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  • Author: Elizabeth Chen, John Dotson
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: China Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: The year 2019 has seen a gradually escalating crisis in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The territory has seen continuing unrest since mass protests first broke out in June, in response to a draft extradition law that would have allowed Hong Kong residents to be arrested and sent to mainland China for prosecution.
  • Topic: Sovereignty, Elections, Democracy, State Violence, Protests
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Hong Kong, United States of America
  • Author: John Dotson
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: China Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: This is the first part of a two-part briefing series that will address new directives issued in November 2019 by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the field of ideological “education.” This first part examines a new set of directives for intensified “patriotic education,” which is intended to indoctrinate Chinese youth—as well as Chinese society as a whole—with loyalty to the ruling Party. The second part, to appear in our next issue, will examine a new five-year plan recently unveiled by the CCP for ideological training among its own cadres.
  • Topic: Education, Youth, Protests, Ideology
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Hong Kong
  • Author: Syed Fazl-e Haider
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: China Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the central component of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in South Asia, has been a source of significant attention and controversy (China Brief, January 12, 2018; China Brief, February 15). Parts of South Asia, the Middle East, Central Asia, and Europe, however, are also host to another ambitious infrastructure program: the “International North-South Transport Corridor” (INSTC), a transportation development plan first established in 2000 by Iran, Russia and India. The INSTC envisions a network to connect Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf ports and rail centers to the Caspian Sea, and then onwards through the Russian Federation to St. Petersburg and northern Europe.
  • Topic: Development, International Trade and Finance, Infrastructure, Economy
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Iran, Middle East, India, Asia
  • Author: Anne Marie Brady
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: China Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: China’s military ambitions in the Arctic, and its growing strategic partnership with Russia, have rung alarm bells in many governments. In May 2019, for the first time, the U.S. Department of Defense annual report on China’s military capabilities had a section on China’s military interests in the Arctic and the possibility of Chinese submarines operating in the Arctic basin (Department of Defense, May 2019). In August 2019, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg raised concerns about what he diplomatically referred to as “China’s increased presence in the Arctic” (Reuters, August 7). From a nuclear security point of view, the Arctic is China’s vulnerable northern flank. The flight path of U.S. and Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) targeted at China transit the Arctic. Key components of the U.S. missile defense system are also located in the Arctic. Chinese submarine-based ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) operating in the Arctic could restore China’s nuclear deterrence capability (Huanqiu Ribao, October 28, 2013). China currently operates six nuclear-powered attack submarines, four nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, and fifty diesel attack submarines, with more under construction. If Chinese nuclear-armed submarines were able to access the Arctic basin undetected, this would be a game-changer for the United States, the NATO states and their partners, and the wider Asia-Pacific (Huanqiu Ribao, April 11, 2012). China would be able to target missiles at the United States and Europe with ease; such ability would strengthen China’s military dominance in Asia and bolster China’s emerging position as a global military power.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Nuclear Weapons, Territorial Disputes, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Asia, Arctic, United States of America
  • Author: Leo Lin
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: China Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s recent visit to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on September 10-12 was not merely a state visit, but also signaled a new era in bilateral relations between Kazakhstan and China. During his visit, Tokayev met top officials of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), including CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang, and Li Zhanshu, the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. Tokayev also stopped in Hangzhou, where he visited the headquarters of the Alibaba Group and spoke with founder Jack Ma, as well as the new chairman and CEO Daniel Zhang (Sina Tech, September 12). The September visit has symbolic meaning for both Xi and Tokayev as they prepare for a new stage of their partnership—in the same year as the 70th anniversary of the founding of the PRC, and the 30th anniversary of Kazakhstan’s independence.
  • Topic: Security, International Trade and Finance, Science and Technology, Treaties and Agreements, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Central Asia, Kazakhstan
  • Author: Elsa Kania, Wilson VornDick
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: China Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: China’s national strategy of military-civil fusion (军民融合, junmin ronghe) has highlighted biology as a priority. [1] It is hardly surprising that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is looking to leverage synergies among defense, scientific, and commercial developments in biological interdisciplinary (生物交叉, shengwu jiaocha) technologies. Chinese military scientists and strategists have consistently emphasized that biotechnology could become a “new strategic commanding heights of the future Revolution in Military Affairs” (军事革命, junshi geming) (PLA Daily, October 2015). Certainly, the PRC is not alone in recognizing the potential of biotechnology on the future battlefield, but the ways in which Chinese research is seeking to integrate developments among industry, academic institutions, and military-oriented programs—including through research collaborations and the procurement of dual-purpose commercial technologies—may prove striking. In particular, China is at the forefront of today’s breakthroughs in CRISPR-Cas, a new technique for gene editing that has demonstrated unique potential and precision despite its current limitations.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Military Strategy, Military Affairs, Weapons
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Emile Dirks
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: China Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: The repression of Xinjiang’s Uighur population by the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) continues to horrify world opinion. Along with interning an estimated one million people in a network of re-education camps, the Chinese state has built extensive systems of daily surveillance directed at the region’s Muslims (China Brief, March 14, 2017; China Brief, November 5, 2018). Police inspections of local homes, blacklists of suspect Muslims, and biometric data collection are widespread. Previous research has illustrated how such policies have their roots in earlier (and ongoing) repression campaigns against Falun Gong and other religious groups (China Brief, February 1). However, evidence now suggests that these systems of social surveillance and repression also originated in programs directed at wider groups of Chinese citizens, identified as “key individuals” (重点人员, zhongdian renyuan). Systems of “key population management” (重点人口管理, zhongdian renkou guanli) possess many of the features associated with Xinjiang’s security state: profiling, extensive personal and biometric data collection, and location-based tracking.
