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AsiaGlobal Voices

Trending Opinions From Across the Region

AsiaGlobal Voices is a curated feed of summaries of opinion articles, columns and editorials published in local languages in media from across Asia.

The publication of AsiaGlobal Voices summaries does not indicate any endorsement by the Asia Global Institute or AsiaGlobal Online of the opinions expressed in them.
Strengthening China-Africa Ties in the Face of Covid-19 Challenges
Thursday, May 7, 2020
Strengthening China-Africa Ties in the Face of Covid-19 Challenges

Liu Zhaoyi, Director, South Africa Branch, Institute of African Studies, Zhejiang Normal University, in Global Times (April 30, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: GCIS, Republic of South Africa)

Strengthening China-Africa Ties in the Face of Covid-19 Challenges

The spread of Covid-19 across Africa has coincided with some negative comments against China in African media and on local social media platforms. These include conspiracy theories about the origin of the virus and claims that China is using aid to further control Africa.

The West, meanwhile, is waging a smear campaign against China by bandying terms such as “neo-colonialism” and “resource plundering”. These slurs have intensified during the Covid-19 crisis, influencing public opinion, particularly in the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa. Mainstream media in the West inevitably drown out Chinese voices. To counter this, China needs to consider the following:

First, the attitudes and policies of African governments towards China evolve with the external situation. As governments again look to maximize their own interests, the re-emergence of business pragmatism will prompt governments to repair their relationship with China.

Second, even with provocation from the West, there is no real anti-China wave in Africa. Rather, any acrimony is a result of emotions stemming from mounting economic pressure. This issue will eventually fade.

Third, some African politicians have the politicized the epidemic. Yet the African people remain kind hearted, even though public opinion may have been swayed by simplistic messages from external forces.

Fourth, the epidemic has made China-Africa bilateral research institutes, think tanks, non-governmental organizations and institutions realize that exchanges cannot rely on seminars and workshops. Instead, Chinese actors should come to Africa with clear goals, better planning and long-term strategies.

Finally, the importance of youth should not be overlooked. Chinese youth can show the next generation of young Africans that China is not just powerful and wealthy but can still relate to Africa on many levels and issues such as poverty alleviation, employment and development. China and Africa can therefore face common challenges and solve problems together.


Looking to the Future and Preparing for the Post-Epidemic Era
Friday, May 1, 2020
Looking to the Future and Preparing for the Post-Epidemic Era

He Shuquan, Professor, School of Economics, Shanghai University, in Guangming Daily (April 28, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Magda Ehlers/Pexels)

Looking to the Future and Preparing for the Post-Epidemic Era

The Covid-19 outbreak has had a huge economic impact on all countries around the world. After the pandemic, while globalization and global value chains will exhibit new trends of development, the fundamentals will not change.

First, Covid-19 has emerged at a time when global value and supply chains are deeply interconnected. As a result, the social and economic impact on countries affected by the virus will be more extensive.

Second, today's global production network and value chains have made the international trading system more and more complicated. Local demand-side and supply-side shocks can quickly spread to other countries, industries and sectors across the global value chain. Meanwhile, the negative impact on companies will also affect the global financial market.

Third, unlike previous economic and financial crises, the cause of the turmoil originated from outside the economic system. This means that the strength and resilience of various sectors and firms will determine their comparative advantages going forward.

Fourth, while the digital economy has shown an impressive rise and become a new hotspot for industrial development, the fundamentals of economic globalization and global value chains will not change. The physical manufacturing capacity of each country alongside the core competitiveness of firms will remain the key factors that support economic growth and development.

Finally, national public-health security will become a more important part of the business environment and a factor in international competitiveness. Multinational companies will pay greater attention to a host country's medical and public-health system as well as the government's ability to respond to epidemics. In addition, firms will put more focus on the resilience of supply chains.

In sum, opportunities are always reserved for those who are prepared. The epidemic will pass, but we must take a long-term perspective and prepare for the post-epidemic era.


A Fast – and Slow – Post-Crisis Economic Recovery
Friday, April 17, 2020
A Fast – and Slow – Post-Crisis Economic Recovery

Wu Ge, Chief Economist at Changjiang Securities, in Caixin (April 16, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory

A Fast – and Slow – Post-Crisis Economic Recovery

While a threat remains from imported cases and asymptomatic infections from abroad, China's Covid-19 epidemic situation has now been effectively controlled. With the country gradually returning to work, what will the economic recovery look like and what are the limitations?

China's important industries such as real estate and automobiles are starting to show signs of recovery from the stark lows reached during the first quarter. Services such as the food-and-beverage sector continue to struggle, with demand at around only half what it was at the beginning of the year. Nevertheless, there are still some positive signs of recovery. Furthermore, while domestic demand remains sluggish, there are signs that a broader slow-but-steady recovery is underway.

