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The Cultural Revolution in China: Its 50th Anniversary Was Ignored but Its Legacy Lives on Today

07-06-2016

The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution was one of the most tragic periods in China's history. It unleashed a decade of violence, in which more than a million Chinese died, some 16 million were banished to the countryside and many others suffered imprisonment, seizure of property, torture or humiliation. It left in its wake a shattered country, a fractured society in turmoil and a devastated economy. The Chinese Communist Party ignored the 50th anniversary on 16 May of the start of the Cultural ...

The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution was one of the most tragic periods in China's history. It unleashed a decade of violence, in which more than a million Chinese died, some 16 million were banished to the countryside and many others suffered imprisonment, seizure of property, torture or humiliation. It left in its wake a shattered country, a fractured society in turmoil and a devastated economy. The Chinese Communist Party ignored the 50th anniversary on 16 May of the start of the Cultural Revolution, with no official commemoration. The state-controlled media then exhorted the people to regard the Cultural Revolution as a closed chapter and to look ahead. They distanced the Party from its responsibilities for the disaster, in an indication that the country's leaders are still haunted by its spectre. Nonetheless, the Cultural Revolution's legacy lives on in modern China and some parallels are being drawn with the current President Xi Jinping's crackdown against corruption. Xi's use of some of the Revolution's methods seems to reflect a pragmatic attempt to reassert the Party's authority in response to the new challenges posed by the rapid transformation of China, rather than heralding a repeat of the Cultural Revolution. The Party has said its lessons have been learned and it must not be repeated. Nevertheless, the former Premier, Wen Jiabao, cautioned in 2012 that without effective political reforms, a similar historical tragedy might happen again.

North Korea: Seventh Party Congress Enshrines Nuclear Ambitions but Says Little about Economic Reform

02-06-2016

The Korean Workers’ Party (KWP) held its Seventh Congress, the first since 1980, from 6 to 9 May 2016. In theory, the Congress is the highest deliberative body of the only governing party of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). The Congress yielded relatively modest results, with no real breakthrough, apart from establishing the 'defensive' nuclear deterrence concept. Kim Jong-un’s position as North Korea's supreme leader was fully formalised and now seems to be stronger than ever. ...

The Korean Workers’ Party (KWP) held its Seventh Congress, the first since 1980, from 6 to 9 May 2016. In theory, the Congress is the highest deliberative body of the only governing party of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). The Congress yielded relatively modest results, with no real breakthrough, apart from establishing the 'defensive' nuclear deterrence concept. Kim Jong-un’s position as North Korea's supreme leader was fully formalised and now seems to be stronger than ever. The Party is likely to gain further power at the expense of the military. Nuclear deterrence is now firmly enshrined in the Party's statutes as well as the country’s constitution. Pyongyang has made clear that no nuclear deal is possible unless the US and its allies accept North Korea as a 'nuclear state'. Despite its propaganda announcements, North Korea is not ready to modernise its sclerotic economy. While some cautious developments cannot be ruled out, the regime's open criticism of the Chinese economic model suggest that any reforms would be limited and very probably inconclusive.

United States - China Relations: a Complex Balance between Cooperation and Confrontation

04-03-2016

China’s rise is a real game-changer both economically and geopolitically, and represents both an opportunity and a challenge for the major global power, namely the United States. China’s new economic and political weight fosters further cooperation with the US on a number of global issues, as well as increased collaboration within multilateral organisations. Given their sheer influence, both countries have global interests that make it difficult to find a solution for one without the consent of the ...

China’s rise is a real game-changer both economically and geopolitically, and represents both an opportunity and a challenge for the major global power, namely the United States. China’s new economic and political weight fosters further cooperation with the US on a number of global issues, as well as increased collaboration within multilateral organisations. Given their sheer influence, both countries have global interests that make it difficult to find a solution for one without the consent of the other. China’s rise and expanding global interests have resulted in a drastic change in the global geopolitical order. Frustrations over the US’s predominance, especially in Asia, have raised tensions between the two powers. Under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, China has adopted a more assertive approach towards multilateral organisations which it sees as controlled by and for Western powers, but also towards its direct neighbours. This approach represents a direct challenge to the world order established and sustained by the US and is therefore a potential reason for conflict.

The Impact of G20 on EU Trade Policy

28-01-2016

The EU's trade policy does not exist in a vacuum. On the one hand, it is affected by international standard and rule-setting. On the other hand, the EU is itself an influential actor shaping the international trade agenda by participating in the work of international organisations and fora. This short note focuses on the Group of 20 (G20).

The EU's trade policy does not exist in a vacuum. On the one hand, it is affected by international standard and rule-setting. On the other hand, the EU is itself an influential actor shaping the international trade agenda by participating in the work of international organisations and fora. This short note focuses on the Group of 20 (G20).

Trade, Growth and Development: An Assessment

24-09-2015

The European Commission communication ‘Trade, Growth and Development’ was published in January 2012 as a direct spin-off of the more general communication ‘Trade, Growth and World Affairs’. It was also a response to the criticism levelled by many non-governmental organisations, governments of developing countries and other stakeholders at the Commission’s trade policies (in particular economic partnership agreements) with traditional African, Caribbean and Pacific partners. The communication secured ...

The European Commission communication ‘Trade, Growth and Development’ was published in January 2012 as a direct spin-off of the more general communication ‘Trade, Growth and World Affairs’. It was also a response to the criticism levelled by many non-governmental organisations, governments of developing countries and other stakeholders at the Commission’s trade policies (in particular economic partnership agreements) with traditional African, Caribbean and Pacific partners. The communication secured greater clarity and coordination between development- and trade-oriented policies, but it does not appear to have produced revolutionary changes. A number of updates have addressed the progress made by developing countries in the era of globalisation, but the essential separation remains. The communication did, however, have the unquestionable merit of promoting the modernisation of certain development-oriented trade instruments, such as the Generalised System of Preferences, and concentrating declining resources on fragile and least-developed countries.

