Belgian-Chinese Chamber of Commerce (BCECC)

China Press Review – September 6, 2021

Could China’s Crackdown Be a Second Cultural Revolution?
Xi’s revolution is top-down: the very last thing he desires is chaos on the streets. What does he intend, then? As my Bloomberg colleague Malcolm Scott experiences, the pilot challenge for the financial future Xi imagines is Zhejiang province, one of many wealthiest components of China (incomes there are approaching ranges in southern Europe) and a hotbed of personal enterprise. Zhejiang can be Xi’s energy base; he was social gathering secretary there earlier than ascending to increased workplace in Beijing.   The proof from Zhejiang means that on financial issues Xi just isn’t Mao, within the sense that he desires to redirect the energies of entrepreneurs, not get rid of them as a category. The emphasis is on state management. Xi is targeted on manufacturing over on-line providers, and labor over capital. Count on the state to have a higher say in setting costs of products and providers–and the way earnings are distributed. The most recent crop of company earnings experiences are replete with references to Xi’s “widespread prosperity” slogan.   Nor does Xi totally embrace Mao’s egalitarianism. On welfare, his prime lieutenants are nearer to neo-liberals than socialists; of their view, handouts to the poor solely promote indolence As for the cult of character, Mao’s was of a special order altogether. At its top, writes the historian Frank Dikötter, demand for plastic to cowl Mao’s Little Pink Ebook pressured toy factories to cut back output, and the manufacturing of billions of Mao badges exhausted the nation’s aluminum provides. Nonetheless, because the Economist factors out, the final time tons of of tens of millions of Chinese language college children clutched books devoted to at least one man was through the Mao period. In that sense, at the very least, the Cultural Revolution lives on.

The Chinese control revolution: the Maoist echoes of Xi’s power play
“Xi has no appetite to release the genie of popular rebellion from the bottle. He has never been a revolutionary like Mao,” says Ming Xia, a political-science professor at City University of New York. “But it does not mean Xi would not manipulate and direct the anger among frustrated people at political targets he wants to destroy. “With his confident control over the army, propaganda and bureaucracy, Xi has been applying Mao’s strategy at a smaller scale. He selectively targets some officials, businesspeople, opinion leaders, stars [and] skilfully manipulates the popular mood . . . to please the impulse of some Chinese who are less successful [and] harbour hatred toward the rich.”   Xi’s admirers see him as a “transformational” leader in the mould of Mao and Deng — a “good emperor” who needs more time to lead the country into a new era in which it will finally match the wealth and power of the US. Yet in doing so, he will jettison what many people view as a major accomplishment of the reform era: a predictable transfer of power every 10 years to a new president and party head.   “China is a leaking boat,” says Desmond Shum, a Shanghai native who invested in projects with some of the party’s most powerful families and has just published a book about his experiences. “There are so many humongous problems, whether it’s the ageing population or the economic structure, that every leadership [team] says they’re unable to tackle all of them. They will handle it the best they can during their administration and then pass it on to the next guys. At some stage everybody believes it is going to explode in their face.      “But Xi,” Shum adds, “sees himself as the emperor who revives the dynasty. He’s going to tackle these problems himself.”

China created more billionaires than the U.S. Now it is cracking down.
“This is an opportunity to portray itself as a forward-thinking government that cares about its citizens,” said Austin Strange of the University of Hong Kong.

podcast : Nis Grünberg on China’s party-state capitalism
While the importance of politics over economics has always been a key feature of China’s economic system, many observers say that there has been a paradigm shift in how the CCP governs China’s economy today. This new model is often described as party-state capitalism.   To get a clearer picture of this new form of economic governance that is emerging in China, Johannes Heller-John is joined by Nis Grünberg, Senior Analyst at MERICS. Nis is the editor and one of the authors of the MERICS Paper on China on the “CCP’s next century”. Read his chapter on “Party-state capitalism under Xi: integrating political control and economic efficiency”.

What will form the ‘foundation’ as China moves towards overtaking the US to become the world’s biggest economy?
Forecasts from Bloomberg Economics suggest China could grab the top spot – held by the United States for well over a century – as soon as 2031     China’s 14th five-year-plan places a focus on manufacturing as Beijing pivots away from relying on property and infrastructure spending to grow its economy

China International Flight Restrictions Set to Last to Mid-2022
China is not expected to loosen its current tight restrictions on international flights until after the first half of 2022, its top three airlines have told analysts, reports Bloomberg.  Air China, China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines cited the government’s COVID-19 prevention approach around the Beijing Winter Olympics in February, Parash Jain, head of shipping, ports and Asian transport research at HSBC, said in a note on Wednesday.  When reopening does occur, it will likely begin with Singapore, South Korea and other places with high vaccination rates, said Jain, citing the airlines.

