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  • Author: Willy Wo-Lap Lam
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: Under Xi Jinping, the leadership of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has initiated multi-pronged measures to ensure the success of celebrations marking the centenary of the establishment of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in July this year and planning for the 20th CCP Congress, scheduled for the second half of 2022. The accent is on preserving political stability and further consolidating the apparently unassailable authority of President Xi, who is also CCP General Secretary and Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC).
  • Topic: Media, Political Parties, Chinese Communist Party (CCP)
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Elizabeth Chen
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: Amid the coldest winter recorded since 1966, provinces across the People’s Republic of China (PRC) struggled with the worst electrical blackouts seen in nearly a decade (OilPrice, January 8). More than a dozen cities across Zhejiang, Hunan, Jiangxi, Shaanxi, Inner Mongolia, and Guangdong provinces imposed limits on off-peak electricity usage in early December, affecting city infrastructure and factory production. Analysts expect power shortages to persist through at least mid-February (SCMP, December 23, 2020). Officials have repeatedly assured the public that residential heating would not be affected and that China’s electrical supply remained “stable” and “sufficient,” even as energy spot prices continued to rise into the new year.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Services, Electricity, Coal
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Ryan D. Martinson
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: In the past decade, the China Coast Guard (CCG, 中国海警, zhongguo haijing) has experienced two major reforms. The first, which began in 2013, uprooted the service from the Ministry of Public Security—where it was organized as an element of the People’s Armed Police (PAP)—and placed it under the control of the State Oceanic Administration (SOA), a civilian agency. In the process, the CCG was combined with three other maritime law enforcement forces: China Marine Surveillance (CMS), China Fisheries Law Enforcement (CFLE), and the maritime anti-smuggling units of the General Administration of Customs. The resulting conglomerate was colloquially called the “new” CCG, differentiating it from the “old” CCG of the Ministry of Public Security years. The second reform began in 2018, when the “new” CCG, now swollen with the ranks of four different forces, was stripped from the SOA and transferred to the PAP, which itself had just been reorganized and placed under the Central Military Commission (CMC) (China Brief, April 24, 2018). While much research has been done on the first reform, little is known about the second, at least in the English-speaking world. This article seeks to answer basic questions about the “new, new” CCG. What are its roles/missions, organization, and force structure? How does it differ from the CCG of the SOA years? How is it similar? What progress has been made two years after the second reform began?
  • Topic: Law Enforcement, Armed Forces, Reform, Borders
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Michael C. Davis
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: After the Hong Kong protest movement exploded in 2019, the world looked on with both hope and trepidation. Protestors made five demands: that a proposed extradition law be withdrawn; that there be an independent investigation of police behavior; that the protests stop being characterized as riots; that any charges against arrested protesters be dropped and that promised universal suffrage be implemented (HKPF, December 25, 2019). After months of protest, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam publicly withdrew the extradition bill, fulfilling the first of the protestors’ demands (SCMP, September 4, 2019). But this temporary victory was too little too late and overshadowed by the ongoing and often violent crackdown on the protesters, and then in 2020, with Beijing’s imposition of the new National Security Law (NSL) (China Brief, July 29, 2020).
  • Topic: Human Rights, Law, Rule of Law, Protests, Repression
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Hong Kong
  • Author: Elizabeth Chen
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: On January 28, members of an international team led by the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded fourteen days of quarantine and began field work in Wuhan, China for a mission aimed at investigating the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of the time of writing, the team had made visits to the Hubei Center for Disease Control and Prevention; the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) and the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. State media also reported that the WHO team visited “an exhibition featuring Chinese people fighting the epidemic,” raising concerns that the trip could prove to be little more than a public relations move even as the origins of the coronavirus remain heavily politicized and uncertain (Global Times, January 31). Foreign experts have worried about whether the WHO investigation will be sufficiently transparent or if investigators will be allowed adequate access to key locations and scientific data (SCMP, January 27). Apart from a “terms of reference” report and a list of WHO members released in November, further details on the WHO team’s trip have not been released.
  • Topic: World Health Organization, COVID-19, Misinformation , Health Crisis
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Zachary Haver
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: In recent years, the maritime law enforcement (MLE) forces of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) have dominated the contested waters of the South China Sea (AMTI, December 4, 2020). While the exponential growth and increasing assertiveness of the China Coast Guard (CCG) have captured headlines, the evolving role of technology in China’s MLE operations has received less attention. New communications infrastructure and monitoring systems, for example, help Chinese MLE forces monitor and control contested maritime space in the South China Sea (CMSI, January 2021). These investments align with China’s broader pursuit of information superiority in the South China Sea, which involves building up electronic intelligence, counter-stealth radar, and other capabilities (JHU APL, July 2020).
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Communications, Armed Forces, Satellite
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, United States of America, South China Sea
  • Author: Sergey Sukhankin
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: Following the 2013 announcement of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) at a speech given by People’s Republic of China President Xi Jinping during visit to Kazakhstan, Central Asia has been a key regional priority and an indispensable element for the success of the BRI as a whole (PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs, September 7, 2013). Over the years, the BRI—nebulously defined from the start—has come to be associated with a variety of policy and investment programs. A previous series of articles has covered security-related developments associated with the BRI aimed at maintaining stability and protecting economic investments across the region (China Brief July 15; October 19; August 12).China has also begun to expand its export of digital infrastructure and surveillance technology under the umbrella of the BRI. The digitalization strategy—ostensibly aimed at promoting the international integration of technology with infrastructure and finance as well as spreading digital innovation abroad—is often referred to as the Digital Silk Road (DSR, 数字丝绸之路, shuzi sichou zhi lu). The high-level emphasis on promoting the DSR has only grown under the COVID-19 pandemic (CGTN, June 10, 2020). Across Central Asia, the DSR has been primarily represented by efforts to export China’s Smart/Safe City programs, which allow governments to collect, store, process and analyze vast amounts of personal information. The promotion of the so-called “informatization” of society (信息化, xinxi hua) and data commodification are yet more driving forces behind China’s DSR ambitions in Central Asia.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Surveillance, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Digital Policy
  • Political Geography: China, Central Asia, Asia, Uzbekistan
  • Author: Linda Zhang, Ryan Berg
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: The People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) engagement in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) is drawing increased scrutiny from U.S. policymakers. The International Liaison Department of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (ILD) (中共中央对外联络部, zhonggong zhongyang duiwai lianluo bu) is one of the many Chinese organizations active in LAC. Although its footprint is relatively small compared to larger trade and governmental organizations, the ILD’s emphasis on ideology and on long-term relationship building in its engagements is noteworthy and should be monitored more closely within the context of China-Latin America relations.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, International Affairs, Political Parties, Chinese Communist Party (CCP)
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Latin America
  • Author: Elizabeth Chen
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: A new study published February 8 by the Ministry of Public Security of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) (MPS, 中华人民共和国公安部, zhonghua renmin gongheguo gongan bu) reported that there were 10.035 million registered births in 2020, down from 11.79 million in 2019. This represents a 15 percent decrease following the coronavirus pandemic (Guancha.cn, February 8). Althou­gh the number of registered births—that is, newborns recorded in the household registration hukou (户口) system—is not the same as China’s official birth rate, the decline has concerned analysts that a long-forewarned demographic crisis may be approaching faster than expected.National birth and population figures for the previous year are usually released in January but have been delayed until April this year as China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) compiles its decennial census. In the meantime, data released by some provinces and cities in January has appeared to confirm the implications of the MPS study. Data released from the capital city of Guangdong province—which saw the highest number of births per province in 2019—showed that birth rates in Guangzhou were down by 17 percent year-on-year and mirrored broader trends across the rest of the province. In Zhejiang, China’s wealthiest province, the cities of Wenzhou and Taizhou reported that new births in 2020 fell by 19 percent and 33 percent respectively compared to 2019 (SCMP, February 2).
  • Topic: Demographics, Development, Aging, Population Growth
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Ryan Fedasiuk
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: On Monday, November 12, 2018, the recently-appointed director of China’s Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission (CAC) Zhuang Rongwen (庄荣文) summoned senior executives from WeChat and Sina Weibo for a “discussion” (Central CAC, November 16, 2018). While there is no transcript of the meeting available to the public, one thing is certain: It did not go well. For months, Zhuang had been telegraphing his discontent with the state of censorship in China—and specifically, the role that social media giants had played in undermining it (New America, September 24, 2018). His official statement about the meeting, which was uploaded to the CAC’s website a few days later, accused China’s largest internet companies of “breeding chaos in the media” and “endangering social stability and the interests of the masses.” Under his watch, he vowed that the Central CAC would “strictly investigate and deal with the enterprises that lack responsibility and have serious problems” (Central CAC, November 20, 2018). Rarely do Party officials offer such scathing public admonitions.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Internet, Surveillance, Censorship
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Jai Chul Heo
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP)
  • Abstract: China has been able to escape from the Covid-19 outbreak relatively quickly compared to other countries. Nevertheless, it still remains greatly influenced by the Covid-19 pandemic across its politics, economy, society, culture, and other areas, which has led to various changes throughout China. Therefore, this study comprehensively examined the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on various aspects of Chinese politics, economy, society, and culture. And in response to these changes in Chinese society, the study explores new strategies toward China in the post-Covid-19 era.
  • Topic: Politics, Culture, Economy, COVID-19, Society
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Korea
  • Author: Jai Chul Heo
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP)
  • Abstract: This study evaluated China's model of “One Country, Two Systems” (一國兩制) 20 years into operation and the bilateral relationship between Taiwan and Mainland China ‒ focusing on Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan ‒ and examined future prospects. The study is meaningful in that it conducts a more objective evaluation than the previous studies by empirically analyzing data accumulated over the past 20 years of implementation of the One Country Two Systems principle from various perspectives. In addition, it is also a timely study in that it analyzes how the One Country Two Systems arrangement is likely to develop in the future, and what impact this would have, making considerations for changes in China's national strategy during the Xi Jinping period and the competition for hegemony between the U.S. and China. The results of the analysis indicate that over the past 20 years China has been experimenting with the possibility of coexisting different systems in one country, and that the One Country Two Systems arrangement, as a new form of unification which has never been attempted in the history of mankind, has actually shown the possibility of success. However, in recent years, various political contradictions have been exposed in the process of implementing the arrangement, mostly in the Hong Kong society, and the resulting conflict has gradually intensified. While maintaining the current capitalist system for 50 years, Macau is expected to gradually progress in its “Sinicization,” with continuing active economic and social exchanges and cooperation with mainland China. As a result, Macau is expected to be fully incorporated into China's socialist system in 2049, 50 years after the return, but it is likely to remain a city of special character considering Macau's region and its economic structure. On the other hand, the One Country Two Systems arrangement with Hong Kong is expected to undergo a difficult process in the future. In the midst of various conflicts surrounding Hong Kong, the guarantee for Hong Kong’s autonomy is expected to end in 2047 amid efforts on the part of the mainland government to sinicize Hong Kong. And China wants to apply the philosophy of “One Country, Two Systems” to its reunification with Taiwan as well, but in reality this remains very low in possibility.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Bilateral Relations, Hegemony, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: China, Taiwan, Asia, Korea, Hong Kong, Macau
  • Author: Pyoung Seob Yang, Cheol-Won Lee, Suyeob Na, Taehyn Oh, Young Sun Kim, Hyung Jun Yoon, Yoo-Duk Ga
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP)
  • Abstract: China’s investment in the European Union (EU) increased significantly during the European financial crisis, but has been on the decline in recent years. The surge of Chinese investment has raised concerns and demands for analysis on the negative effects it could have on the EU companies and industries. In this context, the present study aims to analyze the main characteristics of Chinese investment and M&A in Europe, major policy issues between the two sides, the EU’s policy responses, and prospects of Chinese future investment in Eu-rope, going on to draw important lessons for Korea. To summarize the main characteristics of China's investment in Europe, the study found that the EU's share of China's overseas direct investment has continued to increase until recently. Second, investment in the Central and Eastern European Countries (CEECs) is gradually increasing, although it is still insignificant compared to the top five destinations in the EU: Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Luxembourg and France. Third, China's investment in the EU is being made in pursuit of innovation in manufacturing and to acquire high-tech technologies. When it comes to China's M&A in Europe, the study found that the proportion of indirect China's M&As (via third countries (e.g. Hong Kong) or Chinese subsidiaries already established in Europe) was relatively higher than direct ones. Empirical factor analysis of investment also shows that China's investment in the EU is strongly motivated by the pursuit of strategic assets. Other factors such as institutional-level and regulatory variables are found to have no significant impact, or have an effect contrary to expectations. This suggests that China's investment in the EU is based on the Chinese government's growth strategy, and accompanies an element of national capitalism Today, It is highly expected that the COVID-19 pandemic will have a reorganizing effect on the global value chain (GVC) and Foreign investment regulation in the high-tech sector motivated by national security is emerging as a global issue as the US and the EU are tightening their control. As Korean companies are not free from the risk of falling under such regulations, a thorough and careful response is required. And for the Korean government, it is necessary to prepare legal and institutional measures regulating foreign investment in reference to the US and the EU.
