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Asia Unbound

CFR experts give their take on the cutting-edge issues emerging in Asia today.

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Showing posts for "Political Reform"

Podcast: The Dictator’s Dilemma: The Chinese Communist Party’s Strategy for Survival

by Elizabeth C. Economy
CCP-90th-celebration Participants wave flags of the Chinese Communist Party as they sing revolutionary songs during a celebration for the Party's upcoming ninetieth anniversary, on a square in Chongqing municipality, March 28, 2011. (Stringer/Reuters)

Are Chinese citizens unhappy with their government? Media coverage of corruption, pollution, and censorship might lead outsiders to believe that they are. But on this week’s Asia Unbound podcast, Bruce Dickson, professor of political science and international affairs and director of the Sigur Center for Asian Studies at George Washington University, offers evidence to the contrary. Read more »

How Much Should We Read Into China’s New “Core Socialist Values”?

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
A man walks with his bicycle in front of a screen showing propaganda displays near the Great Hall of the People at Beijing's Tiananmen Square, November 7, 2012. Just days before the party's all-important congress opens, China's stability-obsessed rulers are taking no chances and have combed through a list all possible threats, avian or otherwise. Their list includes bus windows being screwed shut and handles for rear windows in taxis - to stop subversive leaflets being scattered on the streets - plus balloons and remote control model planes. The goal is to ensure an image of harmony as President Hu Jintao prepares to transfer power as party leader to anointed successor Vice President Xi Jinping at the congress, which starts on Thursday. REUTERS/Carlos Barria (CHINA - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS) A man walks with his bicycle in front of a screen showing propaganda displays near the Great Hall of the People at Beijing's Tiananmen Square. China’s most recent values and propaganda campaign has taken the form of promoting “core socialist values.” (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Bochen Han is an intern for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Driving through any Chinese city, town, or village today it’s hard to miss the 24-character set of “core socialist values” (shehuizhuyi hexin jiazhiguan) that adorn almost every public surface—restaurant menus, billboards, taxi cabs. In Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, schoolchildren must recite them on demand. In Chaohu city in Anhui province, citizens were encouraged to hang values-inscribed lanterns for the Spring Festival. Southwest, in Sichuan province, officials popularized the values by including them in riddles. Read more »

Forty-Five Minutes With Joshua Wong

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Joshua Wong, leader of the student movement, delivers a speech as protesters block the main street to the financial Central district, outside the government headquarters building in Hong Kong October 1, 2014. Thousands of pro-democracy protesters thronged the streets of Hong Kong on Wednesday, some of them jeering National Day celebrations, and students threatened to ramp up demonstrations if the city's pro-Beijing leader did not step down. REUTERS/Carlos Barria Joshua Wong, leader of the student movement, delivers a speech as protesters block the main street to the financial Central district, outside the government headquarters building in Hong Kong on October 1, 2014. Since the Umbrella Revolution, Wong has gone on to found the new political party Demosisto. (Carlos Barria/Reuters).

Four years ago, when he was just fifteen years old, Joshua Wong launched a campaign to prevent Beijing from enforcing its own version of history in Hong Kong schools. Along with other student activists involved in his “Scholarism” group, he managed to rally one hundred and twenty thousand people in protest and eventually beat back the government’s initiative. During that effort, Scholarism raised one million Hong Kong dollars in just one day—with 25-40 year olds as the most supportive demographic. For Wong, it was a signal that young people really could achieve change. (Less well known, perhaps, is that Wong cut his activist teeth protesting against a high-speed rail link between Hong Kong and the mainland when he was only thirteen years old.) Since then, of course, Wong has become world-renowned for his effort in helping lead the Occupy Central movement, which called for universal suffrage in Hong Kong. For his actions, he has been vilified by the Chinese government, assaulted, and arrested—all by the age of eighteen. Read more »

Podcast: What Everyone Needs to Know About China’s Economy

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Kroeber-Chinas-Economy

On this week’s Asia Unbound podcast, I speak with Arthur Kroeber, founding partner and head of research at Gavekal Dragonomics and author of the just-released China’s Economy: What Everyone Needs to Know, about why China’s much ballyhooed economic reforms have fallen flat. Kroeber argues that the Chinese leadership’s contradictory belief in both a “decisive” role for markets and a “dominant” state sector has not yet been resolved and is the fundamental barrier to economic progress. Read more »

Podcast: The Paper Tigers and Hidden Dragons of China’s Tech Sector

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Paper-Tigers-Hidden-Dragons-2

