China Currents has always been dedicated to peeling back the layers of complexity in the quest to understand contemporary China, and this issue is, in my humble opinion, a shining example of how we do that. In our lead article, John Givens outlines how the United States has failed to prepare for the rise of China militarily, economically and in the education realm. This is the first of two articles by the author on the subject. In our next issue, Givens will address the question of why the U.S. failed in preparing to deal with the emergence of China as a superpower.
Understanding the opaque nature of China’s political system is another essential task. To this end, Thomas Remington unpacks a case study showing the Chinese media being used to signal that the veneer of unity on important issues doesn’t necessarily reflect political reality. The lesson is timely. Even though China has wedded itself to Russia in its invasion of Ukraine, the founder of a Beijing think tank recently published an oped in The New York Times that argued that China should distance itself from Putin and help negotiate an end to the war.
Taiwan looms large in China and in geopolitics, and we offer two decidedly different views involving the island. Chien-pin Li argues that Taiwan is on the defensive politically and economically in its attempt to maintain security in the face of China, even as economic ties continue to expand.
Savannah Lee offers a personal view of what it was like living and studying in Taiwan as an American student during the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Joseph Bankoff returns us to China and the U.S. with a discussion of innovation. He argues that both countries face similar challenges and needs when it comes to promoting innovation.
Finally, Penny Prime, our managing editor, reviews Red Roulette by Desmond Shum, a Shanghai-born businessman who spent many years in Hong Kong and later Beijing, where he ingratiated himself with former Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s wife and children. His is a story of intrigue, corruption and the disappearance of Shum’s wife. A warning: you may want to set aside everything else and read the book after digesting the review.