Belgian-Chinese Chamber of Commerce (BCECC)

China Press Review – November 3, 2021

RCEP trade deal reaches ‘milestone’ after ratification by Australia and New Zealand, will take effect in January
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade agreement will take effect at the start of January     RCEP groups the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) plus Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

World’s biggest trade deal RCEP to take effect in Jan. 1
Asia-focused pact covers 30% of global population and GDPThe world’s biggest free trade agreement is set to take effect on Jan. 1, slashing tariffs for countries including Japan, China and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. New Zealand Trade Minister Phil Twyford on Wednesday said his country had completed ratification of the the 15-nation Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, following Australia. Bringing together $25 trillion in economic output, the supersized trade pact covers roughly 30% of global gross domestic product, population and trade — more than the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. Once RCEP takes effect, participants will immediately either scrap or lower tariffs on a wide range of items from where they were in 2014, when negotiations began. Overall, the pact will eventually eliminate tariffs on 91% of all industrial goods within the framework. The CPTPP eliminates 99.9% of tariffs. Japan’s government estimates that RCEP will lift Japanese GDP by about 2.7% through higher exports. Because many tariffs will be phased out gradually under RCEP, it will take time for the pact to have a full impact on regional trade. RCEP will also set bloc-wide standards for about 20 different fields including intellectual property. It will require members to allow free data flows across borders, and ban them from forcing companies to set up local servers. India participated in the RCEP negotiations from the start but withdrew before their conclusion. Japan had hoped India would serve as a counterbalance against China. “China is ready to work with all parties to push for the early entry into force and implementation of the RCEP to yield dividends as soon as possible, and promote regional economic integration and long-term prosperity and stability,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters Wednesday. China in September applied to join the CPTPP. “Chinese compliance on RCEP will be one of the tools we can use to weigh its membership in CPTPP,” a Japanese trade negotiator told Nikkei Wednesday.

China and the United States can play a positive-sum game on the CPTPP
China’s application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is prompting domestic and international discussion. People are asking questions about Beijing’s motivations, the obstacles China must overcome before ascension and the entry requirements it must meet to gain membership.

China’s services sector activity expands at faster pace due to rising demand, but inflation pressures loom
Caixin/Markit services purchasing managers’ index (PMI) rose to 53.8 from 53.4 in October   On Sunday, China’s official non-manufacturing PMI fell to 52.4 in October from 53.2 in September     However, persistent inflationary pressures and concerns about supply chains drove business confidence to the lowest in four months, the survey showed.   “Supply and demand recovery both retained momentum. Employment was more or less stable. Gauges for prices were high,” said Wang Zhe, senior economist at Caixin Insight Group.   “Policymakers should not only take effective measures to stabilise commodity supplies and prices, but also pay close attention to downstream firms, especially small and midsize ones.”

Why the wind behind the Chinese yuan’s strength is likely to die down in 2022
As yield differentials that previously favoured the yuan narrow, the currency market might see more reasons to favour countries such as the US that have tightened monetary policy, and, by extension, fewer reasons to hold the renminbi

China must ease small firms’ tax burden amid ‘downward pressure’ on the economy, says Premier Li Keqiang
Premier Li Keqiang says new policies are needed to offset the difficulties facing market entities, particularly small firms     Vice-Premier Han Zheng in a speech reiterated local authorities must shore up energy supply this winter and spring

China ministry orders 38 apps to rectify excessive collection of personal data
China’s government on Wednesday (Nov 3) ordered 38 apps from a number of companies including social media giant Tencent to rectify what it called the excessive collection of personal information. The order marks the latest move in a continuing regulatory crackdown in China across a range of sectors, and arrives days after China’s Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL), a sweeping ordinance dictating online privacy practices, went into full effect.

