II. Singapore-China Relations: Challenges Facing China

by Patrick Liew on June 23, 2017

China is facing many potential mine fields and widening fault lines in its country.

These challenges have a major influence on its policies, initiatives and conduct.

The following are four of the key challenges:

1. Social Unrest.

The social harmony and tolerance level in China is not strong.

Every now and then, sparks of civil social disorder would appear in different parts of the country.

What’s mainly holding the Chinese together is a growing economic pie and a reasonably-acceptable division of the pie.

Many of the Chinese are positive about the potential of increasing their share of the growing pie.

If the economic tide recedes – God forbid – there may be many naked bodies swimming without adequate security and safety net.

Should their livelihoods and lifestyles be affected, many of them may unleash their anger and frustrations.

As in past incidents, they may do so in potentially extreme ways.

2. Corruption.

China has a history of having many corrupted officials at different levels and on the ground.

President Xi Jingpin is doing a good job in putting many corrupted practices under control.

As a strong leader, he’s reigning in the recalcitrants but he cannot be around indefinitely.

Furthermore, such leaders may not do a good job in succession planning and be able to ensure continuity of their policies and directions.

Corrupted officials know the saying, The mountains are high and the emperor is far away ( 山高皇帝远).

They can also stay out of the radar screen and return back to their wayward ways at another time and in another place.

3. Capital Flight.

Many of China’s enterprises and entrepreneurs are planting real and shadow bases outside of China.

Among the middle class, many perceive dark clouds and may not see long term security across the horizon.

Hence, there has been and there will continue to be a substantial flight of capital to various safe havens overseas.


4. Aging Population

China and SIngapore share a similar challenge – a fast-aging population.

Some studies suggest that there’s a correlation between economic growth and demographics and more specifically, having an elderly workforce.

By 2050, the median age of the Chinese will be 49.

China will have 329 million people over the age of 65.

Its population will then be equal to today’s combined populations of France, Germany, Japan and Britain.

China’s total fertility rate is falling. It may not be replacing its workforce adequately enough to support a strong economic growth.

China can take in migrants to contribute to the economy.

However, these migrants will have a relatively hard time to be assimilated and be rooted in a country that has a 5000-year old culture.


For China to move to a higher level, it has to take both an inward as well as an outward journey.

Internally, it has to continue to unite its people, grow the economy, and strengthen society.

For example, when China launched the One Belt One Road initiative (OBOR), it’s a source of pride and joy for its people.

The OBOR can also help China build bridges to other countries and benefit from international trade with them.

On the external front, China has to ensure that there are no real or potential road blocks to stop them from growing its economy.

Does Singapore pose any potential challenges to China?

Can Singapore continue to contribute to its economy and growth?

Look out for Part III of this blogpost.


I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

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