Due to the National Day holiday, we will not be publishing Chinese Voices next Sunday, but we’ll be back again on 17th October
Professor Feng Shaolei believes that the US withdrawal from Afghanistan reveals the institutional drawbacks of the US-led West. The actions of the US not only prompt its Western allies to reflect on the consequences of following the US, but also provides non-Western countries a framework to think about alternative paths towards independent development. Feng points out that for over two decades, there has been no "reversal of the Nixon process" referring to the joint efforts by the US and Russia to suppress China. The US and its allies initiated a series of major conflicts and crises, such as the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Iraq War, "Color Revolution" movements, conflicts in Ukraine, and the provocation against China in the South China Sea and the East China Sea, all of which have gradually pushed Russia and China closer together. The countries have become increasingly united in advocating for the governance principles of upholding sovereignty and resisting hegemony. This explains why attempts to alienate the two countries have always failed. Facing US confrontation, Eurasian countries join forces in the trend of "new neutrality", as exemplified by Russia's proposal of "new non-alignment." Feng holds that this trend indicates that: firstly, most countries would avoid alignment-based confrontation at all costs. Secondly, all countries and peoples are free to choose their own paths. Thirdly, the "new non-alignment" policy is a pragmatic position that is mutually beneficial for all countries. In line with this trend, the inclusive institutional structure of the Belt and Road Initiative has the most potential for deepening cooperation in Eurasia.
On September 16, China formally applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) trade agreement, an 11-nation trade bloc formed in 2018 after the US's withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) a year earlier. The political hurdles lead to speculation about how likely China will succeed in its CPTPP bid. In an interview, Ding Yifan claims that US allies in the CPTPP such as Japan and Australia may not necessarily block China's application even if they view the country as a “strategic threat”. Japan, the CPTPP's chair this year, has recently reduced negative attitudes towards China's bid for two main reasons. First, CPTPP will help improve Sino-Japanese relations and second, China, being the second largest economy in the world, would represent a big leap in CPTPP expansion. As members of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) – the world's largest trading bloc – Australia would rather that China be restrained by the CPTPP's relatively strict provisions than to block China altogether. Canada and Mexico, however, could pose a challenge for China's application to the CPTPP because of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). This situation could force Canada and Mexico to take sides between China and the US. The USMCA contains a "poison pill" clause requiring any of the three members to notify the others if it wishes to pursue a trade deal with a “non-market economy.” Also, critics outside of China are concerned that China may not be able to pass the threshold for CPTPP standards on cross-border data flow, intellectual property, state-owned enterprises, and other fields. Ding, however, asserts that the "threshold" concerns are mainly a product of Western media's negative portrayal of China. China is leading in data technology across the world and has greatly improved on the protection of intellectual property rights, labor rights, and corporate governance of state-owned enterprises. Hence, China can meet the trade's standards.
China's leading real estate developer Evergrande is faced with a debt crisis. However, this was long anticipated because of the perennial issues in the real estate industry and the government's "working for the best, preparing for the worst" (底线思维 Dǐxiàn sīwéi) approach of mitigating financial risks. Huang Qifan explains that the problems of China's real estate industry lie in five aspects of the supply side, one of which is the highly-leveraged and the highly-indebted business model. For example, in 2019, the average net debt-to-equity ratio among China's top 100 property developers exceeded 100 percent. If the government does not take timely action, some companies, which are too big to fail, will likely lead to systematic financial risks. There are other problems, which include, firstly, the imbalanced land resource supply, with commercial and residential land use only accounting for 15 percent of total land use, far less than industrial land use. The second issue is the high cost of housing. For over ten years, property prices in first-tier cities increased eight to ten times, partly due to the land auction system. Thirdly, some local governments are reliant on land transfer revenues and other property-related taxes, pushing up housing prices. In recent years, 35 percent of total government revenue at all levels is from real estate-related taxes and fees. Lastly, the supply of public and low-rent housing is insufficient, making up only 10 percent of all properties. Huang suggests that reforming the supply side of the industry is necessary to boost the healthy development of the real estate market. Tightening financing control, reducing leverage, and increasing rental housing supply are among the tasks needed to achieve the fundamental objective of everyone's right to housing.
As Meng Wanzhou regains her freedom, the global significance of Huawei's innovative organizational practices should be recognized. According to Song Lei, understanding Huawei only from the perspective of great power competition and technological progress overshadows the significance of its organizational innovation in the industrial world. Song points out that Huawei's "large-scale partnership system" embodies economic democracy: Huawei's shares are owned mainly by its employees, and the founder owns only 1.14 percent of shares. In early 2019, 96,768 of Huawei's more than 100,000 employees held shares, making Huawei a leader in achieving economic democracy among large high-tech enterprises. Huawei's unique internal division of labor creates the ability to absorb ideas from international exchanges, build an income-centered incentive mechanism, adjust the management staff and organizational structure, and rotate the role of CEO, among others. This management method and dynamic optimization of the organizational form are innovative steps Huawei has taken to prevent "big enterprise disease." Additionally, Huawei's practice represents the best use of the "cross-ownership co-opetition" (跨所有制竞合 Kuà suǒyǒuzhì jìng hé) – cooperation and competition – among Chinese enterprises. This refers to the network of inter-enterprise relations among state-owned, private, and foreign enterprises. Song believes that Huawei is developing into a pioneer enterprise that will open up new paths of development for a new generation of enterprises in developing countries.
As Chinese people celebrate the 72nd anniversary of the founding of the PRC, Jiang Longfei's article sheds light on the history of China's national anthem. The film Children of Troubled Times (《风云儿女》 fēng yún ér nǚ) tells a story about the resistance to Japanese invasion. The theme song of this movie, March of the Volunteers (《义勇军进行曲》 yì yǒng jūn jìn xíng qǚ), was adopted as the provisional national anthem on September 27, 1949, just a few days before the PRC's Founding Ceremony. After the outbreak of the September 18 Incident (九一八事变 jiǔ yī bā shì biàn) in 1931 and the Shanghai Incident (淞沪抗战 sōng hù kàng zhàn) in 1932, China's very existence was at stake. In early 1934, Chinese patriots formed an Anti -Japanese Volunteer Army to oppose Japan's invasion. The CPC Shanghai underground organizations founded Diantong Film Company to produce left-wing films aimed at supporting the anti-Japanese movement. After completing the draft for the film, playwright Tian Han (田汉) was arrested by the Kuomintang on charges of "propagating communism." While in prison, he wrote the lyrics of the theme song on a cigarette pack. These words were clandestinely taken out of the prison by his comrade. When composer Nie Er (聂耳) saw the song, he recalled an experience he witnessed on the frontlines of battle against the Japanese. He was inspired to compose the song and completed the draft in one sitting. Sadly, Nie drowned while in exile in Japan at the young age of 23. A grand memorial was held for him by Diantong Film Company on August 16, 1935. The song was finally named March of the Volunteers as Zhu Qinglan (朱庆澜), organizer of the Northeastern Army Volunteer Support Society and investor of the film, added "volunteers" to the original title. Avshalomov, a Soviet composer living in Shanghai at that time, was invited to orchestrate it. Accompanied by trumpets and snare drums, the impassioned melody created by Avshalomov was played at the beginning of the film, greatly inspiring the audiences with the spirit of struggle. From the very first premiere of Children of Trouble Times (1935) to the establishment of the provisional anthem (1949) and the song's inclusion in the Constitution (2004), March of the Volunteers has journeyed the trials and tribulations of the Chinese nation and encapsulates the national spirit.
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