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On May 27th speaking at the annual Stanford University Oksenberg Conference, Kurt Campbell, Biden’s National Security Council Coordinator for Indo-Pacific Affairs, delineated the new ‘continental divide’ in U.S.-China Relations.

The period in U.S. policy toward China that was broadly described as ‘engagement’ has come to an end, said Dr. Kurt M. Campbell, deputy assistant to the President and coordinator for Indo-Pacific affairs at the National Security Council, speaking at Shorenstein APARC’s 2021 Oksenberg Conference. “The dominant paradigm is going to be competition. Our goal is to make that a stable, peaceful competition that brings out the best of us,” he added.

This low-key pronouncement is attention-grabbing for several fundamental reasons: (1) it marks the end of a 39-year bipartisan effort to encourage China to become, through a concerted program of cooperative outreach, a “responsible stakeholder” in the post-WWII liberal democratic world order and (2) the epitapth was delivered by one of the principal architects of that cooperative program.

To back up this somewhat sweeping statement on my part, I’ll be spending the weeks ahead examining what this sea-change portends from three perspectives:

Aspirationally …

On Mondays, we’ll be looking at various aspects of what heightened competition with China will look like for the Biden Administration in the tech sphere. This will include high-level perspectives of competition in artificial intelligence and robotics; sourcing of rare earths needed for smart phones, electric vehicles and other high-tech products; 5G build-out in domestic and international markets; quantum computing competition; the Great Firewall of China as an export product to Belt & Road partners countries; and social media platforms and data privacy issues. But most saliently, we’ll be looking in-depth at global supply chains in microelectronics and the fraught issue that 40% of the world’s microchip production — and 80% of its high-performance products — are produced in Taiwan at a distance of only 90 miles from the PRC mainland.

On Wednesdays, we’ll be examining the fields of energy and environment where cooperation still rules the day under Cabinet-level John Kerry’s aegis but where cooperation is shifting from a government-to-government level to a more market-based model of comparative advantage cooperation.

On Fridays, we’ll be examining what these changes look like from the Chinese perspective. Our sources for this perspective — what cultural anthropologists call the emic (in-group) view as opposed to the etic (outside observer) view — will include macro-perspectives such as the Five Year Plans, primary-source research findings provided by my UPenn masters-level students, and also micro-perspectives such as interviews and insights gleaned from business people operating on the ground in China.

My heart-felt thanks go out to the many subscribers who have been with me on the journey to date. I look forward to welcoming hopefully many others choosing to subscribe to the blog for this next leg of the journey.

Publisher’s Note: Please see note following Dori’s Guest Blog explaining the interruption of regular blogging in Q4 of 2020 and the schedule for the resumption of regular blogging throughout the remainder of 2021,

Three Reassuring Perspectives on China

by Dori Jones Yang

These are dark times for any American who has spent years working to improve US-China relations. Some 80 percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of China, up from 47 percent just three years ago. After writing a memoir of my experiences as a BusinessWeek correspondent covering China during more hopeful times—the 1980s—I can offer three perspectives that offer some reassurance.

First, historical. As a child of the Cold War, I was taught that China had a totalitarian system where children were asked to spy on their parents. China was isolated, poor, and mired in destructive political struggles. I chose to study the Chinese language during the 1970s, and just as I completed my master’s degree in international studies, Washington and Beijing re-established diplomatic relations, setting off a decade of optimism. For eight years, I reported on Deng Xiaoping’s reform and opening, with ever more euphoric articles as Chinese people were finally given the freedom to speak up and take control of their lives.

January 14, 1985

By the time I completed my assignment, in 1990, the wheel had turned full circle. After Chinese troops suppressed the Tiananmen Square protests, US-China relations went dark again, with US sanctions over human rights violations. We reporters, we Americans, predicted a “great leap backward”—the end of Deng’s great experiment in modernization.

June 12, 1989

But we were wrong, and China embarked on a steady path of rapid growth that enabled 850 million people to rise out of poverty. Chinese cities gleamed with new subways, high-speed rail lines, skyscrapers, shopping malls, and neon advertising. Many US companies profited from China’s low-cost manufacturing and ever-expanding market. Yet I, like many, was caught unawares, again, when US-China friendship turned combative and confrontational during the Trump years.

My historical perspective is this: Americans are passionate about China. Unlike India, or Indonesia, or Brazil, China evokes strong feelings in these United States. Even people who have never set foot on the Great Wall express strong opinions about the Middle Kingdom. We love it. We hate it. Then we love it again. As John Pomfret wrote in The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom, “Both sides experience rapturous enchantment begetting hope, followed by disappointment, repulsion, and disgust, only to return to fascination once again.”

