Patients have long struggled to access new drugs. Stepped-up approvals and expanded BMI (basic medical insurance) coverage recently raised their hopes. Yet at hospitals, new BMI-covered drugs are not available. A survey of secondary and tertiary hospitals by the China Pharmaceutical Association showed that, as of Q3 2020, only 15–25 percent of new anti-cancer drugs awarded BMI coverage in 2018–19 were available.
The shortage of semiconductors and key commodities (like steel) is acute across all industrial sectors. Yet no policy remedies are in sight. The auto industry, a main pillar of the PRC economy and a politically-sensitive sector globally, is reeling under the double whammy. Forecasts keep being revised down: chip supplies are now estimated to return to normal mid-2022.
China Policy and Asia Society Australia have joined forces to bring ‘China executive briefings’, a mix of briefings papers and events, to a wide audience. Unencumbered by the event-driven news cycle, the series opens a window for business, governments, media groups and scholars on the China Policy evidence-based approach that explores the fine grain of Beijing’s policy trajectory.
Party history education is now reaching the wider public. CCP Central Committee is instilling definitions of the ‘four histories’ of the Party, New China (post 1949), ‘reform and opening’ and socialism. These narratives are to channel public sentiment away from ‘historical nihilism’. A flurry of events are on the program including public lectures and tributes to revolutionary martyrs.
A new power regime dominated by renewables has top endorsement for the first time. This game-changing paradigm will have zero-emission energy at its core. Combined solar and wind capacity is likely to exceed China’s 2030 Paris Agreement commitment, pushed up further by Xi Jinping in late 2020. Raising them still further is now on the cards.
To realise its self-reliance aspirations, Beijing is quietly reengineering its R&D ecosystem. Opening up billions in state funding to the public, MoST (Ministry of Science and Technology) is, for the first time, putting a sluggish state research base on notice of competition.
The Party will celebrate its 100th anniversary on 1 July 2021. With preparations afoot for the big date, Party education and slogans are emerging with an intensity unseen in the reform era. In February, a campaign to renew the study of Party history was launched to prepare the ground for the centenary celebration.
Travel may still be restricted but, with spring turning to summer, trade fairs are popping up. Nearly 3,000 brands from some 70 countries, were represented at a China International Consumer Products Expo held 7–10 May in Haikou, Hainan. The first of its kind, the fair’s role in a wider agenda was highlighted by Wang Bingnan 王炳南 MofCOM (Ministry of Commerce) vice minister.
National Security Education Day (15 April 2021) was used to launch the new Biosecurity Law, which gathers together and extends related regulations. Changes in the laws governing human genetic resources, animal and public health, and domestic bio resources, will have particular impact, not least for R&D labs with global partners.
Food production will be ramped up over the coming decade, anticipates the annual Agricultural Outlook Report. Area planted to grain will be kept at 113 million ha, if tight new regulations indeed protect valuable farmland.
Rising sea levels, shrinking biodiversity and depleted fisheries are galvanising Beijing’s efforts to balance development and conservation. With this year’s COP15 in Kunming expected to map future global biodiversity governance, 2021 is an inflection point for joint action on biodiversity.
Geopolitical challenges to the traditionally export-oriented GBA region have shaken policymakers. They have responded by doubling down on support for scientific and industrial development. Political change now sets the stage for further economic integration.