POSTED on 30 September 2014 by Sinead Ferris

Food Safety Innovations in China

In a nation of 1.35 billion people, food inspectors can’t be everywhere at once…or can they? New technology is helping China’s diners take food safety into their own hands, allowing widespread, consumer-driven testing. This month Chinese internet search company Baidu announced the invention of ‘Baidu Kuaisou’, electronic chopsticks that flash red to alert diners to the presence of so called ‘gutter oil’. Gutter oil is pre-used cooking oil reclaimed from sewers by unscrupulous restaurateurs, and it’s only one of a host of food contamination problems attracting attention in the Chinese media. One of the most famous is the 2008 milk scandal, when 22 high profile milk companies were found to be adding dangerous chemical melamine to their products, killing at least 6 babies and hospitalising 54000 more[i]. Unsurprisingly, a Pew Research study conducted in 2012 found that 41% of Chinese respondents see food safety as “a very big problem”[ii]. Baidu’s innovation joins a rapidly growing food safety industry in China.  Tests for individual contaminants like melamine are already on the market, but testing each meal for hundreds of possible chemicals is not efficient. This is part of the reason that the internet and social media are such important parts of [...]

In a nation of 1.35 billion people, food inspectors can’t be everywhere at once…or can they? New technology is helping China’s diners take food safety into their own hands, allowing widespread, consumer-driven testing. This month Chinese internet search company Baidu announced the invention of ‘Baidu Kuaisou’, electronic chopsticks that flash red to alert diners to the presence of so called ‘gutter oil’. Gutter oil is pre-used cooking oil reclaimed from sewers by unscrupulous restaurateurs, and it’s only one of a host of food contamination problems attracting attention in the Chinese media. One of the most famous is the 2008 milk scandal, when 22 high profile milk companies were found to be adding dangerous chemical melamine to their products, killing at least 6 babies and hospitalising 54000 more[i]. Unsurprisingly, a Pew Research study conducted in 2012 found that 41% of Chinese respondents see food safety as “a very big problem”[ii]. Baidu’s innovation joins a rapidly growing food safety industry in China.  Tests for individual contaminants like melamine are already on the market, but testing each meal for hundreds of possible chemicals is not efficient. This is part of the reason that the internet and social media are such important parts of [...]

POSTED on 27 July 2014 by Ariel C. Armony

China in Latin America: A Deepening Friendship

What does Beijing hope to gain from President Xi Jinping’s visit to Latin America? As we know, the Chinese leader has an intense agenda planned for the region: the BRICS summit in Brazil (and corresponding talks with leaders from UNASUR – the Union of South American Nations), a meeting with the “Quartet” of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), and visits to Argentina, Venezuela, and Cuba. If we examine President Xi’s trip from a long-term perspective, we can hypothesize that the Asian power is seeking four principal objectives: First, to reinforce political ties with the region. Second, to further a regional agenda. Third, to make progress in the fields of energy and food security, as well as in investments into infrastructure and transportation. Fourth, to improve the articulation of policy towards Latin America, and to align it with Beijing’s global strategy. This is not a small feat. Because of these goals, Xi’s visit marks an important turning point in China’s relations with the region. The first objective is to secure political ties with Latin America. Although we are used to focusing on economics, it is very clear to Beijing that the global expansion of businesses and Chinese [...]

What does Beijing hope to gain from President Xi Jinping’s visit to Latin America? As we know, the Chinese leader has an intense agenda planned for the region: the BRICS summit in Brazil (and corresponding talks with leaders from UNASUR – the Union of South American Nations), a meeting with the “Quartet” of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), and visits to Argentina, Venezuela, and Cuba. If we examine President Xi’s trip from a long-term perspective, we can hypothesize that the Asian power is seeking four principal objectives: First, to reinforce political ties with the region. Second, to further a regional agenda. Third, to make progress in the fields of energy and food security, as well as in investments into infrastructure and transportation. Fourth, to improve the articulation of policy towards Latin America, and to align it with Beijing’s global strategy. This is not a small feat. Because of these goals, Xi’s visit marks an important turning point in China’s relations with the region. The first objective is to secure political ties with Latin America. Although we are used to focusing on economics, it is very clear to Beijing that the global expansion of businesses and Chinese [...]

POSTED on 15 May 2014 by Julia Luong Dinh

Imminent obstacles to China’s great power status

Since the outbreak of diplomatic hassles and incidents in the South China Sea between China and other ASEAN claimants in 2009, China’s charm offensive in East Asia has suffered important setbacks. Amidst rising tensions over maritime territorial claims, China’s oilrig Haiyang Shiyou HYSY- 981 has been deployed in an EEZ claimed by Vietnam under the UNCLOS 1982. This has added fuel to the simmering fire among claimants over territorial sovereignty. China has become increasingly assertive in the South China Sea, even though it has more pressing domestic issues to address. China hails the South China Sea as the sea of peace and cooperation, and calls for self-restraint among parties interested in the region. However, after blaming other countries of violation of the status quo, Beijing has tended to follow on their heels. This paradox of China’s rising power needs to be critically discussed and better understood. China’s dilemma Chinese leaders are facing the dilemma of managing internal and external expectations that the country should behave as a Great Power. On the one hand, as a developing country, China has been grappling with problems such as the need to feed its huge population, address environmental pollution, ensure the security and survival [...]

