Belgian-Chinese Chamber of Commerce (BCECC)

China Press Review – November 12, 2021

China’s Xi Jinping cements his status with historic resolution
Essentially, it cements Mr Xi’s hold on power, experts told the BBC. “He is trying to cast himself as the hero in the epic of China’s national journey,” said Adam Ni, editor of China Neican, a newsletter on Chinese current affairs.  “By pushing through a historical resolution that puts himself at the centre of the grand narrative of the Party and modern China, Mr Xi is demonstrating his power. But the document is also a tool to help him retain this power,” he said. Dr Chong Ja Ian from the National University of Singapore said the latest move set Mr Xi apart from other previous Chinese leaders.  “[Former leaders] Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin never had as much consolidated authority as Mr Xi. However, it is unclear whether they had the inclination to do so even if presented with similar opportunities,” said Dr Chong. “There is certainly a lot of emphasis on Mr Xi as a person at present. The degree to which it becomes more formally institutionalised is what many are watching out for at the moment.” Unlike the former resolutions, however, Mr Xi is looking instead to emphasize continuity with his resolution, said Mr Ni.  After all, Mr Xi’s report comes at a time when China has become a global power – something scarcely imaginable just a few decades ago.  “The country stands at a point where it can now look back at significant growth in its economy, military, and recognition of its status as a major power, with the CCP as well as its leadership deeply entrenched with no opposition domestically,” said Dr Chong. “In some ways, the CCP with Mr Xi at its helm has reached a pinnacle of achievement for the party and for China.” Still, politics can be “surprising”, experts said, and despite all the evidence of Mr Xi retaining leadership for the foreseeable future, anything can happen. “China’s elite politics is opaque, so there is much we don’t know,” said Mr Ni.

Chinese Communist Party resolution cements Xi Jinping’s leadership, putting him on par with Mao, and paves way for legacy-defining third term
The Central Committee’s 6th plenum ends with adoption of third historical resolution in party history, puts Xi on the same level as Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. Document hails president’s ‘profound thoughts’ and ‘significant theories’ and lists achievements such as Hong Kong crackdown and war on corruption

Chinese Communist party clears way for Xi to tighten grip on power
The Chinese language language Communist get collectively has handed its first “historic choice” in 40 years, in a development extra prone to pave the way in which wherein for President Xi Jinping to stay in office until in any case 2028.     The choice, formally adopted by the get collectively’s central committee on the end of its annual meeting, or plenum, on Thursday, declared that Xi’s administration was “the necessary factor to the great rejuvenation of the Chinese language language nation”, in keeping with a summary revealed by the official Xinhua information firm.

The Sixth Plenum: What is it and What Has Been Decided?
In a communique issued at the closure of the Sixth Plenum yesterday, Xi is acknowledged as the “principal founder” of his namesake ideological thought, which will carry on the party’s goal of turning China into a “great modern socialist country” by 2049.   In addition to the resolution on major achievements of the CCP, the Central Committee also passed the Resolution on Convening the 20th National Congress of the Party. The 20th National Congress of the Party, which will be held in Beijing in the second half of next year, is expected to rubber-stamp the Sixth Plenum’s deliberations.The 19th Central Committee, which was elected in 2017, is supposed to be re-elected after its five-year cycle, which will end when a new committee is appointed at next year’s National Congress. It is expected that China will continue to focus on science and technology to move up the global value chain but at the same time secure balanced levels of development through interventions via income policies, tax reforms, public service provision, and “the third distribution” (encouraging charitable donations from higher-income groups and enterprises).

The Past and the Future
There was a joke in the old Soviet Union: the future is fixed (and bright), it is the past that keeps changing  …. Then on to Mr Xi, whose standing is clearly above all the rest except for Mao. It is preparation for the solidification of his position and the leadership team he heads ahead of the 20th Congress next October. But point 2, in the end, seems more significant to us. That is, the adamant declaration of the party’s crucial and unquestionable role and position in the past, present and future at the center and in all corners of China’s existence. This is the key contribution of the current leadership led by Mr Xi, not the three terms as opposed to two terms. And that is also the difference, it seems to us, between, say, Putin and Xi. The China system is not necessarily dependent on the leader. What Those in Command want the people of China to do more than anything else is accept their assessment that the best option for the country now and in the future is complete control by the Party. And having a strong, organized, focused organization which is working towards an agreed goal in an efficient way – there are unarguably advantages to that. In a way, they were saved by COVID. That shifted attitudes more than anything else. Anyway, welcome to the future.    In other news, the China-US relationship shifted to somewhat less than frosty with an announcement of cooperation on climate control, and there are rumors Biden will be invited by Mr Xi to the Beijing Olympics. One of the largest private education companies, New Oriental, officially closed down 1,500 after-school tutoring establishments across China, the property developer Kaisa is teetering on the edge, just like Evergrande, but indications are that they will both be somehow assisted through the crisis in a way that doesn’t cause explosions. Amazing what you can do with total control of a financial system. And lastly—inflation. Factory gate inflation in October at a 26-year high. Hmm. Careful there.

