Publications

    The Risks for International Business under the Hong Kong National Security Law

    Dennis W. H. Kwok and Elizabeth Donkervoort, July 2021 

    Hong Kong, a former British colony, has been a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) since 1997. The National People’s Congress promulgation of the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (Hong Kong National Security Law, HK NSL) on June 30, 2020, has a substantial impact on Hong Kong’s constitutional structure known as “One Country, Two Systems.” Enshrined under the Basic Law (Hong Kong’s constitution under the Sino British Joint Declaration), One Country, Two Systems guaranteed that Hong Kong would exercise a high degree of autonomy—with its own political, economic, and legal systems—based on the rule of law. The HK NSL has been in operation for one year. This article analyzes the impact of the HK NSL on Hong Kong’s legal system and, in particular, its civil law jurisprudence. The article also explores the new legal risks and challenges international businesses face when dealing with PRC businesses or matters impinging on national security in mergers and acquisitions, commercial transactions, and civil disputes. These issues will be examined against the current geopolitical landscape and rising tensions between the PRC and other nations.

    Why the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Immigration Are Needed for the Middle Class

    David Dapice, June 2021 

    The US population aged 20–65, according to US Census projections, will grow by 355,000 a year this decade, and of that number, only 225,000 new entrants a year will likely be working and increasing the labor force. Yet, even after prepandemic employment is reached later this year or early in 2022, labor demand will continue to grow by millions of jobs far more than will be supplied by new entrants. If immigration policy and automation adjustments are not enough to make up for the deficit, there will be shortages and inflation, forcing the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates and perhaps cause a recession. Such a recession hurts middle- and working-class families. 

    The US has indicated it wishes to compete with China. China has already formed a large trade bloc in Asia, and the obvious alternative—the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)—was negotiated by the US but was never even put up for approval, lacking support from politicians on both sides of the aisle. Given all this, it is worth asking: is the TPP actually bad for labor and the middle class?

     

    Chinese Regional Planning Under Xi Jinping: The Politics and Policy Implications of the Greater Bay Area Initiative

    Jason Jia-Xi Wu, April 2021

    This paper seeks to explain the logic of Chinese regional planning pertaining to the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (粤港澳大湾区 , hereafter GBA) and the challenges it entails for spatial development. Three questions guide the inquiry of this research: First, what are the institutional underpinnings of the GBA initiative, and how is the path dependency of regional integration in the Pearl River Delta (PRD) unique compared to that in China’s other coastal macroregions? Second, how does Beijing’s changing strategy toward Hong Kong inform the costs and limits of the GBA initiative, and what are their policy implications for the future development of the PRD? Third, why is regional planning uniquely favored by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) central leadership, and what does this tell us about the changing policy parameters that govern center-local relations in China?

    This paper argues that the GBA initiative is an overly ambitious plan with very few policy instruments and little regulatory flexibility. It contends that the tensions between the GBA’s intended goals and the means of policy implementation are jointly resulted by three factors:

    1. Beijing’s emerging inclination toward using regional planning as an instrument to police center-local relations and cement its national security interests rather than using it as a mere instrument of economic governance.
    2. The declining room for policy experimentation at the local level, which reduces the state’s responsiveness to local demands and capacity to learn from mistakes.
    3. The historical and strategic importance of the Pearl River Delta to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), which causes Beijing to prioritize the political interests of PRD integration much more than its pursuit for regional development in China’s other macroregions.

    These changes are reflective of a broader paradigm shift in Beijing’s regional developmental strategies, under the climate of power centralization in the Xi Jinping era (2012–present). Finally, this paper demonstrates that such changes in the CCP’s regional planning in relation to the GBA initiative will engender both the decline of adaptive governance and premature deindustrialization.

    Cunningham, Edward, and Phillip Jordan. 2020. “Our Path to “New Normal” in Employment? Sobering Clues from China and Recovery Scores for U.S. Industry.” Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation. Read the full report Abstract

    Edward Cunningham and Philip Jordan, July 2020 

    The US National jobs reports for May and June exceeded expectations, and for many, this signaled that April was the true peak of American job losses and real recovery may be underway. Yet mounting evidence suggests that a job recovery is a long way off and that many jobs may not return.

