The Weekly Pigeon (September 16, 2018)

9-16 Brief

Are Russia and China natural friends or uncomfortable allies?

This Tuesday, it was reported that China is taking part in Vostok 2018, Russia’s largest military exercise since the Cold War. Some observers, such as Mikhail Barabanov of the Moscow Defense Brief, claim that “The Russian military is interested in seeing and assessing China’s progress in the military field” due to China and Russia’s “mutual interest in challenging US hegemony.” Other observers emphasize the historical distrust and conflicting geopolitical aims that constrain Russia-China cooperation.

Is China’s first generation of business leaders on the way out?

Jack Ma, one of the most influential figures in modern China, has announced his intention to step down from his position as Alibaba chairman in September 2019 to make way for “younger, more talented people.” Meanwhile, Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun has announced plans to “enhance talent development and offer more career advancement to the younger generation,” appointing over 10 new general managers. Furthermore, CEO Richard Liu is under investigation “for the alleged rape of a woman in Minneapolis on Aug. 31,” raising questions about his future with the company.

Can China control speech and thought in the United States?

As China continues to develop soft power, scholars in the United States are concerned about an “epidemic of self-censorship at U.S. universities on the subject of China, one that limits debate and funnels students and academics away from topics likely to offend the Chinese Communist Party.” However, this does not mean China can directly control American speech, as Uygurs living in the United States are speaking against China’s forceful assimilation of Uygurs in Xinjiang. Nonetheless, China demonstrated in July that economic pressure can compel even American businesses to alter their political messaging, as airlines purged all references to Taiwan as an independent country.


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