driving the day
1. The longer arm of the law
On Friday, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee – China’s top legislative body – published its work priorities for the year.
There are 41.
Sound like a bit much? Don’t worry, we won’t go through them all here.
The super quick recap: The plan covers overall efforts to improve China’s legal system.
Some of the more interesting priorities include:
- Making sure laws and regulations are in line with the constitution
- Properly handling suggestions put forward by citizens and organizations
- Sorting out any issues between the “One Country, Two Systems” and the Basic Law (Hong Kong’s mini constitution)
- Revising the Organic Law of the State Council
- Promoting legislative exchanges with key countries, including Russia, the EU, and the US
But here is what really caught our eye:
- The plan called for “enriching the legal toolbox” for responding to sanctions, foreign interference, and long-arm jurisdiction from other countries.
Get smart: Sino-US economic tensions aren’t going away any time soon. Beijing wants more tools to respond to US sanctions and other measures.
The bigger picture: It’s not just China that is looking to craft more measures for regulating corporate activity outside its borders.
- The EU and the US are also upping their long-arm jurisdiction games.
The bottom line: This is all bad news for foreign companies, which will increasingly be caught in the crossfire.
finance & economics
2. Room for one more at the (trade pact) party?
According to Bloomberg, China is talking with Australia, Malaysia, and New Zealand about joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
Some context: CPTPP is a free trade pact including 11 Pacific countries.
More context: The CPTPP is the successor to the TPP, which was an American-led initiative to set the rules for trade in the region and counter China’s growing economic clout. The US withdrew from the TPP in January 2017.
That China is seriously looking into CPTPP will come as no surprise to Tip Sheet readers.
- Xi Jinping made waves in November when he said that China would look into joining (see the November 23 Tip Sheet).
It’s hard to see China joining CPTPP any time soon.
- Current members have been clear that concessions for new parties are off the table.
- And China will have an uphill battle meeting requirements that limit state support for companies.
So why is China even trying?
- China’s worried about being cut off from Western markets – which are key sources of technology and other critical economic inputs.
But there is a bigger story here as well. Market-oriented reformers have been pushing for joining CPTPP (and TPP) for over a decade. They want to use the pact to push through reforms at home.
politics & policy
3. Draghing China back into the EU’s good graces
On Monday, Li Keqiang held a call with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.
According to the Chinese readout, it was a total amore-fest.
- Much love was expressed for the two countries’ comprehensive strategic partnership.
This was music to Li’s ears:
- Draghi announced his support for advancing the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) as soon as possible.
Important context: The CAI concluded in December 2020, but still hasn’t been ratified by the European Parliament.
- The deal was thrown into doubt in March 2021, when the EU sanctioned four Chinese officials over human rights in Xinjiang and China responded with a strongly worded announcement of retaliatory sanctions.
Get smart: China is keen to get the CAI done, but with anti-China sentiment on the rise in Europe – and among European MEPs, ratification of the deal looks increasingly unlikely. Draghi’s endorsement won’t change that.
4. Yang Jiechi commemorates 100 years of Party diplomacy
On Sunday, China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi penned a lengthy (and we mean LENGTHY) op-ed in Qiushi, the Party’s foremost theoretical journal.
Yang’s topic: The Party’s foreign relations at 100.
ICYMI: 2021 is the 100th anniversary of the CCP’s founding.
Yang’s piece recounted the Party’s diplomatic achievements over the past century (Qiushi):
- “[F]oreign affairs work is an important part of our Party’s magnificent history of struggle…and has witnessed the great leap of the Chinese nation from standing up to getting rich to becoming strong.”
- “We need to draw strength from history…and strive to promote great power diplomacy with Chinese characteristics.”
The piece also devoted significant (some might say disproportionate) word count to Xi Jinping’s personal contributions to Chinese diplomacy:
- “The…pioneering achievements of China’s foreign policy work lie in the fact that General Secretary Xi Jinping has personally directed [the work] and acted on his own strength.”
- “It lies in the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core.”
Get smart: Yang’s piece makes clear that China will continue to play a more active role in global affairs going forward.
Get smarter: It also makes it clear that Xi Jinping calls the shots re: foreign policy.
5. Get a job!
Ensuring employment for newly minted college graduates is a constant headache for top officials.
It’s easy to understand why: A record 9.09 million students will graduate from Chinese universities in 2021.
Have no fear: Vice Premier Sun Chunlan is on the case.
Speaking at a job fair at China Agricultural University on Monday, Sun had some advice for job seekers (Xinhua):
- “College graduates should formulate appropriate ideas about employment, aim high, fuse personal goals with those of the Party and country, make practical plans for their work and lives… go to the central and western regions and find work in areas where the country most needs [workers]”
Sun’s got a point: According to recruiting site Zhaopin, there are 1.4 jobs available per college graduate.
Get smart: It’s not necessarily that there aren’t enough jobs. It’s that there aren’t enough jobs in the right places.