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.
- Triple Catch-22 with MyanmarOne year after the coup in Myanmar, the brutality of the military regime is growing, but so is armed resistance. And civilian protests are also still going on. For Beijing, the situation is becoming increasingly uncomfortable: comments and assessments on the anniversary show that the Gordian knot has, if anything, become even more tangled.
- The “Digital Silk Road” in Central AsiaIn 2015, the People’s Republic of China proposed the so-called “Digital Silk Road” initiative (DSR) in 2015. The scale of Chinese investment is testament to the government’s immense interest in the project. According to data gathered by the International Institute of Strategic Studies, China is currently participating in digital infrastructure projects in around 80 countries, and has already invested some 79 billion US dollars in DSR schemes worldwide.
- Kazakhstan: Putting out the fuseThe situation in Kazakhstan these days is rather obscure: Popular discontent and/or prelude to a ‘colour revolution’ and/or “foreign terrorists” and/or internal coup and/or ….? One thing, however, is clear: After Myanmar, Kyrgyzstan and other countries, they show once again how vulnerable China is. And the fossil economy plays a key role: Oil and gas remain explosive.
- Newsletter December 2021CONTENTS: Posts: ‘Dual Circulation Strategy’: China’s „new development model“ / Numbers mystique at ChinAfrica Forum // News: Europe’ response to Belt&Road: ‘Global Gateway’ / 20th Anniversary of China’s accession to the World Trade Organisation / Debt debate: Highway to Disinformation? / Frigate ‚Bayern’ demonstrates to Beijing where the hammer is hanging // Readings: Changes in Beijing’s economic involvement: Adaptation and Agency.
- Numbers mystique at ChinAfrica ForumIf the ‘8th Forum on China Africa Cooperation’ at the end of November was an indicator of the intensified competition between the United States, Europe and China for Africa, Beijing kept a fairly low profile. The limited media attention given to the meeting, which was scheduled only at the ministerial level, gives the impression that most observers wanted to quickly and graciously spread the cloak of silence over FOCAC8 and its results.
- China’s „new development model“With the ‘Dual Circulation Strategy’ (DCS), the government in Beijing has once again thrown a stone into the water to test the effects of the announcement. However, after a few critical articles, the international discussion has remained surprisingly quiet. Yet the deliberations could have far-reaching implications for further globalization and China’s leading role in it.