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Alibaba was one of the hundreds of companies being praised by the Chinese state for their contribution towards "national poverty alleviation". This came amidst a recent intensifying crackdown by Beijing on the country's Big Tech companies. Tech firms contributing to Xi's anti-poverty campaign are fulfilling their obligation of "serving the state," and this "reflects well upon the party and wins support," says Research Fellow Alex Capri. But this does not mean the CCP is taking a softer line towards its tech sector.
Months after Ant Group's initial public offering was shelved at the last minute, it has been reported that the company has agreed with authorities to become a financial holding company. "The idea is to have [financial] firms more firmly under Beijing's control so that they can better serve the state when it comes to building the next generation of IoT...or rolling out the digital [yuan]," Research Fellow Alex Capri tells CNN. "All of these actions promote and project Beijing's power."
Our webinar featuring prominent China experts Professor David Shambaugh of George Washington University and Professor Wang Gungwu of National University of Singapore has been quoted extensively in this South China Morning Post article on China's growing influence in Southeast Asia as a result of US foreign policy indifference. “Southeast Asians would really like the US to be much more present. But the US has a lot of baggage in the region. So there is a kind of ambivalence about the US, [which] arises from a feeling of neglect," Professor Shambaugh says.
In this article originally published by AFP on Kuaishou's rising popularity among 'ordinary people' in China, Research Fellow Alex Capri noted that as the app enters the international market, it's also wading into a global environment fraught with geopolitical tensions. "The more Kuaishou adheres to regulatory requirements at home, the more they will be viewed as de facto state enterprises, particularly regarding issues of data privacy and security," Capri says.
In a 2020 survey for the Hinrich Foundation, 75 percent of Americans backed Buy American policies, including 48 percent who “strongly” favor them. This opinion piece from The Washington Post's editorial board argues that "Buy American" laws – while useful for politicians to garner support from voters – are economically counterproductive.
In response to Huawei's continued dominance in the 5G landscape, former US president Donald Trump introduced export limits on the US's world-leading semiconductor sector in May and August 2019. "There is no doubt that the trade restrictions accelerated China’s attempts to de-Americanize supply chains," says Research Fellow Alex Capri in this interview with the New Statesman on the US-China race to technological supremacy.
US President Joe Biden is inheriting a tense and messy relationship with China from his predecessor. Tensions are not likely to subside, given bipartisan support for the view that China poses a major threat to US national security. "Even if there is a return to measured language and diplomacy, we could see more strategic decoupling from Chinese digital companies" under Biden, says Research Fellow Alex Capri.
Beijing's crackdown on its national champions has accelerated in recent weeks, but the government has been laying the groundwork for some time. "Alibaba, like all other big Chinese tech, is in [an] existential crisis," said Research Fellow Alex Capri. "Access to and control of data and digital platforms is key. Thus, if this means breaking up Alibaba or making it a quasi-state owned company, this could happen."
"The sad death of employees at Pinduoduo provides Beijing with timely and very visceral publicity which it can leverage to further its policy objectives," said Research Fellow Alex Capri. "The message: the Pinduoduo tragedy is another lesson about what happens when private companies put their own business priorities ahead of the [ruling Chinese Communist Party]."
The Trump administration’s final days are proving as confounding as ever for companies and investors stuck in the middle of an increasingly contentious US-China relationship. “From a corporate governance perspective, multinational companies and individuals will find themselves increasingly whipsawed," said Research Fellow Alex Capri.
Alibaba's Jack Ma has become a case study for skeptics who have been questioning the relationship between private Chinese tech firms and the Communist Party. Our latest report on techno-nationalism, titled "Techno-nationalism and corporate governance", authored by Research Fellow Alex Capri has been quoted in this Bloomberg article as it explores the CCP's influence on the country's private sector.
RCEP is a welcome vision of multilateralism, but members "have disparate capacity to enforce 'deep' trade standards," said Research Fellow Alex Capri. "In general, the agreement allows individual countries to opt out and cherry pick key provisions. At best, it's a tiered agreement."