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Made in China Journal: Volume 6, Issue 1, 2021 »

Publication date: July 2021
In the spring of 2021, China’s central authorities issued a policy that seeks to change norms of China’s civil society that have been established over the past 30 years. At a moment that portends a closing of space for unregistered NGOs and a possible shift in the ways NGOs can emerge, evolve and cooperate with other social and state entities, we thought it important to look back to revisit the development of China’s civil society over the past decades. Not only is this exercise important in enabling us to understand the shifts now taking place, but it also reminds us of the possibilities that once were, and the possible futures that may be. With this issue we wanted to bring together practitioners, whose experience of running or participating in organisations and initiatives is invaluable both in and of itself, but also in helping us to reflect. We sought to bring their insights together with those of scholars who also have a deep interest, and often practical experience, in China’s organised civil society, studying its different aspects and dynamics. We hoped, too, to capture something of the vibrant diversity of organised civil society during its early (re-)emergence in the 1990s and to remember, as best we could, some of the early pioneers and possibilities.

China’s Challenges in Moving towards a High-income Economy »

Edited by: Ligang Song, Yixiao Zhou
Publication date: 2021
With its per capita income surpassing US$10,000, China has now drawn up ambitious plans to further lift its income to the level of developed countries. Yet various constraints need to be overcome if China is to build on the achievements of the last 40 years and further boost its growth potential. Besides these constraints, the year 2020 saw human societies hit heavily by the COVID-19 pandemic and the global economy caught off guard and dipped into recessions caused by lockdown measures for controlling the spread of the pandemic. Nations around the world have experienced grave loss of human life and lockdown measures have knocked economies from their normal growth trajectories. Even as the pandemic continues to unfold, all signs point to China as being the first major economy to have emerged out of the crisis. But many questions remain. Has the Chinese economy emerged from the pandemic crisis relatively unscathed? What are the long-term prospects for its economy? This year’s Update book, China’s Challenges in Moving towards a High-income Economy, explores the challenges faced by the Chinese economy in the transition towards a high-income economy, including agricultural development, finance and fiscal system reform, RMB internationalisation, trends in urbanisation, as well as topics related to innovation, corporate sector development and market competition. China’s growth experience has been full of exciting changes and important lessons for reform and structural changes, and this year’s China Update is again the way to gain insights into these.

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Crisis »

Edited by: Jane Golley, Linda Jaivin, Sharon Strange
Publication date: April 2021
The year 2020 was marked by a series of rolling crises. The Australian wildfires at the start of the year were a catastrophic sign of the global climate crisis. Xi Jinping’s announcement in September that the People’s Republic of China would become carbon neutral by 2060 could help alleviate the crisis, but China has to fix its coal problem first. The big story was, of course, the global COVID-19 pandemic. Appearing to originate in a Wuhan wet market, by year’s end the pandemic had claimed nearly 2 million lives worldwide, put whole countries into lockdown, and sent economies around the world tumbling into recession. China itself successfully suppressed the disease at home and recorded positive economic growth for the year — proving, at least according to the Chinese Communist Party, the ‘superiority of the socialist system’. Not everyone was convinced, with persistent questions about the CCP’s initial cover up of the outbreak, and how the lack of transparency helped it become a pandemic in the first place. The China Story Yearbook 2020: Crisis surveys the multiple crises of the year of the Metal Rat, including the catastrophic mid-year floods that sparked fears about the stability of the Three Gorges Dam. It looks at how Chinese women fared through the pandemic, from the rise in domestic violence to portraits of female sacrifice on the medical front line to the trolling of a famous dancer for being childless. It also examines the downward-spiralling Sino-Australian relationship, the difficult ‘co-morbidities’ of China’s relations with the US, the end of ‘One Country, Two Systems’ in Hong Kong, the simmering border conflict with India, and the rise of pandemic-related anti-Chinese racism. The Yearbook also explores the responses to crisis of, among others, Daoists, Buddhists, and humourists — because when all else fails, there’s always philosophy, prayer, and laughter.