Since the outbreak of diplomatic hassles and incidents in the South China Sea between China and other ASEAN claimants in 2009, China’s charm offensive in East Asia has suffered important setbacks. Amidst rising tensions over maritime territorial claims, China’s oilrig Haiyang Shiyou HYSY- 981 has been deployed in an EEZ claimed by Vietnam under the UNCLOS 1982. This has added fuel to the simmering fire among claimants over territorial sovereignty. China has become increasingly assertive in the South China Sea, even though it has more pressing domestic issues to address. China hails the South China Sea as the sea of peace and cooperation, and calls for self-restraint among parties interested in the region. However, after blaming other countries of violation of the status quo, Beijing has tended to follow on their heels. This paradox of China’s rising power needs to be critically discussed and better understood. China’s dilemma Chinese leaders are facing the dilemma of managing internal and external expectations that the country should behave as a Great Power. On the one hand, as a developing country, China has been grappling with problems such as the need to feed its huge population, address environmental pollution, ensure the security and survival [...]

POSTED on 30 April 2014 by Stephanie Allport

On John Garnaut’s lecture: The rise of Xi Jinping and destruction of Bo Xilai

Click here to watch the lecture recording. The fall of Chinese politician Bo Xilai had everything a journalist could possibly want in a story they were covering. A handsome, ambitious leading figure, with a slightly shady past (what exactly did Bo Xilai get up to in the Cultural Revolution?); an unstable but beautiful wife who stood accused of murder; a playboy son abroad living it up very visibly in Oxford and then Harvard; and a treacherous deputy who finally shopped his former master. All of this taking place against the backdrop of a hugely significant leadership change going on in one of the world’s most important countries, which the leading figure stood a real chance of coming out a winner in. What more could you ask for? We now know that Bo’s great chance came and went, but details in the story of his fall, as set out very ably by Beijing based journalist John Garnaut, still give rise to many questions. Garnaut has talked to some of the people involved in the story, many of them at the time key developments were unfolding. This gives his account an exciting immediacy. But the questions almost shriek from every page. What [...]

Click here to watch the lecture recording. The fall of Chinese politician Bo Xilai had everything a journalist could possibly want in a story they were covering. A handsome, ambitious leading figure, with a slightly shady past (what exactly did Bo Xilai get up to in the Cultural Revolution?); an unstable but beautiful wife who stood accused of murder; a playboy son abroad living it up very visibly in Oxford and then Harvard; and a treacherous deputy who finally shopped his former master. All of this taking place against the backdrop of a hugely significant leadership change going on in one of the world’s most important countries, which the leading figure stood a real chance of coming out a winner in. What more could you ask for? We now know that Bo’s great chance came and went, but details in the story of his fall, as set out very ably by Beijing based journalist John Garnaut, still give rise to many questions. Garnaut has talked to some of the people involved in the story, many of them at the time key developments were unfolding. This gives his account an exciting immediacy. But the questions almost shriek from every page. What [...]

POSTED on 22 April 2014 by Chong-Pin Lin

Xi Jinping’s bold policies and political capital (Written by Chong-Pin Lin and translated by Sam Hall)

Why has Xi Jinping boldly launched 60 items of reforms and relentlessly campaigned against corruption? The answer may lie in his abundant political capital that surpasses all of his predecessors’ in the six-decade history of the People’s Republic of China. With Xi Jinping having only taken office for one year, already 60 highly ambitious reform packages were announced at the Third Plenum of the Chinese Communist Party’s 18th Party Congress in November 2013. Both the number of new policies introduced and the audacity of these moves are unprecedented in the first years of all previous CCP leaders after inauguration. It makes one dizzy just to think about what he has launched: “Xi’s Eight Rules” which restricted the lavish lifestyle of Party officials, the “Mass Line Education Campaign” which promoted an exemplary and clean image of the Party members,  “Party Democratic Life Meetings” which re-introduced self-criticism of the Party members, various anti-corruption measures, suppression of dissidents, strengthening control of online opinions, declaring the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), sending the Liaoning aircraft carrier to patrol the South China Sea, testing the DF-41 ICBMs, and finally the 60 reform packages themselves.  The Spear and the Shield of Xi’s Reforms [...]

Why has Xi Jinping boldly launched 60 items of reforms and relentlessly campaigned against corruption? The answer may lie in his abundant political capital that surpasses all of his predecessors’ in the six-decade history of the People’s Republic of China. With Xi Jinping having only taken office for one year, already 60 highly ambitious reform packages were announced at the Third Plenum of the Chinese Communist Party’s 18th Party Congress in November 2013. Both the number of new policies introduced and the audacity of these moves are unprecedented in the first years of all previous CCP leaders after inauguration. It makes one dizzy just to think about what he has launched: “Xi’s Eight Rules” which restricted the lavish lifestyle of Party officials, the “Mass Line Education Campaign” which promoted an exemplary and clean image of the Party members,  “Party Democratic Life Meetings” which re-introduced self-criticism of the Party members, various anti-corruption measures, suppression of dissidents, strengthening control of online opinions, declaring the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), sending the Liaoning aircraft carrier to patrol the South China Sea, testing the DF-41 ICBMs, and finally the 60 reform packages themselves.  The Spear and the Shield of Xi’s Reforms [...]