Exceptional measures: The Shanghai stock market crash and the future of the Chinese economy

31-08-2015

This summer has been a dramatic one for China's stocks markets, with most indices registering losses of more than 40 % from their annual high. European markets have also suffered, and many observers across the globe are now nervously focused on the Asian giant whose economy drove so many other countries' in recent years. Yet the real economic significance of the drama in China may not stem from its bourses' losses; those who lost money on China's stock market are only a small percentage of its citizens ...

This summer has been a dramatic one for China's stocks markets, with most indices registering losses of more than 40 % from their annual high. European markets have also suffered, and many observers across the globe are now nervously focused on the Asian giant whose economy drove so many other countries' in recent years. Yet the real economic significance of the drama in China may not stem from its bourses' losses; those who lost money on China's stock market are only a small percentage of its citizens, and many are simply shaving their precipitous profits, rather than facing calamitous losses. A more significant economic outcome may result from the Chinese government's efforts to intervene in its stocks markets. The measures adopted by Beijing since the sell-off began – in some cases, measures that were quickly abandoned – would be unthinkable in a fully market economy. Many measures largely contradict the government's commitments to open and transparent financial exchanges. As the liquidity that a slowing Chinese economy badly requires is frozen, it could be Beijing's heavy-handed involvement in local markets – and not their pared prices – that determines the economic fallout from the summer losses.

TTIP: Challenges and Opportunities in the Area of Textiles and Labelling

31-08-2015

The paper, produced by Policy Department A for the IMCO committee, analyses opportunities and challenges of TTIP for the EU in textile and clothing (T&C). This area differs from other industrial sectors in that average tariff levels are relatively high and a number of tariff peaks still exist. It would not be difficult to negotiate the complete phase out of all tariff barriers and obtain gains for consumers and firms. A more challenging task will be to tackle the existing high level of non-tariff ...

The paper, produced by Policy Department A for the IMCO committee, analyses opportunities and challenges of TTIP for the EU in textile and clothing (T&C). This area differs from other industrial sectors in that average tariff levels are relatively high and a number of tariff peaks still exist. It would not be difficult to negotiate the complete phase out of all tariff barriers and obtain gains for consumers and firms. A more challenging task will be to tackle the existing high level of non-tariff barriers. To be able to exploit the potential gains from trade liberalization, the challenge for EU negotiators is to enter a regulatory co-operation game with the US while maintaining the high level of health and environment protection achieved in the EU.

TTIP: Challenges and Opportunities in the Area of Customs and Trade Facilities

31-08-2015

The trade costs associated with customs and other border controls become more important as tariff barriers are reduced. The EU is in the process of further modernisation of is customs code. It also needs to work with the EU’s trading partners to facilitate trade while protecting consumer interests and the security of the international supply chain. The negotiations on TTIP offer a means of building on existing agreements to further this aim. This paper is about how to make customs more efficient. ...

The trade costs associated with customs and other border controls become more important as tariff barriers are reduced. The EU is in the process of further modernisation of is customs code. It also needs to work with the EU’s trading partners to facilitate trade while protecting consumer interests and the security of the international supply chain. The negotiations on TTIP offer a means of building on existing agreements to further this aim. This paper is about how to make customs more efficient. Others in this series of eight, prepared by Policy Department A for the IMCO Committee, cover the substantive issues in technical barriers to trade, services, procurement and the sectors of textiles and clothing, motor vehicles and machinery sectors. A further paper covers the horizontal issues in regulatory cooperation.

Japan: Foreign and Security Policy at a Crossroads

26-08-2015

On 16 July 2015, the Lower House of Japan’s Diet (the House of Representatives) approved a controversial package significantly reducing barriers to the deployment of Japanese defence forces overseas. This is the most significant change to have been made to Japan’s security and defence policy since World War II. The reforms promoted by Prime Minister Abe represent a fundamental shift in Japan’s foreign and security policy since WWII. Abe’s reforms are the logical consequence of a process of revision ...

On 16 July 2015, the Lower House of Japan’s Diet (the House of Representatives) approved a controversial package significantly reducing barriers to the deployment of Japanese defence forces overseas. This is the most significant change to have been made to Japan’s security and defence policy since World War II. The reforms promoted by Prime Minister Abe represent a fundamental shift in Japan’s foreign and security policy since WWII. Abe’s reforms are the logical consequence of a process of revision started more than twenty years ago with the end of the Cold War and later fuelled by the need to contest and contain the rising of China as a regional and global power. These reforms, including the reinterpretation of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, have been undertaken in a context of constantly shifting regional balance in the Asia-Pacific region, where Japan has been increasingly threatened by both China and North Korea. This has prompted a significant upgrade in relations with the US and may pave the way for a new phase of Japanese foreign policy, but also has a negative impact on Japan’s already lukewarm relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Koreas.

China: Economic Outlook, 2015

15-07-2015

China stands now at a crossroads, where factors that for many years contributed to its growth have nearly – if not completely – exhausted their potential. As domestic economic challenges grow more pressing, Beijing has embarked on a new development strategy to 'rebalance' its economy and reinforce its integration into global markets. A number of elements of this strategy – including the 'One Belt One Road' initiative – are likely to have a major impact across the globe.

China stands now at a crossroads, where factors that for many years contributed to its growth have nearly – if not completely – exhausted their potential. As domestic economic challenges grow more pressing, Beijing has embarked on a new development strategy to 'rebalance' its economy and reinforce its integration into global markets. A number of elements of this strategy – including the 'One Belt One Road' initiative – are likely to have a major impact across the globe.

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