East Asia Forum Quarterly: Volume 13, Number 1, 2021 »

Publication date: March 2021
Few American administrations in living memory face as arduous a set of domestic and external policy challenges as that led by President Joseph R. Biden. What faces the new team in Washington is nothing short of herculean: arrest the scourge of COVID-19, grow the economy and begin once more to address the historic grievances of racial injustice and socioeconomic inequality. How it handles those tasks will profoundly affect its capacity to prosecute an effective foreign policy. This issue of the Quarterly explores the monumental foreign policy challenges in Asia that await the Biden administration. Our contributors ponder the fate of the US–China trade war, the limits to achieving an ambitious national climate policy, the ongoing challenges on the Korean peninsula, in South and Southeast Asia, and the likely financial constraints on a more forward-leaning US military posture.
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The China Alternative »

Changing Regional Order in the Pacific Islands

Publication date: March 2021
In this collection, 17 leading scholars based in Solomon Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and China analyse key dimensions of the changing relationship between China and the Pacific Islands and explore the strategic, economic and diplomatic implications for regional actors. The China Alternative includes chapters on growing great power competition in the region, as well as the response to China’s rise by the US and its Western allies and the island countries themselves. Other chapters examine key dimensions of China’s Pacific engagement, including Beijing’s programs of aid and diplomacy, as well as the massive investments of the Belt and Road Initiative. The impact of China’s rivalry for recognition with Taiwan is examined, and several chapters analyse Chinese communities in the Pacific, and their relationships with local societies. The China Alternative provides ample material for informed judgements about the ability of island leaders to maintain their agency in the changing regional order, as well as other issues of significance to the peoples of the region. ‘China’s “discovery” of the diverse Pacific islands, intriguingly resonant of the era of European explorers, is impacting on this too-long-overlooked region through multiple currents that this important book guides us through.’ —Rowan Callick, Griffith University ‘The China Alternative is a must-read for all students and practitioners interested in understanding the new geopolitics of the Pacific. It assembles a stellar cast of Pacific scholars to deeply explore the impact of the changing role of China on the Pacific islands region. Significantly, it also puts the Pacific island states at the centre of this analysis by questioning the collective agency they might have in this rapidly evolving strategic context.’ —Greg Fry, The Australian National University

Made in China Journal: Volume 5, Issue 3, 2020 »

Publication date: February 2021
China’s increased global engagements in recent years have been the source of unending controversies. While public attention generally focuses on geopolitical, economic or even environmental issues, labour also plays an important part in emerging narratives surrounding the ‘spectre of global China’. The media in countries that have received a significant influx of investment from mainland China has often complained about ‘invasions’ of Chinese workers, who are allegedly snatching away job opportunities from local workers. In many places, there are pervasive rumours that Chinese workers are nothing less than convicted felons sent abroad by the Party-State to expiate their crimes, which would explain why they seem to work without interruption day and night, at a pace that some believe no free person would deem acceptable. This has also led to concerns that workers from China are playing an important role in driving down labour standards in countries where institutions are weak and legal enforcement lacking. Inflows of Chinese workers have also been associated with surges in crime and prostitution that supposedly have wrought havoc on local communities. In the best of circumstances, these narratives flatten the figure of the Chinese worker abroad into that of an agent unwittingly promoting the agenda of the Chinese Party-State abroad; in the worst, they frame these overseas Chinese labourers as criminals. In so doing, the complex dilemmas that these workers face, their inner conflicts and the rights violations that they themselves are subjected to go unnoticed. This issue challenges these prejudices and provides some glimpses into the subjectivities and the plight of Chinese workers toiling abroad today.

