Coal and steel still large and in charge – China’s latest business and technology news

Business & Technology

A summary of the top news in Chinese business and technology for July 17, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina newsletter, a convenient package of China’s business, political, and cultural news delivered to your inbox for free. Subscribe here.


“Rebalancing with Chinese characteristics,” Christopher Balding, a professor at Peking University’s HSBC Business School in Shenzhen, declared upon hearing the news that China’s steel output had hit a record high in June. In doing so, he referred to two things: current president Xi Jinping’s years-long policy goal of “rebalancing” the economy away from heavy industry and toward services, and former leader Deng Xiaoping’s famous maxim about “socialism with Chinese characteristics,” a phrase that is often used derisively but refers to the government’s vision of China as a country with a balance of public sector control and private sector competitiveness.

Xi’s rebalancing act has not reduced the role of government-subsidized heavy industry and manufacturing: Quartz reports that record coal and steel output — a side of China’s economy that is both polluting and disproportionately state-owned — is largely responsible for recent economic growth trends. According to Bloomberg, a “factory rebound” led to these numbers, all of which slimly surpassed survey expectations by less than 0.5 percent, except for industrial output, which rose 1.1 percent above expectations:

  • GDP up 6.9 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier
  • Industrial output up 7.6 percent in June from a year earlier
  • Fixed-asset investment up 8.6 percent in the first half of this year
  • Retail sales up 11 percent from a year earlier in June