How AI Changed the Way We Work

The following translation is based on an episode from the popular Chinese-language podcast StoryFM 故事FM. With a subscriber base of over two million, the podcast, hosted by Kou Aizhe 寇爱哲, is celebrated for inviting Chinese people from different regions and backgrounds to tell their own story, in their own voice. The editors Kou Aizhe: Late … more

China—The New No.2 Space Power

On 4 October 1957, the USSR launched Sputnik, the world’s first artificial satellite, and with it the Space Age itself. In February 2023, China’s National Museum put on a grand exhibition marking thirty years since the start of the Chinese human space program.[1] The environment in space is very different from that of Earth. The … more

Chinese ‘Incels’? Misogynist Men on Chinese Social Media

In 2020, Yang Li 杨笠, a Chinese female stand-up comedian, rose to national fame with punchlines addressing China’s gender inequality and biting jokes about Chinese men, most famously: ‘How can some men look so ordinary yet be so confident?’ While her piercing humour resonated with many Chinese women, it was not so well received by … more

The Belt and Road’s Midlife Crisis: Perspectives from Latin America and the Caribbean

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) turned 10 in 2023. Assessing its progress to date is challenging, given the persistent lack of consensus on its true nature. Few global initiatives evoke such disparate perceptions. To some, the BRI epitomises the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) audacious foray into twenty-first-century grand strategy, a bold vision for … more

China’s Macroeconomy in 2023

China’s economy experienced a bumpy journey in 2023, with fluctuations in each quarter. In the first quarter, GDP growth reached 4.5 percent, exceeding market expectations and marking a strong start to an economic recovery following the three-year COVID-19 prevention and control policy regime. In the second quarter, it grew by 6.3 percent, which, considering the … more

The Dragon and the Fate of China

In 1988, a year of the dragon, China’s Central Television aired a six-part documentary entitled River Elegy 河殤 that caused heated debates among Chinese intellectuals and within the Communist Party. The show’s creators presented a damning critique of Chinese culture, which they saw as agriculture-based and inward-looking compared to the ‘ocean-based’ civilisations of the West. … more

The Mystery of Xi’s Disappearing Officials

The disappearance of former state councilor and foreign minister Qin Gang 秦刚 in June 2023, and the former defense minister General Li Shangfu 李尚福 in August, raises questions about the supreme leader Xi Jinping’s personnel management. A score of senior officers from the Rocket Force and departments in charge of weapons procurement also got the … more

Are the Nongguan Coming? The Evolution of the Rural Comprehensive Administrative Enforcement Team in China’s Rural Governance

In April 2023, videos featuring uniformed rural enforcement teams known as nongguan 农管 forcefully confiscating farmers’ livestock or taking down trees went viral on Chinese social media. ‘The nongguan are coming!’ 农管来了 became a trending topic, often followed by the phrase ‘the peasants are panicking’ 农民慌了. Nongguan is the unofficial name for the rural comprehensive … more

China’s Local Government Debt: Fallout from a Perfect Storm

The hidden debt of China’s local governments, which is held by entities called Local Government Financing Vehicles (LGFVs), has rattled financial markets. Now some worry that it could threaten the entire economy. While there is no official data, one estimate of LGFVs debt puts it at 59 trillion yuan (US$8.25 trillion) at the end of … more