1. Boosting the middle of the Middle Kingdom
On Tuesday, Xi Jinping gathered his favorite guys and gal for the monthly Politburo meeting.
Top of the agenda: Reviewing a set of “Guiding Opinions on Promoting High-Quality Development of the Central Region in the New Era.”
Some context: Like most geographic regions in China, what constitutes the “central region” is a matter of debate, but past policies have defined the region as including:
The Politburo’s goals for development of the central region include:
- Building better infrastructure, logistics, and distribution systems
- Developing city clusters
- Promoting rural revitalization and better integrating urban and rural economies
- Using innovation to drive development
And this caught our eye:
- The document calls for forming a “new system based on high-level opening of the inland.”
More context: There has long been a development gap between China’s coast and its inland provinces.
- That gap widened during reform and opening up in the 1990s, as foreign direct investment and export-oriented manufacturing drove explosive growth in coastal cities.
Get smart: Pushing “opening up” and further investment into China’s central provinces could address the inequality between regions and boost domestic consumption – two top priorities for the Party.
2. Kneecapping Hong Kong democracy
On Tuesday, the NPCSC, China’s top legislative body, officially approved changes to Hong Kong’s electoral system (see March 23 Tip Sheet).
- Some context: The changes were put forward earlier this month at the Two Sessions.
As expected, this pretty much cuts the legs out from under Hong Kong’s opposition.
The details: The Legislative Council (LegCo) will be expanded from 70 to 90 seats, of which:
- The Election Committee (EC) will appoint 40 seats
- Industry groups will appoint 30 seats
- Just 20 seats will be determined via direct voting – down from 35 previously
Some quick math: This means that just over 20% of the LegCo will be appointed by direct voting – down from 50% before.
The EC will grow from 1,200 to 1,500 members, by adding a fifth “sector” of Beijing loyalists.
- LegCo candidates will be required to secure nominations from all of the EC’s five sectors, making it near impossible for opposition candidates to get nominated.
- The EC will be led by a chief convener who must also hold “state leadership office,” i.e. a mainland top job.
Finally, a new “vetting committee” will be set up to screen all candidates to both the LegCo and the EC.
Get smart: We’re not trying to bum anyone out, but it’s almost hard to imagine a more final nail in the coffin for Hong Kong democracy.
3. Xi’s battles against baddies continue
Xi Jinping is not stopping in his fight to take on all “bad elements” of Chinese society.
- That was the message from China’s top law enforcement official, Guo Shengkun, on Monday.
Some context: Guo’s announcement followed a ceremony hosted by Xi Jinping to celebrate the end of a three-year campaign to take on organized crime (see yesterday’s Tip Sheet).
Guo said that the campaign will be extended indefinitely.
- To this end, the central government will set up a leading small group to spearhead the battle against organized crime.
He said that the weeding out of organized crime will focus specifically on ten sectors, including:
- Financial lending
- Transport and logistics
- Natural resources
- Environmental protection
He also noted that any involvement of officials in such crimes will be scrutinized extra carefully.
Guo also urged the public to come in with tips, via a recently established online portal.
- And promised that officials will be held accountable for life if they don’t take those tips seriously.
Get smart: Just as with his anti-corruption campaign, Xi doesn’t believe in stopping at campaign’s end when faced with issues that could threaten the Party’s grasp on power.
4. NEA’s 2025 vision for renewables
At a presser on Tuesday, top officials from the National Energy Administration (NEA) straightened out some questions re: China’s plans for renewable energy development.
Some context: Last December, Xi Jinping pledged that by 2030 non-fossil fuels will account for approximately 25% of China’s total primary energy consumption – without explaining how.
- But at this year’s Two Sessions, policymakers seemed protective of coal-based energy sources in the name of maintaining energy security (see March 5 Tip Sheet).
- And the 14th Five-Year Plan didn’t offer a clear vision for renewables in China’s future energy mix (see March 9 Tip Sheet).
To help set the record straight, the energy regulators announced on Tuesday that:
- By 2025, installed power generation capacity from renewables will account for more than 50% of China’s total power generation capacity.
And said that renewable energy will cover most of China’s growth in energy demand:
- By 2025, renewable energy is expected to supply two thirds of new electricity demand nationwide – meeting more than 50% of new primary energy consumption.
Get smart: That’s not very ambitious.
- Between 2016 and 2019, more than half of China’s new power generation capacity already came from renewable sources.
Get smarter: While the NEA has finally revealed some specific goals for renewable energy development, the details of how they plan to meet those goals are still very much in the works.
5. Carbon rulez
On Tuesday, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) released a draft revision of the “Interim Regulations on the Management of Carbon Emissions Trading.”
We know what you’re thinking.
- Isn’t this doc just a set of more detailed implementation measures largely similar to the administrative measures for the national carbon emissions rights trading scheme that the MEE released in January (see January 6 TipSheet)?
Why, yes. It is indeed.
But not so fast: The new interim regs did include some new information.
- The regs spell out that no additional local markets for carbons emissions trading will be established – with all existing local markets being gradually incorporated into the national market.
- The proceeds from selling carbon emission quotas will be used to improve the national carbon emissions market, as well as for projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Get smart: After MEE minister Huang Runqiu announced that a national launch of online trading would happen by the end of June (see March 1 Tip Sheet), regulators are now rushing to sort out the legal framework.