Second, I view China through the lens of business. As a BusinessWeek reporter, I wrote about the early pioneers, American companies that dared to invest in China just as Beijing was starting to allow foreign trade and investment. I interviewed some of the earliest Chinese pioneers, too, entrepreneurs who defied their fears of being labeled “capitalist roaders” and started their own companies. During the 1990s and beyond, US corporations were the strongest advocates for China, pushing the US government to grant China most-favored-nation trade status and then championing China’s entry into the World Trade Organization. In recent years, some US companies turned to the Trump Administration to help pressure Beijing to remove barriers, not necessarily realizing that the result would be a decline in the overall relationship—mistrust and a push for China to become self-reliant.

Today, some of those companies regret their support of Trump’s tariff war. Those that view China as a major market and an important supplier—and the one major economy that is actually growing again—are likely to speak up again in support of better relations. Even those in industries that view China as a competitor are torn, because China is also a huge market for them. Few, if any, US companies benefited from the trade war, and business support for it is likely to fade.

Third, I have a personal perspective on China. During my years as a reporter there I met and married a Chinese man—one who had fled the Communists as a child but who later benefited from selling US equipment to China’s rapidly growing market. Through him, I came to know a wide range of individuals in China who were able to better their lives because of new opportunities. Sadly, these people-to-people contacts that I and other Americans have forged with Chinese individuals are now more difficult to maintain. The pandemic forced us to cancel plans to travel to China last year, and our Chinese relatives in the United States fled back home to safety.

Yet hundreds of thousands of Chinese have studied at US universities, and millions have traveled here as tourists—and untold millions of Americans have come to know Chinese as friends. These interpersonal ties may help to keep the two nations from flying into enmity and to moderate the negative impressions citizens on both sides have of the other’s government. They help to humanize our understanding of China, and those of us who have such links should convey that to our American friends and neighbors who feel alienated from China.

After living through several swings of the pendulum, I have learned to be both patient and persistent. Over the past forty years, the United States and China have created strong ties that may pull us out of our current “repulsion and disgust” and return us to fascination once again.

                —Dori Jones Yang is author of When the Red Gates Opened: A Memoir of China’s Reawakening.

For more information, see her website, https://dorijonesyang.com/when-the-red-gates-opened/.

For her National Committee on U.S.-China Relations webinar presentation, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XCbTTs6GshM&t=208s

Publisher’s Note: I offer heartfelt apologies to all followers of the TEA Collaborative Blog — and especially to Dori — for the unexpected and unexplained interruption of service which began in the 4th quarter of 2020 and continued through until today. Cryptically, all I can say at this moment is that the interruption had to do with the lead-up to the November 3rd election and then with efforts to help the new administration Build Back Better in the area of pandemic response along the NE Corridor. Hope to have more I can share in the near future. In the meanwhile, the resumption of regular blogging on our three themes — Technology, Energy/Environment, and (PRC macrodevelopment) Ambitions (spiced up occasionally with guest blog posts added as the opportunities present themselves) — will resume shortly. Again, apologies to Dori for this appearing so late after your book launch in September. Sending my wishes here for the book’s continued success!

A short forty minutes has rarely been been as consequential and historically transformative as Maestro Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra’s performance of Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony proved to be in Beijing on September 16, 1973.

That performance reminded the world that music creates human connection and has the power to bridge a quarter-century-long rift dividing the globe.

Today is the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birthday. To help celebrate, my friends Sam Katz and Jennifer Lin — supported by many others — have pulled together the narrative and the music, along with magnificent archival film and images, to tell that story of “Beethoven in Beijing.”

China Partnership of Greater Philadelphia cordially invites you to join as our guest a special, limited audience viewing of the film to celebrate Beethoven’s 250 birthday. The film will be followed by live-streamed and interactive Q&A session with the two co-producers and the filmmaker.

Watch the Trailer

FREE Tickets Here

Website: www.beethoveninbeijing.com 

A word to the wise — don’t miss it! Hope to “see” you there.

When I lived in the Himalayas in the early 1980s, the villagers in Manang would frequently distill their harvested buckwheat into potent ‘rakshi’ (रक्सी), the Nepali word for spirits (which carries the exact same double meaning of “high-proof alcoholic beverage” and “supernatural beings” as does the English word).  An aspect of the distillation process which I gained appreciation for as I observed and sometimes lent a hand was the quantity of the grain stock needed to produce a given quantity of home-grown moonshine.  A large quantity of grain distilled down to a precious few, highly potent drops.

Thirty-eight pages of, as officially named, The Biden Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice can be distilled down to the 11 words of that title and the 33 words of its first sentence.  That first sentence reads, “From coastal towns to rural farms to urban centers, climate change poses an existential threat – not just to our environment, but to our health, our communities our national security, and our economic well-being.”

There is of course much more that could be said about what is unofficially called the Biden Climate Plan.  And I will have more to say about it in future posts.  But it seems as good a place to start as any to look at those first 44 words and savor them as a distillation of the entire plan.  The plan packs a wallop compared to Trump’s tasteless concoction while also revealing a different blend than the Green New Deal. 

