Books

06.24.19

China, Trade and Power

Stewart Paterson
London Publishing Partnership: Few people could tell you what happened on December 11, 2001, yet China’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) will define the geopolitics of the 21st century. What were Western leaders thinking at the time?This book tells the story of the most successful trading nation of the early 21st century. It looks at how the Chinese Communist Party has retained and cemented its monopoly of political power, producing unimagined riches for the political elite. It is the most extraordinary economic success story of our time, and it has reshaped the geopolitics not just of Asia but of the world. As China has come to dominate global manufacturing, its power and influence has grown. This economic power is being translated into political power, and the West now has a global rival that is politically antithetical to liberal values.Meanwhile, economic liberalism has lost its moral foundation, in part because economic outcomes are not perceived to be the result of fair competition. The weaknesses of the West’s democratic model are being laid bare as a lack of wage growth coupled with a policy of inflation targeting by Western central banks has led to falling real incomes for the many, and rising asset prices that have benefited the few.In order to have a fighting chance of protecting the freedoms of liberal democracies, it is of the utmost importance that we understand how the policy of indulgent engagement with China has affected Western society in recent years. Only then will the West be able to change direction for the better, and row back from the harmful consequences of China’s accession to the WTO.{chop}

Conversation

05.31.19

What Exactly Is the Story with China’s Rare Earths?

Paul Haenle & Scott Kennedy from ChinaFile
Deng Xiaoping reportedly said that while the Middle East has oil, China has rare earths. On May 29, Communist Party newspaper the People’s Daily warned of the United States’ “uncomfortable” dependence on Chinese rare earths: “Will rare earths become...

Conversation

05.30.19

What Are We Getting Wrong about the Trade War?

Victor Shih, Yu Zhou & more from ChinaFile
Since the collapse of trade talks in mid-May, voices from both sides have warned of the economic havoc their side can unleash while boasting of their economy’s resilience. Academics in China speak about weaponizing the country’s foreign exchange...

Is the Belt and Road Initiative a Bold Economic Agenda or a Political Ploy?

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
In an ongoing series that explores different interpretations of what exactly is the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Eric and Cobus are joined by Zhu Zheng, an international affairs columnist for Caixin and a research fellow at the China-Eastern...

Viewpoint

04.30.19

Trade: Parade of Broken Promises

Elizabeth Economy from Democracy: A Journal of Ideas
The trade war between the United States and China has not given either side much to cheer about. As of January, Washington has levied 10 percent tariffs on U.S.$250 billion in Chinese goods, and China has reciprocated with similar tariffs on U.S.$...

Conversation

04.30.19

If the U.S. and China Make a Trade Deal, Then What?

Michael Hirson, Graham Webster & more
The U.S.-China trade war has always been about more than just trade. Among other issues, it represents a move towards the decoupling of the two economies. Sometime within the next few weeks, Washington and Beijing may call a truce on the trade war...

Conversation

04.24.19

Is This the End of Belt and Road, or Just the Beginning?

Nadège Rolland, Adrian Zenz & more
On April 25-27, China’s government will host the leaders of dozens of countries to celebrate the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the signature foreign policy program of Xi Jinping. Since its founding in October 2013, the BRI now covers more than 150...

In Reassessing China, Europe Sharpens Its Approach

Paul Haenle, Tomáš Valášek & more from Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
In recent weeks, Beijing has both won victories and suffered defeats during important summits and dialogues with France and Italy, as well as the European Union. French President Emmanuel Macron invited German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European...

Susan Thornton on a Crisis in U.S.-China Relations

Paul Haenle & Susan Thornton from Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
Over three years into Trump’s presidency, U.S.-China trade and economic issues remain unresolved while security concerns are creeping into the bilateral agenda. Thornton contends that Washington and Beijing should quickly agree on an initial trade...

