Provinces will gain discretion to develop solar and wind power. Draft regulations on solar and wind construction sneak-previewed by the media propose local capacity will no longer be limited by annual quotas. These quotas were needed, explains Zhang Wenzhong 张文忠 Huadian Fuxin Energy Corporation, to break persistent demand for subsidies.
As the national Two Sessions convene, we look into priorities set at local feeder sessions. In line with the 5th Plenum’s suggestions, ‘high-quality’ self-reliance in tech has been taken up across the country, while consumer spending is an underlying source of angst. Some 15 provinces have set ambitious consumption targets for 2021 on the back of dual circulation goals.
President Biden’s first call with Party Secretary Xi came on 10 Feb 2021, a full month after his inauguration. The content was predictable. Xi called for collaborating while agreeing to differ. Issues of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang were, however, off limits to US interference. Biden aired his concerns on hot-button issues while signalling not all settings of the Trump era would be reversed.
Long-awaited guidelines to regulate big tech finally emerged 8 February. Coming on the heels of the Ant Group IPO saga and the Central Economic Work Conference’s attack on ‘disorderly’ expansion of capital, they will slow the growth of tech giants over the next few years, not least in areas deemed of ‘systemic risk’.
Domesticating big tech is occupying ever more policy bandwidth. The highly anticipated guidelines on internet platforms are now finalised. Beijing is set on curbing ‘disorderly expansion of capital’; market regulators, used to sitting on their hands, must move decisively notes Zhang Huyue 张湖月 Hong Kong University.
Ag production’s very own ‘chip technology’ has been identified at last: seed development. Encompassing development of seeds, breeding animals and their genetic material, it was flagged for the first time at the 2021 annual economic planning conclave last December. This upgrade will bring capital investment and resources to drive research and streamline paths to market.
Lowering trade and investment barriers, China and New Zealand upgraded their free trade agreement in January, the first upgrade since 2019. The agreement affects a wide range of industries. Beijing agrees to allow NZ investment in aviation, education and finance among other sectors, cutting tariffs on numerous goods such as timber, beef and dairy products.
China stands to seize technology and innovation opportunities now that the West is in decline, argues well-known tech investor Lu Qi 陆奇, reinforcing an increasingly common narrative. Hinting at what is to come in the 14th 5-year plan, policy heavyweights like Jiang Jinquan 江金权 Central Policy Research Office chair urge the state to band businesses together.
Food security concerns are never far from the surface in the PRC. Given its relatively limited supply of farmland and continuing issues with erosion, desertification, soil pollution and drought, etc, the oceans are critical for food and jobs. Environmental and social impacts of rapid industrialisation and commercialisation of fisheries are still being grappled with.
On the BRI and vaccine diplomacy front foot, Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi 王毅 began 2021 in Africa and Southeast Asia. Helping Africa industrialise, build infrastructure and develop free trade zones were the visit goals: on the wider agenda, cooperation in the digital economy and green development.
Viable and profit-driven, the DSR covers all things digital along the virtual path of BRI: digital economy, e-commerce, IT infrastructure, smart cities and more. The 14th 5-year plan is sure to deliver more policy support, above all in digital trade, data rules and urging third-party buy-in.
Ministry of Science and Technology picks up the baton from the Central Economic Work Conference, which set tech self-sufficiency as the top priority. ‘Rally the whole nation for the tech battle’, Wang Zhigang 王志刚 Minister of Science and Technology urges his comrades.