This is a transcript of a July 2023 speech delivered by Shi Yinhong, an international relations scholar at Renmin University, and an interview conducted by Xue Li, a researcher at the Institute of World Economy and Politics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Shi argues that due to rising suspicion of China in developing countries and economic resource constraints at home, Beijing must become much more targeted and responsive to the needs of developing countries in initiating and facilitating projects along the BRI. Shi also encourages Beijing and Chinese experts to be careful when making public assessments of the geo-strategic significance of the BRI so as not to raise concerns in potential partner countries.
Yao Yang, a leading economist at Peking University, argues pessimistic assessments of China’s growth trajectory underestimate strengths of the Chinese economy. These strengths, in Yao’s view, include China’s technological prowess, especially in clean energy products of the future such as EVs and solar panels, and its scale and cost advantages in manufacturing. Yao argues that Western efforts to “derisk” may impinge on China’s technological development temporarily, but will come at higher costs for the United States and its partners, given the funds required to reshore manufacturing and the projected revenue losses of selling key technology products to China.
Experts from China Agricultural University argue the war in Ukraine will have long-term impacts on food supply chains and the global economy, causing many states to improve agricultural self-sufficiency, hoard supplies, and restrict exports. In this environment, the scholars suggest Beijing reduce its vulnerability to Western sanctions and enhance its influence over international food supply chains by encouraging Chinese agricultural conglomerates to develop a larger international presence and by better regulating and supporting agricultural production and innovation at home.
The CCP Politburo holds “collective study sessions” on a semi-regular basis, in which an outside academic or government expert leads a discussion on a selected topic. Such sessions are important signals as to what issues the senior leadership finds important. The eighth collective study session of the 20th Central Committee Politburo was held on September 27, 2023 and was presided over by Xi Jinping. At this session, Xi delivered a speech to Party cadres where he emphasized the need for China to participate in WTO reform, enhance its attractiveness to foreign investment, and improve its position in global value chains.
Researchers at Yunnan University and East China University of Political Science argue China’s aid and investment to Africa are inaccurately portrayed by Western countries as “debt trap diplomacy,” exacerbating sovereign debt risks in African countries and driven primarily by strategic rather than commercial objectives. To rebut and limit the reach of such arguments, the authors suggest Beijing seek ways to diversify Chinese investment and aid across sectors and projects, help Chinese enterprises assess investment risk and follow laws and social norms of host countries, better target aid to national development conditions, and strengthen media engagement in Africa and the West.
Yao Yang, dean of the National School of Development (NSD) at Peking University, identifies three near-term challenges to China’s economic development. The first two—insufficient consumer demand and declining interest in real estate purchases — have both been affected by declining consumer confidence amid the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdown measures. The third challenge is the risk of recession in key export markets such as the United States and Europe, which may negatively affect Chinese exports. To address these challenges, Yao emphasizes the importance of policies designed to stabilize the real estate market, as well as measures to shore up consumer confidence (which he calls “more precious than gold”), such as direct payments to Chinese citizens. Yao suggests that Beijing should lead by example and implement a more “rational” approach to COVID-19 prevention and control. This speech was delivered to the China Economic Observation (CEO) conference just prior to the November 2022 protests across China opposing the Chinese government’s “dynamic zero-COVID” measures.