The CER (China-Europe Railway), a flagship Belt and Road transport artery spanning the Eurasian continent launched in 2011, prospered in the early pandemic. Lockdown-induced disruptions to sea and air routes and soaring ocean shipping fees diverted traffic to rail. The National Railway Group reports a spike of 15,183 trains sent in 2021, 22 percent higher than 2020, which had itself seen growth of 50 percent y-o-y.
Around 100 million tonnes of soybean imports in 2020 and 2021 are playing havoc with food security rhetoric and triggering a rethink of preference for the protein-rich feedstock. Long tolerated as the price to be paid for feeding the ever-expanding livestock herd, the scale of imports runs counter to current self-sufficiency mantras.
With global tension rising and little upside in the PRC domestic economy, our latest brief in the China Executive Briefing series ‘global capital and PRC self-reliance’ reveals that inbound and outbound investment flows to and from the PRC remain surprisingly strong.
Hit by a more contagious virus, citywide lockdowns alone proved ineffective, yet took a mounting economic toll. Struggling for an alternative approach while maintaining zero-COVID, routine testing was the next move. This was then to be gradually phased out given no more cases. But in early September, the National Health Commission (NHC) determined otherwise, intimating that regular testing is here to stay.
An amended Scientific and Technological Progress Law, effective January 2022, lowers the boom on research fraud and malpractice, and commercial sourcing of academic publications. Enshrining key ethics principles for scitech research, the State Council’s March 2022 Opinions on research ethics oversight outline safeguards. Avoiding another fallout like the 2018 gene-edited baby scandal is top of mind.
Continuing COVID-19 restrictions, sporadic lockdowns and strict travel restrictions are propelling patients to buy medicines online. Aided by the pandemic, the digital healthcare industry is burgeoning. In 2021, sales from online pharmacies surged over C¥200 bn for the first time, registering over 40 percent y-o-y growth.
Reacting to frequent scandals in the agrifood market, the Food Safety Law (amended in 2015, and touted as the ‘strictest in history’) left risky gaps in the upstream supply chain regulated by the Ag Product Quality and Safety Law. An amendment to the latter brings both laws closer together. It was approved on 4 September, coming into force 1 January 2023.
The cybersphere has emerged as an express channel for transmitting PRC images and values overseas: video games, social media, online literature, streaming services etc. Boosting online creative exports was highlighted as a pillar of trade promotion in a recent Notice released July 2022.
PRC manufacturers face long-term diminishing markets and ever fiercer competitors in global value chains. Doubling down on high-end trade in services, Beijing is upgrading domestic manufacturing with advanced tech and adding more value to exports. A first negative list for cross-border trade in services was launched in Hainan FTP in July 2021, easing market access for overseas service providers.
As Party Congress tunnel vision swallows Beijing, we will take a broader look across policy sectors, unpacking the moving parts that are integral to the policy process regardless of leadership changes. First up, we take a look at the programs the central bank is using to prop up vulnerable sectors of the economy and channel funds to long-term priorities.
Renewable energy, above all solar and wind, has undergone startling, globally unparalleled growth in the PRC. Since derailing the global climate agenda at the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Conference, aspiration, political interest, and the prospect of dominating the renewable hardware market have propelled the sector.
Ag production is staggering under record heat and drought. Rice in the south, the top staple crop, is in big trouble. But trade continued to rebound in July with exports to ASEAN countries growing the most, by over 30 percent. NEVs have had a stellar performance this year, with shipments mostly setting sail for Western Europe and Southeast Asia.