The China Research Group was set up by UK MPs in 2020 to promote fresh thinking about the future of our relations with China. We run regular seminars, connecting with experts from the UK and all over the world.
Sarah Bauerle Danzman on Biden's China tech offensive
34:39In early October, the US government rolled out extensive new restrictions on China’s access to advanced semiconductors, which play a central role in sectors such as quantum computing and weapons manufacture. The order by President Biden is unprecedented in modern times and is designed to cut China’s legs off as Washington and Beijing compete for technological advantage. Chris Cash is joined by Sarah Bauerle Danzman, Associate Professor of International Studies at Indiana University and non-resident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, to discuss the reasons behind these restrictions and their knock-on effects around the world. Why is the US going down this route now and how did we get here? For the US and its desire to stay ahead of a fast advancing China, will these restrictions be enough? What are the global implications of the acceleration of the balkanisation of key supply chains and what do US allies make of the restrictions?
Xi Jinping: The Most Powerful Man in the World?
29:04If China seems unstoppable, so too can its leader Xi Jinping. And yet we know very little about the man who commands over 1.4 billion people, in a vast country that spans prosperous megacities and desperately poor rural regions. Chris Cash is joined by Adrian Geiges and Stefan Aust, authors of the newly-translated biography ‘Xi Jinping: The Most Powerful Man in the World’, to discuss the story of Xi’s life and career, what he really wants, and how he is positioned ahead of the Chinese Communist Party’s 20th Party Congress. How did Xi develop his ideological convictions and why do we struggle to understand them? Why does he have an uneasy relationship with the legacy of Mao? What are the greatest challenges to his rule? You can purchase Adrian and Stefan’s must-read biography here.
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Ovigwe Eguegu on China's Global Security Initiative
27:04In April 2022, Xi Jinping announced the Global Security Initiative (GSI), a new Chinese foreign policy initiative proposed as a solution to a rapidly deteriorating international security environment. Some view the initiative as China’s latest bid to tilt the rules-based global order in its favour, but what does it actually mean for the future of the international security architecture? Chris Cash and Archie Brown are joined by Ovigwe Eguegu, a policy analyst at Development Reimagined who has written extensively on China-Africa security engagement, to discuss the GSI's key concepts and its implications for the future of China's engagement within the developing world. What is the GSI? Does the combined package of the GSI and the Global Development Initiative announced last September mark a shift away from the Belt-and-Road Initiative’s investment-driven model of engagement? How are these initiatives likely to be received in the developing world? You can read Chris's latest paper on the GSI, written in conjunction with the Council on Geostrategy, here.
Alessio Patalano on Beijing’s military threat to Taiwan
34:41In response to US Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, Beijing conducted large-scale military exercises across the Taiwan Strait. Its actions have been met with international alarm, with commentators declaring this as a ‘new normal’ for cross-strait relations. Chris Cash and Archie Brown are joined by Alessio Patalano, a Professor of War and Strategy in East Asia in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, to discuss these military exercises and their implications for the future of cross-strait relations and regional stability. Why did Beijing feel compelled to launch such a robust military response to Pelosi's visit? What are the implications of Beijing’s efforts to normalise increased military aggression across the Strait? How have key stakeholders such as the US and Taiwan responded? How can the UK and its European partners help to de-escalate the situation?
Rasheed Griffith on China in the Caribbean
24:30In November 2021, Barbados became the latest Commonwealth nation to remove the Queen as its head of state. Some British policymakers and commentators attributed this trend to growing Chinese influence in the Caribbean, but does this narrative reflect the reality on the ground? Chris Cash and Archie Brown are joined by Rasheed Griffith, a non-resident senior fellow with the Asia and Latin America programme and the Inter-American Dialogue and head of operations at Merkle Hedge, to talk over the nature of Chinese engagement in the Caribbean and how it's shaping regional developments. What does the 'China colonisation’ narrative get wrong about the Belt and Road Initiative in the Caribbean? What are the factors driving deeper trade and investment between China and Caribbean nations and how well equipped are Caribbean governments to deal with China? How can the UK become a more serious regional partner?
