No. 11 | 05.09.2021
Common misunderstandings about achieving carbon neutrality
Liu Ke
Liu Ke (刘科) is an expert on energy, Chair Professor of the Department of Chemistry and Director of the Clean Energy Institute at the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, and former Vice President and CTO of the National Institute of Clean-and-Low-Carbon Energy at the China Energy Group.
How can China achieve carbon neutrality when its carbon emissions reached 10.3 billion tons in 2020, with 92% generated from fossil fuels? In a recent speech, Liu Ke pinpoints common misunderstandings about how to achieve carbon neutrality. In response to the presumption that wind and solar energy can replace thermal power completely, Liu indicates that the annual wind and solar power in the grid system in China can only compensate around 12.5% of coal power generation, and that the supply of solar and wind power is unstable, and we should not hold overly high expectations for the energy-storage technology. On converting carbon dioxide into chemicals, such as cling film and cosmetics, Liu answers with data: even if all chemicals in the entire world were to be made from carbon dioxide, it could only account for 13% of the carbon reduction in petrochemical emissions. Regarding the proposal to capture, recycle, and store carbon dioxide in large quantities, Liu argues that the reliance on the current CCUS (carbon capture, utilization, and storage technology) is neither economical nor fruitful. On the big push towards electric vehicles (EVs), Liu points out that EVs can only partially reduce pollution; for example, much of the electricity used by the eastern region is generated in western areas such as Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang, which bear the carbon emissions from powering the eastern regions. As long as most of the electricity on the grid is still thermal power, electric vehicles will have limited impact on carbon reduction and global climate change. Liu then proposes five applicable approaches for carbon reduction.
It is time for Afghans to create their own destiny
Yue Xiaoyong
Yue Xiaoyong (岳晓勇) is the newly-appointed Chinese Special Envoy for Afghan Affairs He worked as Chinese ambassador to Qatar, Jordan, and Ireland. Eric Li (李世默) is a Chinese venture capitalist and political scientist.
In an interview with Eric Li, Yue Xiaoyong points out that the best strategy for China, as Afghanistan’s neighbor, is to open up dialogue with the Taliban, whether it changes its behavior or not. Yue reveals that China has kept close consultations with Taliban through various channels. For example, Yue participated in the negotiations between Taliban and Afghan former Republican politicians, and the Doha meeting organized by neighbouring countries, including Russia, Pakistan, Iran, and Turkey. The Taliban made a promise to work together with international partners to crackdown on terrorism. China is concerned about how Afghanistan will confront this crisis since the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), the UN-listed terrorist group has been posing an enormous threat to the western border of China and its people. Yue states that China will be more involved in Afghanistan’s peace and reconciliation process, ensuring that the country will not become a cradle and haven for terroristic organizations. China appeals to the international community to learn from the failure of the US in Afghanistan and to respect the sovereignty of other countries and to not interfere in their internal affairs. According to Yue, although Afghanistan is in an emergency situation, it is a unique opportunity for Afghans to create their own destiny.
Understanding the popular “fan club” culture among Chinese youth
Beijing Cultural Review (Wénhuà Zònghéng)
The Beijing Cultural Review (Wénhuà Zònghéng) is a Chinese bimonthly magazine offering high-quality commentary. The magazine is devoted to reframing China’s history and culture, providing a critical view of mainstream Western values, and explaining China’s views on global issues.
