Xi's Address to APEC CEOs - Xi Meets Leaders of Japan, Singapore & Philippines - China's Evolving COVID Policy - Jan to Oct FDI Data - Graduate Employment
Here are the stories and pieces that I found noteworthy in the Friday, November 18, 2022, edition of the People’s Daily.
Page 1: The lead story is about Xi’s arrival in Bangkok for the APEC meeting. Xinhua reports that Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai and Minister of Culture Itthiphol Khunpluem and their spouses were at the airport to greet Xi. I also thought the emphasis on overseas Chinese and Chinese students being present here was worth noting.
“Honor guards flanked the red carpet. Local youngsters dressed in flamboyant traditional Thai costumes pressed their palms together and performed the Thai greeting. Representatives of overseas Chinese in Thailand waved Chinese and Thai national flags to express their warmest welcome to President Xi and Madame Peng. On the way to the hotel where President Xi will stay, his convoy passed by a giant LED screen in the color of ‘Chinese red’ showing ‘Warm welcome to His Excellency Xi Jinping, President of the People's Republic of China, and his wife, Professor Peng Liyuan’ and ‘China and Thailand are a family’ in both Chinese and Thai languages. Everywhere the convoy went, it was greeted with warmth and friendliness. Overseas Chinese and Chinese students in Thailand gathered on the roadsides. They held up red banners saying ‘Welcome to Thailand, President Xi!’ and ‘Warm welcome to President Xi from overseas Chinese in Thailand’ and chanted ‘Hello, President Xi’ and ‘Welcome to Thailand, President Xi’ to express warm welcome and heartfelt joy for his visit…John Lee, chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, who arrived earlier, and China's Ambassador to Thailand Han Zhiqiang also came to the airport to greet the arrival.”
“Currently, the Asia-Pacific enjoys overall stability. Cooperation in our region has been steadily advanced, and peace, development and win-win cooperation remain the underlying trend in this region. On the other hand, the world has entered a new period of fluidity and change. Both geopolitical tensions and the evolving economic dynamics have exerted negative impact on the development environment and cooperation structure of the Asia-Pacific. The COVID-19 pandemic keeps resurging. The global economy faces mounting downward pressure and growing risk of recession. Food, energy and debt crises are emerging together. Many countries are encountering considerable difficulties in economic and social development. Various factors of uncertainty and instability are growing. The Cold War mentality, hegemonism, unilateralism and protectionism are mounting. Acts that distort international norms, disrupt economic linkages, inflate conflicts in regions, and impede development cooperation are all too common. All these pose a serious challenge to peace and development in the Asia-Pacific.”
He then talked about drawing lessons from the past. Xi pointed to three lessons:
“History tells us that bloc confrontation cannot solve any problem and that bias will only lead to disaster…The Asia-Pacific is no one's backyard and should not become an arena for big power contest. No attempt to wage a new Cold War will ever be allowed by the people or by our times!”
“We should follow a path of openness and inclusiveness…Any attempt to disrupt or even dismantle the industrial and supply chains formed in the Asia-Pacific over many years will only lead Asia-Pacific economic cooperation to a dead end.”
“We should follow a path of solidarity…The economies in our region are confronted with disrupted supply chains, strained food and energy supply, growing inflationary pressure and other difficulties. We should strengthen cooperation, support and help each other, and enable the Asia-Pacific to be a leader in boosting global economic recovery.”
He then made six more points while talking about drawing from past experiences and lessons.
“We should abide by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, pursue the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, and jointly reject the Cold War mentality and bloc confrontation. We need to build an Asia-Pacific security architecture to create conditions for ensuring economic development and durable peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific.”
Adopt a people-centered development approach. “We need to ensure people's well-being through economic development, meet the needs of vulnerable groups, narrow the income gap and foster an inclusive environment for development. The developed economies in the Asia-Pacific should play a positive role and actively support the developing economies.”
Pursue higher-level opening-up. In this, he mentions RCEP, CPTPP and DEPA.
Strive for higher-standard connectivity. BRI gets mentioned in this context.
Build stable and unimpeded industrial and supply chains. “Unilateralism and protectionism should be rejected by all; any attempt to politicize and weaponize economic and trade relations should also be rejected by all.”