  • Topic: Foreign Direct Investment, Financial Crisis, European Union, Economy, Economic Growth, Global Value Chains, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, Korea, United States of America
  • Author: Sangbaek Hyun, Suyeob Na, Young Sun Kim, Koun Cho, Bongkyo Seo
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP)
  • Abstract: The opening of China's financial sector has progressed at a very slow pace, unlike the manufacturing and trade sectors that have pushed for an active opening to the outside world. The Chinese economy has been growing rapidly while serving as a global production base, but since 2012, it has become necessary to modify its approaches to achieve growth as it enters an era of medium-speed growth. Recently, new reform and opening measures have been taken in various fields to improve the quality of the Chinese economy, and the need for reform and opening in the financial sector has also increased. Internally, the financial system centered on China's state-owned commercial banks has focused on indirect financing, which has served as a major obstacle to upgrading China's economy and industry to the next level, further increasing the need for reform and opening of the financial sector. Moreover, externally, the U.S.-China conflict which began in earnest in 2018, is applying strong pressure toward reform and opening in China’s financial sector. The Chinese government began to show a proactive attitude toward financial opening amid such internal needs and external pressure, and an important development was seen in China’s financial opening when President Xi Jinping declared further opening measures at the Boao Forum in April 2018. The Chinese financial authorities have prepared follow-up measures related to financial opening, and the Chinese government’s efforts toward financial opening in the three years from 2018 to 2020 yielded more results than the ten-year opening period since its accession to the WTO. Against this backdrop, this study examines the main contents of China’s financial opening process, which has been accelerating recently, and derives evaluation and implications.
  • Topic: Finance, Economy, Economic Growth, Banks
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Korea
  • Author: Sungwoo Hong, Yeo Joon Yoon, Jino Kim, Jeewoon Rim, Jimin Nam
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP)
  • Abstract: The conflict between the United States and China may be the issue of most importance as well as interest to the world, prior to COVID-19. This conflict between the two countries is appearing not only in the economic sector, but also in various field such as politics, diplomacy, and military affairs. Such competition between the two countries is likely to escalate further as multilateral systems such as the WTO are threatened and protectionism intensifies in the post-COVID-19 world. Even within Latin America, the competition between the two countries frequently appears in a variety of forms. Conflicts between the United States and China in Latin America tend to occur mainly in the infrastructure sectors. Furthermore, the United States pressured Latin American countries to choose between the United States and China, with the results of this pressure depending on the political orientation of the ruling government. In order to investigate the impact of retaliatory tariffs between the two countries on Latin American countries’ exports and welfare, we employ an event analysis for exports and computational general equilibrium (CGE) model for welfare, with Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and Chile as the subject of our analysis. Based on the outcome of the event study, Brazil’s exports to the United States moderately increased due to the tariff imposition, and such an effect persisted for short term. Its exports to China rose considerably immediately after the tariff imposition, and then the impact tended to decrease over time. By contrast, it is difficult to conclude that the tariff imposition had a statistically significant and lasting effect on the exports of the remaining three countries to the United States and China. As a result of the analysis using the CGE model, meanwhile, the tariffs imposed between the United States and China trivially increased the welfare of Latin American countries.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economy, Tariffs, Exports, Trade, Rivalry
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, South America, Latin America, Korea, United States of America
  • Author: David Henig, Anna Guildea
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE)
  • Abstract: China is now the world’s leading manufacturer, with goods exports rising from $63 billion in 1990 to $2.5 trillion in 2018. The popular assumption is that everything is now made in China, and that falling manufacturing employment in the EU and US is due to this. The assumption is wrong. China is the world’s largest goods exporter, but other countries have also experienced increases. One reason is that China is also the world’s second largest importer of goods, at $2.1 trillion in 2018.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, Exports, Manufacturing, Trade
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Jeffrey J. Schott
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: China’s policies in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and the South China Sea and its ongoing support for Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela pose major challenges for the United States, where bipartisan pressure is growing to ramp up punitive sanctions against leading Chinese firms and financial institutions. Financial sanctions freeze the US assets or bar US entry of the targeted individuals and firms and prohibit US financial firms from doing business with them. Schott explains why US officials should carefully weigh the risks to international financial markets and US economic interests before imposing punitive sanctions on major financial institutions engaged with China. The collateral costs of such sanctions would be sizable, damaging US producers, financial institutions, and US alliances. By restricting access of major banks to international payments in US dollars and barring use of messaging systems like SWIFT, tougher US financial sanctions would effectively “weaponize” the dollar; friends and foes alike would be pushed to seek alternatives to dollar transactions that, over time, would weaken the international role of the dollar. Instead of doubling down on current unilateral financial sanctions, US policy should deploy sanctions in collaboration with allies and calibrate trade and financial controls to match the expected policy achievements.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Sanctions, Finance, Economy
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Robert Z. Lawrence
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Afrequently voiced complaint from the Trump administration was that US firms have faced a competitive disadvantage in exports because the US market is open and US tariffs are low but US trading partners protect their markets with high tariffs. The administration used this concern to justify raising US tariffs whenever it could. Lawrence argues that these claims should be more nuanced and account for the extensive unilateral liberalization by many countries over the past 30 years and that the grievances that motivated the Trump trade policies are increasingly misplaced. Many developing countries have reduced their tariffs unilaterally to rates that are far lower than they applied three decades ago and far less than the bound rates reflected in their World Trade Organization (WTO) obligations. Globally, on average, tariffs were not raised during the global financial crisis of 2008 and continued to decline through at least 2018. Even when shocks from imports resulted in serious injury to domestic industries, several developing countries temporarily provided safeguard protection but at levels that were lower than their WTO bound rates. This evidence of import liberalization also suggests that rising protectionism was not responsible for the slow growth in world trade that has been evident since 2011. It remains uncertain whether countries will now respond to disruptions to global supply chains since 2018 caused by Trump’s trade policies and the COVID-19 pandemic by reversing their tariff liberalization stance, but the sustained enthusiasm for new megaregional trade agreements suggests many countries will not.
  • Topic: Emerging Markets, World Trade Organization, Trade Wars, Protectionism
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Martin Chorzempa, Adnan Mazarei
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 shock has exacerbated the struggles of many emerging-market and developing economies (EMDEs) to repay their external debt. One of the most urgent challenges relates to debt owed to China, whose lending spree under its Belt and Road Initiative and other programs has played an outsized role in what amounts to a crisis for many countries. The scope of the problem is striking. China is owed more than $100 billion, or 57 percent of all debt owed to official creditors by the countries that need help the most. China is not a member of the Paris Club of official creditors, which coordinates, within a multilateral framework, the resolution of general sovereign illiquidity or unsustainable external debt of EMDEs. There is an urgent need to put in place more effective, long-term solutions to help durably lower the risks of prolonged debt difficulties in EMDEs. These problems could be partly addressed by creating creditor committees to coordinate debt relief with China. The Group of Twenty (G20) has taken some steps to include creditor committees in the context of the Common Framework for Debt Treatments beyond the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), but only for low-income countries that qualify for the DSSI and only for official creditors. To better address debt distress, it needs to extend the approach, especially to middle-income debtor countries.
  • Topic: Debt, Development, Emerging Markets, G20
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Valerie Niquet
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Japan Institute Of International Affairs (JIIA)
  • Abstract: To Japanese authorities, there is no such thing as the “Senkaku question”. China is pursuing with increased assertiveness a strategy of coercion, using ambiguity and “grey zone” operations to put the onus of potential escalation on Tokyo.1 The vague and ambiguous nature of this strategic power play makes it all the more dangerous and complex. When Tokyo proclaims, with reason, that “the government continues to control and administer the territory by such means as patrolling and law enforcement,” it seeks to answer the permanent pressure that China exerts in the zone.2 However, the maintenance of the status quo, when China exerts an almost continuous pressure in the waters surrounding the Senkaku Islands and Japanese fishermen do not have access to part of Japan’s own national territory, poses other types of problems that the People’s Republic of China tries to exploit at the service of broader ambitions. It also poses a challenge in crisis management: how can the Japanese government be active and in control of situational developments, and not just reactive, without going as far as sparking a major incident in the East China Sea?
  • Topic: International Relations, Bilateral Relations, Geopolitics, Crisis Management
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, Asia
  • Author: Uri Dadush, Pauline Weil
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: Despite tensions over China’s discriminatory business practices, China’s trade continues to thrive, and the country has taken over from the United States as the first destination for foreign investment. American and European businesses continue to be engaged in China’s large and growing market, even amid a trade war between China and the United States. Drawing on surveys of companies and international comparisons, we show that – contrary to the prevailing narrative – China’s business practices have improved significantly in recent years. China’s business environment is today generally more favourable than that in other large countries at similar levels of development and, in some though certainly not all aspects, is in line with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development average. Differences over geopolitics and human rights must be addressed, but it is clear that trade and investment agreements conditioned on accelerated reforms in China would yield substantial dividends. The benefits of such deals would accrue not only to foreign investors in China and exporters to China, but also to consumers and importers in the European Union and, especially, in the US, where punitive tariffs on China remain in effect. Critical aspects in the negotiations would include better access for American and European investors to China’s market for services and improved enforcement of rules and regulations in China. As in many middle-income countries, uneven enforcement of the law (rather than the law itself) remains a critical problem in China.
  • Topic: Development, Bilateral Relations, European Union, Business , Investment
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Uri Dadush, André Sapir
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: The European Union is very open to foreign direct investment. By comparison, despite considerable liberalisation in the past two decades, foreign investors in China’s markets still face significant restrictions, especially in services sectors. Given this imbalance, the EU has long sought to improve the situation for its companies operating or wanting to operate in China. After eight years of negotiations, the EU and China concluded in December 2020 a bilateral Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI). The text awaiting ratification aims to give foreign investors greater market access, enforceable via state-to-state dispute settlement. It does not yet, however, cover investor protection (such as against expropriation). Meanwhile, investor protection is covered by bilateral investment treaties between EU countries and China, which remain in force. The CAI has been met in some quarters with scepticism on economic and geopolitical grounds. The main criticism is that it provides little new market access in China, and that this small economic gain for the EU comes at the price of breaking ranks with its main political ally, the United States. Our assessment, which focuses on the economic implications, is different. It is true the CAI provides only modest new market access in China, but this is because China has already made progress in recent years in liberalising its foreign investment regulations unilaterally. The CAI binds this progress under an international treaty, marking an improvement for EU firms insofar as their market access rights can be effectively enforced. Most important, the CAI includes new rules on subsidies, state-owned enterprises, technology transfer and transparency, which will improve effective market access for EU firms operating in China. These bilateral new rules could also pave the way for reform of the multilateral rules under the World Trade Organisation, with the aim of better integrating China into the international trading and investment system – a goal shared by the EU, the United States and other like-minded countries. From an economic viewpoint therefore, the CAI is an important agreement, and one worth having. However, its ratification by the European Parliament is unlikely while China continues to apply sanctions against some members of the European Parliament and other critics of China’s human rights record.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Bilateral Relations, European Union, Investment, Liberalization
  • Political Geography: China, Europe
  • Author: Alicia Garcia-Herrero
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: As China’s economic weight continues to grow, so does the global impact of its companies. Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) produce a large share of Chinese goods and services. Given their importance both in China and increasingly globally, it should be measured whether SOEs introduce distortions into markets and how significant those distortions are. Foreign governments negotiating trade or investment deals with China need this information so they can better measure how far China is from offering a level playing field to foreign companies on its domestic market. In this context, competitive neutrality is an important working concept that can be used to asses how far a market is from being a competitive environment. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development defines a framework of competitive neutrality as one in which public and private companies face the same set of rules, and no contact with the state gives competitive advantage to any market participant. Quantifying the concept is difficult, but we provide a preliminary measure of the lack of competitive neutrality in relation to Chinese SOEs. In particular, we focus on debt and tax neutrality and compare the situation for Chinese state-owned and private firms on aggregate and sectoral levels. Our results support the view that China’s competitive environment is generally poor. The advantageous position of SOEs in China is true for most economic sectors, though to a variable extent, with the automotive sector one of the furthest away from competitive neutrality. A working measure of competitive neutrality applied in China could help improve the level playing field for foreign companies in China. It could also be applied globally given the very large size and global footprint of Chinese SOEs. The concept could even be introduced in a potential reform of the World Trade Organisation.
