John Lee

Why Australia's relationship with Japan infuriates China

Beijing is demonising Japan for strategic reasons, but the Abbott government refuses to play ball.

A reality check will ground China's sky-high ambitions

Despite pouring billions into the commercial airplane market, China will struggle match its high-tech, private sector multinational rivals.

The middle-income trap will haunt China

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Several East Asian nations have surpassed the middle-income barrier, but China's weak institutions and reliance on fixed investment mean that slower growth is a structural inevitability.

China needs a new way to manufacture export growth

Technologies such as 3D printing are disrupting the East Asian model of export manufacturing, which uses low-cost labour as its competitive advantage. China will have to rethink its strategy... or risk being left behind.

Don't believe the hype about the renminbi

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The renminbi may be a rising force in global transactions, but without profound economic reform in China the talk of its rapid internationalisation has no currency.

The truth about China's lies and statistics

China's growth figures are notoriously unreliable and, as its economy slows, inaccuracies become even more important. All signs point to China becoming a normal economy... with abnormally large problems.

Why China must tolerate democracy in its midst

A Chinese white paper on Hong Kong's political autonomy has raised the hackles of democracy activists, but a softer touch is required if Beijing wants to avoid any diplomatic and reputational fallout.

How Japan spoiled China's power play

Japan's renewed geopolitical confidence has thrown a spanner in China's strategy blueprint, all but dashing Beijing's hopes for total dominance over maritime Asia.

It's time to talk tough on the rough China seas

Australia’s passivity toward disputes in East Asia is largely explained by the fact that we seem to have no skin in the game. But doing nothing is becoming less and less of an option.

Bears are circling bulls in the China shop

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China bears will likely be waiting for the nation’s ‘Lehman moment’ for some time, but that doesn't mean there aren't deep problems brewing.

Why China fears the Putin precedent

Beijing is wary of Russia's Ukraine actions and probably just as confused about how to respond as America and Western Europe - but for very different reasons.

Hard words won't shatter China-Australia relations

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The Abbott government's forthright approach to diplomatic relations with Beijing may have ruffled some feathers, but it won't preclude a strong economic relationship between the two nations.

Geopolitics lurk amid the MH370 tragedy

The search for debris from the ill-fated MH370 plane has united foreign powers in a rare moment of cooperation, but there's more at stake for China than any other country.

There are few reforms in China's great aspirations

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China is in need of market-based reforms, but a genuinely competitive economy will only be achieved if the dominance of its state-owned enterprises is wound back.

A Singapore sling is inadequate for unwieldy China

China is keen to emulate Singapore's success, but its lack of outstanding leadership, solid institutions and a strong rule of law set it apart from the prosperous city-state.

Capital flight is China's house of cards

China's ultra-rich are pouring money into Australia's property market, but the scale of their capital flight has deleterious consequences for the Chinese financial system.

Why Li Na's speech caused a racket in China

Tennis champion Li Na's failure to recognise China in her Australian Open victory speech symbolised the growing tension between individual expression and loyalty to the state.

Renminbi reforms will be another false dawn

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China’s fear of liberalisation of its currency is a sign of its immense economic vulnerabilities. Genuine liberalisation of the renminbi is not imminent because the conditions that have prevented it have not changed.

The political rot in Mao’s sugar-coated legacy

There is a great chasm between China's modern leaders, who implicitly reject Maoism, and the nation's official history, which tends to remember Mao fondly. Bridging the gap would strengthen the Party's legitimacy with its people.

China's self-serving moon shot

On Saturday, China became only the third country to land a module safely on the moon. With half a billion impoverished citizens this expensive project makes little sense – except as a geopolitical power play.