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.
- Central Asia: Forward Defence of FreedomThe Euro-transatlantic view of the Russian invasion of Ukraine largely ignores its significance for Central Asia. The Kremlin’s martial stop signal for further NATO expansion should probably also send a message to Russia’s eastern neighbours: We are still capable of defending our sphere of influence and interests in the region. The outcome of the Ukraine war is therefore also of decisive importance for the future credibility of this claim.
- Newsletter October 2022CONTENTS: Posts: Upgrade for Belt&Road to BRI 3.0? / The Dance Around China’s Overseas Projects // News: Russland und China bauen Brücken in Fernost / Mongolei: Kooperation mit Skylla und Charybdis // Countercurrents: China-Watch / Environmental Justice Atlas / Internationale Solidarität mit ‚Riders’ in China // Reviews: Redefining Asia as ‚Indo-Pacific’
- Upgrade for Belt&Road to BRI 3.0?In the report of General Secretary Xi Jinping for the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, Belt&Road was only mentioned in passing. Even in the speeches of other top politicians, the former flagship project, with which the government in Beijing has stirred up the global development discourse since 2013, hardly figures anymore. Some observers therefore already want to declare BRI dead.
- The Dance Around China’s Overseas ProjectsChina dominates the world in its overseas development finance into power plants, mines, dams, and other infrastructure. However, while many projects sail through, a good many get stalled. The results have less to do with Beijing and more with the strength of the host country partners. There is a complex dance between governments, elites, and bureaucrats to win the best “deal” with China, including Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects. These deals may benefit not just the economy, but also may empower one of these three actors.
- Newsletter August/September 2022CONTENTS: Posts: USA-China: Freunde verzweifelt gesucht / USA-China: Striving for friends // News: Warnung vor Abhängigkeit von Rohstoffen aus China / Die Züge rollen – trotz Krieg // Countercurrents: Proteste in Kambodscha gegen Digitale Seidenstraße // Readings: China in the Americas / Internationalisierung des chinesischen Ordnungsmodells?
- USA-China: Striving for friendsApplying the principle ‘winner takes all’ to the competition between China and the USA would probably mean, according to widespread view, that the one of them takes over world hegemony, either ‘authoritarian’ or ‘free’. However, the situation is far from that point, and the battle between the two rivals is continuing to rage unabated.