The Chinese government issued new regulatory measures to control the chaotic “fan club” culture, or self-organized online communities created to idolize celebrities, espcially those with highest online traffic. These fan clubs have turned in to huge industry with deep impact on the well-being of China’s youth. The rules came after Chinese-Canadian singer Kris Wu (吴亦凡) was arrested for raping a fan, sparking huge online attention. The article explains that the decade-long popularity of “fan club” culture emerged as a result of the intense competition, high pressure, and the lack of dominant social values among teenagers, who turn to “fan clubs” to find collective identity and for self-expression. Built by capital, celebrities become commodities in a profit-centric fan economy. Fans spend massive energy and money, such as getting votes for celebrity rankings to increase hits on social media, buying idol-endorsed products, and organizing offline campaigns to create a positive image of their idols. Unlike the simple chasing of idols in earlier times, the influence of fans on the celebrities has also increased, through constant interaction with idols on social media platforms, such as Weibo. However, due to the fierce competition among idols and capital intervention, fans often behave irrationally, from cyber-bullying to rumor-spreading, creating a “chaotic online phenomenon”. To address the problem, government measures include regulating celebrity agencies, limiting participation of teenagers, banning harmful and violent contents, and restricting marketing activities for excessive consumption, etc. The article suggests that besides the crackdown, it is also necessary to improve the social environment and worldview for teenagers.
How can China’s labor education address the problem of students doing little manual work?
Wang Yuxiang
Wang Yuxiang (王玉香) is a professor and Dean of the School of Politics and Public Management of Shandong Youth University for Political Sciences, where both Yang Ke(杨克) and Wu Lizhong (吴立忠) are professors.
Nearly 30,000 students were surveyed from January to March 2021 by the China Youth and Children Research Center. Entitled “Adolescent Students’ Manual Work Survey”, the study found that the amount of physical work done by school and university students is very limited. More than 85% of the 13,991 respondents in primary and secondary school student group do an average of two hours or less of housework per week. The vast majority of elementary and middle school students know how to do simple housework such as cleaning (96.10%) and washing dishes (84.4%), but very few can do slightly more complex work, such as gardening (27%), and simple maintenance of household items (19.4%). The results of the survey on manual work in schools are similar. From the perspective of labor education (劳动教育Láodòng jiàoyù), family labor education lacks strict rules and school labor education has insufficient incentives, resources, and facilities. Labor education is an important component of the socialist Chinese education system—especially basic education–to teach school students basic manual work skills and educate them to value workers. According to the survey, most university students are extremely reluctant to participate in physical work, preferring mental work instead. According to Wang Yuxiang, Yang Ke, and Wu Lizhong, the great worry is that as students get more educated, they become less willing to do housework and contribute to community programs. The authors call for a greater promotion and awareness of manual labor and creative labor both in family education and school education system.
Why CPC is prioritizing “Common Prosperity”: A historical perspective
Huang Ping
Huang Ping (黄平) is Executive Vice President of the Chinese Institute of Hong Kong, and former Director of the Institutes of American Studies and European Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
In a recent interview, Huang Ping emphasizes the Communist Party of China (CPC) is different from a political party as defined by the Western world. CPC represents the fundamental interests of the people and the country. Huang points out that socialism is the ideal and conviction of the CPC, which cannot be lost. Once lost, capital hegemony, disparity between the rich and the poor, corruption, and even splitting of the country will become justified. Meanwhile, common prosperity is the ultimate goal of the achievement of a great modern socialist country. Recognizing the need to address the still-low living standards in China in the early years of reform era, Deng Xiaoping declared that “poverty is not socialism” (1978) and that “development is the absolute principle”(1992, 发展是硬道理 Fāzhǎn shì yìng dàolǐ). He also emphasized that “the essence of socialism is to liberate and develop the productive forces, eliminate exploitation and polarization, and finally achieve common prosperity”, and therefore “if our policy led to polarization, it would mean that we had failed.”Huang thus observes that China has been centering economic construction over the past 40 years, having made huge strides in development and eradicated absolute poverty. Meanwhile, China has never abandoned the commitment to socialism and to the people, namely through the goal of achieving “common prosperity”. In order to address relative poverty, according to Huang, the country needs to remove the new “four big mountains” burdening the Chinese people: education, healthcare, housing, and pensions. The failure to solve such problems or solve them properly would greatly discourage many patriotic youth from striving for socialist modernization and national rejuvenation. Re-emphasizing the goal of common prosperity by the CPC’s top leaders aims to address these issues.

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