News roundup: China’s key economic tasks for 2017
TODAY’S TOP STORIES
Chinese government publishes a list of “major economic tasks” for 2017
The top story in all major Chinese state media today was a review of the government’s newly set “economic tasks” for 2017. Xinhua published an article in English about the list, naming “cutting excessive industrial capacity, destocking, deleveraging, lowering corporate costs and improving weak links” as the most important items. However, the original Chinese list in the state media is somewhat different. Below is SupChina’s translation of the Chinese version of the government’s five "major economic tasks” for the year ahead:
- Actively promoting supply-side and structural reforms in agriculture and vigorously revitalizing the real economy, to cultivate new momentum in growth.
- Speeding up research and development in line with national conditions, and adapting to market rules to ensure that the real estate industry develops for the long term in a stable and healthy way.
- Accelerating the advancement of basic key reforms in state-owned enterprises, finance and taxation, and the social security system, to give the leading force of economic system reform an even greater role.
- Making solid progress on the construction of “One Belt, One Road,” perfecting the construction of rule of law, improving the investment environment, unleashing the potential of consumption, expanding the openness [of the economy], and actively attracting foreign investment.
- Continuing to improve people's livelihood and maintain overall social stability.
Global discomfort with Chinese trade
According to The Wall Street Journal, the 15th anniversary of China’s accession to the World Trade Organization “threatens to trigger a clash with growing forces in the West that cast Beijing as an abuser of open global markets.” Titled “China faces off against world on trade,” the article says that “the anniversary marks Beijing’s eligibility for ‘market-economy status,’ which would remove many risks of punishment when Chinese companies are accused of selling products below cost,” adding that “the issue is bringing to the fore mounting global frustration over China’s state-led economic policy.”
The week in review
In case you missed them, here are some of the items we published on SupChina this week:
- Drop the One China fiction — just not this way – An opinion piece by Sinica Podcast host Kaiser Kuo on the phone call between president-elect Donald Trump and Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen.
- Beijing meets banjo: Wu Fei and Abigail Washburn – A Sinica Podcast interview with two musicians who find great harmony between Chinese and American folk music. See also a list of background reading and videos.
- A Bitcoin mine in the mountains of Sichuan – A Q&A with Eric Mu, Chinese entrepreneur and miner of digital currency.
This week’s news roundups are:
- December 5: Beijing reacts to Trump
- December 6: Insider trading, a currency glitch and fears of a tech bubble
- December 7: Tencent sues China’s trademark authority
- December 8: Michael Jordan trademark victory in China
More China news worth following is summarized below.
BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:
- Iowa exports soybeans to China, so why not a whole farm? / NYT
“Plans are afoot to build a ‘model farm’ in northern China inspired by one in Iowa that Xi Jinping visited in early 2012, before he became China’s president,” writes Chris Buckley. “The idea has highlighted Mr. Xi’s peculiarly long relationship with the Midwestern state and with [Governor Terry] Branstad,” Trump’s pick for ambassador to China.
- China has gained hugely from globalization / The Economist
“China’s transformation into the workshop of the world has helped lift hundreds of millions of Chinese out of poverty,” The Economist says, but notes that “many of the worries that have recently animated Western voters are common in China, too. Working-class Chinese, as well as members of the new middle class, fret about rising inequality, the impact of mass migration from the countryside into cities and job losses.”
- Sri Lanka to sell 80 percent stake in strategically placed harbor to Chinese / WSJ
The deal may be scrutinized by the U.S., as “the port, in Hambantota, lies along an important trade route linking the Middle East and Asia. And China’s navy has been stepping up its operations in the Indian Ocean as it seeks to project power westward.”
- Outspoken billionaire works to salvage his tech empire in China / Bloomberg
Jia Yueting, who has global ambitions for his companies, “admitted in a memo to employees last month that his LeEco holding company had expanded too aggressively into smartphones, electric cars and other ventures, and was struggling to raise the cash it needed.”
- China’s smart money burrows into Silicon Valley / Bloomberg
“While the amount of Chinese money being pumped into U.S. tech has tapered off, the number of investors is headed for a new annual record,” writes Tim Culpan. “That tells you that more and more Chinese are looking outside their home country for places to park money.”