Xi’s Visit to ‘Rival’ Europe

Paul Haenle & Philippe Le Corre from Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
President Xi Jinping travels to Italy and France this month for his first overseas trip of 2019. His visit comes soon after the European Commission labeled China a “systemic rival” and “economic competitor.” Xi’s objective for both trips is to shore...

Depth of Field

02.25.19

Living by the Rivers

Ye Ming, Yan Cong & more from Yuanjin Photo
If the stories in this edition of Depth of Field share a common thread—apart from their distinguished photographic storytelling—it’s their interest in the flux and churn of life in China in 2019, where nothing seems fixed and pressure of constant...

Conversation

02.15.19

China is Upping Its Aid and Development Game. How Should the U.S. Respond?

Deborah Bräutigam, Mark Akpaninyie & more
During his September 2018 U.N. address, President Donald Trump threatened that the United States may decide to only give foreign aid to “those who respect us and, frankly, are our friends.” In August, the White House attempted to cut foreign aid...

African Governments Need to Negotiate Better Deals With China. Here's How They Can Do It.

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
The problem with the “debt trap” theory is that it too often strips Africans of their agency in the negotiating process. That either they don’t know what they are doing or they’re simply negotiating bad deals. While both of those may be true, in...

China’s Shift to a More Assertive Foreign Policy

Paul Haenle & Shi Yinhong from Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
Shi points to two important turning points in China’s shift to a more assertive foreign policy: the 2008 global financial crisis, which made it clear that China’s economic development was an important engine for global growth; and Xi Jinping’s rise...

China’s Economy is Slowing and That’s Really Bad News for Africa

Eric Olander & Jeremy Stevens
Pretty much every major economic indicator suggests that the Chinese economy will continue its downward momentum in 2019. Industrial production, retail sales, and even the once red-hot property market are all showing real signs of weakness. Some...

Viewpoint

01.09.19

Normalization of Sino-American Relations: 40 Years Later

Jerome A. Cohen
The spirited 2019 New Year’s speeches of Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen and China’s President Xi Jinping have just reminded the world that, 40 years after the normalization of relations between the United States and China, the potentially explosive...

Viewpoint

12.21.18

A Look Back at China in 2018

Kyle Hutzler
In 2018, the outlook for China regarding its politics, economy, and relationship with the United States darkened considerably. The removal of presidential term limits and Xi Jinping’s interactions with the Trump administration prompted rare...

Conversation

12.19.18

China’s Growing Footprint in Latin America

Benjamin Creutzfeldt, Rebecca Ray & more
Many Latin American countries experienced political change in 2018, with presidential elections in three of the largest countries—Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia—and transitions in Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, and Paraguay. Meanwhile, several...

Conversation

12.11.18

Is this the Beginning of a New Cold War?

Ali Wyne, Yuen Yuen Ang & more
Beyond complicating trade negotiations between the United States and China, the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou has renewed concerns that the two countries are embarking on a new Cold War, based on economic preeminence and technological innovation...

Devising a New Formula for Global Leadership

Paul Haenle & Yan Xuetong from Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
Yan asserts the U.S.-China relationship is experiencing structural disruptions, the resolution of which will have a lasting impact on the two countries. He says the tensions in the U.S.-China relationship are primarily due to the narrowing gap...

Managing a Fragile Transition in U.S.-China Relations

Paul Haenle & Cui Liru from Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
Haenle and Cui discuss lessons from the past 40 years of the bilateral relationship, central areas of cooperation and competition, and a future framework that will allow China and the U.S. to avoid conflict. Cui asserts that U.S. and Chinese...

Conversation

12.04.18

Did President George H.W. Bush Mishandle China?

James Mann, Wang Dan & more
ChinaFile contributors discuss 41st U.S. President George H.W. Bush’s legacy for U.S.-China relations. —The Editors

China Is Rising Faster

Paul Haenle & Wang Jisi from Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
Wang says that it has been primarily China’s development that has driven changes in the U.S.-China relationship going back to the Qing Dynasty. However, the U.S. still has significant influence and can play an important role in guiding China’s...

