Observers discuss South China Sea, economic challenges and more at Global Times annual conference

Source:Global Times Published: 2016/12/18 19:33:39

Guests of the Global Times Annual Conference participate in a discussion in Beijing on Saturday. Photo: Cui Meng/GT

Guests of the Global Times Annual Conference participate in a discussion in Beijing on Saturday. Photo: Cui Meng/GT

Editor's Note:

The Global Times Annual Conference was held on Saturday at the Sofitel Wanda Beijing Hotel, with dozens of officials, experts and public figures in various fields participating. Following the theme "Chinese Reform amid Global Crisis," participants shared their thoughts on key issues of 2016 and their predications for 2017, including their views on topics ranging from the South China Sea, the Taiwan question and the Chinese economy.

Will outside forces continue to create disturbances in the South China Sea?

Wei Jianguo, Former Vice Minister of Chinese Ministry of Commerce

Wei Jianguo, Former Vice Minister of Chinese Ministry of Commerce

I have three interpretations of Donald Trump's tweet which accused China of military expansionism in the South China Sea. The first is he was flying a kite; the second is he is ignorant; the third is it's a provocation. I think he planned this tweet for a long time in advance.

When it comes to the South China Sea, we need to pay attention to three important points. The first is to see whether there are more countries cleaning up the mess after the collapse of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The second is after the Hangzhou G20 summit, will other countries choose to deepen cooperation and support the "One Belt, One Road" initiative? Thirdly, the South China Sea issue reflects the new pattern of Sino-US relations.

We need to prevent misjudgment. We hope that after Trump comes into power he will make clear what he wants to prevent us from misjudging the situation. Another important thing is I am concerned that conflict may happen not between China and the US but between China and the little brothers of the US.

Wu Shicun, President of the Institute for South China Sea Studies

Wu Shicun, President of the Institute for South China Sea Studies

I think countries outside the region will interfere in the South China Sea. For example, Admiral Harry Harris (US Pacific Command) said several days ago in Australia that the US is "ready to confront China" in the South China Sea. But whether they can successfully create disturbances in the South China Sea doesn't depend on the US' intentions and activities.

I made a judgment at the Xiangshan Forum in October, a forum focusing on international security and defense issues. I said that the tribunal case in the South China Sea has turned a new page. The bottleneck in the South China Sea is a temporary matter. The US doesn't want to see peace in the South China Sea as it violates its interests. So far what will happen in the South China Sea is unpredictable. It's still unclear what policies the US government will take towards China.

Dai Xu, President of the Institute of Marine Safety and Cooperation

Dai Xu, President of the Institute of Marine Safety and Cooperation

There were two farces in 2016: the tribunal case concerning the South China Sea initiated by the Philippines and the US election.

For Trump, we can't understand him from a normal perspective. What he said during his campaign for the presidency and the impudent and proactive words he said about China on Twitter don't reveal his real nature. They are very possibly the political blackmail of a businessman. We don't need to care about him.

China isn't afraid of confronting the US. Trump should better not misjudge the situation. He won't be able to stand the consequences of confronting China. If he dares to do it, I have a bold expectation that his presidency won't last four years.

Regarding the South China Sea, I've a word to deliver to Trump. The military conditions in the South China Sea aren't like they are described by crazy US soldiers. If the US chooses military confrontations against China in this region, according to common sense, the US side will lose the battle for sure. 

Will pro-independence forces in Taiwan and Hong Kong continue to stir up trouble?

Wang Hongguang, Former Deputy Commander of the PLA Nanjing Military Area Command

Wang Hongguang, Former Deputy Commander of the PLA Nanjing Military Area Command

My judgment about the Taiwan question is that military conflicts are unavoidable before 2020. My judgment is based on the following aspects. The first is "Taiwan independence" political forces have occupied the mainstream. The second is Tsai Ing-wen is a rational "Taiwan independent," and we should not have hopes for her. Thirdly, about 300,000 Japanese stayed in Taiwan when the island was liberated, and now 6 million out of the 23 million people in Taiwan have blood relationship with the Japanese. They will be the die hard group which will resist any military takeover of Taiwan in the future. Fourth, the Kuomintang is being marginalized in Taiwan. Fifth, the Chinese mainland now has gained initiatives on the Taiwan question.

