Dance with the dragon
China is being increasingly associated with the fire-breathing dragon, which in Western mythology was usually regarded as a monster that had to be destroyed. Such fire dragons also exist in Asia. But the East Asian dragon is an ambivalent creature with predominantly positive qualities: a symbol of fertility, of wealth, auspiciousness, goodness and intelligence – and of imperial power.
Similarly ambivalent is the brand name ‘Belt and Road’, which stands for world-wide infrastructure development, billion-dollar investments and integration into a “community with a shared future”. On one hand, it promises ‘New Silk Roads’, linking it to a historical, supposedly Golden Age of an equitable, flourishing interchange between China and Europe. On the other hand, it is being interpreted as a seductive web in which participating countries become entangled and dependent on Beijing’s power ambitions.
China’s global reach in all areas has long since progressed to the point where the dance with the dragon is in full swing. The music for it is currently being written by a wide variety of composers. One of the basic rules for this dance: don’t step too firmly on the dragon’s feet.
- Beijing reports boom in foreign tradeChina’s authorities report soaring foreign trade figures, despite of the on-going Corona pandemic. A further shift towards the BRI countries is emerging, a trend that plays into the narrative of the ‘Dual Circulation Strategy’ announced this summer. This “new development model” intends, on the one hand, to further enhance the internal economy, while ‘external circulation’ refers to further integration into the global economy through foreign trade and investments.
- Newsletter October 2021Contents: Posts: Coal Phase-out top down; Kohleausstieg ‘par ordre de mufti’ News: ASEAN’s emergent key role; China and Europe: Cooperation in Africa; „Global Gateway“ – Europe’s connectivity competition; Update: Compensation for “no more coal-fired plants abroad” Readings: How ‘multilateral’ is the AIIB?; Global Perspectives on China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
- Coal phase-out ‘par ordre de mufti’President Xi Jinping’s announcement at the UN General Assembly in September that China will not build any new coal-fired power plants abroad in the future has given the international climate community new hope for an accelerated reduction of CO2 emissions worldwide, like the mirage of an oasis to the thirsty wanderers in the Sahara. For a real energy transition in the countries of the Global South, however, this is only one – albeit important – piece of the puzzle.
- Newsletter September 2021Contents: Blogs: Xi Jinping: “No new coal power abroad” (Guest post by Tom Baxter) / Newsletter August 2021 News: Myanmar: Moving closer to the military regime Readings: Debt debate: Digging into a ‘Black Hole’.
- “No new coal power abroad”Advocates have been doing everything they can for years to stop the construction of new coal power plants. Xi Jinping’s announcement could bring an end to China’s position as the world’s largest and last major public financial backer and builder of coal fired power plants overseas.
- Newsletter August 2021Contents: Blog post: The Risks of worker’s unrest; News: „Greening“ Belt & Road; Beijings human rights offensive; Readings: Overseas investments and human rights; Public perceptions of BRI and sustainability.