Most international relations scholars examine China through one or another version of realism or liberalism. David Kelly offers an alternative approach that examines the nature of Chinese identity—or, rather, Chinese identities (plural)—and how they exhibit themselves in Chinese foreign policy.
Beijing has published its first ever Arctic policy white paper. It firmly stakes a claim to take direct part in Arctic governance as a ‘near-Arctic state’ whose interests are impacted by activity in the region. Stressing climate change, environmental protection and adherence to international law, the white paper portrays Beijing as entitled, given its capacity for protecting the global commons, to develop sea routes and utilise resources.
December saw deepening Party power and Xi Jinping’s political supremacy on show again. He proposed a constitutional amendment at a top political and legal meeting following the CCP Central Committee’s second plenary session. To be tabled at the March Two Sessions, the revision will confirm a new National Supervision Commission with sweeping oversight over the public sector.
The central bank, finance ministry and (probably) insurance regulator will all soon see new leadership—China Policy looks at the key contenders.
The bid to detach local governments from companies set up to enable irregular borrowing is already in trouble in early 2018. Yunnan province is bailing out a former local government financing vehicle (LGFV), Yunnan Capital, which morphed into a state-owned asset management company in mid-2016. Like many LGFVs, it proved non-viable.
Xi’s anti-corruption campaign takes root as a new state agency, extending its reach over a broad swatch of society. Ambitions for predictability and transparency have limits, but are worth taking seriously.
governance: pulling in overseas students, inter-Korea talks, sluggish health reform, opening FTZs wider
In a personal letter, President Xi Jinping urged overseas Chinese students to be patriotic and contribute to national rejuvenation. The letter, written to students and scholars at Moscow University, appeared in People’s Daily with pledges of loyalty from Chinese student representatives in Russia, the US and Canada. The San Francisco Chinese consulate organised a meeting with local Chinese students to spread Xi’s message, calling Chinese overseas students ‘a vital force in building socialism with Chinese characteristic in the new era’.
economy: zombie enterprise elimination, disciplining commercial banking, autonomous driving, rural revitalisation
The state is moving supply-side structural reform (SSSR) forward in the new year, following the tone-setting Central Economic Work Conference (CEWC) in December 2017—elimination of zombie enterprises will be the focal point in 2018.
Beijing got into high gear on the Rohingya crisis in the last months of 2017, one of a series of diplomatic initiatives in the wake of its Party Congress.
governance: protecting personal information, aligning education with industry needs, balancing trade, geopolitical prospects 2018
The December NPC Standing Committee meeting called for stricter regulation of commercial entities that collect and utilise personal data. Real-name registration, for example, has become a pretext for online businesses to harvest customers’ data for profit.
economy: softer deleveraging rhetoric, cement de-capacity, growing the drone industry, pricing ag water
Deleveraging, a key economic policy theme, was not prominent in this year’s Central Economic Work Conference (CEWC), in line with softened rhetoric at a CCP Politburo meeting two weeks before. This quickly raised concerns that the resolve to fight mounting debt was waning—even CASS recognised debt as ‘alarmingly high’ and rising.
The annual Central Economic Work Conference, expressed a desire to ratchet up and professionalise Party regulation of the economy. Held mid-December, its main initiative, an ‘effective long-term policy intervention package’, stays close to themes laid out at the October 19th Party Congress: quality-over-quantity growth, prudent monetary policy and lowering barriers to foreign investment.