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China In Context

Author: SOAS China Institute

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China In Context is a weekly podcast providing expert analysis on politics, culture and international relations, featuring voices from the SOAS China Institute, University of London. The podcast is hosted by Duncan Bartlett.
114 Episodes
Every field has its jargon and the field of Sinology - or China studies - has many special terms. Two terms which are in common use at the moment are de-risking and decoupling but their precise meaning is somewhat ambiguous and dependent on context. In this podcast, James Laurenceson, director of the Australia-China Relations Institute at the University of Technology, Sydney, offers his definitions of the words to regular host, Duncan Bartlett.
Previous summits of G7 leaders have rebuked China’s actions in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, and have berated its relationship with Russia. In this podcast, Dr. Moritz Rudolf from Yale Law School’s Paul Tsai China Center considers what the 2023 meeting of G7 leaders in Hiroshima, Japan has in store for China. The podcast is hosted by Duncan Bartlett, Editor of Asian Affairs.
South Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol received widespread praise in the international media for his historic five day state visit to the United States in April 2023. Joe Biden reassured Mr Yoon that America will defend South Korea in the face of threats. In this podcast, Dr John Nilsson-Wright of Cambridge University discusses the changing dynamics in East Asian politics with Duncan Bartlett, Editor of Asian Affairs.
The British government appears to be taking a position of "robust pragmatism" towards China. Foreign Secretary James Cleverly says the UK should not "pull the shutters down". However, in Hong Kong, resentment lingers towards the UK over its response to the imposition by China of stringent national security laws, as Dr Mark Clifford, President of the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation, explains in an interview with regular podcast host, Duncan Bartlett, Editor of Asian Affairs.
Australia is facing the most challenging strategic circumstances since the second world war, according to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. His government has labelled the intense competition between China and the United States “the defining feature of our region and our time”. Yet under Mr Albanese’s leadership, Australia is attempting to “stabilise” the relationship with China, and the Prime Minister is due to visit Beijing in 2023. In this podcast, James Laurenceson, director of the Australia-China Relations Institute at the University of Technology Sydney, explains Australia's diplomatic strategy to regular podcast host Duncan Bartlett, the Editor of Asian Affairs.
The French President Emmanuel Macron has drawn criticism for suggesting that Europe should not get embroiled in the issue of Taiwan. Following a meeting with Xi Jinping in Beijing, Emmanuel Macron suggested to reporters that the Americans and the Chinese are ramping up tension on the issue and that Europe would be wise to step back. In this podcast, Hanns Maull, Senior Research Associate at the Mercator Institute for China Studies in Berlin, provides his analysis of French President Macron’s remarks in a conversation with podcast host, Duncan Bartlett.
Xi Jinping has an ambition to make the yuan a currency that is in widespread use internationally. Russia now accepts Chinese yuan in exchange for oil and gas and Brazil is also considering using yuan, rather than dollars, when trading with China. In this podcast, experts consider the role of the yuan in international finance and the risks involved. Zuri Linetsky, research fellow at the Eurasia Group Foundation in Washington, DC discusses the topic with Daniel McDowell, Associate Professor of Political Science at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University in the United States.
Xi Jinping is keen to deepen China's links with Arab states and countries in the Persian Gulf. Investment in the region's infrastructure is supported through the Belt and Road Initiative. In return, China expects to be able to secure long-term contracts for its energy. Meanwhile, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs is taking credit for a recent rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia. In this podcast hosted by the SOAS China Institute, Zuri Linetsky from the Eurasia Group Foundation discusses China's role in the Middle East with Tuvia Gering, a fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Global China Hub.
China’s leaders have claimed that the country will contribute to one third of global economic growth in 2023. They also boast that China is more stable than many other countries, which are experiencing problems related to high inflation and bank failures. Yet China faces economic pressures which seem to be holding back a strong rebound following the lifting of Zero-Covid restrictions. In this podcast, Zuri Lintetsky from the Eurasia Group Foundation in Washington DC discusses the political and economic outlook for China with Duncan Bartlett, Research Associate at the SOAS China Institute.
China and the United States agreed to work together on climate issues in 2021. However, since then, a deterioration in their relationship has hampered efforts to curb emissions and work towards the Paris Agreement's goals for tackling climate change. In this podcast, Isabel Hilton of China Dialogue discusses China’s environmental dilemmas with guest host Zuri Linetsky, from the Eurasia Group Foundation in Washington DC.
China's role in Africa

