Updates from the Policy Change Index.
Mercatus Center at George Mason University This Week

Dear Human Readers,
Hardly a conversation about global events goes by in which China doesn’t come into the picture; the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is the latest case in point. Here are the updates on China brought to you by our machine learning projects.


China’s next big move may be on the horizon. After picking up a spike in Q2 of 2020, which predicted China’s subsequent show of force over the Taiwan Strait, the PCI-China is yet to call another spike in the latest 2021 Q2 update. The index, however, ticked up from last quarter, as the nearby chart shows. Stay tuned for our next quarterly update, as another major policy change in China may be on the horizon.

Figure: PCI-China, 1951 Q1 to 2021 Q2

Note: The PCI-China predicts if and when the Chinese government will change its policy priorities. A spike in the indicator signals a policy change, while a vertical bar marks the occurrence of a policy change labeled by the event.


The China Challenge

Discourse, the Mercatus Center’s online magazine where you’ve seen the Taiwan series, is running another special, “the China challenge.”

The series kicks off with a debate about whether China will overtake the U.S. as the world’s dominant economic power. Michael Schuman says “no” for several reasons, one of which is the demographic headwind facing China that’s also highlighted by Nicholas Eberstadt. Weifeng Zhong says “yes” despite those concerns, because China’s model of “stealing its way up” may well propel its economy much further.

The concern about China’s “stealing its way up” is also addressed in Michal Fiszer and Jerzy Gruszczynski’s piece on China’s military capabilities and Michael Puttré’s piece on the U.S.-China space race. Zachary Shore goes further to argue that the U.S. should counter China by positioning itself as an underdog.

Also challenged by China’s authoritarian rise are post-WWII international institutions. Christine McDaniel, Eileen Norcross, and Zhong recount what went wrong since China’s accession to the WTO and propose decentralized solutions to rebuild those institutions.

Adding a personal touch, the series also has an annonymous piece by a mainlander working in Hong Kong as a journalist for the foreign press, wrestling with language and identity. Follow the magazine for more content in its China series.


PCI Resources

Zhong appeared in a few recent podcasts to discuss what inspired the PCI projects and how analyses based on these machine learning tools can inform policies. Check them out in Shootin’ Straight with Ken Buck (R-CO), The Federalist with Emily Jashinsky, and History as it Happens with Martin Di Caro.

The open-sourced PCI projects are meant to crack a window to otherwise opaque political systems, so everyone can look inside—for free. You can find out more about the projects on the PCI website. Don’t hesitate to reach out!


Edited by Weifeng Zhong and Julian TszKin Chan


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