Under-coverage of Social Insurance in China’s Informal Economy

Qian Jiwei, 3 February 2020

According to a 2018 report by the International Labour Organisation, about 54% of China’s urban workforce in 2013 participated in the informal sector, ranging from freelancers and private contractors to migrants working without formal employment contracts and proprietors of small-scale private enterprises.

The Fallout of Phase One: What the Trade Agreement between the United States and China means

Bert Hofman, 31 January 2020

“America is winning like never before”, US President Donald J Trump said in Davos at the 2020 Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum and as exhibit one he offered the trade agreement with China. If one counts the commitments made from both sides, he was right to claim that the United States has clearly won this round.

Wuhan Virus: Facts, Government Reaction and Outlook

Chen Gang and Qian Jiwei, 31 January 2020

Two months after the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) convened its Fourth Plenum that emphasised modernisation of China’s governance capacity, a novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the likes of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) broke out in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019, which quickly spread to other provinces and overseas in the beginning of 2020, causing deaths and panic across the country and the world. On 30 January 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the coronavirus a global health emergency, a declaration for extremely dangerous pandemics such as Ebola and Swine flu (H1N1 virus).

Hong Kong Protests: A Rising China Clashes with a Frustrated Hong Kong

Qi Dongtao, 9 December 2019

A deeper look at the District Council elections results, and responses from Hong Kongers and mainland Chinese suggest differences run deeper than the five demands.

The Peoples Republic of China at 70: Reforms, Achievements and Challenges

Bert Hofman, 30 September 2019

On 1 October this year, China celebrates the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. A central part of this celebration focuses on the country’s success in economic development and poverty reduction. Indeed, by next year, China hopes to eliminate absolute poverty.

Hong Kong Protests in 2019: Digital Natives’ Offline Games?

Qi Dongtao, 19 August 2019

Observers of recent Hong Kong protests, including some local social activists, have been greatly impressed by the young protesters. There is reportedly no strong leadership or organisational support behind the protests, but since early June 2019 the young protesters have successfully mobilised numerous participants and coordinated various street activities during the protests.

Innovation and China’s Global Emergence

Bert Hofman, Qian Jiwei and Erik Baark, 14 August 2019

The East Asian Institute organised a conference on “Innovation and China’s Global Emergence” from 25 to 26 July 2019. The conference topic was rather timely, the papers highly informative and substantive, and the discussion rigorous and focused on some of the key policy issues currently being debated in trade disputes involving China. This is a summary of what was presented and discussed.

Trade, Technology and Trust

Bert Hofman, 15 July 2019

The Osaka meeting between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping was seen by many as one of the last opportunities to prevent the trade war from escalating to possibly a new cold war.  The good news is that the two parties are talking again; the 25% tariffs on an additional US$300 billion are on hold for now and Huawei is still allowed to buy technology from the United States. President Trump even went so far as to declare China a potential strategic partner, which contrasts with the designation of a “strategic competitor” by US National Security Review and US National Defence Strategy, or the more aggressive power that Vice President Pence had called China in his speech at the Hudson Institute last October. A few days after Osaka, China’s National Development and Commission announced a further shortening of the “Negative List” of sectors reserved for Chinese enterprises (from 48 to 40) and Premier Li Keqiang pledged a faster timetable for the opening of the financial sector for majority foreign ownership at the Summer Davos in Dalian …

Hong Kong’s Extradition Bill: Protests and Implications

Zhao Litao, Qi Dongtao and Shan Wei, 27 June 2019

After a massive protest against the highly controversial extradition bill on 9 June 2019, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced the indefinite suspension of the bill on 15 June. Nevertheless, a larger protest demanding the complete withdrawal of the bill and Carrie Lam’s resignation took place on 16 June. Although Lam did not accept the protesters’ demand for her resignation, she apologised to the public through a government statement amid the larger protest. The tension between the Hong Kong government and society will likely continue in the near future, probably in more moderate forms. This can have profound implications for Hong Kong, Taiwan, the “one country, two systems” principle and China’s relationship with some Western countries …

In view of the current situation relating to the coronavirus in Singapore, it is with much regret that we will have to re-schedule the EAI Seminar below. Our sincere apologies for any inconvenience caused.

