Good evening. With the Summer Olympics in Tokyo now officially over, all eyes will be turning to next year’s very controversial Winter Olympics in Beijing. With a potential boycott over China’s human rights violations looming, the 2022 Games strike a sharp contrast to the last time Beijing hosted, in 2008. But, as this week’s cover essay shows, perhaps the more important change from 2008 is how China reacts to global criticism. Confident, vocal, and performative, China’s new nationalism, Alec Ash argues, is difficult — and perhaps even dangerous — to ignore. Elsewhere, we have infographics on China’s nuclear power export ambitions; a Q&A with Isabella Weber, who recently published a book on the tumultuous economic reforms of the 1980s; a reported piece on the status of ‘Made in China 2025,’ China’s landmark industrial policy; and an op-ed on China’s “unavoidable” financial rise. If you’re not already a paid subscriber to The Wire, please sign up here.
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In the not too distant past, the term 自卑 zibei, or “inferiority mindset,” was a popular way to describe the attitude of Chinese youth. But, as Alec Ash explores in this week’s cover essay, for a new generation of Chinese young people — those who have only known a country rapidly on the rise — that term no longer applies. Indeed, China’s patriotic fervor has grown up a lot over the past decade. And, with self-interest coexisting with sentiment, he argues, the new nationalism will be dismissed or underestimated at our peril.
Europe has grown wary of China’s involvement in its nuclear power projects. This week, reports suggested that the U.K. is trying to remove China General Nuclear (CGN) from three nuclear power projects, once hailed by the two countries as a symbol of their “golden era” of relations. But with or without Europe, China is rapidly exporting its nuclear technology overseas. In this week’s Big Picture infographics, Eliot Chen looks at China’s nuclear ambitions and the incentives attracting customers from the Middle East to South America to do deals with China’s nuclear SOEs.
Isabella Weber is an assistant professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the author of a recently published book, How China Escaped Shock Therapy: The Market Reform Debate. In this week’s Q&A with David Barboza, Weber talks about China’s tumultuous economic reforms in the 1980s, how the country flirted with shock therapy, and why its leadership ultimately decided against radical changes to its system.
Illustration by Lauren Crow
China’s State Council first publicized its “Made in China 2025” plan in 2015, but now that the plan has received considerable foreign pushback, Chinese leaders have stopped talking about it altogether. As Anastasiia Carrier reports, Beijing might have stopped referring to it by name, but ‘Made in China 2025’ never went away. With four years go to to meet the deadline, China is still racing to achieve its lofty industrial policy goals — even as it faces strong political headwinds from overseas in the process.
With ultra-low interest rates in the U.S. and E.U. during the Covid-19 pandemic, tens of billions of dollars are flowing into China, as international investors rush to buy Chinese assets. But in this week’s opinion piece, Zhang Jun, Dean of the School of Economics at Fudan University, writes that this isn’t a short-term trend, and that China is a safer destination for investors’ money than other emerging market economies. To continue to sleep on China’s financial rise, he argues, would be a mistake.
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