Editor’s Note: While the U.S.-China trade conflict dominated mainstream media, several other events of 2018 will shape China in the future, among them the removal of the presidential term limits and the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities. Looking back at the past year, we selected a few particularly insightful interviews and features that may provide a wider view on the variety of issues and topics emerging from the China-watching community globally. In 2018, we also launched “YCW Pulse”, asking you to share with us your views of rising China – find out about the results here!
“In the name of the people” (人民的名义) is the first Chinese TV series of its kind, dealing with corruption and political power struggles in modern-day China. “In the Name of the Podcast”, hosted by Elaine Chow and Jessica Colwell, tracks the hit-show, dissecting the plot in weekly podcasts. They spoke to YCW in February about how corruption is portrayed in Chinese media and the challenges of being a journalist in China.
In this ChinaFile Conversation, facilitated by YCW, our Global Editorial Team member Jacinta Keast joined Jenny Hayward-Jones of the Lowy Institute and Graeme Smith of Australian National University to answer the question: “Should Pacific Island Nations Be Wary of Chinese Influence?”
Dinny McMahon, a MacroPolo Fellow who spent 10 years as a financial journalist in China, including six years in Beijing at The Wall Street Journal and four years with Dow Jones Newswires in Shanghai, discussed his new book “China’s Great Wall of Debt.” His book grapples with China’s political economy and accumulated debt.
Lance Noble, Senior Thematic Policy Analyst, Gavekal Dragonomics, spoke with YCW about how Made in China 2025 is reshaping China’s technology manufacturing landscape.
China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has come under increasing scrutiny in 2018, also doe to security concerns and political risks associated with BRI projects. Dr. Alessandro Arduino, Co-Director of the Security and Crisis Management Program at the Shanghai Academy of Social Science, tells YCW about the role of private security companies in BRI, the security hotspots on the horizon, and his book, “China’s Private Army: Protecting the New Silk Road.”
Mohammed Al-Sudairi outlines the warming Sino-Saudi relationship, the role of the Gulf Region on the Belt and Road, and the importance of sensitivity to ideologies when conducting research on China.
2018 was also the year of #MeToo. Alice Xin Liu, Translation Director at NüVoices (女性作家联盟), shared her experiences in setting up a collective supporting the creative work of women working on China with YCW. Despite their skills, women and their stories remain underrepresented in media. Find out what unique challenges female journalists and writers in China face and why she thinks the idea of NüVoices isn’t radical at all.
Who is the Chinese middle class? How can we understand Chinese consumers? Tom Nunlist spoke to YCW about the trends, intricacies, and desires of China’s rising middle class, and the book he edited “China’s Evolving Consumers: 8 Intimate Portraits”. His favourite consumer profile? Find out in the interview. Featuring beautiful original illustrations by Joyce Siu.
Digitalization and Technology
The topic of the 2nd YCW Essay Competition was “Cyber China.” In her remarkable winning piece, Chiu Wan details how e-commerce empowers young women in rural China vis-à-vis their husbands and in-laws. At the same time it captures a wider story of how tech is reversing gender and work norms in villages in the process of connecting them to the wider economy, the rural-urban divide and digital economy characteristics of modern-day China. You can also watch Chiu Wan talk about her essay here.
In a must-read interview for anyone interested in China’s social credit system, Dr. Rogier Creemers, a postdoctoral scholar in the Law and Governance of China at University of Leiden, explained the difference between China’s state and private social credit systems, and their role in improving governance in Chinese society.
China’s emerging global leadership in Artificial Intelligence has been a common news item throughout 2018. In September, Kai-Fu Lee, Chairman and CEO of Sinovation Ventures and author of the new book “AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order” spoke to YCW about global trends in AI, data protection, and misconceptions about technology in China. His tip for Young China Watchers: “learn how to learn”.
A Global View
In November, YCW announced the winner of the first Young China Watcher of the Year Award, Oma Lee. The panel of judges—Duncan Clark, Li Xin, Kaiser Kuo, Shirley Lin, and John Holden—commended Oma for her outstanding work in China’s non-profit world. In this interview, Oma shares with YCW her insights about working in China’s philanthropy sector and making a difference: “Social change happens when a collective of change-makers work together”!
Following the inaugural conference in 2017, the second YCW-Lau Conference “Past, Present and Future: A long view of (r)evolution in China” bringing together 180 China-focused experts and young thinkers on the theme and to listen and discuss with Lord Jim O’Neill of Gatley, Tania Branigan, George Yip, among many others. If you missed it, you can find a summary report of the conference here or re-watch the entire conference here (part 1) and here (part 2).
This month, we released the YCW 2018 Pulse, Young China Watchers’ inaugural report of views from the global community of professionals engaged with China. More than 500 members responded with their views on everything from foreign policy and development, to how China compares to the rest of the world in technology and innovation. We welcome you to view and share the report.
Happy reading, and we’ll see you in 2019.