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?
As China’s poverty alleviation efforts continue apace, Zaobao correspondent Edwin Ong visits a community deep in Sichuan’s Daliang mountains. He finds out more about how the Yi people, once mountain dwellers, are taking to their new lives after relocating to government-built flats. Here, residents need only pay a one-time security deposit of 10,000 RMB to stay in their apartments for a lifetime. They have access to modern facilities, jobs and even dividends from shares. Is this truly utopia on earth?
China has put a lot of effort into modernising its governance system over the decades, but it still seems to miss the mark or to have even regressed in some areas. EAI academic Lance Gore puts this down to a muddled understanding of what true modernisation entails. Cult of personality, formalism, and conformity still permeate the system to a large degree, such that decision-makers live in a bubble thinking that all is well.
Chen Kang attributes the blindspots in China’s handling of the Covid-19 outbreak to the tendency of officials to withhold information and put up appearances for their own interests. As such, decision-making could be impaired by the asymmetry of information and misaligned interests between superiors and subordinates, especially at the local level. Results then vary based on how well one navigates the minefields of groupthink, collusion and that seemingly innocuous aim of not rocking the boat. Using the prism of formalism, or what is prizing form over substance, Chen points out the weakness of a centralised system.
China has faced reversals of fortune numerous times in history, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. After enjoying decades of upward ascent since its economic reform and opening up, some says China’s fate is about to be reversed again with the coronavirus pandemic, a mammoth disruption that kicked off the 2020s. Lance Gore argues that such massive shock to its political and economic system exposes chinks in its armour but does not necessarily unravel a big country with the world’s most comprehensive industrial structure.
Seeing that stalwarts have kept their positions while new blood comes in the form of those who have law enforcement or political experience, pundits wager that Beijing may take a more hardline approach in the days to come.