By Godfree Roberts – selected from his extensive weekly newsletter : Here Comes China
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We start the regular sitrep with Godfree’s new book Why China Leads the World. I’m reading now and will write a book review after working my way through all five parts of this detailed tome. (Amarynth)
To put the World in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the Family in order; to put the Family in order, we must first cultivate our personal lives by setting our hearts right. Confucius
How did China do it?
When I was born it was the world’s poorest nation. In 2010 it rescued the global economy from the Great Financial Crisis and, in 2020, did it again after the Coronavirus Crisis. Soon it will be the world’s richest country. How did that vast country transform itself in one lifetime?
The short answer is ‘planning’: Beijing began preparing for world leadership in 1957 and for a coronavirus epidemic in 2003.
The long answer is the subject of this book. It tells how China hired Americans to democratize their government, engineers to run it, use consensus-building and goal-setting, and base legislation on statistics. Describing such a numbers-driven society requires dozens of charts–six in the first chapter alone–and over five hundred footnotes. It is, in a word, wonky, yet behind the statistics lies a unique civilization, built on principles utterly unlike ours and from which we have much to learn. I have organized its story into five sections:
- Bad China, Good China discusses the China of our media–unstable Bad China filled with resentful slaves who serve bloodthirsty masters–and Good China, whose people claim to be the happiest on earth.
- Talent at the Top introduces the men who invented their ancient culture, the one who reinvented it seventy years ago, and the man who will lead it at least through 2022. They speak to you directly, in extended quotes that reveal human responses to immense challenges.
- Data in the Middle explains how local experiments solve national problems–like poverty–which they call ‘crossing the river by feeling the stones’.
- Democracy at the Bottom explains the Carter Center’s role in their elections and how they apply democracy not only to politics but to money, too.
- Finally, China in the World investigates our image of China: of invisible famines, invisible massacres, invisible oppression, invisible pandemics, and invisible human rights violations. The last chapter also examines its vast military, foreign policy, and goals for the planet.
On to the rest of the selection: We will take a quick look at space, education, new Chinese legal and policy change vis a vis Belt and Road, ownership of enterprises, and Africa.
- China launched the world’s first quantum communications satellite, Mozi/Micius, in 2016 and achieved QKD with two ground stations 2600 km apart. In 2017, a 2,000 km QKD fiber-optic network was completed between Beijing and Shanghai. It now serves 150 banks, power grids, and websites. A global quantum communication network can be constructed once protocols are standardized. Read full article →
- This Spring, China will launch the 22 tonne Tianhe, 50×14 ft. Tianhe Space Station core module. After completion next year the space station will be joined by a co-orbiting, Hubble-class space telescope capable of docking with the CSS for maintenance and repairs. The space station can be expanded from three to six modules. Read full article →
- By 2050 the Elite STEM workforce will be 10x larger than in the US and larger than the rest of the world combined. “Elite” means the top few percentiles in math ability in developed countries (e.g., EU), as measured by PISA at age 15. Read full article $→
Chinese legal and policy changes internally, vis a vis Belt and Road, ownership of enterprises and Africa.
A major effort is underway in China to overhaul its legal and administrative processes. This encompasses all sectors and all activities. Following is just a taste:
- Xi Jinping has integrated CCP organizations into public and private firms, shifted SASAC from “managing enterprises” to “managing capital,” and strengthened government guidance in funds in driving industrial policy. The change in economic and regulatory structure, the control wielded by the CCP, the blending of public and private, and market and planning, marks a new paradigm in China’s development. No other modern leader has placed as much emphasis on improving the overall resiliency of the systems and institutions that underpin national power. Read full article $→
- In every province, either the provincial Party secretary or governor will take on the new role of forest chief, a responsibility that will be duplicated in lower-level governments by June 2022. Forest chiefs are responsible for the preservation of forests and grasslands in their jurisdictions. They will have KPIs like forest coverage and desertification control. Read full article $→
- BASF began construction of the biggest single foreign investment in China and the first to be 100% foreign owned, with no technology transfer. The $10 billion plant will produce engineering plastics and thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) for the southern China market and Asia. Read full article →
- People’s Bank of China (PBOC) gave its approval to PayPal’s acquisition of a 70% equity stake in Chinese payments company GoPay, making PayPal the first foreign-invested firm to gain access to the domestic payments sector. Read full article →
- The People’s Congress (NPC) released a draft of the Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL, translation here), a major force in the evolving global privacy landscape and a highly consequential regulatory framework for international business. It emphasizes consumer privacy while also prioritizing national security through data localization, cross-border data flow restrictions, and surveillance and law enforcement powers. Read full article $→
- China is using its African connectivity projects, 20% of its projects there, to link its industrial and energy projects in the hinterland to its infrastructure projects along the coastline, as can be seen in the Tanzania rail map, above. China also transfers manufacturing activity there and has invested in 128 industrial projects in Nigeria, 80 in Ethiopia, 77 in South Africa, 48 in Tanzania and 44 in Ghana. This trend will continue in line with rising labor costs in China. Read full article $→
- In Chinese foreign policy tradition, Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited five African nations in the first week of 2021, and two more African nations joined the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI): the Democratic Republic of Congo and Botswana, bringing the number of African countries who are part of the BRI to 46. Wang Yi also visited Nigeria, which has already benefited from its participation in the BRI. Read full article $→
- China has issued a White Paper: “China’s International Development Cooperation in the New Era,” which replaces previous announcements and upgrades the entire Foreign Aid Policy by refocusing and renaming it ‘International Development Cooperation’ while also introducing new initiatives. It is the first time China has issued a white paper under the name of “International Development Cooperation” (IDC) instead of “Foreign Aid”. Download the paper here →
This represents but a fraction of what is included in the Here Comes China newsletter. If you want to learn about the Chinese world, get Godfree’s newsletter here: https://www.herecomeschina.com/#subscribe