    Part of the analytic disconnect stems from the fact that the global pandemic is a novel challenge for policymakers and analysts. We lack current, useful benchmarks for estimating the damage to the labor market, for estimating what recovery would look like, and for measuring an eventual recovery in jobs. Given this paucity of models, one place to look for patterns of potential recovery – particularly relating to consumption and mobility – is China.

    The Chinese economy is driven largely by consumption, urban job creation is driven by small and medium-sized companies, and China is several months ahead of the US in dealing with the pandemic’s economic and labor impact. An analysis of China’s experience may, therefore, offer important clues about our recovery here at home, and inform new models of thinking about American job recovery.

    William H. Overholt, December 2019

    This is an extensively edited, updated and expanded text of a lecture given for the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at Harvard Kennedy School on October 31, 2019. From the origination of “one country, two systems” in 1979 to today, this paper analyzes the history of the unique relationship between Hong Kong, Beijing, and the world.

    David Dapice, November 2017

    How rapidly will or could demand for power grow in Vietnam? What will interest rates be? Will the cost of generating plants go up or down, and by how much? What will the cost of each fuel be? Will the cost of carbon or other pollution begin to enter into investment decisions?

    This paper will examine these questions. It will begin by looking at demand projections and investments in efficiency – getting more output per kilowatt hour used. It will then try to estimate the costs of building and running various types of generating plants in Vietnam over time. It will also use various costs of carbon to see if including these both as a source of global warming and as an indicator of local pollution changes the calculation. Changes in the domestic supply of gas will also influence the set of potential solutions, as will the declining costs of solar electricity and battery storage. In all of this it is the system or mix of investments that need to work, not any single investment.

    Arthur N. Holcombe, June 2017

    In this paper Holcombe discusses lessons from successful poverty alleviation in Tibetan areas of China during 1998–2016. In the period between 1978 and 2015, the World Bank estimates that over 700 million people have been raised out of poverty based on a poverty line of $1.50 per capita. It also estimates that about 48 percent of residual poverty in China is located in ethnic minority areas where top-down macroeconomic policies to reduce poverty have been least effective and where strategies to target poor ethnic minority households with additional financial, technical, and other support were not successful in overcom- ing cultural and other barriers to greater income and food security.

    Incentivized Development in China: Leaders, Governance, and Growth in China's Counties

    David J. Bulman, Cambridge University Press, 2016

    China's economy, as a whole, has developed rapidly over the past 35 years, and yet its richest county is over 100 times richer in per capita terms than its poorest county. To explain this vast variation in development, David J. Bulman investigates the political foundations of local economic growth in China, focusing on the institutional and economic roles of county-level leaders and the career incentives that shape their behaviour. Through a close examination of six counties complemented by unique nation-wide data, he presents and explores two related questions: what is the role of County Party Secretaries in determining local governance and growth outcomes? And why do County Party Secretaries emphasize particular developmental priorities? Suitable for scholars of political economy, development economics, and comparative politics, this original study analyzes the relationship between political institutions, local governance, and leadership roles within Chinese government to explain the growing divergence in economic development between counties.

    Muhamad Chatib Basri, June 2016

    In this paper, Dr. Muhamad Chatib Basri, who was Indonesia’s Minister of Finance during the Taper Tantrum (TT) period, analyzes the response to the TT of the five hardest-hit countries, dubbed the “Fragile Five” (Brazil, India, Indonesia, South Africa, and Turkey), and describes how Indonesia was able to mitigate the negative effects of the TT so quickly and effectively. Dr. Basri’s account provides many insights in the realm of macroeconomic management amidst external shocks that should be quite useful to emerging markets as the Fed now contemplates raising interest rates, which could have the same impact as the TT. Dr. Basri wrote this paper while a Senior Fellow at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation and is now in the Department of Economics at the University of Indonesia. 

