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  • 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: Timothy A. Walton, Bryan Clark
  • Publication Date: 11-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Hudson Institute
  • Abstract: The US military’s aerial refueling enterprise is a critical component of its ability to project power globally in defense of American interests. As the US military adopts new concepts to enhance its lethality and gain decision advantage, aerial refueling is increasingly necessary to enable a more distributed and dynamic force. However, with an aging inventory of tanker aircraft and stiff budgetary headwinds, it is an open question whether the US Air Force is capable of fielding the aerial refueling force that the nation needs. This study assesses the current and programmed US aerial refueling enterprise and has found that it likely would be unable to support US strategy and operational concepts at scale against peer adversaries such as the People’s Republic of China. However, the US military could address these shortfalls and improve the operational resilience of its aerial refueling enterprise by adopting new concepts, capabilities, capacities, and posture.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, National Security, Science and Technology, Military Spending
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • 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: 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: Robert Greenway
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Hudson Institute
  • Abstract: The Abraham Accords constitute the beginning of a transformation of a region that has confounded many, and that will continue to be a vital battleground astride the security and economic interests of world powers. American leadership was a necessary but alone insufficient condition to the emergence of this agreement. American leadership will remain essential to its growth and evolution. The alignment of our regional partners and allies in both economic and security domains will ensure that the agreement endures. It will also incentivize others to join us in pooling critical capacities to advance and defend mutual interests. This transformation serves to constrain Iran – the threat from which has been recognized as causal – even as it constrains the malign influence and predatory practices of China and Russia. They will continue to manufacture and exploit fissures among the U.S. and its regional partners if we fail to exploit the favorable shift in the region’s security and economic architecture. On the other hand, appropriate support will allow the Abraham Accords to advance and secure America’s interests with the use of significantly fewer resources and with more capable partners integrated as never before.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Economics, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: John Lee
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Hudson Institute
  • Abstract: The first monograph in this series, China’s Economic Slowdown: Root Causes, Beijing’s Response and Strategic Implications for the US and Allies, examined the structural problems in the Chinese economy that have led to a recent permanent slowdown after three decades of double-digit growth rates. The monograph focused on the political and economic costs of the slowdown and efforts to stabilize an economy that has poured far too much national wealth into commercially unproductive areas. Yet the Communist Party is not passively awaiting an unhappy economic fate in connection with its mounting imbalances and domestic economic dysfunction. In many respects, its leaders have been highly creative in seeking solutions that do not entail a weakening of the party’s hold on economic power. On the contrary, the party has been busily shaping and pursuing grand strategic policies such as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Made in China 2025 (MIC 2025) to solve or alleviate many of its domestic political-economic problems. This monograph, part two in the series, examines how the US and its allies can confront and counter these Chinese strategies and initiatives. It will do so by taking seriously the challenge they present and suggesting responses that take into account Chinese vulnerabilities and the points of leverage available to the US and its allies. This linking of China’s vulnerabilities and weaknesses, on the one hand, and its ambition and purpose with respect to its outward-focused policies, is essential for effective policy responses. If the domestic is not linked with the external, US policies are much more likely to become complacent, counterproductive, or susceptible to overreaching. In linking analyses of Beijing’s domestic political economy with its external policies, the monograph will challenge some enduring but incorrect grand narratives that play into the hands of the CCP.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economics, Science and Technology, Trade
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: John Lee
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Hudson Institute
  • Abstract: Throughout the United States, it is becoming increasingly clear that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is exploiting COVID-19 in an effort to reshape the global order and enhance China’s international leadership at the expense of the US. A range of prominent commentators further assert that the Trump administration bears much of the blame for this turn of events. This argument tends to rest on twin assumptions:1 China is winning the battle of narratives when it comes to comparative national competence and its decisiveness in responding to its COVID-19 outbreak. The Trump administration is damaging America’s standing by getting off to a bad start in its response to the pandemic, exposing the underlying weaknesses of American institutions and preparedness for such a crisis. These arguments correctly acknowledge that the global pandemic is occurring within a context of US-China strategic, political, and economic competition and/or rivalry. This is the point of warnings to the administration that there is more at stake than containing and managing the virus, even if that is the immediate priority.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Economics, Health, National Security, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, East Asia
  • Author: Eric B. Brown, Patrick M. Cronin, H.R. McMaster, Husain Haqqani, Aparna Pande, Satoru Nagao, John Lee, Seth Cropsey, Peter Rough, Liselotte Odgaard, Blaise Misztal, Douglas J. Feith, Michael Doran
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Hudson Institute
  • Abstract: The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has introduced a series of new stresses and factors in the US-China relationship. While the world has struggled to contain the pandemic and its tragic repercussions, the People’s Republic of China has used the outbreak to launch a global campaign of misinformation, further its economic coercion through the Belt and Road Initiative, and continue military expansion efforts in the South China Sea. China’s attempt to exploit the pandemic for political, strategic, and economic gain is problematic in the current environment, yet it is consistent with, and a continuation of, China’s long-term strategy. This report offers a global survey and assessment of attempts by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to expand its influence, including by exploiting the pandemic. As the United States and its allies focus on combatting the virus and salvaging their economies, there is an opportunity to better understand China’s strategy and develop a unified response.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Economics, Strategic Competition, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, South Asia, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: John Lee
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Hudson Institute