The three key ideas embedded in the title are: (1) the link between the environmental crisis and a clean energy-led transformation of the economy;  (2) the scale and urgency of the transformation requiring revolutionary, not incremental, levels of response; and (3) the implication that neither the environmental nor economic response can grow fully — sustainably and with regenerative power — without a social justice tap-root.

 The first idea restates an approach to mitigating climate change initially developed in the second term of the George W Bush Administration and then substantially expanded during the eight years of the Obama Administration.  That approach was to take the U.S. National Labs model for innovation, developed after WWII, and update it to a Version 2.0 in order to foster clean energy industries for the 21st century challenge of climate change.  In both versions of the model, government leads the way with basic research and early commercial proof-of-concept work until the private-sector is motivated to take over with commercialization, applying skills in lowering costs and building consumer acceptance.  Government’s role during commercialization shifts to articulating policy so that investors have enough time-horizon certainty to deploy capital to accelerate commercialization and build out the market. The story of DARPA and the development of the Internet is the classic case study cited for this approach.

As to the “revolutionary” aspect, thoughtful conservatively-minded people – by which I mean, political conservatives who don’t deny anthropogenic (i.e., human-caused) climate change — have gravitated to an alternative approach. Their preferred approach is to keep government out of the market except to articulate an across-the-board carbon tax system  This latter approach, promoted most prominently by James Baker, George Shultz, and Hank Paulson at the Climate Leadership Council, is one that current Big Oil companies are more willing to work with.  It raises their cost of doing business but does not pose the existential challenge of a government-led ‘new economy’ transformation.  Conservatives argue that nothing will happen until the oil giants and the big utilities sign on.  An evolutionary approach. Liberals argue that the oil giants and big utilities will only sign on when a ‘new economy’ transformation forces them to.  In other words, a revolution.

The third pillar holding up the title is ‘environmental justice’ highlighting the fact, equally apparent with the COVID-19 pandemic, that climate change affects the health, livelihood and well-being of disadvantaged communities much more deeply and perniciously than it does more privileged communities.   Rather than plunge into that deep topic here, I recommend anyone who’s looking for an informative and lively toe-dip into the subject to view this three-and-a-half primer on the topic by Grist.

Moving on to the 33 words of the first sentence, three key points are being communicated here:

First, climate change is an existential threat.  Period. 

Second, it threatens every single American, wherever they live and whatever they think about it.  Like with the spread of the COVID-19 virus, if we don’t master it, it masters us. 

Third, the threat is varied and far-reaching, applying to the quality of the environment we live in, to our health and morbidity, to the strength of our communities, to our economic well-being and, importantly, to our national security.

Rather than go through each of these, I’ll close this post with just a quick look at the threat to our national security.  To outline the different dimensions of threat posed to our national security, I’ll draw directly – and with a grimace of irony —  from the Trump Administration’s own assessment, an assessment it is required by law to make even while the White House studiously ignores it.

So here goes in the Trump Administrations own words …

  • “Climate change creates new risks and exacerbates existing vulnerabilities in communities across the United States, presenting growing challenges to human health and safety, quality of life, and the rate of economic growth;”
  • “Without substantial and sustained global mitigation and regional adaptation efforts, climate change is expected to cause growing losses to American infrastructure and property and impede the rate of economic growth over this century;”
  • “The quality and quantity of water available for use by people and ecosystems across the country are being affected by climate change, increasing risks and costs to agriculture, energy production, industry, recreation and the environment;”
  • “Impacts from climate change on extreme weather and climate-related events, air quality, and the transmission of disease through insects and pests, food and water increasingly threaten the health and well-being of the American people, particularly populations that are already vulnerable;”
  • “Ecosystems and the benefits they provide to society are being altered by climate change and these impacts are projected to continue. Without substantial and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions, transformative impacts on some ecosystems will occur; some coral reef and sea ice ecosystems are already experiencing such transformational changes;”
  • “Rising temperatures, extreme heat, drought, wildfire on rangelands, and heavy downpours are expected to increasingly disrupt agricultural productivity in the United States. Expected increases in challenges to livestock health, declines in crop yields and quality, and changes in extreme events in the United States and abroad threaten rural livelihoods, sustainable food security, and price stability;”
  • “Our Nation’s aging and deteriorating infrastructure is further stressed by increases in heavy precipitation events, coastal flooding, heat, wildfire, and other extreme events, as well as changes to average precipitation and temperature. Without adaptation, climate change will continue to degrade infrastructure performance over the rest of the century, with the potential for cascading impacts that threaten our economy, national security, essential services and health and well-being.”

