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China

From a European perspective, the sheer numbers involved when one considers China are staggering.  One in every five people alive today lives in the People's Republic of China, which has a current population of roughly 1.35 billion.  Over the past 20 years, China has undergone rapid urbanization, driven by explosive economic growth, and now more than half its population live in cities. China’s economic transformation began in the late 1970’s when it abandoned central planning and pursued policies of ‘reform and opening up’, and recently China overtook Japan to become the world's second-largest economy in terms of GDP.

The current economic system is best described as 'state-led capitalism', i.e. a market economy in which the government and State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) play a leading role. Much of the dynamism of the Chinese economy over the past thirty years has come from its ability to manufacture goods for export at low-cost, but with rising wages China's priorities are now to ascend the value chain and develop its own domestic consumer market.

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) is now in the process of transforming itself from a largely mechanized army to a technologically sophisticated one, capable of winning 'local wars under informationized conditions' and has invested heavily in networked and technologically sophisticated systems.  Large increases in the annual budget allocation for defense have supported the modernization drive.

In the security area, China is playing an increasingly important international role, as seen in its contributions to UN peacekeeping operations and to anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia.  As China's interests expand overseas – particularly in politically unstable, resource-rich countries – the PLA may find itself called upon more often to guarantee the security of Chinese nationals working overseas.

Through its China Initiative project, ISDP follows developments in China's political, military and economic affairs closely and works with partner institutions such as the PLA Academy of Military Science (AMS) and the China Institutes for Contemporary International Relations (CICIR) in order to better understand China's contemporary realities and to foster dialogue and exchange between China and Europe.


China's Military Transformation Print Email
China Initiative - Projects

The rapid rise of China as a political and economic power with significant and growing global influence has major implications not only for Northeast Asia but the world at large. The international community welcomes the rise of a stable and prosperous China, able to take on a leadership role in Asia for the stability of regional peace and security. China has played a proactive role in fostering security ties with a number of Asian countries in recent years as well as investing in multilateral institutions. However, uncertainty surrounds China's continued expansion and transformation of its military forces.

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Cross-Strait Relations Print Email
China Initiative - Projects

A potential conflict in the Taiwan Strait could serve to critically undermine the stability of the region. The People´s Republic of China approximately has 900 to 1,000 missiles on alert within striking distance of Taiwan. Taiwan has continued its military build-up against China's military threat and request US arms sale to Taiwan.

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Domestic Development Print Email
China Initiative - Projects

During the past decade, China's economic growth has averaged 8-9 per cent a year and has witnessed extensive economic expansion with massive foreign investment. Even during the current global downturn, China has been the primary driver behind recovering of global economy. China has set itself the target of-according to its long-term social and economic development plan-achieving by 2020 a fourfold growth in GDP compared to that in 2000. Despite this goal, there are several reasons for concern in domestic contexts, the reason being that there are a number of risks and uncertainties that threaten to undermine the sustainability of China's domestic development, such as an environmental problem, rise in energy demands and the massive unemployed population. What is more, rebalancing growth between urban and rural areas, between rich and poor people and between ethnic majority and minority will depress domestic demand and could feed social instability.

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Sino-European Relations Print Email
China Initiative - Projects

Both past and presently, Sino-European relations have been secondary to both actors and the US has had primacy in both respective foreign policies. This has created a situation where both the Chinese and Europeans exhibit a serious lack of understanding of one another, which is the root cause of many misunderstandings. The most important and dangerous symptom of this dysfunctional relationship is suspicion, because suspicion breeds mistrust. This is a curious observation considering interaction and trade between the two actors has increased, whilst trust has decreased and has arguably never been lower. This is despite an increased need and interest to cooperate on areas ranging from social and welfare issues to the combating of piracy and peacekeeping. There have been a number of high-level Sino-European meetings but these have not evidenced the progress needed.

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Sino-Japanese Relations Print Email
China Initiative - Projects

Throughout history, the relationship between China and Japan has more often than not been marked by mistrust and animosity, or even violent conflict. Despite three decades of normalized bilateral relations, several past and present issues serve to complicate the relation between the two states. Since a positive and functioning relationship between China and Japan, the two great powers in Northeast Asia, in many ways is a prerequisite for peace and stability in the region, a souring bilateral relationship is not only problematic for the states involved, but has implications for neighboring states and the international community at large. Against this background, it has become increasingly important to understand, identify and implement measures that can prevent and manage conflicts and disputes between these two states.

