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China Insights

A Dark ‘n’ Stormy Future for Chinese Economic Coercion?

The opening shots in a Taiwanese trade response to Chinese economic coercion appear to be filled with Lithuanian rum. The Taiwanese National Development Council recently posted on Facebook recipes for “dark ‘n’ stormy” cocktails, French toast, and steak, among other items in an effort to promote consumption of the 20,400 bottles of rum diverted to Taiwan. The large shipment was purchased by the country’s state-owned Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor (TTL) company. While Taiwan’s decision does encourage citizens to try fun new cocktails and recipes, it appears to be primarily a strategy to offset risks for friends and partners in international trade.

Asia Pacific China Natural resources and energy Security

Is food insecurity a looming eventuality in China’s future?

China’s carbon emissions have soared following the reopening of the country after the Covid-19 pandemic. Without a serious reduction, it looks unlikely that China will be able to mitigate the disastrous repercussions these emissions will have on its agricultural industry and food security as a whole. 

China Covid-19

Omicron and the Olympics: How long can China’s “Zero-Covid” policy last?

The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics are particularly important for China and for its leader, President Xi Jinping. The spectacular 2008 Summer Olympics were seen as China’s “coming out party,” a vibrant showcase for the successes of three decades of “reform and opening” and the country’s newfound national confidence and wealth. In a similar fashion, the 2022 Olympic games represent an opportunity for President Xi to demonstrate his successes in office. Perhaps chief among his accomplishments is the highly effective domestic management of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Olympics and the Omicron variant of Covid-19 pose a major source of risk to this success.

International Politics

Sino-Czech Relations: Change on the Horizon

The success of the five-party coalition “Democratic Bloc” in the Czech parliamentary elections this year represents a new direction for the central European country. Disillusionment with BRI-related investments was one reason for this outcome. This development may be part of a broader trend across the region. 

International Politics

Australia Launches AUKUS Pact: A Masterclass in Diplomacy or a Diplomatic Disaster?

On 15th September, political leaders from Australia, the UK and the US announced their intentions to set up a trilateral security partnership. The deal, known as AUKUS, represents a commitment to combating China’s growing ambitions in the Indo-Pacific. As part of the agreement, Australia will build a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines in co-operation with the UK and US after scrapping a $90 billion-dollar submarine contract with France. AUKUS represents a revival of historical relations across the Anglosphere and a simultaneous deterioration of relations between members of AUKUS and the EU.   

 

International Southeast Asia

Transnational Transparency: Southeast Asian Think Tanks Collaborate for Belt and Road Accountability

The Belt and Road Initiative’s (BRI) development throughout Southeast Asia is expected to contribute significantly to the economic and infrastructural development of the region. However, a perceived lack of transparency in China’s initiative compounds existing fears around rising debt and sovereignty over projects. Several Southeast Asian and Pacific think tanks have collaborated on a BRI monitor, aiming at evaluating levels of transparency and holding projects accountable. If successful, this could minimise issues of governance and implementation associated with the BRI to the benefit of recipient countries. Whether this success extends to other social and political issues associated with the initiative is unclear.

India Politics South and Central Asia

Sher Bahadur Deuba’s Victory: What Does it Mean for Nepal’s Neighbourhood?

The electoral turmoil in Nepal witnessed a new development, when on the 20th of December, 2020 the nation’s president, Bidya Devi Bhandari dissolved its parliament. Months of uncertainty in Government, coupled with the disastrous impact of the pandemic drove the nation to a political stalemate, until Sher Bahadur Deuba secured the position of Prime Minister with the backing of the parliament. What is the future course that the new Nepalese government will take and how will it shape their future in the region?   K.P Sharma Oli’s exit has stalled China’s rapprochement of Nepal, leaving a vacuum that can be filled by neighbouring aspirations from India. Nepal’s future in the South Asian neighbourhood will be marked by its management of the two regional powers, and a potential balancing act that can protect its self interests.

China Finance International

The EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investments (CAI): a piece of the puzzle.

On 30 December 2020, the EU and China announced that they had reached an Agreement in Principle on investments. The text is the result of lengthy negotiations, which started in January 2014. The EU-China CAI was met with fierce criticism from political commentators, who believe the treaty is a “strategic victory” for China and may potentially damage transatlantic relations. However, as usual with international affairs, matters are not always as simple as portrayed and deserve thorough consideration.

China Politics Technology and infrastructure

Technological pull or competitive drive? China’s rover landing sends a message to the United States

On Friday 14th May, China’s Zhurong rover landed on Mars, becoming the first Chinese spacecraft to do so and only the second nation, behind the US, to land a spacecraft successfully on Mars. China hopes their Zhurong rover will give them 90 days of service as it studies the surface of the planet, collecting samples and data. This is an historic moment for China, as they demonstrate yet another arena where they can compete against and match the US. This follows their recent launch of the initial part of China’s first permanent space station, as they push to become technological leaders in a world where technology has become sovereign.

Eurasia Politics

Hungarians protest encroaching Chinese Influence

Recently, Hungary’s President Orban has faced a wave of protests in response to plans to build a Chinese satellite campus at a Budapest University at the cost of $1.8 billion. The Hungarian public have objected on the grounds that the project could undercut the country’s higher education and increase the influence of China’s communist authorities in Hungary and across Europe. If the project goes ahead, there could be benefits for Sino-Hungarian relations but possibly at the cost of Hungary’s relations with its European neighbours and the stability of Orban’s premiership.