Belgian-Chinese Chamber of Commerce (BCECC)

China Press Review – September 1, 2021

Explaining the globalist dimensions of Chinese nationalism
Some scholars have argued that China’s economic opening-up was a result of Chinese leaders’ acceptance of neoliberalism. But unlike neoliberal economists who consider economic openness as a goal itself, Chinese leaders treated economic openness as a strategic means to achieve domestic goals.  Certainly, participation in globalisation has not always benefited China. It has often led to economic crises at home. The reason Chinese reformist leaders are still enthusiastic about economic globalisation, according to Min Ye, is that Chinese state leaders find globalisation to be an effective solution to various recurrent domestic economic and political problems. In particular, the nationalist narratives used by the central government to mobilise different sectors and players to participate in their proposed global strategies are effective in solidifying the central government’s authority under China’s fragmented political system.  At different moments of crisis, Chinese reformist leaders have successively launched global strategies, such as the most recent Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). In contrast to previous global strategies like the ‘going out strategy’, the BRI appears to be more proactive, intending to provide alternatives to the existing international system.   Meanwhile, the ‘Action Plan on the Belt and Road Initiative’ confirms that, with its unprecedented size and influence, the BRI intends to deepen China’s opening-up and lay the ground for new models of international cooperation and global governance. In this sense, China’s recent global strategies are the expressions of Chinese leaders’ nationalist aspirations to restore the country’s place at the centre of the world.

China’s economic recovery continues to stall as factory activity contracts for first time since April 2020
The Caixin/Markit manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) fell to 49.2 in August from 50.3 in July     In data released on Tuesday, China’s official manufacturing PMI dropped to 50.1 in August from 50.4 in July

China’s bumper harvest may cool corn-buying binge, impact progress of US trade deal
China’s agricultural imports have been closely watched by investors and businesses tracking the progress of the trade deal with the United States     China has imported about 23 million tonnes in the 2020-21 marketing year, close to US Department of Agriculture’s forecast of 26 million tonnes  High corn prices have spurred Chinese farmers to switch away from soybean planting in the northeast, so there should be increased corn production this year, Friedrichs said.    Additionally, there are problems with China’s wheat quality due to bad weather. While that wheat cannot be used for food, it can be used for animal feed, further reducing corn demand.   “The market is bifurcated – China’s diet is becoming more Western, and that creates a supply deficit for high-quality wheat,” Friedrichs said.  “China will likely import relatively large amounts of wheat this year to help supplement the stocks of high-quality wheat.”

Explainer | What China’s new data laws are and their impact on Big Tech
The Data Security Law and Personal Information Protection Law passed this year will make it even more costly for companies to store Chinese user data overseas      The new rules come into effect amid a broad cybersecurity crackdown that started with Didi Chuxing but is now affecting the entire online platform economy

China’s Big Tech answers Xi’s call for ‘common prosperity’ as Tencent, Meituan and Pinduoduo launch new initiatives
China’s biggest tech giants are answering Beijing’s call to help reduce the wealth gap by adding new initiatives to other recent philanthropic efforts     Entrepreneurs have shunned the spotlight and given away more money this year as Beijing widened a crackdown on the tech sector

China proposes e-commerce reform
China’s market regulator has proposed amendments to the country’s e-commerce law, saying licences can be revoked if platforms fail to take necessary measures against vendors who infringe intellectual property rights. The amendments are open for public review before October 14, an article published by the State Administration of Market Regulation website yesterday said. China has been tightening regulatory control over the country’s Internet giants, drafting new laws in areas such as anti-monopoly and data security. The licence revocations are new. And the proposed amendment retains an existing maximum penalty of a 2-million-yuan (US$309,520) fine for less serious infringements. China’s largest e-commerce platforms include Alibaba’s Taobao and Tmall marketplaces, and Pinduoduo

China’s leader Xi calls for more rules against monopolies, unfair competition
Chinese leader Xi Jinping called for the strengthening of rules against monopolies and unfair competition at a meeting of the Central Committee for Deepening Overall Reform on Monday, according to the state-run Xinhua News Agency, reported by Caixin.     Besides toughened rules, the stringent implementation of anti-monopoly and fair competition policies is an “inherent requirement for improving the socialist market economic system,” Xi was quoted as saying. He said that the country should form an environment of fair competition to create more room for small and medium-sized enterprises and better protect consumers’ rights, while promoting high-quality development and common prosperity

Chinese tech stock recovery builds on valuations and flow support while regulatory doubt persists
Hang Seng Tech Index has recovered about 13 per cent from its August low on valuations and technical appeal     The rebound may look like past fleeting episodes following policy-triggered market riots in 2015 and 2018, according to BCA Research

