Spurring consumer spending now lies at the heart of efforts by Chinese policymakers to tackle economic challenges. But while liberating the desire for consumption at first seemed to be good news, the darker side of borrowing to spend, particularly for China's youth, is now becoming more apparent.
The importance of the trade relationship with China has encouraged the view in Germany that economic dependencies limit its choices in areas like human rights and investment. But closer scrutiny suggests this might not be the case.
Public debate in EU member states can enhance national and EU policy-making on China, but analysis of the 2019 Dutch policy paper on China and the surrounding debate suggests lack of strategic thinking and resolve on the member-state level may undermine cohesion and policy effectiveness on the EU level.
The coronavirus crisis has demonstrated the necessity of global cooperation and functioning multilateralism. But as Europe seeks to redefine its approach to China, will the special relationship between China and Germany be an advantage or a liability?
Like Made in China 2025, Germany’s Industry 4.0 is a vision of economic transformation. Unlike the Chinese plan, however, Industry 4.0 was never top-down, and it has prioritized both broad societal participation and cross-European cooperation over visions of national dominance.
The organization and drive shown by China’s online youth in the midst of the coronavirus epidemic was an inspiring glimpse at the potential young Chinese have to assert themselves. But these actions disguise a deeper vacuum of social values in China.