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19th Party Congress bulletin 3: Xi’s report

Under Mao, China stood up (站起来); since the late ‘70s, it has been busy ‘getting rich’ (富起来) (or at least ‘moderately prosperous’); and now in the Xi Jinping-anointed ‘New Era’ of post-reform China it has ‘gained power’ (强起来).

cp.positions • audit of shifts across sectors • alternating weeks economy/governance

The civilian and defence sectors must work together in sci-tech, stresses the Central Civil–Military Integrated Development Commission. Since central sci-tech funding reform is almost completed, military R&D should engage with scientific and business communities to become more cost-effective.

cp.public • open access to a selection of China Policy material

debating North Korea

As rumbles from North Korea’s sixth nuclear test in September 2017 subsided, debate within China exploded into character assassinations and insults. Zhu Zhihua 朱志华 Zhejiang Association of International Relations deputy president savaged Jia Qingguo 贾庆国 Peking University School of International Studies dean, for his proposal to start contingency planning talks with the US and South Korea, which ‘copy the US’ and ‘hint a military attack may be the next step’. Evoking the spectre of Cultural Revolution struggle sessions, he insinuated Jia held a wrong ‘political standpoint’.

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september: run-up to the congress

North Korea’s sixth nuclear test took the sheen off the Xi-hosted BRICS Summit in Xiamen and reignited domestic debate, culminating in a highly personalised attack on Peking University professor Jia Qingguo 贾庆国, who had suggested talks on contingency planning with Washington and Seoul. The summit concluded with an MoU with Brazil to boost cross-border e-commerce, and four trade and economic action plans on investment facilitation, trade in services, IPR and technology cooperation.

cp.signals • weekly • domestic policy movement

Amending the Party constitution is reasonably common at National Party Congresses, but general secretary Xi Jinping 习近平 seems certain to go further at the 19th, now less than a month away. He will, if this is the case, attach his name to a body of ideological doctrine. But will it be called ‘Xi Jinping Theory’ or ‘Xi Jinping Thought’?

cp.positions • audit of shifts across sectors • alternating weeks economy/governance

Smog hit Beijing on 14 September 2017 just as some 300 officials from Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) launched an inspection tour of 28 cities in Jingjinji, a first round of autumn–winter air pollution checks. Following the ‘2+26 plan’ released in March, a set of seven policies were released targeting 2017–18 autumn and winter air pollution. The first such seasonal plan published, it specifies strict supervision and accountability measures.

cp.signals • weekly • domestic policy movement

Massive funding under the previous system failed to yield breakthroughs and commercialise sci-tech discoveries at the desired rate. Fragmentation and poor coordination were blamed for creating overlaps, crippling oversight and fostering rent-seeking.

cp.positions • audit of shifts across sectors • alternating weeks economy/governance

Poverty alleviation is set to be a key theme in Xi’s report to the 19th Party Congress on 18 October. Social justice, framed in Marxism as a matter of class oppression fixed once and for all by revolution, was legitimised as a policy area by Hu Jintao at the 17th Party Congress. This was to be realised by reducing gaps in wages and salaries.

cp.signals • weekly • domestic policy movement

After months of preparation the 19th Party Congress, kicking off on 18 October, will set the stage for Xi’s second term. This first edition of our congress bulletin covers key narratives and trends in the run-up to the Congress. The next will focus more specifically on personnel movement, featuring our picks for the Politburo Standing Committee.

cp.positions • audit of shifts across sectors • alternating weeks economy/governance

Following a 30 August risk alert from the internet finance self-regulating body (NIFA), the central bank (PBoC) announced a ban on initial coin offerings (ICOs) and cryptocoin transactions. Declaring ICOs as unapproved financing activities, the announcement demanded an immediate halt to all issue and exchange of cryptocurrencies.

cp.signals • weekly • domestic policy movement

Supplying affordable housing at scale remains a top challenge for first- and second-tier cities. Migrants without a local hukou face severe restrictions in home purchasing. Even the middle-class are demoralised by real estate prices soaring to hundreds of times their annual incomes.

Policies issued in the summer of 2017 signal a shift in the state’s approach. Previous reforms focused on purchasing restrictions; the new round aims to increase the housing supply, above all of rental housing, in second- and first-tier cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.