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  • Writer's pictureXiaodong Fang

What to expect in the new year? Five China-related things to follow in 2020

The new year has just arrived. As an election year for many democracies, 2020 will probably witness the emerging of new political figures, unleashing of new policies, and perhaps the beginning of new revolutions.

Photo Courtesy of Jude Beck/Unsplash

Regarding China, my general prediction for 2020 is Continuation. Many ongoing issues, trends, and movements in 2019 will continue in 2020. Here are the lists of the top five things to follow in 2020.

1. Hong Kong

Hong Kong has just ended 2019 with multiple protests for New Year’s Eve and a rise in clashes between police and protesters since Christmas. As the five-demands has not been satisfied by the Hong Kong authorities, the weekly pro-democracy protests will continue in 2020. As a response, the international support for freedom and democracy in Hong Kong will likely expand in 2020.

2. Xinjiang

Chinese government's repression of Muslim religion and Uyghur culture has drawn international attention in 2019. The US State Department has said up to two million people from Muslim ethnic minorities, including Uyghurs, have been held in a massive network of detention camps since 2017. Although the Chinese government denied the charges of human rights violations in Xinjiang, more actions, including legislation, are expected to be taken by Western countries.

3. U.S.-China Trade War

The end of the year “phase one” trade deal between the U.S. and China would not effectively stop China's illegal trade practices. According to a local official, "Chinese negotiators' failure to get Washington to roll back the additional tariffs altogether has fueled dissatisfaction in Beijing." In 2020, we will look forward to the process of a "phase two" deal though pessimism remains on solving the inherent trade issues between the two countries.

4. Academic Freedom

Status of academic freedom has worsened in China. Furthermore, the suppression of academic freedom by the Chinese government has been extended overseas. Human Rights Watch published a 12-point Code of Conduct for colleges and universities to adopt to respond to Chinese government threats to the academic freedom of students, scholars, and educational institutions. The Trump administration also increased scrutiny of Chinese students and scholars in the U.S. In 2020, we can foresee more tightening research and educational policies towards China, as long as the Chinese government continues to influence academic freedom on foreign campuses.

5. Domestic Challenges

Seeking to challenge the U.S. leadership in international society, China still faces serious domestic issues in the coming years. In 2019, China's economic growth drops to lowest level since 1992 and there is no sign to reverse the downturning economic trend. Corruption and localized unrest are pervasive in many parts of China and there is a probability that mainland Chinese people will be inspired by Hong Kong protests to ask for political freedom. Health care crises will continue in 2020, as the Chinese government's backward bureaucratic system, coupled with its censorship on information spreading, have failed to prevent the outbreak of diseases like African swine fever, plague, and pneumonia.


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