China’s soft power in Europe: falling on hard times
This new report of the European Think-tank Network on China (ETNC) looks at the standing of China’s soft power in Europe. Based on the separate analyses of 17 countries and EU institutions, the report concludes that China’s soft power in Europe – defined as the ability to influence preferences through attraction or persuasion – has fallen on hard times. The editing of this year’s report has been led by the Netherlands Institute for International Relations ‘Clingendael’ and its editors are Ties Dams, Xiaoxue Martin and Vera Kranenburg.
Europe ‘doesn’t want to see a new cold war between China and US’
The EU says its new Asia-Pacific strategy highlights that it will always pick cooperation over confrontation One senior Brussels official says the bloc has learned many lessons from the Cold War and does not want to return to those days
Jack Ma and Alibaba’s media power touches nerve in Beijing
Attempts to sway public opinion provoke regulatory backlash Paying a record fine of $2.8 billion might be enough for Alibaba Group to draw a line under Beijing’s anti-monopoly crackdown for now, but China’s largest ecommerce company is not off the hook as its extensive media assets remain a concern for the authorities. But Sun believes players like Tencent, Baidu and ByteDance are unlikely to draw the kind of government scrutiny as Alibaba did, because their media investments are still related to their core businesses, and “are nowhere as extensive as Alibaba’s”, even though Tencent and Bytedance attract more eyeballs. The other internet groups are also more accommodating to the requests of regulators, and seldom challenge government policies. Alibaba’s Ma, however, is known for having ideas of his own, and likes getting his messages across to a large audience. He is a seasoned speaker at global forums alongside business tycoons, world leaders and international institutions. He even started a business school near Alibaba’s Hangzhou headquarters for business leaders in China. Ma’s influence in the business elite circle has caught Beijing’s attention. The Financial Times has reported that Ma’s school was forced to suspend its executive training program, which was set to start at the end of March. “The government considers itself as the only authority to exercise monopoly over people’s attention. It despises any attempt to compete with it for attention,” said Fang Kecheng, an assistant professor of journalism at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Beijing’s message is clear, Fang said: “It should be up to the government to decide what people should pay attention to — not the private corporations.”
Earth Summit 2021: Global funds sign on to turn trillions of dollars of investments into muscle to push for action to avert climate change
Fourteen firms including State Street Global Advisors, with almost US$5 trillion in combined assets under management, have signed up to the “net zero asset manager initiative” The latest inclusion swells the list of signatories to 73, with US$37 trillion in combined assets
China’s carbon neutral goal: can it really kick its coal addiction to achieve its 2060 target?
Phasing out the use of coal is one of the biggest challenges facing China as it works towards peaking emissions by 2030 and becoming carbon neutral by 2060 Despite climate ambitions, energy security and economic stability will drive use of the fossil fuel in world’s second largest economy for decades, say experts
Unveiling the outlook behind China’s distorted Q1 GDP report
China’s economy grew robustly in the first quarter of 2021, at least on the face of it. However, underlying growth momentum has slowed. This should reduce any risk of monetary tightening that investors are worried about. The real risk is tighter regulation: Fintech lending, shadow banking and non-systemic zombie companies face a crackdown.
Analysis | China seen bailing out biggest bad-debt manager while teaching investors a ‘hard’ lesson as contagion effects linger
Government wants to send a message that ‘even state-controlled institutions such as Huarong do not enjoy blanket government guarantees’ Other financial institutions are so closely tied to the bad-asset manager that letting it fail would pose considerable risks to the domestic and international financial systems
How a sweeping US infrastructure plan might spur financial havoc in China
Economists debate whether proposed US$2 trillion infrastructure programme would cause inflation at home that could be exported ‘I would be surprised if the Fed wasn’t compelled to raise rates by sometime next year,’ one analyst says.
ASML Can’t Stay Neutral on China for Much Longer
The world’s most important semiconductor equipment maker is getting caught in the crossfire between the U.S. and China.
Is the WTO the Worst of Both Worlds for U.S.-China Tech Competition?
Industrial policy was anathema to the neoliberal orientation of U.S. economic policy after the Cold War. But it is getting a new hearing as part of the strategy to compete with China. For example, the Biden administration has issued an executive order regarding government action “to strengthen the resilience of America’s supply chains” in selected industries. The Semiconductor Industry Association has called for more “government incentives” for U.S. semiconductor manufacturing, and Congress has obliged in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act. But the Biden administration’s flexibility in implementing policies like these could be limited to the extent that it feels obligated to do so in a WTO-consistent manner. The Biden administration inherited a dysfunctional WTO, but it owns the next decision regarding the United States’s future in the institution. If the administration’s position in managing U.S.-China competition is that the rules-based order “is not an abstraction,” then the WTO would be a good place to start proving that point. This would include achieving incremental progress toward U.S. reform priorities and demonstrating that dispute settlement can be an effective means of managing sensitive issues. If that proves unrealistic, the administration should communicate to agencies and stakeholders that the U.S. government will implement domestic policy priorities without regard to WTO disciplines. If the WTO is a “sideshow,” as some observers have suggested, and it is “game on” between the U.S. and Chinese governments, U.S. policy should at least benefit from the greater flexibility that comes with that posture. As long as the United States feels bound by rules that it cannot enforce when the stakes are high, the WTO may be the worst of both worlds.