Promote economic upgrading. “It is important for us to pursue green and low-carbon development, foster green economic sectors, promote green finance, and speed up the establishment of an Asia-Pacific green cooperation framework.”
Then on China’s modernisation going forward, we get some targets from Xi.
“To date, no more than 30 countries, with a total population of less than one billion, have achieved industrialization. Against this backdrop, the modernization of China, a country with over 1.4 billion people, will be of epoch-making importance in human history…Our goal is to increase the middle-income population to more than 800 million in the next 15 years, and promote the sustained growth of our super-sized market.”
He also talks about common prosperity: “The common prosperity we have in mind aims to better meet people’s needs for a better life. It aims to achieve, over time, overall prosperity and prosperity for all. We will leverage the role of both the market and the government and ensure both performance and fairness. We will make the pie bigger and share it fairly, and build an olive-shaped structure of income distribution.”
On GDI: “China is working with over 100 countries and international organizations to advance the GDI and see that the deliverables promised at this year's High-level Dialogue on Global Development will reach those in need. China stands ready to provide more resources for global development cooperation and work with all other parties to build a global community of development.”
He talked about the carbon peak and neutrality goals, adding “Over the past decade, China has been among the countries with the fastest energy intensity reduction in the world. We have overfulfilled the 2020 target of cutting carbon emission intensity by 40 to 45 percent. As a result, a total of 5.8 billion tons less of CO2 is emitted. China now has both the largest carbon market and the largest clean electric power generation system in the world.”
Xi also says the path of peaceful development is a “strategic choice made by us in the fundamental interests of the Chinese people.”
He ends the speech by calling on businesses to look at China from a long-term lens. “Some say that entrepreneurs are pessimists in the short term, but optimists in the long term. If one cannot foresee risk in time of prosperity, he cannot run a business well. But neither can he grow his business if he fails to see the long-term positive trend.”
Next, there are three bilateral meetings that are covered on the page.
“Xi said that the two sides need to create highlights in cooperation and enhance the quality of cooperation to the benefit of their peoples, adding that China will work with the Philippines to carry forward their friendship and cooperation, commit to national development and rejuvenation, and write a new chapter in China-Philippines friendship. Xi underscored China’s readiness to maintain regular communication with the Philippines and to continue to accommodate its concerns, and the two sides need to further deepen the synergy between the Belt and Road Initiative and the Philippines' ‘Build, Build, Build’ program, ensure the success of the Davao-Samal Bridge project, explore cooperation on ‘Two Countries, Twin Parks,’ and strengthen cooperation on clean energy, education, and public health. China is willing to import more quality agricultural and sideline products from the Philippines, said Xi, adding that the two sides need to take more concrete steps to increase people-to-people and cultural exchanges and cement public support for China-Philippines friendship. On the South China Sea issue, the two sides must stick to friendly consultation and handle differences and disputes properly, Xi said. Noting that China and the Philippines, as two developing countries in Asia, need to keep strategic independence, uphold peace, openness and inclusiveness, and stay the course of regional cooperation, Xi said the two countries should work together to reject unilateralism and acts of bullying, defend fairness and justice, and safeguard peace and stability in the region.”
Xinhua adds: “Saying that mutual trust between the two countries is being increasingly strengthened, Marcos added that the Philippines looks forward to working with China to unleash potentials and expand cooperation in such areas as infrastructure, energy, agriculture and people-to-people exchanges, in an effort to build a more robust and strong bilateral relationship. Marcos stressed his consistent view that relations between the two countries should not be defined by maritime issues and that both sides may further enhance communication in this regard, and the Philippines will continue to adhere to the one-China policy, uphold the principle of peace, stay committed to an independent foreign policy, and will not take sides. The Philippines is ready to engage in active consultations with China and find ways to advance the joint exploration of maritime oil and gas resources, he said.”
The Manila Times quoted Marcos as saying: “The bilateral meetings are really just a kind of getting-to-know-you and that was the same with our meeting.”
