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China Newsletter (Issue 87 – June 1, 2021)

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China Newsletter

What China Is Reading

Issue 87 – June 1, 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. The Ulterior Motive and Real Intention of the New Wave of Nationalist Mobilization in China

II. Policy

2. Local Development and Reform Commission Directors on the 14th Five-Year Plan

3. China’s Rural Revitalization is Still a Modernization Issue

III. Politics

4. Have We Misjudged the So-Called “U.S. Crisis?”

5. The U.S.-China Competition in the Early Digital Age

6. Can US-China Relations Be Expected to Improve?

7. Be Alert to the Seven Risks of the External Environment. China Must Adapt to the Rise of “Headwinds”

IV. Society

8. The Demographic Crisis Has Arrived, Population Building is a Matter of Urgency

9. The Lament of Underclass Men: Sense the Crisis but be Unwilling to Change

V. Finance and Business

10. The Other Side of the Sandstorm, Capital is Gnawing Away at the Grasslands with Increased Intensity

11. After China Refused to Accept “Foreign Garbage,” Now They Go Abroad to Dispose of the Garbage

Editorial

1. The Ulterior Motive and Real Intention of the New Wave of Nationalist Mobilization in China

Wang Dan – Radio Free Asia Op-Ed – March 26, 2021

In the past month, China’s Communist Party authorities have initiated a new wave of nationalism. The earliest indication of this new wave was Communist Party leader Xi Jinping’s statement that “China can already look at the world equally” at the “Two Sessions” – the annual plenary sessions of the two organizations that rubberstamp national-level political decisions: the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference – held in Beijing in early March, 2021.  Later, during the U.S.-China diplomatic talks in Alaska, Chinese diplomats such as Yang Jiechi* took the initiative to launch a “wolf warrior diplomacy” offensive, and the official Chinese media immediately launched a massive propaganda campaign. After the European Union followed the United States’ lead and implemented sanctions against Chinese Communist Party officials in Xinjiang, China also took the unusual step of quickly imposing counter-sanctions on European Union officials. The latest development in this new wave of nationalism is the national campaign to boycott Nike and other major Western companies around the controversial issue of prison labor-produced Xinjiang cotton. All signs point to a premeditated and organized nationalist mobilization led behind-the-scenes by the Chinese Communist Party. The question worth analyzing is: Why is such a large-scale, comprehensive nationalist mobilization being initiated now? I think there are several intentions.
* A high-ranking Chinese politician and diplomat specializing in American affairs; Foreign Minister of China 2007-2013

First of all, it is related to the upcoming 100-year anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party. One of the key objectives of Xi Jinping’s rule is to re-establish the Communist Party’s full control over the country and society, and to restore and ensure the leadership authority of the Chinese Communist Party. This year’s Communist Party centennial is an opportunity that the Chinese Communist Party will not let go to waste. The Communist Party has long based its legitimacy on economic development and national strength. Now, with the economy in crisis, the only thing left to mobilize the masses’ public support is the argument that only the Communist Party can lead China to national greatness. Nationalist mobilization helps consolidate the legitimacy of the Communist Party’s single-party dictatorship.

Secondly, it has to do with Xi Jinping himself. As everyone knows, there will be a change of leadership at the 20th National Communist Party Congress next year. Xi Jinping is determined to renew his term of office, although there are rumblings of opposition within the Communist Party. Although the opposition to Xi’s re-election cannot be publicly expressed, it is still a hidden danger for him. At this time, if the Chinese Communist Party is the target of a global siege, Xi Jinping can not only ask Communist Party members to put aside their differences and unite to fight the siege, he can also further convince different factions in the Party to recognize the need for his permanent rule by portraying himself as a hardliner.

The third motivation is the long-term plan. With the assault on globalization posed by the coronavirus pandemic, and the globalization dividend of China’s economic development almost exhausted, China’s prospects of relying on trade relations with the rest of the world to drive economic growth are diminishing, and this is the fundamental reason why the Communist Party authorities are proposing an “internal circulation” economic development model. China does not necessarily want to go back to a closed-door state, but is being challenged and compelled to become “self-reliant” again. The nationalist mobilization can dilute and weaken the pain of economic difficulties with political nationalist fervor. This can also be considered as a means of preparing for the coming storm.

The fourth intention is the economic factor. With the introduction of the “internal circulation” policy, how to prop up and strengthen China’s local brands is something that the Communist Party must consider in the face of the economic crisis. The massive boycott of Western brands is an opportunity to strengthen the local economy. It is not difficult to predict that next we will see official propaganda promoting the use of domestic products in China.

The last possible intention has to do with the Taiwan problem. For both the Chinese Communist Party and Xi Jinping himself, resolving the Taiwan issue influences both their ruling base, and is a priority in what they must accomplish in the next decade. If they want to resolve the Taiwan issue by force, a nationalist mobilization is essential. This wave of nationalist mobilization can be seen as a test of the strength of nationalist resources that can be mobilized within Chinese society to begin an assessment for the future resolution by force of the Taiwan issue.

This new wave of nationalist mobilization has many obvious signs of government manipulation behind it. The wave after wave of mobilization cannot be explained by a single causative incident. It is clear that Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party have complex and multi-faceted political calculations to orchestrate such manipulation. But whether such a smugly calculated plan will succeed or not remains to be seen.

