China is frequently in the news. In fact, it sometimes seems as if it is always in the news – from surveillance balloons over America to international supply chains, and from world governance to world trade, it is always a central issue. Yet in truth, China remains an enigma, or simply unknown, to many.
At the turn of the century and for some years after, China was seen in the west as a potential partner in both economic and governance terms. No more. For the US, it is now the biggest threat to the international system and the only competitor for global leadership. For the EU it is an economic competitor and a systemic rival. In short, in the global north, China is seen increasingly in negative terms. But in the global south the story is slightly different: with its Belt and Road Initiative, that makes no demands for democracy or regime change, and with its immense infrastructure projects — especially in Africa — China has literally bought a lot of fans.
So which is the real China? A threat or a friend? Ilana Bet-El explores this question and many others with two experts on China: Dr Mareike Ohlberg, Senior Fellow in the Asia Program at the Berlin office of the German Marshall Fund; and Dr May-Britt Stumbaum, Team leader on Asia Pacific Security at the Bundeswehr University in Munich, and Professional Fellow at the Free University in Berlin. Reflecting on the cultural foundations of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the absolute dominance of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the conversation focuses on how China actually works — and what it seeks to attain on the world stage.
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Production: Free Range Productions, Florence Ferrando
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