Chancellor: China’s economic miracle is ending
Chinese President Xi Jinping has a better understanding of the economic challenges facing his country than most investors. In recent years, the leader-for-life has warned of the dangers posed by the real estate bubble, excessive debt levels, widespread corruption and rising inequality. These problems are not unique to the People’s Republic. In the past, every country in the region that adopted the so-called Asian development model has faced similar problems. Xi’s dilemma is that there is no easy way for China to surmount them.

China’s 2022 plans come with one eye on US policies, pandemic’s evolution, former central bank adviser says
Yu Yongding is on Team Transitory when it comes to inflationary pressure, and the prominent government adviser dismisses risk of stagflation   Western countries’ cautious handling of the stimulus exit appears to have lowered market expectations for a new ‘taper tantrum’

Alibaba’s 11.11 Just Set a Record, But It’s Looking Beyond Numbers
Alibaba’s 11-day shopping spree was by far the largest edition of the event to date. Photo credit: Alibaba Group    Alibaba Group’s 11.11 Global Shopping Festival has hit a new high, closing out the event this week with US$84.54 billion in gross merchandise volume.   Alibaba’s two-week shopping blitz already dwarfs all other retail events on earth, but this year was by far its largest edition to date, bringing together at least 900 million Chinese consumers and 290,000 brands.   A record number of designer brands participated this time around as the luxury world continued to embrace e-commerce. More than 200 brands took part via Tmall Luxury Pavilion, Alibaba’s platform for high-end brands, including Saint Laurent, Max Mara, Thom Browne and Van Cleef & Arpels for the first time.

Singles’ Day posts record haul despite slower pace, as China’s antitrust moves dampen world’s biggest online shopping event
This year’s Singles’ Day was weighed down by China’s slowest economic expansion pace in decades, as growth slowed to 4.9 per cent in the third quarter     This year, Tmall issued 100 million yuan worth of ‘green vouchers’ to encourage purchasing decisions that ‘contribute to an environmentally friendly lifestyle’  Chinese consumers are now no strangers to the festival special offers, instead of complicating the discounting to increase engagements, the focus of brand strategy should be on how to bring actual benefits to consumers. As that would be beneficial to brands in return, in the long run, regardless of the occurrence of Double 11.

Singles’ Day sales hit by rising anti-consumerism sentiment, China’s youth warn of ‘vicious circle’
Sales during Singles’ Day, the world’s biggest online shopping event, grew to a record 540.3 billion yuan (US$84.4 billion) during the 11-day campaign     But the first single digit growth figure since the event started in 2009 could partially have been caused by a growing tide of anti-consumerism sentiments in China

COP26: Cautious welcome for unexpected US-China climate agreement
Activists and politicians have cautiously welcomed an unexpected US-China declaration that vowed to boost climate co-operation.

COP26: can China quit its coal habit while the world wrangles over climate goals and phasing out the ‘dirtiest’ fossil fuel?
Coal produces nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide and carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas and one of the main culprits of climate change    Coal burning in open stoves and furnaces generate fine particles that hang in the air, leading to the notorious smogs of 1950s London, and Beijing

COP26 in review: our 5 takeaways
The global energy crunch leading up to COP26 has inevitably had an impact on the conversation at the summit, and related concerns will remain live in the months ahead. It has been a big obstacle to accelerating the demise of coal-fired power, particularly in China. And with governments also nervous about the supply of liquid and gas fuels, that’s a headache for those hoping to see a rapid phase-out of the trillions of dollars in subsidies dished out to the global fossil fuel industry.   The joint climate announcement by the US and China on Wednesday was one of the important moments of a summit that has been short on significant developments. It followed more than 30 meetings over the past year, as Leslie Hook and Ed White noted in this excellent FT analysis. Unlike the 2014 climate agreement between presidents Xi Jinping and Barack Obama, this announcement did not feature any firm commitments, although China promised a plan to tackle its methane emissions. One encouraging development was the announcement of a new bilateral working group, paving the way for more intensive discussions between the world’s two biggest emitters. Optimists will hope that the dire need for climate collaboration can mitigate the tensions between them. Others will worry that those tensions could undercut hopes of serious global action.

