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MERICS China Podcast

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The MERICS China Podcast, brought to you by the Mercator Institute for China Studies, a show that analyses current affairs in China and the latest developments in EU-China relations.
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2023 will be a critical year for China. The party leadership around Xi Jinping is faced with an unprecedented health crisis and a troubled economy, while it must balance its relationships with the US and Europe with its "no-limits" partnership with Russia.To anticipate what 2023 might have in store for us, we conducted the 4th MERICS China Forecast Survey involving 880 China experts and members of the public. In a conference on January 18, 2023, our experts and a line-up of high-level speakers discussed the survey’s findings and their expectations.Roderick Kefferpütz, Senior Analyst at MERICS who led the compilation of this year’s forecast, joins Johannes Heller-John to discuss the results.  -----The MERICS China Forecast 2023 has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under grant agreement number 101061700. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them. 
Since the invasion by Russia in February 2022, the quality and focus of Ukraine’s relationship with China has undergone important changes. China’s “pro-Russian neutrality” has given rise to a more critical perception of China in Ukraine. However, the government in Kyiv refrains from being too confrontational. To trace the development of Ukraine’s relationship with China, the impact of the war and the effect on relations with Taiwan, we are joined by MERICS Futures Fellow Yurii Poita. He heads the Asia-Pacific Section at the Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Studies (CACDS) in Kyiv and is head of the Asian Section at the New Geopolitics Research Network (NGRN). The episode was recorded by Johannes Heller-John.
China’s ambitions of self-sufficiency, most notably embodied by its industrial policy Made in China 2025, are still hampered by a reliance on some key technologies dominated by a few companies based in the US and likeminded countries. To alleviate this dependency China wants to use the innovation chain concept and strengthen the connection between basic research and business application. Michael Laha, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation German Chancellor Fellow at MERICS and former Senior Program Officer at the Asia Society Center on US-China Relations joins the podcast to talk about the innovation chain, its implementation in China and implications for Europe. In his view, what makes the application of the innovation chain special in China is how broadly it is implemented and its close relationship to China’s ambitions of self-sufficiency.Together with Jeroen Groenewegen-Lau, Head of Program Science, Technology and Innovation Policy at MERICS, Michael is working on an upcoming paper on the innovation chain in China. The interview was conducted by Johannes Heller-John.
Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party since 2012, has been awarded with an unprecedented third term in power and has managed to fill the ranks of the inner circles of the CCP entirely with close allies. Together with MERICS Analyst Valarie Tan and MERICS Senior Analyst Jacob Gunter we look at the leadership reshuffle and other outcomes of the 20th National Congress of the CCP. Both experts argue that as a result of the changes implemented during the party congress, the Chinese leadership has become more unpredictable for people outside but also inside China. The podcast was recorded by Johannes Heller-John.
Im Fokus des 20. Parteitags der Kommunistischen Partei Chinas steht dieses Jahr die Bestätigung von Chinas Staats- und Parteichef Xi Jinping in seinem Amt für eine dritte Amtszeit. Kontrovers wird diese historische Entscheidung jedoch nicht sein, denn Xi hat die kommunistische Partei fest in der Hand.Was von dem Parteitag erwartet werden kann und wie es danach voraussichtlich weitergeht, diskutieren Nis Grünberg, Senior Analyst bei MERICS, und Johnny Erling, Senior Fellow bei MERICS. Im Gespräch mit Johannes Heller-John sprechen sie zudem über potentielle Neuzugänge in den mächtigsten Gremien des Landes und Raum für Widerstand unter Xis zunehmend absoluter Kontrolle.Mehr zum 20. Parteitag:Chinas künftige Führungsgeneration | Merics20. Parteitag der KPC | Merics
With growing geopolitical tensions, economic relations with China are increasingly challenging. The term “economic coercion” is heard more often recently in connection with EU-China relations, as China relies on economic pressure to push for strategic goals. A prominent example of this is China’s souring relations with Lithuania over the renaming of the Taiwan representative office, with companies operating in Lithuania caught in Beijing’s crosshairs. In this podcast, MERICS Analysts Aya Adachi and Alexander Brown discuss how China’s utilization of economic pressure is changing and describe the risks for companies with business in China. Read their new Monitor “Fasten your seatbelts: How to manage China’s economic coercion” on the topic here. 
Various crisis scenarios - above all Russia's war in Ukraine - are reinforcing the impression that the world is moving toward a new formation of blocs. At the same time, Beijing seeks to use its growing global power and influence to shape the global order in its favor. How do countries in the Global South that cannot be so clearly classified to one bloc or the other view China's role in the changing international power structure and US-China competition? In this podcast, MERICS Director Communications and Publications Claudia Wessling discusses the latest MERICS Paper on China "Beyond blocs: Global views on China and US-China relations" with MERICS experts Helena Legarda and Jacob Gunter. They compiled contributions by authors representing Bangladesh, Chile, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Turkey to describe those countries’ perspectives on China and US-China competition. 
