China Press Review – 25 May, 2020

Press review

How Europe’s big bailout plan could also help trump the ‘China card’
The €500 billion Franco-German plan is primarily designed to aid post-coronavirus economic recovery but also seeks to achieve ‘health sovereignty’   Observers say the pandemic has highlighted the EU’s vulnerabilities and need to strengthen its hand when dealing with China

Xi Says China Won’t Return to Planned Economy, Urges Cooperation
President Xi Jinping said he won’t let the world’s second-largest economy return to its days as a planned economy, pushing back against U.S. criticism that the nation has failed to deliver on promised reforms.

China’s five-year plans
As China’s global influence increases and its rivalry with the US intensifies, analysts will be watching this year’s “two sessions” of the National People’s Congress and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference for clues as to Beijing’s economic and social priorities, strategies and worries. These areas are likely to be the focus for China’s 14th five-year plan, the blueprint that sets the direction of the world’s second-largest economy.

Coronavirus: China five-year plan to focus on independence as US decoupling threat grows
Top officials in Beijing are drafting the 14th five-year plan, which will set out key economic and political goals for 2021 to 2025   China is expected to rely more on its domestic economy to ease its reliance on the US in the post-coronavirus world

Jump in China’s Debt Necessary, Risks Controllable, NDRC Says
Top officials at China’s economic planning agency have defended the government’s decision to increase debt to help the economy recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, describing the move as necessary and offering reassurance that debt risks will be kept under control.

Editorial: For a Pandemic-Battered Economy, Reform Is the Answer
China has finally opened its most important annual political conferences, the “Two Sessions,” after a coronavirus-induced delay of more than two months. Prior to the meetings, the ruling Communist Party and the State Council — China’s cabinet — published a set of recommendations on “accelerating the improvement of the socialist market economy in the new era.” Given a key reformist leading group passed the recommendations as far back as Feb. 14, the decision to publish them now undoubtedly carries deep meaning. They chime perfectly with the contents of this year’s work report and express belief in China’s determination to further advance market reforms.

China’s Two Sessions 2020: What Have We Learnt So Far
The Two Sessions refer to the annual meetings of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) – an advisory body of over 2,000 members – and the National People’s Congress, China’s top legislative body. They are China’s most important annual political meetings, highlighted by the delivery of the Work Report by Premier Li Keqiang, which lays out the government’s agenda and policy priorities for the coming year. New Business Opportunities Emerging in China Under COVID-19 Outbreak   Further, despite the economic disruption of COVID-19, Li’s work report reiterated the goal of eliminating rural poverty in 2020. A decade ago, the Party announced that it would double 2010 income per capita levels by 2020, while President Xi Jinping has made it a priority to end rural poverty by this year.

China’s economy will prove resilient in long-term despite coronavirus impact, President Xi Jinping insists
Chinese leader tells economic delegates at ‘two sessions’ that country has strengths that will allow it to recover after Covid-19 pandemic    President also promises to defend globalisation despite growing support for protectionism in other parts of the world

China GDP: economy facing perilous challenges even after Beijing abandons 2020 growth target
Premier Li Keqiang confirmed the news at the National People’s Congress on Friday, with China facing a potential recession in the second quarter amid the coronavirus  The decision to drop the economic growth target to focus on more tangible issues, including unemployment, shows the huge challenges facing China

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang promises greater job security for migrant workers
Pledge will be good news for Jizhi Gari and his parents, who have spent the past six months travelling the country in search of odd jobs    China’s top official on poverty alleviation says that since the start of the year, the number of people classed as ‘living on the edge of poverty’ has risen by 380,000

Opinion: China to Increase Infrastructure Spending, but No Housing Stimulus for Now
The report pledges a “more proactive” fiscal policy in 2020. The official budget deficit target was raised 80 base points to 3.6% of GDP. Special local government bond issuance quota also rose substantially up 74% year-on-year to 3.75 trillion yuan. Proceeds from 1 trillion yuan Covid-19 special treasury bond will be transferred directly to city- and county-level local governments for public spending.   Beijing set a target of creating 9 million new urban jobs, 2 million fewer than last year and a surveyed urban unemployment rate 50 base points higher — at 6%. Despite the swift resumption of industrial production, unemployment remains high: the urban rate was 6% in April, up from 5.2% in December. The real number is much higher as headline indicators do not cover all 291 million migrant workers. Moreover, a weak recovery in consumption means the services sector, the key job generator in the last five years, will take time to return to normal employment levels.  No housing stimulus, for now. On property, the core message remains “homes are for living in, not for speculation.” This means national property easing is unlikely in the near term. However, given the massive contraction in fiscal revenue growth this year and significant employment pressure, we think that property stimulus with more prime land auctions and housing construction activity is not only still likely but will, in fact, be necessary after the third quarter of 2020.