How many days can Taiwan stand up if a military confrontation happens? There was once a military defense "minister" that said they can defend Taiwan for one month. He said it because they once held a military drill which verified his comment. I've seen that military drill's places and operating conditions, it only served to entertain themselves.

Chiu Yi, Former Taiwan legislator & Director of the Taiwan Institute for Economic Research

Chiu Yi, Former Taiwan legislator & Director of the Taiwan Institute for Economic Research

The future of the two sides has come into a crucial point. There are five possibilities. The first is reunification through military force. The second is a peaceful reunification. The third is peaceful reunification through psychological warfare. The fourth is what Ma Ying-jeou has done: to maintain the present situation which is no different from "Taiwan independence" in the long run. The fifth is "Taiwan independence."

"Taiwan independence" appears to be the mainstream opinion in Taiwan. It's because now the party which advocates it has taken power and saying "independence" is politically popular. The second is that they can still make money from the mainland even while saying this, and this has nurtured "Taiwan independence."

But is this figure supporting Taiwan independence a truth? In a poll released during Ma's time, 80 percent of respondents said they support "Taiwan independence" if the US sends troops and the mainland gives up military force. But this figure drops to 14 percent if the US gives up sending troops and the mainland uses military force. So I came to the conclusion that the mainstream "Taiwan independence" opinion is fake phenomenon. 

Tsai's plan is to keep close ties with the US and Japan, but this will take lots of sacrifices. So far, this road looks too bumpy.

Di Zhiyuan, President of Hong Kong New Thinking & Former Vice President of the Democratic Party of Hong Kong

Di Zhiyuan, President of Hong Kong New Thinking & Former Vice President of the Democratic Party of Hong Kong



 "Hong Kong independence" is different from "Taiwan independence." The reason why now some Hong Kong people want separation is because they are dissatisfied with the central government and the regional government.

According to a poll done by the Chinese University of Hong Kong, only 17 percent of respondents said they support "Hong Kong independence." Seventy percent think it's better to maintain the "One Country, Two Systems" policy and 80 percent think it's impossible to achieve "Hong Kong independence." 

In order to improve relations, it's better for the mainland to run the economy well, to make friends in Hong Kong and to understand the democratic needs of Hong Kong people.

The best way to address problems in Hong Kong is to implement the "One Country, Two Systems" policy well. We need benign interactions. The central government should have confidence in Hong Kong people and give them some space.

Can the economy overcome recent uncertainty?



Yang Fan, Professor of the China University of Political Science and Law

Yang Fan, Professor of the China University of Political Science and Law



 I do have serious worries about the Chinese economy. The first is that it's hard to erase concerns about the devaluation of Chinese currency. The second is that due to these predications, capital flows overseas, forcing us to adopt exchange control measures. The third and the most difficult one is that the real estate boom is still going on.

Now it's hard for me to predict that the economy can revive but one thing about the next year that I'm certain of is that the price of commodities will increase more quickly than this year. Under the devaluation of the renminbi, the price of imported goods will increase.

For the real estate bubble problem, now it seems we haven't reached a consensus. The current situation is more dangerous than the economic crisis of 1998.



 

Tan Yaling, Director of the China Forex Investment Research Institute

Tan Yaling, Director of the China Forex Investment Research Institute



 My concern lies in the appreciation of US dollars and the devaluation of the renminbi. It has devalued compared with the dollar, which means our costs are increasing if we exchange them for dollars.

In comparison, the renminbi is appreciating against pound sterling now.

Renminbi devaluation is a good thing for exports and industry. But now we are only focused on finance and investment. This irrationality is a big hidden trouble for our economy.

In 2017, I think the Chinese economy should be made a priority. Now all the people are devoted to finance, which is the biggest risk. Exports, investment and consumption are the "three carriages" of the economy and they are not interchangeable. They are in natural order.

Why should China, as a developing country, give up exports but focus on investment?


Newspaper headline: Chinese Reform amid Global Crisis


Posted in: IN-DEPTH

blog comments powered by Disqus