driving the day
1. Constructing a peaceful China
On Tuesday, leadership of the country’s top law enforcement agencies gathered for the Peaceful China Construction Work Meeting.
- The goal was to translate national security concerns from the Fifth Plenum into a workable implementation plan (see November 5 Tip Sheet).
Some context: The Party established a new Peaceful China Construction Coordinating Small Group in April with a mandate to ensure political security and social stability (see April 22 Tip Sheet).
Xi Jinping’s message to senior law enforcement officials: Address acute problems affecting national security and social stability.
This directive will expand the reach of the country’s law enforcement and security apparatus (CPLAC):
- “[We should] achieve comprehensive governance of economic security, political security, cultural security, social security and ecological security.”
It also entails more use of technology in policing:
- “[We should] improve the accuracy and timeliness of predicting social needs, social development, and early warning of social risks, and transition from ‘experience-based decision making’ to ‘big-data-driven decision making’.”
Get smart: Protracted tensions with the US and other Western powers have exacerbated the Party’s insecurities. As a result, law enforcement and security forces are getting more say in the domestic policy agenda.
2. Why China’s hidin’ from Biden
On Saturday, voting returns made it clear that former Vice President Joe Biden had defeated President Donald Trump in the 2020 US presidential race.
Despite Trump’s insistence that the vote was fraudulent, the results have been widely accepted both domestically and abroad, with a bevy of foreign leaders having called to congratulate Biden.
Notably absent from the crowd of well-wishers:
- Chinese President Xi Jinping
In fact, the whole Chinese establishment has kept pretty mum about Biden’s victory.
When asked why China hadn’t reached out to the president-elect, foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin put on his very best poker face (MoFA):
- “We noticed that Mr. Biden has declared election victory.”
- “We understand the presidential election result will be determined following the U.S. laws and procedures.”
Reality check: Chinese leaders haven’t been so cautious with congratulating previous incoming US administrations.
So what gives?
Since Trump hasn’t officially conceded, China is likely wary about wading into an election which is technically still contested.
More importantly: Congratulating Biden while Trump continues to challenge the results would infuriate the outgoing president, likely prompting him to lash out at China.
Get smart: Trump and his allies can still do plenty of damage to the US-China relationship in the time he still has in office.
Get smarter: No matter who occupies the White House, structural issues point towards a further downward trajectory for Sino-US relations.
3. State Council launches integrated license plan in Pudong
On Wednesday, Premier Li Keqiang did his thing – chairing the weekly State Council executive meeting.
One item stood out on the agenda:
- The launch of a pilot “integrated license” system covering 31 industries in Shanghai’s Pudong New Area
How it works:
- Pudong businesses in the 31 industries will see multiple business and operation licenses merge into just one required license for market access.
- The central government will delegate approval authority for 25 different types of business permits to Pudong authorities.
- Pudong-issued integrated licenses will be recognized nationwide.
The lucky industries eligible for the streamlined licensing include:
- Convenience stores
If the Pudong pilot is successful, integrated licensing could be rolled out nationwide.
Get smart: The integrated license planaligns perfectly with Li’s pet project – simplifying administrative procedures for businesses.
Get smarter: The full list of industries eligible for streamlined licensing will be released soon. So far the list seems tailored to benefit small local businesses.
4. Hong Kong opposition announces mass resignation
On Wednesday, Hong Kong’s remaining 15 opposition lawmakers announced they would resign en masse over the ousting of four of their colleagues.
Some context: On Tuesday, China’s legislature (NPCSC) passed a resolution stipulating that any members of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (Legco) that supported Hong Kong independence or endangered national security would be immediately removed (see yesterday’s Tip Sheet).
- The resolution resulted in the disqualification of four opposition Legco representatives.
Here’s Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai (SCMP):
- “[T]he central government’s decision means separation of powers will be taken away.”
- “All the power will be centralised in the chief executive – a puppet of the central government.”
- “[T]oday is the end of ‘one country, two systems’.”
Beijing was unmoved by the display.
The central government’s Hong Kong Liaison Office blasted the resignations in a statement:
- “[The opposition’s] actions are doomed to ruin their own political future and will not affect the progress of Hong Kong’s ‘one country, two systems’.”
- “The demand for politicians’ political loyalty is not unique to Hong Kong and China, but a basic value [that is] recognized internationally.”
Our take: The NPCSC’s decision sure doesn’t seem very two-systemsy to us.
Get smart: China is committed to bringing Hong Kong fully into line. Actions like these won’t change Beijing’s resolve.
5. Industrial internet infrastructure gets a boost
On Wednesday, Vice Minister of Industry and Information Technology Liu Liehong dropped in at the China Development Forum to lay out his ministry’s efforts to support technological self-reliance.
We’ve seen Liu’s arguments before, and they make sense (21st Century Biz):
- Better industrial internet infrastructure makes for a better business environment.
- A better business environment encourages innovation.
- More innovation gets China closer to self-sufficiency.
Liu also shared some concrete plans for improving internet infrastructure, namely:
- Supporting the construction of cloud centers, data centers, and submarine cables, starting in pilot trade zones like Hainan and Shanghai
And Liu wants you to know that everyone’s invited to the party:
- “[We will] support foreign companies to invest and start businesses in China, and further promote foreign-funded projects.
- “All services and policies will be equally applicable to domestic and foreign companies.”
Get smart: Upgrading industrial internet infrastructure also plays into China’s dual circulation strategy, which will see China focus more heavily on high-quality domestic production.
Get smarter: While it’s encouraging to see the government move to open sensitive data-related industries to foreign business, you can bet that expanded access will come with significant strings attached.