The puzzle of Chinese political power

Chinese President Xi Jinping gives a toast during the National Day reception in a banquet hall at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, 30 September 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Authors: Peter Drysdale, EAF, and Ryan Manuel, ANU

When Xi Jinping ascended to the Chinese presidency, he, Premier Li Keqiang and their streamlined seven-person Politburo Standing Committee faced serious economic challenges at home as well as increasingly complex issues to manage abroad.

Domestically, the Bo Xilai affair hovered over the leadership transition ominously, underlining the need to deal with disquiet among the Chinese public over corruption and the relationship between the state and economic power. Read more…

With Xi’s new power is collective leadership over?

Chinese president Xi Jinping leads the parade of present and past leaders, as they gather for the National Day reception at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on 30 September 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Shen Dingli, Fudan University

There is currently much talk about whether China’s President Xi Jinping is shifting away from collective leadership. Western observers tend to conclude that, given his command of all powers since becoming Chinese communist party chief and state president, Xi is centralising power around himself. But that is a premature conclusion that bears more careful scrutiny. Read more…

The future of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (L) speaks with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang (R) after visiting an exhibition of innovative technologies at the Open Innovations Forum in Moscow, Russia, 14 October 2014.  (Photo: AAP).

Author: Swagata Saha, Observer Research Foundation

China recently reaffirmed that it backs India and Pakistan becoming members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). At the 14th meeting of the Council of Heads of States of SCO on 12 September, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for full membership for SCO observers, including India and Pakistan. Read more…

Where are all the women in China’s political system?

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Author: Jude Howell, LSE

In September 2014 the Inter-Parliamentary Union released its latest figures on the number of women in national parliaments. Rwanda topped the league with women accounting for 63.8 per cent of parliamentarians in the lower house (or its equivalent). China, however, ranked 62nd out of 189 countries, with women accounting for 23.4 per cent of representatives to the National People’s Congress (NPC) — China’s nearest equivalent to a parliament. Given that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has long espoused the idea of equality between men and women and has a well-established, dedicated institution for protecting women’s rights and interests — the All-China Women’s Federation (ACWF) — it is curious that the figures are so unimpressive. Read more…

Hong Kong protests about economics as much as democracy

Pro-democracy protesters continue a sit-in demonstration under a banner calling for the resignation of Chief Executive CY Leung and genuine elections in downtown Hong Kong, 6 October 2014. The protests are about economics as much as democracy, argues Peter Cai. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Peter Cai, Business Spectator

For years, Beijing has feared colour revolutions. Now, it has one on Chinese soil. The Occupy Central movement has morphed into the Umbrella Revolution. Tens of thousands of Hong Kong citizens, including students as young as 13, have taken to the streets to protest against the Chinese central government’s electoral reform package. Read more…

Australia’s false China choice over Taiwan

Students protesters pass around sunflowers outside the parliament building after they ended an occupy protest over a contentious trade pact with China, in Taipei on 10 April 2014. Protestors are concerned that increasing economic influence from China will undermine Taiwanese democracy. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Paul Dibb, ANU

Arguments currently raging in Australia about the so-called China choice have not addressed the crucial issue about what specific concessions must be made to accommodate a rising China. Instead, debate consists of generalised statements that the US needs to provide China with strategic space by acknowledging its legitimate strategic interests.

China has identified Taiwan, Tibet and, more recently, the South China Sea as core national interests. Read more…

Will there be a China–US deal on climate change?

Chinese workers install solar panels on the rooftop of a workshop at a textile factory of Guanxing Group in Liaocheng city, Shandong province, China, 30 October 2012. China has become the world’s largest producer of solar panels and wind turbines. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Frank Jotzo, ANU

For many years China and the United States have faced off over climate change. Now, climate change action is one of the few things the two powers can agree on. A new view on the benefits of climate action goes some way to explain this shift. Read more…

Protestors’ triumphs merely highlight the travails of Hong Kong’s democracy

Holding two umbrellas, a man walks through tear gas used by riot police against Occupy Central protesters after thousands of people blocked a main road in the financial district of Hong Kong, 28 September 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Joseph Cheng, City University of Hong Kong

Just before midnight on 2 October, CY Leung, Chief Executive of Hong Kong, agreed to negotiations with student protest leaders on the issue of political reform. The protesters, as well as the people of Hong Kong, can be very proud of what they have achieved so far.