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Policy

2. Local Development and Reform Commission Directors on the 14th Five-Year Plan

Su Youpeng – Southern Weekend – March 11, 2021

Why Read This?
Few countries have been using five years as a unit of time since 1953, using numerical values and indicators to outline the future as China has done for more than 60 years. However, there is a larger context that cannot be ignored: over the past six decades, China has moved from a planned economy to a socialist market economy, and “planning” has continued to evolve with the times.(Read the full text

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Policy

3. China’s Rural Revitalization is Still a Modernization Issue

Li Xiaoyun – Southern Metropolitan Observer – February 25, 2021

Why Read This?
The author argues that rural revitalization is still fundamentally a matter of Chinese modernization. At present, Chinese villages present three complex intertwined phenomena of “leaving the land,” “keeping the land” and “returning to the land,” which constitute the “triple variation” of villages in the contemporary political, economic and social context. The “triple variation” also reflects the transformation dilemma encountered by China in the process of modernization. Only by continuing to promote industrialization and urbanization, and by promoting the joint development of urban and rural areas, can China’s villages be truly revitalized.(Read the full text

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Politics

4. Have We Misjudged the So-Called “U.S. Crisis?”

Wang Xi – Beijing Cultural Review – February 28, 2021

Why Read This?
This time, the competition between China and the United States is different from the two levels of competition between the Soviet Union and the United States during the Cold War. The fundamental difference lies in the fact that ideology is no longer the main driving force of the great power competition, but the increasing strategic competition between China and the United States in the digital field.(Read the full text

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Politics

5. The U.S.-China Competition in the Early Digital Age

Yan Xuetong – Political Science and International Relations Tribune – February 7, 2021

Why Read This?
This time, the competition between China and the United States is different from the two levels of competition between the Soviet Union and the United States during the Cold War. The fundamental difference lies in the fact that ideology is no longer the main driving force of the great power competition, but the increasing strategic competition between China and the United States in the digital field.(Read the full text

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Politics

6. Can US-China Relations Be Expected to Improve?

Lin Hongyu – Political Science and International Relations Tribune – February 25, 2021

Why Read This?
As the most important bilateral relationship today, the future development of the U.S.-China relationship is in the spotlight. It should be said that both sides have the desire and need to improve relations. Since Biden’s inauguration on January 20, 2021, there have been at least 10 meaningful “one-way declarations” or “two-way interactions” between the U.S. and China.(Read the full text

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Politics

7. Be Alert to the Seven Risks of the External Environment. China Must Adapt to the Rise of “Headwinds”

Wang Wen – Political Science and International Relations Tribune – March 15, 2021

Why Read This?
In this paper, we believe that in the medium and long-term external environment, the future situation will not return to the imaginary “smooth wind and water,” but may encounter many unpredictable “adverse currents.” China is facing “adverse wind and water” and is growing “against the odds.”(Read the full text

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Society

8. The Demographic Crisis Has Arrived, Population Building is a Matter of Urgency

Li Jianxin – Southern Metropolitan Observer – January 28, 2021

Why Read This?
It is estimated that during the 14th Five-Year Plan period, the population aged over 60 will approach 300 million, and the trend of low fertility rate will not be reversed fundamentally. After the demographic dividend has disappeared, can we improve the quality of our population with education, promote free movement with institutions, and prepare for the coming aging era? After 40 years of family planning, we hope to reacquaint ourselves with population.(Read the full text

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Society

9. The Lament of Underclass Men: Sense the Crisis but be Unwilling to Change

Wei Zhou – Southern Metropolitan Observer – March 15, 2021

Why Read This?
Over the years, some women have more autonomy to choose, which is good for them, but for other men at the bottom, it is a bad thing to shake up the order, provoking their sense of crisis and fear, and what they ultimately expect is that the “old ways” can solve the “new problems.”(Read the full text

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Finance and Business

10. The Other Side of the Sandstorm, Capital is Gnawing Away at the Grasslands with Increased Intensity

Chen Xiangjun – Beijing Cultural Review – March 15, 2021

Why Read This?
Recently, yellow sand appeared in 12 northern provinces and cities on a large scale. This is also the highest intensity of dusty weather in China in the past 10 years. From the situation of our country, in recent years the problem of grassland desertification has improved significantly. But as the Deputy Minister of Ecology and Environment said: “We are still facing a serious problem of ecological vulnerability.” In this paper, we take the Altai Mountain herding area as an example. It is pointed out that with the rapid development of the market economy in the past two decades, the pursuit of economic benefits, leads to the cultivation of farmland and overgrazing, under the impact of capital, the disappearance of the sacredness of the prairie seems to be inevitable. But for the local herders, is “steel and concrete” really the only way to modernization?(Read the full text

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Finance and Business

11. After China Refused to Accept “Foreign Garbage,” Now They Go Abroad to Dispose of the Garbage

Dong Mengyuan, Jiang Xinyi – Southern Weekend – February 3, 2021

Why Read This?
China’s solid waste industry has undergone a spiral of development: in the early years of the enterprise from abroad to learn technology, then in the country to “fight and upgrade” to improve skills, and finally going overseas to compete. Now with the addition of foreign environmental concepts and management experience, many companies are looking back to: with the “plastic limit order,” promotion of garbage sorting, the domestic recycling market is still a “big cake.”(Read the full text

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