Plans to ban every ‘highly toxic’ pesticide by 2022 were mooted by Zeng Yande 曾衍德 Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) crop management department head at a press conference 4 December 2017. Notably, a number of these chemicals remain approved for use in the US, EU and other developed markets.
While Trump’s visit to Beijing early this month marked progress, US specialists agreed on the uncertainty of long-term bilateral ties, highlighting tension on North Korea and trade. Beijing pushed to speed up talks on a South China Sea Code of Conduct, confident that it can ‘build a regional order’.
China’s retail cross-border e-commerce (CBEC) generated over C¥6.7 tn in cross-border transactions in 2016, not including grey channel daigou purchases. The state is keen to regulate the industry and lead in setting global e-commerce rules. But on 20 September 2017, the State Council again postponed new customs rules on CBEC direct retail (B2C) import until end 2018.
Ministry of Finance launched import tariff cuts (the fourth round since 2015) on 187 consumer goods, effective 1 December 2017, covering everyday goods such as infant formula and pharmaceuticals. The cuts will have little impact on the final retail price, but the timing of the announcement, between Singles’ Day and Black Friday shopping sprees, is a strong signal urging mid- to high-end product consumers to purchase at home rather than through unregulated daigou channels.
A commonly used idiom, lā láng pèi refers to the action of picking two people without mutual love and force them into marriage, usually by conservative parents. The phrase is now commonly used when the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) forces unwilling state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to merge. These ‘arranged marriages’ may bail out other SOEs on the edge of bankruptcy or force participation in mixed-ownership reforms. SASAC officials often use the idiom negatively in speeches, and sometimes in government documents, where they say the state ‘will not arrange marriage’ among SOEs.
The long-awaited carbon trading scheme, one of the climate pledges Xi made during his 2015 US visit, is due soon: expectations are running high. Xie Zhenhua 谢振华 China’s face in global climate fora announced during the Bonn climate change conference (6–17 November) that a nationwide carbon market was ready to launch, subject to final approval. The world’s largest once launched, the scheme is projected to make between 3–5 bn tonnes of carbon allowances.
New measures will reduce delays accessing innovative pharmaceuticals and medical devices, making it easier for foreign therapeutics to be sold in China. They will also motivate domestic firms to find new treatments.
Indispensable to Xi’s broader macroeconomic agenda, de-capacity needs the firepower of wider reforms. Domestic heavy industry is bloated and inefficient, requiring the state to force cutbacks in production capacity throughout China’s industrial sector, beginning with coal and steel. The 2017 Government Work Report placed aluminium and coal-fired power next in line to be cut down, with more to come in the year ahead.
At its first post-Congress executive meeting, State Council renewed its support for Internet+ and Made in China 2025. 2i integration and smart manufacturing are to speed up, with increased support of basic and industrial internet. 2i integration is not just replacing humans with robots, argues Zhou Ji 周济 China Academy of Engineering director. A complete transformation, it makes manufacturing more smart, automatic, digitalised, and connected.
Shinzo Abe, who welcomed Donald Trump to Japan with ‘Making Alliance Even Greater’ hats, is bent on improving ties with China. Frosty since the 2012 Diaoyu/Senkaku islands standoff, Abe made a number of overtures to China in the lead-up to his recent re-election.
Xi Jinping’s ‘Chinese-style socialism for a new era’ has raised international eyebrows, with post-19th Congress domestic commentary suggesting that ‘in Xi’s new era, Chinese diplomacy will be a display of hard power’. Foreign policy has clearly risen in the Party’s scheme of things, with State Councillor and former Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi 杨洁篪 promoted to the Politburo, possibly to recognise his role in crafting the ‘new-style major power relations’ controversially acceded to by the Trump administration.