1. World Laureates Forum opened in Shanghai
Shanghai got its science on yesterday – with the opening of the second World Laureates Forum.
Some context: The forum is China’s homegrown international platform for scientific cooperation. This year’s guest list boosts an impressive 44(!) Nobel Prize laureates and 21 other winners of top global science awards who will meet with domestic top researchers from CAS and CAE.
Science fan Xi Jinping sent a letter to the forum, saying:
- “China is willing to work with all countries of the world to strengthen research and collaboration to promote sci-tech progress and address the challenges of our age.”
In relation to the forum, Shanghai also launched a new science center – the World Laureates Association Shanghai Center – which is planned to:
- “[cover an] area of 34 hectares with international joint labs built by Nobel Laureates, the community is expected to become a scientific base with industrial transformation capabilities.”
Get smart:China wants to take the lead in emerging technologies. China is keen to attract foreign experts to contribute.
2.China vows more opening
On Tuesday, Vice Minister of CommerceWang Shouwen held apress briefing.
Wang’s message: China is about to kick opening into high gear.
According to Wang, China will:
- Remove all restrictions for foreign investment in any area not explicitly included in a negative list
- Refrain from requiring foreign companies to transfer key technology to Chinese partners
Get smart:The government is on a media blitz in an effort to tell the world that China welcomes foreign business.
The rub:For the foreign business community to be truly convinced, they will want to see Wang’s words backed up by actions.
3. NEV market prognosis lookin’ bleak
BYD – China’s biggest producer of new energy vehicles (NEV) – did not have a good quarter (Bloomberg):
- The company’s net income was down 89% this quarter – with revenue declining 9.1%.
This follows a 15% fall in auto sales for the company in September.
Some context: The NEV market pretty much crashed after the government cut subsidies to buyers earlier this year. It also doesn’t help that the economy is slowing.
BYD says the government owes it money:
- “BYD said earlier this month that the company is entitled to 3.16 billion yuan of government subsidies for new energy vehicle sales that occurred in 2017.”
Get smart: The government has subsidized NEVs to the tune of USD 50 billion over the past decade. That’s helped to make China the world leader in NEVs.
The big question: Now that the government has removed NEV subsidies, will the industry be able to stand on its own two feet?
Bloomberg:BYD Earnings Drop 89% as China’s Electric-Car Market Goes Sour
Lou Jiwei, everyone’s favorite outspoken former finance minister, was back in the news on Tuesday.
Some context: Lou is well known as an economic reformer and for speaking his mind on policy issues.
- Earlier this year, this proclivity got him fired from his job as head of China’s social security fund after Lou called the Made in China 2025 initiative “a waste of taxpayer money.”
In a very on-brand article published in Bijiao, a magazine put out by the State Council’s Development Research Center, Lou claimed that the yawning chasm between rich and poor was China’s greatest long-term challenge.
Lou argued that:
- China’s urban-rural dual system structure drives inequality
- Migrant workers lack of access to social services is unfair and counterproductive
- China’s hukou system is largely to blame for these problems
Lou also believes that China can bridge the gap by:
- Nationalizing rural land
- Accelerating hukou reform
- Reducing restrictions on the flow of labor
Get smart: Lou is right. Inequality and an overly stringenthousehold registration system aredrags oneconomic growth. As the economy shifts to slower growth, it will be all the more important to address these structural issues – and hopefully unlock some productivity.
Get smarter: Lou’s article is also a good reminder that the Chinese policy establishment is not monolithic.
5.Wang Yi meets ASEAN leaders
On Wednesday, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi met with ambassadors from the 10 ASEAN member countries in Beijing.
The meeting featured a delectable buzzword salad in which China and ASEAN agreed to:
- Uphold multilateralism
- Maintain close communication and cooperation
- Coordinate to maintain regional peace
- Deepen people to people exchange
A few slightly meatier topics were discussed as well, including:
- Strengthening synergy between the BRI and the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity
- Working to conclude the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) within the coming year
The meeting aimed to lay the groundwork for more substantial discussions on Sino-ASEAN cooperation in the near future.
- Premier Li Keqiang is making a state visit to Thailand to coincide with the East Asia Summit on November 4.
Get smart: Shortly after coming to office in 2012, Xi re-oriented China’s foreign policy to focus more on regional diplomacy.
Get smarter: Heightened tensions with the US and Europe have made Beijing eager to diversify trading partners. That’s giving more impetus to RCEP negotiations.