A bellwether for economic reform, the GBA (Greater Bay Area) aspires to extend its pioneering cred. ‘Opinions’ on financial support issued May 2020 highlighted easier cross-border investment, financial market connections and allowing foreign financial firms more market access. Hong Kong’s international gateway function is recognised in the plan, as is Shenzhen’s demonstration value for pilot reforms (touted as ‘socialist’, factually high-tech).
Ideology is being (re)prioritised as a key tool of governance. Deeming it the ‘lifeline of all work’ and ‘critical to the Party’s future’, the CCP is visibly ramping up ‘thought work’ everywhere—in enterprises, villages, schools, communities, Party and state organs, and online—normalising it as a grassroots practice to a point not seen since the Mao era.
Long before BRI, Beijing was committed to externally sourcing ag commodities under the banner of ‘going global’. The synergy between global engagement and food security imperatives ensured ag goals would be tied in to BRI from the outset.
Didi Chuxing’s relegation to bit-player status shocked not only the many investors betting on PRC tech, but big tech and big finance at large. Beijing’s fury was drawn by Didi’s holding of a critical mass of strategic, sensitive data—not simply for being a rogue tech operator.
Rising global prices of agricultural and industrial inputs are disturbing Beijing. For all its invoking of self-reliance, China’s economy will remain dependent on a range of low- and high-tech imports, even to meet domestic demand. Long-term solutions are sought from overseas investment, particularly for low-end commodities, though timelines are long, costs and risks high, and success far from assured.
A boom in informal training has fuelled an investment frenzy. Condemned at the highest level in Beijing, this ‘discretionary capitalisation’ is charged with ‘making students’ backpacks heavier’. The Central Comprehensively Deepening Reform Commission, Xi’s policy core, passed long-mooted measures to rein the sector in on 21 May 2021. A new agency under MoE (Ministry of Education) will enforce them.
Another serial punch for big tech: Didi is on notice from cybersecurity agencies, invoking the National Security Law for the first time, to register no more new users and to delist their app from online stores. Didi’s US listing on the eve of the Party centenary was deemed a failed—but nonetheless calculated—bid for regulatory arbitrage.
In today’s ‘dual circulation’ era, global firms will have to set up two separate data systems: one to remain onshore for their PRC operations, one for the rest of the world. Regulations will come sector by sector. Activity in relation to autos and health show others what is to come.
A new CCP Museum near Beijing’s Olympic Park opened its doors 18 June. Chairman Xi led an inaugural visit followed by other top leaders, who allretook symbolic oaths of loyalty. Inanother display of Party solidarity, an admission ceremony held by the watchdog Central Organisation Department saw over 1,000 new Party recruits swear loyalty in the museum’s entrance hall.
As issues with land-based food production mount, and consumer desire for protein and fresh food grows, providers and officials increasingly look to the sea. ‘Blue granary’ scenarios have proliferated, boosting both aquaculture and fishing; but Chinese vessels in disputed waters are causing diplomatic headaches.