|To support us with a donation? Click here!Dialogue China BriefingWhat China Is ReadingIssue 111 – July 1, 2022In This IssueThe 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. Dialogue China Opinions1. China’s Replication of the Russian ModelII. Policy2. The Key Behind the State Council’s Emergency 10,000 People Plenary Meeting is to Leverage a Sky High Amount of Assets3. The Scandal of Textbooks and the Falsification of Nucleic Acids That Have Outraged the Entire Internet Point to the Same TrapIII. Politics4. Is the United States in Decline or Not? Chinese People Should Have a Clear UnderstandingIV. Finance and Business5. Hu Xijin is Not the Only One Who Cares about China’s Economy? “There is another Three Trillion Dollar Risk That Should Not be Ignored”6. Medical Supply Chain During the Pandemic: Domestic Shortage of Artificial Blood Vessels, Foreign Supply of Radiography Contrast Media Cut OffDialogue China Opinions1. China’s Replication of the Russian ModelWang Dan – UP Media – April 29, 2022A political joke circulated in Russia in 2007, and a review of it today reveals a chilling degree of accuracy. The joke was to the effect of: Putin and Medvedev* were privately discussing a problem. Medvedev said: “We have to win the right to host the 2014 Winter Olympics. The economy is booming, oil prices are rising, your targeted poverty rate has dropped from 30 percent to 13 percent, we even won the European Song Contest in your honor. Putin listened, nodded his head, and then declared that this means we must now win World War III.”
* The Medvedev-Putin tandemocracy was the joint leadership of Russia when Vladimir Putin – who was constitutionally barred from serving a third consecutive term as president of Russia – assumed the role of prime minister under President Dmitry Medvedev. While the office of prime minister is nominally the subservient position, Putin was the de facto leader during this period, with most opinion being either that Putin remained paramount or that he and Medvedev had similar levels of power. Putin was re-elected president in the 2012 election and Medvedev became his prime minister.
This joke makes one tremble with fear because 15 years later, Putin actually launched his invasion of Ukraine which may have triggered World War III. It was just a joke at the beginning, indicating that the Russian people at that time saw Putin’s wild ambition, but did not think that he would really go to war, otherwise it would not have passed as a joke. However, what the Russians did not dare to imagine has become reality today. Another interesting aspect of this joke is that if you replace the characters in the joke with a conversation between Xi Jinping and his cronies, and apply it to the political situation in China today, you will find that there is actually no inconsistency at all, even specific details such as the Winter Olympics and poverty eradication can be applied to the same joke in Russia in 2007 and China in 2012.
This, in fact, is an issue very much worth reflecting on.
This political joke comes from the book “Fragile Empire: How Russia Fell In and Out of Love with Vladimir Putin” (Yale University Press, 2014) by Ben Judah, former Reuters correspondent in Moscow. I would like to earnestly recommend it to those who are interested in the development of Russia and China, because reading it today can give us a very important reminder: the development trajectory of China today is, to a large extent, a replication of the development trajectory of the Russian model after Putin came to power in 2000. And the degree of replication can be said in many respects to be slavish imitation, with little significant difference. If we see and agree on this, then we will have an important reference for predicting China’s future development path.
The book provides a lot of evidence to support the above statement. For example, the author states: “In the 2000s, the Russian economy stabilized, and the increase in oil production and prices brought wealth to Russia. A new middle class emerged, Russia became a consumer society, and people traveled abroad in large numbers. Russians, who were becoming wealthier, lost interest in politics, and even rejected it. Putin’s dictatorship seemed to be far away and irrelevant to them.” I believe that everyone can see that the overall state of social development in China today is almost exactly the same as in Russia during that period.
The next and more striking similarity is that the so-called “Wolf Warrior Diplomacy” did not originate in China, as the exact same phenomenon emerged in Russia a couple decades ago. From the perspective of foreign policy actors, the author says, economic self confidence coincides with a change in self perception. Moscow embraced the Brazil, Russia, India, and China [BRIC] emerging economy label, and began to see itself as an emerging power. Moscow’s foreign policy discussions began to focus on anticipating a prolonged recession in the West, and on how to restore Russia’s influence among the former Soviet states. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov began to mention that he believed the days of Western superiority were numbered. This is reminiscent of China’s rhetoric in recent years about the “rising east and falling west,” and the emergence of “Wolf Warrior Diplomacy.” In an even more striking parallel, it was around the time when Russia began to become more assertive that “influential politicians began to ask Putin to ‘follow United States’ President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s lead’ and amend the constitution to run for a third term as president.” And “Putin began to change.”
Here we can see that the changes that have taken place in China since Xi Jinping came to power in 2012, as well as the changes that have taken place in Xi Jinping himself, are almost identical. More importantly, the logic that led to such changes is also the same: economic growth boosts a ruler’s confidence, confidence gives rise to the expansion of naked ambition, while society ignores or tries to ignore political regression because of economic stability. The final result is that a globalizing society slowly regresses back to a monarchical model without realizing it.