The economic impact of the Covid-19 virus spans both supply and demand. With the steady resumption of economic activity, labor and other supply factors have subsequently improved. In contrast, the sharp drop in the number of orders combined with the rise in the unemployment has resulted in a contraction of demand, leading to a wider economic recession. Falls of both China’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Producer Price Index PPI support this trend.

The speed of the economic recovery will depend largely on the success of countercyclical adjustment efforts. It is, however, also inevitable that other major economies will attempt to address their respective economic shocks. As such, to hedge against the severe challenges stemming from a drop in external demand and a broader global economic downturn, an expansion of China’s domestic credit will need to take place. Based on the evidence so far, the economic recovery will be an unbalanced process as domestic demand will be higher than external demand, while capital-intensive industries continue to recover faster than labor-intensive ones.


International Cooperation is the Only Way to Tackle the Global Crisis
Wednesday, April 15, 2020
International Cooperation is the Only Way to Tackle the Global Crisis

Da Wei, Assistant President and Professor, University of International Relations, in The Global Times (April 8, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: US Department of Defense/Glenn Fawcett)

International Cooperation is the Only Way to Tackle the Global Crisis

The Covid-19 pandemic has become the "first global crisis" in human history. Four major factors distinguish this crisis from previous events.

First, unlike terrorist attacks or war, this crisis stems from nature rather than the decisions or actions of people. Second, unlike US-centered incidents such as 9/11 or the 2008 financial crisis, the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the three major economic regions in the world: East Asia, North America and Western Europe, and spread to nearly 200 countries with more than 3 billion people now under lockdown. Third, in terms of duration, humans may have to coexist with this crisis before anti-viral drugs or a vaccine is successfully developed. Fourth, unlike the 1918-20 flu pandemic, this one has spread through modern societies that are highly globalized and interdependent. This interdependence has led to wider political, economic and social shocks resulting in an unpredictable "butterfly effect".

This pandemic is the first global crisis facing humanity, threatening not just countries but mankind as a whole. Some experts regard this crisis as a precursor to the looming climate crisis. How we deal with today’s global crisis will determine to a large extent how we respond to the next one.

Experts on Sino-US relations have often joked that only an alien invasion would prompt relations to return to its previous level of cooperation. Today, the "alien" has arrived in the form of a virus. At this historic juncture, China and the United States have no choice but to cooperate. Fortunately, Sino-US relations have already started to show signs of improvement with some positive momentum towards closer cooperation. Both China and the United States must urgently put aside politics and instead strengthen bilateral action. Cooperation is essential in tackling the first global crisis in human history.


The Global Economic Depression is Real
Tuesday, April 14, 2020
The Global Economic Depression is Real

Jin Keyu, Associate Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics (LSE), in Caixin (April 10, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory

The Global Economic Depression is Real

Economists are already comparing the current economic downturn to the Great Depression of the 1930s. The main difference is that this one took just three weeks rather than three years to play out.

The notion of a mild recession and a strong V-shaped recovery has now been abandoned, and the economic outlook grows grimmer by the day. We now face a virtual complete halt to all economic activity. The question is: How long will this last? The longer the recession, the lower the long-run growth trend will be. Many jobs that have been destroyed will never come back again. No one can say anything with certainty at this point as we have insufficient information about three things:

First, whether the pandemic can be suppressed. Nobody can say with confidence if current mitigation strategies will be effective. Second, whether there will be another wave of infections in the autumn. We cannot rule this out, even in China, and this raises questions about how long borders can feasibly remain closed. Third, whether government policies around the world will be effective. The optimistic scenario assumes that all of the right policies are in place – health, monetary and fiscal policies in the major economies in the world must work in concert without any disruption.

The unlimited amounts of quantitative easing and liquidity promised by the European and American governments are absolutely necessary. They suggest governments are preparing for the situation to get worse. As such, these aggressive policies are an alarming sign of what is to come. In addition, stagflation and inflation are not unreasonable risks to expect not only in China but also around the world.

Nevertheless, these expectations can change as new data comes in. After all, it is the virus that determines the timeline, not economists.


Covid-19 Has Changed Global Politics
Thursday, April 2, 2020
Covid-19 Has Changed Global Politics

Zhu Feng, Dean of the School of International Relations, Nanjing University, in Global Times (March 30, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Number 10)

Covid-19 Has Changed Global Politics

The global spread of Covid-19 virus is intensifying and threatens to trigger a global recession as well as political and civil unrest. As a result, the virus will bring major changes to global political and economic conditions.

