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Xi's CIIE Speech - Key Choices: China's Regional Development Strategies - Yangtze River Delta strategy - COVID-19 & the Olympics
Here are the stories and pieces from the November 5, 2021, edition of the People’s Daily that I found noteworthy
“China is a firm believer in honoring its words with actions. The measures I announced at the third CIIE for further opening up have mostly been implemented. The negative list for cross-border trade in services at the Hainan Free Trade Port has been introduced; reform and innovation for pilot free trade zones are making steady progress; foreign investment access continues to expand; business environment continues to improve; negotiations on the China-EU Comprehensive Agreement on Investment have been concluded; and China is among the first to have completed domestic ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).”
He then talked about the trend of “unilateralism and protectionism,” calling for countries to reject these views. He then spoke about China’s accession to the WTO, saying that “China has fully delivered on its accession commitments. Its overall tariff rate has been cut from 15.3 percent to 7.4 percent, lower than the 9.8 percent accession commitment. The central government has reviewed and revised over 2,300 pieces of laws and regulations, and local governments over 190,000 pieces, which all helped to unleash market and social vitality.”
Xi then went on to argue that China “will not change our commitment to an economic globalization that is more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial for all.” He then outlined four points:
First, China wants WTO reform to go in the “correct direction” and it backs “true multilateralism.” “China will take an active and open attitude in negotiations on issues such as the digital economy, trade and the environment, industrial subsidies and state-owned enterprises, uphold the position of the multilateral trading regime as the main channel for international rules-setting, and safeguard the stability of global industrial and supply chains.”
Second, “China will lay more emphasis on expanding import, and pursue balanced development of trade. China will open more demonstration zones for creative promotion of import trade, optimize the catalogue of retail imports via cross-border e-commerce, encourage the on-site processing of imported goods from trading between border residents, and increase imports from neighboring countries.” — Does that include India or is it basically East Asia?
Third, “China will further shorten the negative list for foreign investment, and expand the opening of telecommunication, healthcare and other services”; it will “revise and enlarge the encouraged industry catalogue to guide more foreign investment toward sectors such as advanced manufacturing, modern services, high and new technology, energy conservation and environmental protection, and toward the central, western and northeastern regions.” China will release a negative list for cross-border trade in services in the pilot free trade zones. China will work towards joining CPTPP and DEPA.
The fourth point is rather generic about international cooperation through different institutions.
Third, in today’s “key choices” article, the focus is on the regional development strategies. This is a bit uncanny. Just last week, I was lamenting my lack of understanding of the regional development strategies, and I do think this is an important area of research for one to understand China’s future economic direction. So this piece is a useful starting point. But if anyone can point me to good readings/analysis in this regard, that’ll be much appreciated.
The article begins with talking about the Xiong’an New Area. We are then told that Xi Jinping has “personally planned, deployed and promoted” the regional coordinated development strategies. The piece then has a quote from Xi, but it’s not clear when he said this:
“‘We should follow the path of rational division of labor and optimised development keeping in mind specific regional conditions; implement the strategy of main functional areas; improve spatial governance; and form a regional economic layout with complementary advantages and high-quality development.’ These views demonstrate the foresight and sense of historical responsibility that behove the leader of a great party and country.” “要根据各地区的条件，走合理分工、优化发展的路子，落实主体功能区战略，完善空间治理，形成优势互补、高质量发展的区域经济布局。”……一句句掷地有声的话语，彰显着大党大国领袖的深谋远虑和历史担当.
We are then told that since the 18th Party Congress, with Xi in charge, the Central Committee has put forward new regional development strategies. These include (I’ve offered external links to provide an introduction to each.) the coordinated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, the development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt, Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area plan, integrated development of the Yangtze River Delta, ecological protection and high-quality development of the Yellow River Basin, and the construction of the twin-city economic circle in the Chengdu-Chongqing region.
This is followed by a brief statement of the trend of imbalanced and inadequate development, which ends with this assessment.
General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out that at present, China’s regional development situation is good, but, at the same time, there are some new situations and problems that deserve attention.
‘First, the trend of imbalance in regional economic development is obvious.
Second, the polarisation of development power is becoming increasingly prominent.
Third, the development of some regions is facing great difficulties’.” 习近平总书记指出，当前，我国区域发展形势是好的，同时出现了一些值得关注的新情况新问题. “一是区域经济发展分化态势明显. ”“二是发展动力极化现象日益突出。”“三是部分区域发展面临较大困难.”
The piece then discusses Xi’s personal engagement with each of these strategies.
There’s also a commentary on the page drawing from this article. The commentary praises Xi’s “foresight” in having put together the regional coordinated development strategies. It says that
“Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, General Secretary Xi Jinping has traveled across China, personally planning, deploying and promoting a series of strategies for coordinated regional development.” 党的十八大以来，习近平总书记足迹遍布大江南北，亲自谋划、亲自部署、亲自推动一系列区域协调发展战略.
Also, the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core has continuously promoted the formation of regional economic layout with complementary advantages and high-quality development, and formed a new pattern of regional coordinated development with a better optimised land spatial layout, vertical and horizontal linkage between east, west, north and south; the main functions of regions are clearly defined and it is ensured that the strengths of the regions are complementary. 以习近平同志为核心的党中央不断推动形成优势互补、高质量发展的区域经济布局，形成了国土空间布局更加优化，东西南北中纵横联动，主体功能明显、优势互补的区域协调发展新格局.
