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Asia Update

December 2020

Asia-related activities of Bertelsmann Stiftung and insights into important developments in the region.



What China's industrial policy means for the German economy

With its industrial policy initiative "Made in China 2025", China hopes to become a leading technology superpower. The selected high-tech industries also include sectors in which German companies are traditionally strong and which are important economic factors for Germany as an export nation, including mechanical engineering. What would it mean for Germany if China actually realizes its plans? This new study develops scenarios for this question using the example of the German mechanical engineering sector. Read the German study here



Cold War 2.0? Essential Readings on the New Systemic Conflict

What are the prospects of U.S.-China relations and transatlantic cooperation after the presidential election in America? This issue is addressed in the December edition of our monthly literature review on the new systemic conflict that assertive authoritarian powers like China pose for liberal democracies. Another focus is the debate on Europe’s sovereignty and strategic autonomy. In addition, the review features articles on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and technological competition with China as well as on China’s rise ambitions and weaknesses. Read it here



Europe must address the technological challenge posed by China

"The systemic competition with China will be decided in the field of future technologies. If Europe does not want to be left behind here, it needs an offensive technology and industrial policy now," writes journalist and author Martin Winter in his contribution to our series "The New Systemic Conflict - What Decisions Germany is Facing" (In German). Read it here



Cambodia, Laos and their involuntary contribution to a new era in Southeast Asian security cooperation

With Cambodia and Laos as loyal allies of China, Southeast Asia needs a new approach for effective security cooperation. Now, a scandal caused by a retired Singaporean diplomate opens the door for an overdue debate, argues Markus Karbaum in this blogpost. Read it here



Indo-German 1.5 Track Dialogue

In November, representatives of the Indian and German foreign ministries and think tankers met online for the second Indo-German Track 1.5 Dialogue. The format was launched in 2019 in the context of intergovernmental consultations between the two countries. This year’s discussions focused on the challenges and potential for cooperation in foreign and security policy as well as trade and economics. Read more about the event here


Holiday reading list

What we are reading over Christmas (and hope to discuss with you in the New Year!)

Parvati Vasanta recommends Ocean Vuongs „On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous“. In his debut novel Vuong explores his own experiences as descendant of Vietnamese migrants who came to the US in the early 90s. As an act of self-empowerment over his own history he writes a letter to his mother who will probably never be able to read it because she is illiterate. The reading is worthwhile because the book is highly eloquent, engaged and deconstructs once more the fairy tale of the American dream that does not come true for everyone.

Peter Walkenhorst recommends Michael Schuman, “Superpower Interrupted. The Chinese History of the World”. The book tells the history of China from a Chinese perspective. It points out that China wants, what it always had. China was a superpower for almost all its history, and it wants to be a superpower again. Anyone who wants to really understand China, should read this book!

Bernhard Bartsch recommends the political science-fiction novel „Ultimatum“ by Matthew Glass. A newly elected democratic US-President tries to negotiate a climate deal with China. Sounds familiar? Matthew Glass – a pen name – first published “Ultimatum” in 2009 and dated his story to 2032. But his plot could be a very likely scenario for 2021. Whoever the author really is: He has very deep knowledge of international affairs and climate diplomacy. And he is a very good story teller, too!




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Dr. Peter Walkenhorst

Senior Project Manager


Bertelsmann Stiftung

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Tel: +49 5241 81-81172




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