3th March Highlights

China’s Arctic Dream, investment along the Belt and Road, a constitutional change in China and a broken tooth.

Chinese president Xi Jinping in 2015 (Source: Ng Han Guan, File/Associated Press)

Academic exposure: China’s Arctic Dream

Amid the blistering cold that has struck Europe in recent days, The Washington Post suggested that the Arctic has become a go-to destination. The Centre for Strategic and International Studies, in their report, demonstrates that China has indeed followed that advice. China’s forays into the Arctic have already been discussed on this website. However, the report offers a handy guide to the country’s polar ambitions, its organizing principles and good governance.

Heather A. Conley is Senior Vice President for Europe, Eurasia, and the Arctic; and Director of the Europe Program at the Centre for Strategic & International Studies.

Expert view: China’s Asymmetric FDI Policies

In this articlec Grzegorz Stec looks at win-win, China’s buzzword for globalisation. Highlighting the asymmetry between outward and inward Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows, the author demonstrates the absence of a level playing field.

As to the impact on the Belt and Road, Mr Stec notes:

With this growing backlash against Chinese investors, motivated by both security concerns and the lack of reciprocity, the Chinese government must ask themselves what this means for the prospects of BRI. Core to the BRI is enabling Chinese firms to find new markets abroad; to both sell goods and construct overseas infrastructure. If more countries begin to shield themselves against Chinese economic expansionism, then this core objective would become much harder to achieve. Moreover, the ability for Chinese companies to acquire know-how and catch-up technologically with foreign competitors would be greatly slowed down and hinder the aims of the “Made in China 2025” strategy.

Grzegorz Stec is an Associate Researcher at European Institute for Asian Studies (EIAS) in Brussels and a Yenching Scholar at Peking University. He is a co-founder of beltandroad.blog.

Biggest news: China moves to let Xi stay in power

Presumably the biggest news item this week comes from China’s domestic front. On 25 February, Xinhua announced the Chinese Communist Party’s proposal to amend the country’s constitution. The changes, translated into English by NPC Observer, would allow for the Chinese president to stay on beyond the current two-term limit. As Shannon Tiezzi writes:

Xi’s power ultimately does not stem from his title as president of the People’s Republic of China. Rather, Xi’s power comes from his position of general secretary of the CCP – and, notably, there are no formal term limits on this position. So if Xi could keep the more powerful position, why not spare himself the trouble of actually amending the constitution by simply allowing a figurehead to occupy the presidency?

Indeed, why would Xi Jinping prefer to stay on as president beyond his current term which lasts until 2022? As the author demonstrates, the impetus comes from diplomatic considerations. Being the international face of China, this change would be in tandem with the fact that president Xi has promoted a global role for the country.

Equally interesting are reports that the roles of president and vice-president may be revamped. The constitutional amendments may thus signal a greater role for both the president and the VP on the foreign policy front. Here, the former anti-corruption chief Wang Qishan is at the centre of this speculation. Many China watchers may be reminded to the rumours in the run-up to the 19th Party Congress.

However the changes may turn out to be, this week’s news shows a profound change in the institutionalisation of leadership transition as laid out by Deng Xiaoping.

To read over breakfast: ‘Broken Tooth Koi’ offers to provide Belt and Road muscle

Former Macau Triad leader Wan “Broken Tooth” Kuok-Koi, wants to provide security for Chinese business along the new silk roads. In a video clip, Mr Wan stated that he wants to establish a patriotic private entity, a hongmen, to “promote national policy and assist in whatever way for peaceful and united cross-straits relations.”

An interesting read indeed…

In other news:

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