China Politics
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Episode 43
Featuring Elizabeth C. Economy
Demetri Kofinas speaks with Elizabeth Economy about the emergence of a new imperial China and the rise of Xi Jingping. What are the threats posed by China’s rise? What are the opportunities? How can America and the West navigate this relationship in the years to come without engaging in a costly a destructive world war?

In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with Elizabeth Economy about the emergence of a new imperial China and the rise of Xi Jingping. Elizabeth Economy is the C. V. Starr senior fellow and director for Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. Dr. Economy is an acclaimed author and expert on Chinese domestic and foreign policy issues. She is the author of numerous books, the most recent of which is, The Third Revolution: Xi Jinping and the New Chinese State, a wide-ranging exploration of the Chinese leader’s top political, economic, and foreign policy priorities and their implications for the rest of the world. Dr. Economy has published articles in foreign policy and scholarly journals including Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, and the Harvard Business Review; and op-eds in the New York Times and the Washington Post, among other newspapers and publications.

 

What is the history of reform in China between 1979 and 1989, and then again between Tiananmen and the recent consolidation of power and authority by Xi Jinping? Who is Xi Jingping and is there any Western (or Eastern) leader that we can compare him to in temperament, outlook, and reputation? What are some of the important steps Xi Jingping has taken in order to consolidate power and solidify his rule? How does the Chinese system of governance operate? What is the role of State-Owned Enterprises (SOE), and how does the Chinese government use targets as directives for economic growth? What are some investments or decisions that the Chinese government has made, particularly in recent years, that appear irrational or unprofitable by Western standards, but which serve a valuable purpose for the Chinese state? What are China's long-term plans for the Yuan? Is China using its economic relationships and bilateral arrangements partly in order to lay the groundwork for the adoption of the Yuan as the next global currency? How important is the adoption of the Yuan as the international currency of choice for China’s leaders, and how much of a priority is this given the pressure it would put on opening up the country’s capital and foreign exchange markets? What are the implications of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and are Western countries high or low on it? How much of the BRI is a an opportunistic response to American withdrawal from its post-WWII place at the center of international relations?

 

What is the origin of the Great Firewall and what was Fang Binxing’s role in its creation? How useful is the Internet today as a conduit for dissent relative to the 1990s and early 2000s? Has it only gotten worse? How effective are means of evading the wall? How effective has the Chinese state been in shutting down Virtual Private Networks and how significant is this development? What is the new social credit system and how does it operate? Do the Chinese put their identity as “Chinese” before their personal identities? If so, how are individuals in Western countries supposed to compete as individuals against a foreign state? How are Americans supposed to maintain their liberal values in a world where an illiberal state actor is using state capitalism to outcompete and outlast our own companies and initiatives?

 

These are just some of the questions addressed and answered in this wide ranging discussion with Elizabeth Economy on Xi Jingping and the rise of a new imperial China.

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas
Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou
Join the conversation on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod

Elizabeth Economy is the C. V. Starr senior fellow and director for Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

 

Dr. Economy is an acclaimed author and expert on Chinese domestic and foreign policy. Her recently released book, The Third Revolution: Xi Jinping and the New Chinese State, (Oxford University Press, 2018) analyzes the contradictory nature of reform under President Xi Jinping. She is also author of By All Means Necessary: How China's Resource Quest is Changing the World (Oxford University Press, 2014) with Michael Levi, and The River Runs Black: The Environmental Challenge to China's Future (Cornell University Press, 2004; 2nd edition, 2010; Japanese edition, 2005; Chinese edition, 2011). Dr. Economy has published articles in foreign policy and scholarly journals including Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, and the Harvard Business Review; and op-eds in the New York Times and Washington Post, among others.

 

Dr. Economy serves on the board of managers of Swarthmore College and the board of trustees of the Asia Foundation. She was also on the advisory council of Network 20/20 and the science advisory council of the Stockholm Environment Forum. She served as a member of the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s Global Agenda Council on the United States from 2014 to 2016 and served as a member and then vice chair of WEF’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of China from 2008 to 2014. She has taught undergraduate and graduate level courses at Columbia University, Johns Hopkins University's Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, and the University of Washington's Jackson School of International Studies.

 

Dr. Economy received her BA from Swarthmore College, her AM from Stanford University, and her PhD from the University of Michigan. In 2008, she received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Vermont Law School.

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