COVID-19’s impact on employment is such that Two Sessions eschewed GDP targets to focus on jobs. State Council executive highlighted the plight of university graduates and migrant workers in particular. Beijing has responded quickly, but it is SMEs that hold the key.
The COVID outbreak continues to roil the capital. As of 22 Jun 2020, well over 2 million tests have been carried out in there. For faster testing, every five samples are aggregated for a single test.
The master plan for Hainan’s free trade port, released early June, sets out the limitations on forthcoming economic liberalisation. Trade and investment are the main aims; ensuring this stays on the island rather than it serving as a transit stop for the mainland comes a close second.
Policy is reflecting the balance between small but constant short-term stimulus and continuing long-term policy progress. Finance heavyweights Yi Gang 易纲 PBoC governor and Guo Shuqing 郭树清 CBIRC chairman drove this point home in speeches to the Lujiazui Forum.
The Wildlife Protection Law was intended to protect animals, yet was written in a way that tacitly promoted breeding as a sideline industry. Unprecedented public attention and a shift in official attitudes in the face of COVID-19 is now pushing change that has never before been possible.
Community governance was a subject of debate and experiment in 2019. COVID-19 offered more chances for communities to exercise autonomy but the Party, needing to mobilise people to ‘modernise’ governance, sees technical solutions.
SOE reform is resurfacing after COVID-19 distractions for most of H1. Along with risk resilience and focus on core business, innovation is the favoured channel for making SOEs more competitive.
A landmark Cybersecurity Law came into effect three years ago, on 1 June 2017. A daunting task is now faced: settling the fine print of privacy provisions, cross-border data transfer and CII (critical information infrastructure).
As the Two Sessions opened after an unheard-of delay, senior leaders spoke of stepping up recovery and reinvigorating the policy agenda. Elsewhere, Xi urged economic experts to help the nation ‘ride out stormy seas’, and shared concerns with other delegations.
Li Keqiang’s press conference on 28 May was in many ways a cameo of the Two Sessions as a whole. Registering the epidemic’s grave impact, the premier’s empathy with worried families and the jobless was on show. Yet the display of emotion served as a foil for his confidence in the economy.
The economic agenda for 2020 was set out by Premier Li Keqiang 李克强 in his Government Work Report (22 May). A GDP growth target was avoided, in favour of ‘six protections’, above all jobs. Targets included adding over 9 million new urban jobs.