Coronavirus: China’s pandemic lifeline for small firms draws lukewarm response from business owners
At the National People’s Congress in Beijing, Premier Li Keqiang announced support for SMEs, including delayed loan repayments and more bank loans   Policies drew mixed responses from small business owners, some of whom are sceptical about whether they will work in practice

EU’s top diplomat calls for ‘more robust’ stance on China as US power starts to wane
Josep Borrell tells German ambassadors that the arrival of an Asian century ‘may be happening before our eyes’ because of Covid-19   Foreign policy chief says relations with Beijing have not always been ‘based on trust’ and better relations with Asian democracies are also needed

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi defends ‘wolf warrior’ diplomats for standing up to ‘smears’
Minister tells ‘two sessions’ press conference that country will ‘hit back against malicious slanders and firmly defend national honour’    Some diplomats have adopted an increasingly combative tone that has caused increasing friction, particularly with the United States

How diplomats work hard to defend China’s interests, promote cooperation amid pandemic
 “We have to strongly fight back when faced with wolfs; but when faced with the public, what we show them is a peaceful, cooperative and friendly China,” Liu explained.

Will China’s calls for more ‘wolf warriors’ leave country’s diplomats feeling sheepish?
The country’s foreign minister and ambassador to Britain have backed the combative approach, but observers warn it may only alienate the rest of the world    Meanwhile, state-owned tabloid Global Times argues that the label is better applied to US diplomacy

China must raise its soft power game, especially at a time Trump’s America is losing friends
Donald ‘America First’ Trump has gifted China an extraordinary diplomatic opportunity, yet Beijing has so far squandered it with its muscular policies in the South China Sea, and on Taiwan and Hong Kong

Two sessions 2020: why Chinese Premier Li Keqiang had little to say about the United States
Li kept the focus on home in his annual work report to the NPC, warning the country of the grim challenges ahead  The limited references to international affairs may speak volumes about the global backlash against Beijing over the coronavirus, analyst says

Coronavirus backlash adds to trade war and decoupling pressure to fray China’s ties to global system
US-China trade war, coronavirus pandemic, decoupling and deglobalisation have soured the mood in Beijing towards the global economic system

China and US must find ways to get along and avoid new Cold War, says Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi
Countries must respect each others’ systems and be wary of US policial forces who want to ‘hijack relations’, Wang tells press conference at ‘two sessions’    Beijing is not looking for confrontation and wants to work with Washington to fight coronavirus, minister says

US slaps sanctions on 33 Chinese companies and institutions, dialling up the tension amid the lowest point in US-China relations
Two dozen companies and institutions including the tech giant Qihoo 360 Technology were placed on the first so-called entity list for “supporting procurement of items for military end-use in China”   Nine entities were put on a second list for their alleged roles in rights violations in the Xinjiang region

Donald Trump’s attacks and coronavirus effects have left global trade battered and leaderless
Any post-outbreak recovery for the world economy is likely to be very slow without robust, well-supported trade infrastructure    The US administration’s choice to assail global institutions rather than fortify them creates a potentially destabilising leadership vacuum

U.S.-China Trade Tensions Are Back: Global Economy Week Ahead
Carmen Reinhart — the World Bank’s incoming chief economist — just declared that globalization is probably dead, and flaring trade tensions between the world’s two biggest economies is supporting that theory.

China’s US$941 billion sovereign fund seeks more resilient assets to improve on 17 per cent gain in 2019
China Investment Corp achieved 17 per cent unaudited gain from overseas investments in 2019, after a loss in 2018    Fund added US investment-grade loans, health care and IT stocks, and raised exposure in Asia in recent months

Two sessions: China not at risk of food crisis because of Covid-19, agriculture minister says
‘People are worried … [but] I can say with certainty that China will not have a food crisis,’ Han Changfu tells National People’s Congress  Country’s grain output to surpass 650 million tonnes for sixth straight year in 2020, he says
Alibaba sales growth slows as the coronavirus impacts China’s economy
Alibaba has lost more than $40 billion of market value since the coronavirus first erupted in January, and now has to grapple with not just an uncertain global economic environment but also any potential fallout from U.S.-Chinese financial tensions.