  • Topic: Business , Trade, Neutrality, State-Owned Enterprises
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Craig S. Faller
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Project 2049 Institute
  • Abstract: The Project 2049 Institute is pleased to announce the publication of remarks made by Admiral Craig Faller at our recent event, “Near and Present Danger: SOUTHCOM Commander ADM Faller on U.S.-China Strategic Competition in the Western Hemisphere.” In his remarks, Admiral Faller addresses the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) ambitions in Latin America and the Caribbean, from both an economic and strategic perspective, which support its pursuit of global dominance and the imposition of authoritarian values on international institutions. In addition, Admiral Faller highlights SOUTHCOM’s recent activities in the Western Hemisphere and suggests a practical framework to develop and sustain trusted partnerships in the region that will promote democratic values in the face of CCP coercion.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations, Authoritarianism, Geopolitics, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Malcolm Cook
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: China will not agree to a South China Sea Code of Conduct (COC) that is consistent with the 2016 South China Sea arbitral tribunal ruling, and therefore any COC which China agrees with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will harm Australia’s interests. But a lack of Australian support for such a Code would aggravate relations with Southeast Asian states and ASEAN, and with China. Australia should use the time afforded by the drawn-out Code of Conduct negotiations to coordinate with the five littoral Southeast Asian states affected by China’s unlawful maritime claims. Australia should emphasise the need for consistency with international law, especially the 2016 arbitral ruling. The Biden administration is likely to increase pressure on Australia to conduct freedom of navigation operations (FONOPS) in the South China Sea. Such action may risk a significant Chinese response against Australia.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Territorial Disputes, Maritime, Alliance, Freedom of Movement
  • Political Geography: China, Australia, Southeast Asia, Asia-Pacific, United States of America, South China Sea
  • Author: Claire Young
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Australia’s interests in Antarctica are better served by the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS) than anything we could negotiate today. We should redouble our commitment to its ideals of science-driven, rules-based management — and counter the narrative of ATS ‘failure’. China is pushing the boundaries of ATS practice by exploiting fisheries and tourism, and probably seeking access to Western technologies in Antarctica. And in the future, Beijing could lead a coalition of states seeking mineral riches that only China is likely to be capable of retrieving. Australia should watch China’s activities closely, but react cautiously. We should be wary of false analogies with the Arctic and not overreact to marginal military developments. We should shield the ATS from Australia–China tension and US–China competition.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Treaties and Agreements, Natural Resources, Tourism, Geopolitics, Fishing, Coalition
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Australia, Arctic
  • Author: Yang Jiang
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Almost every governmental policy decision made today has a China angle, and building understanding of China has become more pressing for Australian policymaking than ever. Despite the urgent demand within the Australian public service for China expertise and language skills, the existing skills of many Chinese-Australians are being overlooked. Australia has a significant, diverse, and growing population of Chinese-Australians, but they are underrepresented and underutilised in the public service. A better harnessing of the skills and knowledge of this community — including via improved recruitment processes, better use of data, skills-matching, and reviewing and clarifying security clearance processes and requirements — would have substantial benefits for Australian policymaking in one of its most important bilateral relationships.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government, Bilateral Relations, Public Service
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Australia
  • Author: Luke Patey
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Recommendations: The US, South Korea, Japan, and the EU can pool resources to level the playing field with China and offer new finance options for developing countries seeking to upgrade their communications and technology infrastructure. The US should look to the India and Vietnam model and help other nations develop domestic capacities that lower dependencies on Huawei and other foreign tech providers over time. Open RAN is no silver bullet to compete with China. Its potential will only be fully realized in the mid and long run, after high integration costs, security gaps, and other problems are worked out.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Development, Politics, Science and Technology, Power Politics, Economy, Cyberspace
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Mikkel Runge Olesen
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: The Biden administration is likely to adopt a less chaotic US approach to the NATO alliance concerning China. European members should utilize this calmer time to develop viable strategies on how to tackle non-conventional threats from China within the Alliance in concert with the US. RECOMMENDATIONS: NATO members should: Continue to develop their own strategies and procedures against non-conventional Chinese threats in the domains of cyber, influence activities, and trade and investments. Resist the temptation to fall into inertia in determining how NATO should deal with China after the fear of a US withdrawal from NATO has subsided. Work with the Biden administration to develop NATO’s role in relation to China further on grounds that are acceptable on both sides of the Atlantic.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO, Diplomacy, International Organization
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Denmark, United States of America
  • Author: Per Kalvig, Hans Lucht
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Rare earth elements (REEs) are vital for communications, the green energy transition and defense, but are produced almost exclusively in China. As the projected REE mines in southern Greenland inch closer to realization, Denmark and its EU partners remain sidelined from future supply chains for raw materials. Key findings: Rare earth elements (REEs) are vital to daily life, communications, green energy and defense. Yet, REEs and products containing REEs are almost exclusively controlled and produced by China. Significant long-term strategic state or supra-state support is required to challenge Chinese dominance of the REE sector and reduce the vulnerability of European and American energy supplies. In the absence of REE industries in Europe or America, the two REE projects in South Greenland, with their potential to become significant suppliers of REE, will most likely supply Chinese-controlled raw materials industries.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Climate Change, Environment, Oil, Power Politics, Gas, Minerals, Rare earth elements (REEs)
  • Political Geography: China, Denmark, Greenland, Arctic, United States of America
  • Author: Anubhav Gupta
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Asia Society
  • Abstract: The state of the U.S.-India relationship is strong, but two critical developments in 2020 have created a new inflection point for the relationship. Growing apprehension in both New Delhi and Washington about Chinese aggression has created the strategic convergence long sought by a U.S. defense establishment eager to enlist India to balance China. On the other hand, devastated by the Covid-19 global pandemic, the United States and India face challenging economic recoveries amid growing protectionist sentiments at home that could diminish the relationship’s promise. Having won the U.S. presidential election, Joe Biden has an opportunity to consolidate and accelerate the relationship by creating a substantive and broad partnership with India, which can undergird U.S. policy in Asia and support U.S. global interests for decades to come. this paper provides a blueprint for how the Biden administration can actualize what previous presidents have deemed a “natural partnership.”
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Partnerships, COVID-19, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: China, India, United States of America
  • Author: Wendy Cutler, Anubhav Gupta, Nathan Levine, Richard Maude, Elina Noor, Jing Qian, Alistair Ritchie, Kevin Rudd, Daniel R. Russel, Thom Woodroofe
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Asia Society
  • Abstract: The Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) Notes for the Biden Administration is designed to offer creative and practical ideas for how the United States might re-engage in the Asia Pacific, particularly in the critical first six months of the new administration. The administration will immediately face a range of challenges and opportunities in this important region, including on climate change, public health, and the global economy. President-elect Biden and his team have signaled the need for the United States to lean into and deepen its engagement with friends and allies. This will mean leveraging the Asia Pacific’s multilateral architecture as well as using global forums such as the G20 and international organizations. Trade policy will also figure importantly in any effort to renew and expand America’s engagement. Additionally, the U.S.-China relationship will loom large from the outset. Tensions with China will surely linger, whether in the South China Sea or the Taiwan Strait, complicating the task of establishing a new framework of “managed strategic competition” – a combination of each side's "red lines," continued competition, plus agreement on areas of mutually beneficial cooperation. ASPI Notes for the Biden Administration provides a diverse package of 20 actionable proposals to address specific risks or objectives in reconnecting with the Asia Pacific. These notes carefully reflect the views, perspectives, and expectations of the region itself – a hallmark of ASPI’s approach.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Climate Change, Economy, Trade, Public Health, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: China, Taiwan, Asia, Asia-Pacific, United States of America
  • Author: Nicola De Blasio, Fridolin Pflugmann
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: President Xi Jinping’s pledge during the 2020 United Nations General Assembly, that China would reach peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060, is a significant step in the fight against climate change. Since China is the world’s top contributor of greenhouse gases, there is no doubt that Beijing needs to be front and center of any effort to curb global emissions. In 2019, China accounted for almost 30 percent of global emissions, about twice as much as the second largest emitter, the United States.1 But while U.S. emissions have been on an overall decline since 2007,2 China’s have increased, raising concerns over whether Beijing can actually deliver on its targets. This reality should not distract from the fact that China is also the world’s top developer of renewables and other clean energy technologies. For example, China was the world’s largest installer of photovoltaics (PV) by 2013 and, in less than two years, also became the global leader in solar module manufacturing. At the same time, China leveraged its industrial might and economies of scale to drive down modules’ costs—which, by the end of 2018, were 90 percent lower than only ten years before. In this context, renewable hydrogen could significantly accelerate China’s transition to a low-carbon economy, increasing the likelihood of meeting its carbon neutrality goal. Renewable hydrogen offers significant advantages for China. It can help Beijing meet its climate and pollution goals—at a time when coal continues to dominate—while avoiding increased reliance on imported fuels. As a readily dispatchable means of storing energy, hydrogen can help to address intermittency and curtailment issues as renewable energy increases its share of China’s energy mix. As a sustainable mobility energy carrier, it can power fuel-cell electric vehicles or be the base for synthetic fuels. Finally, renewable hydrogen can open new avenues for developing clean technology manufactured goods for both internal and export markets. Today, most of China’s hydrogen is produced from coal via 1,000 gasifiers, accounting for 5% of the country’s total coal consumption. Hydrogen costs vary significantly as a function of production technology and prices of fossil fuels and electricity. Production from coal remains the lowest cost option: about 30 percent cheaper than hydrogen from natural gas. Therefore, reducing the carbon footprint of coal-based hydrogen will be critical in a low-carbon economy. In the medium term, coal-based hydrogen with carbon capture, utilization and storage will likely remain China’s lowest-cost clean hydrogen production pathway. Hence, the underlying question is whether Beijing will prioritize cost considerations or put its full industrial might behind the development and deployment of renewable hydrogen. In March 2019, the Chinese government took a significant step forward by announcing measures to promote the construction of hydrogen facilities for new energy vehicles. Wan Gang, who is known as China’s “father of the electric car,” called for China to “look into establishing a hydrogen society” and “move further toward fuel cells.”3 Given that Gang made a similar call two decades ago on vehicle electrification, which played a key role in China’s current battery electric vehicles market dominance, close attention is warranted.
  • Topic: Security, Energy Policy, Environment, Natural Resources, Renewable Energy, Hydrogen
  • Political Geography: China, Asia-Pacific
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Numerous foreign oil companies have recently announced plans to sell their shares in several major oil fields in Iraq, as part of measures that may negatively impact Iraqi oil production. There are multiple explanations for this step, including unstable security and political conditions as well as Iraq's failure to pay foreign companies their dues for operating the fields, in addition to the growing Chinese influence in the oil sector.
  • Topic: Security, Oil, Business
  • Political Geography: China, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Peggy Blumenthal
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institute of International Education
  • Abstract: Many U.S. colleges and universities are anxiously wondering if newly admitted Chinese students will accept their admission offers and return to American campuses in fall 2021. Needing to balance a host of issues, will Chinese students decide to remain at home or study in a different host country? This IIENetwork Briefing paper assesses the current situation, explores possible outcomes for fall 2021 enrollments from China’s mainland and Hong Kong, and presents some ways that U.S. campuses are responding to these recruiting challenges during a changing political and health environment in both the host and home countries.
  • Topic: International Relations, Higher Education, COVID-19, Study Abroad
  • Political Geography: China, United States of America
  • Author: Jos Meester
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: This policy brief provides an examination of China’s rise in relation to its African partners. It takes into account geopolitical concerns, but homes in on China’s Belt and Road Initiative, its means of expanding into Africa. It examines the role of the Digital Silk Road in the use of Chinese artificial intelligence and technology transfers on surveillance and the risks of repression. The brief aims to move beyond the politicised narratives surrounding Chinese involvement in Africa by testing them against practical initiatives on the ground. It examines Ethiopia, particularly its burgeoning tech hub known as the ‘Sheba Valley’, in order to understand China’s role in development in African countries. Ethiopia is a critical case because of: the country’s strong relations with China, leading Ethiopia to model its developmental state model on the Chinese one and incentivising civil servants to learn from the Chinese experience; Ethiopia’s attempt to develop its relatively advanced ICT hub (the Sheba Valley) in collaboration with China’s Shenzhen-based ICT hub; Ethiopia’s historically heavy surveillance and repressive practices, in part modelled on China’s practice of prioritising development over democratic reform.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Science and Technology, Geopolitics, Surveillance, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Artificial Intelligence
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, Asia, Ethiopia
  • Author: Jos Meester, Guido Lanfranchi
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: Over the last decade, the UAE and China have vastly expanded their economic, political and military footprint in the Horn of Africa, and their actions now have the potential to shape developments in the region. Room for cooperation between Abu Dhabi and Beijing exists on issues such as maritime security, regional stability, and economic development. Moreover, the two countries’ interaction could lead to improvements in the Horn’s underdeveloped infrastructure by triggering a race to investment. Yet, development and stability in the region might suffer if the strategic interests of external players take precedence over local ones, or if local elites (mis)use external support for narrow domestic political calculations. The EU and its member states have high stakes in the Horn’s stability. To optimise their engagement, European policymakers should be aware of the implications of the Emirati and Chinese presence, and they should strive to improve cooperation among the wide range of external players active in the Horn.