“As close neighbors and important countries in Asia and the world, China and Japan share many common interests and ample room for cooperation. The importance of China-Japan relations has not and will not change, said Xi. Xi emphasized that the two sides need to treat each other with sincerity and engage each other with trust, abide by the principles of the four China-Japan political documents, and draw lessons from history, adding that they need to view each other's development in an objective and rational manner, and translate into policies the political consensus that the two countries should ‘be partners, not threats’. Major issues of principle such as history and Taiwan bear on the political foundation and basic trust in China-Japan relations, and therefore must be handled in good faith and appropriately. China does not interfere in other countries' internal affairs, nor does it accept any excuse by anyone to interfere in its internal affairs, said Xi. Saying that China and Japan are different in social system and national conditions, Xi said the two sides should respect each other, increase understanding and dispel mistrust. On issues regarding maritime and territorial disputes, it is essential to abide by the principles and common understandings that have been reached, and show political wisdom and responsibility to properly manage differences, said Xi. The two sides should continue to leverage their geographical proximity, close people-to-people ties and other unique strengths, and facilitate exchanges and communication through channels between governments, political parties, legislatures, and localities among others. It is particularly important to take the long view, actively carry out exchanges among the young people, foster an objective and positive perception of each other and bring the two peoples closer, said Xi. With their economies highly interdependent, the two countries need to step up dialogue and cooperation in such areas as digital economy, green development, fiscal and financial sectors, health care and old-age care and in keeping the industrial and supply chains stable and unclogged, so as to realize complementarity and mutual benefits at a higher level, said Xi. Bearing in mind their respective long-term interests and the common interests of the region, the two countries need to uphold strategic autonomy and good-neighborliness, reject conflict and confrontation, practice true multilateralism, advance regional integration, work together for sound development and progress in Asia, and respond to global challenges, said Xi.”
Quick thought: This is a really interesting readout because there’s so much friction that’s evident. From issues of strategic competition, territorial disputes, Taiwan to even poor public perception of China in Japan. And amid all this, there is a deep economic relationship that Xi is clearly keen on deepening.
The Japanese readout of the meeting says that the conversation lasted for around 45 minutes. It says that Kishida called for building a “constructive and stable Japan-China relationship.” It added:
“Prime Minister Kishida expressed grave concern about the situation in the East China Sea, including the situation surrounding the Senkaku Islands, as well as military activities by China around Japan, such as China's launch of ballistic missiles into the waters near Japan including its EEZ in August of this year. At the same time, the two leaders agreed on the early launch of a hotline under the Maritime and Aerial Communication Mechanism between the Japan-China defense authorities, as well as the strengthening of communication through the Japan-China Security Dialogue and other channels. Prime Minister Kishida reiterated the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, once again called on China to respond to Japan’s position on human rights and the detention of Japanese nationals, and strongly called for the prompt lifting of import restrictions on Japanese food products.”
Also this: “The two leaders shared the view that mutually beneficial cooperation is possible in specific areas of economy and exchanges of people, and agreed that they will encourage cooperation in areas such as green economy including environment and energy conservation, as well as medical care, nursing care and healthcare. At the same time, Prime Minister Kishida stated that it is important that China guarantees legitimate business activities of Japanese companies by ensuring a transparent, predictable, and fair business environment.”
“Regarding the situation in Ukraine, Prime Minister Kishida called on China to play a responsible role in maintaining international peace and security. Furthermore, the two leaders shared the concern that Russia's indication of the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine is extremely alarming, and agreed on the view that nuclear weapons must never be used and that nuclear war must never be fought. Regarding North Korea, Prime Minister Kishida expressed his expectation that China will fulfill its role, including in the UN Security Council, while referring to his serious concern about North Korea’s increased nuclear and missile activities.”
The Japan Times reports that the Japanese foreign minister will visit China in the near future.