Digitalisation the way forward for global apparel makers in post-coronavirus era as bankruptcies reshape industry
Garment manufacturer TAL Apparel closes two factories and furloughs 20 per cent of its employees as orders dry up   Industry players say manufacturers that survive the downturn will turn to technology to streamline production processes and become nimble

China Faces Headwinds in Meeting Air Pollution Targets
Despite some progress, the country faces challenges in achieving environmental targets as it looks to jump-start its economy, disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. China’s ambitious drive to curb air pollution may be running against the wind this year as authorities try to balance environmental targets and economic growth slowed by the coronavirus pandemic.    Liu Bingjiang, director of the Department of Atmospheric Environment at China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment, said the country still faces challenges in cleaning up its smog-choked cities, rebutting claims that the government was seeking to relax the environmental threshold so companies could boost production

Why Beijing’s new tech master plan will make it more dependent on the US, not less
Many of the companies Beijing needs for its US$1.4 trillion tech infrastructure plan were put on Washington’s trade blacklist last October    The new rule requires all foreign semiconductor companies using US origin technology to obtain a waiver to do business with Huawei

Inside China Tech: chipping away at Huawei
A new US rule threatens to derail Huawei’s advanced semiconductor development efforts   It specifically targets the operations of chip design subsidiary HiSilicon

A Taiwanese semiconductor titan is at the heart of the US-China tech fight
One direct consequence of the move of TSMC is it could accelerate China’s own development of semiconductors.  However, it’s unlikely China could catch up with the US anytime soon. Even the country’s most advanced chip maker, Shanghai-based Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC), has only recently launched its latest generation of 14 nanometer chips,  some four years behind Intel and Qualcomm, analysts from Fitch Solutions, an affiliate of credit rating agency Fitch ratings wrote in a note. “China has been throwing billions of yuan into semiconductor industry in the last few years trying to expand capacity, but it’s still not there yet,” says Bryan Mercurio, an expert on international trade law at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Huawei said to ask Samsung, SK Hynix for stable supply of memory chips
The request comes after the US government moved to bar any chip maker using American technology from supplying Huawei without a licence     Huawei spends around US$8.1 billion every year to buy memory chips from Samsung and SK Hynix

Reports: UK to cut Huawei’s involvement in 5G network
Boris Johnson wants to reduce Chinese tech giant’s involvement in building network to zero by 2023, according to British media.

What is 5G, why is US President Donald Trump obsessed with it – and did it cause the coronavirus?
5G is one of the key tensions in the US/China trade war; it is said to be 100 times faster than 4G, and one conspiracy theory about it is that it causes Covid-19

Act Or Die! Luxury Brands Should Always Have A Sense Of Urgency
CEOs and management teams when needed. It means demanding less talk and more action.
It’s a pity that it takes a crisis to wake up brands. Why aren’t luxury cars sold online? Why do most jewelry stores have shortcomings in e-commerce? Why haven’t watchmakers redefined their business models? Many brands have huge shortcomings in their digital journeys, but their physical journeys also lack differentiation. Over the last two years, we saw very few convincing physical experiences during our brand audits. As a case in point, I asked my luxury MBA students to evaluate physical expressions of luxury brands in the fields of hospitality, fine dining, fashion, beauty, jewelry, and more. The results were eye-opening. Out of nearly thirty physical in-store experiences, only a few were convincing. For luxury brands, it was a disaster.

Japanese beer maker Asahi to borrow US$11 billion to complete purchase of AB InBev’s Australian business
Japanese brewer agreed to buy Carlton & United Breweries after AB InBev briefly shelved Hong Kong IPO of Asian business last year   Transaction will give Asahi a bigger presence in Australia, where it already sells its Asahi Super Dry lager

How to design coronavirus pandemic ‘travel bubbles’? Apec could provide a template
Many large international events will not be able to take place unless countries can agree on ground rules for travel  Apec’s business working group has the technical expertise required to design a travel card setting ground rules for a Covid-19 travel recovery scheme

China promises to boost belt and road health projects amid coronavirus pandemic
Foreign Minister Wang Yi tells ‘two sessions’ press conference Beijing will work to build ‘healthy silk road’ with belt and road partners   Covid-19 pandemic has already hit infrastructure projects but China says initiative can help efforts to fight the disease

China admits coronavirus exposed ‘weak links’ in health system as government promises to strengthen disease response
Premier Li Keqiang makes rare admission of failings as authorities look to strengthen monitoring and reporting system for infectious diseases   Handling of Covid-19 prompted backlash at home and abroad after Wuhan authorities were slow to grasp severity of situation

Xi Jinping says China must strengthen health system after coronavirus pandemic
Chinese leader says overhaul of monitoring and warning systems are needed after the Covid-19 outbreak exposed shortcomings   System has been hampered by lack of staff and resources and president said it must be strengthened at the grass-roots level