- China takes aim at South Korea’s Lotte after missile move / Financial Times
“Authorities have in the past week launched coordinated regulatory investigations into Lotte operations in Shanghai, Beijing, Shenyang and Chengdu,” the Financial Times reports, with analysts suggesting that the actions come in response to Lotte’s agreement to give up one of its golf courses in South Korea for the development of the American-made Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile shield.
- EU launches new investigation into Chinese steel imports / Reuters
The case was announced just days before the 15th anniversary of China’s accession to the WTO, which China says should subject it to a different set of trade defense rules.
- Macau confirms ATM cap to ‘further strengthen’ regulation of money flow / SCMP
The new restriction, which halves the daily limit on ATM withdrawals by people using mainland-issued China Union Pay bank cards, “follows the introduction by Beijing in recent months of a raft of measures to tackle massive outflows of capital,” the South China Morning Post notes. “It is the first move to exert control over Union Pay transactions since a 2014 crackdown involving Union Pay point-of-service machines in the casino-dominated city, which is fighting hard to shake off its reputation as a center for hot money out of the mainland.”
POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:
- Trump takes aim at China in victory tour stop / ABC News
Donald Trump, addressing a crowd in Des Moines, Iowa, “took aim at China for, among other things, product dumping, currency manipulation and the ‘massive theft of intellectual property.’” He then added, "Other than that, they have been wonderful.”
- Opinion: Sino-U.S. ties will need more than a friendly messenger / China Daily
China may welcome the appointment of “old friend” Terry Branstad as ambassador to the country, yet “a mutually beneficial relationship” will require more than a familiar face, China Daily notes. “If [Trump] is misled by his advisers for whatever reason into believing that unnegotiables are negotiable, in this case, the One China principle regarding Taiwan, the consequences could be serious.”
- Vietnam dredges reef disputed with China / The Guardian
“Activity visible on Ladd Reef in the Spratly Islands could anger Hanoi’s main South China Sea rival, Beijing, which claims sovereignty over the group and most of the resource-rich sea.”
- White House voices concerns about China cyber law / Reuters
U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice met with Chinese State Councilor Guo Shengkun and expressed concerns “about the potential impacts” of the cybersecurity law that China adopted in November. According to Reuters, “Critics of the law say it threatens to shut foreign technology companies out of various sectors deemed ‘critical,’ and includes contentious requirements for security reviews and for data to be stored on servers in China.”
- What happened to China’s arrested rights lawyers? / BBC News
As Human Rights Day on December 10 approaches, BBC News China editor Carrie Gracie looks at the cases of some of the lawyers detained in the sweeping July 2015 crackdown on legal rights activism.
- Hong Kong chief executive C.Y. Leung will not seek reelection due to family reasons / SCMP
Leung stated that “his decision was not due to any lack of endorsement from the central government” and that “electioneering would bring his family ‘unbearable pressure.’”
SOCIETY AND CULTURE:
- 2 ex-Chinese diplomats charged with running forced-labor ring / NYT
U.S. federal prosecutors allege that the two former diplomats living in the New York area brought construction workers from China to the U.S. on diplomatic visas to work on Chinese government buildings, and then forced them to work on private projects under “debt bondage contracts.”
- WWE’s China hopes rest on Bin Wang’s big shoulders / Reuters
“In a few weeks, the 230-pound Wang, who arrived in the United States in June, will be joined by seven other Chinese athletes hand-picked by World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., in the hope that one of them will become the first Chinese WWE ‘superstar.’”
- How China’s quick blue-sky fixes make pollution worse / SCMP
“Local governments often made it their mission to ensure clear skies during major political events, only to focus on economic development afterward, resulting in the return of the pollution, according to the paper published in the journal China Industrial Economics.”
- China pins hopes on taxation for environmental protection / China Daily
“The State Council rendered a draft environment tax law to China’s top legislature for the first reading in August, and it vowed earlier this week to introduce the tax by 2020 in a five-year plan for ecological and environmental protection.”
- The Literary Tourist interviews Canaan Morse / Fiction Advocate
The translator discusses his work bringing Ge Fei’s experimental novel, The Invisibility Cloak, to English readers, as well as some of the nuances of the Chinese language that pose a challenge for translation.