cp.signals • weekly • domestic policy movement

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.

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

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.

cp.signals • weekly • domestic policy movement

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.

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

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.

cp.observer • monthly • complimentary roundup

august: culling swine, relaxing economy

‘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.

cp.signals • weekly • domestic policy movement

China–Russia relations have been on an upswing since at least 2014, when tensions between Russia and the West over the invasion of Crimea led it to turn to China. In 2018, Beijing still boasts of ‘best-ever’ relations. The two sides exchange warm gestures and, to a lesser extent, substantive favours. Meanwhile, there remain unfathomed differences over national interests: Beijing accused Russian state oil company Rosneft of violating its sovereignty in the South China Sea, while Beijing’s Central Asia plans threaten Russia’s traditional sphere of influence.

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

Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) is nearing completion on a 5-year strategic plan for quality agriculture, according to reports last week. Though quality promotion has been a buzzword for some years, and is a top MARA priority for 2018, this is the first official 5-year plan.

cp.signals • weekly • domestic policy movement

The State Council called for stimulus at a 23 July executive meeting. It promised ‘more active fiscal policy and flexible monetary policy’, specifying expanded infrastructure, tax cuts, monetary support for small businesses and debt-for-equity swaps. At its 31 July quarterly economic meeting, the Politburo headed its list of economic priorities with a promise to ‘stabilise employment, finance, trade, domestic and foreign investment, and market expectations’, reinforcing support for fiscal and monetary expansion.