Since the 5-year plan for rural revitalisation was released late September, public and private entities have issued a flood of related policy documents, action plans and cooperation agreements. Releases last week included a strategic cooperation agreement between state-owned investment giant CITIC Group and Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA), along with substantial debate on dairy industry revitalisation.
Where Jiang and Hu saw reform driving the Party, Xi thinks matters should have been the reverse. Xi envisions a Party that is stronger, smarter and ideologically coherent at all levels of administration.
The five-year rural revitalisation strategic plan, anticipated since March, was at last published by the Central Committee and the State Council 26 September.
In the wake of 19th Party Congress commitments to a ‘New Era’ growth model, old zones are being consolidated while Beijing plans a new generation of centrally controlled zones to pursue ‘high quality’ and ‘high tech’ growth eschewing subsidies. These new-model zones are the cutting edge of China’s effort to transition to a new economic model. Trade tension, forcing external adjustments to supply chains, adds urgency to this effort.
The past fortnight saw more ‘mixed signals’ from the US: just three days after the US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin proposed a new round of trade talks later this month, President Trump announced he would push ahead with tariffs on US$200 bn in Chinese goods on 17 September, with threats of an additional US$267 bn should China retaliate.
As Beijing promises more aid and investment in Africa, it faces concern at home about giving something away for nothing—and criticism abroad that it is taking too much in return. A new agency is tasked with aligning aid with foreign policy priorities, while Xi reiterates vows not to interfere in the domestic affairs of other countries.
Rebar futures fell suddenly on 10 September following rumours that the state would remove heating season industrial production controls and loosen targeted reduction of heavy pollution days in the final version of ‘Action plan for controlling air pollution in Jingjinji in 2018-19 heating season’.
At the long-awaited 2018 Forum of China–Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Beijing Summit, President Xi announced eight major initiatives: industrial promotion, infrastructure connectivity, trade facilitation, green development, capacity building, cooperation in healthcare, increasing cultural exchanges, and ensuring peace and security.
China’s relations with Afghanistan have steadily improved since it re-opened an embassy in Kabul in 2002. The two declared a strategic partnership in 2012. China is Afghanistan’s largest investor, following a successful 2007 US$2.9 bn bid for the Mes Aynak copper mine. While devoting ever more diplomatic resources to Afghanistan, China faces growing security concerns and economic risks.
On 3 August 2018, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) published its first epidemic alert, on the first-ever outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) in China. Within a month, five new cases were detected in Henan, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui. At a 29 August news briefing, MARA acknowledged it could not rule out new outbreaks—this spells disaster for pig producers, already at the bottom of the pig cycle and pressured by trade war tariffs.
‘Stability’ is the watchword as economic priorities respond to a slowdown. The Politburo used the word 18 times in the press release from its 31 July meeting, vowing to stabilise growth, investment, employment finance and, most importantly, market expectations. The state appears to be relaxing efforts to take on structural challenges, such as implicit local government debt, housing bubble, and soft budget constraint, as it pivots to growth stabilisation.
Since the 1980s, China has imported solid waste as a source of raw materials. Rapid development, particularly in manufacturing, drives demand for inputs available from waste. Although China produces an abundance of waste, the more mature sorting systems of developed countries often make their waste cheaper to process.