China’s 2021 internet sector in 5 snapshots, from tighter regulations to bumpy IPOs and shifting demographics
China’s bitcoin crackdown is one of the major trends of 2021 identified in the 138-page report about the world’s largest technology and internet market    Besides bitcoin, China has also placed data security and market dominance under tight regulatory scrutiny

Tencent, NetEase among gaming giants rushing to comply with Beijing’s three-hour weekly time restriction for kids
Tencent rolled out an update to Honour of Kings to comply with the new rule, while its esports arm TJ Sports said it would overhaul its tournaments    At least 41 Chinese game developers have publicly supported the new rule limiting kids to playing video games for just three hours a week, says industry body  The impact of the unprecedented measure on company revenues may be limited. Tencent said that players under 16 accounted for just 2.6 per cent of its gross gaming receipts in China. Both NetEase and Bilibili said minors contributed around 1 per cent of the company’s gaming revenue. Still, as the market becomes more regulated and competitive at home, Chinese gaming companies are busy seeking growth outside the country, a phenomenon known as chuhai, or “going overseas”. Charles Zhaoxuan Yang, chief financial officer of China’s second largest gaming company, NetEase, said on Tuesday that NetEase has already set up gaming studios in Canada, Japan and Europe to develop games.
Tencent has also been expanding rapidly overseas, setting up studios in Montreal, Los Angeles and Seattle.

An assertive trade policy: EU’s defence measures against unfair trade practices remained effective in 2020
The system for protecting EU businesses from dumped and subsidised imports continued to function well in 2020 thanks to the EU’s robust and innovative ways of using trade defence instruments (TDI), despite the practical challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is part of the European Commission’s new trade strategy, whereby the EU takes a more assertive stance in defending its interests against unfair trade practices.   The highest number of EU trade defence measures concerns imports from China (99 measures)

Tencent ends exclusive music partnerships, bowing to regulators as rivals NetEase and Kuaishou jump in
Tencent Music said its exclusive licensing deals with labels had come to an end as of August 23, as ordered by China’s antitrust watchdog     Short video app Kuaishou struck a new deal with Warner Music this week, and music streaming rival NetEase also welcomed the move

Why Meituan remains wedded to community group buying despite mounting losses and rising regulatory heat
Hailed by tech companies as a way to cut out the middleman, community group buying has all the hallmarks of ‘blitzscaling’     Meituan’s CEO has repeatedly warned investors of more losses to come in the next quarter as it continues to invest in the sector to seize market share

Tycoon makes executives sign pledges to assure buyers that Evergrande can deliver homes even with US$305 billion of debt
Hui Ka-yan appeared in the centre of a photograph with Evergrande’s senior executives to sign a guarantee to deliver the company’s projects to customers     The signing of the delivery pledge was linked with a dozen of Evergrande’s offices across mainland China   Evergrande is rushing to sell assets to repair its balance sheet after years of rapid expansion, which saw it move into producing electric vehicles, property management and health care services. It even sponsors the Guangzhou Football Club in the Chinese Super League.    Evergrande has said previously it was in discussions with third parties to sell its stakes in its electric car and property management units.   It is also seeking to sell the 26-storey China Evergrande Centre in Wan Chai that serves as its Hong Kong headquarters to the Guangdong government-owned developer Yuexiu Property, Bloomberg reported last week.

China to rein in private equity funds
ILLICIT FUNDRAISING: The regulator vowed to crack down on ‘fake’ private equity funds that are sold to the general public instead of targeted investors, an official said

China’s ‘revolution’ cost investors $3 trillion. So why aren’t they running scared?
Heavyweight global investment firms are sticking with China despite a sweeping crackdown on business by the ruling Communist Party that has wiped $3 trillion off the market value of the country’s biggest companies.   Even as authorities rip up the status quo for tech, education and other private enterprise, drawing comparisons with Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution in the process, some of the biggest names in asset management say it’s still a good time to invest. They say recent regulatory moves were necessary and overdue, and China’s growth story remained attractive. “The case for China in the long-term is intact,” said Luca Paolini, chief strategist for Pictet Asset Management. The firm is an arm of Swiss private bank Pictet Group, which has $746 billion assets under management.

China shamed as 25 cities producing 52% of world’s greenhouse gas exposed
CHINA has been shamed after a study showed the 25 megacities that are responsible for producing 52% of all urban greenhouse gas emissions globally.