The US-China climate agreement is imperfect – but reason to hope
The surprise Cop26 announcement could herald a crucial era of climate cooperation between the two carbon superpowers

US-China rivalry ‘threatens to undermine further action on fighting climate change’
A joint declaration between the two sides received a cautious welcome but climate policy experts fear ongoing tensions limit the room for further agreement    The two countries agreed a series of steps to tackle global warming, but have not committed to stronger targets on reducing emissions by 2030

Cheap green loans funded by China’s central bank could accelerate clean, energy saving projects, analysts say
People’s Bank of China is offering cheap funding to banks to subsidise their lending to green projects    Potential savings from lending facility may not be substantial, CICC analysts say

Understanding China’s Action Plan for Reaching Peak Carbon Emissions by 2030
China recently released a long-awaited policy document detailing how the country intends to fulfill its target of reaching peak carbon emissions by 2030. The Action Plan for Reaching Carbon Dioxide Peak Before 2030, takes aim at vast areas of the economy, including polluting commodity industries, transport, and domestic waste, and outlines measures for gradually slowing the emission of carbon, transitioning to renewable energy, and reducing waste.

The Green Belt and Road Initiative
A China-led effort, greening of the Belt and Road Initiative involves development projects aligned with the 2030 UNSDG goals that also present climate action-positive investment opportunities.

EU to Lay Out $46 Billion Technology Plan to Counter China
The European Union will unveil next week its strategy for more than 40 billion euros ($45.9 billion) in technology and infrastructure spending that is a key part of the West’s response to China’s Belt and Road program. The EU’s “Global Gateway” strategy will focus on digital, transport, energy and trade projects, according to a draft seen by Bloomberg. The plan is aimed at boosting Europe’s interests and competitiveness around the world, while also promoting sustainable environmental standards and values such as democracy, human rights and the rule of law. 
The strategy follows a U.S.-led agreement reached during July’s Group of Seven summit where leaders agreed to launch a global infrastructure initiative called Build Back Better World to help narrow the gaping infrastructure need in the developing world and provide a green rival to China’s ambitious initiatives.

China’s economic recovery set to slow further, with ‘worst yet to come’ for both supply and demand
A set of key economic data to be released Monday will be closely studied for signs that the slowdown is serious enough to prompt authorities to step up support    Fixed asset investment, retail sales and industrial production growth in October are all expected to have slowed

Will the Chinese renminbi keep rising?
The trend of the Chinese renminbi (RMB) rising against the US dollar reached a three-year high in May 2021. This signalled an end to the currency’s depreciation in response to the Trump administration’s trade war with China. Whether the current rally in RMB will be maintained remains a hotly debated topic, especially given the current COVID-19 pandemic-related global economic recovery and the long-term headwinds to China’s growth.   With the market-oriented reform furthered and the managed floating exchange rate regime improved, the RMB exchange rate is expected to become more volatile. The PBOC’s foreign exchange market intervention will increasingly focus on the active use of unconventional methods and monetary policy tools. It will aim at dampening extreme exchange rate volatility and use the exchange rate as an automatic stabiliser to adjust the macro-economy and the balance of payments. Prolonged one-way moves can cause a vicious cycle, undermining China’s long-term growth and development.   A more flexible, market-driven exchange rate would be in China’s interests, especially considering the current challenges both at home and in the world. Keeping the RMB exchange rate stable with two-way fluctuations at ‘an adaptive and equilibrium level’ remains the PBOC’s top priority

China’s Gen Z workers are gaining more leverage, and they’re demanding changes
Traditional employment relationships are changing in China, as Gen Z becomes the dominant force in the labour market     Younger workers are demanding flexible work arrangements, better pay and sincerity from employers – who are taking note

Hiring among internet giants falls amid China’s tech crackdown, but remains robust in semiconductors
New jobs for fresh graduates at Big Tech companies have declined amid Beijing’s industry crackdown, and wages remain stagnant, recruitment data show    The strategically important semiconductor industry has continued to grow rapidly, but only 1 per cent of new hires were highly skilled technicians

