By Kerry Brown, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Kerry brown is executive director of the China Studies Center at the University of Sydney and associate fellow at Chatham House. The views expressed are his own.
Reports suggesting that India withdrew from a planned naval exercise with the United States last month out of fears it might upset Beijing are only the latest reason to grapple with an increasingly pertinent question: What are the costs these days of hurting the feelings of the Chinese people?
Finding the answer to this question – and a way to overcome associated potential problems – has become ever more urgent as China’s perceived assertiveness has grown. And two recent diplomatic spats in particular are worth paying attention to: the fights China has picked with Britain and Norway. Both involved differences over values and human rights. Both saw a stiff political response from Beijing. And both say much about China’s changing role in the international system.
For the U.K., the trigger was British Prime Minister David Cameron’s meeting with the Dalai Lama in London last May. Almost immediately, high level visits from China were pulled. The former head of the National People’s Congress and second ranking member of the Politburo Standing Committee at the time, Wu Bangguo, cancelled a visit. Over the ensuing months, there were no further high level visits. Last month, it was reported that Cameron had dropped a planned trip to Beijing because there were no promises he would be met at the right level. In view of the warm reception accorded earlier in the month to President Francois Hollande, this would have been a bitter pill to swallow.
By Ben Leo, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Ben Leo is Global Policy Director of The ONE Campaign, an international advocacy organization co-founded by Bono. The views expressed are his own.
GPS recently published a thoughtful piece on how global poverty rates are falling fast. It argued that one country in particular is almost solely responsible for this dramatic trend: China. Meanwhile, it said progress in the rest of the world “has been much, much slower – if there’s been progress at all.”
Here’s the problem. There are 62 other countries across the globe that are also slashing extreme poverty rates at a remarkable pace. And many of them are located in Sub-Saharan Africa. So, the more important question is – how do we accelerate the progress being made in places like Ethiopia and Uganda while simultaneously jumpstarting it in places that are lagging behind, like Nigeria and the Congo?
It’s true that China’s case is remarkable – both in terms of its sheer scale and speed. It has lifted 680 million people out of poverty in a single generation. That’s amazing. It’s every poverty fighter’s dream. But the global story isn’t just about China. It is also about countries like Ethiopia, Uganda, Cameroon, Ghana, and Senegal that are also witnessing dramatic declines in extreme poverty, defined as living on less than $1.25 a day.
By Andrew Billo, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Andrew Billo is assistant director Policy Programs at the Asia Society's New York headquarters. The views expressed are his own.
Ten days ago, I travelled to Ly Son Island, a volcanic atoll thirty kilometers off Vietnam’s central coast. I wasn’t there for the island's famous garlic and seafood, but rather as a participant on a Vietnamese government-sponsored trip to see the island from which the country claims Nguyen lords in the late 16th century launched exploratory trips to the Paracel and Spratly archipelagos.
But if I had taken a similar tour to China’s southern Hainan Island, the information I received would have been much different. China claims it took possession of the Paracels as far back as the Han Dynasty in 110 AD. Whether Chinese or Vietnamese ancestors occupied those islands first is now a question at the center of the two countries’ stormy territorial dispute, and shows both the difficulty – and necessity – for both countries to find resolutions grounded in contemporary realities.
Just this week, China promised to look for peaceful solutions to territorial disputes at a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, but much of the world increasingly views China's efforts to claim the South China Sea as belligerent and bullying. If its neighbors were persuaded by the country's aspirations for “a peaceful rise” in the last decade, their trust is quickly fading.
The Pentagon's claims in a new report that China is trying to extract sensitive information from U.S. government computers has put cyber security issues back in the media spotlight.
But how serious is the threat to U.S. interests? How can America respond? And what other issues should be attracting policymakers’ attention?
Cyber security expert Eugene Spafford, a professor of computer sciences at Purdue University and former member of the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee, will be taking questions from GPS readers. Please leave your questions in the comment section below.
For more What in the World, watch GPS, Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN
By Global Public Square staff
Watching countries from around the world grow and prosper, we tend to assume that global poverty is falling. And in fact, the World Bank says that in 1981 nearly half of the world's citizens were impoverished, that is, they lived on less than $1.25 a day. And today, less than a fifth of the world's population lives in poverty. In raw numbers, that translates to a 40 percent drop from about 2 billion to 1.2 billion people.
But when we dig deeper, it’s clear the picture is more murky. Put simply, most of the reduction in global poverty has to do with one country – China. Take it out of the equation and the numbers look very different.
Let's go back to 1981. Back then, China accounted for 43 percent of the world's poor. The other major contributors were South Asia, with 29 percent, and sub-Saharan Africa, with 11 percent. Fast forward just a decade, and you'll see that China's share of the world's poor began to drop. The trend continues through the 2000s. By 2010, China accounted for only 13 percent of the world's impoverished population. South Asia's share had jumped to 42 percent, while sub-Saharan Africa's share tripled, to 34 percent.
By Michael Mazza, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Michael Mazza is a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. The views expressed are his own.
The release of China’s biennial defense white paper has been getting some press for its revelations about the People’s Liberation Army’s force structure. Chinese media outlet Xinhua, for example, reported that “the Chinese government on Tuesday declassified the designations of all 18 combined corps of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) as the latest step to increase transparency of its armed forces.”