Chinese President Xi Jinping has claimed that the direction of China’s technological development is “innovation, innovation and more innovation.” But besides prominent success stories like Huawei and Lenovo, how innovative are other companies in China’s tech sector? In this week’s Asia Unbound podcast I talk with Douglas Fuller, professor of business administration at Zhejiang University’s School of Management, about his upcoming book—possibly the best China book I have read all year—Paper Tigers, Hidden Dragons: Firms and the Political Economy of China’s Technological Development. Read more »

Podcast: China’s Future

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Chinas-Future

China’s political, economic, and social prospects have all been the source of endless speculation for academics, journalists, and policymakers alike. This week I talk with David Shambaugh, professor of political science and international affairs and director of the China Policy Program at the George Washington University, who provides a concise take on these questions and introduces his excellent new book, China’s Future. Read more »

To Understand China’s Economic Signals, Start With the Four Comprehensives

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
A trainee walks past a communist party logo as he attends a training course at the communist party school called China Executive Leadership Academy of Pudong in Shanghai, September 24, 2012. China's Communist Party has dramatically stepped up its training of the country's roughly 40 million party and government officials in the past decade. With public scrutiny of cadre behaviour growing via social media, the party is likely to call for continued, and deepened, cadre education at the upcoming 18th Party Congress. At the vanguard of this education drive, alongside a Central Party School in Beijing, are three "Executive Leadership Academies" which opened in 2005 for middle-ranking and senior officials in Shanghai, Yan'an and Jinggangshan. The curriculum covers Marxism, Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought, but students may also take finance courses, receive in-depth media training or role-play crisis management scenarios on everything from disease outbreaks to train wrecks. REUTERS/Carlos Barria (CHINA - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY BUSINESS LOGO) A trainee walks past a communist party logo as he attends a training course at the communist party school called China Executive Leadership Academy of Pudong in Shanghai, September 24, 2012. China's Communist Party has dramatically stepped up its training of the country's roughly 40 million party and government officials in the past decade. (Carlos Barria/Reuters).

John Fei is a program officer for the Asia Security Initiative at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The views expressed here represent those of the author, and not those of the MacArthur Foundation or any other organization.

The recent drama surrounding China’s economy reveals contradictions in the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) monetary and fiscal management policies. Witness the rare, and highly scripted, appearances of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) governor Zhou Xiaochuan or the China Securities Regulatory Commission’s (CSRC) regulatory flip-flop on circuit-breaker mechanisms imposed on trading. While there has been a plethora of analyses regarding the need for improved communication and greater independence of organizations such as the PBOC, less has been said about how the recent spate of economic events relates to the CCP’s leadership doctrine. Read more »

Podcast: Understanding the Internal Debates Among China’s Top Thinkers

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Great-hall-of-the-people Attendants serve tea to delegates during the opening session of the National People’s Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, March 5, 2008. (Claro Cortes IV/Reuters)

While China’s leaders may hew to one political and economic line, there is an ongoing, vibrant debate among China’s top thinkers and scholars about the future of the country. In his new book, China’s Futures: PRC Elites Debate Economics, Politics, and Foreign Policy, University of Southern California Associate Professor Daniel Lynch delves into the internal publications of China’s elites to discover what they truly think on issues ranging from the economy to the political system to the role of the Internet. Read more »

Podcast: Pivotal Countries, Alternate Futures

by Elizabeth C. Economy
A man looks at the Pudong financial district of Shanghai, November 20, 2013. (Carlos Barria/Reuters) A man looks at the Pudong financial district of Shanghai, November 20, 2013. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Uncertainty is at the heart of China today: uncertainty over its economic reforms, over its political situation, and over its ultimate foreign policy objectives. In this podcast, I interview New York University professor Michael Oppenheimer about his new book, Pivotal Countries, Alternate Futures, in which he outlines a set of scenarios for the future of China and the implications of those scenarios for U.S. policy. Listen to our discussion for his fascinating assessment of where Beijing is, where it is likely to go, and what he thinks the United States ought to do to ensure that its interests are advanced whatever the future trajectory of China. Read more »

Podcast: China’s Coming “Refolution”

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Tianjin-protest-12-8-2015 Residents evacuated from their homes after explosions in Tianjin, China, take part in a rally outside the venue of a government officials' news conference, August 19, 2015. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

In this podcast, I interview Minxin Pei, Tom and Margot Pritzker ’72 professor of government and George R. Roberts fellow and director of the Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies at Claremont McKenna College, on his new research on the potential for regime transition in China. Read more »