Reframing Japan-China Relations: Imprecation of the Prospective “Fifth Political Document”

Dr Naoko Eto
Associate Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Developing Economies
Japan External Trade Organization

Friday, 14 February 2020, 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm

In view of the current situation relating to the coronavirus in Singapore, it is with much regret that we will have to re-schedule the EAI Seminar below. Our sincere apologies for any inconvenience caused.

Career Incentives, Elite Competition and Economic Growth in China

Dr Lee Jonghyuk
Assistant Professor, China Programme, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies
Nanyang Technological University

Friday, 21 February 2020, 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm

Global Value China and US-China Trade War

20 December 2019

Professor Xing Yuqing, visiting research professor at the East Asian Institute and Professor of National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo, began his presentation with an examination of the trade imbalance between the United States and China. In 2018 China accounted for 47.1% of US trade deficit in goods, up from 19.7% in 2001. Unfair trade practices by the Chinese government, low savings rate of US household and dominance of US dollar were cited as reasons for the trade deficit. From the perspective of global value chain (GVC), however, the deficit is attributed to the inconsistency between trade statistics and modern trade based on GVC.

Market-based Climate Policy in China? The Case of Emission Trading Systems

6 December 2019

Professor Erik Baark, visiting research professor of the East Asian Institute and Emeritus Professor of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, observed that China has moved from being a minor source of carbon emissions to being the biggest one. If it continues, future Chinese population will suffer from rising sea level, severe typhoon and flooding, and potential decline of food production. Accordingly, China’s climate policies have evolved significantly during the last four decades.

Culture and Governance in East Asia

29 November 2019

Professor Hong Hai, Adjunct Professor, Nanyang Technological University, presented his new book titled “Culture and Governance in East Asia” at EAI’s seminar and book launch. In his book, Professor Hong touched on two main themes, the first was that culture “rules” governance and the second was the dichotomy between democratic and authoritarian governance.

The Evolution of China-Africa Economic Relations

28 November 2019

Professor Zheng Yu from the School of International Relations and Public Affairs, Fudan University, China, reviewed the history of China-Africa economic relations and discussed at an EAI seminar how the historical legacy of aid-based relations has transformed into a multifaceted relationship involving not only capital and trade, but also knowledge sharing and policy learning.

Participatory Democracy or National Schism? Online Political Communication and Shifting Modes of Activism in South Korea

19 November 2019

South Korea has a rich history of popular political movements. Previously under authoritarian rule, mass movements were crucial to promoting political change. Thereafter, civil society activities continued as a distinguishing feature of South Korea’s democracy. More recently, the candlelight movement in 2016-17 contributed to the impeachment of former President Park Geun-hye. In 2019, Seoul witnessed another wave of demonstrations requesting for prosecution reform.

The Spatial Organisation of Coercive Institutions in Autocracy: Evidence from China

8 November 2019

Large literature has tried to address how autocrats rule through elements including parties, legislatures, elections, responsive institutions and so forth. What is missing, however, is that most literature tended to focus on democratic-looking institutions while ignoring authoritarian ones. They seem to assume that the more authoritarian regimes look like democracy, the higher chances they will survive.

Uncertain Times: The Reconstruction of China-US Relationship

18 October 2019

The US-led international order is beginning to fall apart, making the reconstruction of a new China-US relationship urgent and imperative. Professor Chen Weixing, chair of the Department of Public Policy Leadership at the University of Mississippi, shares his insights on the changing relationship between the two big powers.

Disguised Pollution: Industrial Activities in the Dark

11 October 2019

Dr Qin Yu, assistant professor of the Department of Real Estate Industrial, National University of Singapore, presented her collaborative research on China’s air pollution during nighttime. Illegal industrial activities polluting the air are hard to detect and inspect by local authorities at night, one of the major air pollution sources in China.

Cityscape of the Ordinary in Tang period Chang’an

17 September 2019

Spanning an area of 84 square kilometre, Tang period Chang’an was a large city even by today’s standard. In this talk, Professor Heng Chye Kiang from the Department of Architecture, National University of Singapore, presents his argument on the Chang’an city’s designing principles as well as his methodology to reconstruct the cityscape within the residential wards.

