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  • Author: Martin Chorzempa, Adnan Mazarei
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 shock has exacerbated the struggles of many emerging-market and developing economies (EMDEs) to repay their external debt. One of the most urgent challenges relates to debt owed to China, whose lending spree under its Belt and Road Initiative and other programs has played an outsized role in what amounts to a crisis for many countries. The scope of the problem is striking. China is owed more than $100 billion, or 57 percent of all debt owed to official creditors by the countries that need help the most. China is not a member of the Paris Club of official creditors, which coordinates, within a multilateral framework, the resolution of general sovereign illiquidity or unsustainable external debt of EMDEs. There is an urgent need to put in place more effective, long-term solutions to help durably lower the risks of prolonged debt difficulties in EMDEs. These problems could be partly addressed by creating creditor committees to coordinate debt relief with China. The Group of Twenty (G20) has taken some steps to include creditor committees in the context of the Common Framework for Debt Treatments beyond the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), but only for low-income countries that qualify for the DSSI and only for official creditors. To better address debt distress, it needs to extend the approach, especially to middle-income debtor countries.
  • Topic: Debt, Development, Emerging Markets, G20
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Alex He
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: This paper reviews the strategies and plans, policy-making institutions, process and problems in China’s techno-industrial development. Although it has made noticeable progress in some areas in the past two decades, China still lags behind in most core technology and advanced manufacturing fields, such as high-end chips. There have been several real breakthroughs in the semiconductor sector by private companies such as HiSilicon and rapid advancement in frontier technologies — artificial intelligence, fifth-generation wireless communication network technology, big data, blockchain and the Internet of Things — by private companies such as Huawei, Tencent, Alibaba and Baidu; however, state-sponsored technological innovation and breakthroughs have been crippled by the existing problems in China’s science and technology research system and a campaign-style catch-up strategy that rewards bureaucrats on short-term goals, as well as by weak links between academic research and industry and a swing between the market-oriented approach for technology acquisitions and indigenous innovation for technology breakthroughs. A case study of China’s semiconductor industry demonstrates both the problems and progress in China’s techno-industrial development, as well as the implications for the country's prospects of evolving into a technological powerhouse.
  • Topic: Development, Science and Technology, Artificial Intelligence, Industry, 5G
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Elizabeth Chen
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: A new study published February 8 by the Ministry of Public Security of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) (MPS, 中华人民共和国公安部, zhonghua renmin gongheguo gongan bu) reported that there were 10.035 million registered births in 2020, down from 11.79 million in 2019. This represents a 15 percent decrease following the coronavirus pandemic (Guancha.cn, February 8). Althou­gh the number of registered births—that is, newborns recorded in the household registration hukou (户口) system—is not the same as China’s official birth rate, the decline has concerned analysts that a long-forewarned demographic crisis may be approaching faster than expected.National birth and population figures for the previous year are usually released in January but have been delayed until April this year as China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) compiles its decennial census. In the meantime, data released by some provinces and cities in January has appeared to confirm the implications of the MPS study. Data released from the capital city of Guangdong province—which saw the highest number of births per province in 2019—showed that birth rates in Guangzhou were down by 17 percent year-on-year and mirrored broader trends across the rest of the province. In Zhejiang, China’s wealthiest province, the cities of Wenzhou and Taizhou reported that new births in 2020 fell by 19 percent and 33 percent respectively compared to 2019 (SCMP, February 2).
  • Topic: Demographics, Development, Aging, Population Growth
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Takahiro Tsuchiya
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Japan Institute Of International Affairs (JIIA)
  • Abstract: "Economic security" has been gathering attention in recent years. The main reasons for this are (1) neo-globalization, (2) the achievement of objectives by major powers using the "economic statecraft"1 approach, and (3) the development of "game-changing" and other emerging technologies. In particular, there has been a heightened sense of international concern about China's attempts to coerce, demand obedience, or persuade other countries by acquiring/securing technologies (resorting to economic espionage if necessary) and human resources and by leveraging its economic power.