We’ll have occasion in the future to look into the health and morbidity impacts, the community well-being impacts, and importantly the economic impacts of climate change. But this quick inventory of some of the national security impacts, by the Trump Administration’s own reckoning, should be enough to make clear that we need to be doing more.

So, what would I tell the Biden team after taking this first sip of the Biden Climate Plan?  It’s all good as far as it goes.  But it could go farther.  Why take an either/or approach when the scale and urgency of the problem call for both/and.  A commitment to advancing the carbon tax solution in parallel with the plan’s advocacy of clean energy market transformation would make it possible to move farther and faster.  Like a climber uses two surfaces to climb an otherwise unclimbable rock-wall. 

We need to be moving up this mountain fast and skillfully. We’re currently stuck mid-way up, staring at a formidable facade, and wondering how in the world we’re going to scale it.

The global scientific consensus, most prominently supported by the work of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), assesses with high confidence a global warming increase of 1 °C as measured against preindustrial levels. Currently experienced effects from the 1 °C global warming which has already occurred include: loss of sea ice and glacial shrinking, accelerated sea level rises, shifting atmospheric and oceanic currents, longer and more intense heat waves and hurricane seasons. Impacts on the biosphere include the shifting of plant and animal ranges, earlier plant and tree flowering, and rapid declines in bio- diversity. All of these changes threaten the equilibrium of the planet and, more fundamentally, the continued viability of human adaptation to the planet.

The most recent comprehensive report issued by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2018 compares the difference in impacts on human societies (the ‘delta’) if global warming is allowed to reach 2 °C as opposed to being stabilized at 1.5 °C above preindustrial levels. These delta effects2 include: an additional 10 million people endangered by sea level rise; several hundred million more people made susceptible to poverty; 50% more people exposed to water stress; loss of 1.5 million additional tons of global annual catch for marine fisheries; the number of plant and animal species on which human life depends losing half their habitat.

Clearly, the challenge is epochal. Even assuming that all countries in the world fulfill their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) pledged in the Paris Agreement, the world is currently on track to exceed 1.5° C by 2050 and to remain well above that threshold into the next century.

At a national level, the challenge is no less urgent or less central to societal well-being. Even for an administration notably skeptical of climate change science and aggressively committed to deregulating and redefining environmental standards so as to lessen the severity of threat assessments, the outlook remains dire. According to the Trump Administration’s most recent Climate Assessment3, which synthesizes the data and projections from thirteen federal agencies, key risks facing the nation as a direct result of climate change include risks to communities, the economy, water quality, citizen health, ecosystems, agricultural and food supply; the nation’s infrastructure; and the nation’s defense. To quote directly several specific examples:

  • “Climate change creates new risks and exacerbates existing vulnerabilities in communities across the United States, presenting growing challenges to human health and safety, quality of life, and the rate of economic growth;”
  • “Without substantial and sustained global mitigation and regional adaptation efforts, climate change is expected to cause growing losses to American infrastructure and property and impede the rate of economic growth over this century;”
  • “The quality and quantity of water available for use by people and ecosystems across the country are being affected by climate change, increasing risks and costs to agriculture, energy production, industry, recreation and the environment;”
  • “Impacts from climate change on extreme weather and climate-related events, air quality, and the transmission of disease through insects and pests, food and water increasingly threaten the health and well-being of the American people, particularly populations that are already vulnerable;”
  • “Ecosystems and the benefits they provide to society are being altered by climate change and these impacts are projected to continue. Without substantial and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions, transformative impacts on some ecosystems will occur; some coral reef and sea ice ecosystems are already experiencing such transformational changes;”
  • “Rising temperatures, extreme heat, drought, wildfire on rangelands, and heavy downpours are expected to increasingly disrupt agricultural productivity in the United States. Expected increases in challenges to livestock health, declines in crop yields and quality, and changes in extreme events in the United States and abroad threaten rural livelihoods, sustainable food security, and price stability;”
  • “Our Nation’s aging and deteriorating infrastructure is further stressed by increases in heavy precipitation events, coastal flooding, heat, wildfire, and other extreme events, as well as changes to average precipitation and temperature. Without adaptation, climate change will continue to degrade infrastructure performance over the rest of the century, with the potential for cascading impacts that threaten our economy, national security, essential services and health and well-being.”These effects are felt most directly at the local level. This is because the costs which climate change inflicts globally and nationally – costs of community disruption, slowing economic growth, deteriorating water quality, ecosystem disequilibrium, and infrastructural decay – are mostly borne at the local level. To address this challenge, the City of Philadelphia, like most major cities in the country and many counties and townships as well, has its own Climate Action Plan. Generally, these local plans have three major components: (1) at the grassroots level, the plan serves to connect with various stakeholder groups such as businesses, educational institutions, residential associations, and engaged constituencies to raise awareness and help coordinate common effort; (2) at the local governmental level, the plan articulates the limited number of focal areas where local government has determined its scarce dollars canhave greatest, proactive impact; and (3) at the supra-local governmental level, these plans serve as the blueprints for collaboration with other cities and regions, as the justification for federal budget requests, and as the channel for consolidating and reporting local ‘carbon emissions savings’ into the Paris Agreement NDC process.

