An Introductory Note for the Articles
In the backdrop of COVID-19-induced geo-political backlash against China, this article by Khanindra Ch. Das makes an assessment of the nature of economic interdependence of South Asian nations with China. Though COVID-19-induced lockdown led to a decline in trade with China, it recovered quickly in subsequent months. In the case of India, even after imposing restrictive measures, trade with China was found to bounce back indicating to a greater dependence on China. Further, asymmetry in economic engagement with China could be observed for several of the South Asian nations. Chinese investment in the region remained muted during the pandemic. However, strategic involvement in South Asia by China, and other powers, increased considerably which has been manifested by her provisioning of economic incentives and COVID-19-related aid. In the light of increasing strategic influence, South Asian countries desirous of benefitting from foreign trade and investment in their respective economies will need to encourage free and fair competition rather than towing geo-political lines so that sustainable economic gains can be made, which will require strengthening of various market supporting institutions in the respective economies. India’s economic strategy will also assume significance in boosting confidence and increasing the level of integration within South Asia.
The sustainability of China’s urban social security financing system has recently been seriously questioned. This article by Guan Huang and Jingmiao Wang divides the financing system’s development into two periods (before and after reform). It compares the capital collection and the distribution and circulation structures and reviews the financing system before and after reform. In this study, we also discuss and explain the ‘empty account’ phenomenon, which severely undermines the financing system’s sustainability. We allege that the money accumulation system adopted after reform, which correlates personal accounts with the social pool, is not running as designed but as a ‘pay-as-you-go’ system. After evaluating the efficiency and cost performance of both periods, testing the financing system’s sustainability and correlating the system during both time periods with economic and social development, we find that the financing systems’ operation after reform corresponds with theories proved by case studies in other advanced states.
This study by Jinhyoung Kim applies the comprehensive wealth framework (CWF) to more fully assess the regional impacts of changes in the distribution of migrant workers in the recent urbanisation of China. The analysis indicates that changes in the distribution of migrant labourers have contributed to sustaining or increasing GDP growth rates and the level of human capital in both central and western regions. However, there is evidence that social and political capital may have declined along with the inflow of the mobile labour force and some lowered local government investments. From the perspective of the CWF, this study concludes that the impacts of distributional changes on regional comprehensive wealth is uncertain, potentially reducing the comprehensive wealth of the region.
As one of the technology-intensive industries, the electric vehicle (EV) industry has attracted the attention of the Chinese government. It has provided various incentives for the purchase of EVs, including tax incentives, policy loans at preferential interest rates and the establishment of charging facilities. EV production technology developed rapidly and sales of EVs increased significantly during the 2010s. The role of the government seems to have been of vital importance to the rapid development of the EV industry in China. To improve this further, this article by Qiuyi Wang and Jai S. Mah highlight that it would be helpful for the government to efficiently coordinate various policy measures benefitting the EV industry and create a more suitable social environment for consumers to use EVs. The government should also carefully consider how to improve the applicability of EVs in different regional surroundings. In addition, efficient collaboration between the electronics industry and the automobile industry would be critical.
Increasing pursuit of education, employment and financial independence among women, which is undoubtedly an impact of early inception of women’s liberation movement in China, has nevertheless resulted in more and more women becoming uncompromising, when it comes to a marriage partner. Moreover, even though men are always in search for good looking and professionally successful women, but they are invariably unwilling to wed women with as much or more education or income than themselves. As a result, a new category of women, the ‘leftover women’ has emerged. This article by Usha Chandran explores the reasons behind their emergence and role played by women’s liberation movement therein. It also studies the actions taken by governing bodies in creating and propagating the term itself and the stigma around it, especially pinpointing the approach taken by them towards ‘leftover women’ visa-vie ‘leftover men’. It reveals the underlying patriarchal agenda of gendered governance, behind twisting and practically stalling the women’s liberation movement in China in the recent years. As the official narrative of women’s liberation and development is increasingly catering to more traditional and patriarchal values, the article argues, Chinese government is taking a complete U-turn in women’s liberation movement in the 21st century.
Suzuki Bokushi (1770–1842) was a peasant-entrepreneur, essayist and amateur haikai poet who lived in the Echigo province of Tokugawa period Japan, a region which gets the highest amount of snowfall in the world. Bokushi wrote about the people of his region, their customs, their lifestyle, their relationship with the natural world and the folklores of the region in a book entitled Hokuetsu Seppu (1837). This essay by Tariq Sheikh will examine the ways this book interrogated the dominant cultural discourse and offered new ways of thinking about centre and periphery, urban and rural. An analysis of the text and context of the book will show how ‘provinciality’ was deployed to question and de-centre prevailing cultural norms, and how a new aesthetic sense was developed that contrasted and questioned the urban sensibilities prevailing in the political centre. This essay will argue that Bokushi’s book articulates a significant critique of the urban-centric discourse of classical Japanese literature, while also offering an alternative rural aesthetic, thereby countering the hegemonic tendency to read the Japanese past through the lens of urban-centric literature. His writings are what Fredric Jameson would call a ‘nonhegemonic cultural voice’.
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