After weeks of promotion and anticipation, China delivered its new vision for the global economic order at the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) in Beijing on 14-15 May 2017. The BRF, made up of more than two dozen national leaders and envoys from more than 100 countries and officials from various financial institutions and businesses boasted several deliverables and a renewed commitment to globalization delivered in the form of a joint communique. Several reactions ensued with a mixture of excitement, caution, and skepticism emerging. China-US Focus contributors, Matt Ferchen and Douglas Paal, called on the U.S. to re-engage with the world and China to "develop a post-Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) strategy for shaping trade, investment and multilateral economic governance in East Asia."
Just a month ago, Peking University announced the purchase of a medieval campus in Oxford, England with plans to turn it into a business school. This week another prestigious Chinese school - Xiamen University - declared that the construction of its $290 million new campus in Selangar, Malaysia, was near its halfway mark. Other notable cases (link in Chinese) of Chinese universities expanding beyond the border include the Soochow University in Laos that has been in operation since 2011 with a new campus currently under construction, and Shanghai-based Tongji University that runs partnership programs in Florence and Venice. While many see the moves as natural outcomes of China's growing global influence, some have argued that it is a deliberate soft power push. Another soft power initiative by the Chinese - the Confucius Institute, fashioned after Goethe Institut and Instituto Cervantes – has seen both successes and setbacks. So far over 500 Confucius Institutes have been established in over 130 countries.
Foreigners are out-WeChatting China's most active WeChatters. The information was released by WeChat coinciding with its announcement of a new partnership with a Silicon Valley firm that will bring WeChat pay to U.S. consumers. This, as China and the world reeled online from the WannaCry virus, suspected to have originated in Pyongyang. Earlier in the week, the number of computers in China that came under attack from the ransomware dropped from 520,000 per hour on Monday to nearly half that, 213,000, on Tuesday.
On May 16, 1966, Mao Zedong launched what became known as the Cultural Revolution. At an expanded meeting at the Politburo, four leading officials were purged and a document announcing the start of what is formally known as the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution was issued. Its objective was to strengthen communism by removing capitalist, traditional and cultural elements from Chinese society. Believing that current Communist leaders were taking the party and China itself in the wrong direction, Mao called on the nation's youth to purge the "impure" elements of Chinese society and revive the revolutionary spirit that had led to victory in the Chinese civil war. The Cultural Revolution continued in various phases until Mao's death in 1976, and its violent legacy would resonate in Chinese politics and society for decades to come.
Prepared by China-US Focus editorial teams in Hong Kong and New York, this weekly newsletter offers you snap shots of latest trends and developments emerging from China every week, while adding a dose of historical perspective.