pacific. This strategy of “informationized” warfare focuses first on eroding U.S. situational awareness, communications, and precision targeting capabilities.
  • Topic: Security, Science and Technology, Military Affairs, Weapons , Military Spending, Conflict, Surveillance
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: International Crisis Group
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Fighting in Myanmar’s Rakhine State is taking a rising toll. It will hinder any effort to contain COVID-19 or resolve the Rohingya crisis. Rather than trying to defeat the Arakan Army, Naypyitaw should negotiate with ethnic Rakhine, endeavouring to convince them of electoral democracy’s benefits. What’s new? The eighteen-month armed conflict between state forces and the Arakan Army in Rakhine State is Myanmar’s most intense in years. It shows no sign of de-escalation and the COVID-19 threat has not focused the parties’ minds on peace. The government’s designation of the group as terrorist will make matters worse. Why does it matter? The conflict is taking a heavy toll on civilians, with a peaceful settlement appearing more remote than ever. Without a settlement, the future of Rakhine State looks bleak, and addressing the state’s other major crisis, the situation of the Rohingya, will be even more difficult. What should be done? The conflict cannot be resolved on the battlefield. Rather than trying to prevail militarily and relying on inadequate humanitarian measures to cushion the blow, the government needs a political strategy to address Rakhine grievances and give the community renewed hope that electoral democracy can help them achieve their aspirations.
  • Topic: Minorities, Democracy, Civilians, Armed Conflict
  • Political Geography: Asia, Southeast Asia, Myanmar
  • Author: International Crisis Group
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Isolated from the international community, Myanmar is deepening its dependence on China. But closer ties, Beijing-backed megaprojects and private Chinese investment carry both risks and opportunities. Both states should proceed carefully to ensure local communities benefit and avoid inflaming deadly armed conflicts. What’s new? The Rohingya crisis has strained Myanmar’s relations with the West and much of the Global South, pushing it to rely more on diplomatic and economic support from China. With a China-Myanmar Economic Corridor proceeding, and smaller private-sector projects proliferating, China’s investments in Myanmar are poised to shift into higher gear. Why does it matter? Many of these projects are located in or near areas of active armed conflict, and are often implemented without sufficient transparency, consultation with local communities or awareness of the local context. They risk empowering armed actors, heightening local grievances and amplifying anti-Chinese sentiment, which could lead to a popular backlash. What should be done? China needs to take more responsibility for ensuring that its projects benefit local communities and Myanmar’s economy, and do not exacerbate conflict. The Myanmar government should enhance its China expertise to negotiate and regulate projects more effectively. Both sides need to practice greater transparency and meaningful community consultation.
  • Topic: International Relations, Bilateral Relations, Conflict, Economic Cooperation
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Southeast Asia, Myanmar
  • Author: International Crisis Group
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Talks to end the insurgency in Thailand’s southernmost provinces have repeatedly encountered obstacles, including the main rebel organisation’s abstention from the current round. With a new Thai official taking charge, and inviting that group to rejoin, both parties should drop objections that have hindered progress. What’s new? A peace dialogue process between the Thai government and Malay-Muslim separatists may be entering a new phase after stagnating for more than a year. A new Thai delegation chief has called for direct talks with the main insurgent group, Barisan Revolusi Nasional, which has rejected the existing dialogue. Why does it matter? Though the level of violence in Thailand’s deep south has declined over the years, recent attacks in Bangkok and Yala highlight the continuing threat. Meanwhile, civilians remain caught up in a protracted conflict that has claimed more than 7,000 lives since 2004. What should be done? The dialogue process needs a reboot, with Barisan Revolusi Nasional included. That group should prepare to engage constructively. Bangkok should overcome its aversion to international mediation and cease equating decentralisation with partition. The Thai government and Malaysia, the dialogue facilitator, should consider how to incorporate external mediation.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Negotiation, Peace
  • Political Geography: Asia, Thailand, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Telli Betül Karacan
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Studies of IS propaganda show that it uses both new and old, proven methods to recruit members and conquer new territories following the loss of its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Terrorism, Non State Actors, Fragile States, Islamic State, Conflict, Peace
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, India, Asia, North Africa, Syria
  • Author: Derek Scissors
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Partial decoupling from China is overdue. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) suppresses foreign competition and infringes intellectual property. It is an ugly dictatorship at home and increasingly aggressive overseas. Decoupling involves a range of tools and economic activities. Policymakers should quickly move to document and respond to Chinese subsidies, implement already legislated export control reform, monitor and possibly regulate outbound investment, and provide legal authority to move or keep supply chains out of the PRC. Decoupling has costs—higher prices, lower returns on investment, and lost sales. But they are dwarfed by the costs of continued Chinese economic predation and the empowerment of the Communist Party.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Derek Scissors
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: As expected given COVID-19, China’s construction and, especially, investment around the world plunged in the first half of 2020. The decline may be exaggerated by Chinese firms not wanting to report global activity, but Beijing’s happy numbers are not credible. From what little can be discerned, the Belt and Road Initiative is becoming more important, primarily because rich countries are more hostile to Chinese entities. American policy needs to shift. Incoming Chinese investment is now extremely small, but technology is still being lost due to lack of implementation of export controls. Growing American portfolio investment in China is unmonitored and may support technology thieves, human rights abusers, and other bad actors.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Investment, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Derek Scissors
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Chinese investment and construction around the world contracted in 2019, regardless of Beijing’s claims to the contrary. However, the decline is concentrated in large, headline-winning deals, and Chinese firms remain active on a smaller scale. A contraction in acquisitions in rich economies has boosted the relative importance of greenfield spending. The number of countries in the Belt and Road continues to expand, and power plant and transport construction continues to be preeminent. American policymakers were initially spurred to act by intense Chinese investment in 2016. This has dropped sharply, but there are challenges related to investment review that are more important, starting with strengthening export controls.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economy, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Investment
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Derek Scissors
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: There is a considerable chance China will stagnate by 2040, with gross domestic product growth at 1–1.5 percent. The process has started, seen most clearly in stark trends for debt and aging, but better-quality data on productivity would clarify how far along stagnation is and whether it at some point reverses. China shows no sign of adopting pro-productivity reform. It will not spur growth by leveraging or bolster a shrinking labor force through current population and education policy. Innovation will help, but a large economy requires broad innovation, and the party dislikes competition. A twist comes from China’s global position, which will not deteriorate much. Outbound investment has retrenched, and the yuan’s rise was exaggerated. Consumption exports and commodities imports will stall. But China will easily be a top-two market in most sectors, and other countries are not acting to displace it. Instead, localization will occur. Commodities producers and some developing countries will lose, the latter as Chinese capital dries up. Countries that make difficult reforms will win. Consumer goods will see inflation, but innovation will be healthier with less Chinese influence. American firms will seek new pastures, and Chinese stagnation means production may relocate to the US.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, GDP, Economic growth
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Terry Babcock-Lumish, Tania Chacho, Tom Fox, Zachary Griffiths
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: As the Indo-Pacific region enters a period of uncertainty, this monograph details the proceedings of West Point’s 2019 Senior Conference 55. Scholars and practitioners convened to discuss and debate strategic changes, and experts shared thoughts during keynote addresses and panels on economics, security, technology, and potential futures in this critically important region.
