Deepened supervision of Party cadres and their conduct is now accompanied by tighter oversight of civil servants, as revisions to the Civil Service Law emphasise firmer control, including evaluations based on political requirements. Shortly after issuance of the new regulations, an authoritative commentary appeared in People’s Daily, arguing that revisions are meant to secure better policy outcomes by holding civil servants accountable—a sign that some officials were unhappy with the changes.
Pressured by economic slowdown and external political tensions, Beijing is promoting consumption and supporting the service and high-tech sectors at home. The Q4 Politburo meeting and 2018 Central Economic Work Conference (CWEC) both stressed the need for a robust domestic market.
Ag insurance protects crop producers, safeguards against poverty and creates non-farm employment—all top policy priorities for 2019. Policymakers hope a tie-up with futures markets will get insurers on board.
economy: MIIT work conference, central work conferences, power sector reform, inward-looking economy
Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) 2019 priorities include tighter fuel economy standards for autos, spurring private investment in sci-tech innovation and building an identifier system for the industrial internet.
Given trade tension with the US, industrial policy reforms are likely to be reconfigured in 2019. Sending high-level signals on implementing ‘competitive neutrality’ and cutting off subsidies for zombie enterprises, SOE reform, which made little progress in 2018, may be back on top of the centre’s 2019 agenda.
Anti-corruption has been a crusade for Xi Jinping. While his predecessors were keen to combat graft, they called off campaigns after attaining short-term goals. Xi and his allies, on the other hand, have not only maintained pressure on officials at all levels but also stationed inspectors on site to supervise daily operations.
While domestic media framed the arrest of Meng Wanzhou 孟晚舟 Huawei CFO as a compliance issue rather than a function of the trade dispute, the case will certainly affect ongoing negotiations with the US. Lu Kang 陆慷 MFA spokesperson kept options open saying China’s response will depend on how Canada and the US manage the situation.
Despite warm responses to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) across the world reported in China’s media, political shifts in many regions have placed a spotlight on the initiative. Some PRC commentators have become sensitive to external criticism of BRI, and support new institutional structures and adjustments to project scope to limit pushback.
economy: interprovincial zones, ag digital transformation, zombie enterprise measures, economic restructuring
State Council’s 29 November all encompassing ‘Opinions on coordinating regional development’ call for stronger rural–urban and inland-coastal economic links. It draws attention to the ‘enclave economy’, encouraging local authorities to build interprovincial industrial transfer pilot, capacity cooperation, and border economic cooperation zones.
Geopolitical maneuvering at multilateral meetings was in sharp focus this month, following the APEC and G20 summits. Outcomes were modest on all fronts, with the APEC summit failing to produce a joint statement and G20 efforts constrained by continued China–US tensions.
governance: tariff truce, refocusing cadre management, Pakistan consulate attack, welfare price reform
Meeting on the fringes of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires 1 December presidents Xi and Trump agreed a 90-day truce on tariff hikes and new trade talks.