1. Unprecedented jabbing
Over the past week, China’s vaccination drive hit new record highs.
- As of Monday, China had administered a total of 1.2 billion vaccine doses – up from 1.05 billion doses a week ago.
Some quick math: That means last week’s daily administered doses averaged 22.42 million.
That’s a new record!
- Last week’s daily average of 22.42 million vaccine doses administered is up from the previous record of 20.8 million achieved the week before.
Get smart: Two factors are driving the uptick in vaccination speed.
- With COVID-19 outbreaks in Guangdong now under control, areas that had paused vaccination campaigns for fear of clustered infections at vaccination sites and to allocate more medical personnel to local testing campaigns have redoubled their vaccination efforts.
- The government is keen to achieve the the target of fully inoculating 40% of the population before the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party on July 1.
The big question: Can China sustain this pace of vaccination after the Party’s centenary?
2. Xi, Putin double down
On Monday, Xi Jinping spoke via video link with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The occasion: Re-upping the China-Russia Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation (referred to as the CRToGNaFC in the treaty-watching community).
Some context: The agreement, first signed in July 2001, sets out non-binding instructions for Russia-China cooperation.
It also clarifies a few areas where China and Russia see eye to eye:
- There is only one China.
- Russia and China have no territorial disputes.
- The UN is the most authoritative international organization.
The video call yielded some solid quotes. The two sides agreed to (Gov.cn 1):
- “Support and practice true multilateralism.”
- “Oppose interference in other countries’ internal affairs under the guise of ‘democracy’ and ‘human rights.’”
- “Oppose unilateral mandatory sanctions.”
- “Oppose the use of the pandemic and Covid origin tracing for political ends.”
TLDR: Russia and China have similar feelings about the US.
Get smart: This treaty extension – and the Xi-Putin meeting – is more statement than action.
Get smarter: But, that statement is a strong show of solidarity from two countries who are increasingly feeling the heat from DC and the rest of the West.
3. Working class hero(es)
That was Xi’s message to 29 lucky Party members who received the very first batch of July 1 Medals Tuesday.
Xi said the medals were for those Average Zhous who had contributed to the Party’s success (China Daily):
- “The recipients are ordinary heroes that fulfill their duties and make quiet contributions.”
- “Generations of Chinese Communists have fought tenaciously for national independence and liberation, for prosperity and strength of the country, and for the happiness of the people.”
Some were honored for martial valor, including:
- A Chinese Civil War veteran
- A maritime militiaman
- A soldier who died in last year’s border clashes with India
Others for Party-building work, including:
- A Uyghur village chief who fought local separatism
- A Tibetan cadre who “led the people to follow the Party”
And still others for various contributions to education, diplomacy, science, media, and national unity.
Get smart: Despite its humble origins, the CCP has increasingly become a party of technocrats and business elites.
- Xi wants to make sure the Party is still seen as being by the people and for the people.
4. Branding for the future
Just in time for the Party’s 100th birthday on Thursday, on Monday, the Central Committee issued the Party’s first ever flag and emblem rules.
The goal: To standardize the production, use, and management of the Party’s two main symbols.
This is hardly earth-shattering (People.cn):
- “The Party emblem consists of a sickle and a hammer.”
- “The Party flag is a red flag decorated with a golden Party emblem.”
This is a bummer – The new rules forbid use of the flag and emblem in:
- Trademarks and patent designs
- Commercial advertisements
- Any private activities or events
- Personal spaces – whether on or offline
- Daily decor
- Other “unsuitable” places
Looks like Trivium HQ will have to do some redecorating…
Get smart: Having a centralized and standardized branding practice is Marketing 101.
- We’re surprised it took the Party a hundred years to get this on paper.
5. Big dam turbines
On Monday, China brought the world’s largest hydropower turbines online.
Baihetan hydropower station, located on the border of Sichuan and Yunnan, started up the first two of its 16 units.
- Each turbine has one gigawatt of generation capacity.
- That’s equivalent to three million solar photovoltaic panels – each.
Some context: Once completed next year, Baihetan will become the world’s second-largest hydropower project – after only the Three Gorges Dam.
It’s a massive technological achievement.
- Xi Jinping touted Baihetan as a huge step for China’s high-end equipment manufacturing and engineering prowess – both of which are key to moving the economy up the value chain.
It’s also key to the East-West Electricity Transfer Project.
- The east needs power; the west needs money; and everyone needs less coal.
- Baihetan is a big piece of that long-standing puzzle.
Get smart: Hydropower is a big part of China’s carbon neutrality push – but it has limited room for further growth.
- Solar and wind power will remain the largest growth segments moving forward.
6. NDRC to raise household electricity prices
Last Thursday, in an unusual response to an online comment, the macro planner (NDRC) hinted at higher household electricity charges.
Specifically, NDRC called for (Gov.cn):
- “Restoring the commodity attribute of electricity”
- “Making household electricity prices better reflect the costs of supplying power”
Some context: Because of a wacky pricing system, electricity in China is way cheap for households.
- In 2019, China’s household electricity price averaged 40% of average levels in OECD countries.
This causes a few problems.
- Chinese households waste a lot of electricity.
- Meanwhile, some industrial users end up having to pay more than they should for electricity.
The NDRC’s fix: It has promised to update the way that it calculates household electricity charges.
- This will almost certainly result in higher electricity costs for most households.
Get smart: Raising electricity prices is a good way to curb electricity use. That should benefit China’s goals of controlling carbon emissions and reducing energy intensity.