Features

11.28.18

Beijing’s Long Struggle to Control Xinjiang’s Mineral Wealth

Judd C. Kinzley
The Silk Road Economic Belt—the overland component of Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)—promises to bind China to Central Asia and beyond through a new infrastructural network. Connecting through China’s far western Xinjiang...

The Promise and Peril of Chinese Tech Investment in Africa

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
In this week's show, we bring you two perspectives on the promise and peril of increased Chinese technology investment in Africa.Harriet Kariuki is an emerging markets analyst in Kenya where she surveys the digital landscape and local start-up...

Conversation

11.09.18

Forty Years on, Is China Still Reforming?

Carl Minzner, Aaron Halegua & more
In late October, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the “Reform and Opening Up” policy, China’s Chairman Xi Jinping visited the southern metropolis of Shenzhen, the first major laboratory for the Party’s post-Mao economic reforms. Like his...

Is the U.S. Driving China and Russia Together?

Paul Haenle, Dmitri Trenin & more from Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
As U.S. relations with China and Russia deteriorate under the Trump administration, bilateral relations between Moscow and Beijing grow stronger. A “Cold War” between the U.S. and China has not yet begun, Trenin and Gabuev agree, but the two sides...

How Will China Respond to Global Concerns about its Trade and Economic Policies?

Paul Haenle & Da Wei from Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
Official Chinese narratives about the U.S.-China trade war have not included Chinese reflection or discussion of what role China’s own policies have played in creating trade tensions. Many of the concerns on structural issues, such as market access...

Conversation

10.17.18

The Taxman Cometh for Fan Bingbing. So How Widespread Is Tax Evasion in China?

Wei Cui, Donald Clarke & more
Mega-famous Chinese actress Fan Bingbing emerged from months of silence to admit on Weibo that she had evaded taxes and owed over U.S.$100 million worth of civil fines to Chinese authorities. In a remarkable apology, Fan wrote that, “without good...

Conversation

10.12.18

Is America Overreacting to the Threat of Chinese Influence?

Isaac Stone Fish, Taisu Zhang & more
American civil and political discourse has seen a growing number of reports about worrying Chinese governmental influence in the United States. Most recently, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence decried the “malign influence” of China in the United...

The U.S. and China as Peer Competitors in the Indo-Pacific

Paul Haenle & Abigail Grace from Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
The Trump administration has taken a more confrontational approach to bilateral relations with China, implementing tariffs on nearly half of all Chinese exports to the U.S. and treating Beijing as a strategic competitor across many aspects of the...

Viewpoint

10.05.18

Banning Chinese Students is Not in the U.S. National Interest

Chang Chiu & Thomas Kellogg
President Donald Trump has made no secret of his desire to radically revamp America’s immigration policies. Indeed, his family separation policies, which sparked nationwide protests and public revulsion after they were rolled out in May 2018, were...

Whose Problem is Kenya’s Debt: Kenya’s or China’s?

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Nairobi-based international development economist Anzetse Were suggests in a new paper that Kenya’s leaders, not China, should be the ones held accountable for borrowing too much money without a detailed, transparent plan on how to repay the loans...

Should African Governments Welcome Or Be Wary of Chinese Infrastructure Investment?

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
China announced a U.S.$60 billion financing package for African states to build out new roads, airports, railways, and other needed infrastructure. While no one questions the need for infrastructure, there are legitimate concerns as to whether it...

Conversation

09.10.18

Is the Trade War Hurting Xi Jinping Politically?

Roselyn Hsueh, Andrew J. Nathan & more
What are the domestic politics for Xi Jinping of a trade war? How much is the trade war actually hurting China’s economy? And what other effects is this having on China, and on Xi’s ability to govern?

Is This Really the Best Time for a China-Africa Summit?

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Does it still make sense for China to put on big, expensive mega-summits with African leaders, like FOCAC, which will take place in Beijing in September? Facing a slowing economy and a potentially devastating trade war with the U.S., maybe China is...