Harsh reality is about to pop central banks’ bubble over painless tapering
Financial markets really seem to believe that monetary easing can go on forever without consequences. The beautiful bubble in which reality seems to be forever suspended will strike the craggy side of the equity and debt mountains it has created and pop

Stagflation Threatens to Upend the Global Economy
The world economy risks turning stagflationary.  While policy makers once hoped we’d now be seeing decent growth and slowing inflation, obstacles to that outlook are emerging by the day. The mounting concern now is of a toxic mixture of weak demand and accelerating prices. Risk one is the delta variant, which, as Enda Curran details, is undermining efforts to rev up factories, offices and schools.  Worrying recent data include the smallest hiring of Americans in seven months, deterioration in Germany’s Ifo index, a crumbling of China’s services sector and a weakening of global manufacturing.

China Slowdown Is Triggering Policy Recalibration
China’s economy has lost momentum in recent months, prompting a recalibration of policy settings to support activity, says Fitch Ratings. The country has sustained robust growth during much of the coronavirus pandemic, but headwinds have recently emerged on numerous fronts, challenging our baseline forecast that China’s economy will grow by 8.4% this year and 5.5% in 2022.

China’s Xi Jinping, Liu He move to reassure private sector as Beijing’s Big Tech crackdown rattles entrepreneurs
President Xi Jinping and his top economic adviser, Vice-Premier Liu He, have sent strong messages of support to the private sector     Comments come as Beijing tightens oversight on industries ranging from private tutoring and Big Tech to celebrity culture

Beijing’s Big Tech crackdown kills dreams of quick wealth among China’s ambitious young workers
Workers at private tutoring and internet platform companies have seen the value of their stock holdings plummet this year, wiping out savings overnight    Alibaba, Tencent and others minted thousands of millionaires with their IPOs, but the tech sector is less appealing to young talent amid Beijing’s crackdown

Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing denies reports of Beijing government-led investment
Didi said there was no truth to a Beijing government-led proposal that would give state-run companies control of the firm     Last month, Didi denied a report about a management reshuffle at the company in the wake of the government’s cybersecurity review

Semiconductor giant SMIC’s chairman resigns amid firm’s expansion plans, global chip shortage
Zhou Zixue, 64, has resigned as SMIC’s chairman, citing personal health reasons    SMIC chief financial officer Gao Yonggang has taken on the additional role of acting chairman

Alibaba’s charity fund updates its strategic priority to answer Xi’s common prosperity call and help narrow nation’s wealth gap
The foundation will focus on promoting the goal of equality by helping rural revitalisation and environment protection CEO Richard Liu hands over reins of presidency for his e-commerce empire as crackdown on tech titans drags on
Richard Liu Qiangdong said he is giving up more responsibility at the e-commerce giant he founded to focus on rural development      He is the latest tech entrepreneur to give up a leadership position amid Beijing’s crackdown on the sector and a call to contribute to ‘common prosperity’

China’s Ministry of Commerce: what is Mofcom and what is it responsible for?
China’s Ministry of Commerce (Mofcom) was established in March 2003 and is responsible for trade negotiations and the relationship with the World Trade Organization (WTO)       As a cabinet-level executive agency under the State Council, Mofcom has 29 departments overseen by minister Wang Wentao

China warns of ‘malicious’ capital outflows as financial markets brace for US tapering
Chinese financial authorities are warning of hot money flows out of the country on expectations the Federal Reserve will begin tapering soon     Deputy chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission says foreign institutions must be prevented from risky relocations of capital

Why China’s tutoring ban is one step towards ‘common prosperity’
China is not alone in fighting the inequities in education that today afflict the US, Britain and societies all across Asia     Xi Jinping is right to bring tutoring companies back to earth, but many more measures are needed to make the education system fair to the majority

Climate change: China encourages public engagement with low-carbon promotion week, but industrial energy transition remains crucial
After Xi unveiled China’s ambitious carbon neutrality goal in September, many energy-saving campaigns have been organised this year  The real significance of public climate action is to send a strong signal to policymakers, industries and companies, says Greenpeace campaigner

Climate change: Billie spins yarn from textile wastes with neither water nor chemicals in Novetex’s bid to cut emissions and wastes
Although cotton grows on 2.4 per cent of the world’s cropland, it accounts for 22.5 per cent of insecticide use and 10 per cent of pesticides, McKinsey saidAn estimated 2,700 litres of water is needed to produce a single cotton T-shirt, enough to sustain a person for 900 days, according to the WWF’s calculation

Asia’s race to net-zero: China
China is the world’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxide. Its increasingly upper-middle-income economy is becoming a mass market for technology manufacturing. China has the biggest fleet of electric vehicles in the world but is still heavily reliant on fossil fuels. The environment, however, is becoming an ever more important political priority