“The China-Singapore relationship is forward-looking, strategic and exemplary, said Xi…Underscoring China’s readiness to develop close high-level exchanges with Singapore, Xi said the two sides need to ensure sound implementation of the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor as a landmark project of high-quality Belt and Road cooperation between China and Singapore, and promote upgrading of cooperation projects in digitalization, green development and other areas. Efforts need to be made to conclude follow-up negotiations on upgrading the China-Singapore FTA at an early date, enhance the level of trade and investment liberalization, and facilitate people-to-people exchanges between the two countries, he said, adding that both China and Singapore rely on this region for development and their development is well-integrated into and beneficial to this region. China will work with Singapore to uphold solidarity and cooperation in the region, oppose group politics, resist bloc confrontation, keep to the right direction of economic and regional integration, and firmly reject the attempts to push for ‘decoupling and severing supply chains’, or to build ‘a small yard with high fences’, said Xi, noting that it is hoped that the two sides will work together to pursue the Global Development Initiative (GDI) in this region.”
Xinhua’s report ends with Lee saying that “China’s rise is not stoppable, Lee said, adding that a strong and friendly China will bring positive impact on the region and the world, and can help small and medium-sized countries achieve common development. Singapore sees China's development as positive, wishes the GDI well and will explore ways to participate.”
Page 2: A report that says that from January to October, the actual use of FDI was 1,089.86 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 14.4% on a comparable basis.
The actual use of foreign capital in the service industry was 798.84 billion yuan, an increase of 4.8%. The actual use of foreign capital in high-tech industries increased by 31.7%, of which the high-tech manufacturing industry increased by 57.2%, and the high-tech service industry increased by 25%.
Investment from South Korea, Germany, the United Kingdom and Japan increased by 106.2%, 95.8%, 40.1% and 36.8%, respectively.
Investment in the eastern, central and western regions increased by 12.4%, 33.6% and 26.9%, respectively.
In terms of China’s outward investments, the report says:
China’s foreign non-financial direct investment was 627.4 billion yuan (about $94.36 billion), a year-on-year increase of 10.3%.
Non-financial direct investment in BRI countries was $17.25 billion, a year-on-year increase of 6.7%, accounting for 18.3% of the total.
Page 3: First, a report (English report) about Hu Chunhua co-chairing the fourth meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission for Cooperation of Northeast China and the Far East and Baikal Region of Russia.
“Hu said China is willing to work with Russia based on the existing good cooperation to synergize the development strategies of the ‘Northeast-Far East’ cooperation, advance the construction of cross-border logistics and port facilities, and deepen industrial cooperation, especially in agriculture. China will also cooperate with Russia in people-to-people exchanges, strengthen cooperation at the sub-national level, push for more results in the "Northeast-Far East" cooperation, and make positive contributions to consolidating and deepening the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership for the new era.”
There’s an interview with Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha. He talks about being open to investment from Chinese enterprises, particularly NEV; the prospect of working together to keep industrial and supply chains unblocked; prompting the high-quality joint construction of BRI; and Thailand’s support for GDI.
Page 4: There’s a report (English report) on the press briefing by the State Council’s Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism. COVID-19 cases across the country are climbing with each day, crossing 25,000 as of yesterday. At the briefing, NHC spokesperson Mi Feng said that:
“We firmly oppose two inappropriate approaches. One is the block-it-off approach, which resorts to excessive control measures, and the other is the let-it-go approach, which is irresponsible.” Xinhua adds that “China's COVID-19 response should put the people and their lives above everything else, practice the general strategy of ‘preventing both imported cases and domestic resurgences,’ and tenaciously pursue the policy of ‘dynamic zero-COVID’.” —
Quick thought: This is the targeted policy of the central leadership and bureaucrats trying to have their cake and eat it too. That said, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. The message to local officials is don’t do too much, but don’t even do nothing; what’s too much and what’s nothing will I guess be determined based on outcomes as opposed to specific clarity from the centre. So I guess this opens up room for local experimentation and differentiated policies towards easing controls. The test of this will be what happens if and when there is a large-scale outbreak and run on medical resources in one area. Is there a political fallout for the people in charge there? If that’s the case, then this all can end up being one step forward, two steps back. Do read the Zhong Yin commentary below, which suggests that this stuff is still a possibility. Anyway, back to the report:
Shen Hongbing, deputy chief of the national administration of disease prevention and control, said that the 20 new measures that have been announced call for “scientific, standardised and rapid assessment of flows and risks in prevention and control work, and the use of limited resources for the most important prevention and control work, so as to maximise the protection of people's safety and health, and minimise the impact on people's normal work and lives.” 这要求在防控工作中更科学、更规范、更快速地开展流调和风险研判，把有限的防控资源用在最重要的防控工作上，最大程度地保护人民生命安全和身体健康，最大限度地降低对群众正常生产生活秩序的影响.