D&G Is Now Irrelevant In China
Dolce & Gabbana’s latest couture show in Venice barely made a whisper on Chinese social media. Has China’s anger at D&G turned into irrelevance? P

H&M fined for misleading customers in China
The Swedish multinational was ordered to pay over US$40,000 over adverts that claimed certain products were only available in China      The company came under fire earlier this year after it said it did not use cotton from Xinjiang

China-Europe rail delays as borders close and capacity gets ‘super-tight’
In-demand China-Europe rail freight could see a drastic 30% reduction in capacity in September from delays at Kazakhstan border crossings and congested European gateways. China-Europe rail volumes have been booming amid challenged air and ocean freight markets, clocking a massive 52% increase in first-half volumes, to 707,000 teu. Last month, there were 1,352 silk road trains, according to China Railway, up 8% year on year.“Trains planned to depart in August will be delayed to September, occupying next month’s slots. It is estimated that 30% of capacity will be cut for China-Europe blocktrains,” NSR said. And, noting the hamstrung ocean freight market and upcoming Golden Week holiday in China, NSR said rail freight space next month would be “super” tight, due to the reduced capacity and surging demand. “Rail operators have announced general rate increases (GRIs) of between $600 and $1,500 per 40ft container from 1 September, in parallel with rate spikes in the ocean freight market.”

Chinese shipping profits surge across industry on capacity squeeze
COSCO, Sinotrans and port operators ride high while airlines left behind   State-owned COSCO Shipping Holdings, the world’s third-largest maritime carrier by capacity, said first-half revenue grew 88% on year to 139.26 billion yuan ($21.5 billion) while net profits soared by a factor of 32 to reach 37.09 billion yuan Zhang vowed to “grasp this opportunity” for more cargo to be diverted to the company’s ports in the third quarter. Berths in Belgium and the Chinese city of Xiamen “have drastically increased the number of boxes and efficiency,” he said. The company owns a majority of the Belgian port of Zeebrugge and a minority stake in one at Antwerp. He also pledged to continue raising handling fees at his ports, where “we had great results in the first half and will proactively push forward this task in the second half.” Logistics service providers got their cut as well. Kerry Logistics Network’s revenue grew 68% to 36.7 billion Hong Kong dollars ($4.71 billion) while its bottom line more than tripled to HK$3.38 billion. “We are seeing ports all over the world having lockdowns and congestion,” Vic Cheung, executive director of the Hong Kong-based player, said in an online press briefing last week.    When the target ports are closed or clogged, “we would divert to other ports — wherever the nearest ports — to ship it out,” he said. “The reality is that we continue seeing challenges both at origins and destinations.”

AmCham Trying to Reopen in Southwest China After Abrupt Closure
An American chamber of commerce in the same Chinese city that saw a U.S. consulate closed amid tensions with the U.S. says it is working to restart operations after a sudden halt. AmCham Southwest was cooperating with the local government   The Chengdu-based organization that represents U.S. companies said in a message to members Monday that it would “stop its operations and will no longer carry out any activities in the name of the American Chamber of Commerce in Southwest China.”  The group may have stopped work because of government rules that would permit a single AmCham in China

China’s ‘Common Prosperity’ Pilot Zone
The campaign to spread wealth more evenly across the nation’s 1.4 billion people has sent shockwaves through the stock market and reshaped the business environment for big tech. But only diehard China watchers will have delved into the specific policies “Common Prosperity” entails.   For that granular view, Bloomberg’s China reporters looked at the coastal province of Zhejiang.  In June, the national government designated China’s third-richest province to pilot policies designed to reduce inequality, and in July, it released detailed targets.

Scientists in China ‘struggle to get instruments because of US export controls’
By December, the number of trade items on the US control list had grown to over 4,500 – including nearly 1,900 scientific instruments     None of the top 20 instrument makers in the world are Chinese, but Beijing encourages labs to use home-grown tech for the nation to be more self-reliant

China could soon overtake the US in low code adoption
The pandemic helped spur low code adoption

‘China is not the Soviet Union’ says Beijing’s envoy to Washington
Qin Gang urges an end to ‘cold war mentality’ and more communication to help the two sides handle differences constructively       ‘Extreme’ policy under Donald Trump caused serious damage to relations and the situation has not changed, he warns

China opts for optimism in 2021 Russian security strategy reading
A startling feature of the Russian Federation’s recently released National Security Strategy is the palpable lowering of the status of China. The reaction from official PRC outlets has, however, been to praise the Strategy for its turn towards the Asia-Pacific. MERICS European China Policy Fellow Una Aleksandra Bērziņa-Čerenkova explores the motivations behind China’s optimistic reading of the document.