China’s climate goals are an opportunity for Hong Kong to develop as a regional carbon trading hub, says finance official
Hong Kong regulators will finish a report in December on how to develop the city as a carbon trading hub       However, several lawmakers doubt the city’s suitability for the role as it has no track record

Can China’s ‘red line’ eco strategy be a model for biodiversity?
Authorities have set aside millions of square kilometres of land and sea as protected areas     It’s an ambitious plan but compliance still an issue, environmental group says

EU sits on sidelines as US and UK court China on climate
One of the reasons for EU sluggishness is that ‘Brussels is off in August.’  While the United States and Britain ramp up efforts to wrestle with China on climate change, the EU’s top climate envoy is largely missing in action.Ahead of a crunch climate summit in Glasgow in November, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry — who concluded three days of talks with China on Friday — and U.K. COP26 President Alok Sharma are trying to convince Beijing to shift its stance on coal and to peak its emissions earlier than 2030 as currently planned. “As the biggest emitter in the world, responsible for a quarter of all emissions, what China does on climate action absolutely matters,” Sharma said as he flew to China on Sunday.

In China, Kerry Faces Uphill Battle for Climate Change Cooperation
While Kerry remained focus on climate issues, his Chinese hosts kept redirecting the conversation to broader tensions in the relationship.   Climate change is not an issue where the United States is trying to cajole China into doing something for Washington’s benefit – as in the case, say, of cooperating with the U.S. on North Korea issues. Instead, taking quick and meaningful action on climate change is in the best interests of both the United States and China, even if the other side does nothing. In other words, the main impetus for China to act on climate change is domestic, not diplomatic. As Kerry noted, “President Xi has been driving the climate agenda in China” – that will remain true, regardless of U.S. diplomacy.    Or, as State Department spokesperson Ned Price put it, “[W]e know we don’t have a choice: There has to be some degree of cooperation on this existential threat. We are the world’s two largest polluters.”

China to step up aviation self-reliance by 2025 amid US tensions, Shanghai to manufacture key engine parts
Shanghai is already home to the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac), which makes the home-grown narrow-bodied C919 passenger jet   Lingang New Area, which is already home to Tesla’s Gigafactory 3, will develop ‘key links in the supply chain’ as China seeks to become more self-reliant

China Anti-Monopoly Push Adds To Enterprise And Deep Technology’s Appeal: Lightspeed’s James Mi
China’s ongoing anti-monopoly campaign is part of a larger global push by regulators against big tech, and will reinforce a shift among venture investors in the country toward enterprise and deep technology companies, according to a member of the Forbes Midas List ranking of the world’s top venture capitalists.       “We’re seeing the impact,” James Mi, founding partner of Lightspeed China Partners told the recently held U.S.-China Business Forum. The 3rd annual gathering was held online on Aug. 18.  Mi ranked No. 53 on the 2021 Forbes Midas List unveiled in April, helped by successful investments in Pinduoduo and Meituan. Lightspeed China is the China investment partner of Lightspeed Venture Partners, which manages $10 billion in assets globally.

The AI revolution and strategic competition with China 
The world is only starting to grapple with how profound the artificial-intelligence revolution will be. AI technologies will create waves of progress in critical infrastructure, commerce, transportation, health, education, financial markets, food production, and environmental sustainability. Successful adoption of AI will drive economy

Taxpayer money going to China for energy bills – Beijing ‘has power to switch off lights!’
CHINA holds a “serious” influence over UK public utilities the Henry Jackson Society’s Sam Armstrong has warned.

Launch of new freight train route links China to Norway
The launch of a new freight train route links the Chinese city of Chengdu to Norways’ capital of Oslo. 
Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan Province in Southwest China and the first train departed on route for Oslo, Norway on 2 September, according to The freight train carried various goods including electronic products and home appliances.      Currently, the China-Europe freight train service has 65 overseas destinations. The newly launched route between China and Norway is part of an expansion of several new China-Europe routes including a freight train route between Chengdu and Amsterdam which was launched earlier this year.

How Successful Was China’s Poverty Alleviation Drive?
China eliminated extreme poverty, a monumental achievement. But the root causes of poverty persist.  Deng Xiaoping defined the core value of socialism with Chinese characteristics as “productivity development to achieve common prosperity.” The poverty elimination campaign is a solid step toward the “common prosperity” ideal. The elimination of poverty symbolizes China’s achievement of a moderately prosperous society, a goal for generations of Chinese leaders, on the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party. However, how sustainable is this tremendous achievement?    Without real gains in rural human capital development, the elimination of poverty might be fragile and ephemeral. As opportunities close because of China’s slowing economic growth, finding low-skill jobs will become increasingly difficult. Without the capability to learn and upgrade their skill sets, rural peasant workers will soon find themselves stuck at the bottom rungs of the social ladder. In the worst-case scenario, they will find themselves falling back into poverty again once the campaign ends.