  • Topic: Islam, Science and Technology, Prisons/Penal Systems, Surveillance
  • Political Geography: China, Xinjiang
  • Author: John Foulkes, Howard Wang
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: China Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: Recent media reports have indicated that Cambodia signed a “secret agreement” giving the PRC use of Ream, where it may station military servicemen and warships, for 30 years (WSJ, July 22). Although Cambodian and Chinese officials vehemently deny the existence of this agreement, gaining access to Ream is broadly consistent with Chinese foreign policy. The PRC appears to be employing Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) funding to further strategic cooperation with Cambodia through the construction of potential dual-use infrastructure. Ream naval base is the latest in a network of regional security projects—including Cambodia’s Dara Sakor investment zone and Thailand’s Kra Canal—which, taken together, significantly improve Chinese power projection into the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). News of the Ream agreement raises the specter of increasing Chinese maritime militarization at a time of intense unease in Southeast Asia. Conspicuously silent in this latest controversy is India, which has significant economic and military interests in Southeast Asia. This article will discuss the security infrastructure China is building in Cambodia and its implications for Indian interests in the region.
  • Topic: Security, Military Strategy, Military Affairs, Navy
  • Political Geography: China, Indonesia, India, Asia, Cambodia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Sudha Ramachandran
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: China Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: On May 30, Narendra Modi was sworn in for a second term as India’s Prime Minister. Conspicuous by their absence at the inauguration ceremony were Imran Khan, the Prime Minister of Pakistan; Lobsang Sangay, President of the Central Tibetan Authority (CTA), more commonly known as the Tibetan government-in-exile; and Tien Chung-Kwang, Taiwan’s trade representative to India. While Khan was not invited on account of the serious deterioration in India-Pakistan relations since early this year, the absence of Sangay and Tien can be attributed to the Modi government adopting a more cautious approach to China in its second term. Modi’s administration seems keen to avoid needling the People’s Republic of China (PRC), especially at a time when Sino-Indian relations are improving (Deccan Herald, May 29). This caution on the part of India notwithstanding, Sino-Indian relations during Modi’s second term (scheduled to run through May 2024) are unlikely to be tension-free.
  • Topic: Security, Regional Cooperation, Bilateral Relations, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: China, India, Asia, Tibet
  • Author: Larry Wortzel
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: China Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: Today, the CCP leadership would prefer not to use the PLA again in case of riots or unrest. They have strengthened and enlarged the People’s Armed Police and created PAP and PSB riot units. But if the Party center felt threatened again, it is unlikely that Xi Jinping would vacillate and debate: he would not hesitate to crush widespread unrest. The CCP leadership remains as determined as ever to maintain their ruling position, and armed force remains the ultimate guarantor of the Party’s grip on power.
  • Topic: Political Violence, History, State Violence, Protests
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Wai Ling Yeung, Clive Hamilton
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: China Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: Political organizations with links to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) are active inside Australia’s two main political parties and using their growing influence to promote Beijing’s interests.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Multiculturalism, Elections, Soft Power
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Australia, Australia/Pacific
  • Author: Dario Cristiani
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: China Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: In March 2019, Italy and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) signed a broad and comprehensive, albeit not legally binding, Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for Italy to join the Chinese-led Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This has triggered a significant debate—in Brussels as well as in Washington—about whether this decision signalled an Italian shift away from its historical pro-European and pro-Atlantic position, to a more nuanced position open to deepening strategic ties with China. The MoU is not definite proof of such a shift, and the Italian government has denied any strategic change. However, Italy is the first major European country, and the first Group of Seven (G7) member, to formalize its participation with the BRI project. As such, this development is particularly remarkable.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Trade and Finance, Bilateral Relations, European Union, Economy
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, Italy
  • Author: Roie Yellinek
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: China Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: State-directed repression and harassment directed against Muslims in China has drawn broad international condemnation throughout the Western world. However, what has been the reaction from the Islamic world itself? Although reactions among major states have varied (as discussed below), the reaction throughout the Islamic world has largely been one of deafening silence—and when voices are raised, they have been faint.
