Belgian-Chinese Chamber of Commerce (BCECC)

China Press Review – February 2, 2022

EU to outline tech standards plan to counter China influence
The EU will on Wednesday outline a more aggressive approach to setting global standards for cutting-edge and green technologies in a concerted effort to counter the influence of China. Margrethe Vestager, the bloc’s competition chief, told the Financial Times the new strategy was designed to ensure Europe continued to set international benchmarks that guided the development of everything from facial recognition systems, advances in battery power and the next generation of environmental innovations. “This is strategic,” said Vestager. “It’s really, really important who sets the standards because they should enable a market to work, but not to make innovation difficult.” She added the EU wanted to implement the plan “as fast as possible”. The emerging strategy is important as companies seeking to enter the EU’s internal market have had to satisfy the region’s tough rules, often forcing countries around the world to adopt Europe’s approach to regulating products and services.
The US and EU will meet regularly through the Trade and Technology Council, an existing grouping of top transatlantic officials, to iron out details on how the co-operation will work.    said.  Beijing has also been drafting a fresh strategy entitled “China Standards 2035” as it seeks to become a setter of international rules in fields such as 5G and artificial intelligence. As part of plans to counter these moves, Brussels will “urgently” develop standards for important technologies and environmental challenges, according to draft proposals seen by the FT. “Europe’s competitiveness, technological sovereignty and promotion of EU values, highest social and environmental ambitions will depend on how successful European actors are at international level,” the document stated.

China’s Economy Is Heading Toward Stagnation, Not Collapse
The reality is far more complex, and the stakes are growing ever higher. China’s success over the past 40 years—rising to become the world’s second largest economy, and top trading partner of multiple nations—should not be belittled. But nor can it be taken for granted that Beijing will continue delivering the stellar economic performance its citizens now expect, and the growth that foreign investors and governments have come to reply on.  Talk about China’s economy and growth model, ever since it became the 143rd member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, always seems to swing between a Panglossian view of unbridled success and the doomsayers’ expectation that a crisis, spelling the end of Communist Party rule, is imminent. As China’s property woes deepened over the past year, examples of these extremes were on display with Jim Chanos saying yet again “it’s worse than you think,” while Ray Dalio was once more expressing confidence in China’s model.  But Beijing had no intention of converging on the Western economic and political model. Xi, ditching another of Deng’s beliefs, has raised China’s head and made it crystal clear that it would follow its own path. The United States and other like-minded countries have finally woken up to this reality. And the international environment has turned much more restrictive for China, hurting its growth potential.  “Together for a shared future” says the 2022 Olympic slogan. Yet the diplomatic boycott by the United States will spotlight the competing ideological visions of the world’s two superpowers. To showcase the superiority of Chinese communism, the choreography will be perfect, both for the Winter Games and the National Congress this autumn, when Xi is likely to extend his rule.  Now a proud centenarian, the Communist Party he leads still appears to enjoy strong public support as it strives to deliver a better life for ordinary Chinese. But as Beijing moves further along the road to socialism and eventually, in theory, to communism under the deeply ideological slogan of “common prosperity,” it could well begin to squander the tremendous economic gains it has made during the past 40 years with a more pragmatic, experimental, and open approach to development. Economic stagnation could well threaten the Communist Party’s survival, but it has managed to pull from the brink of collapse before.

Risky Business: The Top Four Risks Companies Face When Doing Business With China and How to Address Them
While the US and Chinese business communities continue to have a mutually beneficial relationship, the reality is that the bilateral political discourse is becoming more strained. Both governments are implementing measures to protect their domestic interests and this affects business.  How are companies supposed to navigate these new challenges? With the Lunar New Year holiday slowdown upon us, it is a good time for strategic business planning to reduce exposure to these risks.

US says ‘clear’ China hasn’t met trade deal commitments, with ‘unflinchingly honest’ talks ongoing
China pledged to increase purchases of US farm and manufactured goods, energy and services by US$200 billion above 2017 levels during 2020 and 2021    But deputy US Trade Representative (USTR) Sarah Bianchi said on Tuesday that ‘it is really clear that the Chinese haven’t met their commitment’ under the phase-one trade deal.

