China Analysis Digest (March 17-24, 2021)
From this week, we will be:
adding 5 new sources to the scope of the digest, bringing the total to 72 sources;
adding a word cloud visualisation to highlight the relative prominence of topics;
providing key quotes to go with recommended readings; and
building a list of Chinese sources to include in the digest.
Please get in touch if you have any feedback.
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China’s Accelerating Fertility Crisis (Zhang Jun)
China has always been cautious about loosening family-planning rules. But, if it is to sustain its economic dynamism in the decades to come, it must work hard to expand its labor force, including by raising the retirement age and encouraging families to have more children. Otherwise, its population will become old in the same way Ernest Hemingway described how one goes bankrupt: gradually, then suddenly.
Beyond colossus or collapse: five myths driving Amerian debates about China (Evan Medeiros & Jude Blanchette):
Regardless of where one comes down on the precise mix of policies that the United States and its allies should adopt, the first step is for debate to be based on a cleareyed assessment of China that rejects popular myths and accepts unpopular realities about the country’s capabilities, intentions, strengths and weaknesses. Tilting at windmills is not now, nor has it ever been, the appropriate foundation for good strategy.
Rather than wandering aimlessly down Beijing hutongs in search of [hard socioeconomic] targets, we think it is now more important and productive to look at systemic and qualitative changes to gauge China’s progress. For the next five years at least, targets will simply be peripheral, while reshaping institutions and incentives will likely take center stage.
Dear White China Hands, (@OpinionChina):
It’s clear now that some China hands’ reflexive claim to “love the Chinese people but hate their government” is simply not good enough, because bigots discriminate indiscriminately. You and I know the distinction is crucial. And we repeat it religiously, as if to absolve ourselves of any notion that we could be part of the problem. Yet this nuance is lost on many downstream consumers of China news and analysis — including the perpetrators of anti-Asian violence — either because they do not know or care enough to distinguish between People and Party, or because the latter has worked breathlessly to conflate the two.
The Pentagon is using China as an excuse for huge new budgets (Fareed Zakaria):
U.S. military spending remains larger than the defense budgets of the next 10 countries put together…Having spent two decades fighting wars in the Middle East without much success, the Pentagon will now revert to its favorite kind of conflict, a cold war with a nuclear power. It can raise endless amounts of money to “outpace” China, even if nuclear deterrence makes it unlikely there will be an actual fighting war in Asia.
TikTok vs Douyin: A Security and Privacy Analysis (Pellaeon Lin):
TikTok and Douyin do not appear to exhibit overtly malicious behavior similar to those exhibited by malware. We did not observe either app collecting contact lists, recording and sending photos, audio, videos or geolocation coordinates without user permission…
Despite not exhibiting overtly malicious behavior, Douyin contains features that raise privacy and security concerns, such as dynamic code loading and server-side search censorship. TikTok does not contain these features.
China's new obsession: 'Private traffic' (Shen Lu):
With overall internet penetration at 70%, upstarts and tech giants alike are increasingly focused on turning casual users into dedicated ones; that is, capturing "public traffic" and turning it into "private traffic." Private traffic can come from users dedicated to a company's app, or from followers of an influencer's personal livestreaming channels. A U.S. equivalent might be newsletter subscribers.
China Analysis Digest
Date range: March 17-24, 2021
Sources scanned: 72
Content: 181 publications from 46 sources
Download raw data (.csv)
Pew Research Center:
China Media Project:
China Digital Times:
Politico China Watcher:
Politico China Direct:
Protocol | China:
The Wire China:
Chaoyang Trap House:
War on the Rocks:
Center for Advanced China Research:
East Asia Forum:
U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission:
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace:
National People's Congress Observer:
What's on Weibo:
Hong Kong Free Press:
The India China Newsletter:
Observer Research Foundation:
Beijing to Britain:
END OF DIGEST