  • Topic: Security, Science and Technology, Military Strategy, Armed Forces, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Asia, North America, United States of America, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Andrew Watkins
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The U.S. and Afghan governments have, at various times, intentionally pursued strategies of “divide and defeat” in an attempt to fragment and weaken the Taliban. These approaches have proved ineffective and, as long as peace efforts are being pursued, should be discontinued. Contrary to lingering narratives from earlier eras of the Afghan conflict, the Taliban today are a relatively cohesive insurgent group and are unlikely to fragment in the near term. This has not happened by accident: the Taliban’s leadership has consistently, at times ruthlessly, worked to retain and strengthen its organizational cohesion. To this day, the group is unwilling to cross internal “red lines” that might threaten that cohesion. The literature on insurgency and negotiated peace suggests that only cohesive movements are capable of following through and enforcing peace agreements. Many of the feared scenarios of Taliban fragmentation, including the defection of “hard-liners” or mass recruitment by the Islamic State, do not correspond to current realities on the ground. Fragmentation of the Taliban is not impossible, and the group is certainly far from monolithic, but ideological rifts are not a sufficient explanation of why this has taken place in the past—or might again. By studying what makes the Taliban cohesive and what has caused instances of its fragmentation, all parties invested in an Afghan peace process might be better equipped to negotiate with the Taliban under terms the movement would be willing to accept, even if it has not defined those terms publicly. This report examines the phenomenon of insurgent fragmentation within Afghanistan’s Taliban and implications for the Afghan peace process. This study, which the author undertook as an independent researcher supported by the Asia Center at the U.S. Institute of Peace, is based on a survey of the academic literature on insurgency, civil war, and negotiated peace, as well as on interviews the author conducted in Afghanistan in 2019 and 2020.
  • Topic: Non State Actors, Taliban, Conflict, Negotiation, Peace
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Mirka Martel
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Institute of International Education
  • Abstract: The Institute of International Education (IIE) is studying the effects of COVID‐19 (coronavirus) on global student mobility on U.S. higher education campuses. Our aim in this series is to provide more information about the effects that COVID‐19 has had on international student mobility, and the measures U.S. higher education institutions are taking regarding international students currently on campus and those abroad, international students interested in studying in the United States, and U.S. students planning to study abroad. The first survey was launched on Feb. 13, 2020, and specifically focuses on the effects of COVID‐19 with regard to academic student mobility to and from China. As the COVID‐19 outbreak evolves, IIE will administer follow‐on surveys to the U.S. higher education community to monitor the unfolding situation and to keep the international education community informed.
  • Topic: Education, Health, Youth, Mobility, Higher Education, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Patryk Kugiel
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The Trump administration recognises the “Indo-Pacific” region—which in official terminology has replaced “Asia-Pacific”—as the most important area for maintaining U.S. global dominance by confronting China. The anti-China approach in the American strategy is not shared by other countries that also are developing Indo-Pacific policy because they are concerned about the negative effects of the U.S.-China rivalry. The Americans will put pressure on their NATO and EU allies to more strongly support the achievement of U.S. goals in the region. However, the EU approach is closer to that of the Asian countries in seeking cooperation and strengthening the stability of a cooperative and rules-based regional order.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Geopolitics, Grand Strategy, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America, European Union, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Marcin Przychodniak
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: China’s cooperation with the Western Balkans through the “17+1” format and Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), among others, is primarily political. In the economic sphere, Chinese investments are to a large extent only declarations, and trade is marginal in comparison to cooperation with the EU or others. China’s goals are to gain political influence in future EU countries and limit their cooperation with the U.S. Competition with China in the region requires more intense EU-U.S. cooperation, made more difficult by the pandemic.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, International Trade and Finance, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Investment, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, Balkans
  • Author: Lauren Speranza
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Tackling hybrid threats, particularly from state actors such as Russia and China, remains one of the greatest challenges for the transatlantic community. Hybrid threats have gained more traction among policymakers and publics across Europe and the United States, especially in a world with COVID-19. Over the last five years, Euro-Atlantic nations and institutions, such as NATO and the European Union (EU), have taken important steps to respond to hybrid issues. But, as hybrid threats become more prominent in the future, policymakers must move toward a more coherent, effective, and proactive strategy for countering Russian and Chinese hybrid threats. To develop such a transatlantic counter-hybrid strategy for Russia and China, this paper argues that two major things need to happen. First, transatlantic policymakers have to build a common strategic concept to guide collective thinking on hybrid threats. Second, transatlantic policymakers need to take a range of practical actions in service of that strategic concept. In a strategic concept for countering Russian and Chinese hybrid threats, Lauren Speranza offers five strategic priorities that could form the basis of this strategic concept and presents a series of constructive steps that NATO, the EU, and nations can take, in cooperation with the private sector and civil society, to enhance their counter-hybrid capabilities against Russia and China.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO, Diplomacy, Politics, Science and Technology, European Union, Innovation, Resilience, Non-Traditional Threats
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Europe, Eurasia, Asia
  • Author: T. X. Hammes
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: For the last two decades, China has studied the US military, identified its key weaknesses, and developed the tactics and forces best suited to exploit those vulnerabilities. These challenges are compounded by significant deficiencies in today’s US joint force across all domains of conflict—sea, air, land, space, electronic warfare, and cyber. Proposed budgets cannot overcome those deficiencies using legacy systems. Therefore, the current US military strategy for the defense of Asia—a conventional defense of the first island chain from Japan to the Philippines, built on current air and sea platforms supported by major air and sea bases—needs to be adapted. The United States and its allies have two major advantages they can exploit—geography and emerging technologies. In Forward Defense’s inaugural report, An Affordable Defense of Asia, T.X. Hammes crafts a strategy for leveraging these advantages. Hammes makes the case that by developing novel operational concepts that take advantage of emerging technologies, while integrating these concepts into a broader Offshore Control Strategy which seeks to hold geostrategic chokepoints, the United States can improve its warfighting posture and bolster conventional deterrence. This paper advances the following arguments and recommendations. 1. The geography of the Pacific provides significant strategic, operational, and tactical advantages to a defender. 2. New operational concepts that employ emerging, relatively inexpensive technologies—including multimodal missiles, long-range air drones, smart sea mines, and unmanned naval vessels—can support an affordable defense of Asia. 3. These new technologies can and should be manufactured and fielded by US allies in the region in order to strengthen alliance relationships and improve their ability to defend themselves. 4. Autonomous weapons will be essential to an affordable defense of Asia.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: China, East Asia, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Tate Nurkin, Ryo Hinata-Yamaguchi