China’s top chip maker SMIC in boardroom shake-up after posting record quarterly results amid ongoing semiconductor shortage
Chiang’s resignation comes only 11 months after he was appointed as executive director and vice-chairman of SMIC, a move that rankled co-CEO Liang Mong Song     Third-quarter profit was up 25 per cent year on year to US$321 million, but fell by more than half from the second-quarter result, which was boosted by a one-off sale

What Are The Root Causes Of The Evergrande Crisis And How Will They Affect The Chinese Economy?
In China, housing, education and medical services are what people really care about. As capital has continued to flow into these three markets over the year, and in the case of property development, the price of housing has risen higher and higher in China.   In order to control the liabilities of real estate enterprises, China’s regulatory authorities recently established the “three red lines” to limit property developers’ ability to increase borrowing, namely, excluding pre-payments the debt asset ratio cannot exceed 70%, the gearing ratio cannot exceed 100% and the short-term liquidity cannot be smaller than 100%.   In my view, the reform of the real estate market, including the requirement for all real estate developers to adhere to the “three red lines,” is beneficial for the medium and long-term economic growth of China. Specifically, housing prices in Chinese cities will finally come under control, lessening the financial burden of Chinese people which will in turn lead to an increase in disposal income levels. We are witnessing the initial waves of “retaliatory consumption” right now. The real estate development industry, in my view, has disproportionally utilized social resources including capital and land that otherwise could be available for other economic activities. In the near future, I anticipate that small and medium-sized companies will be able to obtain more and cheaper capital from banks and financial institutions. Their successes (most new ideas and innovations come from small and medium-sized companies) will be instrumental to the next growth stage of development for China’s economy.
Businesses need to anticipate the direction of the implementation of the these policies, understand the rationale behind China the concept of “common prosperity.”

Xi warns of ‘Cold War’ divisions as US rebuilds alliances
Xi Jinping has warned Asia-Pacific leaders in opposition to becoming a member of Joe Biden’s plan to strengthen alliances to counter China’s financial and army rise.     The Chinese language president stated on Thursday that makes an attempt to “draw ideological traces” or to “kind small circles on geopolitical grounds” have been certain to fail.

Xi Jinping, speaking at APEC, pledges market reforms in bid to join Asia-Pacific trade bloc
Chinese leader says Beijing ‘will promote all-round opening-up of its agricultural and manufacturing sectors’, among other changes    China has applied to become part of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, which currently has 11 members

Behind the global supply chain crisis is a simple case of hubris
While many claim to have identified the reason for the logistical disruptions, the true cause is that most human of errors – believing the past will simply repeat itself   Because today’s supply chains are global, efficient and more perilously constituted than before, new risk mitigation systems are needed

China trade: US, Europe frozen seafood exports under threat as Dalian’s Covid-19 cases halt cold chain food trading
Dalian is a major hub for importing, processing and exporting frozen seafood, with Europe and the United States the main destinations      The move will increase the pressure on China’s battered food supply chains amid Beijing’s zero-tolerance approach to Covid-19

US trade chief Katherine Tai says getting ‘traction’ with China in phase one deal talks
The coming virtual summit between Biden and Xi will be helpful, but officials on both sides are working and ‘don’t need the Dads to come in’, she says    The US aims to hold Beijing accountable to the Trump-era agreement, Tai says, and is exploring all weaknesses in China’s performance

From three hundred to a few
Beijing wants to slash overcapacity in China’s electric car sector. Gregor Sebastian says consolidation will help the country’s major players and up the pressure on European ones. What China calls its new energy vehicle (NEV) sector is the world’s largest electric car market. But because it suffers from huge overcapacity and low profitability, it is a drag on China’s productivity and innovation capacity.According to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, at the end of 2020, the NEV industry was running plants at only 5 percent of capacity. It had the scope to produce 26.7 million NEVs, but sold only 1.4 million – and counted only 89 of as 300 NEV makers as actually making vehicles. Economies of scale are slight, margins often tiny – and so Beijing has a huge incentive to intervene. China tried to rein in overcapacity since 2017, but its resolve failed in April 2020. Fearing that the Covid-19 pandemic could be the downfall of its globally leading electric-car industry, Beijing eased market access for aspiring NEV makers. The sector has emerged from the pandemic stronger than before: 12 percent of new cars sold in so far in 2021 have been electric and China is on track to hit its 2025 target of 20 percent. The brands BYD and NIO are thriving and a new go at consolidation could help them cement their leading positions.   But this is not necessarily all bad news for Europe. Stronger Chinese NEV makers will emerge and also establish themselves in Europe. South Korean and Japanese carmakers entered global markets a generation ago, now Chinese electric carmakers look set to follow suit, although ending overcapacity shows they don’t intend to flood Europe with underpriced cars. European rivals, increasingly dependent on China for sales and R&D, will lose market share at home and cut investments in the region. But Chinese companies will bring high-quality products and new competition to Europe – and eventually also investment of their own.