China pork imports hit all-time high over supply concerns as US soybean imports surge 320 per cent
China’s pork imports jumped to an all-time high in March on supply concerns following a resurgence of African swine fever in the world’s biggest consumer and producer China’s imports of soybean from Brazil plunged to the lowest level since January 2017 in March, but US bean imports hit the highest monthly total since December 2016 last month
To KOL Or Not To KOL In China
Working with the right KOLs is how brands have traditionally tapped into China’s affluent, young consumer base. But are KOLs too risky today? The mass exodus of celebrities from brands in defense of Xinjiang cotton signified a broader cultural issue requiring brands to revisit their China influencer strategy. Despite the market buzz and future potential of virtual KOLs, human influencers are still the most effective branding vehicle in luxury and fashion. Brands can take micro-steps toward improving their current influencer strategies by opting for more flexible, politically aware, and collaborative formats.
WHY CHINA IS MAKING A BOLD GAMBLE WITH DIGITAL CURRENCY
“Controllable anonymity” means that all transactions between individuals are visible to the People’s Bank and trackable by the Chinese government
CX Daily: Zhou Xiaochuan on the Challenges of Taxing the Digital Economy
Along with many of the world’s nations, China faces difficult and delicate decisions around taxation of internet giants and fairness in an increasingly global digital economy, according to Zhou Xiaochuan,
China urged to address global digital tax rules to avoid ‘new tariff war’ as G20 push for July consensus
In February, the US withdrew a safe harbour proposal, paving the way for a digital tax on the likes of Facebook, Google and Amazon The Group of 20 hopes to reach a consensus over the digital tax by July, after some firms were accused of exploiting loopholes to minimise their tax bills
Home advantage: How China’s protected market threatens Europe’s economic power
China’s vast yet protected home market has allowed some of its firms to acquire a scale that provides them with significant advantages when they compete in other markets. These firms are able to undercut European companies both in the EU and around the world, including in sectors key to Europe’s future economy and security, from energy to telecommunications. The EU urgently needs to incorporate the concept and reality of this ‘protected home market advantage’ into its thinking on China.
Europe can defend its own industries by adopting an integrated policy approach, working with like-minded partners around the world, and even prising open closed parts of China’s domestic market. The EU should also look to enhance its single market – both as a defensive measure and a way to improve its strategic sovereignty.
S&P Global Market Intelligence Global Bank Ranking Reveals World’s Largest Banks Unscathed by COVID-19 Pandemic
Number of banks in the world which have reported an asset size above $1 trillion has increased from 29 to 39 in 2020 Driven by strong credit growth, China continues to house the greatest number of top 100 banks, with 19 institutions collectively holding assets worth $30.458 trillion, representing a 17.66% increase in 2020. The U.S. banks follow, with 12 institutions holding a combined asset size of $15.538 trillion.
China’s FDI Inflow Surge in Q1 2021: An Explainer
The most recent foreign direct investment (FDI) statistics released by the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) on Thursday illustrate China’s economic performance in the first three months of the year. With increasing confidence in China’s growth and improved opening-up, China remains the top FDI destination for foreign investors. From January to March, China’s actual use of FDI reached RMB 302.47 billion (US$46.38 billion), representing a 39.9 percent surge year-on-year, and an increase of 24.8 percent as compared to the same period in 2019. In dollar terms, the actual use of FDI was recorded at a surprising 43.8 percent year-on-year growth. This does not include investments in the financial sector. As to the number of foreign invested enterprises (FIDs), there were in total 10,263 new FIEs newly established in the first three months of 2021, up by 47.8 percent year-on-year, and by 6.7 percent as compared to the same period in 2019. Although the unusually high growth is because it was compared with a period in which the economy suffered a contraction under pandemic. The data nonetheless indicates that China’s recovering FDI performance has surpassed the pre-pandemic level.