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Geopolitical and security dynamics are shifting in the Indo-Pacific as states across the region adjust to China’s growing influence and the era of great-power competition between the United States and China. These geopolitical shifts are also intersecting with the accelerating rate of innovation in technologies associated with the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) to reshape the future of military-technological competition and emerging military operations. This report, Emerging Technologies and the Future of US-Japan Defense Collaboration, by Tate Nurkin and Ryo Hinata-Yamaguchi, explores the drivers, tensions, and constraints shaping US-Japan collaboration on emerging defense technologies while providing concrete recommendations for the US-Japan alliance to accelerate and intensify long-standing military and defense-focused coordination and collaboration.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, International Cooperation, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: Japan, East Asia, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Mordechai Chaziza
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: The Middle East was already plagued by war, famine, and wholesale death in the form of multiple civil wars when the outbreak of Covid-19, a novel coronavirus, added pestilence to the mix. The pandemic offers a unique prism through which to assess the way China interacts with Middle Eastern states in time of crisis. While many countries in the Middle East suspended bilateral air travel, repatriated their citizens from China, and prevented Chinese workers from returning to the region, the same governments also sought to maintain close relations, expressed support for Beijing, and delivered aid to China. The findings show that at least for now, the relationship between China and the Middle Eastern states remains close. However, it may take months to see the full ramifications of the pandemic in the Middle East, so it is too soon to tell how China’s interactions with the countries of the region will develop.
  • Topic: International Relations, Health, Bilateral Relations, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Mohammed Cherkaoui
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Al Jazeera Center for Studies
  • Abstract: One should highlight the distance between fiction and reality. However, a number of China politics observers and Western military officials have claimed a strong link between Coronavirus and recent research conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
  • Topic: Geopolitics, Neoliberalism, Coronavirus, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Jean-Pierre Cabestan
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Al Jazeera Center for Studies
  • Abstract: China has tried to take advantage of the Coronavirus crisis to boost its international role and status. Nonetheless, China’s own mistakes in battling the virus as well as diplomatic aggressiveness have raised doubts about its capacity to become a world leader.
  • Topic: Geopolitics, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Health Crisis
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Kevin Rudd
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Asia Society Policy Institute
  • Abstract: Throughout the recent 18 months of the U.S.-China trade war, which has landed in a “phase one” deal, and awaits the tackling of more difficult economic elements in phase two negotiations, there has been a slow and steady structural shift in the U.S.-China relationship as it continues to head in a more adversarial direction. Against the backdrop of this drift toward confrontation occurring in the absence of any common strategic understanding or high-level diplomatic mechanism to manage the mounting economic, security, and technological tensions into the future, Asia Society Policy Institute President the Hon. Kevin Rudd brings together a series of speeches delivered during 2019 in the collection, The Avoidable War: The Case for Managed Strategic Competition. This volume works to help make sense of where the U.S.-China relationship is heading in the current period of strategic competition, and follows on from Rudd’s 2018 collection, The Avoidable War: Reflections on U.S.-China Relations and the End of Strategic Engagement. In this new volume, Rudd focuses not only on the bilateral relationship, but also on China's domestic politics, economics, and its strategic vision. But on the bilateral relationship, Rudd writes that while there may be a truce of sorts on the trade front during 2020, that will not be the case across the rest of the economic, political, and security relationship. Challenges will continue in areas such as the future of 5G mobile telecommunications infrastructure, the Belt and Road Initiative, Xinjiang, Hong Kong, allegations of Chinese political influence and interference in foreign countries’ internal democratic processes, and China’s increasingly close strategic collaboration with Russia. Militarily, tensions will continue in the East China Sea, the South China Sea, and the wider Indo-Pacific, together with confrontations less visible to the public eye in espionage, cyber, and space. Against this backdrop, and the steady erosion of diplomatic and political capital in the overall relationship, Rudd asserts that the “2020s loom as a decade of living dangerously in the U.S.-China relationship.” The Avoidable War: The Case for Managed Strategic Competition includes six speeches from 2019 covering a range of critical challenges in the U.S.-China relationship, as well as a December 2019 conversation at the Harvard Kennedy School which begins to outline an approach to managing the growing tinderbox of tensions across the spectrum of the bilateral relationship.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations, Trade, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Jake Wallis, Tom Uren, Elise Thomas, Albert Zhang, Samantha Hoffman, Lin Li, Alex Pascoe, Danielle Cave
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • Abstract: This report analyses a persistent, large-scale influence campaign linked to Chinese state actors on Twitter and Facebook. This activity largely targeted Chinese-speaking audiences outside of the Chinese mainland (where Twitter is blocked) with the intention of influencing perceptions on key issues, including the Hong Kong protests, exiled Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui and, to a lesser extent Covid-19 and Taiwan. Extrapolating from the takedown dataset, to which we had advanced access, given to us by Twitter, we have identified that this operation continues and has pivoted to try to weaponise the US Government’s response to current domestic protests and create the perception of a moral equivalence with the suppression of protests in Hong Kong.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Internet, Social Media, COVID-19, Misinformation , Twitter
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Albert Zhang, Elise Thomas
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • Abstract: This new research highlights the growing significance and impact of Chinese non-state actors on western social media platforms. Across March and April 2020, this loosely coordinated pro-China trolling campaign on Twitter has: Harassed and mimicked western media outlets; Impersonated Taiwanese users in an effort to undermine Taiwan’s position with the World Health Organisation (WHO); Spread false information about the Covid-19 outbreak; Joined in pre-existing inauthentic social media campaigns.