The World Isn’t Ready for the Next Outbreak     The Case for a Pandemic Trust Fund
By April 2020, for instance, the World Health Organization (WHO) had announced the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a program designed to help develop and improve access to diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines. Other international organizations quickly pioneered new ways to combat the pandemic’s economic impact. The World Bank approved plans to deploy an unprecedented $160 billion in capital, alongside an additional $50 billion in international development funding, and the International Monetary Fund played a vital role in coordinating economic resources for the response. These multilateral efforts are a far cry from the unilateral model used during previous disease outbreaks (the HIV/AIDS epidemic, to take one example). In many ways, COVID-19 marked an important step toward genuine international cooperation.    But even such unprecedented cooperation has been far from adequate to the challenge at hand. The international community has not responded as quickly and completely as necessary—highlighting just how much work remains to be done to set up a truly cooperative multilateral health system. It is now clear that the world needs a permanent institution—developed and maintained during “pandemic peacetime”—built specifically to counter the next outbreak. This global trust fund would have the resources, flexibility, and backing to quickly distribute aid, facilitate cutting-edge research, and accelerate the manufacture of lifesaving interventions. Without such action, the international community will be unprepared for the next, potentially more devastating pandemic.

Hong Kong Plans To Join RCEP, Jointly Invest In Belt & Road Initiative Economic and Trade Co-operation Zones
Moves to reposition Hong Kong as a key East Asian hub as well as use it as a base to reach out to the global Belt & Road Initiative via establishing low tax overseas trading zones

Germany’s China challenge: politicians know it’s important but the voters doesn’t seem to care
Angela Merkel’s retirement may see a change in Berlin’s approach to one of the country’s key economic partners     Some observers believe that the next chancellor will have to explain why the public needs to think more about the country’s relationship with Beijing

NATO’s China conundrum
The Atlantic Alliance is setting its sights on China, but a common policy shared by all NATO members will likely remain elusive. What’s more, Beijing will do its utmost to prevent it, argues Helena Legarda.

The Taiwan factor in US–Japan alliance relations
With the rise of China and the intensification of strategic rivalry between China and the United States, the US–Japan alliance continues to serve as a critical cornerstone undergirding peace and security in the Asia Pacific. Increased tensions between China and Taiwan have attracted international attention, including on what a cross-Strait conflict would mean for the US–Japan alliance and the defence of Japan. While Japan is showing a proactive stance toward Taiwan both out of a sense of friendship with the island as well as to shore up the US–Japan alliance, it is crucial that Tokyo be frank with Washington and not oversell what sort of contributions the SDF can make under its limited recognition of collective self-defence based on its 2015 security legislation. Proactive consultations with the United States about the roles Japan will — and will not — play in a contingency scenario will go a long way towards preventing a crisis both by maintaining the alliance’s military deterrence power and by ensuring that the two allies are on the same page about the division of labour.

China’s Urban Maintenance and Construction Tax: New Regulations in Effect from Sept. 1, 2021
New regulations on China’s urban maintenance and construction tax took effect September 1, 2021, which clarified the calculation and management of the country’s urban construction and maintenance tax. This includes the Urban Maintenance and Construction Tax Law and two supporting regulations.

China’s Nationalist Cancel Culture
In China, celebrities can be blacklisted in the span of days – or even hours – for perceived offenses against national dignity

China’s most popular app is developed by police and promoted by cyberspace security officer with huge social media followers
Anti-fraud app is the most downloaded app in local app stores this month amid a state-sponsored promotion campaign       App soared to top spot within a month of its launch in March, and is now popularised by a cyberspace police officer with large social media followers  Chen, a cyberspace security police officer based in the Chinese city Qinhuangdao in northern Hebei province, has managed to show up in many influencers’ live-streaming channels, giving him access to hundreds of millions of viewers. Chinese short-video platforms randomly pair two broadcasters if they turn on the “lianmai” feature around the same time.   On Friday alone, Chen’s exposure through the “lianmai” function surpassed 100 million views, according to China News Service. The policeman now has nearly 3.7 million followers on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, and 1.5 million on Kuaishou.   Chen’s account on WeChat, the social media platform operated by Tencent Holdings, became so hot that it got automatically blocked. Tencent said in a statement that the account showed “abnormal behaviour” of adding many new followers within a short period of time and triggering many complaints from users. Tencent has since unblocked his account after verification. The app is a tool from the police to prevent scams. From January to May, security authorities caught 154,000 suspects involved in 114,000 cyber fraud cases, Liu Zhongyi, the head of the ministry’s criminal investigation department, said in June.  But the intrusiveness of the app has also raised concerns about privacy. The app is rated 2.3 out of 5 on Apple’s app Store, with many complaining about connectivity issues, mistakenly intercepted phone calls and concerns about leaks of personal information

Alain Gillard
Information Officer
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