Learning to be a Good Pilgrim before Going to Mecca: The Hui, the Hajj and the Local Imagination of the Global Ummah in Xi’an China

13 September 2019

Dr Yang Yang, postdoctoral fellow of the Inter-Asia Engagements Cluster at Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore takes an ethnographic approach to understanding the ways Chinese Muslims engage in and envision a global Muslim world through local practices.

Creating Loyalty and Building Families in Wartime China

2 September 2019

Professor Louise Edwards, Scientia Professor, School of Humanities and Languages, University of New South Wales, Australia, examines wartime propagandists’ efforts to reorient group identity and encourage participation in the war effort through an analysis of posters, woodblock prints and ink-drawings produced in China during the War of Resistance against Japan.

Nation-Empire: Reframing Japan’s Intense Colonial Mobilisation

30 August 2019

In the EAI weekly seminar organised by the East Asian Institute (National University of Singapore), Dr Sayaka Chatani, assistant professor/presidential young professor at the Department of History, National University of Singapore, compared Japan’s mobilisation of soldiers in its colonies to the home islands in her presentation. The presentation was based on some chapters from her newly released book, Nation Empire: Ideology and Rural Youth Mobilization in Japan and its colonies, published in 2019. The methodology used in the project was a bottom-up comparison of four village cases and individuals across the empire. The research also focused on the overarching institutional spread and long-term presence of the Seinendan (youth associations) as an anchor, so as to highlight the interactions between discursive construction of “rural youth” and actual experiences.

Does Innovation Require Democracy?
A Case Study of Taiwan’s and China’s Innovation Process

20 August 2019

Conventionally, it has been argued that democratic states would be more favourable for innovation than one-party systems. The contrast between China and Taiwan, however, calls for a re-examination of such a view. According to the Global Innovation Index 2019, China ranks number 14, the only country with a one-party system in the top 20. Taiwan, on the other hand, is not on the list. Dr Lee Chun-Yi, associate professor and director of Taiwan Studies Programme at the University of Nottingham, UK, looks at how innovation is related to the social-political context and presents her preliminary findings at the EAI seminar.

Information Provision and Streamlined Medical Service: Evidence from a Mobile Appointment App

14 August 2019

Dr Yi Junjian’s research focuses on two major research problems. First, people in China are queuing for limited medical services. Second, there are huge disparities among China’s hospitals. There is no referral system and price differentials among hospitals are too small.

The New Development Triangle: State Capacity, Institutional Foundation and Economic Policy

3 July 2019

In the shaping of economic performance and development, the state is the most powerful and critical player. Through political decisions, the state has the capacity to influence allocation of production factors as well as formation of institutions. Within a state, there are also two main channels through which the state can shape economic performance—the state’s institutional system can shape the economic performance in the long run, and its economic (or social/political) policies can have influence in the short run. Together, state capacity, the institutional system and economic policy form the “New Development Triangle (NDT)”. Professor Tang Shiping from the School of International Relations and Public Affairs, Fudan University, explained this theory and how it can help to understand the conditions of economic growth.

Profitability of Vietnam’s High-Speed Railway

26 June 2019

The Vietnam government first announced its High-Speed Railway (HSR) plan connecting Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh in 2007. Although the plan was rejected by Vietnam’s National Assembly in 2010 due to its high cost, the railway project management board has prepared an amended plan scheduled to be presented in the coming October to the National Assembly for approval. The HSR, if approved, is expected to adopt Japanese railway trains and technologies. By comparing to HSR in Japan, Dr Tomoo Kikuchi and Ms Tomoyo Nakamura examined the profitability of the Vietnam HSR based on population density, if it goes into operation.

Foreign Residency Rights and Corporate Fraud

14 June 2019

In China, criminal fugitives are on the rise. Weakness of China’s passport power, indexed by the number of countries waiving visas for Chinese nationals, may motivate fraud-committing individuals to obtain foreign residency as an exit route, given that extraditions seldom occur. Prof Li Zhen, Musim Mas Chair Professor in Sustainability, Professor of Accountancy, NUS Business School, and his colleagues examined whether persons (natural persons or family who directly or indirectly own > 50% of shares of firms) with foreign residency rights (FRR) are more likely to engage in corporate fraud in China.

