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China’s reform pledges fail to impress

Chinese strategists see trade frictions as a fight for dominance in the next wave of technologies such as big data, cloud computing and artificial intelligence (AI), said China Policy’s Ek. 'It is not about now, but it is really about the future in 2025-2030. It is about getting there first,' Ek said. 'I think the U.S. is quite scared of China and this state-supported model. Traditionally it hasn't been very efficient, but they see that it has got some results because they have this massive population.' China's massive population and market is a huge advantage in developing data, AI and so on, Ek said. It is a huge carrot that the Chinese government can use to compel foreign companies to accept strong-arm tactics on market access. It is also large enough to nurture information technology companies in a protected environment at home until they are ready to go abroad.

in a trade war, China might boycott U.S. goods. That could backfire

'The U.S. multinationals have been playing a very critical part of China’s development story, providing investment, technology, brands,' said Erlend Ek, trade research manager of China Policy, a Beijing-based advisory firm. 'They have a very good relationship with each other.'

China traders, farmers shrug off risk of US soybeans tariff

China has already been looking for alternative soy sources in places like Brazil, Canada and Russia, and the tariffs could help reduce Chinese dependence on U.S. suppliers, says Beijing-based trade analyst Erlend Ek. 'The discussion at the moment in China is a confident one. They think they can weather out the effects of these extra tariffs. Tariffs aren’t stopping imports, it’s just making it more expensive,' Ek said. 'They’re willing to bite that pill.' The soybean tariff is part of a carefully-targeted strategy by Chinese President Xi Jinping to strike at the heart of Trump’s base, Ek says, while minimizing risks to the Chinese economy.

Trump scoffs at China trade war `lost’ years ago by predecessors

'Chinese strategists are seeing no good economic argument for escalating the situation,' said Erlend Ek, an agriculture and trade research manager at China Policy, a consulting firm based in Beijing. 'They see good economic reasons for de-escalating it, however.'

China moves its factories back to the countryside

'In the long term, China’s continued economic development will depend on people in fourth-tier cities, county towns and villages joining the consumer class,' says Even Pay, an agriculture analyst at the Beijing-based research firm China Policy. 'This is the real aim of the rural revitalisation strategy.'

China tries to improve running of strategic food and energy reserves

Erlend Ek, agriculture and trade research manager at Beijing-based consultancy China Policy, said the grain reserve was far bigger than the government wanted it to be, which had resulted in some of it rotting. Ek expected the new agency to push for marketisation, saying it could advise the government on how much to buy and sell based on market conditions. '[The new administration] means a move towards marketisation, which the Chinese government has realised is a more sustainable move, and it means a different way of looking at national security,' Ek said. 'It will also support [the government to] import more, because if this mechanism works, the government will have more confidence in the market.'

the five most important moves in Xi’s big China cabinet shake-up

The changes create the country’s first specialist agency focused on anti-monopoly issues, said David Cohen, a Beijing-based managing editor for the China Policy consulting firm. The agency will also oversee the State Intellectual Property Office, the focus of a potential trade dispute between the U.S. and China.

China plans new competition, food watchdog in government revamp

But even with the new structure, regulatory power may still be split with the newly-expanded Agriculture and Rural Affairs Ministry remaining in charge of ensuring the farm produce quality, said Erlend Ek, a Beijing-based agriculture and trade research manager at China Policy, a consulting firm. 'China is clearly on the way to creating a single (food safety) agency, but it’s not clear if they’ve done it now,' Ek said.

China to hold trade talks with US in Beijing as tensions rise

'Trump is in a rush for quick results, and his reckless trade remedy measures could turn out badly for both sides,' said Erlend Ek, agriculture and trade research manager at China Policy, a consultancy based in Beijing. 'However, China does not see any need to panic, as the volume of disputed trade cases is quite small. And Trump is largely not supported by major U.S. companies.'