Recently in the News:
"China's Threats to Academic Freedom Rise at Home, Abroad." University World News (Yojana Sharma). 20 November 2020.
"Coercion and Strategy in an Era of Great Power Competition: China." West Point Military Academy, Modern War Institute annual War Studies Conference. 4 November 2020. [Link to panel video.]
"After Election, Washington Remains Anti-China, but States See Things Differently." South China Morning Post (Jacob Fromer), 10 November 2020.
- Sheena Chestnut Greitens, an associate professor at the University of Texas’s Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, noted that “for a long time, the economic side of the US-China relationship was the more cooperative side, compared to security issues”. Now, though, she added: “There has been enough warning rhetoric about Chinese influence, espionage, and other issues from the administration and federal law enforcement that [state &] local actors may have internalised some real wariness of China. They may perceive cooperation to be more risky – especially if they are aware that their own in-house expertise on China is limited.”
"Not Just Over There: The US Commitment to the Korean Peninsula." War on the Rocks "Horns of a Dilemma" podcast, 6 November 2020.
"What Happened at the HK Consulate?" SupChina newsletter (Jeremy Goldkorn). 27 October 2020.
- "The U.S. recently said it would include HK asylum claims in [its] formal refugee admissions program. Definitional note: asylum is typically claimed in U.S. (or at border); refugee admission is processed abroad. Similar standards, difference is location… So why turn people away? [The U.S. is] likely worried that the HK consulate will become a center of confrontation: police trying to prevent ppl from getting in; students/others trying increasingly desperate methods to gain access; then subsequent diplomatic standoff to extricate people to the U.S...."
"What to do about Xinjiang." Appearance on Lawfare podcast with Jacob Schulz and Jordan Schneider. 28 October 2020.
"Current American Perspectives on China." Appearance on U.S.-Asia Institute podcast Asia Unscripted. 22 October 2020.
"Dreams of a Red Emperor: the relentless rise of Xi Jinping." Los Angeles Times (Alice Su). 22 October 2020.
- In July, [Xi] announced a new “education and rectification” campaign to discipline China’s political and legal systems, including police officers, judges and members of the secretive Ministry of State Security.... It is unusual that Xi “does not perceive his power to be completely consolidated, even eight years in,” said Sheena Greitens, a professor of public affairs who studies Chinese approaches to security at the University of Texas at Austin. Xi may be launching this campaign to prepare for 2022, when he will transition into an unprecedented third term, she said.
"China's Great Power Play Puts Asia on Edge." Financial Times. 15 September 2020.
- “China’s foreign policy is increasingly a reflection of the attempt to seek regime security . . . at home,” said [Greitens]. “The CCP treats things as serious threats that might have been tolerated before.”
"Chinese Students Face Increased Scrutiny in the US." BBC (Zhaoyin Feng). 5 September 2020.
- [Greitens] says there's an "intensification of concerns" over technology transfer from the US to China through academic channels.... [She] expects some increased scrutiny of Chinese nationals studying science and technology in the US, especially those who received Chinese government funding, to continue regardless of the outcome of the US election. "Both (Trump and Biden) administrations are likely to take the potential threat of illegal technology transfer between the US and China very seriously," she says.
"China Provoked India in Latest Clash, US Believes." US News & World Report (Paul Shinkman). 1 September 2020.
- "The timing is puzzling given the upcoming U.S.-India talks and what appeared to be some recent – if not particularly successful – efforts to reduce tensions along the border.... One effect of the standoff has been to add a sense of urgency to efforts to strengthen U.S.-India ties, especially in terms of defense cooperation," Greitens adds. "But developments at the 2+2 shouldn't be viewed as a knee-jerk response to this week's flare-up: There's a long-standing interest in the United States in strengthening ties with India in its own right."
- Moderator for War on the Rocks podcast, "The Indo-Pacific Triangle: China, India, & the United States," with Tanvi Madan and Jim Steinberg, 21 August 2020.
"China Watcher Roundtable: Protecting Students at US Schools After the Hong Kong National Security Law." Politico video roundtable (David Wertime). 27 August 2020.
- Partial summary in print here.
"National Security Law Adds New Risks to Higher Education." Deutsche Welle News (William Yang). 24 August 2020.
- "There are strategies instructors can adopt to mitigate risk and protect students’ freedom of speech.... But ultimately, [nothing] an individual instructor based in the US can do will completely remove the risk, because at a fundamental level, the risk is generated by PRC's national security law and an apparently-heightened willingness of Chinese authorities to apply that legal framework in extraterritorial contexts."
- Mandarin-language version here.
"Drive the Blade In: Xi Shakes Up China's Law-and-Order Forces." New York Times (Chris Buckley). 20 August 2020.
- “It suggests a continued push on Xi Jinping’s part to remake China’s coercive apparatus into a force that is entirely politically responsive to his direction,” said [Greitens], who studies Chinese policing and has written a forthcoming paper about the drive to clean up China’s law-and-order bureaucracy. Mr. Xi wants “to push his authority downward throughout the lower levels of the political-legal system” before the party congress in 2022, she said.
"One Question Hung Over 2008 Games: Would They Change China?" Associated Press (Stephen Wade). 16 August 2020.