Guo Yanhong from the NHC called for strengthening medical services capacity and treatment resources. Guo added: “Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the state has continuously strengthened the construction of designated hospitals, requiring all localities to match enough beds for treatment according to the local population size, and strengthen the construction of intensive care units, so that ICU beds can reach 10% of the total number of beds…all localities are required to build makeshift hospitals in advance, and prepare medical staff…hospitals at or above second level to are to set up fever clinics so that they are ready for use, and the responsibility system for the first diagnosis should be strictly implemented.” 国家卫健委医疗应急司司长郭燕红说，应对新冠病毒的变异，要加强医疗服务能力建设和救治资源准备。疫情发生以来，国家持续加强定点医院建设，要求各地根据当地人口规模，配足配齐救治床位，加强重症监护单元建设，使ICU床位达到床位总数的10%；要求各地按照“平急结合”的原则，依托现有大型场馆，提前做好方舱医院建设，并准备好医护力量；持续加强发热门诊建设，要求二级以上医院要设置发热门诊，做到应设尽设，应开尽开，而且要严格执行首诊负责制. — This is an important point indicating that there is greater willingness to bear the cost of wider spread on public health.
Wang Liping from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said that “more targeted and effective epidemiological investigation and risk assessment will be needed to identify high-risk areas. She said although closed management will still operate in high-risk areas, vulnerable groups will be attended to, and their daily necessities and medical supplies ensured. These groups include the elderly living alone, minors, pregnant women, disabled people, and chronically ill patients in blocked sites.”
She also added that “nucleic acid testing and control measures in high-risk areas must still be implemented in accordance with the ninth edition of the prevention and control plan.” 高风险区内的核酸检测和管控措施，仍然要按照第九版防控方案实施.
Shen Hongbing then offers more details on testing protocols going forward.
In an area without an outbreak, testing will take place with regard to those engaged in high-risk roles and for key personnel. In these areas, the scope of nucleic acid testing cannot be expanded without authorisation.
The areas hit by an outbreak should be comprehensively evaluated on the basis of epidemiological investigation, taking into account population size, whether the source of infection is clear, whether there is a risk of community transmission and whether the chain of transmission is clear. Keeping this in mind along with the risk and the principle of classification, the scope, frequency and sequence of testing groups must be determined.
People travelling across provinces must carry a negative test certificate, with the test conducted within 48 hours of travel. Those staying in hotels and entering tourist attractions need to have a clear health code and carry a negative test certificate, with the test conducted within a period of 72 hours. Special populations, such as infants and young children under the age of 3 are exempt from this.
Next, there’s another 仲音 commentary on the COVID policy. The article talks about how China’s prevention and control measures have continued to become more scientific and precise and how localities have promptly implemented the 20 new measures and promptly corrected practices that were inconsistent with the 9th plan. It reitates that these measures that have been announced do not amount to relaxation of the dynamic clearing policy or lying flat.
“Except for the 20 optimization measures, other measures are still implemented according to the ninth edition of the prevention and control plan.” 除了二十条优化措施，其他各项措施仍然按照第九版防控方案执行.