Southeast Asia and the Return of Power Politics

7 June 2019

ASEAN was formed in the cold war period when the world was divided between competing communist and capitalist systems. The “ASEAN way” of seeking development, harmony and agreement has allowed it to prosper and expand its international influence to co-opt interested powers into its various cooperative and dialogue frameworks. Since around 2010, however, this has been challenged by the return of power politics to the Southeast Asian region. Lowell Dittmer, professor of political science at the University of California, Berkeley in USA, gave a talk at EAI on this resurgence of power politics, with analysis on the status of relations among ASEAN, China, Japan and the United States.

Informal Economic Behaviour and Authoritarian Regime Instability

17 May 2019

Previous studies on informal economic behaviour (IEB) or corruption in China have drawn diverging implications. In some studies, IEB is seen as a lubricant to smooth things out and increase efficiency amid the rapid economic growth. In others, IEB is considered to be detrimental to healthy socio-economic development. Almost all existing studies have focused on the receiving parties, but neglected the side that gives and offers briberies. Tang Wenfang, Professor of Political Science at the University of Iowa, presents his study on IEB in China, based on survey data that captures the parties giving briberies.

China-Israel Relations: Past, Present and Prospect

ZHU Zhiqun, 31 October 2019

The Jewish and Chinese people have a long history of interactions. A Jewish community existed in China at least since the Northern Song Dynasty (960–1127) and some say earlier. In modern times, China and Israel built a special relationship because China sheltered European Jews during World War II. Israel was the first country in the Middle East and one of the first non-communist countries to recognise the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

American Public Opinion and Cross-strait Relations

HU Shaohua, 31 October 2019

Since Donald Trump won the presidency, US policy towards Taiwan has undergone tremendous changes. Both parties and branches of the government have been warmer to Taipei and cooler to Beijing. The question is whether the American public has the same view. V O Key defines public opinions as “opinions held by private persons which governments find it prudent to heed”. The public, in many American surveys, is separate from the foreign policy elite.

North Korea’s Economy under Kim Jong-un: An Assessment

CHIANG Min-Hua, 24 October 2019

North Korea’s economic growth rate deteriorated to -4.1% in 2018, from -3.5% in 2017 according to the South Korean government’s estimates. The waning production in mining, manufacturing and construction contributed to the economic plunge. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has inherited challenging economic conditions—constant shortage of food and energy—since taking office in 2011. The United Nations’ (UN) economic sanctions since 2016 have been a drag to growth.

Global Value Chains and the Innovation of the Chinese Mobile Phone Industry

XING Yuqing, 18 October 2019

The global value chain (GVC) strategy, which is key to the success of the Chinese mobile phone industry, provides an effective channel for the industry to innovate and catch-up with foreign competitors. Chinese firms initially assembled hand phones for global vendors in the GVCs. The inter-firm linkages between Chinese firms and upstream foreign buyers give Chinese firms access to information about technology and consumer demand, facilitating their innovation activities and upgrading progress along value chains.

Birth Control to Birth Promotion? China’s Population Policy at a Crossroads

ZHANG Min, 3 October 2019

China’s population policy has undergone some landmark changes. Since 1 January 2016, all Chinese couples have been allowed to have two children, which marked an official end to the Chinese state’s one child policy since the late 1970s. The effect of both the “One-Singleton Two-Child” and “Two-Child” policies has thus far been limited. The public’s response has been lukewarm: many couples opted not to have a second child.

What is New for China’s Technocracy in Xi Jinping’s Time?

CHEN Gang, 27 September 2019

In the early stage of reform, Chinese technocrats with engineering background like Li Peng, Hu Qili and Jiang Zemin were promoted to top positions in the Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee (PSC). During Jiang’s and Hu’s tenure, though more technocrats were promoted, they were still outnumbered by those with educational background in social sciences.

US-Taiwan Relations are not Warming: Significant or not?

John F COPPER, 19 September 2019

Since early 2018, there has been a striking warming of relations between the
United States and Taiwan. This can be gleaned from different perspectives and involves economic, political, and strategic contacts and activities. This trend coincides with the deterioration of US-China trade talks and President Trump applying tariffs on China’s imports and taking other punitive measures against China. Many observers see the improvement in US-Taiwan relations as the United States playing the “Taiwan card” against China.

