Saturday 19 Jan 2019 | 22:19 | SYDNEY
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China

Why China’s financial system remains closed

While China still uses the rhetoric of “reform and opening up” its financial system remains relatively closed and is set to get even more unfriendly for foreign investors despite some recent announcements on liberalisation. The recent news that China continues to delay access by Visa and

Religious freedom in China: better than before?

Speaking at New York’s Asia Society Policy on 5 December, former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd contended that religious freedom in China is “much better now than it was before.” A storm of indignant posts spread on social media, voicing displeasure and disagreement. If, as Rudd argued

Best of The Interpreter 2018: The US-China trade war

In recent months, the US-China relationship has accelerated from rivalry toward adversarial antagonism. In the US, a policy shift on China has been propelled by a sense that China is winning and America is losing in a competition for global hegemony.  “I want tariffs,” Donald Trump&

Kovrig case casts pall over China research ties

Just as the Trump-Xi meeting at the G20 produced a glimmer of hope for mutual de-escalation, the US-China trade war has taken its ugliest turn yet. Last week, Beijing detained two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, in retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Huawei’s Chief Financial

What I missed this year: America pushes back

A series where Lowy Institute experts look back on what surprised them in 2018. For some years now I have believed that the United States is on the losing end of a long struggle with China for strategic hegemony in Asia. My position is summarised in a long article I wrote for the Financial Review

Russian gas will not stop China’s air pollution

As Beijing clamps down on air pollution, it is seeking to replace coal power plants with cleaner natural gas, especially for heating during winter. Consequently, China has intensified relations with Russia, one of the world’s leading gas exporters, to expand energy ties. But although upping gas

Xi Jinping in 2018: Any closer to the truth?

In 2016, I published a study of Xi Jinping, CEO China: The Rise of Xi Jinping (I B Tauris). This book has subsequently been reissued in paperback, and in 2018 I did a shorter overview, The World According to Xi with the same publisher. For one reason or the other, other the last few years I have had

China takes off for the Moon, tethered by politics at home

Early on Saturday morning, China launched the Chang’e 4 robot spacecraft on course for the Moon. If all goes well, it will become the first spacecraft in history to soft-land on the far side of the Moon, probably in early January. This would be a tremendous achievement for China and for the

US-China competition is all about us

We are not entering a new Cold War, despite both Chinese President Xi and US Vice-President Pence finding the term a useful rhetorical tool. The Americans have decided to compete against China because they think the last two decades of cooperation has failed. The Trump Administration,

How the US can prevent a China-dominated Asia

The US military is dangerously under-funded and could lose the next big war it wages. That is the key message from a new report by the influential National Defense Strategy Commission. Established by Congress to provide an independent, non-partisan assessment of the 2018 US National Defense

Xi and Trump at G20: A tariff truce

This truce is by no means the end of trade tensions between China and the US. Over what was undoubtedly a delicious dinner last Saturday night on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Buenos Aires, US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to extend the deadline for the

China, where not all media are created equal

Journalists in China are routinely harassed by police and even imprisoned for trying to cover stories that local officials do not want to get in the news. In 2018, the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index, which ranks the performance of 180 countries according to media and

The forces needed to protect the Belt and Road

Last week’s attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi by Baluchi separatists underlines China’s growing vulnerabilities in connection with its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). These are likely to get worse and may ultimately lead to China assuming a new and quite different security

Feminism and femininity in Xi Jinping’s “New Era”

In September, Leta Hong Fincher released her second book on gender inequality in China, Betraying Big Brother: the Feminist Awakening in China. The book depicts a Communist Party that “aggressively perpetuates gender norms and reduces women to their roles as dutiful wives, mothers and baby

Barley and bases: China stings Australian farmers

China’s Ministry of Commerce announced on Monday that it would immediately start a year-long anti-dumping probe into imported barley from Australia. China is Australia’s largest export market for barley. In 2017, two-thirds of the Australian crop – 6.48 million tonnes, worth US $1.5 billion

Beijing’s online gaming clampdown

Last month, Tencent Chairman and Chief Executive Pony Ma (马化腾) sent out an open letter, announcing a major strategic shift in direction for one of Asia’s most valuable technology firms. “We believe that the first stage of the mobile internet, the consumer internet, is drawing to a close

Scoring China’s happiness quest

China is fast approaching the first of its “two centenaries”: the 100th anniversary in 2021 of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party. In 2021, according to its leaders, China will move from a “moderately prosperous society” (xiaokang shehui) into the next official stage, the “happy

Signalling a whole-of-Australia approach to China

One of the most challenging aspects of Australia’s bilateral relationship with China is finding new ways to signal our interest in the big issues that are shaping the future of the region – a task almost as difficult as deciding amongst ourselves what those issues are. The signalling of

China: re-engineering the Uighur

Break their lineage, break their roots, break their connections, and break their origins. These chilling words are stated in an internal document, reported by news agency AFP, and encapsulate Beijing’s policy towards its ethnic Uighur minority. At the United Nations Human Rights

Chinese fishing fleet a security issue for Australia

China’s fishing fleet has been at the forefront of disputes in the South China Sea, and the expansion of China's fleet into the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean may soon create new security headaches for Australia. In 2013, the decline of fish stocks in Chinese waters, together with China’s

How China changed its language on speech

The Heart Eyes Emoji is one of the most commonly used icons in today’s digital communications worldwide. The smiling face with heart-shaped eyes generally means adoration and love towards someone or something. It is not necessarily a romantic gesture, but it shows a level of approval and