The similarity of paths between Russia and China is obviously not a historical coincidence. There is a lot of logic behind the systemic factors, which in itself is a topic worthy of study. However, I would like to emphasize that a careful study of the development of Russia and Putin after the year 2000 will help us to understand and predict the past transformations and future direction of China and Xi Jinping.【Back to Top】Policy2. The Key Behind the State Council’s Emergency 10,000 People Plenary Meeting is to Leverage a Sky High Amount of AssetsShi Zhengfu – Beijing Cultural Review – May 25, 2022Why Read This?
China’s State Council recently proposed 33 measures to stabilize the economy in six areas; among these measures, particularly noteworthy is the effort to guarantee the abundance of total money, maintain the growth rate of medium and long term money supply and social financing, play the key role of facilitating effective investment, accelerate the speed of lending, pay close attention to promoting the construction of a number of major infrastructure projects, and focus on stabilizing the macro economic market. The analysis of this paper points out that China’s demand for “basic strategic assets” (BSA) is much higher than that of Europe and the United States, and its scale and quality will determine the success or failure of sustainable economic development. In conclusion, the authors suggest some reference ideas for economic policy choices for the current and future period.（Read the full text）
【Back to top】Policy3. The Textbook Scandal and Falsification of Nucleic Acid Tests That Have Enraged the Entire Internet Both Point to the Same PitfallYe Tuo, Xue Wanye – Regional Finance Research – May 27, 2022Why Read This?
Recently, a series of incidents such as the ugly illustrations in elementary school textbooks and the illegal falsification of nucleic acid tests have triggered fierce public criticism. These incidents all point to one key question: Why would the public services purchased by the government to promote public interest go so wrong? When things go wrong, how should we be held accountable? This article points out that for a long time now, many people have believed that government purchase of public services can make use of market competition to make public services more professional, efficient and flexible, and even more democratic, accessible and diverse. But government purchase of public services is not as perfect as imagined. In fact, it not only does not reduce, but may increase the risk of liability for public service delivery.（Read the full text）
【Back to top】Politics4. Is the United States in Decline or Not? Chinese People Should Have a Clear UnderstandingWang Jisi – Contemporary American Review – May 30, 2022Why Read This?
In recent years, the United States has been plagued by increasing domestic social and political problems, and its international performance has been erratic, arousing global concern. Many people in the East and West lament that the United States is in decline, while many disagree with this negative view. How should we look at this issue? The author points out that the international status of the United States has indeed declined relative to China over the past decade, but has not significantly declined relative to countries outside of China. The increase in immigration to the United States has exacerbated racial conflict, but immigration has also given the United States reserve strength and stamina. While changes in United States domestic politics will not immediately lead to wavering of its hegemony, they will affect foreign policy logic.（Read the full text）
【Back to top】Finance and Business5. Hu Xijin* is Not the Only One Who Cares about China’s Economy? “There is another Three Trillion Dollar Risk That Should Not be Ignored”* Hu Xijin (胡锡进) is a Chinese journalist and the former editor-in-chief and Communist Party secretary of the Global Times, a hardline tabloid under the auspices of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s official People’s Daily newspaper. He has been accused of being a political propagandist, and described as an early adopter of China’s “wolf warrior” communication strategy of loudly denouncing perceived criticism of the Chinese government and its policies.Yu Yongding – Yu Yongding Personal Column – May 21, 2022Why Read This?
A few days ago, an article entitled “No One Cares About the Economy Anymore” was widely circulated, triggering heated debates about China’s economy. At the same time, in the current complex environment, the international economic and financial challenges facing China should not be underestimated. In late February 2022, the United States and Europe announced the freezing of US$300 billion in foreign exchange reserves of the Russian central bank, which had a huge impact. China has US$3.3 trillion in foreign exchange reserves (equivalent to RMB ¥ 22 trillion), including more than US$1 trillion in United States Treasury bonds. The “weaponization” of foreign exchange reserves by the United States and Europe forces us to re-examine the safety of China’s foreign exchange reserves and overseas assets. The United States is experiencing a shortage of daily medical supplies of radiography contrast media due to production line restoration problems in Shanghai.（Read the full text）
【Back to top】Finance and Business6. Medical Supply Chain During the Pandemic: Domestic Shortage of Artificial Blood Vessels, Foreign Supply of Radiography Contrast Media Cut OffQiu Xing – Sanlian Life Weekly – May 21, 2022Why Read This?
After the Shanghai pandemic, in the medical treatment field, many medical products were blocked in the production and supply chain due to production, logistics, and personnel isolation control and other reasons. For example, due to Shanghai port restrictions, life saving artificial blood vessels faced a shortage in China. And due to production line recovery difficulties in Shanghai, there was a shortage of daily medical supplies of radiography contrast media in the United States.（Read the full text）
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