Tesla says sorry to Chinese buyers in U-turn to its ‘no compromise’ on ‘unreasonable’ customer grievances as pressure mounts on social media and state press
“We are deeply sorry for the delay in resolving the owner’s issue,” Tesla said late Tuesday night on its Weibo account China’s social media and state press weighed in on the latest controversy surrounding the bellwether producer in China’s electric vehicles market
Tencent unseats Alibaba to top China’s Big Tech clean energy rankings for cloud providers, Greenpeace report says
Tencent ranked first on the latest Greenpeace renewable energy use rankings among China’s cloud services providers Alibaba fell behind because of ‘poor transparency, limited renewable energy use and lack of carbon neutrality commitment’
Xi Jinping sends message to US on China’s rising power in Boao address
Chinese President Xi Jinping’s muscular speech to the Boao Forum Asia annual conference was clearly designed to send a signal to the United States that China regarded the change of administration as an opportunity for a renewed dialogue on contentious issues. Xi did not take a backward step in his remarks, which emphasised a shifting international power balance. He avoided directly naming the US in his relatively brief address opening the forum, but America was clearly in his sights. He wants the Biden administration, and the international community for that matter, to accept China not only as an emerging superpower but also as an equal in addressing global challenges.
Politics and economics have come to a head for China, the US and the EU
Verbally, Europe and the U.S. are adopting the same attitude towards China at this point. A few years ago, the European China strategy attributed three roles to China: partner (for example, concerning climate change), economic competitor and strategic rival (considering geopolitical ambitions of Beijing and divergent ideological systems). U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken phrased the attitude towards China as follows: “competitive when it should be, collaborative when it can be and adversarial when it must be.”
To win hearts in the Indo-Pacific, China must end its combative diplomacy
China’s pursuit of trade partnerships is at odds with its high-octane rhetoric as it seeks to respond to the West’s Indo-Pacific strategy China can nurse its resentment or it can inject realism into its foreign policy, stop military threats, and offer trade and vaccine help without demanding recognition
Australia cancels state’s Belt and Road deal
Australia on Wednesday announced it would revoke a state government’s deal to join China’s Belt and Road Initiative, saying it was inconsistent with the nation’s foreign policy.
Selling China’s Anti-Poverty Model
China’s progress in fighting poverty has been a major theme in China’s domestic politics of late. In his government work report to the National People’s Congress, delivered one week ago, Premier Li Keqiang listed the “comprehensive victory in the battle against poverty” as one of four major achievements over the past year — the others being the “major strategic victory” against Covid-19, the building of a “fully prosperous society,” and China’s distinction in 2020 of being the only economy in the world to achieve positive economic growth. Last week, NPC delegates discussed ways of shoring up this “victory,” including the establishment of a “dynamic monitoring and assistance system to forestall a large-scale re-emergence of poverty.”
China’s Military Has a Hidden Weakness
High-tech new weapons are useful, but current military reform shortfalls hinder the PLA’s ability to employ such hardware.
Beijing won total control over Hong Kong. Now, the ‘brainwashing’ begins.
It wasn’t too long ago that my conversations, including with pro-Beijing establishment figures, covered a spectrum. They, too, wanted reconciliation and criticized Chief Executive Carrie Lam for missteps. They, too, sympathized with Hong Kongers as the space for democracy closed. But as opposition leaders are marched off to jail, memories of the 2019 protests are being erased, leaving only a narrative of violent rioters deceived by foreign forces and the imposition of laws designed to eradicate them. And, as a friend who recently left Hong Kong wrote to me, this place is now “unrecognizable.”
Suspected state-backed Chinese hackers spied on US, European targets: cybersecurity expert
FireEye says two highly skilled hacking groups breached Pulse Connect Secure devices to hit government agencies and defence firms US Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity agency issues alert saying it was aware of ‘ongoing exploitation’
China’s lawmakers told to vigorously study Xi Jinping’s legal theories
National People’s Congress should use Xi’s ideas as ‘fundamental guidance’, Wang Chen, a top aide of the president, says in lecture to more than 250 lawmakers Remarks seen as effort to lift Xi’s status in the Communist Party’s history ahead of its centenary in July
China is developing plans for a 13,000-satellite megaconstellation
China is to oversee the construction and operation of a national satellite internet megaconstellation through coordinating the country’s major space actors. Recent comments by senior officials indicate that plans are moving ahead to alter earlier constellation plans by space sector state-owned enterprises and possibly make these part of a larger “Guowang” or “national network” satellite internet project. Spectrum allocation filings submitted to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) by China in September last year revealed plans to construct two similarly named “GW” low Earth orbit constellations totaling 12,992 satellites.
China vaccines put to real-world test against Covid-19
Studies of vaccinated populations in Chile and Brazil show Sinovac can reduce deaths, counter variants Efficacy rates are lower than mRNA shots but experts say that means more people will need to receive vaccinations to achieve herd immunity
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