  • Topic: World Health Organization, Non State Actors, Geopolitics, Social Media, COVID-19, Misinformation , Twitter
  • Political Geography: China, Taiwan, Asia, Australia
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • Abstract: A range of actors are manipulating the information environment to exploit the Covid-19 crisis for strategic gain. ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre is tracking many of these state and non-state actors online and will occasionally publish investigative data-driven reporting that will focus on the use of disinformation, propaganda, extremist narratives and conspiracy theories. The bulk of ASPI’s data analysis uses our in-house Influence Tracker tool—a machine learning and data analytics capability that draws out insights from multi-language social media datasets. This report includes three case studies that feature China, Taiwan, Russia and Africa
  • Topic: Internet, Social Media, COVID-19, Misinformation
  • Political Geography: Africa, Russia, China, Taiwan, Asia
  • Author: Thitinan Pongsudhirak
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • Abstract: After more than five years of military-authoritarian government following its 13th successful coup in May 2014, Thailand’s most recent elections on 24 March 2019 yielded a controversial parliament and a fractious post-election coalition government, headed by incumbent Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. This report argues that despite the challenges of domestic political preoccupations and the Covid-19 pandemic crisis, Thailand’s strategic role in the Indo-Pacific is too important to be marginalized and that the country is an indispensable piece of the regional jigsaw puzzle in an era of global power shifts and transitions. The current Sino-US competition involves far-reaching battleground between democracy and authoritarianism, and Thailand – one of America’s oldest treaty ally with increasingly close ties with China – is strategically consequential. The report explains the complexity of Thai’s foreign policy and implications for Australia.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, National Security, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: Asia, Australia, Thailand, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Anthony Bergin, Tony Press
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • Abstract: Given recent broader tensions in the China–Australia relationship, China’s global ambitions, lack of progress on key Antarctic policy initiatives and the potential for significant geopolitical consequences for the future of Antarctica and for Australia’s strategic interests, it’s important that Australian policymakers reconsider our long-term Antarctic policy settings. The report found no clear evidence that China is violating the Antarctic Treaty. But it argues we should apply a more sharply focused assessment of the costs and benefits of cooperation, given China’s more assertive international posture and increasing interests in Antarctica. The recommendations in the report are designed to maximise the value and mitigate the downside risks of China engagement for our Antarctic and broader national interests. Overall, we should adopt a more transactional approach in our Antarctic engagement with China, making it clear what we require from cooperation and what we expect from China. Given the track record Beijing has in moving rapidly on a broad front, as it’s done in the South China Sea, we need to be prepared to respond to a rapid increase in the speed and scale of China’s actions in Antarctica.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Climate Change, National Security, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Australia, Australia/Pacific, Antarctica
  • Author: Vicky Xiuzhong Xu, Danielle Cave, James Leibold, Kelsey Munro, Nathan Ruser
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • Abstract: The Chinese government has facilitated the mass transfer of Uyghur and other ethnic minority1 citizens from the far west region of Xinjiang to factories across the country. Under conditions that strongly suggest forced labour, Uyghurs are working in factories that are in the supply chains of at least 82 well-known global brands in the technology, clothing and automotive sectors, including Apple, BMW, Gap, Huawei, Nike, Samsung, Sony and Volkswagen. This report estimates that more than 80,000 Uyghurs were transferred out of Xinjiang to work in factories across China between 2017 and 2019, and some of them were sent directly from detention camps.2 The estimated figure is conservative and the actual figure is likely to be far higher. In factories far away from home, they typically live in segregated dormitories,3 undergo organised Mandarin and ideological training outside working hours,4 are subject to constant surveillance, and are forbidden from participating in religious observances.5 Numerous sources, including government documents, show that transferred workers are assigned minders and have limited freedom of movement.6 China has attracted international condemnation for its network of extrajudicial ‘re-education camps’ in Xinjiang.7 This report exposes a new phase in China’s social re-engineering campaign targeting minority citizens, revealing new evidence that some factories across China are using forced Uyghur labour under a state-sponsored labour transfer scheme that is tainting the global supply chain.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Science and Technology, Labor Issues, Minorities, Business , Uyghurs
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Australia
  • Author: Medea Ivaniadze
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgian Foundation for Strategic International Studies -GFSIS
  • Abstract: The digest covers China’s political, diplomatic, economic and other activities in the South Caucasus region and relations between China and the South Caucasus countries. It relies on a wide variety of sources, including the Chinese media. It is worth noting that the Chinese media is controlled by the Communist Party of China (according to the World Press Freedom Index China is nearly at the bottom of the list and ranks 177th out of 180 countries).