China’s top import fair reports first contraction since debut in 2018 as slowing economy, Covid-19 hits deal-making
Chinese companies bought US$70.7 billion worth of goods during the CIIE, 2.6 per cent lower compared with last year’s US$72.62 billion, organiser says      A record number of exhibitors from 127 countries and regions took part, while the number of visitors jumped 20 per cent year on year to 480,000

Evergrande averts default as it pays overdue interest but faces deadline on another US$366 million before year-end
World’s most indebted developer has avoided default with last-minute payments on overdue coupons, according to people familiar with the matter    Evergrande has eye-popping US$308 billion in total liabilities

Tencent says it has the technology to build the metaverse and Beijing does not oppose the concept
The company can approach the metaverse through its video game and social networking businesses, according to Tencent president Martin Lau   The last time a Tencent executive publicly spoke about the metaverse was at the company’s annual video gaming conference in May

China’s €4 billion bonds snapped up as limited supply draws strong response from Europe, Middle East
Issuance, which follows US$4 billion dollar note sold last month, underlines Beijing’s commitment to the further development of its offshore bond market, bankers say   Bond ‘effectively lays the ground’ for other Chinese corporate issuers to target Euro-based investors as well   “Despite the three-year tranche being issued at a negative yield, its bond yield still has a 50 basis points premium compared to the German bond of the same maturity and, therefore, is still attractive for Euro-based investors,” said Zhang Xing, managing director and Hong Kong head of fixed income and investment banking at China International Capital Corporation, a joint lead manager of the deal.   The €1.5 billion seven-year bond was issued at 20 basis points above the mid swap rate, while the €1 billion 12-year bond was priced at 52 basis points above the mid swap rate, bankers said. By maintaining its presence in the euro bond market, bankers said the Ministry of Finance was deepening and expanding its connection with the euro investor base, as seen by the fact that new investors have bid for this week’s issuance. “Through the issuance, the Ministry of Finance can also maintain its dialogue with international investors, and convey to them that the Chinese economy has been steadily recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic,” Zhang said. China’s economy grew at 4.9 per cent year on year in the third quarter, missing market expectations and down from the 7.9 per cent recorded in the second quarter. The government has set a target of “above” 6 per cent for the whole of 2021. With such regular, annual issuances at various tenors, the government has built a comprehensive and liquid fundraising benchmark for other Chinese issuers, such as companies, to tap the euro bond market, bankers said. Year to date, Chinese companies have raised an equivalent of US$7.5 billion in euro-denominated bonds over 18 issuances, with the value up 40 per cent compared to the same period a year ago, data from Refinitiv shows. “We believe the euro capital market still has significant untapped potential,” said Credit Agricole’s Cretot.

Can H&M regain the Chinese market after boycotts over Xinjiang cotton comments?
The Swedish fast-fashion giant H&M has made its debut on fourth China’s International Import Expo, appearing to have walked out the haze of the consumer backlash over its earlier statement of alleged use of forced labour in cotton production in Xinjiang.   The annual event, which runs for six days this year, is held at Shanghai’s National Exhibition and Convention Centre and concludes on 10 November. Over 3,000 exhibitors from across 127 countries and regions have signed up, including leading global luxury brands, such as Estee Lauder and L’Oreal, with newcomer Burberry joining this year.  Under the theme of “Pioneering Innovation in Fashion”, H&M  has leveraged green business practice, showcasing breakthroughs in sustainable high-tech fabrics in a 600-square-metre pavilion. Analysis has indicated that this engagement is an attempt by H&M in order to make a comeback to the lucrative Chinese market, as hinted by the company soon after the Chinese boycott.Following the Xinjiang cotton row, H&M published its statement on China, “China is a very important market to us and our long-term commitment to the country remains strong”. It then added that the company is now building “forward-looking” strategies, with the retailer vowing to “regain the trust and confidence” of its customers in China. The first appearance of this controversial brand on one of the significant events for international businesses is believed to help break the cloud of the company’s scandals around several fines by Chinese authorities, including twice for “false advertisement” and five times for selling products that do not meet the country’s quality standard.