  • Topic: Development, Science and Technology, Xi Jinping, Economic Security
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Uri Dadush, Pauline Weil
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: Despite tensions over China’s discriminatory business practices, China’s trade continues to thrive, and the country has taken over from the United States as the first destination for foreign investment. American and European businesses continue to be engaged in China’s large and growing market, even amid a trade war between China and the United States. Drawing on surveys of companies and international comparisons, we show that – contrary to the prevailing narrative – China’s business practices have improved significantly in recent years. China’s business environment is today generally more favourable than that in other large countries at similar levels of development and, in some though certainly not all aspects, is in line with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development average. Differences over geopolitics and human rights must be addressed, but it is clear that trade and investment agreements conditioned on accelerated reforms in China would yield substantial dividends. The benefits of such deals would accrue not only to foreign investors in China and exporters to China, but also to consumers and importers in the European Union and, especially, in the US, where punitive tariffs on China remain in effect. Critical aspects in the negotiations would include better access for American and European investors to China’s market for services and improved enforcement of rules and regulations in China. As in many middle-income countries, uneven enforcement of the law (rather than the law itself) remains a critical problem in China.
  • Topic: Development, Bilateral Relations, European Union, Business , Investment
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Theo Rauch, Michael Brüntrup
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: There is a widely held consensus that it will not be possible to feed the world without the help of the smallholders of Africa, Latin America and Asia, who number up to 570 million farms or 2 billion people. Given the sheer size of this figure alone, the sustainable development of smallholder farming will be key to achieving a range of other sustainability goals.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Development, Sustainable Development Goals
  • Political Geography: Africa, Asia, Latin America, Global South
  • Author: Brahma Chellaney
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: While the international attention remains on China’s recidivist activities in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, where it continues to incrementally expand its strategic footprint, Beijing is also quietly focusing its attention on the waters of rivers that originate in the resource-rich, Chinese-controlled territory of Tibet.
  • Topic: Development, Environment, Science and Technology, Territorial Disputes, Water, Sustainability
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Tibet
  • Author: Matt Ferchen
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The outsized ambitions and scale of the China-Venezuela political and financial relationship in the twenty-first century have meant that its failures and disappointments have been correspondingly large. This report explores how the nations came to be involved, how each side has responded to Venezuela’s extended economic and political crisis, and the implications for the future of the bilateral relationship and for China’s aspirations to be a leader and agent of international development.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, International Relations, Development, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, South America, Venezuela
  • Author: Jonathan Pryke
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: In an atmosphere of heightened geostrategic competition, China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has raised questions about the risk of debt problems in less-developed countries. Such risks are especially worrying for the small and fragile economies of the Pacific. A close look at the evidence suggests that China has not been engaged in debt-trap diplomacy in the Pacific, at least not so far. Nonetheless, if future Chinese lending continues on a business-as-usual basis, serious problems of debt sustainability will arise, and concerns about quality and corruption are valid.There have been recent signs that both China and Pacific Island governments recognize the need for reform. China needs to adopt formal lending rules similar to those of the multilateral development banks, providing more favorable terms to countries at greater risk of debt distress. Alternative approaches might include replacing or partially replacing EXIM loans with the interest-free loans and grants that the Chinese Ministry of Commerce already provides.
  • Topic: Debt, Development, Diplomacy, Geopolitics, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Elizabeth Chen
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: The Chinese state news organization Xinhua announced on November 23 that nine provinces in Guizhou had been lifted out of absolute poverty, marking the removal of all counties from China’s national list of most impoverished counties (Xinhua, November 24). About a week later, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary Xi Jinping announced that China had achieved the goal of eradicating absolute poverty and becoming a “moderately prosperous society” (小康社会, xiaokang shehui) before the end of 2020 (China Daily, December 2; Xinhua, December 4).[1] This heralded a wave of triumphal propaganda. Xi stressed the “critical importance of continuously advancing global poverty reduction” during his remarks at the G20 Riyadh Leader’s Summit on November 22, and held up China’s imminent achievement of eliminating absolute poverty ten years ahead of the deadline set by the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as a model for global emulation (Xinhua, November 23). Chinese official media frequently cited the praise of foreign experts, who were quoted as saying that China’s achievement “gave a hope to the developing countries” and represented a “great historic accomplishment” amid the COVID-19 pandemic (Xinhua, November 25, Xinhua, December 8) On December 14, Xi sent a letter of congratulations to the International Forum on Sharing Poverty Reduction Experience that said, “China stands ready to work with all countries in promoting the process of international poverty reduction and building a community with a shared future for mankind” (China Daily, December 14).
  • Topic: Development, Poverty, Xi Jinping, Domestic Policy
  • Political Geography: China, Asia