China’s international agriculture investments represent more than a quest for food security. They are a bellwether of the economy and an indication of the competition and collaboration between state-owned and private enterprise, domestic and international actors, and even rival businesses. As protectionism and nationalism impinge more and more on global trade, Chinese direct investment in the food sector will become more agile and diversified, writes Thomas David DuBois, who conducted his research as a visiting fellow at the Fudan University Development Institute in Shanghai.
As China embraces the digital economy, subcontracting—the practice of using intermediaries to contract workers, whether through agencies or other multilayered contracting—is raising new challenges over legal protections and corporate responsibility, as well as labor unrest.
The worldwide debate over more environmentally friendly energy is replete with myths that slow down the uptake of renewables. In fact, renewable energy is increasingly competitive, and the transition is entirely feasible for ASEAN countries today.
The fashion industry's supply chain no longer meets the expectations of society and business stakeholders. More digitalization promises to bring more efficiency and transparency. But fashion factories must also foster an open culture that encourages learning and that engages workers in the process.
Businesses also incur massive human and economic costs during natural disasters. They can reduce these costs by diversifying geographically and technologically.
Extensive and intensive agriculture is being questioned in various parts of the world for its environmental and social costs. But in China, a series of food safety scandals have led the Chinese dairy industry to move towards large integrated farms run by a handful of mega-producers.
The age of AI and automation is upon us. This may be music to the ears of technologists, businesses, and investors, but Asia’s factory workers will be severely affected when computers and robots take over labor-intensive jobs. To help workers navigate the new economy, governments and businesses should invest in social safety net programs and education.