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China’s Perspective on Economic Security
Author: Audrye Wong
Region: Asia
Published January 4, 2024
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This paper examines how Beijing views economic security as well as other countries’ actions in this realm. Economic security is not a new or foreign concept to Chinese thinkers and policymakers, but the emphases, concerns, and priorities have evolved, due in part to changes in the international environment as well as in China’s own economic and geopolitical situation. This paper examines how Chinese leaders and scholars have approached the definition and scope of economic security, as well as recent and proposed policy responses. It draws on a range of Chinese-language official documents and scholarly writings, as well as broader secondary source analyses. The paper explores that while Chinese discussions of economic security tend to be framed as ensuring economic development and stability, development is implicitly and explicitly linked to national security. Many writings emphasize that economics is the foundation for national strength (including military capabilities). As such, it is more than just economic survival and growth for the economy’s sake; it also has implications for China’s geopolitical position in the international order. In that respect, economic stability and national security may be hard to separate. Indeed, we see a resurgence in today’s rhetoric about the notions of development and security as inextricably linked, along with the need to coordinate the two—and in service of maintaining CCP rule and regime stability. Finally, the paper shows Beijing is taking concrete steps toward increased legalization and institutionalization of economic security measures. This represents a shift, at least in the domain of retaliatory countermeasures, from its usually more “informal” approach to economic coercion, which has afforded more flexibility and minimized political costs for the regime. At the same time, actual implementation has been relatively limited thus far.

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