driving the day
1. Politburo studies IPR protection
On Tuesday, the Politburo gathered for a study session.
The topic: Intellectual property rights (IPR) protection.
Xi Jinping explained why this subject is important right now (People.cn):
- “At the moment, China is transforming from an IPR importer to an IPR creator, and IPR work is shifting from pursuit of quantity to improving quality.”
Xi wants IPR protection to be law-based:
- “While strictly implementing the Civil Code, it is necessary to revise the Patent Law, Trademark Law, Copyright Law, Anti-monopoly Law, and Science and Technology Progress Law […] and to speed up legislation in areas of geographical indications and commercial secrets.”
He also linked IPR protection to national security:
- “It is necessary to strengthen independent RD and [IPR] protection of key technologies related to national security and to manage the transfer of IPR related to national security.”
Get smart: Weak IPR protections have long been a gripe of foreign businesses. Now that China has a large and growing trove of its own IP that needs protecting, improving protections are in everyone’s interest.
Get smarter: Better IPR protections underpin a bunch of Beijing’s policy objectives, from improving the business environment and attracting foreign investment, to boosting indigenous innovation.
2. Government looks to raise retirement age
After decades of the one-child policy, the country’s population is aging rapidly.
With the rising number of oldsters, Beijing needs to address a looming labor shortage.
Some context: China’s working age population is predicted to decrease from more than 900 million in 2011 to about 700 million in 2050.
- Those numbers mean Beijing needs to raise the retirement age.
More context: China’s average retirement age is 55 – about 10 years earlier than many other major economies.
Recently, one of the official guidance documents of the Party’s recommendations to the 14 Five-Year Plan called for the gradual adjustment of retirement-related policiesby (Xinhua):
- “[Adhering] to the combination of unified rules and voluntary choice and will make small and gradual adjustments to reduce social shocks.”
On Tuesday, Yicai scooped that the government has some specific ideas on how to ease people into the new system, including:
- Raising the retirement age by one year every three years
- Using economic incentives to tempt people into staying in the workforce longer
Get smart: Postponing retirement is politically controversial. Policymakers want to reduce possible social discontent.
Get smarter: The Fifth Plenum gave this initiative a renewed push. It may happen in 2021.
3. Han Zheng hosts movie night
On Tuesday, Executive Vice Premier Han Zheng chaired a meeting of the leading group focused on developing the Yangtze River Economic Belt (YREB).
Some context: The YREB encompasses 11 provinces and municipalities from source to sea along the Yangtze River.
- The developed eastern Yangtze River Delta is subject to stricter environmental regulations than the rest of China – including winter air pollution controls (see October 15 Tip Sheet).
The group watched a documentary showing local environmental protection failings.
- The “warning film” was made by CCTV and the Ministry of Ecology and Environment.
- It included footage of surprise visits and inspections across the entire YREB.
After the film, Han berated for (Gov.cn):
- “Poor ideological understanding, work styles, development methods, and regulatory systems and mechanisms that urgently need to be addressed.”
Then, Han discussed next steps:
- “[P]ay close attention to the rectification of prominent environmental problems…trace root causes and achieve results.”
- “Focus on the formation of an aorta for smooth domestic and international circulation.”
Get smart: Just a few weeks ago, Xi Jinping said he wants the region to showcase how environment and development can be balanced under the dual circulation strategy (see November 16 Tip Sheet).
Get smarter: There’s still a long way to go before the YREB is ready to serve as a model.
4. Fujian gets a new Party secretary
It’s appointment season in provincial politics.
Some context: Over the past two weeks, the Party secretaries of Jilin, Hunan, Guizhou, and Yunnan all got switched out.
The latest: On Tuesday, the Party announced that Yin Li is taking over the top spot in Fujian.
- Yin is taking over from Yu Weiguo, who is stepping down due to having reached retirement age.
A little about Yin:
- Yin is a health professional with a PhD in medicine.
- After getting his doctor’s degree from the Russian Academy of Sciences in 1993, Yin worked for a decade at the State Council Research Office.
- He was then served a decade at the Ministry of Health (2003-2013), including as vice minister in charge of the State Drug Administration.
- Between 2004-2005, Yin served on the executive committee of the World Health Organization.
- Since March 2015, Yin’ has been serving on the Sicuhan provincial Party standing committee, most recently as governor.
Get smart: When technocrats like Yin are parachuted into provincial government leadership roles, it marks them as a rising star. Yin will not reach retirement age until 2027, meaning that he is almost certain to assume higher office in the future.
5. Provincial appointment trends
As regular Tip Sheet readers know, there has been a lot of turnover among the provincial leadership over the past month (see entry above).
- In the past two weeks, six new provincial Party secretaries have been appointed.
- In total, there have been 10 new provincial Party secretaries appointed in 2020.
On Tuesday, the good folks at Southern Weekend (via Sohu) took a look at the recent appointments.
They identified some interesting trends.
First: If you want to be a provincial Party secretary these days, it is more or less de rigeur that you first serve in provincial leadership.
- Of the 31 current provincial Party secretaries, 30 had previously served as provincial governors and/or deputy Party secretaries.
Get smart: Before Xi took over the Party in 2012, it was more common for central officials to be appointed as provincial Party secretaries.
Another trend: Provincial Party secretaries are getting appointed – and stepping down – at a later age than in the past.
- Three of the provincial Party secretaries who recently stepped down continued to serve for over a year after having reached retirement age.
Get smarter: The leadership under Xi is getting older. That is creating a bunch of disgruntled younger officials that were expecting to get promoted.