U.S.-China tensions threaten great financial decoupling
Hard-liners press pension funds to drop China stocks; Beijing cracks down on listings   For China, the U.S. is an important financial trading partner, and Chinese companies have relied on it for financing. On the other hand, institutional investors and individuals in the U.S. have turned to China in search of higher returns.    “Under normal conditions, there would be room for trillions of dollars in additional U.S.-China financial investment before balances reached levels typical of advanced economy pairs,” according to a 2021 report by the U.S.-China Investment Project, which Rhodium co-leads.  Finance, which involves the exchange of risk and return, has been globalizing for decades because it is more efficient when as many investors as possible participate. But if financial decoupling continues as a result of political conflicts, it will throw a wrench into the engine of global growth as the cost of capital increases.  In mid-September 2021, a meeting of the U.S.-China Financial Roundtable brought together leading Wall Street figures and Chinese officials. The event got its start in the Trump era, and this was its first time being held since the change of administrations. The aim is to find a way to resolve brewing issues behind the scenes. But during the four years of Trump, a confrontational structure was created that made it difficult to communicate effectively, an American attendee lamented.  How to bridge the money divide has yet to be discovered.

China: Epicenter of the Supply Chain Crisis
How concentrating dependence on China upended our economy and added risk  In sum, the whole system of just-in-time offshoring, with China at its center, has been an economic and political failure. It has ruined communities, discredited Democrats as champions of working people, and left the entire economy far more fragile to shocks. It did not even deliver its promise of greater efficiency. Rather than producing more price competition and consumer choice, the system facilitated greater concentration and market power.      Disengaging from China will be an arduous process. They play the game much more strategically than Washington does. Beijing has a domestic U.S. lobby doing its bidding, with no counterpart complicating its policies or goals at home. But if the supply chain crisis has called attention to the folly of the U.S.-China status quo and America acts accordingly, that will be a silver lining.

A greener future for China?
Green investment will accelerate in the year of the Tiger, says Deutsche Bank Research China Strategist

China’s Tsinghua Unigroup axes major memory chip projects
China’s state-backed Tsinghua Unigroup has scrapped major memory chip projects in two cities as new investors push to turn around the debt-stricken company that has been left reeling from US restrictions on its access to vital technology.  The group is also preparing for a major personnel reshuffle at key affiliate Unisoc, China’s second-biggest mobile chip developer, sources briefed on the matter told Nikkei Asia, amid concerns over the nation’s lack of a “viable” 5G mobile chip player. One of the two memory chip projects that was terminated is in the city of Chongqing.

Chinese customs’ tax revenue tops 2t yuan in 2021
Chinese customs authorities saw their tax revenue exceeded 2 trillion yuan ($313.75 billion) for the first time in 2021, the General Administration of Customs said.    Taxes collected by Chinese customs reached 2.01 trillion yuan last year, up 17.7 percent from 2020, data from the administration showed. Customs authorities have deepened reform on tax collection and administration, and tax revenue in 2021 exceeded the budgeted target, the administration said.  The data also showed that overall customs clearance time for imported goods came in at 32.97 hours, while that of exported goods reached 1.23 hours, a drop of 66.14 percent and 89.98 percent from 2017, respectively.  China’s total goods imports and exports expanded 21.4 percent year on year to 39.1 trillion yuan in 2021.

China’s carbon neutral goals: turnover under emissions trading scheme expected to reach US$15 billion in 2030
The expectations of an increase in volume came after China’s new carbon market met its first compliance deadline with a high compliance rate of 99.5 per cent   About 8 billion yuan worth of carbon trading has been recorded since the national carbon exchange was launched in Shanghai mid July

4 Trends Shaping the Future of Shopping Malls in China
Shopping malls in China have come to signify a burgeoning culture of ultra-consumerism, and newer luxury malls like SKP in Beijing or Plaza 66 in Shanghai showcase the quintessence of prestige. As such, many luxury brands have benefited from malls like these that provide an enchanting luxury retail destination. But is the mall retail model becoming stale now that luxury shoppers are switching to alternative channels where they can experience — and ultimately purchase — luxury brands? Here, we’ve outlined four trends shaping the future of shopping malls in China.

