Most surprising is the impressive acceleration of the technological revolution: artificial intelligence, robotization and digitization.
I returned to China after three and a half years. I found a country totally open in terms of sanitary restrictions, although many Chinese maintain the habit of wearing a mask, both indoors and outdoors. Beyond this, a strong economic recovery is perceived.
Most surprising is the impressive acceleration of the technological revolution that is taking place in China. Artificial intelligence, robotization and digitization are advancing everywhere one travels. It was hard for me to recognize some areas of the city of Hangzhou, which will host the Asian Games in September.
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There are places where new poles of technological development proliferated where three years ago there was nothing, or there were other types of industries that disappeared.
I came back fully convinced that educational and professional quality is, without a doubt, the basis of this revolution that seems unstoppable. The other key is the leadership of the Communist Party, with an eminently meritocratic system, difficult to assimilate from a Western perspective.
The quantity and quality of the technical staff that the party has, with whom I have been able to interact, has an impact. The big issues of the moment are, on the one hand, advances in 5G and 6G, the imminent launch of the digital Yuan and significant progress in a new generation of green technologies.
Is everything rosy? clearly not. China faces complex domestic problems. First, the aging of the population that is accelerating, despite government incentives and policies. Second, high youth unemployment as a consequence of the economic impact of the quarantines.
Third, the level of economic consumption fails to recover. Fourth, growing indebtedness of local governments and expansion of the housing bubble. It is remarkable to see more and more new buildings, even though they are completely empty.
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On the other hand, we must consider the impact of an increasingly hostile international environment towards China. There is consensus that the conflict with the US is escalating, with Taiwan as the greatest geostrategic risk. At the same time, China faces the need to continue advancing towards technological self-sufficiency in critical inputs and guaranteeing food security.
There is a growing concern and mistrust among Chinese elites regarding the role of the US and NATO in Ukraine, ignoring the path to a negotiated solution offered by China. The White House only seems to be interested in the defeat of Putin and not in the end of the war itself. An interest contrary to the Chinese.
Faced with this scenario, Xi Jinping is exhibiting hyperactive diplomacy, which seeks to present a China that contributes to improving global cooperation and bringing parties in conflict closer together, instead of fomenting greater confrontation.
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Finally, a less generous and more demanding China with serial defaulters such as Argentina is to be expected. Our bilateral relationship is stagnant, with a record trade deficit and little encouragement on our part to ask for financial help.
We have the opportunity to harness the tremendous potential of a greater and better economic relationship with a country that already represents 20% of global GDP and leads the technological revolution of the 21st century. For this, it is necessary to banish costly “militant diplomacy” forever and face this crucial relationship with the seriousness and planning it deserves.
Director of the Sino-Argentine Observatory and regular visiting professor at Zhejiang University (China).