Hong Kong’s Article 23 Legislation Is Another Step Toward Authoritarian Rule

In his novel “1984,” George Orwell depicted a horrifying totalitarian society where the entire population is under constant surveillance by Big Brother. “Thought police” arrest suspects at will, and individuals are constantly suspected of colluding with state enemies. Orwell’s apocalyptic vision reminds me of the current Hong Kong government’s proposed Article 23 legislation. The legislation goes far beyond the needs of national security, resembling a political project aiming at constructing a totalitarian society like Orwell’s. The four-week public consultation on the legislation is extremely brief. Already under the rule of…

2 Chinese Bloggers in Exile Warn That Police Are Interrogating Their Followers

Two prominent Chinese bloggers in exile said police were investigating their millions of followers on international social media platforms, in an escalation of Beijing’s attempts to clamp down on critical speech even outside of the country’s borders. Former state broadcaster CCTV journalist Wang Zhi’an and artist-turned-dissident Li Ying, both Chinese citizens known for posting uncensored Chinese news, said in separate posts Sunday that police were interrogating people who followed them on social media, and urged followers to take precautions such as unfollowing their accounts, changing their usernames, avoiding Chinese-made phones…

The Precarious State of the Nordic Countries’ One China Policy

What at first glance looks like an innocuous statement may on closer inspection turn out to be yet another indication of how Taiwan’s political autonomy is gradually being eroded. On its webpage listing “Danish representations in China,” the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs includes the Trade Office in Taipei as one of its four missions in China (the list includes Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Taipei). Officially, since 1950 the Danish government has recognized the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government of China (i.e. the One China policy)…

China’s Influence in the Middle East and Its Limitations

The discourse surrounding China’s influence in the Middle East all too often swings between binary narratives. Some overstate China’s regional clout, suggesting its expanding footprint is pushing the United States out of the Middle East. Others underestimate China, contending that despite its growing regional power, Beijing harbors insufficient leverage to affect any meaningful change. Between these extremes exists a reality in which China’s formidable capabilities are tempered by equally formidable constraints.  Analysts can be forgiven for believing that China is on track to usurp the United States’ role as regional…

Russia-Ukraine War: China’s Vanishing Neutrality

“In the Ukraine War, China Is the Only Winner.” This observation served as the title of an article published in May 2023 by The National Interest. Although that sentiment is not a widely held consensus in Europe, it well summarizes an idea circulating across the Atlantic on the benefits that China can derive from the war in Ukraine: Both a diversion to attract U.S. attention and means to the European front (far from Taiwan and the South China Sea ), and a chance to obtain raw materials at unbeatable prices from a Russia that absolutely…

China’s Security Engagement in Latin America and the Caribbean

China’s activities in the security and defense sector in Latin America and the Caribbean are a small but strategically significant portion of its engagement with the region. Beijing has openly acknowledged its interest in engaging with the region on security matters in the 2008 and 2016 China-Latin America Policy White Papers, as well as in the 2022-2024 China-CELAC plan. That interest is also reflected in the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs white paper elaborating on China’s Global Security initiative. The security dimension of China’s engagement in the region has been…

Online Dump of Chinese Hacking Documents Offers Rare Window Into Pervasive State Surveillance

Chinese police are investigating an unauthorized and highly unusual online dump of documents from a private security contractor linked to the nation’s top policing agency and other parts of its government – a trove that catalogs apparent hacking activity and tools to spy on both Chinese and foreigners. Among the apparent targets of tools provided by the impacted company, I-Soon: ethnicities and dissidents in parts of China that have seen significant anti-government protests, such as Hong Kong or the heavily Muslim region of Xinjiang in China’s far west. The dump…

Why China Doesn’t Have an Opposition Leader Like Navalny

The recent death of Russian democracy activist Alexei Navalny shocked and saddened observers around the world. In China, despite government propaganda that portrayed Navalny as a criminal who espoused extremism, many on the country’s highly censored internet were deeply touched by his vision, conviction, and courage. “Each nation has such heroes. They are willing to sacrifice their life for the freedom of their people,” wrote one Chinese netizen. Some also lamented that a similar hero could not exist in China. Under a post on a speech that Navalny gave in…

Xi Jinping’s Quest for Self-governance Without Democracy

In the quest for modern governance solutions, China continues to explore innovative methods to ensure local accountability without adopting Western-style democratic elections. This trend has been particularly notable during Xi Jinping’s tenure, marking a significant deviation from the methodologies preferred by his predecessors. Under Xi, the once-promoted enthusiasm for local elections has significantly waned.  A key initiative in this shift is the revival of the “Fengqiao Experience,” a concept originating from Mao Zedong’s era. This strategy focuses on resolving local disputes and grievances through community mediation and self-regulation, thereby reducing…

China Should Be Wary of the Trap of History

Much has been made of the importance Russian President Vladimir Putin has placed on historical factors in justifying the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. In the wake of Putin’s interview with Tucker Carlson, the Cold War historian Sergey Radchenko made the assessment that while Putin’s version of history is “clinically insane,” the fact that “Putin clings to this version of history – again, and again, again – means that we have to take it seriously… It’s not just propaganda.” Using history to justify policy has long been a fruitful resource for…