Photo by Giammarco Boscaro on Unsplash

China’s New Foreign Investment Law

by Erik Poleis

 

China is slowly, but steadily, introducing legal changes which will reshape its economic landscape. It is going from being an export-oriented country, which makes money from export of goods and services, to be more and more oriented towards its internal consumption and foreign investment. This kind of change requires a lot of time and effort. Indeed, China is only in the middle of this long term process of further economic opening and to build a moderately prosperous society in all its aspects. (1)

The Foreign Investment Law passed on March 15 which will become effective on January 1, 2020 will replace three existing laws on foreign investment, namely the laws on Chinese-Foreign Equity Joint Ventures, Chinese-Foreign Contractual Joint Ventures and Wholly Foreign-Owned Enterprises.

The first article of the new Foreign Investment Law says: “This Law is formulated on the basis of the Constitution to further expand the scope of opening-up, to actively promote foreign investment, to protect the lawful rights and interests of foreign investment, to standardize the regulation of foreign investment, to make new grounds in opening up on all fronts, and to promote the healthy development of the socialist market economy.”

The Law was discussed and written quicker than any other previous law. This can be considered as a sign of inaccuracy, but on the contrary, it only highlights China’s will to send specific signals to the World and especially to the United States of America. In fact, the passing of this kind of law would be very unlikely, if were not for heightened tensions of the current trade talks between USA and China.

Regardless, experts raised some issues about this topic. The first one is the lack of details within this law which controls all foreign investments in China. In fact, it has only five pages written in Chinese, not so much for such big economic power. Moreover, this law will not completely regulate and govern everything related to the foreign investment, such as China has Company Laws, Participations Company Law and others. Another problem is that this law shows what China wants to achieve without explaining how it will do it.

The key aspect can be seen in the second paragraph of the article 4 which says: “Pre-establishment national treatment” as used in the previous paragraph refers to affording foreign investors and their investments treatment, during the investment access stage, no less favorable than that afforded to Chinese domestic investors and their investments. The State affords national treatment to foreign investment outside the negative list” [emp. added].

This means a potential opening by the Chinese capital market to foreign investment entities. Basically, this paragraph shows that Chinese government is doing the exact opposite of the US government. In this sense, foreign investors in China will operate under a simplified process based on the same legal regulations used for foreign investors who apply to domestic business owners, even if the problem of implementing this law must be always taken into account.

Finally, the new law also emphasizes that the PRC government will protect the intellectual properties of foreign investors and foreign-funded enterprises by law, and no administrative means shall be used to make transfer of technology mandatory. Another interesting aspect is the possibility of implementing new types of trade disputes resolutions in order to ensure a more effective resolution process and to guarantee the intellectual property rights of both Chinese and foreign investors In this way they will be both protected in a fully transparent and uniform framework.

The main issue of the Law will be the one concerning the body, the establishment and the organization style that the foreign-funded enterprises will need to implement in order to operate in the Chinese market. This basically represents just one step towards the further opening of the country. Nevertheless, many steps and need to be done in the future by the Chinese government. The first one will obviously be regarding the fundamental implementing rules of the law, which will undoubtedly bring new challenges to optimizing the legal system for foreign investments.

Notes

  1. “In the new era, we must strive to realize the great cause of modernization. In the new era, we should not only fulfill the task of building a prosperous society in all respects, but also initiate a new journey of socialist modernization, and create conditions and lay a foundation for the accomplishment of the second centenary goal of realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”, Xi Jinping during the 19th CPC National Congress, October 2017, Speech available from: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/19thcpcnationalcongress/2017-11/04/content_34115212.htm

Bibliography

  • Chen, Chunlai. “The Liberalisation of FDI Policies and the Impacts of FDI on China’s Economic Development.” China’s 40 Years of Reform and Development: 1978–2018, edited by Ross Garnaut et al., ANU Press, Acton ACT, Australia, 2018, pp. 595–618.
  • Drysdale, Peter, and Samuel Hardwick. “China and the Global Trading System: Then and Now.” China’s 40 Years of Reform and Development: 1978–2018, edited by Ross Garnaut et al., ANU Press, Acton ACT, Australia, 2018, pp. 545–574.
  • Foreign Investment Law of the People’s Republic of China. Available from: https://npcobserver.com/lawlist/foreign-investment-law.