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Politics, Media, Economy, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
  • Political Geography: China, Eurasia, Caucasus, Asia, South Caucasus
  • Author: Peter A. Dutton, Isaac B. Kardon, Conor M. Kennedy
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: China Maritime Studies Institute, U.S. Naval War College
  • Abstract: This China Maritime Report on Djibouti is the first in a series of case studies on China’s “overseas strategic strongpoints” (海外战略支点). The strategic strongpoint concept has no formal definition, but is used by People’s Republic of China (PRC) officials and analysts to describe foreign ports with special strategic and economic value that host terminals and commercial zones operated by Chinese firms.
  • Topic: Economics, Military Strategy, Military Affairs, Geopolitics, Navy, Oceans and Seas, Seapower, Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Port, People's Republic of China (PRC)
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, Asia, Djibouti, East Africa
  • Author: Daniel Caldwell, Joseph Freda, Lyle J. Goldstein
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: China Maritime Studies Institute, U.S. Naval War College
  • Abstract: China’s naval modernization, a process that has been underway in earnest for three decades, is now hitting its stride. The advent of the Type 055 cruiser firmly places the PLAN among the world’s very top naval services. This study, which draws upon a unique set of Chinese-language writings, offers the first comprehensive look at this new, large surface combatant. It reveals a ship that has a stealthy design, along with a potent and seemingly well-integrated sensor suite. With 112 VLS cells, moreover, China’s new cruiser represents a large magazine capacity increase over legacy surface combatants. Its lethality might also be augmented as new, cutting edge weaponry could later be added to the accommodating design. This vessel, therefore, provides very substantial naval capability to escort Chinese carrier groups, protect Beijing’s long sea lanes, and take Chinese naval diplomacy to an entirely new and daunting level. Even more significant perhaps, the Type 055 will markedly expand the range and firepower of the PLAN and this could substantially impact myriad potential conflict scenarios, from the Indian Ocean to the Korean Peninsula and many in between. This study of Type 055 development, moreover, does yield evidence that Chinese naval strategists are acutely aware of major dilemmas confronting the U.S. Navy surface fleet.
  • Topic: Military Strategy, Military Affairs, Geopolitics, Navy, Oceans and Seas, Seapower, Chinese Communist Party (CCP), People's Republic of China (PRC)
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Egoh Aziz
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Nkafu Policy Institute
  • Abstract: The recent outbreak of COVID-19 has caused waves of horror and anxiety across many nations in the world. Considering the intense unravelling of the pandemic, no exact figure as per the number of confirmed and death cases worldwide is definite because the situation changes almost every hour. However, on April 14, 2020 3:40 GMT, Worldometer reported 210 countries and territories across the globe having a total of 1,925,179 confirmed cases, and a dead toll of 119,699 deaths. The impact of the pandemic is disastrous globally affecting a variety of sectors including the service and supply chain, as well as trade, manufacturing, and tourism. This article aims to provide a synoptic assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on Sino-African trade activities. It stresses that, if African policymakers revamp their efforts to quickly address COVID-19, the human casualty will be less and African economic growth may experience lesser shock as previewed by the IMF. On the other hand, if they relent their efforts, the human casualty will soar while the growth rate may decline. The effect of COVID-19’s outbreak in China has caused a slowdown on exports and services directed towards China.According to statistics from the General Administration of Customs of China, in 2018, China’s total import and export volume with Africa was US$204.19 billion, a yearly increase of 19.7%, surpassing the total growth rate of foreign trade in the same period by 7.1 percentage points. Among these, China’s exports to Africa were US$104.91 billion, up 10.8% and China’s imports from Africa were US$99.28 billion, up 30.8%; the surplus was US$5.63 billion, down 70.0% every year. The growth rate of Sino African trade was the highest in the world in 2018. This shows that Sino-African trade has a significant contribution to the growth of African economies.
  • Topic: Economics, Health, International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, Trade, Coronavirus, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, Asia, Cameroon
  • Author: Bradley O. Babson
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Since his first-annual New Year’s speech in 2012 setting North Korea’s policy priorities, Kim Jong Un has emphasized his commitment to economic development, notably promising his people that they will never have to tighten their belts again. The Byunjin policy of equally prioritizing economic development and security through nuclear and missile programs reflects Kim’s desire to assure regime stability by delivering broad-based economic development while establishing a security environment that deters external threats and potential domestic unrest. While United States policy has used sanctions and other pressures to stymie Kim’s ambitions, the Kim regime has nonetheless modestly furthered economic development and significantly advanced security through its nuclear and missile testing programs.
  • Topic: Security, Development, Economics, Human Rights, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: Asia, North Korea, North America, United States of America
  • Author: John J. Chin
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Hong Kong, once renowned as an apolitical and orderly British entrepôt, is now seething with political discontent, student unrest, and pro-democracy protests. Nothing less than the future of “one country, two systems”—the framework through which China agreed to maintain Hong Kong’s autonomy for fifty years in exchange for British agreement to restore Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty in July 1997 after more than a century of British administration—is at stake.