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, Politics, Military Affairs, Economic Development , Economic Stability
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, Asia, Horn of Africa
  • Author: Gabriel Felbermayr, Steffen Gans, Hendrik Mahlkow, Alexander Sandkamp
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW)
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic revealed the vulnerability of international value chains in the face of global shocks. This has triggered a political discussion regarding a possible reshoring of vulnerable supply chains back home. The aim is to reduce dependencies on foreign suppliers and thus improve crisis resilience of the domestic economy. The debate is also rooted in the growing dependence on Asian suppliers and the colliding political and ideological systems between China and the West. Unilateral decoupling of the EU from China (a doubling of trade costs) would reduce real income in the EU on average by 0.8 percent. In terms of GDP in 2019, this equals a permanent loss in real income of 131.4 bn EUR. Should China retaliate, real income would fall by 1.0 percent (170.3 bn EUR). With its extremely interconnected economy, real income in Germany would even decline by 1.4 percent (48.4 bn EUR). China would also lose from such a trade war, with real income declining by 1.3 percent. Should the EU increase its trade barriers against all its non-European trading partners, real income in the Union would fall by 3.5 percent or 584.3 bn EUR in case of a unilateral increase and by 5.3 percent or 873.1 bn EUR in case the rest of the world responds by also raising trade barriers.
  • Topic: Economics, Regional Cooperation, European Union, Economic Cooperation, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Europe
  • Author: Alice Ekman
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • Abstract: China was initially cautious in the development and application of blockchain technology. Among the technology’s best-known attributes are the relative anonymity and immutability of the information, as every blockchain transaction has a digital record and signature that can be identified, validated, stored and shared. This technology could therefore become a double-edged sword for the Communist Party of China (CPC), as it goes against the government’s efforts to censor content it considers sensitive and, in more general terms, efforts to assert its cyber-sovereignty. However, after at first observing the emergence of blockchain technology with concern, China’s central government has increasingly seen it as an opportunity, as has been the case with most emerging technologies. Since the launch of the 13th five-year plan in 2016 and the release of the first White Paper on Blockchain Technology and Application Development by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology the same year, the CPC has increasingly considered that blockchain could become an economic, political and geopolitical asset for the country, if ‘guided’ well. China has continued to shape its positioning on and conceptualisation of blockchain technology on a regular basis over the last 5 years: the China Blockchain Industry White Paper (1) was published in 2018, another White Paper entitled Blockchain Technology Application in Judicial Evidence Storage was published in 2019 (2) and the 14th five-year plan (2021–2025), released in March 2021, also refers to blockchain and cryptocurrency (see timeline diagram on page 7) (3). China’s unique approach to blockchain is conditioned precisely by this paradox, stemming from the decentralised nature of the technology and the highly centralised nature of the Chinese political system. While blockchain technology is essentially decentralised, regulations in China have aimed to guarantee state control over its development and application. As part of this dual policy, which is analysed in the first part of the Brief, the Chinese government has launched its own digital currency – the digital yuan. At the same time, it dislikes bitcoin, which relies on a truly decentralised type of blockchain. Although blockchain is best known for being the technology behind cryptocurrency, the Chinese government’s approach towards blockchain is very comprehensive, going far beyond cryptocurrencies. It promotes application of the technology in a variety of fields, ranging from energy conservation to urban management and law enforcement, and has strong ambitions to become the world leader in the field. In October 2019, China’s President Xi Jinping, speaking at a study session for members of the Politburo, declared that he wanted the country to be a ‘rule-maker’ on blockchain, suggesting that this technology will increasingly become a key arena in the country’s race against the United States for technological supremacy (4). Blockchain has become a fast-growing sector in China over the last two years. But is China likely to succeed in the global promotion of an alternative form of blockchain? This Brief answers this question by analysing the development of different applications at national level, before and during the Covid-19 pandemic, but also the emergence of international cooperation on blockchain and cryptocurrency.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Cryptocurrencies, Blockchain
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Camille Boullenois
  • Publication Date: 10-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • Abstract: In 2019 and 2020, the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States issued strategy papers on data governance acknowledging the importance of data to their economic development and national security. With different emphases, four competing objectives dominate these data strategies: innovation (using data to create new business models and boost economic growth); security (ensuring that sensitive data is not used by a hostile foreign power); privacy (protecting citizens from abusive use of personal data); and surveillance (using data to monitor and control citizens’ and companies’ behaviour). In the past two years, China has been defining its own data strategy and governance regime and, while juggling the same four competing objectives as its Western counterparts, is taking an innovative approach. While the specific data governance framework is still being debated among scholars, policymakers, industrial lobbyists and state institutions, local pilot regulations on data and stakeholders’ public positions have already hinted at its future characteristics. This Brief aims to shed light on these debates over China’s emerging data governance framework. It starts by describing the objectives of the framework, then summarises the debates around the new data rights that Chinese policymakers are establishing and analyses China’s first local pilot regulations defining those rights. The Brief then focuses specifically on health data to illustrate how China'sdata governance regime is designed to work. Finally, the Brief gives an overview of the challenges that China’s data governance framework presents for EU governments and companies. Ultimately, China’s data governance regime will have important implications for the protection of EU citizens’ data and creates a risk of data protectionism. It is therefore crucial that the EU understands early enough the direction that China is taking, so that it can respond appropriately.
  • Topic: Governance, European Union, Transnational Actors, Data
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Paul Charon
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • Abstract: Over the last few decades, analysis of international relations and strategic issues has developed rapidly in China, both within the Chinese Communist Party– state apparatus and in think tanks and universities. However, the richness of this field of study is in stark contrast to the absence of any real open reflection on the question of foresight. If, like other nations, China is committed to understanding the world in which it is evolving and to identifying possible changes, the function of foresight has not been conceptualised or institutionalised to the same degree as in the West. Foresight analysis in China is marked by several salient features: firstly, it remains almost non-existent in Chinese institutional frameworks dedicated to the analysis of international relations; secondly, the concepts of the ‘black swan’ and the ‘grey rhino’ have made a significant breakthrough, particularly in economics, before being cannibalised and politicised by the Party; and thirdly, the reading of the horizon remains essentially informed by the Party’s vision, fears and obsessions.
  • Topic: International Relations, Political Parties, Domestic Policy, Strategic Interests
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Jyri Lavikainen
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Te concept of strategic stability has traditionally been associated with a stable nuclear relationship between leading nuclear powers, the US and USSR/Russia. Teir last commonly agreed defnition of the concept in 1990 formed the basis of the START negotiations, defning strategic stability as a nuclear relationship, where neither side has an incentive to attempt a disarming strike. In 2016, Russia and China suggested replacing the concept of strategic stability with ‘global strategic stability’ by arguing that the conventional defnition of strategic stability as a military category concerning only nuclear weapons was outdated.1 Instead, they seek to redefne strategic stability as a concept con- cerning the state of great-power relations, with both political and military categories, the military category being the focus of analysis in this paper.
  • Topic: Military Strategy, Conflict, Strategic Stability, Rivalry, Strategic Interests
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Jyrki Kallio
  • Publication Date: 09-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Chinese external and internal politics have manifested increased ideologization in recent years, presumably laying the groundwork for the Communist Party’s 100th anniversary this year. The trend is likely to continue at least until the completion of the 20th Party Congress in 2022. In China’s foreign policy, this ideologization has taken the form of increased emphasis on the realization of China’s “Grand Rejuvenation” and heightened sensitivity to anything that might stand in its way. This is in line with the Party’s historical narrative emphasizing the “century of humiliation” and the ensuing efforts to curb China’s rise. The resulting prestige-driven foreign policy has proved harmful to China’s external image. An easing of Chinese politics may thus be conceivable once the Party has left the current sensitive times behind to its satisfaction. Countries with vital economic ties to China, and which depend at the same time on continued US support in security policies, have little choice but to continue tightroping for a few more years at least.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Hegemony, Conflict, Economic Cooperation
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Frédéric Grare
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: The fisheries sector has become a central geopolitical issue in the Indo-Pacific. China is a major cause of the problems in the industry, thanks to the size of its fleet and the tonnage of its captures. China also contributes to the erosion of ocean governance through its participation in illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. Beijing instrumentalises its fishing fleet for geopolitical gain, as evidenced by its policy on the South China Sea. These predatory fishing activities threaten Europe’s geopolitical and geo-economic interests, as well as its attempts to protect marine biodiversity. Europe cannot be a bystander on the issue; it should develop a more proactive policy on fisheries.
  • Topic: Geopolitics, Fishing, Strategic Interests , Biodiversity
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Ivan Krastev, Mark Leonard
  • Publication Date: 09-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: A majority of European citizens believe a new cold war with both China and Russia is under way – but they mostly do not think that their own country is involved. Most believe the US is already taking part in these confrontations, and they consider EU institutions as more likely than their own governments to be in a cold war with China and Russia. An optimistic interpretation sees the outsourcing of such great-power competition to Brussels as the arrival of a true EU foreign policy – but a more pessimistic analysis sees a gap emerging between Brussels on the one hand and member state capitals and EU citizens on the other. This difference in views between whether one’s own country is taking part in the brewing conflict, as opposed to whether America and the EU are, suggests there is no European public consensus that the world of tomorrow will be one of growing competition between democracy and authoritarianism. Given this risk, policymakers should find a different, less ideological, framing to generate public support for a strong transatlantic alliance.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Cold War, Authoritarianism, European Union, Democracy, Alliance, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, United States of America
  • Author: Ulrike Franke, José I. Torreblanca
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: New technologies are a major redistributor of power among states and a significant force shaping international relations. The European Union has for too long seen technology primarily through an economic lens, disregarding its implications for its partnerships and for its own geopolitical influence. If the EU wants to be more than a mediator between the two real technological powers, the United States and China, it will need to change its mindset. For the EU and its partners, the vulnerabilities created by battles over technology divide into two types: new dependencies and openness to foreign interference. The EU and its member states need deeper engagement with the geopolitical implications and geopolitical power elements of technology. This engagement has an external element of reaching out to partners and an internal element of ensuring close cooperation between the EU and its member states.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, European Union, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, United States of America
  • Author: Anthony Dworkin
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: The pandemic has brought forward a new agenda for multilateralism, focused on areas including global health, economic recovery, climate, technology, and trade. In trying to promote global cooperation, the EU must take account of competition with China and other illiberal powers across these areas. The EU should pursue a twin-track strategy, seeking to revitalise institutions that include rival powers while promoting deeper cooperation with like-minded countries. Europe should launch an initiative to build up global vaccine manufacturing and encourage the free movement of medical goods, and set up a ‘preparedness club’ of countries committed to transparency in their health systems. The EU should look for ways to coordinate with China on climate and global debt, while focusing on work with its liberal partners on technology and human rights.
  • Topic: European Union, Multilateralism, Trade, Vaccine, COVID-19, Global Health
  • Political Geography: China, Europe
  • Author: Agatha Kratz, Janka Oertel
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: China’s vast yet protected home market has allowed some of its firms to acquire a scale that provides them with significant advantages when they compete in other markets. These firms are able to undercut European companies both in the EU and around the world, including in sectors key to Europe’s future economy and security, from energy to telecommunications. The EU urgently needs to incorporate the concept and reality of this ‘protected home market advantage’ into its thinking on China. Europe can defend its own industries by adopting an integrated policy approach, working with like-minded partners around the world, and even prising open closed parts of China’s domestic market. The EU should also look to enhance its single market – both as a defensive measure and a way to improve its strategic sovereignty.
