Forum: Mixed Economic Messages

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A Confusing Year for Business

by Antony Dapiran

Shortly before the Third Plenum in November 2013, the State Council approved the establishment of the Shanghai Free-Trade Zone (FTZ). It is the first Hong Kong-like free trade area in mainland China 
Photo: 126.xingshuo.net

TIME IN THE business world in China used to be marked by progress: each year seemed to bring more reforms, more opening up, new ventures, new possibilities. This was the case throughout the 1990s and especially in the years surrounding China’s accession to the World Trade Organisation in 2001.

Recent years, however, have seen a different kind of progression. The last twelve months have featured crackdowns, high-profile government-instigated cases against foreign businesses and a sense that doing business in China is getting harder, not easier.

Huayuquan 话语权: Speak and Be Heard

by David Murphy

In this cartoon people are talking into a Weibo 微博 microphone. The caption says: ‘We all have the right to speak and be heard’
Source: Zhou Hansheng/manhua365.com

HUAYUQUAN 话语权 is the right to speak and be heard, or to speak with authority. It is also the power to lead and guide debate, or to set the parameters of acceptable discourse. In the past few years, prominent Chinese intellectuals have adopted this second understanding of huayuquan to explain, with mounting urgency, how the country’s lack of influence in international financial, trade, security and media institutions translates to unfair treatment in China’s interactions with the world.