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China Newsletter (Issue 86 – May 15, 2021)

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China Newsletter

What China Is Reading

Issue 86 – May 15, 2021

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In This Issue

The articles shared here do not necessarily reflect the views of China Newsletter or Dialogue China. All articles sourced from WeChat public accounts unless otherwise noted.I. Editorial

1. A New Axis Power Alliance is Taking Shape

II. Policy

2. Up, Down, Left and Right – Absorption of Interests and Exclusion of Responsibilities in Departments’ Solicitation of Opinions

3. After Going Upstairs: Exploring the Order of Life and Governance in “Rural Communities”

4. Can U.S.-China Relations Improve Significantly in Six Months? These Are Three Possible Breakthrough Areas

III. Politics

5. The United States’ Policy Toward China and Unintended Reverse Consequences

6. The United States’ Interests, Strategies, and Constraints in the South China Sea

7. The United States Plays the “Taiwan Card” With Increased Military Weight

IV. Society

8. Why Don’t Chinese People Want to Have More Children?

9. Negative Population Growth in Northeast China Cannot Be Simply Remedied by Removing Family Planning Limits

10. I Did Not Expect That the “Post-1990s” Generation — Who Will Determine the Fate of the Nation and if it Prospers — Are the Generation with the Most Serious Structural Disorder

V. Finance and Business

11. The North-South Wealth Gap is Basically a Gap in the Degree of Marketization

Editorial

1. A New Axis Power Alliance is Taking Shape

Wang Dan – Apple Daily Op-Ed – April 14, 2021

Historically, “Axis Powers” refers to the military alliance between Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, and Fascist Italy during World War II. History occasionally surprises us. Today a new “Axis Power” alliance is gradually taking shape.

At the beginning of April, 2021, the escalation of military tension in Ukraine reminded us that the threat of military conflict is increasing all over the world. After Russia’s President Vladimir Putin changed the constitution so he could remain in power for life, it became clear that Ukraine was a central target in his blueprint to resurrect Russia as an imperial power. The United States understands this development very well. On April 5, 2021, the US Cabinet publicly warned Russia that if it did not stop threatening Ukraine, the United States was prepared to intervene. Then Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister appeared in public and strongly expressed that Russia was not concerned by the Western countries’ threat. German Russia military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer already predicted that “The Ukraine crisis could escalate into a new European war.” In fact, once hostilities break out, the trend of expansion will be unstoppable because both sides will seek the support of allies. For Russia, the ready-made ally is China.

Between Russia and China – in addition to the fact that the leaders of both countries have expanding national objectives and personal ambitions to stay in power for life – the two countries already have shared strategic interests. China wants to strengthen its economic ties with Russia as a counterbalance to Western influence. Russia wants the same thing. Although historically there is a lack of trust between Russia and China, they face the same adversary – the United States-led Western alliance – and will stand together even if they must “sleep in the same bed, but have different dreams.” This scenario previously existed during World War II. The groundwork for a Russia-China alliance is already underway. Not long ago, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg pointed out that – in a pattern of “strategic competition heating up” due to the Arctic ice melting – in addition to Russia’s accelerated military deployment in the Arctic, China has declared itself a “near-Arctic country” and is actively increasing its military operations there. Russia and China have joined forces to confront NATO, further strengthening the alliance between the two countries.

Another member of the new “Axis Power Alliance” – with Russia and China at its core – is Iran. In addition to Russia’s long-standing diplomatic support, China has recently strengthened its ties with Iran. On March 27, 2021, China and Iran signed a comprehensive economic and security agreement that will see Beijing invest US$400 billion in Iran over the next 25 years in exchange for a steady supply of oil. This not only allows Iran to be less concerned about Western economic sanctions, but also allows China to begin preparing for the risk of oil supply shortages if military operations are conducted in the South China Sea or Taiwan Strait. At a time when Biden is trying to bring Iran back to the nuclear negotiating table, China is clearly demonstrating its newfound influence to the United States with this action.