  • Topic: Markets, European Union, Economy, Business , Industry
  • Political Geography: China, Europe
  • Author: Matteo Colombo, Federico Solfrini, Arturo Varvelli
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: Undersea internet cables are critical infrastructure as important as gas and oil pipelines, and are becoming a focus of growing geopolitical competition. Throughout the EU’s wider neighbourhood, geopolitics influences states’ decisions about who is allowed to build internet infrastructure and where they can do so. China and the US differ in their approaches, but both are racing ahead of the EU in their influence over internet infrastructure and the states that depend on it. The EU has the ambition and potential to become a sovereign digital power, but it lacks an all-encompassing strategy for the sector, in which individual governments are still the key players. The EU should set industry standards, help European telecommunications companies win business abroad, and protect internet infrastructure against hostile powers.
  • Topic: Infrastructure, European Union, Geopolitics, Internet, Digital Sovereignty
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, United States of America, Mediterranean
  • Author: Ivan Krastev, Mark Leonard
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: Most Europeans rejoiced at Joe Biden’s victory in the November US presidential election, but they do not think he can help America make a comeback as the pre-eminent global leader. Europeans’ attitudes towards the United States have undergone a massive change. Majorities in key member states now think the US political system is broken, and that Europe cannot just rely on the US to defend it. They evaluate the EU and/or their own countries’ systems much more positively than that of the US – and look to Berlin rather than Washington as the most important partner. There are geopolitical consequences to American weakness. A majority believe that China will be more powerful than the US within a decade and would want their country to stay neutral in a conflict between the two superpowers. Two-thirds of respondents thought the EU should develop its defence capacities. There is a great chance for a revival of Atlanticism, but Washington cannot take European alignment against China for granted. Public opinion will have a bigger effect on the relationship than it once did, and needs to be taken into account.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Public Opinion, Transatlantic Relations
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, United States of America
  • Author: Ulrike Franke
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: Artificial intelligence is a rapidly advancing field that policymakers everywhere are struggling to keep up with. Calls for international, and particularly transatlantic, cooperation are growing. In Europe, interest in strengthening “ethical” AI policy is particularly strong – including as a way of making Europe more attractive than other jurisdictions around the world. Close cooperation between Europe and the US is not a given: Europe sees the US as its main competitor in AI; the US wants to join forces against China on AI, but European interest in such a front is weak. The non-combat military realm may be a good area for transatlantic AI cooperation.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Artificial Intelligence, Transatlantic Relations
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, United States of America
  • Author: Vladimir Shopov
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: China has become the most prominent third actor in the Western Balkans. The country’s activities are spread unevenly across the region, but they follow a common approach. This approach is marked by China’s wide-ranging efforts to establish itself in key economic areas and to gradually position itself as an indispensable actor. China is slowly transforming its interactions with Western Balkans countries in sectors such as culture, media, and politics into long-term and institutionalised relationships. As European and US ambivalence towards the Western Balkans persists, the region will be in increasing danger of falling into an endless spiral of competition between various foreign actors. Western policymakers should address the widening developmental gap between the region and the EU through initiatives such as targeted investment plans in energy and infrastructure, sectoral integration frameworks, and the frontloading of EU law in the accession process.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Infrastructure, European Union, Investment
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Eastern Europe, Balkans, United States of America
  • Author: Carl Bildt
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: The Biden administration’s Interim National Security Strategic Guidance reflects an evolution in US strategic thinking and policy priorities. The document shows how the administration intends to shift away from America Alone and towards America and its Allies. But the optimism and confidence the US expressed in 2015 has been replaced by deep concern over a range of strategic trends. The US will now prioritise strategic competition with China, a new approach to trade, the rise of technology, the defence of democracy, the urgent climate and health crises, and efforts to avoid ‘forever wars’ in the Middle East.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Health, Science and Technology, Democracy, Trade
  • Political Geography: China, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Katharine Klačanský
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Europeum Institute for European Policy
  • Abstract: In her policy paper, Katharine Klačanský, Research Fellow at EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy, discusses the role of climate in geopolitics and provides an overview of the Chinese and American green investment plan and its implications for the future of fossil fuels.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Geopolitics, Green Technology, Fossil Fuels
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Sven Biscop
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: EGMONT - The Royal Institute for International Relations
  • Abstract: Sanctions are much easier to use against your allies than against your enemies. A friend will want to stay in your good books, and is much more likely to modify his behaviour than an adversary, who will probably just harden his resolve to outdo you. The Trump administration liberally used sanctions against allies in Europe and Asia, who did not exactly cave in but did not want things to escalate either.1 The US trade war with China, on the other hand, cost both sides dearly, without resolving anything. In a coordinated move with the US, the UK, and Canada, the EU has adopted sanctions against four Chinese officials and one entity for violating the human rights of the Uighur people in Xinjiang province.2 That is fully legitimate: as a union of democracies, the EU has a moral duty to speak up for human rights everywhere. But are sanctions the most effective way of doing so?
  • Topic: Security, International Cooperation, Sanctions, European Union, Conflict
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Tobias Gehrke
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: EGMONT - The Royal Institute for International Relations
  • Abstract: The currently 2400-page long ‘US Innovation and Competition Act’ making its way through Congress is about one thing only: China. But it also signals a much broader shift in American geoeconomic strategy towards tech industrial policy which matters just as much for Europe. To avoid major rifts, tech industrial diplomacy will need to become a staple of transatlantic affairs.
  • Topic: Industrial Policy, Science and Technology, Transatlantic Relations, Industry, Strategic Interests
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: James Sherr, Frank Jüris
  • Publication Date: 09-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Centre for Defence and Security - ICDS
  • Abstract: Since the conclusion of the Treaty on Good-Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation in 2001, the balance of power between China and Russia has appreciably shifted in favour of the former, but their common definition of the enemy and the complementarity of their core interests remains as strong as it ever was. If the China-Russia relationship is not an alliance, then what is it, and what are its limits? In the Xi-Putin era, apprehension and ambition have transformed the ‘axis of convenience’ into an axis of necessity. But will ‘strategic partnership’ prove important or irrelevant to potential conflicts in Taiwan, Belarus or Ukraine? How much should be made of divergences of approach in Central Asia and the Arctic, where China’s rise leaves no stone unturned? To what extent will Russia continue to welcome the growth of China’s power — to the point of nuclear parity with the United States and, by extension with Russia itself?
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Treaties and Agreements, Bilateral Relations, Partnerships, Geopolitics, Alliance, Emerging Powers
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Eurasia, Taiwan, Asia, Arctic, United States of America
  • Author: Nadège Rolland
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Centre for Defence and Security - ICDS
  • Abstract: After seven decades of liberal order and three decades of American unipolarity, it may be difficult to imagine that the current rules-based international system, supported by liberal norms and values and organised around a set of multilateral institutions, could eventually give way to something radically different. But in Beijing, political and intellectual elites have engaged in intense discussions about building a new world order. This latest brief of China Awareness Series casts light on this discussion and outlines the emerging contours of vision and strategy pursued by China in building a new world order.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, International Affairs, Unipolarity, Emerging Powers, International System
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Una Aleksandra Bērziņa-Čerenkova
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Centre for Defence and Security - ICDS
  • Abstract: NATO’s search for a common, cohesive strategy towards China is among the challenges most likely to reveal deep fractures between the positions of the Allies. In the second of our series of policy briefs intended to shed light on some of the issues related to the Alliance’s further adaptation, Una Aleksandra Bērziņa-Čerenkova of the Latvian Institute of International Affairs examines the Allies’ public statements on China to find the common ground that might form the backbone of a NATO Strategy for China, and the differences between them that still need to be addressed.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Alliance
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, United States of America
  • Author: Didi Kirsten Tatlow
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Centre for Defence and Security - ICDS
  • Abstract: China under the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is poised to become the world’s first technology enabled totalitarian superpower. No country will be untouched by this development, including Estonia, where a Chinese state-owned technology company Nuctech specialising in “security solutions” monitors cargo crossing the NATO border with Russia using a radiation-based technology originally copied from Europe. A clear understanding of the Chinese political system shows why there is fundamental cause for concern in all this, and why Chinese technology should not be viewed as politically neutral.
  • Topic: Security, Science and Technology, Cybersecurity, Hybrid Threats
  • Political Geography: China, Estonia
  • Author: Petr Topychkanov
  • Publication Date: 09-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
  • Abstract: Before the global spread of Covid-19, nuclear-armed China, India and Pakistan lacked official diplomatic exchanges to address nuclear weapon-related issues. The pandemic then halted even unofficial dialogues between these countries, which had existed in various bilateral and multilateral formats. As a result, China, India and Pakistan are faced with the challenge of keeping a desirable level of predictability concerning each other’s nuclear postures and capabilities. This SIPRI Policy Brief explores ways of dealing with this challenge and enhancing nuclear dialogues in South Asia. It considers both longer-term developments in the region and the recent implications of Covid-19. The paper finds that bilateral dialogue remains more feasible than trilateral dialogue between China, India and Pakistan. Nevertheless, it argues that these countries may need to address specific issues in broader formats. Emphasized by the Covid-19 crisis, such issues notably include emerging technologies and autonomy. On the one hand, these technologies support diplomacy digitalization, allowing nuclear-armed states to use online and mixed formats to develop nuclear dialogues between them. On the other hand, if applied in the military area, these technologies may affect nuclear postures and capabilities, and contribute to military escalation.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nuclear Power, Disarmament, Nonproliferation, COVID-19, Dialogue
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, China, South Asia, India
  • Author: John Lee
  • Publication Date: 09-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Hudson Institute
  • Abstract: Evergrande is one of the top-two real estate developers in a still highly fragmented Chinese sector. Its main strategy is to achieve ever-increasing scale (rather than profitability) in order to move ahead of and crowd out commercial competitors. It has also amassed the largest land reserves of all Chinese developers, which were financed through massive borrowings. By 2018, Evergrande held 822 pieces of undeveloped land in 228 cities, with a planned gross floor area of 3.28 billion square feet of new homes—the equivalent of 10 percent of Germany’s entire housing stock. It paid $75 billion just for this undeveloped land. Although Evergrande’s market share is only around 4 percent, its borrowings stand out. Its current balance sheet liabilities amount to an estimated 2 percent of China’s gross domestic product (GDP), while its off-balance-sheet liabilities could be another 1 percent of China’s GDP. This makes Evergrande the most indebted property developer in the world. Burdened by this debt, struggling to meet its debt interest and repayment obligations, and viable only if property asset values and sales continue to increase, Evergrande faces possible financial collapse—an event bound to have flow-on effects for the Chinese economy. However, the unusually high global interest in Evergrande has arisen because its woes are increasingly seen as symptomatic of those faced by the broader Chinese economy, which is struggling with enormous levels of indebtedness and overreliance on the real estate sector. Debt held by nonfinancial institutions in China increased from about 115 percent of GDP in 2010 to around 160 percent of GDP currently. This is the most rapid and largest increase in a 10-year period for any major economy and makes the level of debt held by Chinese nonfinancial institutions one of the highest in the world. The real estate sector accounts for around 15 percent of GDP, while property services account for another 14 percent—the highest in any developing economy. The share of the real estate sector as a proportion of GDP was only about 4 percent in 1997 and 9 percent in 2008. Since 2008, up to a third of all domestic fixed investment has gone into real estate, and up to half of total national debt is linked to the real estate sector.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Debt, Economics, Markets, Business
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Nury Turkel
  • Publication Date: 11-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Hudson Institute
  • Abstract: Acts of genocide are currently underway against the Uyghur people in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of northwestern China, also known as East Turkistan. As part of a campaign of persecution and cultural eradication, Chinese authorities have, according to former detainees and prisoners, subjected millions of Uyghurs and other minorities to rape, torture, forced labor, arbitrary detention, involuntary abortion and sterilization in state-run facilities, and the separation of around half a million Uyghur children from their families. Although both Republicans and Democrats in the United States have acknowledged these horrifying acts as genocide, the rest of the world has been slow to follow, whether because they find the evidence to be inconclusive or because they are reluctant to antagonize China. Regardless, now that the Biden administration is on record declaring the actions of the Chinese government to be genocide, the United States has a legal and moral obligation to do what it can to end the mass atrocities that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is committing against the Uyghur people. While both the Trump and Biden administrations and Congress have already taken steps to address this human rights disaster, more can and should be done to defend the Uyghur people, address their humanitarian needs, promote accountability, and ensure that individuals and entities within the United States—including private businesses—are not complicit in the abuses underway. A strong response to the ongoing genocidal campaign would send a powerful message to Beijing that America will not tolerate efforts to destroy ethno-religious groups, either as a whole or in part. Conversely, failure to act would render the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (which the United States ratified in 1988) and its implementing legislation null and void. Through the three Cs—competition, confrontation, and cooperation—the Biden administration can act in coordination with US friends and allies abroad to end these atrocities. The Biden administration is now on record as recognizing this repressive campaign as genocide, a move that must trigger a response toward Beijing that departs from business as usual. Although China’s significant global influence supports the assumption that effective levers to influence its behavior with respect to human rights issues are lacking, international attention and pressure have already caused Beijing to backpedal to a certain degree. This attention and pressure resulted from US-led efforts to rally international support coupled with US legislative and executive responses, including sanctions, visa restrictions, and trade restrictions. This policy memo outlines the nine areas of action that, performed in coordination with complementary actions of partners and allies, could alleviate the Uyghur human rights crisis, pressure China to reverse course, and ensure that the West and corporate America are not complicit in genocide.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Genocide, Human Rights, Religion