Promoting coordinated regional development requires focus not only on local areas and the immediate future, but also on the overall situation and long-term development. It is not only about economic development and efficiency, but also about common prosperity and social equity. It is of great significance to grasping the new stage of development, implementing the new development philosophy, building a new development pattern, and promoting high-quality development. 新时代促进区域协调发展, 不仅立足局部和当前，更着眼全局和长远；不仅关乎经济发展、效率提升，更牵动共同富裕、社会公平；不仅影响一时一地，更对把握新发展阶段、贯彻新发展理念、构建新发展格局、推动高质量发展具有重要意义.
Part of this approach from what I understand from the commentary is also about developing functional zones and creating a unified and open national market for goods and factors of production. Anyway, the commentary then praises the outcomes of the strategies:
“Significant progress has been made in infrastructure and ecological environment development in the western region, and a new pattern is taking shape in which priority is being given to developing competitive regions and protecting ecological function zones. Northeast China has accelerated the building of a modern economic system, and old industrial bases are glowing with new vitality. The total economic output of the central region has been further enhanced, and the role of the region as a new driving force for China’s modern economic growth has and will become more prominent. The eastern region continues to take the lead and take the initiative to further enhance its economic and social modernisation and international competitiveness … The eastern, western and northeastern regions have drawn on each other’s strengths and advanced side by side. Land and maritime development have been better coordinated, and regional development has become more balanced and coordinated. As a result, we have completed the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects, laying a solid foundation for promoting common prosperity.” 西部地区基础设施和生态环境建设取得重大进展，优势区域重点发展、生态功能区重点保护的新格局正在形成；东北地区加快建设现代化经济体系，老工业基地焕发新的生机；中部地区经济总量占全国的比重进一步提升，国家现代化经济增长新动能区域的功能进一步凸显；东部地区先行先试，经济社会现代化水平进一步提升，国际竞争力进一步增强……坚持下好全国一盘棋，东中西和东北“四大板块”优势互补、齐头并进，陆海统筹力度加大，区域发展更加平衡、更加协调，在中华大地上全面建成了小康社会，为扎实推动共同富裕奠定了坚实基础.
Finally, keeping with this theme, there’s a long piece on the page about the development of the Yangtze River Delta (YRD) strategy. This covers Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Anhui. Some data points from the piece:
The region accounts for 4% of China’s land area, nearly 25% of the total economic output, nearly one-third of China’s R&D expenditure and active invention patents, and one-third of the total import and export.
The piece says that the three provinces and city have over time turned their individual strengths into overall strengths and are doing away with local protectionism, so that the Yangtze River Delta will truly become a regional community. 长三角一体化发展是“团体赛”而不是“个人秀”，握指成拳才能形成合力。三省一市在错位发展中把各自优势变为整体优势，努力打破“一亩三分地”和地方保护主义，使长三角真正成为休戚与共的区域共同体、发展共同体、命运共同体.
As of this year, the length of high-speed railways in operation across this region has exceeded 6,000 kilometers, and a comprehensive modern transportation system is basically in place. More than 220,000 5G base stations have been built, and a new generation of information infrastructure has been developed. The establishment of a regional collaborative innovation industrial system has been accelerated. The mechanism for jointly building and sharing public services continued to improve. 高铁运营里程超6000公里，现代化综合交通运输体系基本建成；建成5G基站超22万个，新一代信息基础设施体系超前布局；区域协同创新产业体系加快建立；公共服务共建共享机制持续健全…
In the first three quarters of this year, the total economic output of three provinces and one city accounts for 24.5% of the national output, up from 24.1% in 2018 -- Yeah, this statistic doesn’t really tell us anything of value.
The piece talks about a demonstration zone for integrated ecological and green development in the Yangtze River Delta region. This was approved in 2019. From what I gather, the zone covers an area of 2,413 square kilometers, comprising the Qingpu District in Shanghai, Wujiang District in Jiangsu Province and Jiashan County in Zhejiang Province. The area around Dianshan Lake is the “green core.” There has been an effort to harmonize environmental standards, spatial development and supervision across the zone.
The piece also talks about “institutional innovation” to make life easier. For instance, from applying for an identity card to moving one’s household registration, from buying a house to withdrawing PF amounts and settling outpatient fees, around 120 such services are now available online across provinces in the Yangtze River Delta. 从身份证办理到户口迁移，从异地购房提取公积金到异地就医门诊费用直接结算，长三角政务服务地图上，已有120项高频事项或服务实现跨省域“一网通办”。一体化制度创新转化成百姓实实在在的便利.
The piece also talks about a science-tech sharing platform across the YRD region. This was established in 2019. So far, it has brought together 22 major scientific facilities, 37,000 sets of large-scale scientific instruments and more than 2,400 institutions, linking innovation resources across the YRD. 已集聚22个重大科学装置，3.7万台（套）大型科学仪器，2400多家服务机构，链接了整个长三角的创新资源.
Page 4: It’s fascinating that there are a series of COVID-19 control measures that are being implemented across China at present, but these are getting no coverage in the paper. Bloomberg’s report from yesterday tells us that local infections have been found in 19 of 31 provinces. This graphic below is useful to understand the spread.
On Friday, the NHC reported 68 new cases. