China Global

The German Marshall Fund

China’s rise has captivated and vexed the international community. From defense, technology, and the environment, to trade, academia, and human rights, much of what Beijing does now reverberates across the map. China Global is a new podcast from the German Marshall Fund that decodes Beijing’s global ambitions as they unfold. Every other week, host Bonnie Glaser will be joined by a different international expert for an illuminating discussion on a different aspect of China’s foreign policy, the worldview that drives its actions, the tactics it’s using to achieve its goals—and what that means for the rest of the world.

  • 28 minutes 40 seconds
    Quantum Computing in US-China Competition

    Quantum computing uses quantum mechanics to perform fast and complex calculations. It is often defined as a disruptive technology and is among the advanced technologies at the forefront of US-China competition. Although the US has been in the lead in the development and applications of quantum technology, China is making rapid strides. Earlier this year, China’s independently developed quantum computer, Origin Wukong, named after the Monkey King (a famous character from Chinese mythology) made the country the third in the world to develop this state-of-the-art machine. 

    Quantum computing has many potential applications, including financial modeling, artificial intelligence, scientific research, as well as in defense areas, such as undersea warfare and military communications networks. A new report from the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), titled “The Quest for Qubits: Assessing U.S.-China Competition in Quantum Computing” explains the quantum strategies being pursued by the US and China. It makes recommendations for the US to strengthen its position in its competition with China in quantum computing.

    Host Bonnie Glaser is joined by the report’s author, Sam Howell, an adjunct associate fellow, with the Technology and National Security program at CNAS. Her research interests include quantum information science, semi-conductor STEM workforce issues, and the use of emerging technologies to enhance human performance. 



    [02:00] What is quantum computing?

    [04:10] Quantum Computing in US-China Competition

    [05:58] American and Chinese Strengths and Weaknesses

    [09:36] Possibility of Working with Other Actors

    [11:56] Status of US-China Scientific Collaboration

    [14:30] Chinese Technological Self-Sufficiency

    [17:58] Building a Quantum Technology Supply Chain

    [22:05] Fostering a Quantum Technology Workforce

    [25:52] Key Variables of US-China Competition

    9 July 2024, 6:00 am
  • 32 minutes 30 seconds
    Reviving the China-Japan-South Korea Trilateral Summit and Putin’s Visit to Pyongyang

    On May 27th, China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea concluded their Ninth Trilateral Summit in Seoul. Leaders of the three countries resumed their highest-level annual meetings for the first time in over four years. At the conclusion of the meeting, they issued a joint declaration that includes six priority areas of cooperation, ranging from sustainable development to economic collaboration and trade. 

    What were Beijing’s interests and motivations in reviving this trilateral mechanism?

    To discuss China’s participation in the trilateral summit, host Bonnie Glaser is joined by Yun Sun, a Senior Fellow and Co-director of the East Asia program and Director of the China program at the Stimson Center in Washington.



    [01:18] Reestablishing the Trilateral Leadership Mechanism

    [06:14] Outcomes and Deliverables of the Trilateral Summit

    [10:37] 2019 Chengdu Denuclearization Agreement

    [13:38] China’s Import Ban on Japanese Seafood

    [18:07] China on US-Japan-ROK Trilateral Cooperation

    [23:58] Warming Russian-North Korean Relations

    [29:30] Would Xi Jinping express his concerns with Vladimir Putin?

    25 June 2024, 6:00 am
  • 28 minutes 34 seconds
    China-Russia Trade Relations and the Limits of Western Sanctions

    On May 17, Russian President Vladimir Putin concluded a two-day visit to China for his 43rd meeting with Xi Jinping. Based on public readouts, Putin emphasized the economic benefits that the Sino-Russian partnership could bring to both countries. Economic integration between Russia and China has accelerated dramatically, with total trade between them reaching $240 billion US dollars in 2023. Beijing’s decision to increase trade with Moscow after the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine has kept the Russian economy afloat. 

    Western sanctions have failed to cripple Russia’s economy or its war effort. After the European Union halted the import of Russian oil, China stepped in and has since become Russia’s top energy buyer. Moreover, China has become Russia’s top goods supplier, having surged its sales of machine tools, microelectronics, and other technology that Moscow uses to produce weaponry in its ongoing war with Ukraine. 

    To discuss China’s trade with Russia, host Bonnie Glaser is joined by Yanmei Xie. Yanmei is a Geopolitics Analyst at Gavekal Research, where she analyzes the implications of rising geopolitical and geoeconomic risks on trade, investments, and supply chains. Yanmei recently published a report on China’s economic support for Russia, which was titled “How China Keeps Russia in Business.” 



    [02:00] China’s Economic Support of Russia 

    [05:29] Areas of Success for Western Sanctions

    [07:11] A Surge in Chinese Exports After the Invasion of Ukraine 

    [09:54] Chinese Playbook for Circumventing Sanctions

    [13:36] Chinese Provision of Crucial Materials

    [15:17] Incentive to Capture the Russian Energy Market

    [19:17] Impact of Western Industrial Policies on Sino-Russian Trade 

    [20:20] Possibility of Increased Sanctions to Deter China

    [23:24] China’s Toolbox of Retaliatory Measures 

    [26:48] Plateauing Economic Support for Russia

    11 June 2024, 6:00 am
  • 32 minutes 17 seconds
    Xi Jinping and China's Techno-Industrial Drive

    China’s rate of economic growth has slowed markedly in recent years. According to Chinese government statistics, the economy grew by 5.2% in 2023. There are numerous challenges: weak consumer confidence, mounting local government debt, and a real estate market that used to fuel the economy, but is now in a prolonged downturn.

    Many economists, including some in China, advocate that the government stimulate consumer spending. It is clear, however, that Xi Jinping is pursuing a different strategy. And this was quite clear when Chinese Premier Li Qiang delivered the Government Work Report last March.

    Host Bonnie Glaser is joined by Tanner Greer, who argued in a recent article published in Foreign Policy and in his blog, The Scholar’s Stage, that Xi Jinping and the Politburo believe that science and technology are the answer to China’s problems. To quote from the article: “the central task of the Chinese state is to build an industrial and scientific system capable of pushing humanity to new technological frontiers.” Tanner is the director of the Center for Strategic Translation. As a journalist and researcher, his writing focuses on world politics and history. 



    [01:43] Historical Narrative Informing China’s Belief in Techno-Industrial Policy

    [03:47] How does China’s own history fit into this narrative?

    [06:36] Evidence that Xi Jinping Believes in a Technological Revolution

    [09:37] How does China assess the global balance of power?

    [12:26] Three Premises Behind China’s Techno-Industrial Drive

    [14:08] Influence of Intensifying US-China Technology Competition

    [17:12] Acceleration of New Quality Productive Forces

    [19:32] Skepticism of China’s Strategy

    [26:43] Chinese Intellectuals Writing on Techno-Industrial Policy

    28 May 2024, 6:00 am
  • 30 minutes 40 seconds
    China's Expanding Ties with Latin America and the Caribbean

    In the past few weeks, China’s relations with Latin America and the Caribbean have been making headlines. Newsweek published an exclusive story about plans to create a Chinese-run special economic zone on the island of Antigua that will have a port, a dedicated airline, its own customs and immigration procedures, and be able to issue passports. An international crypto services zone will offer opportunities to participate in cryptocurrency operations from mining to dealing.

    The Americas Quarterly reported that China has expressed interest in building a port complex near the Strait of Magellan at the southern tip of South America, which is considered the most important natural passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. From there, according to the Americas Quarterly, Beijing could grow its presence in the region and also project influence in Antarctica.

    And in late April, China held the first China-Latin American and Caribbean States Space Cooperation Forum, which opened with a congratulatory letter from Xi Jinping applauding the high-level space cooperation partnership in which he emphasized the benefits of marrying China’s mature space technology with the unique geographic advantage of the countries in the Latin America and Caribbean region.

    To discuss Chinese interests in and strategy toward the Latin America and Caribbean region–known as the LAC–host Bonnie Glaser is joined by Leland Lazarus. He is the Associate Director of National Security at Florida International University’s Jack D. Gordon Institute of Public Policy and an expert on China-Latin America relations. He formerly served as the Special Assistant and Speechwriter to the Commander of US Southern Command and as a State Department Foreign Service Officer, with postings in Barbados and China. 

    Editorial Correction: Regarding the statement on the price of Huawei's equipment, it is approximately 30% cheaper than Nokia or Ericcson, rather than one-third the price. 


    [02:30] China’s Interest in LAC Countries

    [04:44] Implementation of BRI in LAC Countries

    [07:23] China’s Investment in Energy Development

    [09:39] Huawei’s Penetration into LAC Countries

    [11:57] Role of Perú in Beijing’s Regional Strategy

    [14:56] China-LAC Cooperation in Space

    [20:56] Receptivity of China to LAC Countries

    [25:30] How should the US compete against China in LAC? 

    14 May 2024, 6:00 am
  • 29 minutes 9 seconds
    Illiberal Effects of Chinese Foreign Direct Investment

    The Biden administration maintains that China is the only country with both the intent to reshape the international order and the power to do so. One part of China’s economic statecraft toolkit involves state-directed investments through high profile projects in the Belt and Road Initiative which are funded by loans through Chinese development banks. But the role and impact of Chinese companies that provide equity funding for FDI often receive less attention. Does Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) have illiberal effects on recipient countries. And is this goal part of China’s economic statecraft and foreign policy strategy.

    To address these questions and more, host Bonnie Glaser is joined by Dr. Jan Knoerich. He is the author on a chapter of Chinese FDI on the recent Oxford publication “Rising Power, Limited Influence”, a collection of essays on the effects of Chinese investment in Europe. Dr. Knoerich is a senior lecturer on the Chinese economy for the Lau China Institute at King’s College in London. He is an expert on the Chinese economy, FDI, and international investment law and policy. 



    [01:38] Evolution of Chinese Foreign Investment Strategies

    [04:48] Chinese Firms Undertaking Foreign Direct Investment

    [09:16] Impacts of Chinese FDI: Five Dimensions 

    [18:17] Reasons Why Chinese Firms are Viewed with Suspicion

    [21:06] Impacts of Chinese FDI Projects in Europe

    [24:59] Evidence of Chinese FDI Exerting Political Influence

    30 April 2024, 6:00 am
  • 25 minutes 29 seconds
    Article 23: Implications for Hong Kong

    When Hong Kong was handed over to China by the United Kingdom 1997, the city was given a mini-Constitution called the “Basic Law.” Article 23 of the Basic Law states that Hong Kong shall enact laws of its own to prohibit various national security offenses. The law did not pass, however, and was scrapped after mass protests in 2003. And in 2020, the Central Government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) imposed a separate national security law on Hong Kong, citing the city’s delay in acting on Article 23. 

    This year on March 19th, Article 23 was passed unanimously by the city’s parliament and it came into effect just days later. The law covers five types of crime: treason, insurrection and incitement to mutiny, theft of state secrets, and espionage, sabotage, and external interference. Critics say that Article 23 could lead to even further erosions of civil liberties in Hong Kong.

    To discuss Article 23 and its implications, host Bonnie Glaser is joined by Dr. Eric Yan-ho Lai. Dr. Lai is a Research Fellow at the Georgetown Center for Asian Law, an Associate Fellow at the Hong Kong Studies Hub of the University of Surrey, and a member of the Asian Civil Society Research Network. 



    [01:47] Understanding PRC Definitions Used in Article 23

    [03:37] Why was Article 23 passed now?

    [05:23] Compressed Timeline for Unanimous Approval

    [09:05] Shift in Risk Assessment for Multinational Corporations

    [12:03] Precedents for Targeting Diaspora Communities

    [14:17] Reactions to Article 23 from the International Community

    [15:54] What are some concrete actions that could be taken to signal concern?

    [17:55] Do the PRC and Hong Kong care about international perceptions?

    [19:36] Implementation of Article 23 Moving Forward

    [21:28] Passage of Additional Security Legislature

    [22:57] Forecast for the Future of Hong Kong






    16 April 2024, 6:00 am
  • 34 minutes 17 seconds
    Transatlantic Perspectives on China: Consensus and Divergence

    In the past decade, policy toward China has hardened on both sides of the Atlantic. Governments and publics across Europe and in the United States view Xi Jinping as implementing more repressive policies domestically and more aggressive policies abroad. The US and most capitals in Europe see Beijing as seeking to revise the international order in ways that would be disadvantageous to democracies. They agree on the need for de-risking and to preserve the status quo in the Taiwan Strait. 

    Yet, despite the alignment in transatlantic assessments, cooperation on China remains limited. A new paper by experts from Chatham House and RUSI, leading think tanks in the United Kingdom, analyzes why transatlantic mechanisms have made slow progress, focusing on three domains: economics; security; and the multilateral system and global norms. The paper also offers ways to strengthen cooperation going forward. 

    The title of the report is “Transatlantic China Policy: In Search of an Endgame?” Host Bonnie Glaser is joined by one of its authors, Ben Bland who is the director of the Asia-Pacific program at Chatham House. His research focuses on the nexus of politics, economics, and international relations in Southeast Asia, as well as China’s growing role in the broader region and the contours of US–China strategic competition. 



    [01:46] Why did you pursue this research on transatlantic mechanism?

    [03:24] Importance of Agreeing on an Endgame

    [06:30] Consensus and Divergence between the US and Europe

    [10:10] De-risking: One Word, Many Meanings 

    [15:00] Transatlantic Discussions on European and Indo-Pacific Security

    [18:40] Can a regional division of labor strategy work?

    [22:13] China, the Multilateral System, and Global Norms

    [27:00] Tensions Between EU Multilateralism and Transatlantic Consensus

    [31:10] What are the next steps for Chatham House?

    2 April 2024, 6:00 am
  • 32 minutes 41 seconds
    China's Diplomacy in the Israel-Hamas War and Red Sea Crisis

    On a previous episode of the China Global Podcast, we discussed Beijing’s position on the conflict in Gaza during the early days following Hamas’ attacks on Israel on October 7, 2023. Today, we discuss one of the conflict’s spillover effects– the attacks on cargo and trade ships transiting the Red Sea by the Houthis, an Iranian-backed Shia group governing parts of Yemen. While the Chinese-brokered rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran was as the beginning of a “wave of reconciliation” in the region by China’s foreign minister Wang Yi, the resurgence of violence since October 7th has proven that prediction to be overly optimistic. 

    At face value, disruptions of global trade may seem to run counter to Chinese interests, but Beijing’s hesitance to become more deeply involved in the crisis may tell us something about China’s calculations in this crisis. It may also show the limits of Chinese influence in the region. 

    Host Bonnie Glaser is joined by Ahmed Aboudouh. Ahmed is an associate fellow with the Middle East and North Africa Program at Chatham House, a nonresident fellow with the Atlantic Council, and heads the China Studies research unit at the Emirates Policy Center. His research focuses on China’s rising influence in the Middle East and North Africa region, Gulf geopolitics, and the effects of China-US competition worldwide. 


    [01:36] China’s Statement on Palestine at the International Court of Justice

    [08:20] Why is China indirectly supporting Hamas despite its relations with Israel?

