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Drum Tower

The Economist

Two of The Economist's China correspondents, Alice Su and David Rennie, analyse the stories at the heart of this vast country and examine its influence beyond its borders. They’ll be joined by our global network of correspondents and expert guests to examine how everything from party politics to business, technology and culture are reshaping China and the world. Published every Tuesday.


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Our Editor's Take

The Drum Tower podcast investigates how China is evolving and why it affects the world order. Alice Su and David Rennie host. Knowledgeable guests from every continent join their discussions. Su is the senior China correspondent for The Economist. Rennie is The Economist's Beijing Bureau chief. The podcast's title references the drum tower in Beijing that once kept time for that city. This podcast tracks Chinese updates with implications for every city.

Drum Tower reveals the societal, technological, cultural, and political impacts of Xi Jinping. He is among the most powerful leaders in China's history. Jinping is president of the People's Republic of China. He's also chairman of the Central Military Commission and general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party. His politics oppose certain Western principles like universal values. Why is that troubling? Because China is big. Their autocracy is smart. That makes the threat large. The podcast's hosts interview insiders about the new Communist Party's goals. One former military colonel calls liberal international order a myth. Is China dismissing universal values to promote more dictatorships?

In the podcast, Su and Rennie investigate what kind of world China wants. The country opposes a "clean" government, including independent judiciaries and transparent finances. The cohosts equate clean government with clean water. It's a basic human entitlement. Yet, Chinese citizens have no recourse when companies dump chemicals in their yards. The government opposes homosexuality. They penalize women in rural areas who marry outside their villages. Some experts believe Jinping seeks to elude sanctions. How are invasions managed without international agreements?

Rennie and Su ask essential questions, including those from podcast listeners. Listeners in Jerusalem, California, and North Carolina have shared the same concerns. One asked how China will balance the gender ratio. The hosts relay the horrific reality. Some men buy trafficked, often disabled wives because of the gender imbalance.

What threatens China ends up threatening the world because of the country's reach. One listener asked why her Chinese cookbooks had no potato recipes. Su answered that Chinese people prefer rice but they're the world's largest potato producer anyway. Drum Tower debuts new episodes on Tuesdays.

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