On this episode of the ChinaPower Podcast, we are joined by Nicholas Borst to discuss China’s debt situation and fiscal policy. He explains that China’s debt levels have increased dramatically relative to the size of the Chinese economy and China has more debt as a proportion of GDP compared to the United States. Much of the debt is concentrated in local governments, state-owned enterprises (SOEs), and real estate developers. Mr. Borst describes China’s decentralized fiscal system where the Chinese central government is fiscally conservative and local governments bear more risk and are responsible for healthcare, infrastructure, and social insurance as well as supporting key central initiatives such as the Belt and Road Initiative. Although no Chinese local government has defaulted to date, Chinese SOEs have defaulted, and their defaults have led to shocks to the Chinese market. Looking forward, Mr. Borst argues that the reforms passed at China’s recent “Two Sessions” will do little to address the root issues of China’s fiscal issues.
The ChinaPower Podcast dissects critical issues underpinning China’s emergence as a global power. By bringing together the leading experts on China and international politics, the series offers our listeners critical insights into the challenges and opportunities presented by China’s rise. These extended discussions are hosted by the director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
China’s Demographic Headwinds: A Conversation with Philip O'Keefe
In this episode of the ChinaPower Podcast, we are joined by Philip O’Keefe to discuss China’s changing demographic composition and challenges the country might face as a result. He explains that China’s falling population and low birth rates are the result of decades of population control measures, including the one-child policy. Mr. O’Keefe describes that, despite the rollback of these kinds of policies and new government incentives to have children, China’s birth rate remains low due to the high cost of child rearing in the country and economic development. Looking forward, Mr. O’Keefe discusses the role that automation might play in alleviating some demographic pressures and mounting health and economic challenges China will face as its population shrinks and ages.
The Chinese Surveillance Balloon Incident in Context: A Conversation with Bonnie Glaser
In this episode of the ChinaPower Podcast, Bonnie Glaser joins us to discuss the recent changes to U.S.-China relations. She first explains how a large Chinese surveillance balloon transited continental United States in early February 2023 with communications surveillance equipment on board, potentially collecting data from sensitive military installations. Ms. Glaser argues that Secretary Blinken’s trip to China was postponed due to a combination of domestic and international pressures resulting from the balloon incident. Lastly, she explains that despite potential meetings between U.S and Chinese leadership later this year, U.S.-China relations will likely face difficulties moving forward due to a lack of trust.
The Rise and Fall of Zero-Covid: A Conversation with Yanzhong Huang
In this episode of the ChinaPower Podcast, we are joined by Dr. Yanzhong Huang to discuss the impact of China’s zero-Covid policy and how reopening has affected the country. He explains that China’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic evolved over three phases, the most recent of which occurred in December 2022 with the end of strict controls. Dr. Huang argues that mounting social and economic pressure pushed the Chinese government to make a dramatic policy shift without warning. Lastly, he examines how the end of zero-Covid could contribute to China’s economic recovery, but could also undermine the public’s confidence in Chinese leadership.
China’s Role on the Korean Peninsula: A Conversation with Dr. Victor Cha
In this episode of the ChinaPower Podcast, we are joined by Dr. Victor Cha to discuss the changing dynamics on the Korean Peninsula and the relationship between China and North Korea. He explains that despite outward appearances, the China-DPRK relationship is deeply fraught and not as close as it may seem. Dr. Cha reveals that between a strict Covid-19 lockdown and the sanctions imposed between 2016-2017, North Korea’s dependence on China has fallen and Beijing may now lack adequate tools to place pressure on Pyongyang. Lastly, Dr. Cha challenges the notion that the United States and China share goals for a nuclear-free Korean peninsula. Rather, he contends, the two share common ground in wanting to prevent conflict on the peninsula.
China’s Power: Up for Debate 2022: Debate 2
This special episode of the ChinaPower Podcast is the second of two featuring the audio from the China Power Project’s seventh annual conference. This debate took place on November 17, 2022 and featured two experts debating the following proposition: “Beijing views a strong China-Russia relationship as a net strategic asset.”
China’s Power: Up for Debate 2022: Debate 1
This special episode of the ChinaPower Podcast is the first of two featuring the audio from the China Power Project’s seventh annual conference. The first debate took place on November 17, 2022 and featured two experts debating the following proposition: “China’s ‘new normal’ of increased military activities in the Taiwan Strait is likely to lead to a US-China or China-Taiwan crisis/conflict in the next year or two.”
Changing Dynamics between China and Europe: A Conversation with Meia Nouwens and Veerle Nouwens
In this episode of the ChinaPower Podcast, Meia Nouwens and Veerle Nouwens join us to unpack the relationship between European countries and China. They begin with an overview of Europe’s relations with China, caveating that the relationship at large is similar, but different countries vary in their approaches to China. Meia explains that European views of China are shifting from seeing it as a potential partner to more of a competitor or systemic rival. Veerle also emphasizes that while European countries and Taiwan have maintained trade relations for years, China has grown more critical of these dialogues, and it is increasingly important for Europe to have clear and consistent messaging about its views on Taiwan. Lastly, they identify important factors that may impact the future of China-Europe relations, including U.S. policy towards China and China’s behavior itself.