March 25, 2015 |
Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter
21st Century China Opinion
Yes, Virginia, there has been economic reform
From the source

Source: Barclays
Our take

The following was adapted from "Is There a 'Xi Model' of Economic Reform? Acceleration of Economic Reform since Fall 2014" by 21st Century China Program scholar Barry Naughton. It appears in the latest edition of the China Leadership Monitor, published by Stanford University's Hoover Institution, which can be found here


Within the jumble of disparate policy elements in the Xi agenda, in the latter part of 2014 there was a substantial shift in relative importance of economic reforms. In the space of a few months, and with little fanfare, Beijing policy-makers introduced the following three economic reform policy packages: 


a) A program was adopted to divorce local government finances from the corporate "local government funding vehicles" that have been piling up debt since the global financial crisis. This policy includes capping local debt and reclassifying and restructuring debt into public debt (essentially "municipal bonds") and corporate debt (including for companies that produce public services).

b) A new system of property rights was introduced for agricultural land that provides protection to farmers and a clear system to support renting, leasing and mortgaging land.

c) At the APEC Leaders' Summit in Beijing last November, China undertook new commitments in a range of international negotiations, including completing free-trade agreements with Korea and Australia, and moving forward in agreements with the United States. Taken cumulatively, they amounted to an important shift toward a more open economic regime, particularly since complementary domestic policy steps were also taken. 


Each of these policy initiatives addresses fundamental aspects of the economic system. In some cases - such as land rights - the new measures address contentious political or theoretical issues that have defeated efforts at resolution for a decade or more. Each of the policy initiatives has opposition, so the top political leadership must have expended political capital, either in overwhelming the opponents, or in working out political deals that would bring them on board. 


Field Notes from China:
Selections from
Chinese-language Media

One Olympics Wasn't Enough

SummaryChina's successful hosting of the 2008 Olympics was its "coming out party," as the phrase went at the time. Not only did it give Beijing a venue to control the narrative of the country's rise to the outside world, it was a massive boost of confidence for the Chinese people, who for more than one century had lived with the narrative of foreign encroachment and humiliation. Now that China has gotten a taste of Olympic glory, they seem to want to try it again, and have put in a bid for the 2022 winter games. A recent editorial by The Global Times, excerpted below, tries to beat back those who think that one Olympics was enough. 


Excerpt from the story: "Whether it's the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank or our bid for the 2022 Olympic Games, China has taken the initiative in opening itself to the outside world and spurring integration. Such an initiative will benefit the country itself, as well as the world. China's place at the center of the world stage requires the world's acknowledgement. China should also have a clear goal of what it can achieve. Besides the Olympic Games and international events such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting and the G20, China's opening-up needs more in-depth explorations.

The run up to 2022 is a key period for North China to curb air pollution. If the 2022 Winter Olympic Games are to be held there, the preparation process and pollution management efforts will boost each other, enhancing the Olympic spirit. We hope that the bid is successful and that China will retain its desire to continue to open-up to the outside world. Solving problems is part of the process of China's growing, and this is how we avoid potential crises."


Source: 环球时报

Reflect on past aggression to ensure a peaceful future


SummaryThe burden of the past rests heavily on the shoulders of Japan and China, and with the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in WWII to be marked later this year, China has unveiled a host of events to commemorate their victory in the conflagration. The following article by Bu Ping, the director of the academic board of the Institute of Modern History at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, is a taste of the type of commentary we are likely to see much more of in the official press in the near future.


Excerpt from the story: "Political forces bent on denying historical realities persist in Japan. In the 1980s, right-wing conservatives demanded the reversal of postwar politics amid the country's successful economic development since the end of World War II. In the mid-1990s, the tendency became even more pronounced among Japanese politicians. Over 100 parliamentary politicians established a committee devoted to discussing history. The committee denounced Morihiro Hosokawa, who was elected Japanese Prime Minister in 1993, for his speech apologizing for Japan's aggression. The committee attempted to cover up historical truth and whitewash the past. They attempted to block Japan's parliament from approving a resolution in 1995 that recognized the country's historical responsibility for aggression. Moreover, they pushed politicians to pay respects to war criminals at the Yasukuni Shrine. They denied war atrocities committed by the Japanese army in occupied areas including sex slavery of women from China, Korea and Southeast Asian countries. All these events show that there is a strong political force in Japan obstructing people from reflecting on history even 50 years after the end of World War II.


Will Japan continue bearing the historical burden or make a sincere introspection over its past aggression and acknowledge historical responsibility? This question will decide Japan's future."


Source: 新华网

China Talk: Interviews, Lectures and Events
"Hukou Reform and Rural Dispossession in China"
At a recent talk at IR/PS sponsored by the 21st Century China Program, Johns Hopkins University sociologist Joel Andreas offers a contrarian analysis of the evolution of the hukou system, focusing on access to rural land and considering the implications for the rural population of the current shift from hukou-based to market-based land rights. Click on the image to launch the audio.