These changes, however, will not stem from the virus itself but rather from the actions of the major nations that have been severely affected. States around the world must carefully review and learn from the way that other countries have managed the epidemic. The most important factor has been the concentration of state power. Nationalism has now become the key tool in tackling the virus.

In the post-virus era, the neo-statism that has emerged because of the pandemic will likely continue for a period of time to ensure the adjustment and development of various resources and people's livelihoods. While the system of international and regional governance will not be destroyed, it will have to adjust to this new statist approach.

While the United Nations global -governance mechanism has also been affected, its central role in international affairs remains irreplaceable. In particular, the role of World Health Organization (WHO) and other UN agencies in formulating and implementing rules and regulations related to biosafety and public health will become more paramount.

While a global economic recession is now inevitable, the structure of economic globalization means that countries should continue to maintain confidence in the global industrial supply chains even during the severe period of the pandemic. Looking ahead, it will be crucial to reduce the structural and regulatory shocks to the global economy. The recent statement by the G20 leaders has pointed the right direction with its emphasis on the need for countries to coordinate policies and strengthen cooperation.


Framework Urgently Required for Regulating Wild Animal Consumption
Thursday, March 12, 2020
Framework Urgently Required for Regulating Wild Animal Consumption

Yang Sanxi, media commentator, in Guancha Syndicate (March 10, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory

Framework Urgently Required for Regulating Wild Animal Consumption

The Covid-19 outbreak has drawn public attention to the source of the virus: wild animals. Many wild animals carry viruses, bacteria, parasites and other organisms, which could endanger human health. Consumption of wild animals is not only a dangerous habit but can destroy the balance of the ecological environment. Unsurprisingly, the recent complete ban on consumption of wild animals by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress has received widespread public support.

The ban, however, has also generated some controversy over exactly which animals can still be farmed and eaten, especially regarding amphibians such as turtles, soft-shelled turtles and frogs, which remain common delicacies across China. The question affects many citizens who are employed in the food sector, as well as millions of farmers. 

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs has provided an official answer to whether bullfrogs and soft-shelled turtles can still be eaten following the banning wild animal consumption. These animals have been included in a list of Protected Economic Aquatic Animals and Plants Resources under State Protection and can therefore be cultured and eaten in accordance with the management of aquatic species. 

This example shows why a framework is urgently needed to identify exactly which wildlife are banned and to ensure that those that are indeed safe to eat will not be mistakenly included in this category. As such, all localities and relevant departments should further clarify the relevant standards and scientific factors needed to determine the scope of the ban. This will help ensure strict compliance to the new regulations as well as preventing any unnecessary loss to economic livelihoods. In addition, it will be necessary to continue strengthening the inspection of the farming bullfrogs, soft-shelled turtles and so on to improve health and safety supervision.



Prevention and Control of Covid-19 Requires Blocking the Import of Cases
Tuesday, March 10, 2020
Prevention and Control of Covid-19 Requires Blocking the Import of Cases

Wang Lixiang, Chairman of the Health Culture Committee of the China Health Association, in Global Times (March 6, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Ptrump16)

Prevention and Control of Covid-19 Requires Blocking the Import of Cases

China's handling of the Covid-19 outbreak has already achieved steady results. The situation overseas, however, is indicating a clear and rapid upward trend. Meanwhile, several overseas imported cases are beginning to appear across China. Considering such a severe situation, three key measures should be implemented to win the global fight against the virus.

First, implement a pre-entry health notification system. This would involve visitors providing certificates of good health from the health agency of their country of origin. In addition, all visitors should strengthen their sense of responsibility and self-control by truthfully reporting their health condition honestly to authorities.

Second, screening measures during entry should be enhanced through the implementation of a health review system. Border authorities must perform a complete inspection of health declarations for all people entering and exiting the country, while strictly carrying out temperature monitoring and conducting medical inspections utilizing face-recognition technology. 

Third, an isolation system must be enforced with a strict 14-day centralized quarantine for those from countries with severe epidemics. While guided by scientific principles of prevention and control, this must fully respect the reasonable demands of visitors, while taking account of their religion and customs. Technologies such as mobile applications should be deployed to track the movement of visitors to maximize the protection of vulnerable groups. 

China, alongside other countries, have already taken measures to reduce the frequency of flights between Japan and South Korea. It is necessary to observe closely the epidemic situation in the United States and Europe with timely adjustments made to the measures taken to monitor and control foreign visitors to China.