Beijing orders fresh batch of apps, including some run by Tencent and Alibaba, to rectify violations as regulatory crackdown continues
MIIT also called out other popular apps, including Xiaohongshu and online dating app Tantan, for over-collecting user data    The naming and shaming of this latest batch of apps comes just days after China rolled out its new Personal Information Protection Law    China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has ordered 38 apps, including news and music services apps run by Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings, as well as popular social media platforms such as Xiaohongshu, to rectify violations related to excessive data collection and publishing misleading information, as Chinese authorities maintain a regulatory crackdown.   Tencent’s online music streaming app QQ Music was named by MIIT as having collected excessive personal information, while Tencent News and the company’s karaoke app WeSing were both found to have misled or deceived users, the ministry said in an announcement on Wednesday.  The lite version for UC Browser, operated by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding, was also found to have deceived or misled users, and failed to clearly display information in the app store, according to the ministry. Alibaba is the parent company of the South China Morning Post.  MIIT has also called out other popular apps, including Xiaohongshu and online dating app Tantan, for over-collecting user data, while van delivery app Huolala was found to have “forcibly or frequently requested authorisation” from users.     Beijing has been working overtime to stamp out personal privacy breaches in the world’s largest internet market, with about 1 billion users. The MIIT also rolled its new regulations on May 1, which hold application providers accountable for collecting what it calls “excessive” user data unrelated to their core services, and forcing users to give uninformed consent to how their data is used.     The regulations on necessary personal information for mobile internet applications cover the basic functions and services for 39 app categories, including messaging, online shopping, payments, ride hailing, short video, live streaming and mobile games.

Tencent launches three self-designed chips in expansion drive, helping boost China’s semiconductor development efforts
Tencent unveiled on Wednesday its Zixiao artificial intelligence chip, Canghai video transcoding device and Xuanling network interface controller   The internet giant’s semiconductor launch followed Alibaba’s introduction of its own self-designed Yitian 710 chip in October

Chinese insurers Ping An, PICC lag in global coal exit ranking, which looks at investments and underwriting
A global ranking finds Chinese insurers such as Ping An and PICC score lowly when it comes to exiting insurance cover for coal businesses n      Insured losses from natural disasters reached US$42 billion in first half, highlighting costs of not making progress on global warming targets, study says

Consumers in China pick their 3 favorite electric cars — and only one is Chinese
Among the favorite EV brands in China are one from China, one from the United States and one from Germany.  This year’s survey covered about 1,600 Chinese consumers mostly living in China’s larger cities, with an average age of 32 and monthly income of about 19,000 yuan ($2,969).  Across cars of all categories, premium German brands ranked first, followed by Japanese brands and then Chinese brands including BYD and Geely, the report said.

The strange saga of China’s Huawei
You might only be vaguely familiar with Huawei, the large Chinese technology company that has been in the crosshairs of the United States.

Why it took months to get electronics from China to the U.S.
Americans are being warned to finish their holiday shopping early this year, as the global supply chain continues to falter. With a shortage of containers, ships and power creating snags, CBS News decided to track a pair of high-performance speakers as they journeyed from the manufacturing metropolis of Guangzhou, China, to the U.S.

Climate change: new global sustainability body will improve ESG disclosures, help Hong Kong’s carbon trading ambition
The International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) will be formed to develop global standards on sustainability reporting by June next year     Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said last month the government was assessing the feasibility of developing the city into a regional carbon trading centre

Evergrande: the bond and interest payment deadlines to watch
Evergrande faces rising compensation stress on its dollar-denominated bonds within the coming months, regardless of making a number of last-minute transfers in October that allowed the closely indebted Chinese language property firm to narrowly keep away from a default.       Traders and world markets will likely be awaiting clues as to the eventual destiny of the world’s most indebted property developer, which faces $8.1bn in curiosity and principal funds on its offshore bonds earlier than the top of 2022 and has a whole lot of initiatives throughout China.