Sabine Mokry on what is 'lost in translation' in Chinese foreign policy statements
17:22There is a growing interest across the world in Chinese foreign policy signalling. Whilst English translations make Chinese foreign policy statements more accessible, most people fail to pick up on changes in the language of these statements in official translations. Chris Cash is joined by Sabine Mokry, PhD candidate at Leiden University and Visiting Researcher at the German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA) in Hamburg, to discuss the differences between Chinese foreign policy statements and their English translations and the implications of these differences. How do discrepancies in translation alter the original meaning of Chinese foreign policy statements? What are the implications of these differences for those following Chinese foreign policy? How can analysts and policymakers navigate these translation differences? You can read Sabine's paper on the foreign policy statement translations here. You can also find Sabine on Twitter.
Ananya Kumar on China’s digital currency
31:15China’s digital yuan is a form of central bank digital currency (CBDC) which many other central banks around the world are also working on. Chinese authorities are now stepping up their ambition to expand the use of e-CNY after a trial at this year’s Winter Olympic in Beijing. Chris Cash is joined by Ananya Kumar, Assistant Director of Digital Currencies at the Atlantic Council’s GeoEconomics Center, to discuss the growth trajectory of the digital yuan and its domestic and geopolitical implications. Will Chinese citizens buy into the digital yuan? What impact will its roll out have on financial stability in China? How will a digital currency aid China’s internationalisation of the RMB and reduce dependence on dollar-denominated transactions? You can read Ananya's paper on the digital yuan, or e-CNY, here. The Atlantic Council has also released a newly-updated Central Bank Digital Currency tracker.
Carl Minzner on the politics of zero-COVID in Xi Jinping's China
25:04The emergence of highly infectious coronavirus variants has strained the Chinese Communist Party’s zero-COVID policy to breaking point. The economic struggles and growing civilian frustrations caused by unrelenting lockdowns threaten to undermine the narrative of China’s superiority in responding to the pandemic - and the image and stature of Xi Jinping’s rule. Chris Cash and Julia Pamilih are joined by Carl Minzner, senior fellow for China studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and professor at Fordham Law School, to discuss the social and economic costs of Xi’s zero-COVID strategy and what we can learn from the politics surrounding the policy, ahead of this year’s 20th Party Congress. How sustainable is zero-COVID as the rest of the world opens up? Has Xi successfully removed or silenced all political opponents as he seeks to cement an unprecedented third term in power? Carl is the author of End of an Era: How China's Authoritarian Revival is Undermining Its Rise, in which he boldly argues that China's reform era is ending and outlines the looming risks of instability. You can also find Carl on Twitter.
Emily de la Bruyère on China's Digital Ambitions
22:54China's efforts at home and abroad to become a global leader in digital technologies is a challenge for the UK and its allies. How has Beijing set about shaping the new global digital architecture and how should we respond? Chris Cash is joined by Emily de la Bruyère, co-founder of Horizon Advisory, a strategic consulting firm focused on the implications of China’s competitive approach to geopolitics, to discuss the motives behind China's global digital strategy, its ambitions to lead the world in setting technical standards for emerging technologies, and how the UK and like-minded democracies could respond. Emily recently co-authored a new report titled: China’s Digital Ambition: A Global Strategy to Supplant the Liberal Order. You can read it here.
Mary Hui on Hong Kong’s struggle with COVID and political distrust
31:27Hong Kong stood out as an international COVID success story before a recent Omicron outbreak took hold of the city. What could have been done to prevent the tragic scenes of hospitals being overwhelmed? Has the Hong Kong government lost all democratic accountability? Quartz journalist Mary Hui joins Chris Cash to discuss the reasons behind Hong Kong's lack of COVID preparedness, the erosion of democracy under the National Security Law, and Beijing's endgame for the city. Mary also shared her thoughts on Hong Kong's status as an international business hub and whether it will last. You can follow Mary on Twitter - @maryhui