Trotz Zensur und Kontrolle gibt es immer noch ein breites Spektrum an Meinungen in China. Wo liegen die Grenzen des Sagbaren, und wie verschieben sie sich? Was erlaubt die Regierung, und wann schreitet sie ein? In welchem Verhältnis stehen die Äußerungen von Experten, Meinungsführern und Netzbürgern gegenüber offiziellen Positionen? Und: Können öffentliche Debatten politische Veränderungen bewirken? Mit diesen Fragen befasst sich das Projekt China Spektrum, eine Kooperation von MERICS und dem China-Institut der Universität Trier. Gefördert wird das Projekt durch die Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung für die Freiheit. In dieser Folge des MERICS China Podcasts hören Sie die Projektleiterinnen Kristin Shi-Kupfer, Professorin für Sinologie an der Universität Trier mit Schwerpunkt Digitales China, und Katja Drinhausen, Leiterin des Programms Innenpolitik und Gesellschaft am MERICS. Die beiden geben im Gespräch mit Claudia Wessling, Leiterin Kommunikation und Publikationen am MERICS, Einblick in die gerade erschienene erste Analyse des Projekts. Darin geht es um Debatten zum Krieg in der Ukraine, Kontroversen rund um den Lockdown in Shanghai, Frauenrechte und das staatliche Vorgehen gegen IT-Unternehmen. Mehr zum Thema:Projektwebsite: www.merics.org/de/china-spektrumChina Spektrum Report: „Debatten jenseits der offiziellen Regierungslinie“: https://merics.org/de/debatten-jenseits-der-offiziellen-regierungslinie
China’s relations with the EU have become more difficult recently: In 2019, the Strategic Outlook of the EU Commission for the first time described China as a partner, a competitor and a systemic rival. This definition still holds today, and it is increasingly challenging to navigate in times of deepening rifts between global players. How should policymakers deal with a China that is ruled authoritarian, but that also offers economic opportunities and is needed for collaboration in the fight against climate change? In this podcast, French economist Sébastien Jean (CNAM) and MERICS Executive Director Mikko Huotari discuss options for an EU economic strategy vis-à-vis China with our host Claudia Wessling, Director Communications and Publications.Sébastien Jean and Mikko Huotari have just published a note for the the French Council of Economic Analysis (CAE): “Bolstering Europe’s Economic Strategy vis-à-vis China”. You can read and download it here.
Green hydrogen is an important component of China’s path towards reaching carbon neutrality by 2060. While 80 percent of Chinese hydrogen is still produced using coal or gas with high CO2 emissions, a surge in technology development and large-scale projects led by local governments and companies are paving the way for a rapid expansion of the green hydrogen industry.In this episode of the MERICS China Podcast, Alexander Brown and Nis Grünberg give an outlook on China’s hydrogen industry and highlight how policy support and domestic R&D are closing the gap with European technology leaders. You can read their report “China’s nascent green hydrogen sector: How policy, research and business are forging a new industry” online here. Questions were asked by Communications Manager Johannes Heller-John.
China is experiencing turbulent times: Covid-19 lockdowns in many cities and provinces have sent the Chinese economy into a dramatic decline, censors are having a difficult time keeping the Chinese internet free from statements of public discontent and rumors about political frictions. And as the war in Ukraine rages on, the Chinese leadership's course of alignment with Moscow is putting a strain on relations with Europe and the US. Beijing is confronted with unprecedented uncertainties. Do these factors merge to form a perfect storm that challenges the system’s resilience? MERICS Executive Director Mikko Huotari and Lead Analysts Nis Grünberg and Helena Legarda discussed this question at a MERICS event on May 31, which was moderated by MERICS Director External Relations Bernhard Bartsch. Today we bring you a recording of that event. A video version that also includes the slides accompanying the presentations can be found on our YouTube page. 
The close relationship between Russia and China, which has not withered in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, has turned a spotlight on the simmering territorial conflict between China and Taiwan. But how much, if at all, does the Russian invasion of Ukraine impact cross-strait relations, and what does it mean for the prospect of a Chinese invasion of the island nation?To answer these and other questions we are joined by Sheryn Lee, a senior lecturer at the Swedish Defence University and an expert on strategic concepts and the foreign and defense policies of Taiwan and other Indo-Pacific nations. Questions were asked by Johannes Heller-John.
Rail freight between China and Europe is probably the main symbol of the Belt and Road Initiative for many in Europe. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, however, the steady flow of trains and goods has been disrupted. In this episode will look the impacts of the war in Ukraine on the BRI, how China is changing and adapting the BRI, and what that means for decision makers in Europe. We are joined by Francesca Ghiretti and Jacob Mardell, Analyst and Research Fellow at MERICS respectively. They are co-authors of the latest MERICS Global China Inc. Tracker that featured the effects of the war in Ukraine prominently. Questions were asked by Johannes Heller-John, Communications Manager at MERICS. 