China’s ‘unprecedented’ crackdown stunned private enterprise. One year on, it may have to cut business some slack
In August, the party’s top leaders unveiled a major policy blueprint for the next five years, in which they pledged to strengthen regulations on tech, financial services, education, and tutoring firms — areas of what they called “vital interest.” But other factors might force the government to slow the pace and scale at which it is trying to transform private enterprise.The world’s second largest economy has encountered a slew of challenges that are weighing heavily on economic growth, including disruptions due to the global shipping crisis, a massive energy crunch and concerns about a debt crisis in real estate. Last quarter marked the slowest pace of GDP growth in a year. The crackdown on tech and education firms hasn’t helped, with demands for rapid change resulting in job losses and a drag on retail sales.  “My prediction: The ‘crackdown’ is going to stop now,” Guthrie said.”The Xi administration is very committed to economic growth,” he added. “They have made their point about the coordination between the government and the private sector. But they know they need an entrepreneurial private sector to continue to drive China’s growth.”There has been some indication that the regulatory push is slowing down. Guo Shuqing, chairman of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, told state broadcaster CCTV last month that the new regulations for financial tech firms have “yielded initial results.” He said he expects to achieve “even more significant progress” before the end of the year. Even Ma is reportedly turning up in public again. Reuters reported last month that the tech billionaire was spotted on a cruise in Spain, his first trip outside China since the crackdown began. The government wants companies to understand that they need to be in “lock step” with authorities, said Guthrie, who added that “no one gets to think of themselves as bigger or more global than the Chinese government.”  But he acknowledged that Beijing knows it needs Chinese tech to flourish.

COP26: China optimistic on climate markets deal after ‘wasted’ years
Hard work needed to catch up after the US under Donald Trump ‘gave up’ on 2015 Paris Agreement, says top Chinese climate negotiator Xie Zhenhua   Despite US-China tensions, he says he expects a deal on a global carbon market that could yield huge investments in projects to combat climate change

Xi Jinping makes ‘big mistake’ by not showing up at COP26, says Biden
Xi provided a brief statement to the COP26 conference on Monday instead of attending in person or pre-recording a video address     Boris Johnson argues Xi’s absence does not mean that Beijing is ‘not engaging’ and says the delegation China has sent is ‘very high level’

COP26: China urges US to look at its own record on climate action after Biden condemns Xi’s absence
China’s ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun says countries needed to make ‘firm commitment and continued actions’ in tackling climate change     Criticism levelled at China includes that President Xi has not shown up at Glasgow summit and a reluctance by Beijing to embrace more ambitious climate targets

China’s quick way of going green: cutting production to cut emissions
The country’s energy-intensive industries have been told to cut output. Alexander Brown says this shows Beijing’s climate pledges are no empty talk, though fulfilling them will be tricky.

The Politics of Taiwan’s Environmental Policy
Environmental issues have primarily been caught in the contest between the pan-Blue and pan-Green camps, as is the case with many political issues in Taiwan    A relatively unremarked upon subtext to the energy debate in Taiwan is the question of China. While the DPP may have opposed the construction of the LNG terminal and nuclear energy when serving as the opposition, part of their reason for reversing course on the LNG terminal and allowing for some nuclear reactor restarts may be due to security concerns.    Namely, the LNG terminal would prove significant for Taiwan’s natural gas reserves in the event of a Chinese invasion or blockade that cuts off supplies of coal and natural gas. A nuclear reactor can also be spun up relatively quickly compared to a natural gas plant or peaker coal plant in the event of sudden energy needs. But, for the most part, this has not entered the debate vis-à-vis the effects on the environment and Taiwan’s contemporary energy needs

Beijing’s tech crackdown on ideological misalignment and drivers of inequality
China is tackling what it sees as the worst effects of its assertive capitalists, says Alexander Mac Dábhaidh. But it might take more to close the growing rich-poor divide.   China’s crackdown on its internet companies can be seen as a reaction to two symptoms of what the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) takes to be unfettered capitalism: growing alternative power bases and an increasing divide between rich and poor. Until recently, allowing some people to get rich first over everyone “getting rich together,” as Deng Xiaoping put it, was tolerated in the name of economic growth. But now the party has changed tack and is rooting out ideological misalignment and drivers of inequality in China’s internet sector. But it will find the economy’s now unwanted side effects hard to eradicate.

US stepping up operations in South China Sea, researchers say
Think tank says the US is carrying out dozens of reconnaissance flights each month and there has also been an upsurge in naval activity    Number of operations means there is an urgent need for a code of conduct to avoid accidents, according to one analyst    Washington said those operations are necessary to ensure navigational freedom in the disputed waters, but Beijing said they are a violation of its sovereignty.    Wu said as both China and the US have used more submarines and underwater drones, it is important to include those weapons in the code for unplanned encounters at sea.    “This is an urgent need to establish rules that include air, surface, and underwater, including conventional submarines, nuclear submarines, and unmanned submarines, otherwise there will be accidents in the South China Sea,” he said.