Another important new member of the “Axis Power Alliance” is, of course, North Korea. New North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) leader Air Force General Glen D. VanHerck warned the Senate Armed Services Committee before Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s March 2021 visit to South Korea that North Korea could resume intercontinental ballistic missile tests after a three-year hiatus. VanHerck’s warning came after North Korea unveiled new intercontinental ballistic missiles at a military parade last October. VanHerck worries that North Korea’s larger and more powerful intercontinental ballistic missiles have further increased the threat to the United States. North Korea may not dare to challenge the United States alone, but North Korea, China, Russia and Iran joining together in alliance against the United States is not hard to imagine.

China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea – all four of which have nuclear weapons capabilities –along with other potential member states such as Burma, Venezuela, Cuba, and Pakistan, make this new Axis Power Alliance strong enough to challenge the Western alliance led by the United States. It is not yet possible to judge whether World War III will break out, but a pattern of military confrontation that could lead to a new world war is taking shape, and that is alarming enough.

More importantly, if we look back at the history of the Axis Power alliance during World War II, we can see clearly that Britain and France’s policy of appeasement paved the way for the establishment and expansion of the Axis Power alliance. In my opinion, this is presently the most urgent historical lesson for Western countries to consider.

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Policy

2. Up, Down, Left and Right – Absorption of Interests and Exclusion of Responsibilities in Departments’ Solicitation of Opinions

Zhang Guolei, Cao Zhili – Political Scientist – January 4, 2021

Why Read This?
In the actual operation of a hierarchical system, advice is often sought on policy issues between higher and lower-level departments. What are the mechanisms involved in soliciting opinions and feedback? Can the differential approach of soliciting opinions by “block” departments eliminate the subsequent resistance to policy implementation? This paper breaks away from the limitations of external public input in public policy provision and reveals the mechanisms underlying the differential solicitation of opinions by departments in the public policy making arena. The internal solicitation of opinions from departments should be emphasized to avoid the dilemma of “blockage” in subsequent policy implementation.(Read the full text

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Policy

3. After Going Upstairs: Exploring the Order of Life and Governance in “Rural Communities”

Chen Jing, Liu Ming – Political Scientist – January 22, 2021

Why Read This?
In this paper, the author suggests that “rural communities” face many incompatibilities with the existing urban community governance system in the process of daily governance, and that it is necessary to analyze how to carry out effective governance of “rural communities” by combining the contemporary governance practices of rural communities in China. It is necessary to analyze how to develop effective governance in rural communities, how to meet the needs of “good living” of farmers who go upstairs, and how to explore good governance mechanisms designed for the order of daily life. Reading this paper will help us to enrich the research field of contemporary community governance and to understand “governance” in the context of “life.”(Read the full text

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Policy

4. Can U.S.-China Relations Improve Significantly in Six Months? These Are Three Possible Breakthrough Areas

Yang Hua – Beijing Cultural Review – February 23, 2021

Why Read This?
The author argues that, in China, people in southern villages grow up in a clan community that emphasizes kinship, and even if there are internal conflicts and disputes, they do not focus on the redistribution of political power and public interests in the village, so southerners do not have the experience of complicated political struggles; in contrast, northern villages often have a strong political atmosphere, because northern villages have many surnames living together and village life is highly politicized, so northerners develop a strong political sense from childhood; while central villages do not have such a strong social structure as clans and kin, and the unrestrained social environment is prone to the birth of heroes and heroines and the phenomenon of leaning on the strong over the weak.(Read the full text

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Politics

5. The United States’ Policy Toward China and Unintended Reverse Consequences

Wu Baiyi – Great Nation Think Tank – January 13, 2021

Why Read This?
Unites States policy toward China involves multiple dimensions, including hegemony and order, strength and interests, institutions and culture, which determines that U.S.-China competition is a “hybrid competition” with multifaceted characteristics. At the same time, China and the United States are facing a critical moment when they will once again make a major choice about the future relationship between the two countries and the direction of the world. At such a time, China’s multi-step reverse-shaping is important.(Read the full text

