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Memo – The significance of demographics in understanding Chinese foreign policy – Eva Merle


Memo of the 29th of September 2021 webinar.

With Eva Merle (Comité France Chine)
Memo by Soo Min Hong

Why approach a subject of international relations from the angle of demography? This is the first question that needs to be addressed when we speak of the topic at hand. First, it is important to consider Chinese policy in the long-term – and to do this, it is important to consider foreign policy by also considering domestic policy. In China today, demographic data is used significantly for the establishment and development of domestic policy. Foreign policy should also be considered in a similar manner. Second, considering demographic data allows us to create a link between the macro and micro scales. Using demographic data can allow us to understand social, and economic variations as well as the more specific variations within Chinese family units. Last, by considering demographic data and crossing the multiple types of demographic datasets, there was considerable evidence pointing towards what seemed to be a great weakness in China. Today, China’s image leans heavily on aggressive politics, a somewhat “predatorial” image on the international stage. However, during Covid-19 it was also perceived as a success story when it came to dealing with the global pandemic – and was the sole country recorded by the OECD as having positive growth in 2020. Yet China has still been showing slowed growth among other matters that can be brought up as issues – which shows the country isn’t infallible.
  • Opening remarks
  • Main presentation
    • Why approach a subject of international relations from a demographic perspective?
    • I – The influence of demography in the development of Chinese foreign policy
      • A) Strong control of the birth rate: the political construction of a demographic danger
      • B) The urgent need for the transformation of the Chinese development model: the one-child policy as an explanatory factor
      • C) Aggressive assertion on the international scene dictated by an imperative around the regime’s survival
    • These analyses make it possible to understand…
    • II – Illustrations: using demography as a tool to understand Chinese news
      • A) The economic strategy of dual circulation
      • B) The takeover of the private education sector
      • C) The bankruptcy of Evergrande
  • Q&A