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  • Author: Jos Meester, Guido Lanfranchi
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: Over the last decade, the UAE and China have vastly expanded their economic, political and military footprint in the Horn of Africa, and their actions now have the potential to shape developments in the region. Room for cooperation between Abu Dhabi and Beijing exists on issues such as maritime security, regional stability, and economic development. Moreover, the two countries’ interaction could lead to improvements in the Horn’s underdeveloped infrastructure by triggering a race to investment. Yet, development and stability in the region might suffer if the strategic interests of external players take precedence over local ones, or if local elites (mis)use external support for narrow domestic political calculations. The EU and its member states have high stakes in the Horn’s stability. To optimise their engagement, European policymakers should be aware of the implications of the Emirati and Chinese presence, and they should strive to improve cooperation among the wide range of external players active in the Horn.
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, Politics, Military Affairs, Economic Development , Economic Stability
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, Asia, Horn of Africa
  • Author: Gabriel Felbermayr, Steffen Gans, Hendrik Mahlkow, Alexander Sandkamp
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW)
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic revealed the vulnerability of international value chains in the face of global shocks. This has triggered a political discussion regarding a possible reshoring of vulnerable supply chains back home. The aim is to reduce dependencies on foreign suppliers and thus improve crisis resilience of the domestic economy. The debate is also rooted in the growing dependence on Asian suppliers and the colliding political and ideological systems between China and the West. Unilateral decoupling of the EU from China (a doubling of trade costs) would reduce real income in the EU on average by 0.8 percent. In terms of GDP in 2019, this equals a permanent loss in real income of 131.4 bn EUR. Should China retaliate, real income would fall by 1.0 percent (170.3 bn EUR). With its extremely interconnected economy, real income in Germany would even decline by 1.4 percent (48.4 bn EUR). China would also lose from such a trade war, with real income declining by 1.3 percent. Should the EU increase its trade barriers against all its non-European trading partners, real income in the Union would fall by 3.5 percent or 584.3 bn EUR in case of a unilateral increase and by 5.3 percent or 873.1 bn EUR in case the rest of the world responds by also raising trade barriers.
  • Topic: Economics, Regional Cooperation, European Union, Economic Cooperation, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Europe
  • Author: John Lee
  • Publication Date: 09-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Hudson Institute
  • Abstract: Evergrande is one of the top-two real estate developers in a still highly fragmented Chinese sector. Its main strategy is to achieve ever-increasing scale (rather than profitability) in order to move ahead of and crowd out commercial competitors. It has also amassed the largest land reserves of all Chinese developers, which were financed through massive borrowings. By 2018, Evergrande held 822 pieces of undeveloped land in 228 cities, with a planned gross floor area of 3.28 billion square feet of new homes—the equivalent of 10 percent of Germany’s entire housing stock. It paid $75 billion just for this undeveloped land. Although Evergrande’s market share is only around 4 percent, its borrowings stand out. Its current balance sheet liabilities amount to an estimated 2 percent of China’s gross domestic product (GDP), while its off-balance-sheet liabilities could be another 1 percent of China’s GDP. This makes Evergrande the most indebted property developer in the world. Burdened by this debt, struggling to meet its debt interest and repayment obligations, and viable only if property asset values and sales continue to increase, Evergrande faces possible financial collapse—an event bound to have flow-on effects for the Chinese economy. However, the unusually high global interest in Evergrande has arisen because its woes are increasingly seen as symptomatic of those faced by the broader Chinese economy, which is struggling with enormous levels of indebtedness and overreliance on the real estate sector. Debt held by nonfinancial institutions in China increased from about 115 percent of GDP in 2010 to around 160 percent of GDP currently. This is the most rapid and largest increase in a 10-year period for any major economy and makes the level of debt held by Chinese nonfinancial institutions one of the highest in the world. The real estate sector accounts for around 15 percent of GDP, while property services account for another 14 percent—the highest in any developing economy. The share of the real estate sector as a proportion of GDP was only about 4 percent in 1997 and 9 percent in 2008. Since 2008, up to a third of all domestic fixed investment has gone into real estate, and up to half of total national debt is linked to the real estate sector.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Debt, Economics, Markets, Business
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Eric B. Brown, John Lee, Thomas J. Duesterberg
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Hudson Institute