China's role in Africa


China has grand plans for Africa. It has pledged to increase its investment in the continent, thus "narrowing the North-South gap and supporting and assisting other developing countries in accelerating development." But given China's own relatively slow rate of economic growth, can it afford to do this? And how should African nations weigh up the costs and benefits of teaming up with China? In this podcast, Maria Repnikova, Associate Professor in Global Communication at Georgia State University, explains what she has learned during field work in China and Ethiopia. The presenter is Zuri Linetsky, research fellow at the Eurasia Group Foundation in Washington, DC.
China is conducting a sustained global campaign to promote its interests. In some cases, it tries to win support by investing in the infrastructure of other countries. It also makes a concerted effort to persuade people to think positively about China by sending upbeat messages through the media. This approach is sometimes termed “soft power” and it is distinctly different from the sharp power of the military. In this podcast, Professor Steve Tsang, Director of the SOAS China Institute, explains what Xi Jinping is aiming to achieve. The guest presenter is Dr Zuri Lintesky, Research Associate at the Eurasia Group Foundation in Washington DC.
The Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni will play a prominent international role in 2023. She will attend a summit of G7 leaders in Japan and Joe Biden may well invite her to Washington to try to shore up the Transatlantic alliance. Meanwhile, Italy’s relationship with China is in flux. A few years ago, there was much talk of 'win-win' relationships. However, Ms Meloni displays a nationalist streak, which doesn’t bode well for collaboration with the Chinese. In this podcast, the writer and journalist Bill Emmott shares his interpretation of the political factors which influence Italian foreign policy. The podcast is hosted by Duncan Bartlett, Editor of Asian Affairs magazine.
China and the G7

China and the G7


The Japanese prime minister, Fumio Kishida issues regular warnings to the leaders of other G7 countries about risks to international security. His concerns include Russia's invasion of Ukraine, North Korea's growing missile prowess and rising tensions around Taiwan – including Chinese military exercises that involve firing missiles into waters near Japan. In this podcast, regular presenter Duncan Bartlett gives his views on the relationships between Japan, the G7 countries and China. The guest presenter is Paul Hodges, Founder of New Normal Consulting.
Young men in Taiwan must ramp up their battle skills. From 2024, they will be conscripted into the army for a full year. During this time, they will receive training in how to fight at close-quarters battle as well as learning how to fire missiles and operate drones. The government says the training is necessary to deal with a threat from China. But how do young people themselves feel about the issue? Howard Zhang, the Editor of the BBC’s Chinese service, went to Taiwan to find out. He shares his findings with podcast host, Duncan Bartlett.
In 2022, China's population fell by an estimated 850,000 people, triggering dramatic reporting in the media. A headline in The New York Times said it heralded a demographic crisis. Reuters talked of "alarm", while a writer on the South China Morning Post insisted that the demographic shift marked "a watershed moment in Chinese history". In this podcast, Paul Hodges, Founder of New Normal Consulting shares his considered view of the demographic challenges faced by China. He is interviewed by Duncan Bartlett, Editor of Asian Affairs magazine.
The international media asked an important question in November 2022: Is China experiencing the start of a revolution? The debate was sparked by the actions of protesters in many Chinese cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, holding up blank sheets of paper.  Xi Jinping dismissed the so-called "white paper protests" as merely a sign of frustration by students and young people. But soon after they took place, there was a significant change in China's policy towards Covid-19. In this podcast, Professor Yuen Yuen Ang from Johns Hopkins University discusses the significance of the rallies with Duncan Bartlett, Editor of Asian Affairs magazine.
In the view of Japan's Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, East Asia could be the next Ukraine. He has warned that "the situation around Japan is becoming increasingly severe with attempts to unilaterally change the status quo by force." Mr Kishida has two countries in mind: North Korea and Japan’s long-term regional rival, China. The fear is that a war could break out, drawing Japan into the crisis. In this episode, Bill Emmott, Chair of the Japan Society of the UK discusses Japan’s dilemmas with Duncan Bartlett, Editor of Asian Affairs magazine and a former Tokyo correspondent for the BBC.
There is a mood of anxiety as China celebrates the Lunar New Year. With families and friends gathering for a season of feasting, there is a worry that there could be a surge in Covid-19 infections, costing many lives. In late 2022, the Chinese government ended its so-called “Zero-Covid” policy and lifted travel restrictions. In this podcast, Mark Williams, Chief Asia Economist at Capital Economics discusses the outlook for the Spring Festival with host, Duncan Bartlett, Editor of Asian Affairs magazine. 
There would be catastrophic consequences if China invades Taiwan and tries to reunify the island with the mainland by force. Taiwan has said it will fight back with advanced weapons supplied by the US. Joe Biden says the American military would become involved. As well as the human cost, the economic consequences would also be severe. In this podcast, renowned Sinologist Charles Parton considers if economic factors will deter a conflict. The podcast host is Duncan Bartlett, Editor of Asian Affairs.
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