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, United States of America, Xinjiang
  • Author: Eric B. Brown, John Lee, Thomas J. Duesterberg
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Hudson Institute
  • Abstract: Under Xi Jinping, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has established as its paramount geopolitical objective the replacement of the free and open, rules-based order in Asia with an alternative world order, one that is to be dominated by the interests and values of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). This decision presents a danger to the entire world, not just to any one state or group of states. For, as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at the March 2021 US-PRC meeting in Alaska, the alternative to a rules-based order “is a world in which might makes right and winners take all, and that would be a far more violent and unstable world for all of us.” In furtherance of its objectives, the PRC is in the midst of a large military build-up, but there is much more. For today’s CCP, political power grows not only from the “barrel of the gun,” as Mao Zedong once put it, but also from cutting-edge technologies. Thus, while Beijing pours billions into artificial intelligence and surveillance tech to impose its new “digital totalitarianism” inside the PRC, from Hong Kong to Xinjiang, it is also using its growing technological prowess to press its larger geopolitical agenda in the Indo-Pacific and beyond. It is weaponizing technology and connectivity, along with trade, finance, and other policy instruments to try to rule the key technologies and industries of the future, as well as to improve its strategic positioning and acquire political power over other countries—for instance, through its bid to dominate other nations’ most sensitive data networks, or via the export of its suite of “social stability” technologies, i.e., the “techno-tyrant’s toolkit.” In all this, the CCP’s intent is to entrench its power and Leninist norms and practices to the extent it can do so beyond the PRC’s borders, and to make other nations, or at the least their ruling elites, beholden to it. So in addition to the PRC’s militarily destabilizing activities in the West Pacific and incursions into India’s Himalayas, there is also a “geo-technological front.” If Xi’s CCP succeeds at enmeshing other countries in its expanding “PRC sphere of technological influence,” it could unlock and be able to exploit decisive military, economic, diplomatic, and ideological advantages.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Economics, Alliance
  • Political Geography: China, South Asia, East Asia, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Miles M. Yu
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Hudson Institute
  • Abstract: The Chinese economy and the philosophical roots of China’s system have greater implications for the United States economy than many assume. The one critical fact to understand about the People’s Republic of China is that it is a communist dictatorship ruled by a Marxist-Leninist party. The Party is dedicated to maintaining and strengthening its monopoly on all powers in the world’s most populous country and to mounting the most serious challenge to the free world since the Cold War. This policy memo will examine the Chinese economy’s distinct traits, how it operates, and why it thrives under a monopolistic government that exploits and challenges the global free market system, along with possible policy recommendations for the United States and its allies. Unlike most other communist countries, China has been afforded the benefits of a global free-market system and enjoys largely open access to international trade, capital markets, and advanced technologies. The paradox of a communist nation fully participating in a largely capitalist system has enriched and strengthened the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), to the point where Beijing poses a mortal threat to the United States and to the international free market economic system that has enabled the rise of the communist state. The West played a role in creating the current state of play. But too many conversations in the United States focus only on our own strategic thinking. In his historic speech at the Richard Nixon Library in July 2020, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo aptly described the situation and how we got here: “Our policies—and those of other free nations—resurrected China’s failing economy, only to see Beijing bite the international hands that were feeding it.” As President Richard Nixon admitted in his later years, his initiative to open up China in 1972 might have created a Frankenstein.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Communism, Economics, Chinese Communist Party (CCP)
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Nury Turkel
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Hudson Institute
  • Abstract: This memo is adapted from Nury Turkel’s testimony before the US House of Representative’s Committee on Foreign Affairs’ hearing on May 6, 2021, “The Atrocities Against Uyghurs and Other Minorities in Xinjiang.” He testified on behalf of the Uyghur Human Rights Project.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Politics, Religion, Repression, Uyghurs, Freedom
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: David Asher, Miles M. Yu, David Feith, Matthew Zweig, Thomas DiNanno
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Hudson Institute
  • Abstract: Nearly 18 months after word of a deadly new virus began leaking out of Wuhan, China, the Chinese government’s response remains fundamentally hostile to international cooperation and transparency. Despite hundreds of offers of assistance, polite diplomatic entreaties, and demands for access to data by governments and health authorities across the globe, the world still knows far too little about COVID-19’s origin. As in a Dali painting, the clocks have melted but time has not stood still. China’s initial silencing and censoring of its doctors and scientists, followed by misinformation about COVID-19’s dangers—especially denials concerning the virus’s ability to be spread human-to-human, invisibly and asymptomatically—helped cost the world trillions of dollars and millions of lives. Whether one believes COVID-19 originated in a zoonotic host, a bat cave, a frozen food shipment, or a Wuhan lab’s dangerous “dual-use” research supporting undeclared bioweapons programs, the world needs answers from the Chinese Communist Party. These are answers Beijing won’t provide unless it faces a high price for refusing. For the good of public health and international security, the Biden administration and the Congress can unite in a coordinated, long-term response.
  • Topic: Security, Health, Research, Transparency, Public Health, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Thomas DiNanno
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Hudson Institute
  • Abstract: On May 26, 2021, President Biden announced that he had tasked the US Intelligence Community (IC) with providing a definitive review of SARS-CoV-2’s origins within 90 days, and that deadline is fast approaching. On the same day, CNN reported that the Biden administration had shut down another investigation into possible Chinese government dual-use biological programs being conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) and its associated facilities. This investigation, which was being conducted by the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance (AVC), had been initiated by Secretary Pompeo’s State Department in 2019, and its purpose was to answer the following questions: What role, if any, did the Chinese government’s virus research program play in its biological weapons program? Under the Biological Weapons Convention, any use and development of capabilities with potential dual uses (civilian and military) must be for peaceful purposes. Did this virus research program and the spread of SARS-CoV-2 represent a further Chinese violation of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC)? Following the completion of the 90-day review, Congress should, over the short term, request that the AVC Bureau continue the investigation into SARS-CoV-2’s origin that President Biden interrupted and re-assigned to the Intelligence Community. In contrast to the US IC, the Bureau’s sole function is to assess other nations’ compliance with their international arms control obligations and, moreover, has the legal mandate to do so. Additionally, this memo contains recommendations concerning the US government’s compliance-and-verification function over the long term that would support policymakers and allow it to effectively fulfill its Congressional mandate.
  • Topic: Health Care Policy, Pandemic, COVID-19, Global Health
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Peter Rough
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Hudson Institute
  • Abstract: When Xi Jinping, the chairman of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), dreams of global domination, he worries about one thing above all else: a hostile United States backed by its allies—and on the Eurasian landmass, the US has no more important ally than Europe. As a result, Xi has worked to weaken the transatlantic alliance through a two-pronged economic stratagem. First, under the guise of globalization, China has insinuated itself into the European economy, creating dependencies. Second, Beijing is manipulating those dependencies to hollow out and supplant Europe’s advanced economies. To give this deception cover, China has built a vast political network across Europe, from basic sympathizers to outright spies. Until recently, barely anyone took notice, but the financial crisis and forever wars of the past two decades, culminating in the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States, lured the self-confident Xi out into the open. During the coronavirus pandemic, China revealed an aggressive attitude toward Great Britain’s former colonies that shocked the United Kingdom. In the span of mere months, London shifted from cooperation to confrontation. In July, it became the first country in Europe to block the Chinese telecommunications giant, Huawei, from its next-generation networks. Germany, the continent’s most important country, still sees China as key to post-pandemic recovery and economic growth, however. Xi has exploited this attitude to strike an investment agreement with the European Union (EU), the chief purpose of which is to forestall a transatlantic approach under the new US president, Joe Biden. Together, the United States and Europe have unparalleled advantages against any competitor. Now is the time for cooperation, before Xi’s dreams become our collective nightmare.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Chinese Communist Party (CCP)
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Aparna Pande, Husain Haqqani
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Hudson Institute
  • Abstract: The US ought to counteract the influence of Chinese authoritarianism early and often. One relatively low-cost way is to encourage India to engage more deeply as a competitor with China in the global economy. A democracy since its independence in 1947, with a population about the same as that of China, India is that country’s natural rival in Asia. Beginning with India’s decision in 1990-91 to liberalize its economy, the nation has gradually opened its vast market to global trade. Fueled by fresh access to foreign capital and technology, India’s economy grew over six percent during the first decade of the 21st century. In May 2014, this progress was further advanced by the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. For the first time in India’s history, a conservative administration had a clear parliamentary majority, making it possible to legislate foundational, market-positive reform. India has adopted a new insolvency and bankruptcy code and replaced multiple taxation regimes across its states with a federal goods and services tax, which is welcome. But India has done little to end its excessive protectionism. Its distrust of foreign corporations, a legacy of colonial rule, endures. Indian policy makers may believe that the US is so eager for Indian competition with China that Washington will grant them a pass on restrictive trade and investment policies. But there is a better choice. India is nowhere near its full economic potential, and the fix isn’t complicated. The Biden agenda for India should encourage India to lower tariffs, to remove barriers to foreign retail, to roll back unnecessarily restrictive data privacy rules, and to provide economic incentives for foreign investment.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Trade
  • Political Geography: China, South Asia, India, United States of America
  • Author: John Lee
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Hudson Institute
  • Abstract: Since around 2016, Australia has been transitioning away from a “small target” hedging mindset toward a more proactive countering and balancing approach vis-à-vis the People’s Republic of China. This is largely a response to the increasingly assertive and coercive activities of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which is the predominant cause of instability, uncertainty, and anxiety in Canberra and throughout the Indo-Pacific region. The CCP has implemented a sustained and cascading array of economic and diplomatic punishments against Australia in an attempt to intimidate Australia and force changes in Australian policy. Beijing is explicit that this is the purpose of the ongoing series of punishments against Canberra. In November 2020, its embassy in Canberra went to the extraordinary lengths of releasing the infamous “14 grievances” against the Australian government[i] to justify the ongoing punitive measures. These included mainly domestic Australian policies such as restrictions on Chinese investment, the funding of Australian think tanks critical of the PRC, the passing of foreign interference legislation to root out Chinese interference in Australian institutions, and the banning of Chinese firms from the Australian 5G telecommunications roll-out. Australia is widely seen as the proverbial canary in the mine and needs American support. If Australia can hold its ground and continue to find the courage and creativity to pursue its national interest, then the PRC will suffer an enormous blow. On the other hand, if Australia is eventually cowed by the PRC and relents on key policy settings, then other sovereign nations might well lose the courage to stand firmer against the PRC’s coercion and intimidation. Strengthening the fortitude of Australian leaders is the assurance that the United States is behind its ally. That assurance was previously given to Canberra by the Donald Trump administration and has been continued by the Joe Biden administration. Indeed, the Biden administration has declared it will go further and do better than the previous administration in reinvigorating and deepening its alliances and friendships with Indo-Pacific nations to better manage the PRC challenge and threat. This brief has been prepared to assist the Biden team in doing just that. It gives some context to Australia’s evolving Indo-Pacific strategy: how a nation that is not a superpower is thinking about the PRC’s policies and activities in the region, why Canberra is taking proactive and forward leaning actions to counter and balance the PRC, and what Canberra is hoping will be some priority areas for the Biden administration with respect to the Indo-Pacific approach and strategy by the US.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Joe Biden, Strategic Planning
  • Political Geography: China, Australia, United States of America, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Yuka Fukunaga
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: The multilateral trading system under the World Trade Organization (WTO) has been of the utmost importance for Japan's trade policy. In particular, Japan strongly supports the WTO’s rule-based dispute settlement mechanism, and frequently uses it. At the same time, in recent years, the adoption and implementation of regional and mega-regional trade agreements have become critical in Japan’s trade policy, with the stalling of the Doha Round negotiations in the WTO. Although the core of its trade policy remains the same today, Japan has been forced to rethink and modify it in response to the aggressive and unilateral trade policy of the Trump administration.
