1. Policy advisors project 8% growth in 2021
Over the weekend, two top economic policy advisors projected that China’s real GDP growth will hit 8% in 2021.
- Liu Shijin, deputy director of the economic affairs commission under the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, said China should push for 7-8% growth, or even higher, next year.
- Liu Yuanchun, vice president of Renmin University of China, projected 8.1% growth.
Some context: Both Liu Shijin and Liu Yuanchun are connected at the highest levels, supporting China’s leaders with economic policy research and in setting macroeconomic targets.
Hold up: Neither Liu is particularly bullish about the economy – they are just saying it will be easy to grow in 2021 relative to 2020.
Liu Shijin argues (Sina):
- “It will still be recovery growth, because of the low base this year.”
And growth will peak early in the year, according to Liu Yuanchun, who predicts:
- Real GDP growth will reach 11.4% y/y in Q1 next year, and then fall to 5.4% by Q4.
The reason? Stimulus policy exit (Yicai):
- “[The uptick in Q4 2020 and Q1 2021 is] thanks to the effect of this year’s large-scale fiscal stimulus.”
- “[P]olicy support for economic recovery will gradually decrease and extraordinary economic relief policies will surely be withdrawn starting in 2021.”
Get smart: These policy advisors are being pretty cautious in their projections for 2021 – based primarily on their expectations that stimulus policies will continue to be rolled back throughout the year.
2. How the sausage gets made – NPC edition
The next National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) meeting will be December 22-26.
- NPCSC Chairman Li Zhanshu announced the dates on Friday, along with a massive list of legislation that will be up for consideration or review.
On the NPCSC’s agenda:
- Amendments to the NPC Organic Law and the NPC Rules of Procedure
- The Yangtze River Protection law
- The Criminal Law Amendment (XI)
- The Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Law
- The Rural Revitalization Promotion Law
- The Coast Guard Law
- Revisions to the National Defense Law
- The Hainan Free Trade Port Law
- An Anti-Food Waste Law
- An Anti-Organized Crime Law
- A Supervisors Law
- Revisions to the Maritime Traffic Safety Law
- Revisions to the Military Service Law
- Revisions to the Military Facilities Protection Law
- A Law on the Protection of the Status, Rights, and Interests of MIlitary Personnel
- A decision on oversight of state assets management
- A decision to create a Hainan Free Trade Port Intellectual Property Court
Some context: The Party’s Central Economic Work Conference and Central Rural Work Conference are also held in December to set top-line economic policy for the coming year.
Get smart: Between the end-of-year legislative shuffle, 14th Five-Year Plan preparations, and other major upcoming meetings, expect an onslaught of policy moves.
3. Getting healthy, patriotically
On Friday, the State Council issued a policy document re-launching a “patriotic heath campaign” (PHC).
You might remember patriotic health campaigns from Chinese history class…
- Mao Zedong first mentioned the “health campaign” idea during a visit to Changgang Township in 1933. He wanted to reduce common diseases in communist-controlled territories.
- In 1952, a PHC was launched in response to alleged germ warfare by the US during the Korean War.
- In the early 1950s, a famous PHC took aim at rats, flies, mosquitos, and sparrows.
- In the 70s, PHCs were aimed at epidemic control, as well as improving public health capacity.
- Since the 80s, they have included urban greening, civility, and environmental protection.
- The most recent PHC, launched in 2015, focused on clean public spaces, politeness, and public health spending.
Spoiler alert: The latest PHC is pretty similar to the 2015 version.
It outlines 19 measures focused on:
- Optimizing public health facilities
- Improving living conditions, including drinking water, wastewater treatment, and rural toilets
- Promoting a “green and civil lifestyle”
- Developing health industry clusters
Get smart: It’s no mystery why the State Council wanted to update the PHC this year. COVID-19 has reminded leaders that they should invest more in public health.
4. China to be more active on world stage
On Monday, Politburo member Yang Jiechi published an article in the People’s Daily laying out the Party’s approach to foreign policy over the coming five years.
Some context: Yang is China’s top-ranked foreign affairs official. He oversees the office of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission.
Most strikingly, Yang’s essay augurs a much more assertive China on the world stage:
- “Our country’s international influence is continuously increasing.”
- “We have contributed more Chinese wisdom, Chinese solutions, and Chinese strength to international society, and have received widespread praise and support.”
- “[Going forward], we will participate constructively in the process of solving international and regional problems…and provide China’s wisdom and Chinese solutions.”
Yang acknowledged that the world is a tricky place these days:
- “The international system is facing new challenges.”
- “International security risks are multiplying.”
And here’s how Yang sees the fundamental job of diplomats:
- “To actively create a good external environment…in order to achieve our strategic goals.”
Get smart: Chinese diplomacy has been an epic failure in recent years.
- With the United States largely absent from global affairs, China had a golden opportunity to position itself as a world leader.
- Instead, “Wolf Warrior” diplomacy has served to alienate China in much of the world.
Based on Yang’s essay, things are unlikely to change.
5. Ruan Chengfa takes the wheel in Yunnan
Here’s the final installment in our continuing series on the four recently promoted provincial Party bosses.
Last but not least: On November 20, Ruan Chengfa was appointed Party secretary of Yunnan.
- Ruan takes over the role from Chen Hao, who is stepping down after having reached retirement age.
A little about Ruan:
- Before his promotion to acting governor of Yunnan in 2016, Ruan had spent his entire political career in his native Hubei.
- Ruan is best known for his time in Wuhan, where he served as mayor and then Party secretary for nine years, between 2007 to 2016.
- In Wuhan, Ruan focused on upgrading the city’s infrastructure. He was well known for spurring economic growth – but also criticized in some quarters for taking on too much debt to do so.
Get smart: Ruan is likely to retire in two years when he reaches the retirement age for ministerial-level officials.
Get smarter: “Retirement” for Ruan means that he will likely join one of the subcommittees of the legislature (NPC) or political advisory body (CPPCC).
- These positions allow retired officials to still have a voice in their areas of expertise.