June 16th Highlights

Coercive Economics, Calichina, the Nuclear Summit, and a Digital Silk Road

Kim Jong-won? (Source: Independent)

Academic Exposure: China’s Use of Coercive Economic Measures

This report by the Center for a New American Security delves into China’s Belt and Road and its use of economic measures as foreign policy tools. Similarly, these article at The Diplomat and the Italian Institute for International Political Studies also look at the consequences for American grand strategy and the international order.

Expert View: Belt and Road’s Future Lies in California

Arguing counter to the westbound features of the Belt and Road, professor Salvatore Babones argues that the project’s real future lies with China’s growth centres that stretch eastwards to California. Comparing the Khorgos Gateway – one of the BRI’s “shining gems” – with “Shanghai’s flashy Pudong skyline,” Babones makes clear that China’s tech companies are the ones driving China’s technological innovation and economic growth.

Invoking his concept of ‘Calichina’ – the fact that the iPhone’s ecosystem is manufactured along the shores of the Pacific – Babones thus lay out a vision that is counterfactual to many of the earlier writings about the BRI. This argument the author has already made earlier in an article about China’s polar ambitions and the inconvenient map of Eurasia.

Biggest News: The Nuclear Summit

With both fire and fury simmering down, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un officially met in Singapore on June 12. The summit – which was cancelled and then rebooted in a matter of days – ended a year of hostilities between the two sides. This summit was Trump’s Nixon moment and Evan Osnos at The New Yorker wrote an excellent piece about it. Quoting professor John Delury, the article reads: “it’s impossible not to hear echoes of Deng.” Indeed, but then another question is: what are the consequences for China? Is it really the biggest winner of this summit?

To Read over Breakfast: A Digital Silk Road

The Chinese city of Xi’an – once a bustling hub on the ancient Silk Road – wants to reclaim its central position on today’s Belt and Road by building a “digital silk road” (网上丝绸之路) rivalling America’s Silicon Valley or India’s Bangalore. This Economist article certainly is an interesting read about Xi’an’s efforts to attract tech firms.

In Other News:

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