    John Chung-En Liu, June 2016 

    China is in the process to establish its national cap and trade program to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Besides the top-tier market design (cap-setting, auction rules, etc.), Chinese policymakers need to pay attention to how the new carbon market embed in the larger social contexts.This brief highlights that the Chinese government needs to engage seriously with three less-concerned actors—the carbons, the business, and the marginalized—to realize the full potential of the carbon market.

    David Dapice, May 2016  

    Kachin has just over 3% of Myanmar’s population but a much larger share of its natural resource wealth, notably in the form of large jade deposits and significant hydropower potential. Research findings indicate that currently most of that wealth is going to private and foreign interests, depriving both Kachin state and the nation of resources they need and should have. The author argues that if Myanmar is to remain united, grow stronger and richer, and attract the states so they wish to belong in the Union, it will be necessary to capture a fair share of this wealth and use it for nation-building purposes, especially in Kachin state. Options for sensible approaches to hydropower, jade revenue sharing, and the state’s development more generally are discussed.

    David J. Bulman, April 2016 

    Meritocratic promotions based on local economic achievements have enabled the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to achieve not only economic growth, but also improvements in local governance, as local governments have implemented institutional reforms in pursuit of GDP growth. However, not all regions of the country have adopted GDP growth as the key priority; those that have instead prioritized social stability have experienced not only slower growth, but also worse local governance outcomes. These findings have important implications for the adaptability and resilience of the CCP.

    Kyle A. Jaros, April 2016 

    Amid booming urban growth in China, leaders have weighed the goal of building globally competitive metropolises against concerns about sustainable and inclusive development. This brief looks at the experience of similar Chinese provinces that have pursued different spatial development models, highlighting the hard choices policymakers face and the political conflicts that unfold.

    Over 40 hydropower projects are under consideration in Myanmar. While past hydro investments score poorly on environmental impact mitigation and locally shared economic benefit, this paper argues that the country’s domestic electricity demand cannot be met adequately by other renewable energy sources alone. The paper makes the case that emphasis should be placed on developing a transparent, productive and meaningful review process which embeds mechanisms for balancing national and local interests and for securing appropriate expertise to ensure comprehensive assessments. The issue of weighing domestic need versus export markets is also considered. Click to read the Burmese version

    Tony Saich, August, 2013

    This working paper focuses on an aspect of governance that is crucial to the next phase of China’s development: reducing state monopolies in order to enhance economic efficiency and promote more equitable growth. It is important to note that monopoly control in the Chinese political economy is not simply an economic phenomenon but also a phenomenon deeply embedded in a comprehensive system of power. Monopolies in the economic sphere (resources, prices, markets, and assets) are serious, but they are derived from the legacy of the centrally planned economy. They are also rooted in the traditional structure of Chinese society and its culture. In this paper, we will present a comprehensive examination of the phenomenon of monopoly control in the Chinese system.

    Dapice, David, and Thomas Vallely. 2013. “Against the Odds: Building a Coalition”. Read the full report Abstract

    Using a New Federalism for Unity and Progress in Myanmar
    David Dapice and Thomas Vallely, March 2013

    When in 2010, the President of the Union of Myanmar, the Speaker of the Lower House and several ministers decided to push for a rapid political opening, they engineered what could be called a critical juncture. This critical juncture now provides the country with an opportunity to move forward, not only with faster economic growth, but also with better quality growth and political change that will unify the nation and create broad progress. In exploring a possible approach toward unity and progress, this paper uses the framework developed in Why Nations Fail, a recent book on economic and political development and also refers to the idea of “illiberal democracy“ articulated by Fareed Zakaria. The basic idea is that a broad coalition of the incumbent party, the democratic opposition, ethnic groups and the military is needed to fundamentally change Myanmar’s past failed orientation. This broad coalition should work for a new federalism in which states (at a minimum) have fairly elected governors and meaningful revenue sources so they can run many of their own affairs. Recognizing that central to real progress is a transition from a repressive, extractive and exclusive political system with crony businesses to a broadly inclusive political system that spreads economic opportunity, the paper argues that broad political and economic change need to go hand in hand.

