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  • Author: Johan Lagerkvist
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: Today more than 500 million Chinese Internet users roam social networking websites. Of them, as many as 300 million are part of a rapidly growing microblogosphere. This article examines the predicament of companies providing social networking services inside China's Great Firewall—specifically, the way in which they handle conflicting demands from the party-state and emerging civil society. In light of the phenomenal growth of microblogging and the Chinese government's tighter control over netizens in the wake of the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011, the issue of social agency comes to the fore. This article asks if the Chinese entrepreneurial class—the so-called “red capitalists”—could become agents of democratic political change. Are Internet entrepreneurs allies of civil society or the government? Based on their current esprit de corps with the state, it is unlikely that they will directly assist social change in the foreseeable future. Yet willingly or not, by providing civil society with tools to challenge the regime, they are becoming key players in the process of creating a more inclusive and accountable politics in China.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Wei Jingsheng
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: On 5 December 1978, Wei Jingsheng, an electrician at the Beijing Zoo, posted an essay to a brick wall on Xidan Street called “The Fifth Modernization,” which stated: “Democracy is our only choice. . . . If we want to modernize our economy, sciences, military and other areas, then we must first modernize our people and our society. . . . Without democracy, society will become stagnant and economic growth will face insurmountable obstacles.” Wei's rare, public appeal for democracy struck a chord with the Chinese people, who were exhausted by the failures of communism and the Cultural Revolution. The brick wall on Xidan Street was soon filled with other criticisms of the regime and became known as the “Democracy Wall.” However, the “Beijing Spring” was short lived. Wei was arrested on 29 March 1979 and imprisoned for fourteen-and-a-half years. He was released in September 1993, only to be detained again in February 1994 for engaging in political activities. He was deported to the United States in 1997 when the international community succeeded in pressuring China for his release. Having lived in exile for nearly fifteen years, Wei discussed his views of China with the Journal's Rebecca Chao.
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Beijing
  • Author: David Szakonyi
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: In addition to being the largest country outside of the trading bloc, Russia has also recently achieved another undesirable distinction in the annals of the World Trade Organization (WTO): the longest candidacy bid at over sixteen years, surpassing China's previous record. Russian leaders have notably fluctuated in their desire for entry and their demands along the WTO accession journey, leading to serious uncertainty about where the entire process is headed. Rising interest in regional organizations such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Eurasian Economic Community may even herald the decline of the supremacy of Western institutions, at least among many states in Eurasia. Deciphering how post-Soviet states determine their policies in the international arena is a treacherous affair, but an important one for the economic order.
  • Topic: Economics, World Trade Organization
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Eurasia
  • Author: David H. Shinn
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: The United States and China are the two most important bilateral, external actors in Africa today. While the United States wields more influence in most of Africa's fifty-three countries, China has surpassed it in a number of states and is challenging it in others. Both countries look to Africa as an increasingly significant source of raw materials, especially oil. China, more than the United States, views Africa from a long-term strategic perspective. Both countries seek political and economic support in international forums from African countries, which constitute more than a quarter of the membership of the United Nations. The interests of the United States and China in Africa are more similar than dissimilar. There will inevitably be some competition over access to African natural resources and political support, but there are even greater opportunities for cooperation that can benefit African nations.
  • Topic: Oil, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, China
  • Author: Nicholas Bayne
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: Economic diplomacy can be defined as the method by which states conduct their external economic relations. It embraces how they make decisions domestically, how they negotiate internationally and how the two processes interact. Economic diplomacy has been transformed in the last two decades with the end of the Cold War and the advance of globalization. Its subject matter has become much wider and more varied and it has penetrated more deeply into domestic politics—no longer being limited to measures imposed at the border. Internationally, it engages a far larger range of countries, including new rising powers like China, India and Brazil. Yet the relative power and resources of governments have been shrinking, so that they often seem to be trying to do more with less.
  • Topic: Cold War, Economics
  • Political Geography: China, India, Brazil
  • Author: Elizabeth Sperbee
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: Since the mid-1990s, China has rapidly expanded its engagement with African states. Study of Sino-African relations has subsequently begun to burgeon. In China into Africa: Trade, Aid and Influence, Robert Rotberg's multinational slate of authors introduce key issues in this literature from a variety of perspectives. The result is a volume worth reading cover to cover. A sometimes redundant, sometimes contradictory assemblage, China into Africa nevertheless provides a fascinating introduction not only to a variety of issues at stake in Sino-African relations, but also, necessarily, to the issues at stake in the study of those relations.
  • Political Geography: Africa, China