  • Topic: International Relations, Islam, Prisons/Penal Systems, State Violence, Surveillance
  • Political Geography: China, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Xinjiang
  • Author: John Dotson
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: China Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: The December 1, 2018, arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, and the arrest of another Huawei employee in Poland, come on the heels of a series of escalating measures—or measures under consideration—by governments in North America and the Pacific Region to restrict the use of Chinese-manufactured telecommunications equipment. Such measures are now increasingly under consideration in Europe, as well, with major implications not only for the international profile of companies such as Huawei, but also for the construction of advanced communications infrastructure throughout much of the world.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Cybersecurity, Economy, Research
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, Poland, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Sudha Ramachandran
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: China Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: South Asian governments are becoming increasingly discontent with Belt and Road Initiative projects. In August, Pakistan’s new government expressed interest in reviewing the CPEC contracts that they perceive to be over-priced, unnecessary, or excessively in the favor of PRC companies (Dawn, September 11). Similar sentiments have been expressed by the new Maldivian government, which is reviewing BRI contracts signed during the rule of former President Abdulla Yameen (Economic Times, November 26). Such actions raise questions as to whether South Asian states might scale down or even cancel BRI projects.
  • Topic: Development, International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements, Infrastructure, Soft Power
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, South Asia, India, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Maldives
  • Author: Samantha Hoffman
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: China Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: The CCP’s development of the ‘social credit’ system is another step in the Party’s long exploration of ways to fuse political control and economic prosperity. The expanding global reach of China’s economy means that social credit’s fusion of social and political control will also be used to bend entities outside China’s borders towards the Party’s political objectives. Dozens of international airlines, including four US airlines, recently discovered what this means in practice.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economy, Ideology, Surveillance
  • Political Geography: China, United States of America
  • Author: Danny Anderson
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: China Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: China’s “New Silk Road” or “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) has reached Central Asia in resounding fashion. As a result, the republics of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have seen large increases in Chinese presence and investment. Although both countries have overlapping needs, the degree and character of PRC involvement in each has differed. PRC investment in Tajikistan is characterized by expensive loans on infrastructure investment and energy projects that the country may be unable to repay (Avesta.tj, December 25, 2017). Kyrgyzstan, while having hosted similar projects, is also attempting to move the country into the twenty-first century by improving its transportation and digital infrastructure (Tazakoom.kg). Development experts classify both countries as “high-risk” for debt distress given public debt projections (Cgdev.org). However, despite the risk of such an outcome, both countries appear inclined to welcome PRC investment with open arms, as a way of funding needed investment like power generation and logistical links with the outside world.
  • Topic: Development, Infrastructure, Economic growth, Soft Power
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan
  • Author: Matt Schrader
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: China Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: China has a serious and worsening Islamophobia problem. While relations between China’s Muslim minorities and its Han majority have been fraught since 2009’s deadly inter-ethnic riots in the far western city of Urumqi, recent years have seen the normalization of online hate speech directed at Muslims. The rise of Islamophobia inside China is a product both of government action, and of the government’s failure to act. Commentary on the recent death of a prominent Muslim leader in the western province of Qinghai highlights the extent to which the situation has deteriorated, and suggests the ways in which China’s warped online discourse could blunt its efforts to build influence and win friends in countries across the Muslim world.
  • Topic: Demographics, Ethnic Conflict, Islam, Geopolitics, Islamophobia
  • Political Geography: China, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Sudha Ramachandran
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: China Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: Upon coming to power in May 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) adopted a more muscular approach to China than its predecessors. As part of this, it was not averse to using the Dalai Lama and the CTA to gain leverage in its dealings with China. Its recent move to put distance between itself and Dharamsala reflects an understanding that playing the ‘Tibet card’ brought India no benefits. In fact, the failure of the BJP’s four-year gambit reaffirms what many Indian diplomats and scholars have been saying for decades: there is no ‘Tibet card’ for India to play.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: China, India, Asia, Tibet
  • Author: Cobus van Staden
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: China Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: Several ambitious schemes have been proposed to link Africa’s east and west coasts, some of which are closer to full realization than others. Most notable in this respect is a plan to expand the existing Trans-African Highway 5 (TAH5) into a true cross-continental road and rail link, the early stages of which China has helped bring to fruition where Western consortiums failed. Likewise, Chinese investment in African infrastructure through Beijing’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) may help create expanded sub-regional linkages, particularly in East Africa, that could help facilitate the emergence of an eventual, true East-West link in the long term. However, in the short-to-mid-term, the obstacles to a truly robust set of East-West transport links are formidable, and it is unlikely that China’s involvement will be a panacea.
  • Topic: Development, International Trade and Finance, Infrastructure, Soft Power
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, Asia