    Rema Hanna, October 2012 

    This paper uses a unique data-set from Indonesia on what individuals know about the income distribution in their village to test theories such as Jackson and Rogers (2007) that link information aggregation in networks to the structure of the network. The observed patterns are consistent with a basic diffusion model: more central individuals are better informed, and individuals are able to better evaluate the poverty status of those to whom they are more socially proximate. To understand what the theory predicts for cross-village patterns, this paper estimates a simple diffusion model using within-village variation, simulate network-level diffusion under this model for the over 600 different networks in our data, and use this simulated data to gauge what the simple diffusion model predicts for the cross-village relationship between information diffusion and network characteristics (e.g. clustering, density). The coefficients in these simulated regressions are generally consistent with relationships suggested in previous theoretical work, even though in our setting formal analytical predictions have not been derived. This paper then shows that the qualitative predictions from the simulated model largely match the actual data in the sense that we obtain similar results both when the dependent variable is an empirical measure of the accuracy of a village’s aggregate information and when it is the simulation outcome. Finally, this paper considers a real-world application to community based targeting, where villagers chose which households should receive an anti-poverty program, and show that networks with better diffusive properties (as predicted by our model) differentially benefit from community based targeting policies.

    David Dapice, September 2012 

    Myanmar, long isolated from western economies due to its government, is one of the poorest and worst governed countries in the world. Ruled for many years by a reclusive dictator, senior general Than Shwe, it was dependent on China for diplomatic protection and arms. Trade and investment deals reflected its lack of alternatives. China’s “One nation, two oceans“ policy and Yunnan’s “Bridgehead“ strategy envisioned Myanmar providing access to the sea via gas and oil pipelines, deep sea ports, naval docking facilities and transport for Yunnan. Yunnan through its Southern Grid along with CPI (China Power International) saw Myanmar’s Kachin state as providing ample hydroelectric supplies for the landlocked Chinese province. Deals were signed under General Than Shwe without popular review or consultation with the Kachin whose state had most of the hydroelectric sites.

    David Dapice, May 2012 

    Electricity is a fundamental input to every modern economy. Electricity consumption per capita in Myanmar is among the lowest in Asia and had been growing very slowly since the 1980s. It gently grew from 45 kWh per capita in 1987 to 99 kWh in 2008, a 3.8 percent annual growth rate. However, since 2008, the production of electricity has jumped very quickly. This 50 percent jump in three years is about 15 percent per year, far higher than in the past. The CSO does not report any increase in installed capacity since 2009/10, so the existing system is being worked much more intensively. This creates problems, such as the risk of sudden outages from failures in generators. Indeed, there has been an increase in blackouts in the Yangon and Mandalay areas in the last year in spite of higher output; and even during the wet season. With increases in tourism, exports and overall economic activity, electricity demand will continue to soar. Even with 2011/12 output, estimated consumption in Myanmar is only about 160 kWh per capita, compared to 2009 consumption of over 250 kWh per capita in Bangladesh and nearly 600 in Indonesia. Vietnam had over 1000 kWh per capita in 2011.

    David Dapice, May 2012 

    There is an immense challenge facing the leadership in Myanmar. They have to negotiate a nation and to reform the basic assumptions and processes that have ruled for the past decades. They need to make the new system more representative, more inclusive, less favorable to a narrow group of businessmen and government or army officials, and more broadly successful. The new system has to give minority groups a reason to want to be part of the new nation. That means not only creating new sources of growth and wealth, but also making rules that ensure the benefits go to many more than the relatively narrow groups who have largely benefitted in the past. The technical adjustments needed in the exchange rate, the financial system, taxing and spending, infrastructure investments, and competition policy will all ultimately be judged on the ability of the policy package to create the conditions for national unity and progress. The government needs to have a vision of this goal and how the pieces fit together. Getting it to work in a shaky world economy with new and still evolving institutions is a huge challenge. But for those who have seen the past clearly for what it was, there can be no doubt that moving forward together is better than going back or staying put.

Pages