1. Delta under control
That was fast.
Tough responses by authorities nationwide have brought Delta-variant infections under control.
On Sunday, China reported zero new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases (NHC).
- That was the first day of zero infections since mid-July.
The recent outbreak had reached nearly 50 cities across 17 provinces, including Wuhan, which had been COVID-free for over a year (Bloomberg).
Some localities are starting to lift lockdown measures:
- On Thursday, Nanjing resumed selling airline tickets.
- Sichuan, Hainan, and Shandong have restarted inter-provincial group tourism.
There are still plenty of restrictions in place. One example:
- As of Thursday, 94 highway toll gates in Jiangsu, the recent COVID hotspot, were still closed.
Get smart: China’s “zero tolerance” policy on COVID is costly but effective. Beijing is not likely to abandon it any time soon.
2. De-stressing the grassroots
On Friday, Politburo member and Xi Jinping’s chief-of-staff Ding Xuexiang chaired a meeting of the Party’s special working mechanism for rectifying formalism and alleviating burdens on the grassroots.
Translation: The Party is looking to cut lower-level cadres some slack.
How will they do that?
By reducing administrative tasks – and the number of inspections (Xinhua):
- “While highlighting the problem of unnecessary and repetitive meetings, paperwork and performance evaluations, the meeting asked localities to guard against and rectify newly-emerged practices of formalities for formalities’ sake.”
That doesn’t mean lower-level officials are allowed to do a poor job:
- “The competent authorities will mete out severe punishments to those causing serious consequences due to their superficial measures on pandemic response or production safety.”
Get smart: None of this is new. The Central Committee General Office released a circular with similar action points in March 2019.
- Two and a half years on, bureaucratism and inaction remain rampant within the Party-state system.
Our thought: Formalism could be better addressed if the public were given more say in whether their officials are performing well or not.
The bottom line: It’s hard to get rid of formalism in a top-down system – it’s pretty much a built-in feature.
3. Inspection time!
On Friday, the 30th session of the 13th National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) concluded in Beijing.
All told, the NPCSC adopted four new laws:
- The Personal Information Protection Law
- The Legal Aid Law
- The Physicians Law
- The Supervision Officials Law
We think all of those are pretty neato.
- But the Supervision Officials Law is especially interesting.
The law better defines the remit and responsibilities of a corps of disciplinary “supervisors” to root out misconduct among state and Party officials.
- It also provides a stronger legal basis for the National Supervisory Commission (NSC).
Some context: Founded in 2018 to facilitate disciplinary inspections over both Party and state officials, the NSC shares much of its portfolio with the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Party’s internal enforcer.
And get this: The law empowers supervisors to take to court officials who interfere with their work.
Who supervises the supervisor, you ask?
- The law says anyone has the power to report misconduct by supervisors.
- But, to whom they report this misconduct is not clear.
Get smart: Corruption and malfeasance hurt the Party’s credibility and hinder important policy initiatives. Xi and co. are serious about rooting it out.
Get smarter: As long as the Party insists on policing itself, corruption will continue to be a problem.
4. Personal Information Protection Law passed
agriculture and rural affairs
5. Delivering on development
It’s high time to share the love.
Beijing wants rural businesses and consumers to benefit from lightning fast logistics.
On Friday, the State Council issued a policy document calling to speed up construction of rural delivery and logistics systems.
- It targets building a “safe, efficient, and basically complete” rural logistics system by 2025.
- Hundreds of pilot projects are set to kick off by July 2022 (Gov.cn 2).
Some context: China’s urban logistics networks are pretty impressive.
- Here in major cities, we can get just about anything, from just about anywhere, delivered in a day or so.
- In rural areas, shipments can still be subject to long delays and high prices.
Policymakers want rural logistics upgrades to benefit the agriculture sector, noting that (Gov.cn 1):
- “Rural logistics is an important channel for agricultural products to…reach cities.”
- “Promoting construction [of rural logistics] supports employment and entrepreneurship of the people.”
Beijing also believes improved logistics will boost consumption in rural areas.
- Many urban consumers find shopping online far more convenient than visiting physical stores.
- Faster, cheaper rural deliveries could super-charge consumption and improve villagers’ quality of life.
Get smart: Fiscal support to rural logistics can help farmers, boost consumption, and stimulate the economy simultaneously.
- That sounds like a triple win to us.