Good evening. In the coming months, the European Commission is scheduled to rule on whether or not wind towers imported from China should face duties. It’s a seemingly small potatoes case, but as this week’s cover story shows, it’s a fascinating microcosm of the compounding and nuanced challenges facing European industry when it comes to China. Elsewhere, we have a Q&A with Jude Blanchette, from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, on the challenge of researching China and the leadership of Xi Jinping; infographics on China’s music streaming industry; book recommendations to mark the Chinese Communist Party’s centennial, and an op-ed by Andrew Sheng and Xiao Geng on the folly of the West’s “paradigm blindness.” If you’re not already a paid subscriber to The Wire, please sign up here.
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Modern wind towers are gigantic beasts, often standing over 300-feet tall and weighing 500 metric tons. Moving the massive constructs is no easy feat. But China has a way of defying basic logic in global industries: it has not only found a way to export the towers all the way to the E.U., but it is also undercutting prices from its European competition. As Luke Patey reports for this week’s cover story, the European wind tower manufacturers are trying to fight back, but the Chinese pattern of state backing and generous subsidies has proven a difficult one for Europe’s industrialists to get ahead of.
For years, China’s music streaming industry had only one company that mattered: Tencent. In 2018, when Tencent Music Entertainment went public on the New York Stock Exchange, the company controlled more than 80 percent of China’s music streaming market. But starting this year, Chinese regulators have taken a keen interest in TME. In this week’s Big Picture, Eliot Chen looks at the rise of Tencent Music, and how recent antitrust measures have positioned its biggest rival to finally compete in a significant way.
Jude Blanchette is a China scholar and the current Freeman Chair in China Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank. He is also the author of China’s New Red Guards, a book on the revival of support for Maoism and nationalism in modern China. In this week’s Q&A, he talks to James Chater about the difficulty of interpreting Beijing’s decisions at a time when China’s borders are closed to visitors, Xi Jinping’s motivations for consolidating power, and the long-term ramifications for the Chinese Communist Party.
Illustration by Lauren Crow
On the occasion of the CCP’s centennial, Alec Ash rounds up the best new China books that look back on the Party’s hundred years in power — as well as a few books looking ahead towards its future.
In this week’s op-ed, Andrew Sheng and Xiao Geng, two academics and long-time financial experts, argue that the reason America is in an era of “systemic gridlock, policy chaos, and sudden-shock failures” is because it’s approaching policymaking the wrong way. They argue the top-down approach to governing societies that traces back to the ideas of Thomas Hobbes is a poor fit for today’s “highly complex global system,” and instead, that Chinese engineers and planners may have the right idea.
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