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.
In the last few years, China has implemented policies to ban or impose strict restrictions on building supertall buildings. The government is acutely aware that provincial competition to outbuild each other may hurt the country’s overall economy. Not only that, high investment costs aside, the finished buildings may end up as energy-guzzling white elephants.
Based in Shanghai, Egyptian-American architect Hisham Youssef has travelled to many off-the-beaten-track locations across China. He shares his observations about the impact of organised mass tourism on the countryside. With transport links improving and tourists arriving in droves, will tangible heritage be eroded and undiscovered gems become a thing of the past?
Recently, the West has proposed infrastructure plans in developing countries in a clear bid to rival China’s BRI. Chinese academic Bu Shaoying thinks that while it may be difficult for the West to succeed in achieving their ambitious plans, China and the West should consider working together, and turn competition into a win-win situation.
The pandemic has affected BRI projects, but China has swiftly taken measures to keep BRI projects going by ensuring financial flow and supply of materials, so that key BRI projects in Cambodia and Laos are not much affected. Through the BRI, China’s economic presence and influence in Southeast Asia will continue to rise, while Cambodia and Laos will continue to rely more on China for their economic development.
Dr Kai-Fu Lee recently spoke at a summit reviewing the development of artificial intelligence. He gave five predictions about the industrial changes that would be brought about by the combination of artificial intelligence and other new technologies. Lee feels these changes would allow China to lead the world in science and technology in the next 20 years or so. This is the edited version of his speech.
High-speed rail and other infrastructure development have been proceeding apace under China’s Western Region Development Strategy. However, in trying to catch up with the eastern region, the gap between provinces in the western region may have inadvertently been widened. Without an effective division of labour, wasted resources and unnecessary competition are likely.
China has sought to rectify the imbalance in east-west regional development by improving connectivity and accelerating infrastructure-building in the western provinces through the Western Region Land-Sea Corridor and BRI projects. How successful they will be depends largely on continued capital injections, the region’s greater opening up and good cooperation with China’s neighbouring countries.
Amid worsening Covid-19 outbreaks in India and many Southeast Asia countries, ship operators are turning to China's massive workforce of 1.65 million crew members to fill the global shortage of crew members. Why are Chinese crew members in such high demand? Caixin journalists Jia Tianqiong and Yang Ge find out.