  • Topic: Government, History, Social Movement, Law, Democracy, Protests
  • Political Geography: Asia, Hong Kong
  • Author: Barry Zellen
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: With Greenland making front page news, the world’s attention is turned to the Arctic. And yet, this region has been the focus of increasingly consequential geopolitical competition for centuries, whether for furs, whales, fish stocks, gold, oil, strategic-military corridors, or (particularly as the ice has retreated) maritime trade routes. In recent years, China has articulated an invigorated vision of Arctic engagement as part of its Polar Silk Road strategy—a component of its broader Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). In its 2018 white paper on Arctic policy, China described itself as a “near-Arctic” state, a definition that has proven controversial and that, earlier this year, was publicly rejected by U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo at an Arctic Council (AC) ministerial: “Beijing claims to be a ‘Near-Arctic State,’ yet the shortest distance between China and the Arctic is 900 miles. There are only Arctic States and Non-Arctic States. No third category exists, and claiming otherwise entitles China to exactly nothing.” Such a visible diplomatic smackdown in a forum better known for its consensus governance and multilateral approach to Arctic issues generated headlines (and some indignation) worldwide. But Pompeo is right—China cannot reasonably be considered a “near-Arctic” state, owing to its lack of geographical, climatic, and cultural attributes of the Arctic. What kind of seat at which tables a state receives is determined, to a significant degree, by its claims to have a say in the region (combined with its capacity to persuade other states of the merits of its claims), so Beijing’s assertion of near-Arctic statehood weighs on the balance of power and diplomacy in the Arctic region.
  • Topic: Power Politics, Natural Resources, Geopolitics, Trade
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Arctic
  • Author: International Crisis Group
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Bangladesh is hosting nearly a million Rohingya refugees who have little hope of going home any time soon. The government should move to improve camp living conditions, in particular by lifting the education ban and fighting crime. Donors should support such steps. What’s new? Two years after atrocities in Myanmar’s Rakhine State drove a wave of Rohingya refugees into Bangladesh, prospects for repatriation remain dim. Frustrated Bangladeshi authorities refuse to plan for the long term, have introduced stringent security measures at refugee camps, and may move some refugees to a remote island, Bhasan Char. Why did it happen? The Bangladeshi government is struggling with growing security challenges near the refugee camps and domestic political pressure to resolve the crisis. It is also irritated by the lack of progress in repatriating any of the estimated one million Rohingya refugees on its soil. Why does it matter? Dhaka’s restrictions on aid activities prohibit its partners from building safe housing in the Rohingya camps or developing programs that cultivate refugee self-reliance. Combined with heavy-handed security measures, this approach risks alienating refugees and setting the stage for greater insecurity and conflict in southern Bangladesh. What should be done? While pressing for eventual repatriation, Bangladesh and external partners should move past short-term planning and work together to build safe housing, improve refugees’ educational and livelihood opportunities, and support refugee-hosting communities. Dhaka should also roll back its counterproductive security measures and plans for relocations to Bhasan Char.
  • Topic: Security, Minorities, Refugees, Ethnic Cleansing, Rohingya
  • Political Geography: Bangladesh, Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: International Crisis Group
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The Kaesong Industrial Complex, closed since 2016, was the most successful joint economic venture undertaken by North and South Korea. Reopening the manufacturing zone, with improvements to efficiency and worker protections, could help broker wider cooperation and sustain peace talks on the peninsula. What’s new? In 2016, South Korea shuttered the Kaesong Industrial Complex, breaking a modest but productive connection between the two Koreas. Crisis Group’s analysis sheds new light on the economic performance of firms operating at the Complex, demonstrating that the benefits for the South were greater than previously understood. Why does it matter? Beyond helping restart the stalled peace process, a deal to reopen the Complex in exchange for a proportionate step toward denuclearisation by North Korea could produce mutual economic benefits that help sustain South Korean support for talks and encourage Pyongyang’s commitment to peaceful relations. What should be done? As part of any deal to reopen the Complex, Seoul and Pyongyang should take steps to address problems that previously kept it from reaching its potential. The more efficiently, profitably and fairly it works, the better the Complex can help foster and maintain stable, peaceful relations between the Koreas.
  • Topic: Economics, Bilateral Relations, Negotiation, Peace
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North Korea, Korea
  • Author: International Crisis Group
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The new autonomous Bangsamoro region in Muslim Mindanao promises to address longstanding local grievances and drivers of militancy in the Philippines. But the Bangsamoro leadership faces steep challenges in disarming thousands of former militants, reining in other Islamist groups and transitioning from guerrillas to government. What’s new? A new autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao marks the culmination of 22 years of negotiations between the Philippine government and the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). This breakthrough follows a five-month battle in 2017 for Marawi City by pro-ISIS fighters who, though on the defensive, still pose a threat. Why does it matter? The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region should represent the end of the Moro conflict with the Philippine state. Proponents portray it as an “antidote to extremism”. But the new administration has to confront a corrupt, inefficient local bureaucracy, clan conflict and ongoing violence by pro-ISIS groups. What should be done? The Bangsamoro government, with Manila’s and donors’ support, should respond to the grievances of those in Muslim Mindanao sceptical of the new autonomous region, help 30,000 MILF fighters return to civilian life, try to win over Islamist armed groups outside the peace process and redouble efforts to deliver social services.
  • Topic: Non State Actors, Violent Extremism, Crisis Management, Armed Conflict
  • Political Geography: Asia, Philippines
  • Author: Ninna Nyberg Sørensen, Sine Plambech, Paolo Cuttitta, Gioconda Herrera, Ulla Dalum Berg, Sealing Cheng
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Concern about the politisation of humanitarian principles and action is not new. As conflicts and emergencies have become ever more complex and the desire to hinder derived effects of cross-border movements by just about any means possible has intensified, humanitarian organisations and the work they do have nevertheless attracted increasing critical scrutiny, both within the organisations as well as from various external quarters including both governments and academics (albeit on different grounds). The Report ‘Global perspectives on humanitarianism: When human welfare meets the political and security agendas’ is based oncomprehensive research undertaken in Europe, Latin America and Asia. It takesissue with various questions and dilemmas emerging from humanitarian relief practices. Can you avoid political instrumentalization when reducing harm withoutchanging the structures that produce harm in the first place (e.g. poverty, war or insecurity)?What happens to humanitarianism when those in need of protection have different perspectives on the kinds of interventions that would relive them from suffering (e.g. access to asylum and work rather than food provisions)? And what critical lessons can be learned from exploring the wider effects of rescuing migrants from high-risk journeys as part of the governance of global migration? Apart from an introduction to humanitarianism in the context of global migration and refugee movements, the report consists of three individual case studies focusing on respectively humanitarianism enacted on the maritime EU border in the central Mediterranean; a variety of recent state-defined migration crises in Latin America deriving from Cuban, Haitian and Venezuelan mass migrations combined with massive forced return movements of nationals deported from the United States and Europe; and, finally, the tensions between asylum seekers and the organisations that pledge to assist them in Hong Kong. Together, the contributions raise important questions of the directions humanitarianism may take during moments defined as ‘crisis’.