China Issued 2021 Version of Negative List for Foreign Investment
The National Development and Reform Commission of China and Ministry of Commerce of China jointly released, on December 27, 2021, the “Special Administrative Measures for Foreign Investment Access (Negative List)” (2021 Version) (the “National List”) and the “Special Administrative Measures for Foreign Investment Access in the Pilot Free Trade Zone (Negative List)” (2021 Version)(the “FTZ List”).  These negative lists have become effective on January 1, 2022 and on the same day, the 2020 version of these negative lists were repealed. These negative lists set forth categories of industries and businesses in which China has imposed restrictions (e.g., cap on shareholding percentage) or prohibitions on foreign investment or ownership. For example, the National List states that healthcare institutions shall not be wholly owned by foreign investors.  As compared to their respective 2020 version, the 2021 version of negative lists include a reduced number of restrictions and prohibitions on foreign investment. As a result of such latest amendments to these negative lists, China has further expanded foreign investors’ access to the domestic manufacturing industry, and has started to explore providing foreign investors with increased access to the service industry in the pilot free trade zone, including without limitation, in the space of market research and social research.

China’s Sovereign Wealth   Funds: Too Big to Be Ignored
With 31 percent of the world’s SWF assets, China is a critical global investor, despite the current decline in the nation’s international holdings. Declining foreign investment by China’s sovereign wealth funds should have only a limited impact on their role in the global SWF investment space, according to a report from Global SWF, a data platform that tracks global sovereign wealth funds and public pension plans.  To avoid being caught up in the crossfire of U.S.-China tensions, China’s sovereign wealth funds have adjusted their overseas investment strategies to make room for more domestic assets. But with 31 percent of the world’s total SWF-managed capital, China will be difficult to ignore, and the report says that the country “will continue to attract the attention of international observers.”

Australia backs rare earths mine to reduce China’s supply dominance
The Australian government has backed a rare earths mine as the country ramps up production to challenge Chinese dominance of the critical minerals used in magnets for electric vehicles, wind turbines and smartphones.  China has long dominated the supply of those minerals but its trade war with the US has forced the global manufacturing industry to search for alternative sources. The Australian government has identified rare earths as a strategic industry and established funds to support companies breaking into the market. On Wednesday, it agreed a A$140mn (US$100mn) project financing loan to the Yangibana rare earths mine in the Gascoyne region of Western Australia that is being established by Hastings Technology Metals.

China beefs up food security again with yet another ban on Australian meat imports
Chinese customs have moved to suspend imports from Teys Naracoorte facility in South Australia; the plant recently had a Covid-19 outbreak   It’s 10th abattoir to stop exports to China since May 2020, after Canberra pushed for probe into coronavirus origins without consulting Beijing

Hitting reset on the Australia–China relationship
After years of disputes — over the origins of COVID-19, serious Chinese foreign trade restrictions, and differences about the fate of tennis star Peng Shuai — and working together with our Asian and Pacific neighbours, it is time for a new beginning in Australia’s relations with China. Recent events provide the opportunity, and there is evidence that Beijing may also be interested in a new beginning.  Over the longer term, Australia’s security will depend on its ability to cooperate and to collaborate on key common problems with its neighbours: countries as diverse and important as Indonesia, Singapore, and Vietnam — all members of the new RCEP. Australia should encourage and support its neighbours’ concept of ASEAN centrality and its hosting of regional institutions like the ASEAN Plus Three, ASEAN Regional Forum and the East Asian Summit.    Working together with the countries of Southeast Asia and the Pacific in 2022, Australia should design a new start in relations with China.

The US doesn’t need CPTPP to assert itself in the Asia-Pacific
Sometimes international diplomacy is so inept that it becomes genuinely entertaining. Recent US trade policy in the Asia-Pacific region is a case in point. Over a decade ago, the US devised a plan to export its economic model and outflank China through the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The idea: dangle the bait of preferential access to the voracious American consumer in order to rewrite the tariff, intellectual property, subsidy, regulatory and investment regimes of the world’s fastest-growing region.  The administrations of George W Bush and Barack Obama got the deal signed, but Donald Trump and then Joe Biden decided imports were politically toxic and pulled out without ratifying. Amusingly, this allowed China to escalate its campaign for trade hegemony in Asia by applying to join. China is currently dancing gleefully at every party in the Asia-Pacific it can get into. It is a founding member of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a shallow but broad trade deal, and is also applying to join the Digital Economic Partnership Agreement between Singapore, Chile and New Zealand

A deep understanding of Sino-Australian relations isn’t possible without appreciating the triangular dynamics between Australia, China and the US