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Sino-Russian Relations Print Email
China Initiative - Projects

This project aims to bring together scholars specializing on Sino-Russian relations to address the current status of Sino-Russian relations in the political, military, energy and trade sectors. We aim at producing a comprehensive account on the current status of relations between Russia and China in the sectors outlined above and the geo-political realignments that have occurred in Eurasia in the last 2-3 years. This will be done by exploring overlapping interests and tensions between these two states. Apart from the purely bilateral relations, a focus will be on Central Asia as the region is a major determinant of contemporary Sino-Russian relations.

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Publications on China

Per Olsson
Rebalancing Act: China’s Fiscal Reform Challenge
POLICY BRIEF, No. 151, April 17, 2014 Webpage Link
Ramses Amer
The South China Sea: Challenge for ASEAN
POLICY BRIEF, No. 150, March 31, 2014 Webpage Link
Elliot Brennan
From tragedy to diplomatic mess: MH370 and the South China Sea
COMMENTARY, The Interpreter, March 19, 2014 Webpage Link
Ramses Amer
Vietnam’s Relations with China – A Multifaceted Partnership
COMMENTARY, China Policy Institute Blog, March 17, 2014 Webpage Link
Niklas Swanström
China's Stakes in the Ukraine Crisis
POLICY BRIEF, No. 147, March 12, 2014 Webpage Link
Bernt Berger
East Asian Security Beyond Models and Polar Orders?
CONFERENCE PAPER, February 25, 2014, pp. 38-41 Webpage Link
Sukjoon Yoon
Toward Crisis Management in East Asia’s Seas
POLICY BRIEF, No. 144, February 14, 2014 Webpage Link
Niklas Swanström
Sino –Russian Relations at the Start of the New Millennium in Central Asia and Beyond
ARTICLE, Journal of Contemporary China, January 22, 2014 Webpage Link
Ramses Amer
China and Vietnam: Managing Tensions in Troubled Waters
POLICY BRIEF, No. 141, January 21, 2014 Webpage Link
Ramses Amer
China, Vietnam, and the South China Sea: Disputes and Dispute Management
ARTICLE, Ocean Development & International Law, Volume 45, No. 01, January 21, 2014, pp. 17-40 Webpage Link
Sangsoo Lee
Carving up the Skies: China's New Air Defense Zone
POLICY BRIEF, No. 140, January 14, 2014 Webpage Link
Ramses Amer, Nguyen Hong Thao
Conflict resolution and dispute settlement in the South China Sea region
JOURNAL ARTICLE, Vietnam Law & Legal Forum, Volume 20, No. 231-232 2014, pp. 14-17 Webpage Link
Ramses Amer, Nguyen Hong Thao
Conflict resolution and dispute settlement in the South China Sea region (part 2)
JOURNAL ARTICLE, Vietnam Law & Legal Forum, Volume 20, No. 233 2014, pp. 9-12 Webpage Link
Bernt Berger
Call to end arms embargo on China
COMMENTARY, China Daily European Weekly, Volume 4, No. 155, December 20, 2013 Webpage Link
Sergei Vinogradov, Patricia Wouters
Sino-Russian Transboundary Waters: A Legal Perspective on Cooperation
STOCKHOLM PAPER, December 2013, pp. 95 Webpage Link
Elliot Brennan
Vietnam's foreign policy: Fewer enemies, more friends
COMMENTARY, Lowy Interpreter, November 29, 2013 Webpage Link
Sangsoo Lee, Stefano Facchinetti
South Korea's "Island of Peace": A Flashpoint in the East China Sea?
POLICY BRIEF, No. 134, October 18, 2013 Webpage Link
Elliot Brennan
Progress and the Party: Social(ist) tensions in Vietnam
COMMENTARY, The Interpreter, October 08, 2013 Webpage Link
Bernt Berger
China still has it wrong in Myanmar
COMMENTARY, Asia Times Online, September 10, 2013 Webpage Link

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