They have occupied not only the Admiralty area, but also several districts and ensured that the police cannot charge for another crackdown. Read more…

Border issues gnaw at stronger India–China trade ties

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Authors: Geethanjali Nataraj and Richa Sekhani, Observer Research Foundation

India’s modern relationship with China, beginning in the 1950s when India was the first non-socialist bloc country to rekindle relations, has been volatile — underscored by border disputes, post-colonial bonhomie and Asian solidarity. In 2008, China emerged as India’s largest trading partner — boosting bilateral strategic and military relations as well. Read more…

Rough sailing in the iron ore shipping business

A crane prepares to load a COSCO shipping container onto a ship at the Port of Rizhao in Shandong province, China, 5 April 2014. Fearful of losing business and under the guise of safety concerns, COSCO successfully lobbied to have Valemax ships banned from docking at Chinese ports. (Photo: AAP)-minihighres

Author: Pascale Massot, University of British Columbia

The impact of Chinese demand on global iron ore prices is well known. A less acknowledged consequence of China’s emergence is the transformation of incentive structures in the global shipping market. Dramatic increases in freight rates shifted global iron ore producers’ comparative advantage further in favour of Australian exporters to the detriment of the Brazilians. During the commodities boom, between 2002 and 2008, the freight differential between Brazil–China and Australia–China rates increased to around US$60 per tonne for 150,000–160,000 deadweight tonne (dwt) ships. Read more…

Beijing’s growing influence over Hong Kong

Students protesting for greater democratic rights march in Hong Kong on 24 September 2014. Striking students marched on Hong Kong's financial district, taking their protest to the city's commercial centre for the first time. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Stephan Ortmann, City University of Hong Kong

On 31 August, when Beijing’s offer of universal suffrage to Hong Kong came with an extremely restrictive framework allowing for only two to three establishment candidates, it was just another sign of the Chinese government taking greater control over its special administrative region. Read more…

Energy market reform needed as China heads for national emissions trading

Smoke is discharged from chimneys at an oil refining and chemical plant of Sinopec in Qingdao city, east China’s Shandong province, 9 February 2014. China has announced that its national emissions trading scheme will begin as early as 2016. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Frank Jotzo, ANU

China is shifting up a gear in its drive towards national emissions trading. Yet, for carbon pricing to be effective, market reform in China’s energy sector will be needed — a big task that will bring benefits not only for the environment but also to the quality of China’s economic growth.

China’s National Development and Reform Commission recently announced that a national emissions trading scheme would start as early as 2016. Read more…

Put up or shut up on China’s infrastructure bank

Chinese president Xi Jinping and Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa shake hands at the inauguration of the proposed Harbour City construction in Colombo, Sri Lanka, 17 September 2014. China will try to meet the need for infrastructure through the activities of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Peter Drysdale, East Asia Forum

This year’s G20 summit has rightly given infrastructure investment top priority in engineering long-term recovery of the global economy. Despite continuing signs of recovery in the United States, growth in much of the industrial world remains stagnant and slower growth in emerging economies is yet to bottom out. Lifting global growth towards its long-term potential and avoiding a new normal of low growth will be greatly assisted by filling the US$50 trillion infrastructure gap that the OECD estimates worldwide with productive investment. Read more…

Welcoming China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank initiative

Chinese workers pave rails at a construction site of Chengmianle. China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank initiative will be launched this year. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Andrew Elek, ANU

In October 2013, just before the APEC meeting in Bali, Chinese president Xi Jinping announced the creation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The bank will be launched this year, possibly when APEC leaders meet in Beijing.

This new development bank can help fill the vast unmet demand for productive economic infrastructure, especially in the emerging economies of Asia. Read more…

A chance to mend China–Japan relations

The respective leaders of China and Japan should not let issues like the Diaoyu/Senkaku Island dispute get in the way of building a stronger bilateral relationship. (Photo: AAP).

Authors: Yves Tiberghien, University of British Columbia, and Yong Wang, Peking University

Over the last two years, China–Japan relations have been trapped in a downward spiral. The inescapable reality of an ongoing great power transition makes this situation particularly tense: the size of China’s economy relative to Japan’s jumped from a mere 25 per cent in 2000 to 99 per cent in 2009 and then to 188 per cent in 2013. Yet an alternative policy course is slowly developing. Read more…