- [Greitens] said the world financial crisis that followed the Olympics by a month, and the rise of General Secretary Xi Jinping, changed China far more than Olympic spectacle. She was in Beijing at the time doing research and studying Chinese. “The Beijing Olympics get the attention of viewers who don’t necessarily pay lots of attention to global politics and foreign policy otherwise, and that heightens the impact of hosting the Olympics on overall public attention to China,” she wrote. “Any country that hosts an event like the Olympics can use it to present the country to the world in a positive light. Authoritarian states probably have fewer constraints in doing that than democracies, because they are less accountable to the public in organizing and spending on the event. They can also more tightly control protest and media coverage that might provide a more nuanced or alternative narrative about the host country.”
"Curing a Virus with Authoritarianism: Will the Legacy of the Novel Coronavirus be Eroding Civil Liberties? Bloomberg (Andrew Browne). 15 August 2020.
- China, where the Covid-19 outbreak originated, has seized upon the pandemic to add to its existing state surveillance. In dealing with the crisis, scholars Sheena Chestnut Greitens and Julian Gewirtz note that Chinese leaders have fused the concepts of public health and national security. This effort, in Chinese Communist Party-speak, is known as “fangkong,” or “prevent and control.” Local public security bureaus have been helping companies develop health-monitoring apps, and then making use of the data these apps spew out—everything from body temperatures to social contacts--to profile citizens in minute detail. “Democracies must develop a clear and distinct vision for the future relationship between health and security so that China’s approach does not become the world’s,” write Greitens and Gewirtz.
"Targeting WeChat, Trump Takes Aim at China's Bridge to the World." New York Times (Paul Mozur, Raymond Zhong). 7 August 2020.
- “There are legitimate concerns with WeChat's involvement in censorship & surveillance. However, the downside of this executive order is that it addresses these concerns by taking steps that also make it harder to directly communicate with ordinary people in China.... It puts this administration policy into conflict with another one of its stated goals: to maintain openness and friendly connections with the Chinese people."
"Trump's TikTok Drama is a Distraction." Wired (Louise Matsakis). 5 August 2020.
- “One of the things the US has to grapple with is that there’s often some genuine demand for [Chinese surveillance technology] products, despite their downsides,” says Sheena Greitens, an associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin and an expert on East Asia and authoritarian politics. Last week, Greitens recommended to a federal commission that the US develop a comprehensive national strategy for dealing with Chinese surveillance technology, which is increasingly used around the world."
"This is the Hardliner China Chose to Oversee Hong Kong's Security." Bloomberg. 4 August 2020.
- “China’s model of social governance and social management has been very focused on prevention of conflict and unrest... It’s likely that Beijing is hoping that the office in Hong Kong will shift officials there toward using some of the more preventive approaches we’ve seen deployed in mainland China.”
"What Role Does China Play in US Politics?" Appearance on China Business Review (Ian Hutchinson, US-China Business Council). 4 August 2020.
"Explaining the Plight of China's Uighurs." The Dispatch (Nate Hochman). 3 August 2020.
- “The CCP often uses medical language to describe its policies,” says Sheena Greitens. “Chinese officials routinely liken perceived threats in Xinjiang to cancer and infectious disease. The implication of this medical analogy to a domestic audience inside China is that the state, in locking up citizens en masse, is acting on the caring, curative intent of a doctor rather than the repressive impulses of an authoritarian regime. But the analogy also reveals something far more problematic—the logic of ‘immunization’ dictates that security depends on targeting and ‘treating’ citizens long before they have shown any symptoms of threatening behavior. So by definition, large numbers of innocent people are being targeted for ‘treatment.’.... [T]he CCP is willing to incur large costs for policies that it believes will contribute to its political survival, even in the face of external backlash—whether that's in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, or somewhere else in the future.”
"China's Home Security Chief Attends Hong Kong National Security Office Opening." South China Morning Post (William Zheng). 8 July 2020.
- [Greitens] said Hong Kong now definitely qualified as one of the “most critical” cities for China’s security. “Since Xi’s ascent, we’ve seen more statements about the need to prevent diffusion of political threats from abroad into China. Hong Kong has always been one site where the Chinese Communist Party is particularly sensitive or prone to seeing foreign infiltration aimed at destabilising the party,” she said.... Greitens expects that a major task for mainland security forces in Hong Kong will be to focus on “identifying connections between Hongkongers and foreign organisations/governments that it believes could undermine the security of the CCP’s hold on the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region – the ‘transmission nodes’ by which foreign influence could enter and destabilise the Chinese body politic”.
Appearance on Slate's "Political Gabfest." 28 May 2020.
"Tokyo Olympics Followed by 3 More Mega-Events, All in China." Associated Press (Stephen Wade). 22 May 2020.
- [Greitens] said large sports events give China high visibility.... “They provide a way for China to boost its cultural and ‘discourse power’ globally,” Greitens wrote in an email. “And they do so in a forum that generally emphasizes international cooperation and is weighted away from the serious disagreements that many countries have with China over territorial conflict, human rights, and trade, among other topics.”
"As US-China Rhetoric Grows Harsher, New Risks Emerge with Taiwan." Washington Post (Gerry Shih, Eva Dou, Anne Gearan). 20 May 2020.
- The escalating friction is a "perfect storm" of several factors, said Greitens, with "tough-on-China" campaigning ahead of the election and the global pandemic laying bare some of the transparency problems in China's government. "Regardless, one lesson for the future is that American strategy and national security shouldn't depend on or assume transparency from China," she said, "because it's not an empirically valid assumption to make given the nature and structure of China's domestic politics."