While it is difficult to applaud the PLA for declassifying information that was already common knowledge (see, for example, the sinodefence.com page on army organization, last updated four years ago), more transparency is certainly better than less. Still, the American focus on Chinese transparency is misplaced. Of course, the Pentagon would like to see its Chinese counterpart be more candid about PLA capabilities and investments; to the extent the United States can coax China towards such candor, it should do so. But disclosures like those in the Chinese white paper do little to address the underlying problem in the U.S.-China relationship: a dearth of strategic trust.
By Ying Zhu, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Ying Zhu is professor and chair of the Media Culture Department at City University of New York-College of Staten Island and is currently working on the book 'The Sino-Hollywood Courtship.' The views expressed are the author’s own.
Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino’s irreverent but brutal and profane film about slavery in America’s Deep South, has had China’s media and streets abuzz after it was banned from Chinese screens at the last minute. The move – which The Guardian says came with the dramatic pulling of the plug in a Beijing cinema less than a minute into a screening – came despite heavy promotion, including local media telephone interviews with star Leonardo DiCaprio. Emergency notices halting all screenings soon appeared at other cinemas.
No specific reason has been given for the ban, but speculation is rife that the full-frontal shots of male slaves and brief female nudity, together with the movie’s extreme violence and profanity, might have triggered the censors’ ire. Some media outlets tied to human rights groups have, for their part, been quick to connect the dots between the ban and the depictions of torture in the film, suggesting that the scenes might have unsettled Chinese officials concerned that audiences might see a parallel with the state’s own alleged torture of dissidents.
By Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Sir Malcolm Rifkind is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Kensington. He is a Defense and Foreign Secretary and currently serves as chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee. The views expressed are his own.
News last week that Britain’s government plans to speed up visas for Chinese nationals is a reminder of the growing importance of the world’s second largest economy to Britain.
“The message will go out in China that we want people to come and do business here,” The Telegraph reported a cabinet source saying, before noting that the red tape associated with processing Chinese visas costs the U.K. economy $1.8 billion a year.
Yet though the economic opportunities are ripe, a telling anecdote from a few years back underscores some of the challenges Britain and others face in coping with China’s rapid ascent.
By David Reeths, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: David Reeths is director of IHS Jane’s Consulting. This article is based on a full analysis published today in IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly. The views expressed are the writer’s own.
It’s an all too familiar refrain as tensions on the Korean Peninsula surge: given its status as North Korea’s closest ally, China must use its influence on Pyongyang to defuse the situation.
Such statements are based on a number of assumptions, including that China sits in the driver’s seat and can control North Korean actions. The problem with these assumptions is that they underestimate the complexity of the bilateral relationship and ignore the fact that while China is certainly the closest thing to an ally that North Korea has, Pyongyang keeps Beijing in the dark as often as not as well.
The current rhetoric out of North Korea is far outside the bounds of the now “normal” bombast that we come to expect from Pyongyang. Some analysts believe it is just the next phase of a familiar cycle of threat, negotiation, and aid delivery from South Korea and the West, while others insist that this situation is being driven primarily by the need for the young and inexperienced Kim Jong-un to shore up his internal powerbase.
Less well explored is the very real possibility that the Chinese themselves are the key audience.
As speculation grows that a North Korean missile test could be imminent, discussion has turned to the question of whether the United States should shoot down any missile fired, even if it appears heading into the ocean.
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer speaks with Fareed Zakaria to get his take on the latest developments and why China is key to resolving the current tensions.
What do you make of Senator John McCain and some others who say if they launch a missile, shoot it down, intercept it, destroy it – even if it's heading into the middle of the water? Obviously if it's heading toward a populated area in Tokyo or Guam or South Korea, that goes without saying. But just knock it out to make a point?
I think it's a very good example of the difference between what a John McCain foreign policy would be and what President Obama’s has been.
President Obama throughout this has been trying to show some restraint, not to play into the kind of the yank your chain that the North Koreans are trying to do. The North Koreans are desperately trying to get attention, to get some kind of negotiations going, to get concessions. So they have been threatening, clearly like a child who keeps screaming and has not been paid attention to. They're screaming more and more loudly.
By Global Public Square staff
China's rivers have been in the news for all the wrong reasons. First they found thousands of dead pigs in one river. Then they found hundreds of dead ducks in another. And now, entire rivers are going missing. Thousands of them in fact. A new survey has found that China has 28,000 fewer rivers than previously thought. They've been built-upon, overused, and drying up. The study comes from no less an authority than China's Ministry of Water Resources and the National Bureau of Statistics.
Something else has also gone missing in China: clean air. A study out last week shows how air pollution in China led to 1.2 million premature deaths in 2010. A separate study by China's Academy of Environmental Planning found that in the same year, 2010, environmental degradation cost the country $230 billion dollars.
For more What in the World, watch GPS on Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET
By Global Public Square staff
A curious phenomenon is unfolding in China. Hundreds of couples are rushing to marriage bureaus across the country. Perhaps the first signs of spring are bringing on a sudden impulse for romance?
No, it's the opposite. These couples are filing for divorce. In each case, a husband and wife mutually agrees to quick separation, no arguing, no quibbling over money or assets. How? Why? Well, actually, it was about money and assets. A vast majority of these couples are getting divorced so they can avoid a new Chinese tax.
Beijing recently decided to impose a 20 percent capital gains fee on sales of second homes. So the theory goes, if you have two homes and you get divorced, you can register each home under separate names. Then, if you see one of those homes, you escape the new tax and, then, perhaps you can get remarried. The bizarre exploitation of this loophole tells a larger story.