Economy

A street vendor pushes her cart in the rain in Hanoi, 15 October 2020. (Nhac Nguyen/AFP)

How should Southeast Asian countries respond to an upsurge in Chinese investment

In this geostrategic climate, Southeast Asian countries should welcome rather than reject investments from China for their own developmental needs. Welcoming Chinese investment will also likely spur competing investments from the West and Japan.
People wearing face masks as a preventive measure against the Covid-19 coronavirus commute during rush hour in Beijing on 15 October 2020. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP)

Why only China will maintain positive growth this year

Chinese financial commentator Tan Haojun looks at what China has done right to quickly recover after the pandemic, and what makes international financial institutions and analysts confident about its economy.
Li Hongzhang (L) and Henry Arthur Blake at the opening ceremony of the Kowloon-Guangzhou railway service, July 1900. (Wikimedia)

China's distrust of private enterprises goes back a long way

Even back in the Qing dynasty, the concept of “state-owned enterprises” was not a foreign one. The Qing government had the habit of maintaining monopolies by running their own enterprises or looking out for profitable industries and private companies, and taking control of them. Hong Kong commentator Chip Tsao notes that even grabbing profits could not prevent the fall of the Qing dynasty.
A news report on Chinese President Xi Jinping's speech in the city of Shenzhen is shown on a public screen in Hong Kong, 14 October 2020. (Roy Liu/Bloomberg)

Xi's five-year plan for Shenzhen: A hard road ahead?

Shenzhen has grown rapidly over the past 40 years, such that its GDP reached a massive 2.7 trillion RMB in 2019. Just this month, the Chinese government released a five-year plan to make Shenzhen a “pilot demonstration area for socialism with Chinese characteristics”. Amid plans for reforms and new initiatives, EAI academic Yu Hong asks: How much autonomy will Shenzhen have, and what challenges will it face?
Customers wait in line outside a Shake Shack Inc. restaurant in Beijing, China on 20 September 2020. (Yan Cong/Bloomberg)

Is it possible to decouple from the world's biggest market and factory?

Despite US efforts to reduce reliance on China and decouple from it, the process will not be easy, given China’s enormous economic influence. Even with countries such as Vietnam trying to take China’s place as the “world’s factory”, their capacity is limited. However, this does not mean that China’s position is assured, as other countries are noticing China’s penchant for using its economic might as a bargaining chip.
Residents dine at a 500-metre-long table spanning across the length of the medieval Charles Bridge as restrictions ease following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Prague, Czech Republic, 30 June 2020. (David W Cerny/REUTERS)

Are the Czechs alarmed by China's buying power?

From media companies to hotels and football clubs, the Chinese have gone on a shopping spree in the Czech Republic over the past few years. Hong Kong commentator Chip Tsao notes that the Czech Republic was the first European country to fall in love with China, allowing the latter to acquire large stakes in Czech entities. But now, it seems that the love affair is not so rosy any more. The recent visit of Senate Speaker Miloš Vystrčil to Taiwan is just one chink in the relationship’s armour.
People are reflected in a puddle after a rainfall as they walk along a shopping district in Beijing on 18 August 2020. (Noel Celis/AFP)

Will China's inward economic shift lead to a closed society?

Chinese President Xi Jinping has recently emphasised the concept of “domestic circulation”, or focusing on domestic markets. But while this might prompt concern that China’s economy may be shut off from the rest of the world, given current circumstances, this is unlikely. What China needs to guard against though, says Zaobao associate editor Han Yong Hong, is the groupthink generated by a closed loop of ideas.
A stretch of the 400-kilometre long China-Laos railway in Vientiane, 29 July 2020. (Xinhua)

China's Belt and Road Initiative faces huge challenges in Southeast Asia

Beijing has pledged financing, materials, technology and manpower to build railroads, hydropower stations and other infrastructure projects in Southeast Asian countries under the BRI. But China continues to face enormous challenges getting projects off the ground in countries that need the investment most. US academic Murray Hiebert examines why.
A worker collects a package after it was delivered by an automated conveyer belt at a JD.com distribution center in Beijing on 16 July 2020. (Greg Baker/AFP)

China's e-commerce 'big four' locked in cut-throat battle

Media commentator Cai Enze frowns on the beggar-thy-neighbour approach of improving one’s business at a rival’s expense. In his view, big names in China’s internet market — Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, and JD.com (known as BATJ) — should practise more openness and cooperation rather than rivalry and mutual blocks.