Monday, March 1, 2021

Spring 2021 Issue 67

How China is Responding to Escalating Strategic Competition with the U.S.

Ryan Hass

Monday, March 1, 2021

There seems to be a growing consensus in Beijing that U.S.-China relations will remain rocky for the foreseeable future. Even so, President Xi Jinping and others have been touting that time and momentum are on China’s side in its quest to move closer to the center of the world stage. Chinese officials recognize that they will need to overcome obstacles in their country’s pursuit of its national goals. To do so, China appears to be pursuing a three-pronged medium-term strategy: maintaining a non-hostile external environment in order to focus on domestic priorities; reducing dependence on America while increasing the rest of the world’s dependence on China; and expanding the reach of Chinese influence overseas. At the same time, China’s actions are generating significant reactions, both at home and abroad. Whether China can learn from this feedback loop to address its own vulnerabilities remains an open question, one that only China will be capable of answering.

China’s Counter-Strategy to American Export Controls in Integrated Circuits

Douglas B. Fuller

Monday, March 1, 2021

This article examines China’s efforts to counter American sanctions against Huawei that in effect try to weaponize the silicon supply chain. While China has taken tentative steps to try to decouple from the American semiconductor industry, it faces three continuing challenges.  First, the areas of technological dependence that the Huawei Entity List sanctions highlighted, fabrication capital equipment and electronic design automation (EDA) software, are areas in which China has very weak capabilities.  Second, the wider the scope of the sanctions is, the more likely local and foreign firms will be willing to cooperate with Chinese efforts to create substitutes for controlled American technologies.  But the scope of the sanctions appears to be in stasis and may even narrow during the Biden administration. Finally, the progressive expansion of China’s silicon ambitions has elicited foreign industrial policies to counter China’s own policies. This expanding market outside of China will lessen the effectiveness of Chinese policy and at the same time make a certain level of controls over IC technology palatable to American partners as Chinese customers are replaced by others.

Xi’s Anti-Corruption Campaign: An All-Purpose Governing Tool

Christopher Carothers

Monday, March 1, 2021

Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s signature anti-corruption campaign has attracted attention because of its high-profile investigations and arrests, but it has also advanced government policies in areas beyond corruption control. This article discusses the campaign’s recent developments and how the party leadership has used it as an all-purpose tool for governing during Xi’s second term. Since the 19th Party Congress in 2017, the campaign has become more institutionalized and has brought down even more high-ranking officials. At the same time, the Xi administration has used anti-corruption work to support a wide range of recent policies and directives, such as the party’s anti-poverty and anti-crime initiatives. The administration’s sweeping inspections of party and state institutions have been integral to the anti-corruption campaign, but they have also aimed to improve general policy implementation, support organizational reforms, and ensure loyalty to Xi and the Chinese Communist Party. Governing through the campaign in this way has helped advance Xi’s political vision, in which a strong and disciplined party leads the country and penetrates every area of China’s state and society.

Grid Management: China’s Latest Institutional Tool of Social Control

Minxin Pei

Monday, March 1, 2021

The Chinese government began to implement a new form of social control – grid management – about fifteen years ago.  On paper, the country has largely finished setting up more than one million grids in local communities.  Grid management, which entails dividing communities into small units (1,000 residents per unit, as in most cases) and equipping them with information and surveillance technology, appeals to the top Chinese leadership because it promises to provide the party-state a new and more capable instrument of social control and delivery of public services.  Publicly available materials suggest that most localities adapt their existing local organizations, such as neighborhood and village committees, into grids to comply with the central government’s order.  As fully effective grid management requires enormous investments in well-trained manpower and reliable technology, it will likely take years for China to build such a system.  At the moment, only wealthy cities seem to have made genuine progress in the development of grid management, while most grids are likely no more than relabeled neighborhood committees.  Like China’s social credit system, grid management is evidence, but not yet reality, of the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s aspirations to construct a well-organized and technologically sophisticated surveillance state.

CLM Insights Interview with Robert Sutter on his recent book:

Chinese Foreign Relations: Power and Policy of an Emerging Global Force

 

(Fifth Edition; Rowman and Littlefield, 2020)