1. 5G hits on Friday
The era of superfast internet has arrived.
China’s three biggest mobile operators – China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom – will all launch 5G services in the capital on Friday November 1.
Some context: Xi emphasized the need for improving China’s homegrown technological capabilities at the Politburo study session last week (see yesterday’s Tip Sheet).
Lin Lehu, head of the Beijing Communications Administration, said that things are pretty much good to go:
- “[The operators] have already built more than 13,000 5G base stations in Beijing, of which over 10,000 are already in operation.”
Get smart: Xi has described the world as on the cusp of a fourth industrial revolution – one characterized by advances in information technology and artificial intelligence. Xi wants to make sure that China is at the forefront of this new revolution – getting 5G up and running is a way to get a leg up in that race.
2.Volkswagen ups its EV game in China
Reuters scoops that Volkswagen (VW) aims to produce 1 million units of electric vehicles (EV) per year by the end of 2022.
That’s just the beginning: By 2028, the company aims to produce 22 million EVs a year.
Why we are telling you this: The company plans for the majority of its EVs (11.6 million) to be manufactured in China.
To boost its EV manufacturing capabilities in China, Volkswagen will:
- Retool the FAW-Volkswagen factory in Foshan and the SAIC-Volkswagen factory in Anting to build EVs next year, with a combined production capacity of 600,000 vehicles a year
- Invest EUR 15 billion with its Chinese JV partners to produce 15 models of EV for China by 2025
VW is playing catch up to Tesla: Tesla has begun production of EVs at its new Shanghai factory, and aims to have production capacity of 500,000 units a year by mid-2020.
Get smart: For most foreign automakers, China is central to their global business strategy.
What to watch: The government is currently drafting a plan for development of the EV industry, and aims to complete it in 2021. That plan will be highly influential in shaping China’s auto market.
Reuters:VW ramps up China electric car factories, taking aim at Tesla
3. Important advisory bodyopens its doors
On October 14, the Counsellors’ Office of the State Council (COSC) held its first ever open house.
The institution essentially serves as a think tank for the premier (Xinhua):
- “The counsellors, who are well-known scholars in their own fields, are appointed directly by the Chinese premier.”
- “They shoulder many responsibilities, such as carrying out investigation and research and offering suggestions to the premier, focusing on the core work of the central government.”
COSC director Wang Zhongwei explains (SCMP):
- “One of the most important roles of the Counsellors’ Office is to strengthen liaison with experts and academics who are not Communist Party members.”
Those non-Party voices can include those of foreign companies:
- “Wang Zhaoxing, another counsellor, said the office had spoken to an executive from a major German chemical company in 2016 when they reviewed a proposal to shut down all chemical plants near the Yangtze River.”
- “Based on the German experience, the office produced a report recommending tighter control over waste discharge from the chemical plants instead of a blanket ban – a proposal that was eventually adopted.”
Get smart: Policymaking in China is not as top-down as is commonly assumed. In reality there are many different organizations and individuals feeding into the process.
Xinhua:Outsiders given a look into China’s high-level gov’t counsellors’ office
SCMP:Top Beijing think tank The Counsellor’s Office reveals the secrets of the Chinese Communist Party’s policymaking
4.Party promotes morality
On Sunday, the Central Committee and the State Council released the Outline for the Implementation of Building Citizens’ Morality in the New Era.
Some context: The document updates a similar outline from 2001.
The document is very much a reflection of the Xi Era (Globe and Mail):
- “Much of the bedrock of modern Chinese thought, with references to past leaders Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin and their theories [are] all stripped away, replaced by Xi and the elements of his thought, along with the ‘fine traditions of China.’”
It reinforces the trend towards tighter control of information (Sixth Tone):
- “The updated version…includes a section on ‘cyberspace ethics’ that instructs individuals and businesses to ‘promote positive content and provide moral education, as well as strengthen supervision of social media platforms and public accounts.’”
It also reflects a growing skepticism of the outside world (Globe and Mail):
- “[The 2001 document] recommended taking ‘lessons from the successful moral construction experiences and the achievements of advanced civilizations of all countries around the world.’”
- “Such openness is absent in the new version, which describes a need to ‘continuously purify the social and cultural environment’ and pledges especially serious treatment for ‘people who worship foreign things and harm the dignity of the country.’”
Sixth Tone:China Issues Guideline for ‘Building Citizens’ Morality’
Global and Mail:China’s new moral guide elevates Xi over Mao, urges national pride over foreign influence
5.Civil service recruitment inches higher
Have you ever dreamed of living the swashbuckling life of a Chinese bureaucrat?
You’re in luck!
On Monday, the State Administration of Civil Service reported that openings for civil service jobs have risen from 14,500 in 2018 to 24,000 in 2019.
- For the mathematically impaired, that’s an increase of 66%.
But despite the bonanza of new public sector jobs, young people just aren’t biting.
- Last year, the number of applicants for the civil serviceexam China fell to a four-year low of 1.4 million.
- This year, there was a slight uptick to 1.44 million, but that’s still pretty anemic compared to past years.
Having said that, civil service jobs in China remain insanely competitive by most metrics:
- The nationwide admission ratio is 1 in 60.
- In Beijing, the figure shoots up to 1 in 2,315.
What does this say about the state of China’s civil service?
Get smart: For many young people, a career in the public sector is still an attractive prospect.
Get smarter: At the same time, the anti-corruption campaign and a bevy of new restrictions on official behavior havetaken some of the pizzazz out of the life bureaucratic.
Xinhua:1.44 mln vie for 24,000 civil service vacancies in China
China Daily:Job prospects expanding in civil service