Since taking office, the Biden administration has strengthened the “Quad Alliance” between the US, Japan, India, and Australia as a central aspect of its Indo-Pacific strategy, aiming to contain the rise of China geopolitically and economically. By reviewing the history and motivation behind the Quad’s development, Cao Pengpeng and Shi Bin point out that the divergent interests and policy priorities of the member states have limited the process of building the alliance. For example, as a country that is heavily dependent on imported resources and export trade, Japan maintains a “free and open” rather than a “conflictual” Indo-Pacific strategy in order to serve its national interests. Like Japan, Australia has on several occasions focused on strengthening its strategic autonomy and emphasized the non-confrontational nature of the Quad. Even after the China-India border conflict, India, with its tradition of "non-alignment," still has not fully aligned with the US and hopes that the Quad will remain an informal organization without binding obligations. According to the author, although Japan, India, and Australia each have their own geopolitical concerns and conflicts with China, they all have expressed hesitance in containing the country. A key reason is that all of the Quad countries have China as their largest trading partner. Furthermore, the exclusivity of the four-nation alliance is bound to increase regional instability and political and military tensions, which does not serve the interests of non-member countries. In particular, ASEAN, an important engine of regional cooperation, is not interested in “choosing sides” between China and the US. According to the authors, the Quad’s ambitions does not align with regional security interests, which makes it difficult to achieve the alliance’s goal of countering the rise of China in the region.
The process of economic globalization has not ended, but a new pattern is emerging. On January 1, 2022, the world’s largest free trade agreement, Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), will come into force for ten countries – six ASEAN members along with China, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia. Yu Miaojie and Jiang Haiwei note that this new integrated market will comprise about one-third of the world’s economy, further expanding China’s economic influence in the region. This, in turn, will help drive the economic recovery in the region and the world. According to the authors, China’s imports and exports of goods with RCEP countries have grown at an average of 10 percent per year in the past two decades. During the same period, China’s trade with the member countries has consistently accounted for over 30 percent of China’s total imports and over 20 percent of its exports. Since 2017, China’s investment in these countries has also grown 32.9 percent annually. Notably, RCEP’s high standards and regulations will enable China to optimize its foreign trade and investment configuration and establish a "new system for a higher-level open economy" (高水平开放型经济新体制 gāo shuǐpíng kāifàng xíng jīngjì xīn tǐzhì). Furthemore, RCEP can increase China’s comparative advantages and promote the development of the country’s “dual circulation." For example, RCEP will harmonize rules of origin, making China's intermediate goods eligible for tariff-free trade, thereby promoting the flow of these products. China can access third-party markets of Southeast Asian countries and expand re-export trade to avoid US-imposed tariffs. In terms of tariffs, RCEP will have the greatest impact on China and Japan. Within the framework of RCEP, China will remove tariffs from 85 percent of Japan’s industrial products – up from 8 percent – making China an important market for regional imports.
With the goal of developing the country's independent innovation (自主创新 zìzhǔ chuàngxīn), China is focusing on core technologies in key areas, including semiconductors and computerized numerical control (CNC). How to deal with the country's "stranglehold problems" (卡脖子问题 qiǎ bózi wèntí), however, remains in debate, with some government officials arguing for increased investment in basic research. In contrast to applied technology research, basic research is a scientific study that does not focus on developing specific applications or products. Lu Feng, however, insists that investing in basic research to ease the country's core problems is misguided, believing that technological innovation must be developed through practice. China succeeded in developing its own integrated circuit in 1965, which did not turn into a competitive industry due to its focus on the military and national development. In 1980s, in areas such as semiconductor and large aircraft development, China began shifting its strategy of self-reliance to one based on importing advanced technologies from other countries in order to catch up. For this reason, Huawei's smartphone sector has been hit hard after it was cut off from its overseas chip supply due to sanctions by the US and its allies. Lu adds that Chinese manufacturers are currently integrated at every stage of the global chip supply chain. Yet, they serve as suppliers to international clients based on their standards, resulting in a fragmented domestic chip industry, making it vulnerable and more likely to be impacted by the hostile international environment. According to Lu, reshaping the domestic semiconductor supply chain is a key to resolving the chip stranglehold. To achieve this, only the government can step in to connect the country's domestic supply chain and serve its internal market.
Based on data from China's seventh national census released in the first half of 2021, Li Qiang provides a different perspective on the popular view of "class solidification" (阶层固化 jiēcéng gùhuà) – or the lack of social mobility. Since reform and opening-up, especially since 2000, the "intergenerational mobility" (代际流动率 dài jì liúdòng lǜ) of Chinese people has been rising and maintaining a relatively high level, globally-speaking. In the 1990s, China's intergenerational mobility rate was similar to that of the US, but surpassed it after the 2000s. Through a comparative analysis of those born before 1934, from 1975 to 1979, and from 1980 to 1989, Li shows that the younger the generation, the higher the social mobility – and it is still climbing year-on-year. In Li's analysis, social mobility considers employment, financial, and education factors. Citing a survey conducted by Lu Xueyi's (陆学艺) team, Li points out that only 15.4 percent of today's state and public administrators are children of Party cadres, business managers, and business owners. The rest come from different social classes, including 46.2 percent who are from peasant families. Similarly, the cases of "second generation government officials" (官二代 guān èrdài) and "second generation rich" (富二代 fù èrdài), which attract significant public attention and are used as proof of declining upward mobility, are actually uncommonly found. Li also highlights that China's middle class, now exceeding 300 million people and accounting for 25 percent of all employed groups, has grown significantly due to the country's rapid economic growth. However, people in this group can be vulnerable to falling back into the low-income bracket. Therefore, the author emphasizes the need to improve pathways for social mobility, such as education, technology, and employment opportunities.
In 1917, the armed uprisings in the Russian cities of Petrograd (November 7) and Moscow (November 15) claimed victories. Under the banner of the October Revolution, the struggle for liberation of the peoples of the world flourished. According to Yang Zhenwen, the reason behind the great victory of the October Revolution was the emergence of a “Russified” Marxism-Leninism, developed out of the realities of Russia. Rather than being dogmatic, Lenin was a creative Marxist who advanced the theories of socialism. According to Lenin, "Uneven economic and political development is an absolute law of capitalism. Hence, the victory of socialism is possible first in several or even in one capitalist country alone." Lenin’s scientific attitude toward Marxism greatly influenced Mao Zedong, who also opposed bookishness (本本主义 běnběn zhǔyì) and dogmatism (教条主义 jiàotiáo zhǔyì), insisting, “no investigation, no right to speak” (没有调查就没有发言权 méiyǒu diàochá jiù méiyǒu fāyán quán). Mao emphasized the application and continuous development of Marxism-Leninism in solving the real problems of the Chinese Revolution, which led to the development of Mao Zedong Thought (毛泽东思想 máozédōng sīxiǎng) — the Sinicization of Marxism. Mao pursued a revolutionary path suited to China’s national conditions and socialist construction, making valuable theoretical contributions, which included “encircling the cities from the countryside and seizing power through armed struggle” (农村包围城市武装夺取政权nóngcūn bāowéi chéngshì wǔzhuāng duóqǔ zhèngquán). The author points out that three key words, “practice” (实践 shíjiàn), “practical” (实际shíjì), and “independent” (独立 dúlì), represent the spirit of the October Revolution – and Mao's interpretation of it – which guided the Chinese Revolution to victory.
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