The Saudis are betting on China, amid doubts about Biden
Karen Elliott House, writing in The Wall Street Journal, reports that Saudi Arabia is moving away from the United States and heading towards Red China. “Call it, we are doing it with China,” says a senior Saudi adviser, who labels China “a strategic partner”.

Blinken says US and allies would ‘take action’ if Taiwan were attacked
Secretary of State does not specify what form a response would take if Beijing used force to alter status quo     His remarks follow last month’s comments by US President Joe Biden which appeared to depart from long-standing ‘strategic ambiguity’ policy

Beijing urges Tokyo not to ‘complicate the situation’ in East China Sea
Japanese official raised concerns over ‘increasing military activities’ in talks with Chinese counterpart   The two nations have a long-running territorial dispute over a group of uninhabited islands

Asia must examine costs of involvement if China invades Taiwan
Cool analysis of consequences needed for countries to make correct moves  As Asia struggles to grapple with the impact of a possible annexation of Taiwan by China, Japan as a regional leader faces its own nightmares should that scenario unfold. But all nations must count the costs of involving themselves in a conflict if such a situation occurs.   This will be a nightmare for Japan. Yet, Japan needs to analyze the pros and cons of a China-led world before it makes any moves. If war breaks out in the Taiwan Strait, Japan will fall into the combat theater. It may suffer much greater damage if it is directly involved in the fight. While it is critical for Japan to maintain its current strong alliances, the country must also examine the price of involvement in any possible conflict.    It is important for Japan and other countries concerned to scrutinize two things without emotion: first, the serious risks of getting involved militarily; and second, the extremely negative consequences of a Taiwan annexation.   Only then can we reach a correct answer to the questions of what and how far countries should get involved in case of a war in the Taiwan Strait.

China-India border dispute: defence chief says Beijing is New Delhi’s ‘biggest security threat’
General Bipin Rawat said growing ‘suspicion’ is coming in the way of resolving the border row between the nuclear-armed neighbours     He added India is ‘prepared for any misadventure along the Himalayan frontier and in the sea’

Where Brookings experts read about China
As U.S.-China tensions rise and news and developments regarding the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and U.S.-China relations are never far from the headlines, the interest in and necessity to better understand China and the Chinese government’s perspective continues to increase. Below, Brookings experts offer recommendations and thoughts on where to find official Chinese government documents, in Chinese and English, as well as reliable information and analysis on Beijing’s perspectives and policies, and what they read to gain insight into contemporary China.

The non-zero cost of zero-covid
FDI in China has remained strong so far, thanks to the early recovery of the economy from the pandemic. And few multinationals leave. Some foreign companies may even locate operations outside of China to continue doing business there. Companies are “shutting the shutters,” according to the European Union Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, bringing more of their supply chain ashore due to geopolitical tensions, Covid restrictions and new laws limiting data sharing across borders. “Companies can be forced to have two different systems: one for China and one for the rest of the world,” said Bettina Schön, vice president of the chamber. “This is going to be terribly expensive.” It’s not that the world is leaving China; more that China is becoming a world unto itself

China’s ‘Zero Covid’ Efforts Come With a Cost
China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, said this week that the country had “overcome the impact of Covid-19.” In propaganda messaging from a major party meeting, Communist Party leaders touted the successes of their response in saving lives while playing down the huge social and economic cost of those measures.
Government officials have defended their approach, saying that it is “low cost” and has allowed the country to recover from the pandemic faster than others. So far, caseloads remain low. Officials have reported 1,280 in the current outbreak that began in mid-October.  But the limits have costs. In the case of new scrutiny on imports, scientists widely believe that they will do little to keep people from getting infected. Amid a fresh Covid-19 outbreak in the port city of Dalian, Chinese officials this week ordered businesses there that use imported frozen foods to stop their operations.  In a neighboring Hebei Province, officials tested hundreds of packages after several workers at a children’s clothing factory were found to have Covid-19. In Guangxi, a province 1,200 miles to the south of Hebei, officials went even further, testing every person who had touched or even received a package from the factory.  The strategy could face a significant challenge as China prepares to host athletes and visitors for the Winter Olympics, which will be held in Beijing in February.  Organizers have said the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games will take place in a bubble in which athletes, broadcasters and journalists will be required to stay. Already, two foreign Olympic athletes who are in the country for related events have tested positive for Covid-19, Reuters reported on Friday

