Erik Baark

Professor Emeritus, Division of Social Science, Hong Kong University of Science & Technology

Erik Baark is Professor Emeritus at the Division of Social Science at the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology. He received a PhD at the University of Lund (1986) and a DPhil at the University of Copenhagen (1998). His research on China includes the analysis of information systems and IT development and high technology entrepreneurship during recent policy reforms. He has also published extensively on topics such as innovation in Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta. His numerous publications include the book Lightning Wires: Telegraphs and China's Technological Modernization 1860-1890 (Greenwood Press, 1997) and articles in leading international area studies journals such as The China Quarterly and innovation research journals such as Research Policy and the International Journal of Technology Management. 

 

A woman guides a boy learning to cycle below power lines in Beijing, China, on 13 October 2021. (Noel Celis/AFP)

Why China will continue to experience power cuts

Erik Baark takes a bird’s eye view of the structure of energy supply and demand in China, analysing how macro issues led to the September 2021 rash of power cuts across China. He notes that China's continued development needs energy, and a shift from heavy industries to services or high-tech fields does not mean that the country's energy needs will decrease. The Chinese government is looking to new and renewable energy resources to take the place of the old, but transitioning to new energy sources is not an easy process, especially when different actors are trying to protect their own terrain and a mindset change is necessary. It will be a tall order for the Chinese government to get local governments, old power grid corporations and the public to align with new policies and thinking. All this means that power cuts will not be going away anytime soon.
Wind turbines on the outskirts of the new city area of Yumen, Gansu province, China on 31 March 2021. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

Can China keep its climate change promises?

The adoption of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) with significant targets for the development of renewable energy and other green technologies, together with the launch of a national carbon emissions trading scheme, indicates that the Chinese leadership is committed to policies that should reduce the nation’s carbon footprint, ultimately leading to a zero-emission economy by 2060. However, the complexities of implementing these policies are daunting, with stakeholders that are likely to resist change and reforms that require substantial investment over the next decades.
Visitors look at a display of a semiconductor device at Semicon China, a trade fair for semiconductor technology, in Shanghai, China, 17 March 2021. (Aly Song/Reuters)

China's going full speed ahead on technology innovation. Will it work?

Amid intense technological competition with the US, China is more determined than ever to be self-reliant in core frontier technologies. It has rolled out various plans but several obstacles such as financial resources stand in the way. Is it a case of more haste, less speed?
A robotic dog powered by Huawei Cloud is seen at a booth during Huawei Connect in Shanghai, China, 23 September 2020. (Aly Song/Reuters)

China's whole-of-nation push for technological innovation

Innovation features prominently in the proposals for China's 14th Five-Year Plan. Apart from building up long-term resources such as education and basic scientific research, much government weight will be thrown behind building self-reliance in core technologies, including in the semiconductor industry, says Erik Baark and Qian Jiwei.