    [12:11] Effectiveness of China’s Narrative Critical of America and the West

    [16:54] Israel, Palestine, and China’s Diplomatic Calculus

    [20:12] China’s Hesitance to Counter the Houthis in the Red Sea

    [25:15] Does China have leverage over Iran, and if so, will they use it?

    [29:59] Circumstances for Deeper Chinese Involvement

    19 March 2024, 6:00 am
  • 33 minutes 59 seconds
    Mapping China's Influence in Myanmar's Crisis

    On February 1st 2021, the Tatmadaw, or Myanmar military began a coup d’etat against the democratically-elected government, which was led by the National League for Democracy (or NLD) just before elected officials from the November 2020 elections could be sworn in. Since then, Myanmar has been largely controlled by a military junta, who continue to struggle against multiple ethnically-aligned armies dispersed throughout the country. Some countries in the region have refused to recognize the junta, but the People’s Republic of China called the coup simply a “major cabinet reshuffle” and accelerated their military trade with the junta while decrying Western sanctions on the country as escalatory measures, even going so far as to veto a security council resolution condemning the coup alongside Russia. 

    China’s approach to relations with Myanmar since the coup have been evolving swiftly, especially since the recent Operation 1027, a large offensive staged by the ethnic armed forces coalition known as the Three Brotherhood Alliance on October 27th 2023. The losses by the junta during the operation revealed their control of the country to be more tenuous than Beijing might have expected and exemplify the complex factors going into China’s decision-making approach to the conflict. 

    For this episode, host Bonnie Glaser is joined by Jason Tower, the country director for the Burma program at the United States Institute for Peace. Tower has over 20 years of experience working in conflict and security issues in China and Southeast Asia, including analysis on cross-border investments, conflict dynamics, and organized crime in the region. He worked previously in Beijing and is a former Fulbright research student and Harvard-Yenching fellow. 



    [02:07] China’s Interest in the Myanmar Conflict

    [05:48] China’s Engagement with Parties in Myanmar

    [12:48] Impact of China’s Brokered Ceasefires 

    [20:30] Credibility of China in Southeast Asia

    [25:15] Myanmar in the US-China Relationship

    5 March 2024, 7:00 am
  • 22 minutes 8 seconds
    Flashpoints in the US-China Relationship

    Many books about US-China strategic competition have been published in recent years. This episode will focus on Facing China: The Prospect for War and Peace, which examines various flashpoints in the Indo-Pacific that could result in military conflict.

    There are several reasons why this book stands out: First, it includes an examination of debates within China about China’s national interests; Second, it focuses not only on the challenges of major wars, but also on China’s gray-zone strategy of deliberately pursuing its interests in ways that stay below the threshold that would trigger a US military response. And finally, it assesses the applicability of the Thucydides Trap to the US-China relationship. The Thucydides Trap concept was coined by Graham Allison who examined historical cases in which a rising power threatened to displace a ruling power in his book Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap? Allison concluded that in the majority of historical cases the outcome was war.

    This book is especially interesting because it is written by a European expert who has deep knowledge of Taiwan, mainland China, and the United States: Jean-Pierre Cabestan. He is an emeritus senior researcher at the French Center for Scientific Research in Paris and an emeritus professor political science at the Department of Government and International Studies at Hone Kong Baptist University, and a visiting senior fellow at GMF. 



    [02:07] Revisiting the Thucydides Trap 

    [03:53] Why was China fascinated by this concept? 

    [05:26] Reasons for the Risk of War Increasing

    [06:33] The US-China Cold War and its Characteristics

    [09:03] China’s Gray-Zone Activities 

    [10:53] Where has China’s gray-zone strategy been the most successful? 

    [12:37] Unifying Taiwan with China through Gray-Zone Activities

    [14:42] Chinese Use of Force in the Taiwan Strait in the 2020s

    [16:17] China’s Ambitions in the International Arena

    [17:40] Future Overseas Operations of the PLA 


    20 February 2024, 7:00 am
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