Coronavirus: Beijing seals off mall and housing compounds over virus outbreak
Six new cases found in central districts of Chaoyang and Haidian on Thursday, all close contacts of recent infections in Jilin province     Tens of thousands of residents have been locked down and are undergoing mandatory testing

Coronavirus: China’s top disease expert lays down conditions for post-pandemic normal
Limits on fatality rate and transmissions are key, Zhong Nanshan says, but first there must be herd immunity, effective drugs and no let-ups in epidemic control    Virologist in Hong Kong voices doubts about the feasibility of that plan of action, whether for the city or mainland China    What [Zhong] said is not achievable because, in China, the efficacy of the Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines are still questionable,” Jin said, referring to the two commonly administered shots in the mainland.
“Whether herd immunity can ever be built with these vaccines is questionable, and one opinion is that, even if every eligible person is inoculated with Sinopharm or Sinovac, herd immunity cannot be built or is insufficient. That’s one concern.”   Current Covid-19 vaccines work well at preventing severe illness and deaths but not so much at blocking transmission of the virus. While some countries, such as China, have started to provide booster shots, others, mostly developing countries, have yet to inoculate most of their population.    Zhong’s other criterion, a low case fatality rate, had already been achieved in areas where the vaccination rates were high, Jin said.   “Case fatality of Delta variants for vaccinated people in the UK is very low,” Jin said. “It is 0.14 to 0.18 per cent, by different calculations.”  The figures in Hong Kong and Singapore, where 66 and 85 per cent of the population, respectively, had been fully vaccinated, were low as well, he noted.   But the data from mainland China was difficult to calculate because many cases were asymptomatic or mild and there had been far fewer outbreaks than in other countries, Jin pointed out.   “You can’t just divide the number of deaths with the number of cases in the world because a lot of cases are undiagnosed and the rate is inflated.

Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai disappeared after accusing senior official of rape
A week after tennis player Peng Shuai, 35, was told in detail about her rape by former Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, 75, the young woman is missing. The champion, who notably won Roland-Garros in doubles in 2014, accused, on November 2, the ex-leader of having forced her to have sex three years ago.

Best Behaviors: Breaking Down China’s ‘Moral Models’
Sixth Tone analyzed 483 national-level “moral models” from the past 14 years to learn what — and who — the country deems award-worthy.   Moving away from gender, although China may be increasingly urban, villagers still account for a greater percentage of moral models than any other group. Meanwhile, the private sector and government accounted for roughly equal numbers of moral models. Professionals such as scientists, engineers, lawyers, and journalists accounted for another 13%.

Can China’s Other National Drink Make a Comeback?
For thousands of years, a kind of wine known as “huangjiu” was the default drink of choice for most well-to-do Chinese. Then came the baijiu revolution

How China’s ‘leftover women’ are using their financial power to fight the stigma of being single
The 7 million single women aged 25 to 34 in urban China are among the largest contributors to the country’s growth. Women now contribute some 41% to China’s GDP, the largest proportion of any country in the world.  And our research reveals that single professional Chinese women are changing how others see them not through protest or activism – but through their economic power. They are using consumerism to counteract longstanding stigma over their single status. Through conspicuous consumption, they promote themselves as morally upright, economically independent, successful citizens. The women in our study are deploying the power of the market to counteract the “sheng-nu” stigma and its spread. As another woman commented: “Single women really should go out more, especially when they are not bound by family life. Go out and see new scenery, experience a new life. You might realise there is another possibility to live.”  Despite its rise in contemporary China and Hong Kong, the act of protesting can lead to imprisonment and severe consequences. For stigmatised “sheng-nu” women, direct confrontation in the form of social activism could lead to serious professional or legal consequences.   Instead, consumption and economic power has become a way for these women to build legitimacy for an alternative lifestyle. Their struggle pits the modernising and global power of the contemporary market against the traditional cultural authority and media power of China’s modern party state. And in a surprising turn of events, it looks like the single women are winning.

Alain Gillard
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