  • Topic: World Trade Organization, Governance, Internet, Free Trade, Trade Policy
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, Asia, South Korea, North America, United States of America, European Union
  • Author: John Seaman
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: From emerging technological fields such as 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart cities to traditional sectors including energy, health care, railways and agriculture, China is increasingly proactive in nearly every domain where technical standards remain to be developed and set. Technical standards are the definition of processes or technical specifications designed to improve the quality, security and compatibility of various goods and services, for instance GSM for telecommunications or WiFi for wireless Internet. They can be thought of as basic specifications or technologies on which other technologies or methods will evolve – creating lock-in effects and path-dependency for future products and technological trajectories. Defining standards can provide significant benefits for society at large, but can also carry significant implications for which technologies will dominate future markets and provide substantial advantages to those who master standardized technologies. Chinese policymakers have become keenly aware of the relationship between technical standard-setting and economic power. Indeed, a popular saying in China posits that third-tier companies make products, second-tier companies make technology, first-tier companies make standards. In 2015, the State Council highlighted China’s deficiencies in the field and set out to transform the country’s standardization system, seeking to harness the capacity of standard setting not only to improve the daily lives of its citizens, but to drive innovation, boost China’s economic transformation toward the industries of the future, and turn China into a premier purveyor of international technical standards.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Communications, Multilateralism, Standardization
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The clergy’s ambitions for global Shia revolution made the city of Qom uniquely vulnerable to the disease, and their resistance to modern medical science weakened the state’s ability to combat its spread. On February 19, two days before the Iranian government officially announced the arrival of coronavirus, an infected businessman who had recently returned from China to Qom passed away. The location and timing of his death illustrate how the Shia holy city and the religious leaders and institutions who call it home have played an outsize role in the disease’s disproportionately rapid spread inside Iran compared to other countries. How did this situation come to pass, and what does it say about the current state of the clerical establishment, its relationship with the regime, and its alienation from large swaths of Iranian society? (Part 2 of this PolicyWatch discusses the regime's role in the outbreak and its resiliency to such crises.)
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Health, Religion, Shia, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: China, Iran, Middle East, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Brendan Taylor
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Australian diplomacy could ease rising tensions across the Taiwan Strait, if Australian policymakers rediscovered an appetite for involvement in the flashpoint. Tensions between Taiwan and China are rising, driven in part by an increasingly assertive government in Beijing, growing Taiwanese estrangement from the Chinese mainland, and deteriorating US–China relations. If key regional governments fail to help de-escalate tensions, the consequences are likely to be serious. Rather than continue the debate about Australia’s position on its ANZUS obligations should the United States invoke the treaty in a Taiwan conflict, Australia should work with other regional powers to advocate for more robust risk avoidance and crisis management mechanisms.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Diplomacy, Territorial Disputes, Multilateralism, Crisis Management
  • Political Geography: China, Taiwan, Asia, Australia, United States of America
  • Author: Cheon-Kee Lee
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP)
  • Abstract: On 14 January 2020 the United States, the European Union, and Japan (hereinafter referred to as “US-EU-Japan”) issued a trilateral joint statement, proposing a set of new rules to strengthen WTO regulation on industrial subsidies. While a total of seven joint announcements have been made so far, this is the first time that three WTO Members have presented specific ideas on how to amend existing subsidy rules. Many of the proposed amendments seem to primarily target China’s trade policy and practices. Among the six amendment items proposed in the Joint Statement, it seems that the United States is paying particular attention to the sixth item, i.e. in making explicit the possibility of using the out-of-country benchmark and on introducing necessary requirements to do so in measuring the benefit conferred and, ultimately, in calculating the amount of the countervailing duties (CVDs). Against this backdrop, in this Brief the author analyzes the relevant WTO provisions and GATT/WTO jurisprudence, and discusses various scenarios on future negotiations on WTO Reform on industrial subsidies.
  • Topic: World Trade Organization, Economy, Negotiation, Trade Policy, Industry
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, United States of America, European Union
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This policy paper sets out the various interests and goals of global powers (the US, Russia, China and the EU) in the Mediterranean, and the measures they are undertaking to implement them. The document also describes Israeli policies vis-àvis the powers’ activities in this region, and points to the principles that should guide them. The paper is based on a July 2019 meeting in Jerusalem of the research and policy working group on Israel in the Mediterranean, held at the initiative of the Mitvim Institute, the Hebrew University’s Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations and Haifa University’s National Security Studies Center.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Middle East, Israel, United States of America, Mediterranean
  • Author: Frank Aum, Jacob Stokes, Patricia M. Kim, Atman M. Trivedi, Rachel Vandenbrink, Jennifer Staats, Joseph Yun
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: A joint statement by the United States and North Korea in June 2018 declared that the two countries were committed to building “a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.” Such a peace regime will ultimately require the engagement and cooperation of not just North Korea and the United States, but also South Korea, China, Russia, and Japan. This report outlines the perspectives and interests of each of these countries as well as the diplomatic, security, and economic components necessary for a comprehensive peace.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy, Economy, Peace
  • Political Geography: Russia, Japan, China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea, Korean Peninsula, United States of America
  • Author: Filippo Cutrera
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: BRICS Policy Center
  • Abstract: The present paper has three main objectives: first, to show that, over the first decade of existence of the group, between 2009 and 2018, the BRICS have manifested an increasing interest in expanding their cooperation beyond the traditional areas of economy and development to the field of global security; second, to present the content of their common security agenda and how it has developed throughout this period; third, to identify the main factors influencing the agenda-setting process of the group as well as the main challenges to further advancement. The research will conclude that the high levels of informality in the group’s cooperation and heterogeneity in the interests of its members have enabled BRICS to formulate common positions and to establish cooperation mechanisms on a broad range of issues of international security.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, National Security, Regional Cooperation, International Security
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, India, South Africa, Brazil
  • Author: Cullen S. Hendrix
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The Trump administration’s Africa strategy is rooted in three misconceptions about China’s African footprint—and a fourth about US-Africa economic relations—that are either factually incorrect or overstated in terms of the broader strategic challenges they pose to US interests: (1) Chinese engagement in Africa crowds out opportunities for trade and investment with and from the United States; (2) Chinese engagement in Africa is resource-seeking—to the detriment of US interests; (3) Chinese engagement in Africa is designed to foster debt-based coercive diplomacy; and (4) US-Africa economic linkages are all one-way and concessionary (i.e., aid-based). Hendrix finds little evidence to suggest Chinese trade and investment ties crowd out US trade and investment opportunities. China’s resource-seeking bent is evident in investment patterns, but it is more a function of Africa’s having comparatively large, undercapitalized resource endowments than China’s attempt to corner commodity markets. Chinese infrastructural development—particularly large projects associated with the Belt and Road Initiative—may result in increased African indebtedness to the Chinese, but there is little reason to think debt per se will vastly expand Chinese military capacity in the region. And finally, US-Africa economic relations are much less one-sided and concessionary (i.e., aid-based) than conventional wisdom suggests.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations, Infrastructure, Economy, Trade, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Ana González, Euijin Jung
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: By refusing to fill vacancies in the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Appellate Body—the top body that hears appeals and rules on trade disputes—the Trump administration has paralyzed the key component of the dispute settlement system. No nation or group of nations has more at stake in salvaging this system than the world’s big emerging-market economies: Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Korea, Mexico, and Thailand, among others. These countries have actively and successfully used the dispute settlement system to defend their commercial interests abroad and resolve inevitable trade conflicts. The authors suggest that even though the developing countries did not create the Appellate Body crisis, they may hold a key to unlock it. The Trump administration has also focused its ire on a longstanding WTO practice of giving these economies latitude to seek “special and differential treatment” in trade negotiations because of their developing-country status. The largest developing economies, which have a significant stake in preserving a two-step, rules-based mechanism for resolving trade disputes, could play a role in driving a potential bargain to save the appeals mechanism. They could unite to give up that special status in return for a US commitment to end its boycott of the nomination of Appellate Body members.
  • Topic: Development, Government, World Trade Organization, Developing World, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: China, Indonesia, India, South Korea, Brazil, North America, Mexico, Thailand, United States of America
  • Author: Valerie Niquet
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Japan Institute Of International Affairs (JIIA)
  • Abstract: China plays a significant role in Africa, particularly in Ethiopia, where the current Director-General of the WHO was Minister of Health and then Minister of Foreign Affairs. This opaque influence and the support given by Beijing to Dr. Tedros seems to have weighed on the positions taken by the WHO in the face of the Covid 19 crisis. The consequences of these decisions are now being felt worldwide and contribute to undermining the credibility of a fragile multilateral system.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, United Nations, World Health Organization, Multilateralism, Soft Power, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, Asia
  • Author: Monika Chansoria
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Japan Institute Of International Affairs (JIIA)
  • Abstract: South China Sea’s territorial disputes gained the spotlight yet again with the April 18, 2020 announcement1 by China’s State Council, through which, it approved setting up ‘two new’ municipal districts (dependencies of the southernmost Sansha city, in the Hainan province) covering the South China Sea – namely the ‘Xisha District’ and ‘Nansha District’. Home to an estimated 11 billion barrels of untapped oil, and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea possess rich natural resources and fishing areas. The Fiery Cross Reef will be in charge of the administration of the islands, reefs, and sea areas of the Spratly Islands.2 The Fiery Cross Reef used to be an underwater reef that was converted into an artificial island following massive land reclamation undertaken by China. This reef was virtually untouched by manmade structures until March 2014 and was transformed into an artificial island in the span of one year by March 2015. Furthermore, the Woody Island will be in charge of the administration of the islands, reef, and sea areas of the Paracel Islands.3 China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs and the Ministry of Natural Resources has released the longitudes, latitudes, and standardized names of 25 islands and reefs and 55 undersea geographic entities in the disputed South China Sea. The listed islands include Sanzhizai – an islet north of the Woody Island in Sansha city in South China’s Hainan Province.
  • Topic: Territorial Disputes, Geopolitics, Arbitration
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Philippines, South China Sea
  • Author: Thomas S. Wilkins
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Japan Institute Of International Affairs (JIIA)
  • Abstract: The spread of the novel Corona Virus COVID-19 from the Chinese province of Hebei across the world has resulted in a global pandemic of catastrophic proportions. Certain countries have been affected more severely than others, and there have been glaring disparities in how national governments have responded to the outbreak. In addition to the global death toll of 400,000 (and counting), the industrial and financial disruption has been severe, with the Asian Development Bank estimating the loss to the global economy at between USD$ 5.8-8.8 trillion.1 To overcome the current crisis, and work toward a vaccine, global solidarity, including cooperation through multilateral organizations like the World Heath Organization (WHO), is desperately needed.