  • Abstract: This report makes the following arguments: From Taiwan’s perspective, the greater its economic presence and importance to the world, the better positioned it is to reduce its dependency on China and maintain its autonomy. This also serves US interests. From the US perspective, deepening the economic relationship with Taiwan in strategic ways will assist it in achieving greater economic distance from China and reducing the extent to which China can capture and dominate global supply and value chains in the future. The US and Taiwanese economies are largely complementary, and this can become even more so. Thus, a deeper bilateral economic relationship will be generally consistent with domestic economic objectives, such as prioritizing high-value job creation and preventing high-value supply chains from remaining in China or leaving the United States. The report offers recommendations to: help prevent the hollowing out of Taiwan’s competitive strengths; help Taiwan broaden and deepen its participation in the regional and international economic space, which is currently being narrowed by China; assist with Taiwan’s desire to lower dependency on China-based supply chains, especially with respect to high-value-added processes; encourage more bilateral investment, intra-industry relations and firm-to-firm activity between the United States and Taiwan.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Economics, Domestic Policy
  • Political Geography: China, Taiwan, Asia
  • Author: James Barnett
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Hudson Institute
  • Abstract: For better or worse, US-Africa policy will not be an urgent priority for the Biden-Harris administration when it takes office in January. Domestic challenges, particularly the COVID-19 pandemic and attendant economic crisis, will dominate the administration’s focus from day one. In the realm of foreign affairs, issues ranging from transatlantic relations to East Asian security are likely to command the attention of administration officials during its first months in office. Nevertheless, the day-to-day demands of the executive branch should hopefully not distract the new administration from the many challenges and opportunities Africa presents to US foreign policy. Some of these challenges are already being discussed in Washington, at least in broad terms. China’s continued efforts to build influence across Africa and the expansion of Salafi-jihadi insurgencies in various parts of the continent have been on the radar of US policymakers for several years. However, an exclusive focus on easily identifiable enemies and competitors misses the situation’s big picture and carries significant risks. Many of the impediments to US foreign policy in Africa are rooted in larger structural and ideological issues that Washington has little ability to affect in the short-term. Similarly, a black-and-white view of international politics elides the many ways external interventions impact Africa. For example, several of Washington’s Middle Eastern partners have waged proxy conflicts in East Africa that are detrimental to regional stability and, by extension, US interests. A better approach to US-Africa relations must begin, first and foremost, with a deeper understanding of the continent’s complex politics and its role within the wider international system.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, National Security, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, United States of America
  • Author: Richard Weitz
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Hudson Institute
  • Abstract: Russia and China’s relationship is increasingly strengthened by arms sales, joint military exercises, and mutual diplomatic support. With growing frequency, the two countries hare expressing joint concern towards “threatening” U.S. military capabilities and security policies. China’s growing ability to deny foreign navies access to waters and airspace is connected to the sophisticated defense platforms provided by Russia. Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping are seeking a closer defense partnership, which could take the form of integrated military operations, collaboration on battlefield technology, or a joint missile defense system. Through joint military exercises, China is learning from Russia’s military experience in Crimea, gaining operational knowledge on expeditionary logistics and how to protect military bases in foreign countries. In 2021, the Sino-Russian Treaty of Friendship expires. Its renewal could introduce new dynamics to the China-Russian relationship, and the possible inclusion of collective defense provisions like those between the U.S. and Japan.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, International Cooperation, National Security, Science and Technology, Treaties and Agreements, Bilateral Relations, Partnerships, Weapons
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Eurasia, Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Douglas J. Feith, Seth Cropsey
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Case Study
  • Institution: Hudson Institute
  • Abstract: This is a study of Eastern Mediterranean security and how the United States and Israel can improve cooperation to protect their common interests. The study’s particular focus is the maritime domain. Few things in world affairs survive for millennia. It’s also true that few are ever really new. In the Eastern Mediterranean, what has endured for thousands of years is the strategic attention of great powers. The region retains it today, commanding interest not only from local and regional actors, but also from global players. As Iran works to extend its reach to the Mediterranean, Russia, as it has for centuries, strives to exert its influence across the Middle East. The United States, on the other hand, has been signaling a desire to reduce its involvement in the region. Remarkably, China too has become a player. Its increasing presence in the Middle East reflects commercial and strategic motives and signifies its rise as a force competing for global economic and military predominance. China is at once a security challenge and a close economic partner. It is the world’s major rising and disruptive power and plays a huge role in global trade and investment.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, International Trade and Finance, National Security, Science and Technology, Military Spending, Maritime, Alliance
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Eurasia, Israel, United States of America, Mediterranean
  • Author: John Lee
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Hudson Institute
  • Abstract: This monograph attempts to argue and/or demonstrate three main points. First, it looks at why there were credible fears about the stability and viability of the Chinese economy — especially the financial and banking system — leading up to the end of the Twelfth Five Year Plan (2011–15), and what these were. To understand why Beijing was so concerned, the monograph draws out the serious structural problems that were leading inevitably to a permanent slowdown from the double-digit growth rates of the first three decades of reform. Second, the monograph looks at what occurred from 2015 to the present, and how China apparently overcame its economic difficulties. In fact, it has not overcome its problems, but deferred them to a future time in ways that only its unique authoritarian political economy is able to do.Third, it is clear the Communist Party is not passively awaiting an unhappy economic fate in connection with its mounting imbalances and domestic economic dysfunction. In many respects, its leaders have been highly creative in seeking solutions that do not entail a weakening of the party’s hold on economic power. On the contrary, the party has been busily shaping and pursuing grand strategic policies such as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Made in China 2025 (MIC 2025) to solve or alleviate many of its domestic political-economic problems. This monograph argues that these and other outward-focused initiatives stem most fundamentally from Chinese weaknesses and vulnerabilities but are being remade and recast into initiatives that will strengthen the position of the CCP domestically, ensure greater resilience for its political economy, and advance its ambitious strategic and international objectives at the same time. In summary, it is about the Communist Party cleverly transforming domestic vulnerability into grand strategy and using economic approaches to gain pre-eminence and “win without fighting.”
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, National Security, Geopolitics, Economy, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America