As we have learned with the COVID-19 pandemic, a straightforward scientific fact can be politically complicated.  Acknowledging and addressing human-caused climate change is politically complex in the U.S. at this moment.  So is cooperating with China on anything.  Recognizing those complexities does not, however, absolve us of the responsibility to find a way forward on both the science and the international relations.

1.5° is where the U.S. and China must meet.

FPRI HK Publication Graphic

On January 29, the Hong Kong governent announced potential amendments to its extradition laws that would allow suspects to be extradited to countries with which the city has no formal extradition agreements. According to Chief Executive Carrie Lam, the bill was a response to a murder case in Taiwan, where the suspect had fled back to Hong Kong and now could not be called to face justice. In Lam’s mind, plugging this legal loophole would also fulfill a longtime wish of Beijing: that political dissidents and corrupt officials alike could now be tried in the mainland’s own courts.

When Lam subsequently fast-tracked the bill through the legislature, confident that rising concerns were either misguided or sure to eventually be assuaged, she could not have foreseen the oncoming storm: that resistance to the bill, to her leadership, and eventually to the entire political system altogether would spiral into marches of millions and an opposition movement that shows no signs of going away. After all, hadn’t the pro-democracy movement largely splintered and faded away in the wake of the 2014 Umbrella Movement, having failed to achieve its political goals and suffered decisive losses at the polls in 2018? Wasn’t the populace as a whole widely apatheticcynical, and disillusioned with civil disobedience?

Yet for over a month and counting, protest after protest has been staged in the city, with a cumulative participation of 4,228,900. Carrie Lam has been forced to declare the bill first “suspended” and now “dead”—though even this most recent announcement still stops short of full withdrawal, and has failed to appease her critics. Opponents of the bill have decried sending fugitives to a justice system that boasts a 99.9% conviction rate and argued that extradition would violate the autonomy promised to Hong Kong under the “one country, two systems” policy, which was designed in the lead-up to the 1997 handover of the former British colony back to China and which granted Hong Kong its own separate judiciary, legislative system, and free Internet and press. More than being a simple change of law, the bill was seen as a fundamental challenge to the rights and freedoms that have made Hong Kong more than just another Chinese city.

Underpinning the events of the past month has been a recurring pattern of government indecision and inertia fueling the momentum of the movement. Demand after demand went unacknowledged; scenes of police brutality shocked a city whose police force had until then been considered “Asia’s finest”; and demonstrators’ slogans have evolved from calling for the extradition bill’s withdrawal to asking for universal suffrage and democracy. Most recently, protests have moved on to explicitly attract the attention of Chinese from the mainland, as on July 7 a march of 230,000 was held at the West Kowloon station that connects the mainland to Hong Kong, and many slogans were shouted in Mandarin instead of Cantonese. Protesters are no longer simply demanding the bill’s withdrawal, although even that demand alone has yet to be granted, but for fundamental reform. Here’s how it all happened.

Hong Kong in Protest

June 9Over 1 million people took to the streets protesting the extradition law (1 in 7 of the city’s population). Backlash to the bill came not only from traditional opposition stakeholders but also from the likes of judges and businesses; the crowds that turned up on June 9 reflected this diverse set of converging interests.

June 10Chief Executive Carrie Lam refused to withdraw the bill and instead doubled down on her commitment to push the amendments forward. In response, organisers called on protesters to reconvene around the Legislative Council (LegCo) building at 10:00 on June 12.

June 12: Tens of thousands of protesters began occupying the roads to the point that lawmakers were unable to gain access to the legislative complex, forcing the debate on the bill to be postponed. Shortly after 3:00—the deadline protesters had set for the government to withdraw the extradition bill—some protesters tried storming LegCo headquarters.

At this point, police began using tear gaspepper spray, and rubber bullets to disperse the crowds. Video footage documents police violence against largely unarmed crowds of mostly young people; at least 72 protesters were injured, and two were arrested while in the hospitalIn response, Lam reaffirmed her support for the police, described the protests as an “organised riot,” and continued to stand by the extradition amendment.

June 15: Lam announced the suspension of the extradition law, stating that no date had been set for the “next step forward.” Protesters remained unhappy Lam ignored their other core demands, and argued that since suspension did not mean withdrawal, the bill could still be reintroduced at any time.

June 16: Two million people packed the streets, more than a quarter of the city’s population, demanding a full withdrawal of the bill, the retraction of the “riot” characterization, the release of all arrested protesters, an investigation of police brutality, and Lam’s resignation.