The Propaganda Machine of the Chinese Communist Party

Lance L P GORE, 12 September 2019

The communist state of mainland China is also dubbed in academic circles as a “propaganda state” because of the way its single ruling party came to power—by altering the consciousness and identity of the largely illiterate rural peasant masses, mobilising them through propaganda and utilising their strength to wage revolutions.

The Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation: What is New?

YU Hong, 5 September 2019

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has evolved from a regional development
project to a global initiative since its launch in 2013. For developing countries along the Silk Road with stretched traditional financing sources and infrastructure investment needs, the BRI is an option.

The Young Generations in China: Values Changes and Political Implications

SHAN Wei, 30 August 2019

The post-1980/1990 generations born after China’s economic reform and the one-child policy are poised to take leadership roles in all trades and professions in the country. Social and political values of these cohorts are important for observers to understand China’s political future.

Hong Kong’s Anti-extradition Bill Protests: The Origins, Features and Interpretations

LIM Tai Wei, 23 August 2019

For the Hong Kong government, the extradition bill was meant to serve justice to criminals that had fled to Hong Kong. Under tremendous public pressure, Chief Executive Carrie Lam declared the extradition bill as ‘dead’ on 9 July 2019. However, the protests continued due to deep mistrust of the administration, particularly with the use of the word ‘dead’, a non-legislative term.

Japan’s Deflation, Monetary Policy and Issues Ahead

Gene PARK, 15 August 2019

Since the later half of the 1990s through 2012, the Japanese economy suffered from mild but persistent deflation that had eroded its economic vitality. By the end of 2012, prices were lower than they were in 1998, an outcome that is unique among the advanced economies.

Development Financing in the Context of the Belt and Road Initiative

Sarah CHAN, 7 August 2019

Strengthening the financial collaboration of both governments and commercial/private capital is important to form an efficient Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) investment and financing system. Most BRI projects are funded by China’s banks, including policy banks such as China Development Bank and Export-Import Bank of China.

Chinese Communist Party’s Grass-roots Organisations in State-owned Enterprises

LI Yao, 7 August 2019

Since the launch of the modern corporate system (MCS) in 1993, the Communist Party of China (CPC) has adjusted the roles and functions of its grass-roots party organisation (GPO) in state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to strengthen and promote the development of MCS with Chinese characteristics (MCSCC).

Shinzo Abe’s Consumption Tax Reform

Yoshihisa GODO & LIM Tai Wei, 26 June 2019

Shinzo Abe resigned as Japanese prime minister and president of the Liberal Democratic Party in September 2007. After five years away from the spotlight, Abe returned to power in December 2012 …

China’s Core Interests and Critical Role in North Korea’s Denuclearisation

YUAN Jingdong, 13 June 2019

China and North Korea have maintained a unique relationship, one of ‘lips and teeth’ and sealed in blood, for nearly seven decades. It was buttressed by their shared communist ideology and joint armed conflict during the Korean War …

South Korea-Japan Relations in the 2010s: Ambivalent Strategic and Economic Partners?

JO Yanghyeon & LAM Peng Er, 6 June 2019

From the United States’ strategic perspective, the cooperation between its South Korean and Japanese allies, important components of the US hub-and-spokes architecture, is indispensable to the region’s stability …

American Asian Strategy under Trump: The Art of the Deal

Lowell DITTMER, 6 June 2019

The upset election of Donald Trump was unusually divisive. The American foreign policy community was also divided, and with good reason:  Trump had some very radical ideas about American foreign policy, was determined to implement them and disdained the counsel of the Establishment.  If consistently implemented, they portend a drastic shift in the terms of American engagement with the world …

Uncertain Times: The Reconstruction of China-US Relationship

18 October 2019

The US-led international order is beginning to fall apart, making the reconstruction of a new China-US relationship urgent and imperative. Professor Chen Weixing, chair of the Department of Public Policy Leadership at the University of Mississippi, shares his insights on the changing relationship between the two big powers.

Latest Publications

East Asian Policy

Volume 11, No 3, Jul/Sep 2019

China: An International Journal

Volume 17, No 3, August 2019

China’s Economic Modernisation and Structural Changes: Essays in Honour of John Wong

Edited by ZHENG Yongnian & Sarah Y. TONG