  • Topic: Humanitarian Aid, Migration, Refugee Issues
  • Political Geography: Asia, South America, Latin America
  • Author: Mona Kanwal Sheikh
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: In recent decades, news media all over the world have increasingly covered the issue of human trafficking. Human trafficking is a notoriously complex subject involving migration, border politics, gender, consent, agency and morality. Yet, simplistic ideas and framings of human trafficking often end up shaping broader understandings of human trafficking in policy and the public sphere. This report is written by DIIS Senior Researcher Sine Plambech and journalist Maria Brus Pedersen. The aim is not only to provide insights into the framing of human trafficking in the Danish media, but furthermore to serve as a learning tool for journalists covering human trafficking. An analysis of this type has not been undertaken in Denmark before and thus provides the reader with new insights into the evolution of how the Danish media framed human trafficking from 2010 to 2019. The report has three main findings: First, the framing of human trafficking in the Danish media has changed significantly over the past decade, from mainly covering human trafficking solely as a matter of prostitution and a human rights issue for women in 2010 to becoming an issue of migration with security and legal implications in 2019. As such there has been a development away from a focus on women’s ‘bodies’ to a focus on ‘borders’ and migration politics. Secondly, in comparison to 2010, today the media more commonly describe the trafficking of men to forced labor and human trafficking generally to other sectors than prostitution. Yet, the framing continues to be significantly gendered. Though identified victims of trafficking in Denmark are most usually migrants, the men are framed primarily as migrant workers in exploitative situations, whereas the women are described as victims of trafficking. This gendered framing derives primarily from the perspective that prostitution is victimizing by default and is not seen as a kind of work. Thirdly, despite the more nuanced framing, a simplistic sensationalist language still risks dehumanizing and overshadowing the complexity of human trafficking. In particular, this is because it is the media, rather than those who have been identified as victims of trafficking, who use these terms to describe their situation, as some of the journalists also confirmed. The report has a number of suggestions for journalists covering issues of human trafficking, some of them being; Be cautious with language. There is often a difference between the language used by politicians and NGOs and the language used by migrant workers to describe their situations. Sensationalist language like ‘prostitutes’, ‘sex slaves’ and ‘meat markets’ are loaded terms that contribute to marginalization and stigmatization. Migrant workers are not only victims of trafficking, they have agency in respect of their own migration trajectories: the one does not exclude the other. Human trafficking can be used as a yardstick for many different political agendas: consider which agendas you might be contributing to. Consider using counter narratives, activist reporting and investigative journalism as these approaches contribute to expanding our understanding of human trafficking. This report is published by DIIS · Danish Institute for International Studies with funding from the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS), in partnership with the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • Topic: Al Qaeda, Islamic State, Jihad
  • Political Geography: Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Derek Scissors
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Contrasting China at various stages of reform to Japan and Korea at analogous stages shows China as less successful. The payoff is personal income, where China’s growth in local currency terms is similar to Japan’s. But it is slower than Korea’s, and, in comparable dollar terms, China is far behind Korea and Japan 40 years into the respective “miracles.” In evaluating key contributors to income gains—agricultural productivity, labor quantity and quality, leveraging, and innovation—China failed to extend education in the first 25 years of reform. A recent failure is the explosion in leveraging in the past decade. Other indicators of success roughly match Japan but trail Korea. China’s size makes it important even with less development success. For example, Chinese research and development spending affects the world while being inadequate to offset aging and indebtedness. When projecting economic size, though, trend extension is misleading. Korea and Japan illuminate how innovation and other factors will alter China’s trajectory.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Economics, Reform
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, Asia, Korea
  • Author: Nicholas Eberstadt, Ashton M. Verdery, Zeng Yi, Wang Zhenglian, Wang Feng, Shen Ke, Cai Yang, David E. Scharff, Jacqueline Deal, Michael Szonyi
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Over 2,500 years of family tradition in China is on an unavoidable collision course with 21st-century China’s new demographic realities. The demographic forces transforming the Chinese family are extraordinary and historically unprecedented. Curiously, despite the small library of studies on population change in modern China, little has been written on what these changes in the Chinese family portend. This cross-disciplinary volume is an exploratory foray into that intellectual terra incognita. The chapters in this volume describe the demographic dimensions of the changes in family structure already underway and visible out to the horizon, as well as their implications for China’s people, economy, and role in the world. The volume features works by authors Ashton M. Verdery; Zeng Yi and Wang Zhenglian; Wang Feng, Shen Ke and Cai Yong; David E. Scharff; and Jacqueline Deal and Michael Szonyi—leading scholars in their respective fields.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Demographics, Family
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Nicholas Eberstadt, Alex Coblin
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Due to extremely low levels of fertility over the past generation, urban China now requires a constant inflow of rural migrants to maintain, much less increase, the workforce in China’s cities. Beijing’s current official “urbanization drive” is attempting to bolster China’s flagging economic growth rates by accelerating the movement of peasants into the cities. But since most highly skilled labor from the countryside is already working in urban areas, the next wave of migrants may be less productive than authorities anticipate. “Migration with Chinese Characteristics” means police state controls on urban influx, including Beijing’s notorious hukou system for individual identification and registration. Since authorities still prevent most migrants from obtaining new hukou where they currently reside and work, China now has hundreds of millions of “illegal aliens” toiling in its cities. The urbanization drive does not plan to fix this problem.
