lørdag 2. oktober 2021

China’s power crunch is being fuelled by a ‘simple and brutal’ approach to climate change targets

The Chinese phrase of Jiandan Cubao, which literally means “simple and brutal”, is something people should bear in mind if they want to understand China’s policymaking process, and why policies are executed in ways that rather than cure a headache are bound to make it bigger.

This is especially true at a time when President Xi Jinping frequently touts a people-centred approach by calling to strengthen a top-level design – a euphemism for a top-down rule, targeted implementation of policies, and better preparations for a rainy day. But for bureaucrats, old habits die hard. When pushing for an unpleasant policy change, or facing an emergency, they still frequently resort to the “simple and brutal” approach to attain the end goal of the policy and damn the consequences.

The latest example is the power crunch that in recent days has swept much of the eastern part of China, home to the bulk of the country’s population and manufacturing, from Heilongjiang province in the northeast down to the province of Guangdong. Judging from media reports, blackouts have seriously disrupted not only businesses but people’s lives. All this makes a mockery of the people-centred approach promoted daily in the official media.