Based on the experience of the Cold War, the US can see merit in letting the enemy undo itself in its strategy against China. For the Soviet Union, it was the ills of Stalinist socialism and the failure of the command economy. For China, will its inherent contradictions lead to its own unravelling?
China's top infectious diseases expert Dr Zhang Wenhong was recently embroiled in an alleged academic fraud case but investigations have cleared his name later on. The investigation came after he put forward the view of "living with the virus", which is at odds with the official stance for achieving zero-Covid. Who protected Dr Zhang from punishment? Was it public opinion, the city of Shanghai or Dr Zhang's impeccable moral standards? Will this deter professionals from speaking the truth in the future?
Alibaba’s name is said to be inspired by the song that goes: “Ali Baba is a happy youth!” But after the halting of Ant Group’s listing and being slapped with a 18.228 billion RMB fine, Alibaba faces headwinds. In their anti-monopoly efforts, the authorities seem to have no qualms about making an example of companies like Alibaba. Zaobao correspondent Yu Zeyuan analyses the situation.
US-based researcher Wei Da notes that China-US relations are at risk of stagnating and reaching a state of "cold peace" with the current development. While China has been making friendly overtures to the US, it is also signalling that the ball is in the US’s court. Would any side give space to the other? Who will benefit from such a situation?
Economics professor Zhu Ying notes that the new Biden administration is trying to rope in the EU in its efforts to contain China. However, the evidence so far seems to suggest that such a plan is unlikely to work, given the pragmatic stance exhibited by key countries such as Germany. The China-EU investment agreement is an early warning that the EU may not be a firm ally of the US, not forgetting that China has always leveraged the economy to divide the West.
Lance Gore firmly believes that the social contract between government and people is seeing a radical upheaval around the world. In China’s case, a new social contract will be shaped by the triumvirate of Chinese culture and heritage, the traditions of the CCP, and the influence of liberal ideals. Only the strengths of each should be retained, while the shortcomings be discarded.
The West and certain countries in Asia have very different perceptions of the use of big data and AI to monitor its population and even build a social credit system. French academic Nicolas Lainez reviews China's social credit system and discusses the possibility of Vietnam adopting it to strengthen the government's control over society. However, he says the political risks may outweigh its benefits.
China should de-emphasise Chinese exceptionalism if it wants to be accepted by the international community, says senior research fellow at the East Asian Institute, Lance Gore. But that is not the same as lying low or blending into the background. The fact is, China did build a post-reform hybrid system that has worked well for the country. What it really needs is to disassociate itself from the ossified stereotypes of socialism under Stalin or Mao, and rebuild its image on the strengths of market socialism. Only then can it let people sit up and take notice, rather than be given notice.
Lance Gore, senior research fellow of the East Asian Institute, warns that a new cold war awaits China and the US if they continue to talk over each other. How can the two giants see each other in a better light? How can China improve its rule of law and governance practices?