China countered new US tariffs on its goods announced 15 June, levying an equal amount; recent attempts at a working compromise will be abandoned. The two sides will add tariffs on imports of each other’s goods worth US$34 bn from 6 July, with another US$16 bn to be potentially added after public consultation.
Online services are part of plans to reduce pressure on overcrowded top-tier general hospitals located in coastal cities. Better data transfer between hospitals and local healthcare stations can reduce the number of hospital visits. IT can also improve access to healthcare in remote regions, low-hanging fruit to meet ‘Healthy China 2030’ goals.
The newly launched Gaofen-6 agricultural observation satellite, developed as part of three national key projects on earth observation, will provide high quality multispectral imagery allowing crop researchers to better estimate crop yields, both at home and abroad. And Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) kicked off a seven-year field test of unmanned farming technologies like driverless tractors, drones and other automated systems with partners in Jiangsu.
Malaysian politics are recovering from an upheaval that rocked the country in May. New Hope Alliance, a newly formed party, now holds 113 seats in the Malaysian parliament, upsetting the Barisan Nasional Party which has ruled since independence.
State Council announced reduction of import tariffs on 1,449 consumer products by at least 50 percent, effective 1 July. The significance of the tariff reduction is twofold, says Dong Dengxin 董登新 Wuhan Technology University Securities Research Institute: it will not only directly benefit consumers but also increase competition for domestic producers and incentivise innovation.
Attended by Xi Jinping and the entire Politburo Standing Committee (except Li Zhanshu), the National Environmental Conference convened on 18-19 May. Held seven times in the last 38 years, the conference is usually led by the premier and vice premiers; the presence of the Party’s most senior leaders at this year’s meeting signals unprecedented political commitment to environmental protection.
A 5-year plan (FYP) for distant water fishing (DWF), issued late 2017, aims to put the industry on a sustainable footing and align DWF with foreign policy. The fleet is to be capped at 3,000 vessels, with zero growth in the number of enterprises. However, says Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) vice minister Yu Kangzhen 于康震, ‘no increase in fishing vessel numbers still allows for development of the DWF industry’. Expected catch is 2.3 million tons by 2020, up from 1.99 million tons in 2016; 65 percent will land in China. The industry is now consolidating as the state pursues a threefold transformation.
China and the US reached a ‘ceasefire’ on trade in a meeting in Washington 17-18 May. Vice premier and delegation lead Liu He 刘鹤 proclaimed a breakthrough agreement to avoid a trade war and stop additional tariffs, noting key intervention from the two heads of state. They reached in-principle agreement to reduce trade imbalances and cooperate on IPR, but experts warn that working out detailed agreements will remain challenging.
Factories across all industrial sectors used to dodging environmental regulation must now take them seriously. Enforcement of environmental regulations is becoming stricter, and inspections more frequent.
China is investing massively in integrated circuits (ICs). The central state set up a National IC Industry Investment Fund (hereafter ‘the big fund’) in 2014 to make equity investments in the domestic industry. With Ministry of Finance and China Development Bank as major backers, the big fund has been instrumental in attracting local government and other capital to the industry. Having pledged most of its initial capital, the big fund announced plans in early May to raise C¥150 to C¥200 bn.
After a sharp dip in 2017, overseas direct investment (ODI) has resumed growth in 2018. But under an emerging management system, planners will channel it into strategic areas. The state and its banking system will continue to push investments deemed ‘rational’ by commercial and strategic standards, while lawmakers develop rules to manage ODI and protect the interests of rational investors overseas.
State Council seeks to ease consumers’ access to high-quality drugs and lower prices, especially for high-demand products like anti-carcinogens. It has promised to cover more types of expensive imported drugs under public health insurance, and to negotiate with pharma companies to control costs.