Good evening. China’s real estate crisis continues to cause ripples across the country. Our cover story this week looks at China’s museums and art scene — which thrived over the past decade in large part because museums were bundled into real estate developments. Elsewhere, we have an investigation into G42, the Emirati technology firm, and previously unreported details about its ties to China; infographics on China’s EV battery recycling business; an interview with Ya-Wen Lei on China’s ‘gilded cage’; and an op-ed about why China is not returning to its reform agenda. If you’re not already a paid subscriber to The Wire, please sign up here.
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A decade ago, China arrived on the global art scene with deep pockets and an abundance of swagger. Recently, however, China’s economic downturn has caused a spate of museums to close and once prominent collectors to sell their collections. Can China ever achieve its dreams of “cultural self-confidence”?
Already at the forefront of EV production, China has also become a leader in reusing critical raw materials such as lithium and nickel from old batteries. This week’s infographics from Aaron Mc Nicholas look at one of China’s leading recycling companies, Green-Eco-Manufacture (GEM), and why EV batteries have become such a crucial part of its business model in recent years.
Ya-Wen Lei is a professor of sociology at Harvard University and is affiliated with the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies and the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. Her new book, Gilded Cage: Technology, Development, and State Capitalism in China, describes how the Chinese Communist Party has extended its social contract with the people of China by leveraging the tools of the high-tech economy to promote a digital domain controlled by the central government. In this week’s Q&A with Jonathan Landreth, she talks about the effects on Chinese society of the country’s high-tech development, and how the pandemic may have shifted public attitudes.
Illustration by Lauren Crow
On Monday, The New York Times published an article about U.S. intelligence concerns that G42, the Emirati technology firm, may be seeking to act as a conduit for China to obtain sensitive technology. Further examination by Katrina Northrop reveals previously unreported details about G42’s ties to China and shed light on the new role the Emirates is playing in U.S.-China geopolitical and technological competition.
In the coming weeks, the CCP is set to have yet another “Third Plenum” meeting that is likely to spell out signals for the direction of China’s political economy. Max J. Zenglein and Jacob Gunter, of Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS), argue in this week’s op-ed that foreigners shouldn’t be fooled by the Chinese government’s recent charm offensive towards business.
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