 

 

Resources for Mapping China’s Participation and Contribution in Asian Regional Cooperation

Part II

Mapping Academic Scholarship on Regionalism

by Aya Adachi

For studying China’s behavioural pattern in regionalism it is useful to draw lessons from general work on comparative regionalism as well as scholarship on Asian specific regionalism. It not only allows us to place China’s regional politics into the wider academic debate but also to make statements with regards to distinct features of Chinese regionalism.

Comparative regionalism deals with issues such as, defining regions, regionalism, regionalisation and regional integration. As regions and their level of regionness (Hettne & Söderbaum 2000) are diverse, definition have been rather loose in order to accommodate flexibility when defining regions in a comparative context. While early scholarship has been narrowly centered around the EU and the European experience, scholars have since put efforts in trying to amend the bias. The scholars around the so-called new regionalism scholarship and other more recent work have re-conceptualised ontological perspectives and established a more or less consensus view on the following (Acharya 2012):

  1. Regionalism is no longer centred around the state but also includes interactions among non-state between states and within a given area.
  2. Regionalism in no longer defined in terms of formal intergovernmental organisations with a charter and its own bureaucracy
  3. Regionalization is understood different from regionalism: the former being market-driven and less political – alas not entirely apolitical.
  4. Regions are not a geographic given, but are socially constructed, made and remade through interactions.

Comparative regionalism as a discipline to actually compare one region to another suffers from difficulties of obtaining comparable data sets or establishing a research method that is applicable in all regions. Comparative regionalism has been criticized for thus far only having delivered regionally specific empirical generalizations, in which hypothesis were verified but relationship to other variables were not specified. Nevertheless, it is important to refer to the comparative regionalism scholarship to establish the link between area-specific or region-specific scholarship and academic work across all regions and to avoiding parochialism within your own academic discipline (e.g. China Studies, or East Asian Area Studies).

Recommendations

Articles

Books


East Asian Regionalism
has proliferated since the 1990s. What has emerged is a complex structure of various different competing and overlapping initiatives and constellations (ASEAN, ASEAN + 3/+6, ASEAN Regional Forum, Asia Pacific Forum, East Asian Summit, Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, amongst others). East Asian Regionalism has been studied by numerous scholars. Much work has been dedicated to exploring external aspect of effects of globalization on regionalism (Beeson 2014/2007; Dent 2016/2008) or on Sino-Japanese rivalry and its impact on regional economic order (Park 2013; Rathus 2011; Solis, Stallings & Katada 2009). However, scholarship on East Asian Regionalism has been rather state-centered and has shied away from taking on the research agenda of new regionalism by avoiding to include non-state actors and the analytical level of domestic politics. This can be attributed to the fact that many scholars are critical of the differentiability of state and non-state in East Asia (Fawn 2009) and no attempts have been made to dissolve the binary distinction between state and non-state to include other analytical levels.


With regards to how China
positions itself regionally, it is uncertain whether China has a clear singular stance or strategy towards regionalism. With the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) being a global project, it could be argued that China does not have a strategy towards regionalism, but rather relies on various regional frameworks as a means to an end. Nevertheless, China is engaging in multiple regional cooperation projects in Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Central Asia and in the Asia Pacific.

 

The geopolitics of China in Latin America in Donald Trump’s era

by Miquel Vila

In the dawn of Donald Trump’s administration’s protectionist turn, many commentators have turned their eyes to China as the new champion of globalization. One scenario in which China could surpass the US in commercial terms could take place in Latin America. Although, it is still too soon to calibrate the extend of Trump foreign policy promises, it is true that Trump’s campaign consisted of two key points regarding foreign policy: challenging the rise of China and the promise of limiting free trade with Asia and Latin America.

