Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Fall 2021 Issue 69

What is Behind China’s Dual Circulation Strategy

Alicia García Herrero
Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Dual circulation may sound like a buzzword without much relevance, but it is not. It actually enshrines China’s long-standing ambition to become self-sufficient. Such an ambition was made known to the world in 2015 after the launch of China’s industrial policy masterplan, Made in China 2025, even though the world at the time was still in full engagement with China. Since Trump’s push for a trade and technology war against China, the Chinese leadership has been relying on a dual circulation strategy to support China’s growth. This basically means insulating the domestic market from the rest of the world by eliminating any bottlenecks, whether in terms of natural resources or technology, so as to vertically integrate its production and achieve self-reliance served by China’s huge domestic market. A relevant consequence for the world, though, is that China will no longer need to import high-end inputs, with obvious negative consequences for major exporters of technology, such as Germany, Japan, South Korea, and the U.S. As if this were not enough, the second aspect of dual circulation, boosting external demand, in a context of Western containment, will increase the importance of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to ensure open markets in the emerging world. In essence, dual circulation is part of China’s masterplan to become self-reliant in terms of resources and technology but also in terms of demand through its huge market as well as through third markets available through the BRI.

Chinese Views of U.S. Decline

Michael D. Swaine 
Wednesday, September 1, 2021

The idea of an America in decline has become a major subject of

discussion among many PRC observers.  A seeming preponderance

of Chinese authoritative, semi-authoritative, and non-authoritative

Chinese elites believe that the distribution of global power is shifting

in a direction that favors China over the West/the United States. However, what is less clear is how those many Chinese who see the U.S. as being in decline view the specific origins, nature, and extent of that decline and its implications for China. Chinese public statements on the decline offer no conclusive evidence supporting the claim that Beijing is basing its policies on the sure conviction that the U.S. is in an irreversible, structural decline benefiting China and that Beijing is therefore committed to a policy of taking advantage of this decline. A more nuanced understanding of Chinese discourse on U.S. decline and its implications for the United States is in order.  

The Emergence of the Central Office of Foreign Affairs: From Leadership Politics to “Greater Diplomacy”

Guoguang Wu 
Wednesday, September 1, 2021

This essay examines how the Central Office of Foreign Affairs (COFA) has risen within the Chinese party-state system to become an institutional lynchpin overseeing all Chinese foreign conduct, and it takes this institution as a window to peer into Chinese leadership politics involving the party chief’s control of foreign affairs and the recent proposed program of “greater diplomacy.” It argues that both leadership politics and the program of “greater diplomacy” have driven the concentration of foreign-affairs power from the PRC state system to the Communist Party (i.e., the party chief) and, accordingly, to the COFA on behalf of the CCP to coordinate a transfinite diplomatic strategy that goes beyond Western-centric international norms to manage foreign relations.

The CCP’s Domestic Security Taskmaster: The Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission

Minxin Pei
Wednesday, September 1, 2021

The Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission of the Chinese Communist Party oversees the vast coercive apparatus of the party-state.  Its main responsibilities include providing policy proposals on domestic security, supervising implementation of the party’s domestic security agenda, coordinating the actions of law enforcement and the judiciary, and ensuring the political loyalty of officials in law enforcement agencies. In the 1980s, the most open period in post-Mao China, the role and power of the commission were limited.  But as the CCP leadership became more conservative in the post-Tiananmen period, the commission was granted more power to strengthen domestic security.  It is now the CCP’s principal enforcer to maintain the supremacy of the party over the state’s coercive apparatus and an essential institution in organizing surveillance, supervising campaigns of repression, and providing for public safety.

Xi Jinping–Style Control and Civil Society Responses

Diana Fu and Emile Dirks 
Wednesday, September 1, 2021

On the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China, grassroots civil society is in trouble.   Democracy advocates in Hong Kong are being handcuffed while rights activists in the Mainland are pre-emptively smothered.  Xi Jinping-style control over civil society entails a three-pronged strategy to transform civil society into a more palatable sector.  The first prong of this strategy is tightening regulation of both domestic and international civil society. The second is to crack down on grassroots organizations.  The third is to deepen party control over all of civil society. As a result, while some rights advocacy organizations have disappeared altogether under this rule, others have learned to adapt.   A new strategy for engaging civil society actors in both mainland China and Hong Kong is needed.  In pivoting from Trump’s isolationism to Biden’s multilateralism, it will also be important for the U.S. to work with its allies to help build the infrastructure for people-to-people exchanges with China.  

CLM Insights Interview with David Shambaugh on his recent book:

Leaders: From Mao to Now

(Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2021)

 Featured Book Excerpt: Rush Doshi's 

The Long Game: China's Grand Strategy to Displace American Order