context: From ‘six stabilisations’ to ‘six protections’, the shift in rhetoric reflects the immense pressure to maintain jobs. Stimulus will arrive but as long as the pandemic stays uncontrolled, pressure is unlikely to ease.

On the same day that Q1 macroeconomic data was released, the Politburo held a meeting on the current economic situation, reports 21st Century Business Herald. On top of the traditional ‘six stabilisations’, the Politburo mentioned ‘six protections’ for the first time. They protect

  • residents’ jobs
  • basic livelihoods
  • market entities
  • energy and food security
  • stable supply chains
  • grassroots governance

Amid the global uncertainties due to COVID-19, Wang Yiming 王一鸣 Development Research Centre of the State Council former deputy director says macroeconomic policies must place enterprises, employment and basic livelihoods ‘at the core’. There have already been several policies in relevant areas, including

NDRC (National Development and Reform Commission) and MoF (Ministry of Finance) have both said that new macroeconomic policies will focus on the six protections. These include

  • resuming work to designed capacity
  • enhancing policy hedging
  • expanding domestic demand
  • assisting enterprises
  • ensuring employment and basic livelihoods

There are debates among experts regarding whether to set a GDP target. Lu Ting 陆挺 Nomura Securities chief China economist argues that emphasis should be placed on the ‘six protections’ and GDP targets are not necessary. However, Liu Yuanchun 刘元春 Renmin University of China vice president believes to achieve the six protections, economic growth is necessary. Current social assistance systems cannot cover everybody in the short term. Thus, active measures are needed to stabilise economic growth and create jobs.