Reactions have been hasty. In the meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation 2016 held in Peru – just a few days after the elections – most Latin American leaders stated their willingness to approach China faced with the Trump presidency. However, China is not a newcomer in the region, and its growing influence in Latin America is not going to be a matter of political opportunity. It is due to a long term strategic plan.

During the last decade China has been building strong ties with key Latin American countries, which is manifested in the involvement in important projects in the region. In the short term the most immediate interest of China in Latin America emerges from its own economic necessity of securing the provision of raw materials and opening new markets for its manufacturing products. Chinese relations in Latin America and the Caribbean have thus been based in general terms on economic interest and the recognition of the People’s Republic under the “One China” policy. In Latin America, China has played its well-known cards of not demanding internal political adjustments; an appealing anti-hegemonic discourse; the provision of technology; and the funding of underdeveloped infrastructure.

In this fashion, several similarities can be traced between Chinese strategies used in Latin America and those used in Central Asia or Africa. Although, China has opened relations to governments of any political ideology, a preponderance of agreements with left wing nationalist governments under the wave of the Bolivarian revolutions, can be observed; most likely because of their opposition to the United States. While one should not derive any causal relation, it can be argued that the wave of the Bolivarian Revolution has been at least a convenient contextual factor for Chinese aims in the Americas.

A paradigmatic case is Venezuela. Caracas is one of the most important commercial partners of China in the region. Venezuela has been a provider of oil and minerals – coltan and gold – and has proven to be an interesting market for Chinese products. China has not only been a provider of technology, but also an important financial partner and funder of infrastructure projects. However, Venezuela’s loans have been paid through oil, sometimes with unfavourable conditions for Caracas and some of the infrastructure projects have never been realized. Nonetheless, China has proven to be an important political asset for the Bolivarian government, opening the possibility to an independent foreign policy from the US. Also, through this relation China deprived the US of a reliable oil provider of close proximity. Other cases are Cuba, to which China is its second most important commercial partner and shares military intel; Brazil and Peru, with whom China is involved in the trans-Amazonian railway project; the uncertain project of the Grand Canal of Nicaragua; or the possibilities of a Chinese (presumably) scientific base in Argentinian Patagonia, among others.

Regarding China’s internal geopolitical orientation, it should be noted that Chinese involvement in Latin America represents a slight change with traditional Chinese rejection overseas expansion. The recent reinforcement of the Chinese navy in the volatile context of the South China Sea is commonly known. However, in order to secure its position in Latin America, China will need to strengthen its commercial navy capabilities. To this end, China has been involved infrastructure projects with the aim of increasing the maritime connections between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean this includes: the Nicaragua’s Grand Canal; Chinese funding of the extension of the Panama Canal; and new project of a land connection through Costa Rica. Nevertheless, the impact of those projects goes beyond short-term security imperatives. Here we can see how China is willing to stay in the Americas long-term, focusing an important portion of its resources to gain a proficient position overseas.

Furthermore, those projects also have important synergies with the Maritime Silk Road, the sea dimension of the One Belt One Road project, the core long term geopolitical project of China, which attempts to build the world’s largest network of land infrastructure connections and will enhance commerce through Central Asia to Europe. Setting the Maritime Silk Road and China’s Latin America maritime infrastructure projects together, allows us to visualize how China pretends to build its role as the “new champion” of globalization. Indeed, the extension of the Maritime Silk Road through the Caribbean, would give re-interpreted geo-economical meaning to the label “Middle Kingdom”; as China would emerge as the nodal point of global commerce.

Nevertheless, there are many obstacles for this path: firstly, the significant distance that the Pacific Ocean constitutes; secondly, Chinese economy will depend more on maritime transport. Thus China would be weaker in the case of an US maritime blockage, which is indeed one of the problems that the Silk Road Economic Belt initiative seeks to resolve through its land dimension; and thirdly, the incapacity of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) to directly defend Chinese interests in Latin America. Although the challenges are various, if the Maritime Silk Road and the One Road Economic Belt projects are completed, we are likely to witness the growing of synergies between the MSR and Chinese projects in the region, especially in the Caribbean Sea.

This would result in significant geopolitical consequences. Becoming an alternative partner to Latin American countries has changed the traditional power configurations of the region, making an autonomous Latin America from the US a realistic option. While Latin American countries will benefit from Chinese activities in the region, in the medium term China would hardly be able to reach direct intervention capacity which the US currently holds in the region – a power that Washington has not hesitated to use against governments that it deems objectionable. Although, the wave of left wing nationalist governments in the region appears to be in decline, one does not need to be a Bolivarian government to appreciate the margin of manoeuvre which is opened having China in the region.

Nevertheless, incompatibilities between Latin America and China’s economies could arises in the long term. China is indeed a factor for the commodification of Latin America economies. It needs to be signalled that growing native industries and achieving solvent national and regional markets is one of traditional Latin American economic goals. The developments of new dependency ties with China can be as dangerous as the ones with the US. However, in contrast to the US economy that can offer a market for low quality manufactured goods; Chinese markets are particularly interested in Latin American natural resources.

Probably, this is one of the main handicaps for Chinese leadership of free market globalization, both in Asia and America.  For example, the withdrawal of the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership hardly can directly benefit China, because most of Asian economies which signed the agreement were already direct competitors of China for the American market. In this way, China-Latin America relations could barely offer the possibilities for the development of native industries, which at the end is the determinant element for the achievement of full sovereignty.

But why should China take the risk of expanding its influence in a region which is primarily Washington’s sphere of influence? Chinese presence in Latin America would necessarily increase competitive dynamics with the US. And China by no means could meet the US navy on its own coasts. This latter fact can be the answer to this question. In the case of the US-China competitive dynamic, we face a scenario in which the first world military power is confronting the first world economy; with the additional fact that Washington’s military superiority is overwhelmingly superior to Beijing’s economic advantage over the US. Thus, for China, it is vital to maintain the competition in the geo-economic terrain.

In South China Sea context, the game is essentially played within military grounds. However, in Latin America, China increases its influence playing   geo-economics. Furthermore, Washington’s safe position in the America’s has been the element that primarily facilitated its expansion to other continents. Hence, China with its Latin American strategy appears to be opening a new flank in Latin America, which not only is counterpart to the US presence in South China Sea, but also frames the dynamics of the conflict into an economic dimension, an area in which China can meet the US. Nevertheless, Trump’s administration appears not to be willing to play this game on China’s terms. As has been seen during past months, the US are willing maintain the tension on the military level in South China Sea, where they have retained some advantages.

Furthermore, at the first glance the victory of Donald Trump in the US presidential elections can facilitate China’s plans in Latin America. But as has been presented, Donald Trump at the most is going to increase some previously existing activities and accelerate previous plans. For a country like China, which needs to act in the large term it is not necessary a better scenario. For China’s interest indeed, it is preferable to locate competition with the US on its Centre and South Americas. However, a stronger position in the Americas could trigger a more aggressive US foreign policy in East Asia. The aftermath of this competition is probably going to be decided by the one capable to set the margins of the grounds on which the game is played. After all, strategy is just a matter of position, and the position is determined by terrain.

Further readings.

 

McBride, J. (2015) “Building the New Silk Road” Council of Foreign Relations. Available at:  http://www.cfr.org/asia-and-pacific/building-new-silk-road/p36573

Holmes, J.R and Yoshihara, T. (2008) Chinese Naval Strategy in the 21st Century. The turn to Mahan. London: Roudledge Taylor & Francis Group.