China plans to start using coronavirus vaccine by end of year even if trials have not been completed
Gao Fu, head of the country’s Centre for Disease Control, says use could be fast-tracked for selected groups and in emergencies   Scientists may not have the time to follow normal protocols because of unique aspects to virus that causes Covid-19

Abe lifts state of emergency over coronavirus in Tokyo area, Hokkaido
With the action covering Tokyo, the prefectures of Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama, as well as Hokkaido in northern Japan, the government has now lifted the emergency across the whole of the country, allowing citizens to go out freely and businesses to resume operations.   With the number of infections seemingly past a peak, Abe had earlier lifted the emergency over the pneumonia-causing virus in 42 of the nation’s 47 prefectures

Can Australia Flatten the Curve of Its Economic Dependence on China?
While Australia has successfully flattened the coronavirus curve, can it flatten the curve of its economic dependence on China too?

As coronavirus bites, Pakistan looks to China for belt and road economic boost
Projects including a dam, airport and motorway are being finalised in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, ahead of a visit by President Xi Jinping  Prime Minister Imran Khan is keen to generate jobs for the country’s workers, 25 million of whom have been rendered jobless during the pandemic

Manufacturers pulling out of China should consider Africa to diversify their supply chain
Africa, with its rapidly growing working-age population, newly formed free-trade single market and cost competitiveness, is poised for an exponential economic expansion in the coming decades

COVID-19 threatens democracy in Southeast Asia
COVID-19 has been tough on the health and economies of Southeast Asia, but the region’s fledgling quasi-democracies are also under threat. Efforts to control the virus are giving authoritarian rulers the perfect cover to adopt draconian levers to rein in their opponents and critics.

How Ageism Leaves Seniors Vulnerable to COVID-19
China has been treating its seniors with kid gloves, but a reliance on over-generalizations and stereotypes risks doing more harm than good.

Coronavirus: wealthy Chinese families say pandemic has eroded appetite for overseas schooling and investing
A series of interviews with affluent Chinese families find they have had their desire to emigrate, educate their children, or invest abroad damaged by coronavirus    Economic uncertainty, Western responses to the pandemic, as well as rising anti-China sentiment in parts of the world are causing rich Chinese to reconsider plans

The Shenzhen effect: Why China’s original ‘model’ city matters more than ever
By 2035, China’s government expects over 70% of the country’s population — around a billion people — to be living in cities. Both Shanghai and Beijing have announced population limits and are implementing policies to reduce the number of new arrivals. These restrictions look likely to be replicated in many of China’s more populous cities.  But the rate of urbanization shows no sign of slowing. So, while existing smaller cities can absorb some of the millions who relocate, China is, with increasing haste, looking to develop entirely new urban areas in order to provide homes, jobs and infrastructure — all while driving economic growth. The most high-profile of these is Xiongan, a new city being built across three counties in Hebei province, 100 kilometers to Beijing’s south west. Announced to great fanfare in April 2017, it’s expected to house up to 2.5 million people. Large-scale construction began in 2019 and, over the next decade, an ambitious government plan will see many of Beijing’s businesses, universities and hospitals relocated to this new city, alleviating pressure on the capital and encouraging hi-tech economic development in a traditionally industrial area.

Hong Kong stocks extend rout as security law, street protests signal rocky months ahead in election year
Hang Seng Index drops 1 per cent in morning session as investors face rising political tensions in the financial hub   Things will get much worse before they get better, says strategist Stephen Innes at AxiCorp.

China’s Proposed New Security Law in Hong Kong – An Explainer
The real underlying issues with Hong Kong do not rest with the Basic Law, the “One Country, Two Systems” principle, or even with the new proposed Security Law. Part of the problem lies  with the successive Hong Kong Governments, politicians and business leaders who have colluded to gain the maximum traction from newly rich Chinese tourists and investors. The mainland Chinese, with cultural differences spanning different languages, customs, culture, and politics, have been lauded, feted, and placed as a commercial commodity above those of the ordinary Hong Kong citizen. University places are filled with people from mainlanders. Cantonese is now a secondary language, displacing many. Housing is unaffordable. Pensioners who have lived in Hong Kong all their lives are being sent to live instead in cheaper, mainland old age enclaves such as those in Zhuhai.

Can we trust that Beijing’s security law will target Hong Kong’s violent minority only?
Though details are forthcoming, China’s national security laws are expressed in broad terms and have been used to target critics and suppress dissent

Hong Kong security law is going to devastate its economy
Companies will reject Beijing control and US can withdraw trade privileges

Alain Gillard
Information Officer
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