1. Exports keep on keepin’ on…for now
2. China reaches 68% vaccination rate
On Tuesday, the State Council held a press conference to update the public about COVID-19 vaccinations.
This just in: Health officials revealed that as of Monday, China had:
- Administered a cumulative total of 2.113 billion doses of vaccines
- Fully inoculated a total of 969.72 million people
Some quick math: That means China has achieved a vaccination rate of roughly 68.7% – based on the population data from the May census.
- That’s pretty impressive progress, especially on the back of an unofficial vaccination target of just 40% for the first half of 2021.
But what happened last week? Vaccinations averaged 8.16 million doses a day last week – a significant slowdown from 13.44 million a week earlier.
Get smart: Local governments have their hands tied after central authorities banned local vaccine mandates, which restrict movement and access to public services for the unvaccinated.
- Central government officials made it clear again on Tuesday that vaccination status cannot affect a person’s access to public venues, social credit records, school enrollment, or social welfare and pension payments.
What to watch: As China looks set to reach herd immunity this year, will Beijing feel confident enough to relax some of its highly restrictive measures, and shift from its “zero tolerance” mentality?
Our guess: Probably not.
3. Beefing up Antitrust Law enforcement
On Friday, Wang Jian, policy advisor to the Anti-Monopoly Commission (AMC), gave an interview to financial media outlet Caijing.
What’s the AMC? It’s China’s top anti-monopoly policymaking body, chaired by State Councilor Wang Yong.
Wang Jian’s message: Tough antitrust regulation is the new normal (Caijing):
- Strengthening antitrust work will be an ongoing priority.
- The antitrust supervision of platform enterprises has achieved initial success, but needs to be further strengthened.
What grabbed our attention: A plan for antitrust enforcement reform will soon emerge, according to an unnamed source.
- Policymakers are considering setting up a high-level antitrust enforcement agency, and increasing the number of antitrust staff.
ICYDK: The current enforcement agency is the Antitrust Bureau under the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR).
- This bureau is hamstrung by having a relatively low-level administrative status, and insufficient manpower with less than 50 staff.
Get smart: China’s antitrust regulators and enforcers are set to become more powerful than ever.
Get smarter: This reform is long overdue. Expect antitrust probes to pick up pace once again after the reforms are passed.
4. Qianhai on life
On Monday, the Party Central Committee and the State Council jointly issued a new plan to turbocharge Shenzhen’s Qianhai economic cooperation zone.
Some context: Established in 2010, and mostly built on reclaimed land, Qianhai was designated a special district to promote economic synergy between Shenzhen and neighboring Hong Kong, especially in the service industry.
- Since then, some 11,500 Hong Kong-invested companies have set up shop – about 10% of the zone’s tax-paying total.
The document laid out some big plans for Qianhai…literally:
- The plan calls for expanding Qianhai’s size by a factor of eight, from 15 to 121 square kilometers.
Some other provisions also caught our eye, with the plan calling for:
- Establishing a fair competition review system
- Granting Qianhai a high degree of administrative autonomy
- Exploring allowing qualified Hong Kong, Macau, and foreign residents to participate in Qianhai’s administration and legal system
- Using Hong Kong law and arbitration procedures for settling civil cases in Qianhai
Get smart: Along with the newly announced plan to boost cooperation between Zhuhai and Macau, the Qianhai announcement shows that big things are afoot in the Greater Bay Area.
Get smarter: This is also Beijing’s way of throwing a (politically uncontroversial) bone to a demoralized Hong Kong.
5. China to trial green electricity trading
On Tuesday, the macroeconomic planner (NDRC) revealed some details about plans to conduct trial transactions for green electricitygenerated from renewable sources.
Like every major economy, China must shift away from fossil fuel energy to reduce its carbon footprint.
- One key problem is how to incentivize electricity consumers to use more green power.
What’s the new plan?
- Independent and market-based trading of renewable-generated electricity will be established within current medium and long-term frameworks.
- Electricity users willing to shoulder more social responsibility will be able to purchase green electricity directly from renewable generators.
- Wind and solar power generators will be allowed to participate in green electricity trading, with other renewable generators joining later.
What’s the incentive?
- Green electricity will enjoy prioritized dispatch and settlement, so it gets onto the grid and reaches end-users before electricity from dirtier sources, namely coal.
- Other policies encouraging green electricity purchase will follow.
Get smart: The NDRC already mandates a minimum level of renewable energy to be consumed by each province every year.
- The new scheme aims to encourage more renewable energy usage with a pathway for electricity users and corporates to race to the top.
Stay tuned: The NDRC and the energy administrator (NEA) will work with electricity trading exchanges in Beijing and Guangzhou, as well as China’s two major state-owned power grids, to design detailed green electricity trading rules.