Bordering 14 countries, China is the fourth largest state in the world and second in terms of population size. Yet we know so little about it, even though Western think tanks and news articles have written volumes on the subject.

China lies at the heart of the global supply chain, but remains enigmatic, challenging, and difficult to understand. Perhaps this is due to its position an officially atheist, with more than 40% of the population identifying as agnostic or atheist. This sets China apart from pretty much every other country in the world, along with its the lack of ethnic diversity, with 91.6% of its citizens identifying as Han. 

From the outside, China appears very different. But is this really the case? 

Find out in episode 20 of our regular video podcast, featuring “comrades” Ian Thornton-Trump CD, CISO for Cyjax, Lisa Forte of Red Goat Security and Philip Ingram MBE of Grey Hare Media, who all wave the Chinese flag passionately in their bid to uncover the truth. 

Listen to the episode here!

Listen to more episodes from The Security Podcasts.

Or check it out on our Apple Podcasts or Spotify channels. Don't forget to like, follow, and rate and review our podcasts! Watch the video version here or on our LinkedIn and YouTube channels. Thank you to threat intelligence firm Cyjax for sponsoring this episode.

Fresh intelligence

Lisa, our woman on the ground, travelled the length and breadth of the region during December and January. She encountered rural Mongolia in sub-zero temperatures reaching -45 Celsius (-49 Fahrenheit), also visiting Beijing and several remote villages in her quest for the world’s best ice climbing opportunities. She also took the chance to gauge Chinese people’s views on their country and the world beyond. 

While Lisa was travelling China, Ian’s Cyjax colleague Nikita Cole was hard at work preparing an in-depth report looking at the country from a security perspective, which you can download here.

Lisa and Nikita’s work, along with Ian and Phil’s global security knowledge and expertise, shape this fascinating and entertaining investigation into the ‘real’ China. A country that’s rapidly ascended to its current position as the world’s second largest economy.

Economic powerhouse

As the CIA World Fact book states in surprisingly unbiased fashion: 

"MAO Zedong died in 1976. Beginning in 1978, subsequent leaders DENG Xiaoping, JIANG Zemin, and HU Jintao focused on market-oriented economic development and opening the country to foreign trade, while maintaining the rule of the CCP. Since the change, China has been among the world’s fastest growing economies, with real gross domestic product averaging over 9% growth annually through 2021, lifting an estimated 800 million people out of poverty, and dramatically improving overall living standards."

The result is a huge and surging "middle class" (according to the 2023 McKinsey China Consumer Report) hungry for Western consumer and luxury goods. In fact, no other country adds as many households to the middle class each year. And over the next three years, China is expected to add another 71 million upper-middle and high-income households further swelling the 693.3 million identified in 2022. Clearly, a massive market opportunity for any business. 

But all may not be as it seems. The panel explore whether the country is as economically stable as it appears, investigating whether cracks may be appearing in its foreign policy, international relations and its relationship with the world’s largest economy the USA, while uncovering its security Achilles heel. 

So, join us for a fascinating debate about a country described by many as a "Frenemy" to the West, which has radically transformed in less than half a century.

Read Cyjax’s white paper ‘Broken China?’, exploring the country’s current situation and whether a stalled post-COVID-19 recovery is causing longer-term issues, here.