China-Japan ties ‘may rest on trade alone’ after Tokyo human rights vote
Tokyo’s lower house motion expressing concerns about China’s record described as ‘wanton remarks’ by Beijing spokesman      Most of Japan’s ruling and opposition lawmakers voted in favour of the resolution, which follows months of tensions between the Asian neighbours

Iraq top recipient of China’s Belt and Road Initiative financing for infrastructure projects in 2021, study shows
China’s engagements across Belt and Road Initiative countries stood at US$59.5 billion in 2021, almost the same as US$60.5 billion in 2020, report shows     China and Iraq are cooperating to build the US$5 billion Al-Khairat heavy oil power plant in Karbala province and also on an airport, solar and other projects

Ukraine: China’s Burning Bridge to Europe?
China’s BRI and agricultural needs led Beijing to seek partnership with Ukraine. Now Russia’s military build-up has complicated those calculations.   China’s infrastructure and military investments complicate Western ties to Ukraine. Ukraine supplies a variety of military equipment to China, including turbofan engines for aircraft, diesel engines for tanks, and gas turbines for air-to-air missiles. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, a Macau-based company purchased Ukraine’s Varyag aircraft carrier at the bargain basement price of $20 million, after claiming it would never be used for military purposes. The vessel, later renamed the Liaoning, was later refurbished and ultimately would provide a shortcut for China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy to own its first aircraft carrier. With tensions rising in China-U.S. relations, American officials have sought to limit China’s military investments in Ukraine in recent years. During the Trump administration, National Security Advisor John Bolton traveled to Ukraine to prevent Beijing Skyrizon Aviation, a Chinese company, from acquiring a controlling stake in Motor Sich, a major manufacturer of engines and aircraft, which provided technology to Russia prior to its takeover of Crimea in 2014. After the U.S. imposed sanctions on Skyrizon, Motor Sich followed suit. With U.S. pressure continuing under President Joe Biden, Ukraine ultimately returned Motor Sich to state ownership, halting the sale of its assets to China. With Russia poised to intervene in Ukraine, observers speculate that Chinese leaders will watch U.S. and European reactions closely, as an indication of their likely support for another non-allied partner of even greater interest to China, namely Taiwan. Although the possibility of a two-front threat emerging with potentially coordinated action by Russia in Ukraine and China in Taiwan looms large in the strategic thinking of U.S. military planners, there is little evidence to support this. China has been ratcheting up pressure on Taiwan for some months, and for longstanding reasons with no connection to Ukraine. Moreover, China is unlikely to tie its core interest in what it calls the reunification of Taiwan to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s opaque maneuvering in Ukraine. In 2014 Russia’s takeover of Crimea put China in a difficult position. A longstanding advocate of territorial integrity, China opted to abstain on the U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Russia’s action. China has never officially recognized the Russian annexation and Chinese high-level officials are barred from traveling to Crimea, though some investments have proceeded under the radar, with minimal publicity. As China prepares to host the Winter Olympics, fearing COVID-19 outbreaks and contending with international opprobrium over the incarceration of more than 1 million Uyghurs, the last thing Chinese leaders want is a Russian invasion of Ukraine to take the limelight. Chinese officials have denied that Xi Jinping said as much to Putin, but the Russian president himself is no doubt aware of the importance of timing, since the 2014 takeover of Crimea took place just after Russia hosted the winter games in Sochi

China, Russia to give ‘international relations entering new era’ statement at Games meeting, says Kremlin
Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin to voice ‘common views’ about security and other issues on Friday, with a one-on-one discussion as well as talks with officials   ‘China supports Russia’s demands for security guarantees’, a reference to requests Moscow has put to Nato and US during ongoing Ukraine crisis

Will Asia’s investors pounce on the farm tech revolution in the Year of the Tiger?
Farming and machine learning are coming together to feed a hungry world in agtech’s biggest revolution yet – and Asia is already home to many companies with the technology that is required

Omicron: Chinese researchers say their ‘godsend’ new antibody may neutralise variant and future strains
Surprise discovery – made while Fudan University researchers were investigating another disease – would put humans ‘a step ahead’ in race against the pandemic    New antibody was synthesised from components of two different antibodies produced by human immune cells, according to paper

China can win Covid-19 battle – but don’t rush things, top Chinese disease experts warn
Zhang Wenhong and Zhong Nanshan both see a gradual easing of pandemic, but highlight need for sustained drugs and vaccines push    China remains the only country still insisting on a ‘dynamic zero case’ policy against Covid-19

Chinas slow path towards science and technology leadership
Scientists know their country is not yet a global leader in science and technology, says Kai von Carnap. This is the fifth in a series of short analyses that looks at China’s systemic competition and normative rivalry with the US and the EU. A look beyond the Beijing leadership shows how far debates about the features of political systems and the power to interpret events reach into Chinese society – and possibly shape the country’s actions.

