[EN] CA 17 – Jan/Feb 2008
– DOMESTIC POLITICS –
Re-launching political liberalisation? (Michal Meidan)
Singapore: governance without democracy? (Mathieu Duchâtel)
Will an energy minister bring greater coherence to this sector? (Michal Meidan)
– ECONOMY –
Price controls or disruptions in Chinese economic policy (Thibaud Voïta)
Economic publications attack a “French style” labour law (Camille Bondois)
Local people should assess the way cadres manage environmental issues (Thibaud Voïta)
– FOREIGN POLICY AND STRATEGIC AFFAIRS –
2008: a complicated year for Chinese diplomacy (Michal Meidan)
Should the European Union be taken seriously? (Mathieu Duchâtel)
Africa caught up in AFRICOM, the new American military high-command (Michaïl Andreï)
– TAIWAN –
The legislative elections, first round of the presidential contest? (Hubert Kilian)
The economic programmes of the presidential candidates (Mathieu Duchâtel)
Starting with this issue, the European Council on Foreign Relations has the pleasure of introducing China Analysis to a new readership. This is a bi-monthly analytical survey of Chinese news and debate, written by fellows of ECFR Asia Centre at Sciences Po in Paris. A French edition of China Analysis has been available since 2005.
China is now one of the European Union’s two main external partners, second only to the United States. Its economy is growing faster than India’s or Brazil’s. Evaluating developments in China and Chinese thinking remains difficult. It is easy for Europeans to follow U.S. news and domestic debates, and almost as easy to pick up news and trends from India’s academic journals and vibrant domestic press, much of which is published in English. There is substantial news coverage of China, but it relies almost exclusively on English language sources such as foreign media or official Chinese publications aimed at foreign audiences.
China Analysis offers a different perspective, as it is based on news, opinion pieces and debate found in Chinese language journals and media. The aim is to showcase domestic and international events or trends as they are seen within China. China Analysis is not predicated on the idea that Chinese language publications are more truthful. Censorship and distortion remain all too common in China’s heavily-controlled media. To cite recent examples, neither the arrest of Hu Jia, a prominent AIDS activist, nor the short-term arbitrary detention of Teng Biao, a Bejing-based human rights lawyer, were reported in the Chinese mainland press.
Yet there is much to learn from Chinese professional journals and media and their reporting, which sometimes tests the limits of official propaganda guidance. Their news and analysis help to understand how China’s leadership views domestic and foreign policy issues and reflect the lively debates inside China’s hyperactive expert and think tank world. The need to analyse the phenomenal dynamism of the market economy has led to an improvement in the quality of public debate about economics, which is now as sophisticated as that found in the West. As understanding the world and geopolitics is a long-standing Chinese obsession, international relations, foreign policy issues and strategic concepts are also widely discussed. While China Analysis draws mostly on Chinese mainland sources, the bulletin also keeps abreast of trends in Chinese language publications from Hong Kong and Taiwan. Hong Kong’s Special Administrative Region continues to function as a rumour-mill about politics in the PRC. While not always accurate, reports from Hong Kong tend to reflect the diversity of Chinese thinking while the Taiwanese press has freedom of expression not available in either Hong Kong or the mainland.
Each issue of China Analysis will carry a leader summarising the events and trends of the past two months as seen through Chinese sources. We will give particular attention to issues where European interests are directly concerned and to strategic debates within China – an emerging power with an increasingly global reach. We will analyse the repercussions of China’s slow transition to the rule of law and continued breathtaking economic growth. We will follow the debate on reform and report on tensions within China’s fragmented society.
François Godement and Marc Leonard