Driving the Day
1.Xi gets warm welcome in Greece
Xi Jinping arrived in Athens, Greece, Sunday night for a three-day statevisit.
On Monday, Xi held talks with the Greek Premier Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
It was a productive meeting: The two signed 16 agreements.
China opened the door to more Greek exports (Bloomberg):
- “An agreement in agriculture will see the export to China of Greek kiwi fruit as well as saffron.”
And Greece opened the door to more Chinese investment:
- “The State Grid Cooperation of China officially expressed interest in a tender for linking the island of Crete to the mainland’s power network.”
- “A separate deal was signed for Chinese participation in the 50-megawattMinos solar project in Crete.”
But this is the important one: The two sides agreed to move forward on Chinese state-owned shipping giant Cosco’s further investment in the Port of Piraeus.
- “The Greek government recently approved Cosco’s 612 million-euro ($675 million) plan for the port.”
- “That will see the expansion of the cruise terminal, a new passenger terminal and a logistics zone.”
Get smart: While much of Europe has become more skeptical of China, Greece has actively sought to build stronger ties.
2.Hong Kong turmoil deepens
Hong Kong continues toseea sharp escalation in violencein the wake of the first protest death on Friday.
Some context: On the night of November 3, a student protester fell from a parking garage after police used tear gas to disperse protesters. The student died on November 8.
Since then, clashes between protesters and the Hong Kong police have reached a fever pitch, culminating in two violent incidents on Monday:
- During an altercation, a police officer shot a 21-year-old protester in the Sai Wan Ho neighborhood.
- A 57-year-old man was doused with flammable liquid and set on fire by a protester, following a verbal confrontation.
As of Tuesday, both men are reported to be in critical condition.
On Monday, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam held a press conference in which she condemned the violence and asserted that violent tactics would not cause the government to yield.
Get smart: The violence will only serve to harden hearts and deepen divisions. It’s hard to see how this ends.
Get smarter: Beijing may soon have to rethink its relatively restrained response to the protests.
Looking to the future: Whatever happens, Hong Kong will never be the same.
SCMP: Night of violence and grief in Hong Kong as city mourns death of student Chow Tsz-lok, leading to confrontations with police and vandalism at university
SCMP: Student shot and man set ablaze in one of the most violent days of Hong Kong anti-government unrest yet
CGTN:Carrie Lam: Violence is relentlessly destroying HK society
3. Cadres set to get aneducation
Comrades rejoice. The new Party education plan is here – and it’s everything we dreamt it would be.
The details: Yesterday, the general office of the Central Committee issued the new five-year national work plan for the education and training of Party members.
- The plan aims to strengthen the ideals, competence, and sense of Party consciousness among all Party members.
The non-shocking big news: The primary political task of the work plan is to study and implement Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, from now until 2024.
Why it matters: This implies that Xi will stay in power after the 20th Party Congress in 2022.
The work plan also promotes enhancing the use of technology, specifically by pushing the Xuexi Qiangguo aka “Study Xi” app (see February 14 Tip Sheet).
What about those cadres who are not completely on board with the campaign?
No worries, the Party promises to continuously listen to feedback to improve the learning process (Xinhua):
- “Through surveys, heart-to-heart talks, inspections, and big data analysis, we will accurately grasp the learning needs and training willingness of Party members.”
Get smart: For most Party members, Party education and training is seen as inherently boring. No amount of heart-to-heart talks is going to change that.
4.SASAC raises equity incentives
On Monday, SASAC, the administrator of state-owned enterprises (SOEs), released a policy to reformequity incentives for senior employees at publicly listed SOEs.
Some context: The government has been seeking to make SOEs more market-oriented. Using equity incentives has beenpart of that push since 2006.
More context: To date, only 23% of publicly-listed companies controlled by central SOEs have adopted equity incentives.
But for those companies, the policy has been working:
- Publicly-listed companies controlled by central SOEs that have adopted equity incentives for more than one year have an average annual revenue growth of 16.7%.
The success of these pioneers is now driving SASAC to encourage wider adoption ofthe practice.
Get smart: SASAC’s previous calls for implementing equity incentives at SOE-controlled public companies were met with little enthusiasm, primarily because the performance review standards for receiving equity incentives were very rigid.
What to watch: The new policy attempts to fix that problem by allowing more flexibility with regard to performance reviews.
- Italso raises the scale and level of equity incentives.
Get smarter: The new measures aim to keep top talent from jumping ship for more lucrative jobs at private companies.
5.Cities look to tighten subway security
Fans of mild inconvenience rejoice!
This week, local newspaper Guangzhou Daily reported that the city’s subway system isgetting a security upgrade.
- The report announced that 130 security checkpoints willbe built outside certain metro stations in the next two years.
That’s right…outside the station.
According to a Guangzhou Metro spokesman (SCMP):
- “No matter whether [people] are crossing or riding on the subway, [if] they enter the subway vicinity they will need to go through the checks.”
Just an observation: Anyone who’s been through the existing security checks on a Chinese metro knows that they do basically nothing to enhance rider safety while doing a lot to enhance rider annoyance.
And Guangzhou’s not the only metro getting a security update.
The Beijing Metro is reportedly planning to implement a facial recognition system that could single out certain riders for additional screening.
There is already pushback:
- The plan has received a fair amount of flak from Chinese netizens concerned about privacy.
- Even state media has expressed concern over possible data breaches.
Get smart: There is a common trope in the West that Chinese people are not concerned about privacy. That’s simply not true.
SCMP: Privacy concerns over security checks in China’s Guangzhou metro stations
Abacus:Beijing’s subway system will use facial recognition to single out people for different security measures