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

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

When Does China Terminate Sanctions? Lessons From the Case of Australian Barley

Under what conditions does China terminate politically motivated barriers to trade? In August 2023, China announced it would remove tariffs on Australian barley that were imposed amid bilateral tensions in May 2020. The removal was widely celebrated for enabling the resumption of a trade that had been worth up to US$1 billion annually. Barley was one … more

The Twentieth Party Congress: A Primer

The Party Congress 中国共产党全国代表大会 is the most important meeting in the calendar of activities of the Communist Party of China (CPC). Since 1977, one has been held every five years. Before that, they were less regular. Delegates to the congress formalise changes to the Party’s leadership, review the previous five years, and set policy directions … more

Semiconductors, Supply Chains, and the Fate of Taiwan

Innovation in science and technology has become the main battleground of the global strategic contest.[1] — Xi Jinping, 28 May 2021 Realising the complete reunification of the Motherland is the shared longing of all Chinese sons and daughters and represents the essence of National Rejuvenation.[2] — Xi Jinping, 13 March 2023 Introduction At the Two … more

A ‘No Limits’ Partnership? China-Russia Strategic Cooperation

On 4 February 2022, the opening day of the Winter Olympics in Beijing and only twenty days before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, China and Russia declared a ‘no limits’ partnership that ‘surpasses an alliance.’ Given China’s and Russia’s geopolitical ambitions and boundaries, a tighter alignment between the two countries could significantly change the power structure … more

Supercharged China: Cars, Batteries, and Lithium 

With no internal combustion engine and no burning of fossil fuels, electric vehicles (EVs) — running solely on batteries — are coming in their billions to electrify mobility. By 2035, at least half of all global passenger vehicle sales will be for EVs, and the proportion will keep increasing. The roadmap for the global energy … more