Technology and Innovation in an Era of U.S.-China Strategic Competition

Paul Haenle & Elsa Kania from Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
China has taken significant steps to implement national strategies and encourage investment in order to surpass the U.S. in high tech fields like artificial intelligence. In this podcast, Paul Haenle sat down with Elsa Kania, adjunct fellow at the...

Viewpoint

08.27.18

Beijing’s Bid for Global Power in the Age of Trump

Alfred W. McCoy from TomDispatch
As the second year of Donald Trump’s presidency and sixth of Xi Jinping’s draws to a close, the world seems to be witnessing one of those epochal clashes that can change the contours of global power. Just as conflicts between American President...

Conversation

08.20.18

How To Fight China’s Sharp Power

Thorsten Benner, Insa Ewert & more
There is a debate raging about China’s sharp power and how to defend against it, whether it’s investment screening, shuttering Confucius institutes, or forcing visa reciprocity for journalists. But how does a fractious, divided world not only resist...

Infographics

08.15.18

Visualizing China’s Anti-Corruption Campaign

“Catching Tigers and Flies” is ChinaFile’s interactive tool for tracking and, we hope, better understanding the massive campaign against corruption that Xi Jinping launched shortly after he came to power in late 2012. It is designed to give users a sense of the scope and character of the anti-corruption campaign by graphically rendering information about more than 2,000 of its targets whose cases have been publicly announced in official Chinese sources.

Huge Increase in Chinese Aid Pledged to Pacific

Kate Lyons
Guardian
Australia has traditionally been the most significant donor to the Pacific, but in 2017 China committed to spending more than four times as much as Australia, data from the Lowy Institute thinktank published today shows.

China Has an Online Lending Crisis and People Are Furious about It

Matt Rivers and Jethro Mullen
CNN
The outcry shines a light on a murky corner of China's financial industry that authorities allowed to grow rapidly with little oversight. Promises of double-digit returns attracted people looking for more lucrative places to put their money...

China‘s July Factory Inflation Slows but Consumer Prices Accelerate

CNBC
The July inflation data is the first official reading on the impact on prices from China‘s retaliatory tariffs on $34 billion of U.S. goods that went into effect on July 6 and apply to a range of products from soybeans, to mixed nuts and whiskey.

Books

08.08.18

Poisonous Pandas

Matthew Kohrman, Gan Quan, Liu Wennan, Robert N. Proctor
Stanford University Press: A favorite icon for cigarette manufacturers across China since the mid-20th century has been the panda, with factories from Shanghai to Sichuan using cuddly cliché to market tobacco products. The proliferation of panda-branded cigarettes coincides with profound, yet poorly appreciated, shifts in the worldwide tobacco trade. Over the last 50 years, transnational tobacco companies and their allies have fueled a tripling of the world’s annual consumption of cigarettes. At the forefront is the China National Tobacco Corporation, now producing 40 percent of cigarettes sold globally. What’s enabled the manufacturing of cigarettes in China to flourish since the time of Mao and to prosper even amidst public health condemnation of smoking?In Poisonous Pandas, an interdisciplinary group of scholars comes together to tell that story. They offer novel portraits of people within the Chinese polity―government leaders, scientists, tax officials, artists, museum curators, and soldiers―who have experimentally revamped the country’s pre-Communist cigarette supply chain and fitfully expanded its political, economic, and cultural influence. These portraits cut against the grain of what contemporary tobacco-control experts typically study, opening a vital new window on tobacco―the single largest cause of preventable death worldwide today.{chop}Related Reading:“In China, Industry Push-Back Stubs out Anti-Smoking Gains,” Christian Shepherd, Reuters, May 31, 2018“China’s Ministry in Charge of Tobacco Control Had Ties to the Tobacco Industry. Not Anymore,” Sidney Leng, South China Morning Post, March 15, 2018“The End of China’s ‘Ashtray Diplomacy’,” Heather Timmons and Quartz, The Atlantic, December 30, 2013“The Political Mapping of China’s Tobacco Industry and Anti-Smoking Campaign,” Cheng Li, Brookings, May 30, 2012Author’s Recommendations:Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor, Rob Nixon (Harvard University Press, 2013)Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable?, Judith Butler (Verso; Reprint edition 2010)Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, Giorgio Agamben, Translated by Daniel Heller-Roazen (Stanford University Press, 1998)