Ríos, X. (2013) “China and Venezuela: Ambitions and Complexities of an Improving Relationship” East Asia, 30:53–65

Moving beyond power and tightened control

by Straton Papagianneas

Two months after the Two Sessions in March, it might be interesting to revisit two key developments: the first one being the massive government restructuring and the second being the constitutional status given to the National Supervision Commission. Together, they are a manifestation of increased and tighter control over the entire government structure. The former’s aim is to make the Chinese government better structured, more efficient and service-oriented. The changes are immense; it is safe to say that governance will actually become more inefficient before it gets better as local departments get used to the new structure. The latter’s aim is to expand anti-corruption jurisdiction beyond party officials. In this sense, one could speak of a significant erosion between party and state.

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Resources for Mapping China’s Participation and Contribution in Asian Regional Cooperation

by Aya Adachi

Part I
Resources for Empirical Data

The People’s Republic of China shares borders with 14 states (excluding Hongkong and Macau). As China is one of the largest country in the world and second largest in Asia, its regional association is ambiguous and political. It can be rather challenging to geographically place China within a single “region”, understood as not geographically given, but socially constructed, made and remade through interactions.[1] While the coastal areas can be unambiguously regarded as “East Asian”, the relative and cultural proximity of China’s western (Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia) and southern (Yunnan, Guangxi) parts to Central and Southeast Asia are close. It is therefore interesting to map how China positions itself regionally.

Particularly for those interested in studying the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), it can be useful to use resources from other regional projects and their associated research institutions along with independent regional research institutions. A number of projects (e.g. infrastructure plans) have been initiated before the BRI has been announced and have since been incorporated into the BRI. It can therefore be valuable and more accurate to include regional cooperation that are spatially smaller in scope and have existed longer into studies of the BRI. Not only is reliable data on the BRI scarce, but it is also very challenging or nearly impossible to find data from a single source for the BRI as a whole – since the full geographic reach of the project remains open and vague. Furthermore, providing data on the BRI as a whole is complicated by the fact that it relies on independent and standardized reporting and collection of data from the associated countries. Needless to say, although these resources can be very useful for BRI cross-country-comparison analysis, they should also be used with caution as the methods of data collection may differ widely.

The following kinds of resources will be listed below:

  • regional organizations or cooperation frameworks
  • research institutions,
  • media outlets with a regional focus

Regional Organizations or Regional Cooperation Frameworks[2]

Official documents, reports, publications, information on ongoing and previous projects

Research Organizations with a Regional Focus

Asian Development Bank (ADB)
Asian Development Bank is a regional development bank established in 1966 to promote social and economic development in Asia. Regional Cooperation and Integration was promoted from the early beginning but efforts were dramatically increased since the 1990s with an official ADB Regional Cooperation Policy constituting one of the main focus areas. The annual Asian Economic Integration Report published by the ADB, is one of the most comprehensive publications on the economic development of the region. The Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) publishes books, working papers, policy briefs that are helpful for the study of East Asian Regionalism.

Asian Regional Integration Center (ARIC)
ARIC was initially founded following the Asian financial crisis as a technical assistance of the ADB to monitor recover and vulnerabilities as well as policy recommendations. ARIC keeps track of all news and publications related to regional integration and cooperation on its website. ARIC’s comprehensive database includes features, such as general economic and financial indicators of the region, daily market watch, integration indicators, as well as an overview of all bilateral and plurilateral FTAs that include at least one of ADB’s 48 regional members as signatory.

Economic Research Intitute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA)
An international organization established among 16 governments at the East Asia Summit in 2007, ERIA works closely with the ASEAN Secretariat, researchers and research institutes from East Asia to contribute to allocate analytical research and policy recommendations. In addition, ERIA’s activities are aimed at capacity building in strengthening policy research capacities of less developed countries. Publications by ERIA include various formats, such as books, discussion papers, policy briefs. ERIA, together with UNCTAD, tracks all updates in matters of non-tariff measures to foster transparency in economic integration.

Economic Research Institute for Northeast Asia (ERINA)
ERINA is a Japanese institution that conducts research, collects and disseminates information on Northeast Asian economies. Its aim is to contribute to the formulation and development of the integrated Northeast Asia Economic Subregion, and to the advancement of an international society through this research.

Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) Yusof Ishak Institute
A research institute based in Singapore aimed at “the study of socio-political, security, and economic trends and developments in Southeast Asia and its wider geostrategic and economic environment. ISEAS offers a wide range of different publication formats, such as journal articles, ISEAS Perspective papers, and multiple working paper series.

Mekong Institute
Mekong Institute (MI) is an intergovernmental organization founded by the six member countries of the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), to support implement and facilitate integrated human resource development (HRD), capacity building programs and development projects related to regional cooperation and integration. As an intergovernmental organization it is managed by GMS national and international staff and supported by international academics and subject-matter experts and consultants. MI provides databases and publications on specific thematic issues concerning the Greater Mekong region.

Reconnecting Asia
Reconnecting Asia is particularly interesting for those who are looking for an overview of BRI infrastructure projects. Reconnecting Asia is an initiative by the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) and maps new linkages – roads, railways, and other infrastructure – that are reshaping economic and geopolitical developments across Eurasia. The project aims to fill Asia’s infrastructure-information gap, by carefully curating all relevant data. In addition to the highly developed visualization tool that maps all planned and implemented projects Reconnecting Asia also provides analysis on recent trends. One of the most interesting analysis are the mappings of competing geoeconomic visions (including ASEAN, China, EU, India, Iran, Japan, Russia).

United Nations University Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies (UNU-CRIS)
UNU-CRIS, based in Bruges, serves as a think tank for the UN, with particular links to the UN bodies dealing with regional integration. It works in partnership with institutes and initiatives throughout the world that are concerned with issues of integration and cooperation.

 Media outlets with a regional focus

The Diplomat
The Diplomat provides analysis and commentary on events occurring in Asia. Its expert coverage includes topics such as, geo-political trends throughout the Asia Pacific, defence and intelligence, as well as environment, human security and development. Categories are regionally divided into Central, East, South and Southeast Asia as well as Oceania. In addition, The Diplomat also has sub-categories that put a special emphasis on reporting on the ASEAN (called ASEAN Beat) and on the New Silk Road (Crossroads Asia).

East Asia Forum
A platform for analysis and research the East Asia Forum covers politics, economics, business, law, security, international relations and society relevant to public policy, centred on the Asia Pacific region. It consists of an online publication and a quarterly magazine, East Asia Forum Quarterly, which aim to provide clear and original analysis from the leading minds in the region and beyond.

Part II of Mapping China’s Participation and Contribution in Asian Regional Cooperation will recommend academic readings – books and journal articles dedicated to comparative regionalism as well as East Asia and China-specific regionalism.

[1] For a literature recommendation on definition of region, regionalisation and regionalism see part 2, resources of academic scholarship on regionalism.

[2] Only included are those in which China is an official member.

The Social Credit System’s Greatest Leap Goes Unnoticed

by Marianne von Blomberg

While China-journalists were all preoccupied with the Constitutional amendment, a major change occurred in the realm of the social credit system – which potentially might turn the existing order of politics and (constitutional) law upside down.

The system has been widely discussed in the media and the few who observed it carefully saw beyond the “Orwellian dystopia” cited in nearly every article. Those few saw a major obstacle in the system to be fully implemented any time soon: the giant discrepancy between what the state perceives as creditworthiness and what the widely-covered credit rating companies, such as Sesame Credit, regard as creditworthy. This problem seemed to have been swept aside in a single move in January 2018: the Central People’s Bank announced to found a company named Baihang Zhengxin, which may become the one central commercial credit rating service in the PRC, replacing or at least dominating the existing ones by making all of them shareholders. The definitions of creditworthiness used by commercial credit services currently will thus eventually make space for a notion of creditworthiness designed by the central government. The Chinese government changes the rules of the game by joining it.