Tsai Ing-Wen’s Re-election is Just a “Storm in a Teacup”
Friday, January 17, 2020
Tsai Ing-Wen’s Re-election is Just a “Storm in a Teacup”

Wang Heting, Associate Professor in the School of Politics and Public Management at Henan Normal University, in Beijing Daily (14 January 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory

Tsai Ing-Wen’s Re-election is Just a “Storm in a Teacup”

Tsai Ing-Wen’s successful re-election as Taiwan’s president on January 11, 2020, was inconsistent with the expectations of many people. However, from a long-term perspective, Tsai’s win is nothing but a “storm in a teacup” in the sense that it does not deviate from Taiwan’s political development. Nor will it change the fact that Taiwan is part of China or stop the historical trend towards unification.

Tsai Ing-Wen's re-election was due to several factors, namely, external interference from the United States and lingering influence from Hong Kong’s anti-extradition law movement and its Hong Kong independence figures, which has been subsequently exploited by the Tsai’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for political gain. Through these factors, Taiwan’s political environment and electoral campaign have become both hostile and polarised, overlooking the needs of the voters. As a result, the election is only a victory for the DPP and not for Taiwanese compatriots.

However, despite the DPP’s victory, progress towards the motherland’s reunification will not weaken. In recent years, owing to the increasing strength of the mainland’s economy, reunification remains in reach. In addition, Taiwanese society’s view towards cross-strait relations and perception of the mainland have been steadily improving. As such, Taiwanese society now understands the necessity of unification.

Today, the conditions for advancing reunification are unprecedented. However, it will be necessary to continue strengthening international support for the “one China” principle and ensure false signals are not sent to Taiwan pro-independence forces. Even more importantly, the deepening of cross-strait integration will be necessary to expand the path towards peaceful reunification.


The US-Iran Conflict: What Should China Do?
Friday, January 10, 2020
The US-Iran Conflict: What Should China Do?

Zhan Hao, investor and author, in Aigupiao (January 7, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory

The US-Iran Conflict: What Should China Do?

Following the assassination of Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani on January 3, US-Iran relations have deteriorated. Over the next few years, strategic relations will be confrontational with limited room for improvement. Therefore, in this context, there are two scenarios that China should consider in shaping its response:

1. Direct military conflict between the US and Iran

The odds for this happening are low, as neither the US and Iran can afford to take such a systemic risk. In the small chance that there is a war, the global economy will be severely hit, with trade and commerce, including the crude-oil supply, disrupted. For China, it will be important to strengthen energy-supply guarantees, as well as bolster economic relations with neighboring countries. Furthermore, a US-Iran war may prove to be good time to reunify with Taiwan due to weakening US assistance to Taipei. Ultimately, if direct military conflict does break out, China must take full advantage of the situation and not allow the US to defeat Iran. 

2. An ongoing confrontation

While China should not allow the US to overthrow the regime in Tehran, it also should not fight on behalf of Iran, as China has no core interests in the country. However, China should strategically strengthen its cooperation with all parties in the Middle East, especially as the US is currently in a position where its global hegemony is increasingly difficult to maintain. China, on the contrary, is growing stronger and this is reflected in its increasing global influence, which will continue to expand as China maintains its strategic strength.

Based on these scenarios, China must remain focused and plan accordingly. China will have to maintain strategic flexibility and keep up with the ever-evolving international situation.


In US-China Relations, Time will not Wait – Seize Every Moment
Friday, January 3, 2020
In US-China Relations, Time will not Wait – Seize Every Moment

Guo Jiping (a pen name) in People’s Daily (December 31, 2019)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory

In US-China Relations, Time will not Wait – Seize Every Moment

The phase-one trade deal reached between China and the US will be beneficial not only for China and the US but also for peace and prosperity around the world.

In December 2019, China and the US reached a phase-one trade deal on the basis of equality and mutual respect. On both sides of the Pacific Ocean, and the world as a whole, markets responded positively. While challenges are inevitable in international relations, only cooperation and mutual promotion, rather than confrontation and containment, can make relations last.

As economics and technology continue to make the world more integrated, China and the US are seeing their interests increasingly intertwined. While disputes are a normal part of cooperation, supremacy cannot overthrow justice and rationality. As such, cooperation is always the best choice. China, facing the US-initiated trade war, will never surrender to any form of pressure, and remains devoted to safeguarding its core national interests. In addition, China is committed to resolving issues through dialogue, properly handling differences while seeking common ground, and overcoming obstacles with practical solutions.

Improvements in relations between the China and the US over the past 40 years help to demonstrate that working to create opportunities and maximizing common interests between China and the US is the right approach. Furthermore, working towards the common good of the world is the most worthwhile cause. The phase-one trade deal illustrates that, if China and the US remain committed to win-win cooperation while respecting each other’s national dignity, sovereignty and core interests, they can overcome any form of difficulty. Only through the strengthening of relations will both countries and their people be able to benefit.