China’s population policies have had a tendency to veer towards the extreme since the era of Mao, says commentator Yu Shiyu. A delayed response to adjusting the one-child policy, which has resulted in a declining population and is expected to have an adverse economic impact, demonstrates the inefficiency of an authoritarian system in self-correcting. Its decision making could also swing between extremes as it is based on subjective top-level thinking.
The world is concerned that the Chinese people are beginning to lose confidence in China’s future, dampening the prospects for sustainable development. Researcher Wei Da believes that there is little connection between this crisis of confidence and the cyclical boom and bust of the economy, but China’s severe economic problems are ultimately political problems.
It is commonly believed that the Mongol-ruled Yuan dynasty instituted a “four-class system” comprising the Mongols, the Semu, the Han people and the Southerners; they may even have categorised people into ten classes for which Confucian scholars were at the bottom rungs. Taken as truth for centuries, what is the “historical reality” of the matter? Cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai examines the issue.
Japan’s discharge of treated nuclear wastewater into the sea has dealt another blow to the political, economic and trade relations between China and Japan. Zaobao correspondent Yu Zeyuan elaborates.
Chinese President Xi Jinping’s speech in February criticising the West was recently quoted in a Chinese Communist Party publication, and Lianhe Zaobao journalist Edwin Ong notes that the renewed attention could be intended to strengthen the political consensus among officials and citizens. Meanwhile, Xi’s emphasis on treading a different path from Western modernisation could come at the expense of its economy.
Erratic and unreasonable governance of local governments and a shift in public opinion towards left-wing ideology are just some of the causes for the private sector’s lack of confidence in China, says academic Han Heyuan. Even with the latest measures to boost the sector, government efforts seem to fall short of expectations.
In this key period of China’s rise, it can either choose to adopt a hard line or to cool down. History tells us that the hard line is likely to prevail, but China should be aware that this may lead to one overestimating its own strength, challenging the existing hegemon too soon, and ultimately meeting failure. The crucial question is whether the hard line is backed by wisdom. What China is going to do with the strength it has gained remains a puzzle to most countries, and this is the root of the perception of the Chinese threat.
Coming to the end of his second term, Indonesian President Jokowi is still enjoying influence in Indonesian politics, with analysts believing that whoever he endorses will end up the winner in the presidential election in February 2024. How critical will the Chinese Indonesian vote be? ISEAS academic Leo Suryadinata explains.
Wei Da points out that the Wagner rebellion could only have happened because of the “two-faced people” in Putin's inner circle. Such people often emerge from the woodwork at critical moments, taking risks and rebelling. China and other countries may sit up and take notice: whether or not these rebellions work, they are usually fatal blows to authoritarian regimes.