At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, commentators posited that democracies saw lower mortality rates during epidemics than non-democracies. Months later, escalating death rates in countries such as the US have called such a thesis into question. Political scientist Zheng Yongnian says it is not so much whether you are a democratic country or not, but what kind of system and values you espouse. The US and Germany, for instance, both democracies, have fared very differently. He takes a closer look at the issues.
With Covid-19 uncertainty and downturns pummelling its export-dependent economy, China’s leaders are trying to steer companies towards the domestic market instead. This may seem like a case of putting old wine in a new bottle, as China has tried this route before. Significant challenges are proving yet again that achieving export sales domestically is no mean feat. Can export-driven companies brave the storm while they reinvent themselves and recover?
From the 19th century to the 1920s and 1930s, ships transporting hundreds of Chinese coolies ready to work hard and make their "fortune" in Nanyang often docked at Kallang River. Historical photo collector Hsu Chung-mao recently obtained an album with rare photographs of such a ship bringing coolies from Xiamen in Fujian, China, to Singapore in the early 20th century. They are an authentic visual record of Chinese coolies in Singapore a century ago and a powerful throwback to that period.
Ray Dalio, founder, co-chief investment officer and co-chairman of Bridgewater Associates, spoke with Lu Mai, vice chairman of the China Development Research Foundation and secretary general of the China Development Forum (CDF), on 8 June 2020. Drawing from patterns and cycles that he observed from history, his talk focused on global economic trends and how the pandemic would shape the world. He also gave his opinions on China-US cooperation and competition, and gave suggestions as to how the two great powers can work together for the greater good of the world.
With a US that is withdrawing from the world stage, yet not ready to relinquish its dominance so easily, and a China that does not look like it wants to take on the mantle of being a hegemonic power, the international world order seems to be facing a crisis that will not be resolved any time soon. Instead, expect a state of flux where international organisations hobble on and the prospect of “one world, two systems, and two markets” becomes very real. Political analyst Zheng Yongnian explains why.
China is speeding up its construction of a “domestic circulation system” to complement its international efforts, in a bid to protect itself from any anticipated effects of decoupling from global supply chains. If the world wishes to cut itself off from China, it seems to say, so be it, as it can make its own plans.
Nonagenarian Mochtar Riady, founder of Lippo Group in Indonesia, shared his views on “New Challenges and Opportunities in a Post-Covid-19 World” at a webinar yesterday. He believes that with its combined strength, ASEAN can weather any potential headwinds of deglobalisation. And contrary to what others predict, China’s place in global supply chains is firmly anchored and the country looks set to play a leading role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Economics professor Yu Zhi points out that the ball is in China’s court as to whether it will continue being plugged in to the international economic system and whether globalisation itself will continue on its path. In the medium- to long-term, he sees that it is in China’s interest to stay the course and scenarios of decoupling between China and the West are much exaggerated. However, how China sees its strategic role in the world in the future is something its leaders and people have to give great thought to, not in the future, but right now.