Why Southeast Asian economic growth is safe from Covid-19 Delta ravages, for now
As long as government spending remains robust and monetary policies accommodative, the Delta outbreak in the region is unlikely to arrest its growth momentum     But if the pandemic is significantly prolonged, long-term economic scarring, as reflected in a rise in unemployment and poverty rates, is the more worrying danger

‘Spiral into crisis’: The U.S.-China military hotline is dangerously broken
The Pentagon just had its first virtual meeting with China’s military. But former officials warn the communications gap could lead to war.

South China Sea: Beijing’s foreign ships move ‘may go the same way as ADIZ’
A new requirement for foreign vessels entering Chinese waters to report ship and cargo information may be difficult to enforce, observers say     Countries contesting waters with China or challenging its claims are likely to disregard the regulation, they predict

Taiwan plans new defence agency to better prepare military reservists to step up in a war
Reserve force has been criticised for being unable to replace the regular force in the event of a conflict because of inadequate training    Defence ministry says PLA is a growing threat to the island given its capabilities in cyber and electronic warfare and communication jamming

Communist Party’s success is built on putting people first
The party’s confidence lies in the Chinese people’s support for their government, fostered over the years through policies that consistently put majority interests ahead of the few The alleviation of extreme poverty, the successful management of the pandemic and the pursuit now of the goal of common prosperity exemplify the party’s people-first approach

China’s amassing of genomic data highlights global biotech race
National security experts, biotech researchers, lawmakers are concerned about advances Beijing seeks to make in the life sciences realm

Communist Party’s success is built on putting people first
Commissioner Liu Guangyuan contributed an article to the South China Morning Post on September 1, 2021 entitled “Communist Party’s success is built on putting people first”. The article elaborates on the people-centered development philosophy of the Communist Party of China and the Chinese government from the perspectives of diplomacy, Covid-response and poverty alleviation. The article was also published on the website. The party’s confidence lies in the Chinese people’s support for their government, fostered over the years through policies that consistently put majority interests ahead of the few     The alleviation of extreme poverty, the successful management of the pandemic and the pursuit now of the goal of common prosperity exemplify the party’s people-first approach

China says nearly 180,000 cadres caught in blitz as Communist Party tightens grip
Almost 2,000 working in courts, prosecutors’ offices, prisons, police and national security have been charged over violations      The rest have been disciplined or reprimanded in what is seen as an effort to strengthen loyalty ahead of next year’s leadership reshuffle     Chen Yixin, secretary general of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission, the top agency in charge of law enforcement, said such violations by more senior cadres “often involved a mix of judicial corruption, political corruption and economic corruption”. Other offences included “minor corruption” such as interfering with cases, accepting meals from people involved in cases and neglecting to record case notes, said Chen, who heads the leading group.Separately, Dong Jingwei , vice-minister of state security, highlighted work in “non-traditional areas” of national security – including economic espionage, biosafety, and network and data security – during Monday’s update in Beijing. According to Wu from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, national security was mentioned despite the low number of cases in a bid to boost the perception that foreign countries wanted to jeopardise China. “They can say this is a crisis and therefore internal control can be tougher,” he said.  Wu said the campaign on party discipline and law was a way to strengthen loyalty ahead of next year’s leadership reshuffle, noting that it was headed by Chen, who worked under Xi when he was party chief of Zhejiang from 2002 to 2007.   “The general message [to cadres] is: you all need to be careful about your own career given that the party has such tight control,” Wu said.

Is China’s Entertainment Industry Having a Reckoning?
Authorities are targeting celebrities and their fan groups to curb issues ranging from tax evasion to backdoor finances.

Tintin’s worldwide capers splash down in Shanghai
Here is an ideal escape for parents seeking to relieve the tedium of the long summer vacation for their kids, when out-of-town travel is no longer the best option. The famed characters of “The Adventures of Tintin” are in Shanghai, making the Power Station of Art their home through the end of October on the fifth floor, with a huge terrace overlooking the Huangpu River. With incredible access to original sources from the Hergé Museum in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, the exhibition titled “Tintin and Hergé” celebrates cartoon art, which hadn’t been deemed a real art form in Hergé’s time. It is now “a full-fledged means of expression, like literature or cinema,” that has influenced many during their formative years. Hergé (1907-1983), the creator of the Tintin series – 24 albums over a span of 54 years – is the centerpiece of the celebration for his devotion to Tintin, storytelling talent and multifaceted life, which was dominated by significant events that defined the era, such as two world wars, space exploration, technological advances and post-war conflicts.

Alain Gillard
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