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Xi Jinping at the apex of power?

by Straton Papagianneas

On 25/02 Xinhua published proposed changes to the State Constitution ahead of the upcoming National People’s Congress (NPC) early March. The proposal that attracted the most attention in Western media and among netizens was the one to remove the two-term limit for President and Vice-President of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). This proposal stimulated heated discussions among the China-watching community and China scholars. General Secretary Xi Jinping wanting to stay on longer than 2022 was not a surprise, however, more surprising was the fact he pushed for this so hastily. One would expect this to happen more near the end of his second five-year term.

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Top Features on China in 2017

by Julia Tatrai

This Is What A 21st-Century Police State Really Looks Like
Buzzfeed didn’t exactly ring a bell as a China specialized news page, but this chilling report by Megha Rajagopalan changed that (to a degree). After interviewing about two dozen of affected Uighurs, her report draws a grim picture of what the combination of a hyper-modern surveillance state with Maoist paranoia and CPC-controlled courts can do to whoever the state is thinking of as an enemy needing re-education.

Out West: A Visual Narrative of China’s Westernmost Region
Xinjiang has always been a top priority on my travel list, a place of longing that seemed to be as magical and remote as images of times long gone. This reportage with exceptionally beautiful pictures by the outstanding Patrick Wack underlines that the region is transforming and that China is eager to transform its dualities into an obedient singularity (if anyone travels there in 2018, send me pictures).

Big data meets Big Brother as China moves to rate its citizens
China is making citizen obedience a mandatory online gaming experience by 2020 moving all of us closer to an “onlife” experience. Read about the consequences in this long read by Rachel Botsman in Wired.

Remembering Liu Xiaobo
Liu Xiaobo’s tragic death was one of the China top stories of 2017. Liu, detained for 8 years by the time he died of cancer, was one of China’s most outspoken dissidents and the only Chinese Nobel peace prize winner. In the aftermath of his death, Citizen Lab analysed the scope of censorship in the Chinese internet. Just as with the Tiananmen massacre, citizens interest in Liu is high, but China seems to be keen to remove Liu’s legacy by making searching for information on him virtually impossible.

Zwischen Realität und Spielerei (German)
Another boy band, another success but this time with a twist: the five young singers are not men but women who identify as female but prefer to be addressed without gender pronouns. At first glance, the band seems to be startingly progressive in a country where no laws against discrimination of homosexuals exist and where homosexual content was just banned online. Digging deeper, TAZ author Maxie Römhild explains why FFC-Acrush is no symbol of changing gender politics in China.

Is it too late to save Hong Kong from Beijing’s authoritarian grasp?
Howard W. French, himself author of two highly interesting books on China, is writing about the future of Hong Kong between Beijing’s increasingly oppressive politics and fragmented movements fighting for an independent Hong Kong in this Guardian Long Read.

China’s Urbancide in Tibet
The last years saw a relaxation of the strict Chinese hukou system. Once hailed as a progressive reform, reports this month about migrant cleansing in Beijing have put the social welfare aspect of the reform in serious doubt. Earlier this year, Rinzin Dorjee was already writing about the uniquely negative impact of the reform in Tibet for the Diplomat, resulting in “urbancide” of Tibetan traditions and culture.

Homeless Take Shelter in Hefei’s 24-Hour Bookstore
Making a bookstore your home – for a booklover like me, this sounds like an appealing option at first. Read why it’s not for China’s poor and homeless in this sad story by Guo Quanzhi in Sixthtone.

Treating What Ails the Study of Chinese Politics
This essay is the top-pick of both Aya and Tatjana; William Hurst is analysing what is ailing the study of Chinese politics, claiming that a lack of context and comparison resulting in either “neglected isolation” or “arrogant exceptionalism” is hindering the development of this subfield of Chinese Studies. Written for Chinoiresie, one of my favourite resources on China.

Trump’s Unlikely Ally: The Chinese Dissident
Edward White is talking about something I have thought about a lot this year: Are Chinese dissidents unlikely allies of Trump? Does the Trump presidency mean a – however twisted and yucky (I mean, it’s still Trump) – return of human rights in the official debate between the US and China? At the end of this year, the most likely answer is probably not after all, but White’s essay written in January this year is making a number of interesting points worth considering in depth.

