China’s accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001 was greeted with great fanfare. But near silence has greeted the recent removal by the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission of caps on foreign ownership of Chinese financial institutions. For Beijing, the apparent lack of interest might be an issue of too little, too late.
Having built the world’s second-largest economy on the back of its mammoth manufacturing sector, China is now contending with not just environmental problems but also economic obstacles. Policies that make businesses greener can raise costs, and negative impacts on labor must be mitigated.
Carbon pricing has been widely considered for the past 25 years as a useful tool to help combat climate change. Adoption has progressed, but the pace has been glacial. As the U.S. retreats from climate change leadership, China, as shown by its embrace of emissions trading, is stepping in to fill the vacuum.
Australia and New Zealand have long viewed the Pacific Islands as part of their sphere of influence. China’s increasing engagement in the region is now throwing that in doubt. Canberra and Wellington must reconfigure their regional strategies to be more inclusive, and recognize Pacific Island states as sovereign actors in their own right.
In reaction to a seemingly neverending torrent of food safety scandals, an alternative food movement is growing in China. This has implications not just in the country’s food supply system, but also in domestic politics and community-building.
China has often been accused of practicing “debt-trap diplomacy”—miring supposed partners, particularly developing countries, in unsustainable debt-based relationships. But this is a misreading of the issue, and nowhere is this more apparent than in China’s dealings with Venezuela.
Neither scientific progress nor its ability to move society forward is guaranteed. That Earth revolves around the sun seems obvious to us now, but this conclusion came about over 1000 years, taking varying paths in China and Europe. The history of astronomy in these two regions shows us how important political systems are to scientific development.
It is well known that air pollution is harmful to human health. What is much less known is how it specifically affects people over the long term. China’s Huai River policy, which dispensed free coal to northern China for winter heating, has inadvertently revealed to us that air pollution literally shaves years off our lives. But China has made considerable progress in confronting this pollution.
The Dongjiang River, which supplies fresh water to almost 40 million people, is being threatened by pollution. But as new technology parks increasingly replace pig farms and other decaying industries, there could be an opportunity to invent more sustainable solutions—for Guangdong province, Hong Kong, and the world.
The Pan-Asia Railway, meant to stretch from Kunming to Singapore, is seen by China as one of the crown jewels of its Belt and Road Initiative. While the project has seen early success in Laos, stronger Southeast Asian countries are pushing back against Beijing’s plans.
China’s growing appetite for seafood has led to fundamental changes in the global fishing industry, with ramifications for regional security. With every step it takes in fishing policy, the Chinese government must balance its need for food security with environmental and diplomatic concerns.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been a popular topic, and many countries have provided incentives for corporations to contribute more to the public good. China has joined such efforts as part of its campaign to achieve sustainable growth. But more coherent incentives are needed to encourage Chinese businesses to join the party.
China’s Belt and Road Initiative seems to focus on connections with Africa, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe. But the country’s economic future is really in “netware” technology, similar to America’s. Contrary to how BRI is viewed and talked about now, China’s more profitable path actually points, as illuminated by the likes of Alibaba and Tencent, eastward to California.
Mired in demographic crises, East Asia is looking to new reproductive technologies as a solution. But its restrictive, reluctant embrace of these technologies runs counter to evolving social attitudes.
Globalization is not just dominated by big brands. Low-cost knock-offs of popular items such as mobile phones also cross the globe, often from China to the rest of the world. Although it operates below the radar, this trade powers growth.
China has launched its "social credit system," hoping to increase social trust. But when value is calculated by opaque algorithms using vast amounts of personal data, what will happen to China, and indeed, what might it mean for the world?