1. Xi urges rules-based governance
On Sunday, the Party’s top journal, Qiushi, published an excerpt from Xi Jinping’s speech to a February meeting of the Central Commission for Comprehensive Law-based Governance (CCCLBG).
Some context: The CCCLBG was created as part of the MASSIVE Party-state reorganization undertaken in March 2018.
Xi told the country’s law enforcement forces and judicial system to get their loyalties straight (Qiushi):
- “[We must] make efforts to build a socialist legal work team that is loyal to the Party, the country, the people, and the law.”
Xi then put wayward cadres on notice:
- “At present, some leading cadres are not good at applying rule of law thinking and methods to advance their work.”
- “Leading cadres who have no concept of law in their mind, replace laws with their words, and suppress laws with their power, they are the enemy of the rule of law.”
One more time for the leading cadres in the back: Governing by law means obeying the Party center and Xi Jinping.
2. Wang Qishan rolls out the welcome mat
On Monday, Vice President Wang Qishan took to the (virtual) stage, to deliver an address to the 2020 New Economy Forum.
Wang’s remarks were a greatest hits album of recent comments by high-level officials (Xinhua 1 and 2):
- “The international community should demonstrate its determination to safeguard common interests and pursue common goals with practical actions.”
- “Noting that the international situation has become even more complicated…Wang said that China will…implement the new development philosophy… through reorientation toward domestic industry, the prioritization of quality, driving innovation, coordinated development, self-reliance, and steady progress.”
Once the crowd was warmed up, Wang launched into 2020’s hottest double platinum hit, “Dual Circulation (Doesn’t Mean the End of Opening)” (Xinhua 2):
- “China will unswervingly expand opening up, and make its market a world market, a shared market and a market for all.”
He also made a plug for the Belt and Road Initiative(BRI), saying its goal was to (Xinhua 1):
- “Expand imports, reduce investment restrictions, [and] build a more rules-oriented, internationalized, and convenient business environment.”
Get smart: There’s not much new in Wang’s speech – and that’s probably the point. Beijing is being loud and clear as to what its economic priorities are and what foreign business can expect.
3. Image check
China’s top political advisors want to tell a better story on human rights.
That was the message at a seminar convened by the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee on Thursday.
- Top officials from the Party’s propaganda department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and others were in attendance.
Why now? The meeting’s read-out explained (CPPCC):
- “China is facing a complex situation in international public opinion…requiring multiple approaches to resolve doubts and gain recognition and understanding.”
Attendees had a variety of ideas for improving China’s human rights PR, including calls to:
- “Fully tap the universal human values contained in the ‘right to a happy life.’”
- “Improve…translation, narrative selection, and editing strategies.”
- “Express [issues] in words that Westerners can understand and accept.”
The advisors also suggested ways to change the narrative on Tibet and Xinjiang:
- “Tibet completed poverty alleviation work one year ahead of schedule…There are rich human rights development stories here.”
- “Xinjiang should tell stories about economic development and social progress…[and] the struggle to maintain stability and fight terrorism.”
Get smart: No amount of spin is going to make China’s hardline ethnic policies palatable in the West.
4. Done, child policy
On Monday, The Paper reported that top leadership thinks the “two child policy” isn’t working.
Some context: For decades, China’s family planning regulations imposed high costs on families that had more than one child.
- Limits were significantly relaxed in 2016, but birth rates are still falling.
At the Caixin Summit on Saturday, Miao Wei, a member of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), noted that:
- Last year, just 14.65 million babies were born – or 10.48 births per 1000 population.
- That number will fall below 11 million babies by 2030.
Why it matters: Low birth rates and an aging population will increase the dependency ratio, creating a might headwind to economic growth.
Policy researchers are scrambling to formulate a response. A report from the CPPCC recommends:
- “Increasing tax incentives and subsidies, and promoting family-friendly subsidy policies and tax incentives.”
- “Exploring the set-up of a social welfare system…that includes maternity allowances, parental leave pay, and childcare subsidies.”
Get smart: Subsidizing childcare is great, but if women – and couples – don’t want to have more kids, there’s not a whole lot the government can do.
5. Huawei breaks an arm for survival
On Tuesday, Huawei announced the sale of its lower-end smartphone brand Honor to a consortium of over 30 smartphone dealers and the state-owned Shenzhen Smart City Technology Development Group.
The rationale (Huawei):
- “[The decision] comes at a difficult time when supplies are unsustainable and consumer businesses are under tremendous pressure.”
- “This is a self-help behavior initiated by the Honor industry chain.”
Some context: On September 15, US measures came into force that prohibit any company that uses US technology from supplying chips to Huawei without a permit granted by the US.
To bypass the US restrictions, Huawei aims to cut all ties with Honor:
- “Huawei will not own any shares or participate in management and decision-making in the new company.”
Honor is now an SOE (Sina):
- Shenzhen Smart City Technology Development Group owns 98.6% of the new Honor.
- Shenzhen Smart City Technology Development Group is wholly-owned by the Shenzhen government.
Get smart: Beijing’s reactions to US sanctions is to increase state control of the economy, not loosen it.