Deng’s ghost haunts Xi, as Maoism makes a return

President Xi Jinping is trying to lead the Chinese economy through a very difficult period. Yet despite Xi’s political nous, success is far from assured. Starting with the property market, a reliable indicator for future economic growth, Reuters reported that buyers: Are feeling a chill and

Melbourne joins the Belt-and-Road

Most maps of the Belt and Road Initiative, the People’s Republic of China’s signature international policy program, have sweeping arrows connecting China with almost all corners of the world. Yet even the most ambitious of these do not have any link to Australia’s most cultured city, Melbourne

With Trump in Mind, China Realigns

The past week says a lot about the quagmire that Chinese President Xi Jinping has found his country in, as his American counterpart Donald Trump has shown no sign of de-escalating the trade war rhetoric. It also offers a glimpse into the most powerful post-Mao leader’s political and strategic

Pakistan: indebted to China, Saudi Arabia, and IMF

Saudi Arabia was the first country Imran Khan visited after assuming office as Pakistan’s new Prime Minister. As he made the trip last month, he asked for financial help for Pakistan’s turbulent economy. Soon after his return, it was announced that Pakistan had invited Saudi

Friends like these … allies and the Pence speech

Vice President Mike Pence’s speech was tasty red meat for anyone desiring a more confrontational US policy toward the People’s Republic of China. Pence’s speech reflects a strengthening bipartisan consensus in Washington, and suggests that a long-term policy of competition and confrontation

Vietnam’s quandary: red or green?

A hand-crafted map on the wall of the Vietnam Academy of Agriculture Sciences (VAAS) neatly captures the country’s strategic vulnerabilities as it emerges as a dynamic new regional player. The map is fashioned out of grains of rice to demonstrate Vietnam’s agricultural production prowess, but it

Thawing tensions in the Himalaya

In the last few decades, state-making projects have transformed life in the Himalaya. Infrastructure development intended for troop deployment along disputed borders has, more recently, enabled large-scale transport and extraction projects and a tourist rush in this globally influential region

Killing Chimerica

Over a decade ago, the term “Chimerica” was coined to describe the symbiotic relationship between the US and Chinese economies. While offshoring manufacturing to China and opening access to US markets and universities benefited American interests, it also saw China’s share of world GDP jump

The geopolitics of China’s tax reforms

The continued legitimacy of the Chinese government under President Xi Jinping, as it was with former president Hu Jintao, depends on two main pillars: improvements in people’s material wellbeing and a strong sense of national pride. The notion that the government will improve the Chinese people’

Mahathir: Uighurs “have done nothing wrong”

Horror stories have trickled out of China’s Xinjiang province for years. Now research points to a flood of human suffering and disturbing human rights abuses. Yet with threats of China’s economic retribution, many countries have been reluctant to voice concern against Beijing. With

China: how big tech is learning to love the party

In mid-September, rumours swirled that Huawei Technologies, the world’s largest telecommunications firm, would be acquired by an unnamed Chinese state-owned enterprise (SOE), effectively nationalising the company, which operates in 170 countries. The rumours were substantial enough to warrant a

Decoding the bombshell story for China

It is near impossible to find any mention of the Chinese chip hacking story in Bloomberg Businessweek that does not use the words “bombshell” or “explosive” to describe the piece. These descriptions have become cliché. But the cliché is fitting because even if the story unravels amid

Shifting sands in Hong Kong

October is usually one of Hong Kong’s nicest months. The notoriously hot, humid, and rainy summer is gone, and the incoming autumn brings the city a pleasant, warm temperature alongside a stunning clear blue sky. But the usual cheerful vibe has dissipated this year. Not only have&

See the difference: CGTN’s Australian gambit

Last month, billboards popped up around Australian capital cities, urging commuters and shoppers to “see the difference” as a panda and a kangaroo writhe in a harmonious embrace, while marsupials that look to have been penned by Guardian cartoonist First Dog On The Moon look on. Most commuters

Xi Jinping Thought, beaming live tonight

American broadcaster Edward Murrow, lamenting the viewing habits of the population in the 1950s, paraphrased Karl Marx: “If television and radio are to be used to entertain all of the people all of the time, then we have come perilously close to discovering the real opiate of the people.” More

Will geopolitics trump trade?

Geopolitics may be rapidly moving to the forefront in deciding how the US-China trade war will play out. If so, the odds of a rapprochement are dwindling fast. The trade conflict has always been about many things, clouding how different analysts understood it. Initially, it seemed best understood

Pence on China: reviving a neoconservative dream

Ever wondered who is now the culprit for many of the woes of the United States? Then look no further than a major speech delivered by US Vice President Mike Pence last week. Given just days after the “leaked” photos showing close encounters between US and Chinese destroyers in the South

“Chinese rice bowl!” Backing state-run enterprise

In a somewhat surreal PR move countering the Trump administration’s trade war against his country, Chinese President Xi Jinping travelled over 1,000km out of the capital last week to the northeast of the country, visiting wheatfields and oil refineries. Posing with farmers and factory workers in

The Chinese box office dilemma

China’s total box office takings have reportedly hit US$6.79 billion in the first eight months of 2018, a US$1 billion increase on the same time in 2017. Hollywood films had long dominated the Chinese box office, but recent successes of domestic films have suggested a shift in preferences of

China’s aid: the image boost

Mounting accusations of Chinese debt traps, trade imbalances, and neocolonialism in Africa made for a heady backdrop to this month’s meeting of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. China’s Xi Jinping made clear he was having none of it. In his keynote speech to African leaders gathered in

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