Where there’s a will there’s a way to reform

A man rides his bicycle past stacked shipping containers carrying his wife and child in Shanghai. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Zhao Changwen, DRC

The further reform of China’s state-owned enterprises has attracted a lot of attention and triggered debate since it was discussed last year at the third plenary session of the Chinese Communist Party’s 18th Central Committee (the Third Plenum). Three areas need to be addressed if reforms are to be meaningful and comprehensive: reforming the property rights system of SOEs by developing a ‘mixed ownership economy’; shifting from managing state assets to managing state capital; and promoting a modern corporate system. Read more…

The new normal of Chinese growth


Author: Wang Yong, Peking University

The Chinese economy is widely perceived to have entered a ‘new normal’ — annual GDP growth has slowed to between 7 per cent and 7.5 per cent from the double-digit levels of previous years. This was something that policymakers expected: an inevitable result of economic restructuring. Read more…

Getting Chinese reforms in the zone

Night view of an installation for the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone at the Waigaoqiao area in Pudong, Shanghai, China, September 2013. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Bo Chen, SUFE

Since the release of the Shanghai Free Trade Zone blueprint in September 2013, plans for similar reforms in the rest of China have emerged — and are to be implemented within the next three years. Read more…

China and the final frontier of financial reform

A Chinese investor looks at stock indices at a stock brokerage house in Anhui province. (Photo: AAP).

Authors: Yiping Huang, Peking University; Ran Li, Peking University; and Bijun Wang, CASS

In late 2013 the Chinese authorities put together a reform agenda for the financial sector, focusing on reducing entry barriers, liberalising market mechanisms and improving financial regulation. This could be the final frontier of China’s financial reform, which — according to the plan — should make critical progress by 2020. Read more…

Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement ready to open for another storm

A paper umbrella and Christmas tree are displayed to decorate the last remaining pro-democracy protest site in the Admiralty district of Hong Kong on December 22, 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Courtney J. Fung, HKU

The Hong Kong Umbrella Movement, the city’s first significant and sustained extra-legal protest, provided a number of valuable lessons for the future.

The civil disobedience campaign began at the end of September 2014, but did not achieve its primary goal of universal suffrage for the upcoming Chief Executive elections. Read more…

Why China’s growing cities do not threaten farmland

A Chinese farmer drives a buffalo to plow his farm field in on the outskirts of Guilin city, southwest China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, 28 March 2011. (Photo: AAP)

Author: John Gibson, University of Waikato

China recently announced strict controls to stop big cities expanding on to neighbouring farmland. The Minister for Land and Resources Jiang Daming justified these controls by claiming that good farmland has been ‘eaten by steel and cement’. To safeguard food security, land on the outskirts of cities will be classified as ‘permanent basic farmland’ that can be used only for cultivation. Read more…

China’s hukou reform a small step in the right direction

A Chinese parent takes her daughter home from a kindergarten set up for migrant workers, which is marked for demolition in Beijing on 26 April 2012. Under China's complex residency laws, most migrant workers remain registered in their native towns and villages and do not qualify for the all-important hukou in the city where they live. Without this document, their children do not qualify for places in public schools, making the unregistered fee-paying migrant schools their only option. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Bingqin Li, ANU

The household registration (‘hukou’) system in China, originally adopted in 1958, was finally put on the national reform agenda in July 2014. But how significant are the reforms?

The old registration system maintained a clear distinction between rural and urban residency, and it was very difficult for people labelled as rural residents to switch over to urban registration. Read more…

The hole in the Asian doughnut

One of two foreign fishing boats suspected of conducting illegal fishing activities is blown up by the Indonesian navy in Ambon bay, Indonesia, 21 December 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Peter Drysdale, East Asia Forum

The mutuality of Asia’s economic interests centring on deepening economic integration is a potential foundation for building an Asian economic community that encompasses the ASEAN 10 plus their six neighbours, Japan, South Korea, China, India, Australia and New Zealand. Read more…

Why US analysis of China’s nine-dash line is flawed

A China Coast Guard vessel attempts to block a Philippine government vessel as it tries to enter the Second Thomas Shoal/ Ayungin Shoal. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Sourabh Gupta, Samuels International

The US State Department’s analysis of China’s nine-dash line, which it released in advance of China’s Position Paper on the South China Sea arbitration case with the Philippines, is in part conceptually and legally flawed. Read more…

Vietnam’s leaders look to consolidate gains in 2015


Author: Thomas Jandl, MRTJ Asia Consulting

For Vietnam’s leadership, 2014 was another year of growing into a role as an increasingly active international player, both diplomatically and economically. Two events — the Haiyang 981 oilrig incident and TPP accession negotiations — gave Vietnam a place in the spotlight and shed light on a continued path for 2015. Read more…

Xi’s the man in 2014


Author: Kerry Brown, University of Sydney

It became clear in 2014 that Xi Jinping was the dominant leader of China. Even President Obama recognised this at the end of the year, stating that no recent Chinese leader had consolidated power so quickly as Xi since Deng Xiaoping. Read more…

Putin supports Xi’s new diplomatic strategy to put China centre stage

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcome ceremony for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders Meeting held at the International Convention Center in Yanqi Lake, Beijing, on Tuesday, Nov 11, 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Rebecca Fabrizi, ANU

China is working to make the international order suit its interests better and put China front and centre in global affairs. Xi Jinping’s new diplomatic focus on multilateral diplomacy includes giving new profile to existing arrangements where China can lead, such as the BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). He is also pushing his own initiatives, such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, while pursuing economic reform and military modernisation. Read more…

KMT stumbling may mean the spectre of Beijing is losing its potency in Taipei

Ko Wen-je, the independent candidate who was elected mayor of Taipei in Taiwan’s local nine-in-one elections, delivers his victory speech after edging Sean Lien, a candidate of the ruling Kuomitang party, 29 November 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Sheryn Lee, ANU

Politically and economically, 2014 proved to be an extremely bad year for President Ma Ying-jeou and his ruling Kuomintang (KMT) party. Economic stagnation and public discontent over worsening social disparities continue to plague Taiwan. Mass demonstrations indicate that Taiwan’s citizens have much more pressing concerns than Taiwan–China relations. Read more…

China’s economic vulnerabilities

A man carries a child on his shoulders as they visit an annual lights festival held at a shopping mall in Beijing, 27 December 2014. The month long festival spans Christmas and New Year, giving retailers a chance to boost sales as they ring in the New Year. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Peter Drysdale, East Asia Forum

As we count down the days and now the hours towards the beginning of 2015, what preoccupies most soothsayers of the outlook for the global economy in the coming year is the shape of the Chinese economy. Read more…

China faces challenges but bears beware of betting on collapse

Chinese homebuyers look at models of residential apartment buildings during a real estate fair in Zhengzhou city, China, 5 September 2014. The real estate investment slowdown has not only hit growth directly but will also drag down the economy via its impact on manufacturing investment. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Yu Yongding, CASS

George Orwell once observed: ‘Whoever is winning at the moment will always seem to be invincible’. Not long ago, many in the West declared that China would soon be the number one economy in the world.

But in the past two years, many in the West have begun to see the writing on the wall. Read more…