China’s common prosperity push may force Japanese businesses to ‘reconsider investment strategy’
Common prosperity is central to promoting well-being as China strives to achieve its second centenary goal of fully building a modern socialist country     But Japanese businesspeople working in China say they have been disappointed with Beijing’s current policy direction, which might stifle spending and investment

European lawmakers arrive in Taiwan ‘to offer support for our friends’
First official European Parliament delegation to visit the island expected to meet president, premier and other senior officials      Cybersecurity, disinformation and challenges to democracy on the agenda during three-day trip that has angered Beijing

China’s response to anti-Chinese rhetoric from European Parliament members will gradually weaken
Regardless of the actual relationship between European countries and China, many members of the European Parliament are destined to hold an anti-China stance, and their influence is far less than the tough personas they portray.

Why China is cracking down on its online fandom obsessed youth
Despite all the chatter in the official state media about the “chaos” of fandoms, the push to make China’s internet giants to give back, the need to safeguard data privacy and official morality, and so on, the most fundamental driver behind wave after wave of new internet restrictions this year has been far more basic: the need for the Chinese Communist Party and its charismatic leader to shore up the foundation for political and ideological stability. On Aug. 24, just three days before the Cybersecurity Advisory Committee issued its new regulations on fandom culture, China’s Ministry of Education announced that the study of Xi Jinping’s personal governing concept will be incorporated into the official education curriculum, helping China’s youth “build faith in Marxism.” Primary school children in China—now restricted to their two hours of online gaming per week—will now also be obligated to study not just the governing concepts of Xi Jinping, but to study and internalize the stories of Xi’s life and deeds. The country’s leaders may decry a commercial internet culture in which everyone is “striving for eyeballs.” But the fundamental point here is that the Party too is striving for eyeballs. And its future, it knows, will depend on China’s obsessed youth.

Chinese Scientist Floats Idea of Harvesting Power From Ocean Waves
Research is currently underway on the technology that could provide an affordable and uninterrupted power supply.

China population: province may offer year of maternity leave in bid to reverse dramatic decline in births
China announced in May that married couples may have up to three children, after data showed a dramatic decline in births in the world’s most populous country   China’s census showed that the overall population reached 1.412 billion last year, but the number of new births fell for a fourth consecutive year to 12 million

World Economic Forum Postpones Event In Chinese City Due To COVID-19
The World Economic Forum event was scheduled to be held in the Chinese city of Tianjin where new locally transmitted cases hit a near three-month high.

What next for China’s zero-Covid strategy, as herd immunity hopes face Delta hurdle?
The more contagious variant and waning vaccine protection mean herd immunity and a return to pre-pandemic normalcy remain out of reach    But even as other nations in the region choose to live with the virus, China is holding fast to its no-tolerance policy

Departing US business chiefs warn of expat exodus from China
Companies blame tough travel restrictions that have hit families for difficulties in retaining staff  Chinese officials in August cited a rule whereby each country can have only a single registered chamber to justify the closure.    The US state department described the move as “only the latest example” of how China’s “opaque, arbitrary regulatory environment is contributing to an investment climate that is increasingly hostile towards foreign businesses”.

Patriotism gone awry: China’s fragile ‘little pinks’ are on a dangerous Trump-like warpath
Beijing’s online defenders appear wholly committed to the nation but are damaging China’s image, harming its interests and causing divisions    Their latest target is rapper Namewee and his viral hit ‘Fragile’, but the behaviour it lampoons should give them and officials pause to reflect, not rage

Incoterms 2020: Simple Rules of Thumb To Pick the Right Term
Clients often ask us what their incoterm options are when it comes to shipping by sea. Our typical answer is “most buyers go for FOB, so that’s probably what you want to do”. But that’s a bit short. Let’s look in more detail at how to select the right option for our needs from all the Incoterms 2020 list.

Alain Gillard
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