The World Needs to Hear China’s Feminist Voices
WAGIC is my personal favorite initiative on China this year with its welcome focus on Gender in China. The first issue of the has seen a number of highly interesting reads, but this one by Li Maizi has to be my favorite.

Excuse us, while we build new futures.
Our partners Sinonerds have written a number of wonderful stories on China this year; my favorite is this one by Lin Hierse, even though I didn’t see the exhibition she is talking about myself (but she writes as if one was there with her).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The emergence of the AIIB in the context of current multilateral development cooperation

by Thomas Otto

After becoming an important global creditor of foreign direct investment, China now also takes a leading role in multilateral development cooperation by establishing a new multilateral development bank (MDB), the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). This step, as I will argue, is not taken by chance but is a reaction to the existing problems of MDBs’ lending activities in Asia. The establishment of the AIIB begs the question in what way China tries to transform current multilateral investment in Asia.

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Resource Special: The 19th Party Congress of the Communist Party of China

by Tatjana Romig

Today’s kick-off of the CPC’s 19th party congress is a milestone for the future direction of Chinese politics. Thus, China watchers around the world closely track potential developments and outcomes. To help you fill in any knowledge gaps and keep you informed throughout the party congress, Mapping China collected its favourite sources and analyses covering topics linked to the party congress from the election of delegates to the position of Xi Jinping himself.

Media Coverage

Since the beginning of 2017 the 19th party congress received coverage in Chinese and international media with a new high since the beginning of October. The following news outlets offer special sections made up of a variety of articles on the party congress, e.g. the process of the election of the delegates, Xi Jinping’s position and plans, possible successors etc. Consuming different media outlets, especially Chinese and international ones, allows to gather a more differentiated picture. We recommend the following:

SCMP: China’s Leadership Reshuffle 2017
The South China Morning Post offers a special on China’s leadership reshuffle in 2017 with a focus on Xi Jinping’s agenda, rising stars, coverage on ongoing appointments and various opinion pieces.

The Diplomat: 19th Party Congress
The Diplomat offers a category for the 19th Party Congress collecting various articles with different points of view. The articles e.g. cover the creation of ideology, leadership succession, internet policies and the question of possible changes to the party’s constitution.

Xinhua: 19th CPC National Congress
Xinhua has a special linked to the 19th party congress that offers a lot: from commentaries to official documents or even video material – you will find every kind of information you need.

Think Tanks

If you are looking for a deeper analysis and experts’ opinions, the following series and papers by established Think Tanks covering the developments linked to the party congress might be your first choice. Moreover, these analyses offer condensed information, in case you want to catch up with the preceding steps that happened throughout the last year.

Brookings: Looking Ahead to the 19th Party Congress
Brookings Institution offers a series titled “Looking Ahead to the 19th Party Congress” that aims at analysing China’s socio-political and economic landscape in the run-up to the party congress and discusses implications for US-Sino relations.

MERICS: 19th Party Congress
The Mercator Institute for China Studies based in Berlin is also tracking the developments in the forerun of the party congress and its potential outcomes. For example, in the MERICS China Monitor No. 41 it is argued that the party congress will boost strongman politics.

Hoover Institution’s China Leadership Monitor
Although the China Leadership Monitor does not offer a special series dedicated to the Party Congress, its reports and analysis are among the best when it comes to Chinese leadership politics. As a foundation, we recommend Alice Miller’s “The road to the 19th Party Congress”, while the current edition includes papers on Xi’s influence on the party’s guiding ideology and domestic policy trajectories.

Other

In case you prefer podcasts, this China Power conversation with Joseph Fewsmith “Xi Jinping and the 19th Party Congress” is a good choice.

What are your recommendations for resources linked to the 19th party congress? We are looking forward to your suggestions 🙂