cp.signals • weekly • domestic policy movement

The fast approaching 6th Plenum is being tipped to rank with two earlier ‘super plenums’, each marking a radical retelling of the Party narrative. Official media is telegraphing that a change is coming and that the incumbent and his doctrine (known as his ‘line’) have what it takes to ‘rejuvenate the Chinese nation’. Indeed, to be invested as Party general secretary for life.

The 6th Plenum of the 19th CC (Central Committee) will convene 8–11 Nov 2021.

cp.positions • audit of shifts across sectors • alternating weeks economy/governance

The PRC standardisation strategy is now out. Internationally tipped to rank with ‘Made in China 2025’, it marks a shift from current state-directed standard-setting to syncing with market forces. Hard quantitative targets for standards and harmonising with international standards are set for 2025. The PRC aspires to have in place a structurally sound, globally compatible, market-driven and state-guided standards system by then.

cp.signals • weekly • domestic policy movement

‘Common prosperity’ is the Xi regime’s policy correction that tacks back to equity in distributing wealth, income and welfare (see cp.signal). Well-delineated roles in these fields for market, state and civil society are to be spelt out. Philanthropic and charitable donations will be channels earmarked for ‘tertiary redistribution’. Tech firms and their data-driven charity platforms are to harness civil society funding in the name of state-defined goals.

cp.signals • weekly • domestic policy movement

Wobbling for the last six months, power generation in the PRC has collapsed since mid September. Factories have shut and lights gone out across 20 provinces as Beijing struggles to balance energy security, economic growth and emissions reduction, dubbed China’s energy trilemma by Ma Linwei 麻林巍 Tsinghua University.

Multiple factors are in play: a policy-induced supply and demand mismatch, a wayward power market, over-reliance on coal and, not least, Xi Jinping’s pledge to reduce emissions.

cp.positions • audit of shifts across sectors • alternating weeks economy/governance

State Council’s 10-year plans on women and children, issued 27 Sep 2021, marked another step to enforce a three-child policy to halt declining birth rates. The plan for women’s development aims to improve gender equality on all fronts; the plan for children vows to put ‘children first’ in public policy, infrastructure and services. Together, the two plans sit within the transition to an ageing society, while promoting mantras of common prosperity, social justice and human rights.

cp.positions • audit of shifts across sectors • alternating weeks economy/governance

COVID-19, says the annual R&D expenditure report, delivered the first decline in state R&D spending in recent decades: it fell by 5.8 percent in 2020, central government spending down a worrying 10 percent. Basic research, a current 5-year plan priority, unsurprisingly recorded lacklustre growth, with research projects frozen by campus and academy shutdowns in the depths of the pandemic.

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september: internal crackdowns, external pledges

The inside story behind the still-unfolding Evergrande default crisis is real estate itself, like Afghanistan a ‘grave of empires’, in this case commercial and policy empires.The regulatory brakes jammed on the sector’s debt may spare global markets but, if allowed to stand, could cut deep into the local economy.

cp.signals • weekly • domestic policy movement

Feeding the nation is a constant concern for Beijing. With rising ag commodity prices, volatile global grain markets and record-high imports, food security is again top of the agenda. Is the nation facing a food crisis? The crux of the issue is often overlooked: the food security challenge is less about food than it is about feed.

cp.positions • audit of shifts across sectors • alternating weeks economy/governance

A fourth human rights action plan was issued on 10 Sep 2021. In tandem with ‘common prosperity’, human rights is enlisted as an umbrella term to explain the new rules affecting most sectors of PRC society. Human rights are defined as an entitlement, granted from above, to live a decent life and enjoy economic development. Party journal Qiushi cites these as the two basic human rights granted in the PRC. 

cp.signals • weekly • domestic policy movement

‘Code Red for humanity’, as UN Secretary General António Guterres has labelled the latest IPCC report (9 Aug 2021), has again thrust the urgency of global cooperation to mitigate climate change into the limelight. Emitting a whopping 3 percent of greenhouse gases, ships are in service for decades. ‘Greening’ their design and construction cannot be delayed if the goals set for mid-century are to be met.

cp.positions • audit of shifts across sectors • alternating weeks economy/governance

State researchers, whose incomes have long lagged those of their private sector peers, reacted positively to new reforms to funding and evaluation announced by State Council. Experts are also calling for a further increase in funding for blue sky research, not least stable, long-term funding. Many state-owned and private businesses long benefitted from policy support, and are now urged to back state-funded research.

cp.public • open access to a selection of China Policy material

strongmen under the law

The 2nd 5-year plan to establish ‘law-based’ government appeared on 11 Aug 2021. Building on signature themes of Xi Jinping, it claims to add coherence to long-term state initiatives proclaiming a more predictable and credible policy environment. 

The new plan, in contrast, underlines local officials’ lifelong accountability with central institutions and agencies holding sway across all potential issues from the micro to the macro level.