  • Topic: Health, Bilateral Relations, Geopolitics, Economy, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Australia, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Wendy Cutler
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Asia Society
  • Abstract: Much attention has been focused on China’s unfair intellectual property practices and the imbalance in the U.S.-China trade relationship, but equally troubling are large-scale Chinese industrial subsidies, the behavior of state-owned enterprises (SOEs), and in general, the oversized and opaque role of the Chinese state in the economy. While the U.S-China phase one trade deal tackled some important sources of bilateral tension and aimed to boost Chinese purchases of U.S. goods and services, it was silent on industrial subsidies and related matters, leaving them for the next phase of negotiations, the fate of which is now in question. U.S. concerns on these matters are shared by other trading partners including the European Union (EU) and Japan. Yet despite widespread disapproval of such practices, building new global rules to combat subsidies has proven challenging. This is due to several factors, ranging from gridlock at the WTO, differences of views among like-minded countries on the required level of ambition, and uncertainty as to how best to approach the enormous complexities in China’s subsidies and related policies. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has sought to unpack this complexity, conducting recent studies of Chinese subsidies in two key sectors: aluminum and semiconductors. Both studies illustrate how Chinese subsidies are not simple cash handouts from the state to protected firms so that they can sell at favorable and distorting prices. The OECD finds subsidies can take various forms, including downstream or upstream help that trickles up or down to the firm that’s intended to benefit. They can take the form of favorable equity or debt purchases or bonds provided at below-market rates. And with interconnected global value chains, subsidies can effectively be granted covertly, intended to benefit one firm that might be several links away along the chain. In China, the problem is compounded by an opaque “party-state” structure that obscures not only the recipients of subsidies, but also the source. According to Mark Wu, a Harvard Law School professor who previously served as the Director for Intellectual Property in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, subsidies not only flow directly from government bodies in Beijing, but also indirectly through informal responses to directives — sometimes even left unsaid, but understood — from the Chinese Communist Party. Against this backdrop, the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) convened two roundtables in the fall of 2019 and the spring of 2020 to discuss how best to build a new rules-based infrastructure that might combat such subsidies and prevent trade-distorting results such as unfair competition, market access barriers, and, above all, overcapacity in global markets. Experts from the private sector, think tanks, governments, and academia weighed in with possible solutions, which included: Negotiating new rules in the WTO; Using the WTO dispute settlement system, despite its often-discussed flaws; Forming ad hoc rules-based approaches, where possible, like the U.S-EU-Japan trilateral initiative; Plurilateral negotiations conducted on a sector-by-sector basis; Forming coalitions of like-minded trading partners to establish an alternative model, much in the way that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was framed. During the roundtables, most experts agreed that there is no silver bullet that solves the subsidy and related issues on its own. And most agree that, left unaddressed, the problem is likely to deepen. The COVID-19 pandemic might even exacerbate it by leading to more state involvement in economies around the world and making it hard to discipline Beijing’s practices. Recognizing all of these real challenges that the international trade community faces, the roundtables reached the following key conclusions: Transparency on the scope, level, and nature of industrial subsidies is vital; Efforts to publicize the ongoing work in these areas, particularly that being done by the OECD, should accelerate; Turning research into tangible new policies is a key step; and Persuading China to agree to updated rules will be necessary, given that China is a singular contributor to overcapacity.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements, Trade, Industry, WTO
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Phil Thornton
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The world is facing unprecedented health and economic crises that require a global solution. Governments have locked down their economies to contain the mounting death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic. With this response well underway, now is the time to move into a recovery effort. This will require a coordinated response to the health emergency and a global growth plan that is based on synchronized monetary, fiscal, and debt relief policies. Failure to act will risk a substantial shock to the postwar order established by the United States and its allies more than seventy years ago. The most effective global forum for coordinating this recovery effort is the Group of 20 (G20), which led the way out of the global financial crisis (GFC) in 2009, the closest parallel we have to the current catastrophe. Eleven years ago, world leaders used the G20 meeting in London as the forum to deliver a unified response and a massive fiscal stimulus that helped stem economic free fall and prevented the recession from becoming a second Great Depression. A decade on, it is clear that the G20 is the only body with the clout to save the global economy. This does not mean that the G20 should be the only forum for actions for its member states. The United States, for example, should also work closely with like-minded states that support a rules-based world order, and there are many other fora where it can and must be active with partners and allies. But no others share the G20’s depth and breadth in the key focus areas for recovery. The other multilateral organizations that could take up the challenge lack either the substance or membership. The United Nations may count all countries as members but is too unwieldly to coordinate a response. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has the resources but requires direction from its 189 members. The Group of Seven (G7), which once oversaw financial and economic management, does not include the fast-growing emerging economies. The G20 represents both the world’s richest and fastest-growing countries, making it the forum for international collaboration. It combines that representation with agility.
  • Topic: Security, Energy Policy, G20, Global Markets, Geopolitics, Economy, Business , Trade, Coronavirus, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Middle East, Canada, Asia, Saudi Arabia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Jeffrey Cimmino, Matthew Kroenig, Barry Pavel
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic is a strategic shock, and its almost immediate, damaging effects on the global economy constitute a secondary disruption to global order. Additional secondary strategic shocks (e.g., in the developing world) are looming. Together, these developments pose arguably the greatest threat to the global order since World War II. In the aftermath of that conflict, the United States and its allies established a rules-based international system that has guaranteed freedom, peace, and prosperity for decades. If the United States and its allies do not act effectively, the pandemic could upend this order. This issue brief considers the current state of the pandemic and how it has strained the global rules-based order over the past few months. First, it considers the origins of the novel coronavirus and how it spread around the world. Next, it examines how COVID-19 has exacerbated or created pressure points in the global order, highlights uncertainties ahead, and provides recommendations to the United States and its partners for shaping the post-COVID-19 world.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO, Diplomacy, Politics, European Union, Economy, Business , Coronavirus, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, South Asia, Eurasia, India, Taiwan, Asia, North America, Korea, United States of America, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Audrey Hruby
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Global powers are jockeying for access to opportunities in African markets. In recent years, through the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, the Tokyo International Conference of African Development, the Russia-Africa Summit, and many others, the world’s largest economies have sought to make headway in what are seen as fast-growing and lucrative new markets. In this environment, effective United States (US)-Africa policy requires greater focus on areas of American competitiveness and concerted efforts to educate, mobilize, and support US commercial success in African markets. In this update of her 2017 issue brief “Escaping China’s shadow: Finding America’s competitive edge in Africa,” Senior Fellow Aubrey Hruby outlines recommendations for how to best utilize Prosper Africa and leverage American private sector competitiveness by focusing efforts on sectors in which the United States already leads.
  • Topic: Global Markets, Economy, Trade, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, United States of America
  • Author: Kharis Templeman
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Over the past three decades, democracy has put down roots in many seemingly unlikely places across Asia, from Mongolia to Indonesia. At a time when democracy is in global retreat, the majority of these Asian regimes have demonstrated surprising resiliency, though many continue to suffer from glaring flaws: weak state capacity and accountability institutions, the absence of impartial rule of law, and uneven protection of political rights and civil liberties. This issue brief, “Democracy under Siege: Advancing Cooperation and Common Values in the Indo-Pacific,” by Dr. Kharis Templeman, examines challenges and opportunities for advancing cooperation and common values in the Indo-Pacific as the region faces an increasing challenge from China.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Corruption, Diplomacy, International Organization, Politics, Reform, Elections, Democracy, Rule of Law, Norms, Transition
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, Taiwan, East Asia, Asia, Australia, Korea, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Ketian Zhang
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: China’s coercive behavior in the post–Cold War period suggests three patterns. First, China uses coercion when it wants to establish a reputation for resolve. Second, China has been a cautious bully, resorting to coercion only infrequently. Third, when China perceives the “geopolitical backlash cost” of military coercion to be high, it chooses instead to use sanctions and grayzone coercion. (“Geopolitical backlash cost” refers here to the possibility that the target state will seek to balance against China, with the potential for U.S. military involvement.) When China perceives the geopolitical backlash cost to be low, it is more likely to use military coercion.
  • Topic: Sovereignty, Power Politics, Geopolitics, Economy
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, South China Sea
  • Author: Luke Patey
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Much of Europe’s attention to Asia is currently being captured by China. However, if the European Union and its member states are serious about maintaining a rules-based global order and advancing multilateralism and connectivity, it should increase its work in building partnerships across Asia, particularly in the Indo-Pacific super-region. To save multilateralism, go to the Indo-Pacific. RECOMMENDATIONS: ■ Multilateralism first. Unpack and differentiate where the United States and China support the rules-based order and where not, but also look to new trade deals and security pacts with India and Southeast Asia partners. ■ Targeted connectivity. The EU should continue to offer support to existing regional infrastructure and connectivity initiatives. ■ Work in small groups. EU unanimity on China and Indo-Pacific policy is ideal, but not always necessary to get things done. ■ Asia specialists wanted. Invest in and develop career paths for Asia specialists in foreign and defence ministries and intelligence services.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Emerging Markets, International Organization, Science and Technology, Power Politics, European Union
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Camilla Tenna Nørup Sørensen
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: U.S.-China strategic rivalry is intensifying – and nowhere more so than in the Indo-Pacific. This is likely to result in new US requests to close allies like Denmark to increase their security and defense policy contributions to the region. French and British efforts to establish an independent European presence in the Indo-Pacific present Denmark with a way to accommodate US requests without being drawn directly into the US confrontation with China. RECOMMENDATIONS ■ The importance of the Indo-Pacific region for Danish security and defense policy is likely to grow in the coming years. The focus and resources should therefore be directed towards strengthening Danish knowledge of and competences in the region. ■ Several European states, led by France and the UK, are increasing their national and joint European security and defense profiles in the Indo-Pacific by launching new initiatives. Denmark should remain closely informed about these initiatives and be ready to engage with them. ■ Regarding potential requests to the Danish Navy for contributions to the Indo-Pacific, Denmark should prioritize the French-led European naval diplomacy.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Politics, Power Politics
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, Denmark, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Kulani Abendroth-Dias, Carolin Kiefer
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Women In International Security (WIIS)
  • Abstract: For delivery within the European Union, Amazon now sells facial recognition cameras for door locks, webcams, home security systems, and office attendance driven by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)—powerful tools with civilian and military purposes. Germany, France, Spain, Denmark and Romania have tested and often deployed AI and ML facial recognition tools, many of which were developed in the United States and China, for predictive policing and border control. AI and ML systems aid in contact tracing and knowledge sharing to contain the COVID-19 virus. However, the civilian and military strategies that drive use of AI and ML for the collection and use of data diverge across the member states of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
  • Topic: NATO, Science and Technology, Artificial Intelligence, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Europe
  • Author: Naďa Kovalčíková, Gabrielle Tarin
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Women In International Security (WIIS)
  • Abstract: The rise of China poses a strategic challenge for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The Alliance needs a comprehensive political, economic, and security strategy to deal with China’s growing global power. The more assertive a role China plays in world affairs, the more it could undercut NATO’s cohesion and military advantages by translating commercial inroads in Europe into political influence, investing in strategically important sectors, and achieving major breakthroughs in advanced digital technologies.
  • Topic: NATO, Science and Technology, International Security, Digital Cooperation , Digital Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Europe
  • Author: Cristina Gherasimov
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: The EU is set to adopt a new Eastern Partnership (EaP) policy at a summit in June. This is strategically important for it and for its eastern neighborhood, where other powers like Russia and China pursue competing interests. As the policymaking process stands and given the tight deadline, however, the EU will only update and not upgrade the EaP framework due to EU states’ diverging interests. Brussels and Berlin will need to keep the EaP on the agenda after the summit to safeguard the EU’s transformative power in the region.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, European Union, Partnerships
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Didi Kirsten Tatlow
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: The Communist Party of China (CPC) plans for China to achieve effective global dominance by 2049. It is using the major global crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to secure strategic advantage through propaganda and disinformation, assertive, sometimes aggressive diplomacy, pursuing targeted investments, and offering “health cooperation.” The CPC has long targeted European business and political elites to build constituencies of support. Europe must counter by building robust societies based on core democratic values.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, COVID-19, Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Health Crisis
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Jacopo Maria Pepe
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: As the coronavirus pandemic fuels technological and geopolitical competition among the great powers, Europe’s relations with China and Russia are facing new challenges and risks. Still, the reconfiguration of power in Eurasia also brings unexpected opportunities for European actors in the area of connectivity. To seize them, the EU needs to reconcile its aspiration to be a globally accepted “normative-regulatory” power with both its limited financial means and its more assertive attitude to geopolitics.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, European Union, Geopolitics, Strategic Competition, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Europe, Eurasia, Asia
  • Author: Karina Gerlach, Robert Kang
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: 2020 is the 75th anniversary year of the United Nations (UN), and it has already shaped up to be a year of unprecedented international shocks and potential for transformation, from COVID-19’s impact to the current mobilization for racial justice in many areas of the world. What does this mean for global trust in international cooperation and multilateral institutions? This briefing by Karina Gerlach and Robert Kang examines recent global polling data, finding a growing demand for international cooperation but diminished trust in international institutions to play a role in the response to COVID-19. It also looks at shifts in member state leadership and perceptions of United States-China rivalry, arguing that middle power alliances and regional networks offer a path forward for international cooperation even in difficult circumstances.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Race, United Nations, Reform, Multilateralism, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Janka Oertel
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: Since the onset of the covid-19 crisis, there has been a new convergence of EU member states’ assessment of the challenges China poses to Europe. The Sino-European economic relationship lacks reciprocity, and there are mounting concerns within the EU about China’s assertive approach abroad, as well as its breaches of international legal commitments and massive violations of human rights in Hong Kong and Xinjiang. Overall, there is growing scepticism about the future trajectory of the relationship, which provides an opportunity for a more robust and coherent EU policy on China. In its remaining months, the German Council presidency could use this momentum to create institutional structures to improve the EU’s capacity to act. In doing so, it will be crucial to ease concerns about Franco-German dominance of the China agenda – especially those of eastern and southern European countries – while enabling all member states to become more engaged in shaping the EU’s future approach to China.
  • Topic: International Relations, Human Rights, European Union, Economy, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Susi Dennison, Livia Franco
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: Portugal’s plans for the EU presidency centre on European priorities for the pre-coronavirus world. These include the completion of the monetary union, the UK-EU relationship after Brexit, the EU’s relationships with Africa and India, climate change, digital transformation, and social inequality. The Portuguese EU presidency should handle these issues in line with European voters’ perceptions of the new reality created by the coronavirus. Many Europeans have lost confidence in the transatlantic relationship, fear for Europe’s place in a world dominated by US-China competition, and want the EU to provide global leadership and shape the international order. Portugal can help the EU develop a foreign policy strategy that takes account of these changes.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, European Union, Transatlantic Relations, Strategic Competition, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Portugal, United States of America