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Politics

6. The United States’ Interests, Strategies, and Constraints in the South China Sea

Song Runqian – Great Nation Think Tank – January 15, 2021

Why Read This?
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) continues to update and release the “U.S.-China Strategic Competition in the South and East China Seas” report, which defines and prioritizes United States’ national interests in the South and East China Seas and assesses the means available to the United States to support members of Congress in their decision-making. The report identifies six major United States’ interests in the South China Sea, seven long-term goals, and nine specific objectives, and points out that the United States’ strategy faces three major constraints.(Read the full text

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Politics

7. The United States Plays the “Taiwan Card” With Increased Military Weight

Yang Zejun – Great Nation Think Tank – January 21, 2021

Why Read This?
After taking office, the Trump administration defined China as a “revisionist power” and the “number one competitor” of the United States. The United States has as a result intensified its attempts to draw in and exploit Taiwan and to play the “Taiwan card.” The strength of the “Taiwan card” has increased. This has further aggravated the tense confrontation in cross-strait relations and the risky situation in the Taiwan Strait.(Read the full text

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Society

8. Why Don’t Chinese People Want to Have More Children?

Old Stinking Ninth Theory Finance and Business – Sanlian Life Weekly – February 11, 2021

Why Read This?
Recent data from the Ministry of Public Security shows that by the end of last year, 10.035 million newborns were born in 2020 and registered with the household registry, a significant drop of 15% compared to 11.79 million in 2019. Strictly speaking, the number of registered newborns is not exactly the same as the number of births in that year, but it also reflects to a large extent the reality that China’s birth rate continues to decline significantly. From the recently released population data of some local cities, the decline in China’s birth rate has become more and more serious.(Read the full text

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Society

9. Negative Population Growth in Northeast China Cannot Be Simply Remedied by Removing Family Planning Limits

Xing Haiyang – Sanlian Life Weekly – February 21, 2021

Why Read This?
The lesser number of children in the northeast has led to another wave of discussion, especially the interaction between the health committee and the National People’s Congress deputies about “taking the lead in fully liberalizing the population in the northeast,” which has aroused the passion of netizens. The birth rate in the northeast is at the bottom of the country, with an average of 0.6 children per couple, less than one-third of the fertility replacement level, and a full relaxation of fertility restrictions seems imminent.(Read the full text

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Society

10. I Did Not Expect That the “Post-1990s” Generation — Who Will Determine the Fate of the Nation and if it Prospers — Are the Generation with the Most Serious Structural Disorder

Zhou Yuxiang – Beijing Cultural Review – January 28, 2021

Why Read This?
The author points out that, from the perspective of inter-generational mission, the “post-1990s” are the most important witnesses and strugglers of our country’s “Two Hundred Years” goal, and they not only determine the fundamentals of social vitality at present, but also play a strategic role in the country’s long-term development. Their spirit of struggle determines whether the development goals can be achieved; their value orientation determines the political stability in the reform; and even their concept of marriage determines the demographic structure in the middle of this century. It is necessary for society as a whole to support and guide them in the real-life difficulties they face.(Read the full text

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Finance and Business

11.. The North-South Wealth Gap is Basically a Gap in the Degree of Marketization

Wang Zeping, Xiong Chai – Zeping Macroview – January 10, 2021

Why Read This?
The gap between the north and the south of China is obviously widening. 2012-2019, the proportion of the northern economy in the country fell rapidly from 42.9% to 35.4%, the gap between the total economic volume of the north and the south expanded rapidly from 14 percentage points to 29 percentage points, and the gap in GDP per capita increased rapidly from 0.97 to 1.30. The widening gap between the north and the south is fundamentally a gap in the degree of marketization, which is the victory of market economy over planned economy. The victory of the market economy over the planned economy proves the necessity and urgency of market-oriented reforms in the North.(Read the full text

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