China: Reforms Is So Forty Years Ago

China: Reforms Is So Forty Years Ago

Just hours ago, Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a speech to commemorate an economic experiment that spurred one of the most staggering stories of economic growth in human history – here's Gabe with the rundown.


On December 18, 1978, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping announced an ambitious plan to "reform" and "open up" the Communist country's tightly regulated state-run economy. In the decades since, hundreds of millions of Chinese were lifted out of poverty and the country's share of the global economy rocketed from 3 percent to 19 percent. Deng's bold changes transformed a poor agrarian country into an economic superpower.

But if observers expected Mr. Xi to use the occasion to announce a fresh wave of reforms to liberalize China's flagging economy, they were disappointed. President Xi's message was at once steadfast and defiant. Amid a growing trade spat with the United States, Mr. Xi warned that Beijing would not "be dictated to" by outside powers. Despite a vague pledge to "reform what can be reformed," he also was ominously clear that there are some things "that cannot and should not be reformed."

Where Deng was a reformer, Xi is a different kind of leader entirely. Since taking power in 2012, Mr. Xi has concentrated more power in his hands than any leader since Mao Zedong, the founder of Communist China. He has used that power to strengthen the role of the state in China's economy and society at home while asserting China's role internationally. Where Deng's worldview was framed by his adage to "hide your strength, bide your time," Mr Xi has pledged to put China at the "center of the world stage."

And why not, Mr. Xi might well ask. China's miracle of economic growth without political liberalization (or upheaval) compares favorably with the political challenges roiling Western democracies these days. Why shouldn't China harness the full power of the state to become a superpower in technology, AI, and other advanced technologies? From Beijing's perspective, grievances from the US and Europe about China's trade policies and technology ambitions just look like efforts to prevent China from taking its rightful place in the world order.

The trouble for Mr. Xi is that the domestic political environment is getting more difficult for him, rather than less. The economy is sagging, tensions over trade and technology with the US and other countries are intensifying, and the expectations of the world's largest middle class (which Deng's reforms largely created) are growing. By concentrating so much power in his own hands, Mr. Xi risks making himself solely responsible for the outcome, good or bad.

Forty years ago, faced with an impoverished and isolated China, Deng took a huge gamble on reform and experimentation. Today, at the helm of a powerful and globally active China, Mr. Xi is defiantly doubling down on a more conservative and assertive vision – will it turn out as well?

Yau Abdul Karim lives and works in Garin Mai Jalah, located in the Yobe State of northeastern Nigeria. Essential to his work raising cattle is reliable access to water, yet environmental degradation has led to fewer water sources, severely impacting communities like his that depend on livestock. In 2019, with the help of FAO, Eni installed a special solar-powered well in Yau's town that provides water during the day as well as light at night.

Watch Yau's story as he shows how his family and community enjoy life-enhancing access to both water and light.

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here. And I thought I'd talk a little bit today about the latest in Israel, Palestine. It's obviously been driving headlines all week. And of course, on social media, there's no topic that we all get along and agree with each other more than Israel, Palestine. It's an easy one to take on. Yeah, I know I'm completely full of crap on that. But I thought I would give you some sense of what I think is actually happening where we're going. So first point, massive fight, big conflict between Hamas in Gaza and the Israeli defense forces. Not only that, but also more violence and a lot of violence breaking out between Israeli Arabs and Israeli Jews. Extremists on both sides taking to the streets and fairly indiscriminate violence, in this case, worst since 2014.

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Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's first minister, says another independence referendum for Scotland is now a matter of "when not if," and that after leaving the UK, Scotland will launch a bid to rejoin the EU. But there are formidable obstacles ahead.

Getting to a vote will force a complex game of chicken with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. If a majority of Scots then vote for independence — hardly a sure thing – the process of extricating their new country from the UK will make Brexit look easy. Next, come the challenges of EU accession. In other words, Scotland's journey down the rocky road ahead has only just begun.

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Cyber is a tool, and sometimes a weapon. Whether espionage for commercial gain or indiscriminate attacks on critical infrastructure, actions taken in cyber space affect you directly, potentially upending even the most mundane realities of everyday life.

Join GZERO Media and Microsoft for a live conversation on cyber challenges facing governments, companies, and citizens in a Munich Security Conference "Road to Munich" event on Tuesday, May 18.

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Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

Who is Elise Stefanik and what does she mean for the Republican Party right now?

Elise Stefanik is a young member from Upstate New York. She had originally started her career as a staffer in the George W. Bush administration, but in recent years, has turned into one of the most outspoken defenders of President Donald Trump, particularly during the impeachment trial last year. She's relevant right now because it looks like she'll be replacing Liz Cheney, the Representative from Wyoming and also the daughter of the former Vice President, who has been outspoken in her criticism of President Trump since the January 6th insurrection, and probably more importantly, outspoken in her criticism of the direction of the Republican Party.

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According to Delhi-based journalist Barkha Dutt, while the Indian government has finally started to mobilize in response to the COVID crisis, there's still a lot of denial about the severity of the ourbreak. "Our Health Minister, for instance, made a statement in the last 24 hours saying that India is better equipped to fight COVID in 2021 than in 2020. That's simply rubbish. We had India's Solicitor General telling the Supreme Court that there is no oxygen deficit as of now. That's simply not true." In an interview on GZERO World, Dutt tells Ian Bremmer that only the connection between fellow Indians, helping each other when the government cannot, has been a salve.

Watch the episode: India's COVID calamity

Listen: Ask national security experts how they view China today and they'll likely the use a term like "adversary" or "economic competitor." But what about "enemy?" How close is the world to all-out-war breaking out between United States and China? According to US Admiral James Stavridis (Ret.), who served as Supreme Allied Commander to NATO, those odds are higher than many would like to admit. In fact, Stavridis says, the US risks losing its military dominance in the coming years to China. And if push comes to shove in a military conflict, it's not entirely clear who would prevail. Admiral Stavridis discusses his bestselling new military thriller 2034 and makes the case for why his fictional depiction of a US-China war could easily become reality.

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective on Europe In 60 Seconds:

What's the issue with the letter in France talking about the "civil war"?

Well, I think it is part of the beginning of the French election campaign. We have some people in the military encouraged by the more right-wing forces, warning very much for the Muslim question. That's part of the upstart to the election campaign next year. More to come, I fear.

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Beyond SolarWinds: Securing Cyberspace. Watch on Tuesday, May 18, 2021 10am PT/ 1pm ET

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Beyond SolarWinds: Securing Cyberspace | Watch on Tuesday, May 18, 2021 10am PT / 1 pm PT

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