Britain’s Second Embassy to China »

Lord Amherst's 'Special Mission' to the Jiaqing Emperor in 1816

Authored by: Caroline Stevenson
Publication date: February 2021
Lord Amherst’s diplomatic mission to the Qing Court in 1816 was the second British embassy to China. The first led by Lord Macartney in 1793 had failed to achieve its goals. It was thought that Amherst had better prospects of success, but the intense diplomatic encounter that greeted his arrival ended badly. Amherst never appeared before the Jiaqing emperor and his embassy was expelled from Peking on the day it arrived. Historians have blamed Amherst for this outcome, citing his over-reliance on the advice of his Second Commissioner, Sir George Thomas Staunton, not to kowtow before the emperor. Detailed analysis of British sources reveal that Amherst was well informed on the kowtow issue and made his own decision for which he took full responsibility. Success was always unlikely because of irreconcilable differences in approach. China’s conduct of foreign relations based on the tributary system required submission to the emperor, thus relegating all foreign emissaries and the rulers they represented to vassal status, whereas British diplomatic practice was centred on negotiation and Westphalian principles of equality between nations. The Amherst embassy’s failure revised British assessments of China and led some observers to believe that force, rather than diplomacy, might be required in future to achieve British goals. The Opium War of 1840 that followed set a precedent for foreign interference in China, resulting in a century of ‘humiliation’. This resonates today in President Xi Jinping’s call for ‘National Rejuvenation’ to restore China’s historic place at the centre of a new Sino-centric global order.

Agenda - A Journal of Policy Analysis and Reform: Volume 27, Number 1, 2020 »

Edited by: William Coleman
Publication date: December 2020
Agenda is a refereed, ECONLIT-indexed and RePEc-listed journal of the College of Business and Economics, The Australian National University. Launched in 1994, Agenda provides a forum for debate on public policy, mainly (but not exclusively) in Australia and New Zealand. It deals largely with economic issues but gives space to social and legal policy and also to the moral and philosophical foundations and implications of policy. Subscribe to the Agenda Alerting service if you wish to be advised on forthcoming or new issues.

East Asia Forum Quarterly: Volume 12, Number 4, 2020 »

Publication date: December 2020
COVID-19 has spotlighted, like no other event, the importance of the ascendance of China in global affairs. This issue of East Asia Forum Quarterly examines how China is changing and why that is important. Contributors offer perspectives on China's economic transformation and the evolution of the political, military, technological, environmental and strategic dimensions of China under President Xi Jinping. The Asian Review discusses the future of Kashmir, human rights in Southeast Asia and global governance reform.
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Made in China Journal: Volume 5, Issue 2, 2020 »

Publication date: October 2020
The most Gothic description of Capital is also the most accurate. Capital is an abstract parasite, an insatiable vampire and zombie-maker; but the living flesh it converts into dead labor is ours, and the zombies it makes are us. There is a sense in which it simply is the case that the political elite are our servants; the miserable service they provide for us is to launder our libidos, to obligingly re-present for us our disavowed desires as if they had nothing to do with us. – Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism (2009) Ghostly analogies drawn from the gothic imaginary are common in the Marxist canon, with the most famous case in point being the incipit of Marx and Engels’s Manifesto of the Communist Party, where readers are told that ‘the spectre of communism’ is haunting Europe. Far from being considered curious aberrations, these preternatural metaphors have given rise to a whole literature on spectral capitalism that spans to our present stage of late capitalism. In the 1980s, Aihwa Ong made waves with her study of spirit possessions on the shop floors of modern factories in Malaysia, in which she argued that these spectres represented a form of resistance by workers otherwise powerless in the face of capital. In another instance from the 1990s, Jean and John Comaroff introduced the idea of ‘occult economies’ to make sense of the wave of episodes in which real or imagined magical means were deployed in pursuit of material gains that occurred in South Africa after the end of apartheid. While both conceptualisations received a fair share of criticism—not least for presenting the ghosts of capitalism as dreams and the anthropologist as the psychoanalyst instead of dealing with the proper social and historical context of these phenomena—this issue of the Made in China Journal cuts the Gordian knot by focusing on how individuals in China and other contexts in Asia live and interact with the supernatural. In some cases, ghosts, fortune-tellers, shamans, sorcerers, zombies, corpse brides and aliens merely assist people to get by and cope with the difficulties they face in their daily lives; in others, these beings play subversive roles, undermining the rules that underpin contemporary society. In both cases, they challenge the status quo, hence the title ‘spectral revolutions’.