June 21-June 30A series of road occupations were staged after authorities failed to answer protesters’ demands. Protesters occupied the area around government and police headquarterskey thoroughfares, and other government buildings.

July 1Ahead of the flag-raising ceremony commemorating the 1997 handover, police deployed pepper spray and batons against demonstrators who occupied roads around the venue early in the morning. In the afternoon, 550,000 protesters attended the annual July 1 democracy march, the highest ever turnout.

In a separate demonstration, protesters stormed the legislative building, smashing through glass walls and vandalizing the inner chamber. Demonstrators tore down portraits of past LegCo presidents and spray-painted pro-democracy slogans on the main chamber’s walls, including one that said, “It was you who told me peaceful marches did not work”. At the same time, they barricaded off books and cultural artifacts for protection, and left cash behind for the drinks they helped themselves to.

July 7In attempts to reach mainland audiences, and to breach China’s extensive censorship of the protests230,000 marched to the West Kowloon high-speed rail terminal located in a popular tourist district. The peaceful demonstration ended in baton charges by riot police in a bid to disperse protesters.

The Anti-Extradition Protests in a Hong Kong Perspective

The anti-extradition protests have been about far more than extradition. This specific topic may have proven the most perfectly calibrated to the frequencies of public anger, yet crowd sizes, breaking record after record, point to a far deeper wellspring of outrage long fomented by cumulative years of misgovernance—and, most recently, of sharply escalating repression.

In 2003, a law known as “Article 23” was proposed that would criminalize acts of sedition and subversion against mainland China; in 2014, a “Moral and National Education” civics course was announced for all Hong Kong schools in response to Chinese senior leaders’ observations that the city’s youth needed to better “love the motherland”; in 2014, long-awaited constitutional reforms that would have allowed for general elections for the Chief Executive were revealed to only permit voting on a limited number of pre-approved candidates. The next year saw five people, all linked to a Hong Kong bookshop that published books banned in China, disappear. Hong Kong dropped to 70th in the world on the global press freedom index, from 18th best in 2002. In July 2017, Carrie Lam became the Chief Executive despite not being the most popular candidate—she was, of course, favored by Beijing. In October 2018, the government issued its first-ever visa denial to a foreign journalist, after he moderated a Foreign Correspondents’ Club event in August that featured a talk by the convenor of the pro-independence National Party, Andy Chan Ho-tin. The National Party was banned on national security grounds in September that year. In April 2019, shortly after introducing the extradition amendments, nine leaders of the 2014 Umbrella Movement were convicted for “public nuisance.”

Millions of people in Hong Kong marched in recognition that the extradition bill was simply the latest of many attempts at suppression—and that, should the law pass and vastly expand the reach of China’s retribution, this act of protest could very well be their last.

Yet, in a city that has been both a bridge to and a refuge from the mainland, political space has long been defined by a continuous push-and-pull between authoritarian pressures from Beijing and civic freedoms in Hong Kong: free Internet, tenacious independent journalists, industrious activists, prominent dissidents, and, perhaps most importantly of all, an entire generation of young people who in 2014 came to maturity on the picket lines of protest. The 2003 sedition law was withdrawn, followed by the then-Chief Executive’s resignation after crowds of over 500,000 marched against its implementation. The 2011 national education law was also shelved, having drawn protests of 90,000 in July and 120,000 in September. Members of the 2014 Umbrella Movement might not have brought about the change in the system they dreamed of, but they left a legacy nonetheless. In this city of “liberty without democracy,” described as such (and fittingly so) by Hong Kong’s last colonial governor, citizens have long been voting with their feet. To protest in the streets of Hong Kong is to partake in, and add to, this shared inheritance of civil protest.

Demonstrators this time around knew what to be afraid of. Throughout the week, departing protesters formed unusually long lines at subway stations’ single-use ticket machines, because cash is less easily tracked. Demonstrators turned off location tracking on their phones, and deleted conversations and photos on social media and messaging apps; switching, in the latter case, from the typically most popular WhatsApp to the better encrypted Telegram, which became the #1 most downloaded app in the city. Yet, for all its encryption, protesters may not be fully safe, as police have reportedly collected identification information from protest group chats with tens of thousands of members; on June 11, authorities arrested the administrator of a group chat of 20,000, Ivan Ip, despite Ip being at his home miles away from the protest site. One day later, Telegram reported experiencing powerful distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks from “IP addresses coming mostly from China.” Gas masks, goggles, caps, and helmets helped protect protesters against tear gas and pepper spray—and they also helped hide their faces. Following major demonstrations, police have been searching vehicles and hospital rooms for protesters, with one driver arrested on July 2 for possessing “offensive weapons”—a pair of scissors and his asthma drugs. As of July 7, 61 have been arrested on protest-related charges. One of them is 14 years old.