  • Topic: Demographics, Migration, Urbanization, Population Growth
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Gary J. Schmitt, Michael Mazza
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) interference in Taiwan’s democracy—efforts to influence politics in Taiwan through both overt and covert, both legal and illicit means—is a matter of importance not only for Taiwan but for the United States as well. As the Taiwan Relations Act (1979) states unequivocally, “It is the policy of the United States … to consider any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means … a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and of gave concern to the United States.” The issue of PRC interference in Taiwan’s democracy came to a head in the November 2018 elections for local mayors, county magistrates, and township councils. Although the exact extent of the interference is difficult to quantify, that it existed is not difficult to see. And while the margins of electoral victories for the Kuomintang (KMT) suggest that the interference was unlikely to have been decisive in many or most instances, the PRC’s efforts almost certainly boosted KMT candidates and eased their paths to victory. Understanding the level and character of this interference is important if for no other reason than that future elections—such as the upcoming national election for president and the legislative assembly in January 2020—may be closer and, in such elections, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) influence operations could well make a real difference. For Americans, understanding what happened in Taiwan is undoubtedly informed by our own recent experience with foreign interference in elections. But there are important differences to be kept in mind and which make the case of China and Taiwan unique. First, China has the advantage of being ethnically and linguistically far more in sync with Taiwan than Russia could ever be with the United States. Second, the United States is a country of 330 million. As sophisticated as the Russian operation might have been, Moscow’s capacity to move the electoral meter in the United States was always going to be marginal, even if important in key instances.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics, Democracy, Foreign Interference
  • Political Geography: China, Taiwan, Asia
  • Author: Neena Shenai, Joshua Meltzer
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The US–China economic relationship has reached a critical juncture. Over the past year, the US has imposed tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports and China has retaliated, raising tariffs on a similar amount of US exports. At the G-20 leaders’ summit in November 2018, Presidents Trump and Xi agreed to resolve the trade dispute within 90 days—by March 1, 2019, though this deadline has been recently extended. The US concerns that underpin these bilateral trade tensions stem from specific practices endemic to China’s economic model that systematically tilt the playing field in favor of Chinese companies domestically and globally. Progress on specific trade issues will require China to comply with its World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments and to make certain reforms that will likely touch on areas of state control over the economy. In addition, new trade rules are needed to address China’s economic practices not covered by its WTO commitments, including in areas such as state-owned enterprises (SOEs), certain subsidies, and digital trade. These issues also come at a time of increasing US concern over the national security risks China presents, particularly with respect to technology access. All of these matters underscore the complexity of US-China bilateral negotiations as well as the stakes at play. Resolving US-China differences in a meaningful way will take time. This policy brief assesses the state of the US-China trade relationship by first looking at the economic impact on the US The policy brief then looks at why the Chinese economic model is so concerning. Despite the challenges the US has had at the WTO, the policy brief argues that the WTO should be central to resolving US-China trade tensions. We outline a multi-prong strategy, including bilateral, multilateral, and unilateral actions as well as working with allies that together would constitute positive next steps for this critical economic relationship. In taking this multifaceted approach, the US needs to stay true to its values and not accept short-term gains or “fig leaf” deals. In particular, creating a managed trade relationship with China would not be a constructive outcome. Instead, the US should work with China to agree on long term solutions. The resulting deal should address the real issues at hand in a free market manner and strengthen the multilateral global trading system and rule of law that the US has championed in the post-World War II era.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Economy, Trade
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Derek Scissors
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: When will China pass the US in economic size? “The year 2030” is not a bad estimate, but so is “never.” Claims that China’s economy is already the world’s largest may be exaggerated by up to 30 percent. They are also dubious because purchasing power parity often does not hold. National wealth is not well measured, either, but shows the American lead expanding. The more popular belief that China is smaller than the US but will catch up soon is similarly unconvincing. Chinese government statistics are unreliable, since Beijing publishes sanitized data and many transactions may be close to worthless. More important, projections of Chinese growth are sensitive to unjustified optimistic assumptions. Debt and aging indicate true Chinese growth is lower than reported, and low growth now could put off Chinese catch-up indefinitely.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Economics, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Derek Scissors
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: China’s investment and construction around the world plunged in the first half of 2019 and is unlikely to return to 2016–17 levels in the foreseeable future. The principal cause is fewer large transactions by state-owned enterprises. These firms rely on foreign currency provided by Beijing for global activities, and hard currency may be rationed indefinitely. There are brighter spots. The raw number of investments held up better than transaction size. The private share of China’s global investment climbed, and the greenfield share rose sharply. Investment in the Belt and Road Initiative outperformed that in traditionally favored rich economies such as Australia. Chinese investment in the US has been minor in size for two years. Policymakers should shift focus from screening to unwanted activity by Chinese firms, including intellectual property theft and other criminal acts. Enforcement targeting specific firms is superior to tariffs but should go beyond largely empty steps taken to date.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economy, Business , Investment
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Derek Scissors
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Chinese investment around the world fell sharply in 2018. The decline was most evident later in the year and among state-owned enterprises. These companies also engaged in fewer power construction projects. The number of countries in the Belt and Road Initiative keeps expanding, but activity levels per country are flat. One explanation for weakness in various Chinese efforts to “Go Out” is caution in drawing down foreign exchange reserves. The US has restricted Chinese investment, but it was already small in size in 2018. Serious problems remain—for example, theft and coercive transfer of technology. Firms violating American law should face sanctions, not just investment bans.
  • Topic: Globalization, Foreign Direct Investment, Sanctions, Business , Investment
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Gary J. Schmitt
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Although changes in American and Chinese leadership have brought current tensions between the two nations to the fore, the underlying reasons for the tensions are not tied to either President Donald Trump or President Xi Jinping coming into office. Rather, the strategic competition between the US and China is principally the product of regime-driven differences over both what constitutes their national interests and what their respective visions were for the character of China’s rise. The administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy is a relatively coherent response to the challenge China poses. But questions remain about the administration’s ability to resource it sufficiently and carry it out steadily given President Trump’s own idiosyncratic America First policy views.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America, Indo-Pacific