India as China’s Secret Business Weapon

Sintia Radu
As India rises on the global economic stage, foreign players are increasingly attracted to the seemingly unlimited and unexplored potential of the South Asian giant, which offers a market of 1.3 billion potential consumers.

China Ignores Trump Threat on Iran, Says Business There Will Continue

David Reid
CNBC
U.S. sanctions against Iran came into effect Tuesday and President Donald Trump has warned that countries who trade with Tehran will not be able to do business with the U.S. Trump also said he will expand the punitive measures in the coming weeks to...

China Has Outspent the US by $24 Billion in 5G Technology since 2015, Study Shows

Arjun Kharpal
CNBC
China has in recent years outspent the U.S. by $24 billion in the area of next-generation mobile internet technology known as 5G, potentially creating a "tsunami" that will be difficult to catch up with,...

How Taming the Mekong Could Give China Unprecedented Power

Jason Koutsoukis
Bloomberg
The deadly collapse of one of the dozen or so dams dotted along the Mekong River and its tributaries has highlighted the rapid development of a waterway that is increasingly important strategically for China and its neighbors.

China’s Gas Tariffs Are a Permian-Size Problem for Oil

Liam Denning
Bloomberg
The latest bit of America’s energy sector to feel the over-the-shoulder lash is the liquefied natural gas-export business. On Friday, LNG joined the list of goods that China will hit with tariffs in retaliation for U.S. ones. This...

Australia’s China Reset

John Garnaut
It’s no secret that Professor Francis Fukuyama got it wrong in his classic “End of History” treatise, published in the dying days of the Cold War. More interesting is why he got it wrong. His conclusion that the Western model of...

China's Yuan, Shares Fall as Trade Row Overshadows Policy Shift

Moxy Ying, Tian Chen and Jeanny Yu
Bloomberg
The onshore yuan slipped 0.17 percent to 6.8402 per dollar as of 4:02 p.m., while the Shanghai Composite Index closed down 1.3 percent at its lowest since February 2016. The ChiNext gauge of small caps and tech stocks fared even worse, tumbling 2.8...

China Millennials’ Love of Credit Cards Raises Debt Fears

Tom Hancock and Wang Xueqiao
Financial Times
Mr Wang is part of a generation of young consumers who have rejected the thrifty habits of their elders and become used to spending with borrowed money. Outstanding consumer loans — used for vehicle purchases, holidays, household renovations and...

China’s Currency Slide Risks a Horrible Misunderstanding with Trump

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
Telegraph
China’s currency slide is graduating from benign neglect to something more deliberate. Whether or not you deem it currency warfare, it is playing with political and financial fire.

Pakistan Puts a Spotlight on China’s Opaque Loans

Financial Times
Imran Khan, Pakistan’s former cricket captain and newly elected prime minister, is on a sticky wicket. His victory in last week’s polls was secured in part on a pledge to ramp up spending on public services. Yet the coffers are empty and a balance...

Germany Toughens Stance and Blocks China Deal

Arne Delfs
Sydney Morning Herald
Merkel's cabinet on Wednesday voted to block the potential purchase of German machine tool manufacturer Leifeld Metal Spinning by a Chinese investor. The government took the precautionary measure even though the Yantai Taihai Group indicated at...

China Says U.S. Trade Pressure Won’t Work

Wall Street Journal
China fired back after the Trump administration threatened to double proposed tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods, saying it won’t yield to White House pressure.