  • Abstract: Under Xi Jinping, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has established as its paramount geopolitical objective the replacement of the free and open, rules-based order in Asia with an alternative world order, one that is to be dominated by the interests and values of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). This decision presents a danger to the entire world, not just to any one state or group of states. For, as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at the March 2021 US-PRC meeting in Alaska, the alternative to a rules-based order “is a world in which might makes right and winners take all, and that would be a far more violent and unstable world for all of us.” In furtherance of its objectives, the PRC is in the midst of a large military build-up, but there is much more. For today’s CCP, political power grows not only from the “barrel of the gun,” as Mao Zedong once put it, but also from cutting-edge technologies. Thus, while Beijing pours billions into artificial intelligence and surveillance tech to impose its new “digital totalitarianism” inside the PRC, from Hong Kong to Xinjiang, it is also using its growing technological prowess to press its larger geopolitical agenda in the Indo-Pacific and beyond. It is weaponizing technology and connectivity, along with trade, finance, and other policy instruments to try to rule the key technologies and industries of the future, as well as to improve its strategic positioning and acquire political power over other countries—for instance, through its bid to dominate other nations’ most sensitive data networks, or via the export of its suite of “social stability” technologies, i.e., the “techno-tyrant’s toolkit.” In all this, the CCP’s intent is to entrench its power and Leninist norms and practices to the extent it can do so beyond the PRC’s borders, and to make other nations, or at the least their ruling elites, beholden to it. So in addition to the PRC’s militarily destabilizing activities in the West Pacific and incursions into India’s Himalayas, there is also a “geo-technological front.” If Xi’s CCP succeeds at enmeshing other countries in its expanding “PRC sphere of technological influence,” it could unlock and be able to exploit decisive military, economic, diplomatic, and ideological advantages.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Economics, Alliance
  • Political Geography: China, South Asia, East Asia, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Miles M. Yu
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Hudson Institute
  • Abstract: The Chinese economy and the philosophical roots of China’s system have greater implications for the United States economy than many assume. The one critical fact to understand about the People’s Republic of China is that it is a communist dictatorship ruled by a Marxist-Leninist party. The Party is dedicated to maintaining and strengthening its monopoly on all powers in the world’s most populous country and to mounting the most serious challenge to the free world since the Cold War. This policy memo will examine the Chinese economy’s distinct traits, how it operates, and why it thrives under a monopolistic government that exploits and challenges the global free market system, along with possible policy recommendations for the United States and its allies. Unlike most other communist countries, China has been afforded the benefits of a global free-market system and enjoys largely open access to international trade, capital markets, and advanced technologies. The paradox of a communist nation fully participating in a largely capitalist system has enriched and strengthened the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), to the point where Beijing poses a mortal threat to the United States and to the international free market economic system that has enabled the rise of the communist state. The West played a role in creating the current state of play. But too many conversations in the United States focus only on our own strategic thinking. In his historic speech at the Richard Nixon Library in July 2020, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo aptly described the situation and how we got here: “Our policies—and those of other free nations—resurrected China’s failing economy, only to see Beijing bite the international hands that were feeding it.” As President Richard Nixon admitted in his later years, his initiative to open up China in 1972 might have created a Frankenstein.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Communism, Economics, Chinese Communist Party (CCP)
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Kensuke Tanaka
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA)
  • Abstract: China's rebound happened relatively quickly owing to a large extent to timely macroeconomic policy responses to the crisis. Lagging somewhat behind China, most Southeast Asian countries have now entered the transition from recession to recovery. Some export-dependent Southeast Asian countries shifted their export destination to China to benefit from its early recovery. This switch of export destination to China illustrates China's important role in leading the recovery of the region. Enhancing regional macroeconomic co-operation would help reduce vulnerability of the region and ensure a sustained recovery. Regional macroeconomic co-operation remains at an early stage in Southeast Asia, but possibilities for further co-operation should be explored.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, Economic Recovery
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Jai Chul Heo
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP)
  • Abstract: China is actively building Network Power in economic and traditional security and non-traditional security areas, while in some cases maximizing its own interests by using the Network Power already formed. In particular, China is building Collective Power at a rapid pace in significant areas. China also actively participated in existing networks and established Positional Power by preoccupying important positions. However, China’s Network Power still seems to have a long way to go in terms of Programming Power to build new systems, unlike Collective or Positional Power. What is notable in the process of analyzing China’s Network Power is that competition between the U.S. and China is fierce over Network Power.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Economics, Power Politics