2021 China Demographic Trends – What the Latest Data Says
China demographic trends in 2021 show plummeting birth and fertility rates and a rapidly aging society. China’s government has been aware of the slowing population growth and recently stepped up measures to boost birth rates in 2021. We discuss the effect of government policies and measures and the impact that China’s changing demographics will have on companies.

Americans favour diplomatic boycott of Olympics and view China negatively, Pew poll shows
Almost 90 per cent of people surveyed in January see China as a competitor or an enemy   ‘The shift is caused by China’s actions under Xi, the repression at home, the more aggressive approach abroad,’ says former US ambassador

Which Chinese Athletes Have a Shot at Gold at Beijing 2022?
China has assembled a formidable squad for its first home Winter Olympics — and might even be a contender to top the medals table. Here are the Chinese stars to watch out for.

These Beijing Olympics Send a Much Darker Message
Since 2008, the Games’ 2022 host has grown more powerful—and more fearful. The first time China hosted the Olympics, it was a moment of hope and promise. The 2008 Summer Games in Beijing proved to be a coming-out party for an emergent China—rich, influential, technologically advanced, and, most of all, more and more open to the outside. Sure, the Communist regime’s human-rights abuses led to protests then, as they are doing now. But the international community set aside such differences to participate in what the Olympics are meant to be: a celebration of global sport and fellowship. China was joining the world, and the world welcomed it.  All of this shows the realignment of China’s place in the world since 2008. Xi never invited President Joe Biden to the event, even before the diplomatic boycott; perhaps he assumed that Biden would refuse and so saved himself the embarrassment of rejection. But Xi did extend an invitation to his partner in oppression Vladimir Putin, even as the Russian president makes preparations to invade Ukraine. That means Putin will have the Olympic spotlight that once shone on the Americans. In 2008, Bush attended a U.S.-China basketball game with then–Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi. Yang, now a member of the Communist Party’s all-powerful Politburo, is the official who became a national hero for tongue-lashing Blinken in an Alaska meeting last year about the failings of American democracy and the impropriety of Washington’s China policy. “The United States does not have the qualification to say that it wants to speak to China from a position of strength,” he said.  Still, the icy sentiment blowing through these Olympics is not quite a cold war. The U.S. has been willing to embarrass the host country only up to a point. Unlike President Jimmy Carter’s boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Biden’s snub of this year’s events will not prohibit American athletes from taking part. Perhaps we will look back on these Olympics not as a harbinger of an isolated China at odds with the world but as no more than a mark of temporarily tense times.  As matters stand, though, the Winter Games could be an unfortunate pivot point. In 2008, the Olympics foreshadowed China’s rise as a global leader and the great possibilities that could bring; 2022 suggests that a more powerful China will have a more conflicted relationship with the world. With the events closed to visiting spectators, the Chinese will stand alone, reveling in their own perceived greatness; the outside world will participate entirely on Chinese terms. Just the way Beijing likes it.

‘A bed of nails’: China’s #MeToo accusers crushed by burden of proof and counterclaims
Two Chinese women who claimed they were violated by powerful men were then sued by their alleged assailants for defamation    Activist warns Beijing’s crackdown on feminists in recent years, coupled with male-dominated power, may push more women to fight back against oppression

‘Act not as a hero’: Hong Kong’s annual Lunar New Year prophecy calls for ‘sticking with the old ways on everything’
The prophecy was drawn via fortune stick at a traditional ceremony at Che Kung Temple in Sha Tin   Pro-establishment lawmaker Kenneth Lau, who drew the fortune, interpreted it as a suggestion for how Hong Kong should combat the coronavirus pandemic

Alain Gillard
Information Officer
Service Asie Pacifique
Place Sainctelette 2
1080 Bruxelles
Tél 02 421 85 09 – Fax 02 421 87 75
Copyright © 2020 awex, All rights reserved