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Research Report

Chinese futures:: Horizon 2025

Eva Pejsova
Jakob Bund
Elena Atanassova-Cornelis
Kerry Brown
Mathieu Duchâtel
Alice Ekman
Mikko Huotari
Michal Makocki
Charles Parton
Frans-Paul van der Putten
Kristin Shi-Kupfer
Gudrun Wacker
Copyright Date: Jul. 1, 2017
Pages: 106
OPEN ACCESS
https://www.jstor.org/stable/resrep07065
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 3-3)
    Antonio Missiroli

    Not long ago, when the first signs of the end of an era (be it the ‘unipolar moment’ of the post-Cold War years or even the ‘American century’) were becoming apparent in the wake of the 2007-08 financial crisis, some analysts and commentators started talking about the epilogue of five hundred years of Western dominance of the world. The main reference was to the rise of China, the Middle Kingdom that isolated and insulated itself half a millennium ago (in conjunction with the rise of the West) and was now regaining its position - regionally as well as globally. The...

  2. (pp. 5-10)
    Eva Pejsova

    The rise of China has become the defining feature of the ‘Asia-Pacific century’. Beyond its economic might, the country’s emergence as a major political and security actor has not only redefined the balance of power in Asia; its growing international profile and ambitions will continue to significantly shape the global strategic landscape in the years to come.

    As Europe seeks to project its power and influence in an increasingly polycentric world, the way in which it approaches and interacts with the Asian giant will be an important test for its foreign and security policy. EU-China relations, which have progressively deepened...

  3. Section 1 CHINA’S DOMESTIC ARENA

    • (pp. 11-18)
      Kerry Brown

      The next decade will be a period of critical transition in which the People’s Republic of China will undergo fundamental change. The challenges facing the country will divide broadly into the economic and political spheres. These two sets of challenges will, however, be intimately linked. This is because of the ways in which, right from the start of the Reform and Opening Up period in 1978, the Communist Party of China (CCP) has sought greater political legitimacy by delivering economic growth and prosperity. Throughout this period, elite leaders from Deng Xiaoping to Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao have made it...

    • (pp. 19-23)
      Kristin Shi-Kupfer

      Since 2013, societal resilience in China, as reflected in the form of an autonomous civil society, has weakened in light of the central government’s push to reassert control. Harsh repression coupled with the regime’s focus on delivering economic and material improvements to secure popular acquiescence have numbed civil society in the Chinese Communist Party’s effort to ‘civilise’ the public space – reflecting the paternalistic idea of disciplining society under the guardianship of the state as opposed to a self-organised civil society. The everyday struggle of making a living under conditions of overpriced housing, nepotism, industrial pollution and fierce competition within...

    • (pp. 27-34)
      Michal Makocki

      Projecting Chinese growth into the future used to be a straightforward exercise. For the last 30 years, since the start of the reforms launched by Deng Xiaoping, the Chinese economy kept growing at a stellar pace, hardly shaken even by the global economic crisis of 2008. China has become the world’s largest economy (in purchasing power parity terms). However, these days the Chinese economy has grown more complex and the challenges it faces more daunting. China’s leadership seems to realise as much and on several occasions, in a departure from its usual upbeat propaganda tone, has announced that the Chinese...

    • (pp. 35-40)
      Alice Ekman

      During Deng Xiaoping’s era of reform and opening-up, China’s foreign policy was inward-looking: the priority lay with domestic economic development and China could not afford an ambitious foreign policy. 35 years later, this approach has undergone significant adjustments. Under Xi Jinping, China’s foreign policy is less encouraged to ‘keep a low profile’ (韬光养晦 tao guang yang hui) than to ‘strive for achievements’(奋发有为 fen fa you wei). In light of these doctrinal shifts, China’s diplomacy has become much more proactive, taking initiatives in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.

      Undoubtedly, China’s foreign policy continues to be shaped primarily by domestic economic development...

  4. Section 2 CHINA’S REGIONAL POSTURE

    • (pp. 41-52)
      Charles Parton

      Any appraisal of Chinese policy must start from a basic assumption: the prime aim of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), to which all other policy considerations are subordinated, is to stay in power. Foreign policy and sovereignty issues are the handmaidens of this domestic imperative.

      A second basic assumption is that the Party is increasingly preoccupied with shoring up and consolidating its legitimacy. Nowadays strong legitimacy is essential to keep an educated and increasingly prosperous middle class on board. The regime’s strategy in this respect is based on three main themes:

      a continued rise in economic prosperity and maintaining high...

    • (pp. 53-62)
      Mathieu Duchâtel

      More carrots, more sticks: this could sum up the change in China’s foreign policy under the leadership of Xi Jinping. Since the 18th Party Congress (November 2012), President Xi Jinping has spared no effort to consolidate his power within the Communist Party and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), using political promotions and taking advantage of the anti-corruption struggle. At the end of 2016, 86 PLA officers at the rank of major general or above and 127 officials holding the rank of vice-minister or above had been targeted by the anti-corruption campaign.¹

      This process of power centralisation, which will consolidate further...

  5. Section 3 CHINA AS A GLOBAL ACTOR

    • (pp. 63-70)
      Elena Atanassova-Cornelis

      In the years leading up to 2025, China’s foreign policy in the Asia-Pacific, including its approaches towards the United States, its Asian neighbours, as well as the regional order, will continue to be conditioned by domestic developments. As discussed elsewhere in this volume, the survival of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the one-party regime will remain of paramount importance to Chinese leaders. This is the starting point for looking at the PRC’s positioning in the Asia-Pacific over the next decade.

      China’s core strategic objectives – maintaining domestic and political stability, defending sovereignty and territorial integrity, pursuing national unification and...

    • (pp. 71-80)
      Frans-Paul van der Putten

      China’s approach towards great powers is shaped by two overarching aims. The first is to neutralise potential threats to China’s security that originate from major powers. The second is to work with great powers towards an international environment that is stable and conducive to constructive economic interaction. This chapter identifies trends in Chinese foreign policy that relate to these two aims. Its purpose is to provide an assessment of China’s likely approach to great powers in the years leading up to the mid-2020s.

      In the 1970s, Mao Zedong distinguished between three categories of countries: superpowers, developed countries, and developing countries....

    • (pp. 81-90)
      Mikko Huotari

      China’s engagement with global multilateralism reached a turning point in 2016/2017. In contrast with signs of a US retreat from international commitments, the Chinese leadership has used high-profile speeches such as the keynote address delivered by Xi Jinping at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2017 to position China rhetorically as a champion of the existing international order and the global governance system.

      While many aspects of this rhetorical repositioning need to be taken with a grain of salt, China’s role in global governance has already changed fundamentally. New China-led institutions such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank...

    • (pp. 91-96)
      Gudrun Wacker

      For the last three decades, the pattern of interaction between the EU and China has been pretty stable: both entities have developed much closer relations in the field of trade and investment and over time these closer ties have been extended to areas and issues beyond the economy. Up until the global financial crisis in 2008-9, the relationship was mainly driven by the EU, which set the agenda and proposed the issues to be discussed in ‘sectoral dialogues’. Over this entire period, the EU, despite some setbacks along the way, was moving ahead with deeper integration and with enlarging its...