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Deng’s bargain: free markets without a free society

Deng Xiaoping knew what he wanted, and he knew what he did not want. In the late 1970s, aiming to achieve economic reform without political liberalisation, he launched a policy of reform and opening. But the policy created a backlash against democracy within the Communist Party of China (CCP), which culminated in the Tiananmen Square Massacre of 4 June 1989. Deng’s erstwhile conservative allies within the Party used this backlash to put an end to Deng’s reform efforts, for a time.

Deng began to pursue economic reform once again in the early 1990s. At the beginning of 1992, he set off on his famous “Southern Tour” – a trip to the south of China that included numerous public appearances. With this tour, Deng Xiaoping turned the tables on the conservatives and forced the country back on its course of economic reform. Following the example of Mao Zedong, Deng shook up the “centre” from

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Russia and China’s gas deal: ignore the hype

Given President Putin and China's need for mutual support (because of the recent unpopular manoeuvres in Ukraine and South China Sea) they are hyping up their good relations as never before. It seems a move of folly for China to plunk down as much as $20-25 billion dollars as prepayment for years of Russian gas, but in exchange it is getting a long term price lower than Europe's. How secure are these contracts? It is, after all, impossible to predict future prices. France was previously trapped in contracts with Algeria and Russia that locked in prices – costing France plenty when prices fell.

But the move's strategic significance is more hype than substance. In the end, gas consumers, including Europeans,  might be the winners in this situation: a pipeline deal between Russia and China increases competition between piped gas and global LNG (liquefied natural gas) in Asia. By the

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Afghanistan elections: A milestone

As of May 15, the final results of the first round of the  2014 presidential election in Afghanistan have been announced. Former Afghan foreign minister Abdullah Abdullahis in the lead with 45 percent, followed by former World Bank official and finance minister, Ashraf Ghani, with 31,6 percent. Zalmay Rassoul, also a former Afghan foreign minister, is in third place with 11,4 percent. Now, a run-off between the two top candidates is scheduled for June 14. Rassoul announced that he would support Abdullah’s candidacy in the second round.

No president can unite the country without some kind of agreement with the other candidates. It comes down to bargaining and power-sharing among politicians, warlords and religious and ethnic leaders. All candidates have been courting support from the most powerful warlords. Abdullah, half Tajik, has a strong following among Tajiks (27 percent of the

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Australia balancing between East and West

Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott is building a balanced, sustainable Asia policy for his country. A prime minister who receives an undeservedly small degree of attention in Europe, Abbott is finally emerging from the shadow of his predecessor, Kevin Rudd, a China expert and fluent Mandarin speaker. The new prime minister is trying to put an end to the recent deterioration in economic relations between Australia and Asia. Right now, he is working to achieve this goal on a tour of Northeast Asia. The trip represents Abbott’s best opportunity so far to make good on his post-election pledge to sign a “trifecta of trade”, putting in place trade agreements with Japan, South Korea, and China. The first two elements in his plan have gone well: a successful agreement was reached in Japan on Monday 7 April and another was made in South Korea on Tuesday 8 April. A deal on a Free Trade

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The China-Germany relationship: as special as ever

When Chinese President Xi Jinping meets German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin this week, it will be the first of three bilateral meetings between the two leaders that are planned to take place this year. Xi will be in Berlin on 27 March as part of a visit to Europe that also includes a nuclear summit in The Hague and a visit to Brussels. Merkel will also visit Beijing sometime in the summer. In the autumn Merkel and Xi will see each for a third time as part of the annual so-called government-to-government consultation – in effect a joint cabinet meeting – in Germany. As these three meetings indicate, the ties between China and Germany that began under Xi’s predecessor Hu Jintao have continued even as a new generation of Chinese leaders have taken over. In short, the relationship between China and Germany seems to be as “special” as ever.

When the brief that Jonas

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