On May 8, John Lee was elected as Hong Kong's next leader with over 99 percent of the votes cast by a largely pro-Beijing election committee. In his victory speech he claimed he wanted to start a new chapter and build a Hong Kong that is “caring, open and vibrant, full of opportunities and harmony." But what does the victory of this former police officer, who has the endorsement of Beijing and is described as an emotionless machine by critics, really mean for Hong Kong?To answer this and other questions, we are joined by Eric Yan-ho Lai, Hong Kong Law Fellow at the Center for Asian Law of Georgetown University in Washington, and Valarie Tan, a researcher at MERICS focusing on domestic politics, society and media in China. Questions asked by Claudia Wessling, Director Communications and Publications at MERICS.
Digital transformation is a top priority of China’s 14th Five-Year Plan. Having built a solid foundation for its digital economy, Beijing wants to reach the next phase: integrate digital technologies with the real economy, society and government functions to drive economic upgrading and modernize the Chinese Communist Party’s governance capabilities. Beijing’s vision, however, does not stop at home: it is global and builds on a decades-long strategic approach toward internet infrastructure in the Global South. Rebecca Arcesati, Analyst at MERICS focusing on China’s digital and technology policies, lays out the CCP’s vision for digital transformation and e-government, its promotion of this vision in the Global South and the implications for Europe. She recently published a MERICS Primer titled “E-government and Covid-19: Digital China goes global”. Questions were asked by Johannes Heller-John.
The time of vast investments of Chinese capital into Europe seem to be over. While China’s FDI in Europe in 2021 increased in comparison to the year before, it remained on a multi-year downward trajectory. Globally, also, the growth of Chinese FDI stalled and remained at roughly the same amount as the year before.Following the recent publication of the MERICS and Rhodium Group report on Chinese FDI in Europe in 2021, we are joined by one of its authors, MERICS Analyst Gregor Sebastian, to take a look at the key take-aways of the report. We pay particular attention to the rise in greenfield and venture capital investments and whether these trends are likely to continue. The conversation concludes with a look at the first year of the European FDI Screening Mechanism and its impact on Chinese FDI in Europe. Questions were asked by Johannes Heller-John.
On Friday, April 1, the leaders of the European Union and the People’s Republic of China met virtually for the 23rd EU-China Summit. While areas of shared interest like climate change and health played a role, the main focus was on Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine, which both sides discussed extensively.In this podcast, Grzegorz Stec, Analyst at MERICS and expert on EU-China relations, looks at the buildup and outcomes of the summit, compares it to previous EU-China Summits, and shares his assessment on the trajectory of EU-China relations. Questions asked by Johannes Heller-John.
In the last couple of years, it has become increasingly difficult for foreign researchers to access China, and even more difficult to conduct critical field research. One of the few channels for empirical data that is left to China watchers is open-source data, which has become an essential resource, especially on politically more sensitive topics. To talk about open-source data research, how it works, why it matters and what it means for the future of China watching we are joined by Emile Dirks. He is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto and the Futures Fellow here at MERICS. His research focuses on China civil society, human rights, censorship and state surveillance. Emile is one of the creators of the China drug, crime and detention database, an extensive collection of open-source resources on crime into judiciary in China, and co-author of a report with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute on Genomic Surveillance in China, detailing findings about the Chinese government's forensic DNA database. Questions asked by Jonas Schneider.
The “two sessions”, the National People's Congress (NPC) and the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), wrapped up in Beijing on March 11. In this episode, MERICS Lead Analyst Nis Grünberg discusses the main outcomes of these important annual meetings, which generally offer a window into the central government’s priorities. These include an ambitious GDP growth target of 5.5 percent, a focus on stability amid international turbulence, a refocus on energy security rather than emission reductions and an increase in defense spending by 7.1 percent. Grünberg also explains how changes to the so-called Organic Law try to strengthen Xi’s control over decisions taken in provinces and other lower administrative levels. Questions by Johannes Heller-John, Communications Manager at MERICS.
At the National People's Congress that is about to wrap up in Beijing, Premier Li Keqiang reiterated the ambitious "Common Prosperity" policy. Joint efforts in line with the opening-up policy would be needed to achieve this ambitious goal, Li said at a press conference. In this episode of our podcast, Bert Hofman, the Director of the East Asian Institute at National University of Singapore and MERICS Executive Director Mikko Huotari discuss the instruments China relies on in its efforts for a more equal distribution of income and wealth with MERICS Director Communications and Publications Claudia Wessling.If you want to listen to the other parts of our series on common prosperity, you can find them on our website at www.merics.org/podcast and wherever you listen to our podcasts. We had seasoned China watchers like Barry Naughton, Isabella Weber, and Sarah Eaton on the show, please check our podcast archive.
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