Central doc no 1, issued 6 February 2016, is the key rural affairs policy document. In a major breakthrough in rural land reform, says 21st Century Business Herald, private capital can now invest in rural tourism and aged care projects via PPP, and peasants can sell contracted farmland or homestead land use rights to private businesses in these sectors.
China’s trade deficit in agriculture shrank in 2016. This was largely due to falling corn and corn substitute imports, following adjustments to the price support policy. The trade deficit in livestock products increased, however, by 22 percent, led by a 110 percent rise in pork product imports. In response to these trends and increasing demand for livestock products and other quality food, the annual central doc no 1 dropped the self-sufficiency goal, standard language in previous policy documents.
Xi burnished his global leadership credentials at Davos; back home the administration remains nervous on the eve of Trump-era America. Official media claim Xi’s ‘China Solution’ is the antidote to de-globalisation, whether or not that was what US voters really had in mind. Trump’s pledge to slash corporate taxes, weakening the RMB and investment into China, is more threatening than a tit-for-tat war over tariffs and exchange rates, but no one is ruling it out.
With NEV (new energy vehicle) sales hitting 500,000 in 2016, China, the world’s largest market for new cars, aims for sales of five million new energy passenger cars by 2020. The state designated NEVs—pure electric, plug-in hybrid electric and fuel cell vehicles—a key strategic emerging industry in 2010. Full-scale subsidies took off in 2013, and the industry grew rapidly as manufacturers cashed in, favouring short-term profit from low-end tech over R&D.
At his 11 January 2017 confirmation hearing, US Secretary of State designate Tillerson pledged to ‘send China a clear signal that, first, the island-building stops and, second, your access to those islands also is not going to be allowed’. This sets up Washington for some hot exchanges with Beijing. Trade war remains a deep concern, though warm exchanges between Trump and Alibaba CEO Jack Ma 马云 gave some sign of a silver lining.
While they outline a broad reform program, state media stressed a focus on protecting private property: rebalancing power between individuals and the state, and reassuring the public that their personal and corporate assets are inviolable. The ‘Opinions’ call for strengthening the property rights legal system, especially through drafting the Civil Code and abolishing legal discrimination against private property holders
State Council released the ‘2016 China aerospace white paper’, encouraging private and foreign capital to invest in commercial rocket development, satellite R&D and commercial projects. The commercial aerospace industry is blossoming, notes Liu Ruopeng 刘若鹏 Shenzhen Kuang-Chi Research Institute director, thanks to steady government support since 2014.
13 million new jobs will have been created in 2016, well over the annual goal, predicts Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security. The number of new migrants working outside their home province, however, increased just 630,000 in 2015 (compared to 8.03 million in 2010), reports Li Tie 李铁 NDRC Centre for Urban Development director, attributing the change to inhospitable settlement policies and declining labour demand: bad news for urbanisation plans.
Risk management mantras dominated the December policy reviews. At the16 December Central Economic Work Conference officials stressed the need to restrain real estate bubbles: ‘houses are for living in, not speculation’. Downplaying growth, they focused, as ever, on decapacity in the coal and steel sectors. The Central Rural Work Conference, a few days later, warned again on the imperative to resolve gridlocks in land ownership and grain pricing. They sounded again the note of high quality, environmentally friendly production.
Managing financial risk was the core message of the 2016 Central Economic Work Conference, winding up 16 December. Officials highlighted the need to restrain real estate bubbles: ‘houses are for living in, not speculation’. Restrictions on buyers and developers appear effective, with price rises slowing in November. The bubble, argue Yin Jinnan 尹晋男 and Feng Jianlin 冯建林 from Beijing think tank FOST, was created by easy credit and supply–demand mismatches.
What will 2017 bring? As a diversion from worries ahead, we continue our holiday series and delve into contemporary Chinese culture. This year we have engaged Timothy Coghlan, PRC fashion industry specialist, to update you on ‘what’s in’ on the local scene..
Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) is targeting major news websites. It censured Sina, Netease, Sohu and Ifeng for sensationalist and obscene clickbait titles. It then ordered Ifeng to shut down multiple news programs: only traditional media outlets may produce news content. MIIT announced a clean up of unregistered domain names, aiming for official certification of 99.9 percent of websites.