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Bama Dev Sigdel
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP)
  • Abstract: The main objective of this article is to assess the effect of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in terms of economic interrelations between Asian countries mainly China, Korea, India and Nepal. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is one of the most ambitious economic strategies in modern times that alters the economic, political and social relationship between Eastern and Western societies. It not only improves transport networks and facilitates trade, but also raises GDP of many economies. For China, BRI manifests its intention to become the next global power through bigger market access and economic opportunities. Although South Asia is less developed economically, it has high strategic utility for the BRI, which has drawn attention from China to deepen its relations in the region. On the other hand, South Korea has also emerged as a soft power in Asia. It has been playing a significant role in Asia by contributing the majority of its aid, i.e., 35 per cent in Asian economies and a major share of its FDI, i.e., 34.1 per cent. With the rapidly increasing growth of South Korea, it also has a growing relationship with ASEAN and other South Asian economies such as India to reduce its dependence on traditional trade allies. Moreover, for least developed economies like Nepal, the BRI can bring improved infrastructure, needed technology, managerial talents and greater connectivity to the world. South Korea can yield higher benefits through its relation with South Asia and especially Nepal through expansion of export and market access, access to cheap workable manpower to cope with its rising aging population, and less dependence on traditional allies through its investment in South Asian region.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Economy, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
  • Political Geography: China, South Asia, Asia, South Korea, Nepal
  • Author: Ben Bland, Alexandre Dayant, John Edwards, Stephen Grenville, Natasha Kassam, Herve Lemahieu, Alyssa Leng, Richard McGregor, Shane McLeod, Alex Oliver, Jonathan Pryke, Roland Rajah, Sam Roggeveen, Sam Scott
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: The fight against COVID-19 has been the greatest challenge the world has faced since the middle of last century. As countries have fought to control the disease, they have closed borders, quarantined their citizens, and shut down economies almost entirely. The ramifications will reverberate for years, if not decades, to come. In April 2020, the Lowy Institute published a digital feature in which twelve Institute experts examined the ways in which the COVID crisis would affect Australia, the region and the world. In this new feature, Lowy Institute experts provide policy recommendations for Australia to address issues that are critical to our nation’s — and the world’s — successful emergence from the pandemic. Countries have turned inwards in an attempt to fend off the threat of an infection that is oblivious to borders. Some have seen globalisation as the cause of the crisis, and have focused on solving problems without recourse to the international institutions of global security and prosperity, including the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and the G20. Yet global problems require international solutions. As the world emerges from the crisis, cooperation between nations will be more important than ever. Nation states cannot revive their economies purely through national solutions. They cannot address global threats, including the possibility of further pandemics, alone. Australia’s achievements in managing the COVID crisis have been exemplary. It has handled the health and economic emergency with great competence. But this is just the beginning of our crisis recovery. The challenges in our region, and the global problems that existed before COVID, have only been exacerbated by the pandemic. Australia has already done much to address the domestic economic and health issues from the COVID crisis. But to shape a prosperous and secure future, it will also need to work in cooperation with other nations, large and small, allies and partners, on a much broader array of international issues ranging from the economic disruption across the region, pressure from China on trade, and development challenges in the Pacific, to increasingly competitive relations between the United States and China, the weakening of the World Health Organization, and the declining utility of the G20.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, Health, World Health Organization, G20, Geopolitics, COVID-19, International Order
  • Political Geography: China, Indonesia, Australia, United States of America
  • Author: Cecilia Springer
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: China announced it would launch a national carbon market in 2017, yet this policy is taking years to come into effect. What will it take for a carbon market to work in command-and-control China? This policy brief explores an understudied challenge—emissions accounting—and identifies potential opportunities that have arisen in the first phase of China’s national carbon market.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Economics, Energy Policy, Environment, Natural Resources, Carbon Emissions
  • Political Geography: China, Asia-Pacific