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…

China and India’s growing strategic weight

An Indian national flag is flown next to the Chinese national emblem. China and India will be at the core of the Asian powerhouse over the coming decades. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Peter Drysdale, Editor, East Asia Forum

The visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to India this week, so early in the term of India’s new prime minister, Narendra Modi, underlines the growing strategic weight of the relationship between the two countries. Modi’s prime ministership, with its ambition to re-invigorate India’s stalled economic reform and growth, more than any other single factor, promises to accelerate its potential growth radically. Modi has runs on the board with China in bringing Chinese investors to his home state, Gujarat — as of last year about 20 Chinese companies had set up shop — and through his personal engagement. Read more…

China–India border dispute: when Xi comes calling, will Modi be ready?   

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the 6th BRICS Summit in Fortaleza. The long-standing boundary question has dogged Sino-Indian relations. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Sourabh Gupta, Samuels International

When President Xi Jinping arrives in the Indian capital next week, he will become the first leader of a major power to pay a state visit in the Narendra Modi era. It is rare for a Chinese head of state to visit India this early in his tenure. It took Jiang Zemin seven years and Hu Jintao four years to pay their solitary visits to New Delhi. Read more…

India and China must think outside the ‘bureaucratic box’

Author: Tansen Sen, City University of New York

Chinese president Xi Jinping’s forthcoming visit to India will achieve nothing unless the new leaders of India and China can overcome existing inertia and seriously start revamping their bilateral relations. It is true that the two sides have managed to avoid a repeat of the 1962 armed conflict, and that diplomats have to be credited with limiting the border differences to a few ‘incursions’ and a tense standoff at Daulat Beg Oldi near the disputed Aksai Chin region in May 2013. But, as these episodes accumulate and are sensationalised by the media and dramatised in the blogosphere, they perpetuate mutual distrust and harden negative public perceptions. Read more…

China and Taiwan walking the line of rapprochement

Zhang Zhijun, head of Taiwan Affairs Office in Beijing, and his Taiwan counterpart Wang Yu-chi pose for media at the start of a meeting in Taoyuan, Taiwan, 25 June 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Justine Doody, Berlin

After more than six decades of conflict over the political status of Taiwan, Beijing and Taipei are taking significant steps toward rapprochement in their relations. Yet how much Chinese influence can Taiwan’s democracy tolerate?

On 25 June 2014, for the first time in over 60 years, China sent a ministerial-level figure on an official visit to Taiwan. Read more…

Latin America lures Asia’s big powers

Chinese president Xi Jinping reviews the guard of honour upon his arrival at Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil at the start of his tour of Latin America, 17 July 2014 in Brasilia. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Juan J. Palacios, University of Guadalajara

Considered for most of the twentieth century as the United States’ backyard, Latin America is today a place where other major powers seek to exercise a growing influence and find a steady supply of energy and natural resources as well as markets and investment outlets. Read more…

How China can continue to lower its suicide rate

Two elderly Chinese women chat in Shan county, Shandong province, China. In the 1990s, the suicide rate in China was substantially higher in rural areas and among the elderly. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Paul Yip, University of Hong Kong

China’s suicide rate has fallen dramatically in the past decade. In the 1990s, China had one of the highest suicide rates in the world at 23.2 suicides per 100,000 people. An estimated 250,000 suicides were reported every year, accounting for about a quarter of the world’s total. But by 2012 the estimated national average suicide rate had decreased to 9.8 per 100,000 people, nearly 60 per cent lower than in the 1990s. Read more…

Laying down the law at the Communist Party plenum

Yang Xiuyu, who was accused of spreading rumours online, enters a Beijing courtroom on 14 August 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Carl Minzner, Fordham Law School

On 29 July, Chinese authorities announced the long-expected news that former security tsar and Politburo Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkang is under investigation for Communist Party disciplinary violations. Simultaneously, it was revealed that the party plenum in October would — for the first time — focus on ‘ruling China according to law’ (yifa zhiguo). Read more…

Blowing the lid off food safety in China

An employee leaves the factory building of Shanghai Husi Food Co. Ltd. in Shanghai, China, 21 July 2014. While food in China is generally safe, repeated food safety incidents make a mockery out of serious reform efforts. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Sacha Cody, ANU

In July, Shanghai’s Dragon TV exposed illegal food handling practices by Shanghai Husi Food Co., a major meat supplier to multinational corporations such as McDonald’s and KFC. The story, which was the result of months of undercover investigative journalism and concealed video recording, showed footage of numerous violations including mixing expired meat with usable product as well as deliberately deceiving a regular inspection group from McDonald’s. Six Husi staff members were swiftly arrested. It is believed that such behaviour had been going on for years, though Husi’s senior management claimed this was an isolated incident. Read more…

China’s recipe for higher consumption and steady economic growth

Chinese customers buy snacks at a supermarket in Fuyang city, in the eastern Chinese province of Anhui, 16 July 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Authors: Wang Xiaolu, NERI, and Zhou Yixiao, ANU

The slowdown of economic growth in China, since the global financial crisis, is obvious. The average growth rate dropped from above 10 per centto 9.3 per cent between 2008–2011, and then to 7.7 per cent in both 2012 and 2013, according to China’s National Bureau of Statistics. In the first half of 2014, the growth rate was 7.4 per cent. Read more…

Chinese state-owned enterprise investment in Australia

Chinese president Xi Jinping greets Australian prime minister Tony Abbott in Beijing on 11 April 2014. There is intense focus on how the investment chapter of the Australia-China FTA will treat the access of Chinese state-owned enterprises to the Australian investment market. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Peter Drysdale, Editor, East Asia Forum

As the negotiation of the Australia–China Free Trade Agreement (FTA) moves into what is hopefully its final phase, there is intense focus on how the investment chapter of the FTA will treat the access of Chinese state-owned enterprises to the Australian investment market.

Currently all investment proposals by state-owned enterprises (SOEs) are subject to screening by Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB), no matter what their scale or country of origin. Read more…