What comes of the anti-extradition movement is of paramount importance; at the same time, it almost doesn’t matter. If the protests succeed, they should inspire the world. If the protests fail, they should still inspire the world. Governed by a system where the ballot is largely meaningless, people are voting with their bodies instead. Hong Kongers are more afraid, and more determined, than ever before.

 

Authors:

Due to the situation in Hong Kong after the implementation of the National Security Law, the identity of the primary author of this piece has been removed for safety concerns.

M. Terry Cooke is a Senior Fellow in the Asia Program at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. He founded the China Partnership of Greater Philadelphia in 2011.

@mterrycooke

The headwinds are strong at the moment but, knowing how to tack, we at China Partnership of Greater Philadelphia will still get to our goal. Market forces are at center-stage now and with the Trump Administration stepping back at the national level, sub-national leaders like California and Philadelphia are stepping forward in support of U.S.-China co-leadership on climate change.
 
Xi Jinping by Abode of Chaos artist Thierry Ehrmann
(Even the Trump Administration’s effort to undo the Clean Power Plan has a long way to go through the courts and the constitutional process. The clear science of proven medical benefit behind the Clean Power Plan (i.e., closing down coal-fired utilities) may prove decisive for the judicial branch and hand the Trump Administration yet another loss in federal court).

by Terry Cooke

Reposted from original publication in the Philadelphia Business Journal on April 7, 2017
Click here to link to original article

chinese-president-xi-arrives-01-rgb-480xx4672-2631-0-151

As President Donald Trump prepares to meet with President Xi Jinping for the first time this week, the world is watching closely.  Of particular importance is the ‘gut feeling’ which each leader will take away following their informal sessions together in Mar-a-Lago on Thursday and Friday. At the bilateral level, will the leaders trust each other to hold to the last quarter-century’s course of strategic engagement or will pressures from North Korea or from economic nationalism precipitate outright conflict?  At the global level, will the two share some intuition that the national security of both countries requires continued demonstration of U.S.-China co-leadership on the world stage in confronting climate change? Or will they accept the break-down of the Paris COP21 breakthrough?

While the initial meeting between these two men is doubtless important, engaged citizens must remind themselves that their voices too matter greatly in answering these questions.  Fortunately, in the Greater Philadelphia region, we already have a place on this global stage.  With history to prompt us and the present-day resources of the city and region to guide our role, we can speak up and be heard on these vital questions.

How?  Start by recognizing that U.S. policies toward China and climate change are inseparably linked.  There is simply no global solution to the climate change challenge without cooperation between our two countries.  Look at the history of talks on climate change between the advanced and developing worlds, which spun their wheels for a quarter-century, enduring breakdowns in Kyoto and Copenhagen.  It was only following the first tentative gestures of cooperation between the U.S. and China in 2009, building eventually to a Presidential-level announcement of joint commitments by Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping in November 2014, that a first-ever global agreement on action steps could emerge in Paris in December 2015.

Similarly, there is no possibility of the U.S. and China sustaining their cooperation on the climate change front if the U.S. starts viewing China as an outright antagonist.  The relationship between the U.S. and China is too complex and dynamic for simple “friend or foe” typologies.  The two sides must manage conflict in those areas where U.S. and Chinese national interests diverge (North Korea, cyber, South & East China Seas, etc) and maximize cooperation in those areas where national interests are shared (climate change cooperation, counter-terrorism, nuclear non-proliferation, etc).

Can a metropolitan region like Greater Philadelphia play a meaningful role on this monumental global stage?  Not only can we, we have been called to do so.  In their joint 2014 announcement, Presidents Obama and Xi made clear that, with the stage for bi-national and multi-national cooperation against climate change effectively built, the spotlight was now on ‘sub-national actors’  — cities and states, the private sector, and NGOs – to step forward and implement actions “at the local level where they matter most.”  City actors are particularly important on this stage because more than half of humanity now lives in cities and mayors have direct influence over the urban built environment and the metropolitan transportation systems that together account for roughly two-thirds of global greenhouse emissions.

Moreover, Philadelphia boasts a unique history of cooperation with China, reaching back to 1784 when The Empress of China, a ship captained and financed by Philadelphians, began the first commercial trading voyage to China from the newly formed United States.  This sparked a century-long trade boom – furs, woods, and silver coins from America for artworks and exotic foodstuffs from China – that brought lasting mutual benefit.  So much so that, at the time of the Centennial World Fair in Philadelphia in 1876, the Guangxu Emperor sent a personal emissary and over 6,000 categories of objects, staking China’s claim as the largest foreign pavilion at the exhibition and helping to establish this event by upstart Americans among the top tier of world exhibitions.  With those strands of history in the weave, it was especially fitting that, 96 years later, President Nixon selected Maestro Eugene Ormandy and The Philadelphia Orchestra to travel to China in 1973 to boost diplomacy with people-to-people outreach.  With this ‘cultural diplomacy’ helping overcome a quarter-century of isolation and enmity between the U.S. and China, Philadelphia and Tianjin were able to become the first two U.S-China Sister Cities in 1980.

