13 min read

China Analysis Digest #32

Publications from September 30 - October 8, 2021

China Analysis Digest is a weekly published list of new China-related analyses.

Issue: 2021/32

  • Date range: September 30 - October 8, 2021
  • Sources scanned: 86
  • Content: 239 publications from 53 sources
  • Download raw data (.csv)

The west sees China as a ‘threat’, not as a real place, with real people

Yangyang Cheng | The Guardian | October 5 | 989 words

Cheng’s personal reflection focuses on two interrelated problems with the way that China is studied, debated, and represented in the US (the same can be said of much of the Anglophone world): “the blinding whiteness” of the China study field, and the constant dehumanisation of the Chinese. Cheng writes:

My disappointment with the biases of my profession is not a personal grievance. The heart of the matter is not how much the west understands China but how much the west understands itself. The rise of China and its role in global capitalism have challenged the economic dominance of the west, and shattered the convenient notion that the market necessarily brings freedom. To create the impression that problems of political oppression or technological abuse are uniquely Chinese is to refuse knowledge of the complexity of governance, as well as of humanity. Instead of confronting the truth about oneself, it’s much easier to collapse everything into a false binary and project fears on to a faceless other. The west is not the only party guilty of this logic.

Sadly, the global Chinese diaspora to which Cheng, Yun, and I belong is now caught by a widening chasm.

Chinese State Capitalism: Diagnosis and Prognosis

Scott Kennedy and Jude Blanchette (eds) | Center for Strategic and International Studies | October 7 | 96 pages

The role of the CCP in China’s political economy has major ramifications for China and the world and is critical for understanding contemporary Chinese economics, politics, and society. This report, featuring 15 experts, looks at different facets of this topic. Despite the lack of consensus on “diagnosis” or “prognosis”, Blanchette notes that:

One area of consensus throughout this [report] is that the CCP wields expanding de facto and de jure power over nearly all areas of political and economic activity in China. It is this feature of China’s state capitalist system—the expansive and expanding role of the CCP—that poses the most significant challenges not only in how the workings and structure of China’s economy are understood, but also in how market economies can and should respond.

I recommend the first three chapters: Introduction (Jude Blanchette), Six Factors behind China’s Shift to “Grand Steerage” (Barry Naughton), and Some Facts about China’s State Capitalism (Andrew Batson).

China Pathfinder: Annual Scorecard

Daniel H. Rosen et al. | Atlantic Council’s GeoEconomics Center and Rhodium Group | October 5 | 66 pages + interactive data

This new project examines China’s economy in six key areas that define open-market systems (trade, innovation, direct investment, portfolio flows, market competition, and the financial system). It then compares China’s scores against those of the United States and nine other leading open-market economies. I found the interactive data helpful for visualisation. The report findings paint a mixed picture:

The China Pathfinder scorecard will be updated quarterly, which hopefully will put recent developments (such as the crackdown on tech companies) into a broader framework to help us make sense of China’s economic trajectory.

Shooting down the “girlie guns”

Linda Jaivin | Inside Story | October 4 | 1266 words

Jaivin looks at Beijing’s crackdown on niangpao (a term that she translates as “girlie guns”, Yun translates as “effeminate men,” and I translate as “sissies”). She highlights the historical anxieties and the current political imperatives underpinning the crackdown. The funny thing, of course, is traditional gender expression and roles and the purported “crisis of masculinity” are not so straightforward as the Chinese government claims they are. Jaivin writes:

Traditional culture offers many different types of male archetypes…Jia Baoyu, the female company–loving young male protagonist of the great eighteenth-century novel Story of the Stone, is an archetypal “girlie gun.” Just as the early twentieth-century male player of female roles, Mei Lanfang, created some of the most exquisite archetypes of femininity in the Peking Opera, so did a later female player of male roles, Pei Yanling, give opera fans some of the most indelible performances of heroic masculinity.

The odd thing about the current masculinity panic is that by any measure, China today is militarily and economically stronger than at any other time in the last 150 years. And for all the pretty boy actors and singers testing the party with their sculpted eyebrows and designer clothes, there are plenty of muscular, hard-bodied action stars like Wu Jing of the wildly popular Wolf Warrior films.

Subscribe now

The email form of this post is clipped due to length. Click on “View entire message” at the bottom to see it in full. You can also view it online.

Full List

China Story:

Reading the China Dream:

China Heritage:

Made in China Journal:

China Media Project:

War on the Rocks:

Foreign Affairs:

Internationale Politik Quarterly:

Project Syndicate:

The Atlantic:

Lowy Interpreter:

East Asia Forum:


The Strategist:

Sixth Tone:

China Digital Times:


Inside Story:

Politico China Watcher:

Politico China Direct:

The Wire China:


Congressional Research Service:

European Council on Foreign Relations:

Center for Strategic and International Studies:

Center for Advanced China Research:


Carnegie Endowment for International Peace:

Center for Security and Emerging Technology:

Center for New American Security:

Chicago Council on Global Affairs:

Chatham House:

Rhodium Group:

Australia-China Relations Institute:

Observer Research Foundation:

The Conversation:

The Diplomat:

Foreign Policy:


National People's Congress Observer:

What's on Weibo:


Tracking People's Daily:

Takshashila PLA Insight:

Beijing to Britain:

China Dialogue:

Hong Kong Free Press:

Taiwan Insight:






Thanks to Katharina Ni for the magic (codes) that makes this series possible.