At present, the global spread of the virus is still at a high level, and the risks and threats posed by the virus still exist. On the one hand, science does not yet have a full grasp of the mutations of Covid-19 and the virulence, pathogenicity and harmfulness of the mutations; the understanding of the novel coronavirus and the disease is still in the process of deepening. On the other hand, China is a country with a large population. If we ignore ‘prevention’ and only focus on ‘treatment’ and allow the epidemic to spread rapidly and widely, we face the risk of medical and health resources running out, and a large number of patients with underlying diseases – the elderly, children and pregnant women – will be in danger. The health of the population will be threatened. Faced with these uncertainties, we must resolutely implement the decisions and deployments of the CPC Central Committee, resolutely achieve the ‘three unswervings’, resolutely hold the bottom line of not having a large-scale epidemic, and and never relax in our efforts and continue to pay close attention to strengthening prevention and control work. 另一方面，我国是人口大国，如果不管“防”、只管“治”，任由疫情迅速大范围传播，医疗卫生资源将面临挤兑风险，大量有基础性疾病患者、老年人、儿童和孕妇等人群身体健康将受到威胁。一方面，现在科学上对新冠病毒的变异以及变异后的毒力、致病力、危害性的大小仍然没有完全掌握，对于新冠病毒和疾病的认识仍处在不断深化的过程中。另一方面，我国是人口大国，如果不管“防”、只管“治”，任由疫情迅速大范围传播，医疗卫生资源将面临挤兑风险，大量有基础性疾病患者、老年人、儿童和孕妇等人群身体健康将受到威胁。面对这些不确定性，我们必须坚决贯彻落实党中央决策部署，坚决做到“三个坚定不移”，坚决守住不发生规模性疫情的底线，毫不放松抓紧抓实抓细各项防控工作.
If you are interested, there’s also a brief Q&A on the page with Chang Jile, deputy director of the National Administration of Disease Prevention and Control. Chang says:
The quarantine period was changed from 7+3 to 5+3 because the longest incubation period of Omicron is 8 days. Also because this change saves 30% of centralised isolation resources.
On dropping of tracing of secondary contacts, Chang says that a low positivity rate of 3.1/100,000 was the defining factor in this decision.
On the shift of quarantine of people from high-risk areas from 7-day centralised quarantine to 7-day home quarantine, Chang says that the positivity rate in such instances is 4.9/100,000 within 7 days. And this was done to basically save centralised isolation resources.
On changes to the 7-day centralised quarantine or 7-day home quarantine to a 5-day home health monitoring for employees in high-risk positions who have completed closed-loop operations, Chang says that positivity rate in such cases has been merely 1.6/100,000. Therefore, this change was made.
Page 6: Today’s long post-20th Party Congress article is by Zhang Qingli on China’s “deliberative democracy.” Not something I am keen on translating. So I am letting this go.
Also, there’s a report on graduate recruitment, informing us that in 2023, China is expected to see 11.58 million people graduating and entering the job market. The Ministry of Education issued a document in this regard. SCMP’s report has a good summary:
The ministry “urged university leaders to visit companies to better match students with post-graduation employment and organise recruitment events while maintaining pandemic controls. The document also proposed to ‘give full play to the role of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in absorbing employment’, adding the government would implement favourable policies so these businesses could accept young people looking for work. The ministry said it hoped to create extra positions in the healthcare, elderly care and social work sectors, while encouraging young people to work or start businesses in remote areas. To speed up hiring, China will also abolish the employment registration certificate – a complex document that proves the transition from student to worker – which has existed since 1999.”
Let me begin with some key China-India-related stories. First, the tweet below carries the story on continuing tensions in Eastern Ladakh
Second, India is hosting the third ministerial “No Money For Terror” (NMFT) conference today and tomorrow. And the government said that as of yesterday China was yet to respond to the invitation. Third, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be visiting Arunachal Pradesh to inaugurate an airport tomorrow. Let’s see whether and how Beijing responds to the visit.
EU chamber in China intent on getting Beijing to ‘move the needle’ as ideology curtails commerce: “China’s zero-Covid policy remains one of the most prominent factors eroding optimism, and this necessitates a well-communicated strategy from policymakers, Wuttke said. ‘Now we have the situation [where] we can easily see our executives flying around the world, whereas I can hardly leave my doorstep because I might go into a restaurant that all of a sudden has a lockdown,’ said Wuttke, who is based in Beijing. ‘We need to go through this very difficult winter, in a manner that does not harm this investment situation in China more than it has already, because what we worry [about] as businesses is uncertainty, and a sentiment change. We need a real booster when it comes to sentiment’.”
China home prices fell most in seven years before sector rescue: New-home prices in 70 cities, excluding state-subsidised housing, fell 0.37 per cent last month from September, a 14th straight decline, National Bureau of Statistics figures showed on Wednesday (Nov 16). The existing-home market fared worse, down 0.47 per cent, the steepest decline since 2014.