It is not only historical experience but, more importantly, present-day resources that equip Philadelphia to take a leading role on this epochal stage.  We are recognized, nationally and internationally, as a leading center for innovation and application in a wide-range of energy-efficient building, smart grid and other clean energy technologies.  We are pioneering open data initiatives and other forms of innovative public/private collaboration that improve the urban environment.  Crucially, our region is home to globally-acclaimed universities, and it offers lifestyle amenities that attract the best-and-brightest to study and live.  In fact, the most comprehensive study of the U.S. clean energy economy (Brookings, 2011) identifies Philadelphia as the fulcrum of a clean energy super-corridor of innovation and job-creation stretching from northern Virginia to the Boston area.

There is, and will remain for some time, uncertainty at the national level over the Trump Administration’s policies toward China and climate change.   But we can take positive and effective action now. We can welcome our P.R.C.-national students (UPenn alone has 2,100) and young professionals as ‘new Philadelphians’ and introduce them to ‘green Philadelphia’ (including The Circuit network of hiking and biking paths in the largest urban park system in the country; and the Northern Liberties and other urban lifestyle neighborhoods of the future).  We can work with our private sector and business associations to encourage them to start looking across the Pacific as readily as they do the Atlantic.  We can support organizations like Citizens Diplomacy International, Global Philadelphia Association and China Partnership of Greater Philadelphia which are innovating new models of engagement on platforms of cultural, trade and investment, and environmental leadership.  In the best tradition of Philadelphia – a wellspring of civic and social activism and home to Benjamin Franklin, one of America’s most creative thinkers —  we can lead with a spirit of cooperation and prove yet again that innovation is the surest path to a better future.

Terry Cooke is the author of Sustaining U.S.-China Cooperation in Clean Energy (2012) and the founding director of China Partnership of Greater Philadelphia.  Previously, he served in the U.S. Senior Foreign Service with postings in Taipei, Berlin, Tokyo and Shanghai.

Following the historic U.S.-China joint announcements on climate change and clean energy presented by Presidents Obama and Xi last November, the global climate change picture continues to come into clearer focus.  In the foreground, the nations of the world are moving along the ‘road to Paris‘ and preparing their voluntary action plans for consideration by the world’s heads of state at the COP21 meeting in Paris this December.  In the background to this picture, China is now making clear the costs — and the expectations it has for extra-governmental support — in funding the programs to meet pollution targets in its own national climate change plan.

Here are the highlights:

  • Estimated funding need is $320 billion per year for the next five years
  • China’s budget currently is projected to cover only 15% of that five-year funding need
  • China will rely on global financial institutions and instruments to fund the 85% shortfall.  These sources include carbon trading, multilateral loans, bond issues, and special funds.

FT article 4-23-15

Here is the full text of today’s Financial Times article on this topic:

China spells out cost of meeting pollution targets

by Lucy Hornby in Beijing

Financial Times,  April 23, 2015

China needs Rmb2tn ($320bn) a year in investment over the next five years to meet targets on reducing pollution set by the ministry of the environment, according to the country’s central bank in a report on “green” finance.

The report, issued Wednesday, estimated that China’s budget covered only 15 per cent of the required investment, and called for carbon trading as well as financing tools such as loans, bonds and special funds for green projects.

Ma Jun, a former Deutsche Bank economist who is now chief research economist for the People’s Bank of China and author of the report, wrote: “It is crucial that the financial system play the role of channelling and incentivising private capital into the green sectors.”

Last week the ministry released a plan to address water pollution while detailed plans have already been released by provinces to meet air pollution goals set out in 2013.

China’s financing announcements as well as its five-year plans can be a mishmash of previously announced infrastructure projects and new pet schemes, making it hard to pin down how budgets have been allocated.

Some of the recommendations are under way. China plans to combine seven city-based carbon trading pilots into a national scheme next year.

Developers may get preferential bank loans if their projects meet national priorities, including a goal for renewable energy to make up about a fifth of China’s installed capacity by 2020. Projects already announced include the $150bn construction of dozens of nuclear power plants, and plans to build hydropower plants on the few stretches of Chinese rivers that are not yet dammed.

Some green financing schemes have potential for abuse. For example, property developers can avoid lending restrictions by labelling their buildings “green” or “energy efficient”. Both concepts tend to be loosely defined.

Some of China’s goals are modest by developed-country standards, such as making 93 per cent of water supplied to cities “suitable for drinking” by 2020. Nonetheless, the targets require billions to be spent on water and sewage treatment alongside industrial upgrades.

Time to shake off the cobwebs and get this site up to date again with what we’ve been up to. This press release from Philadelphia City Hall — just out today — is a good place to start …

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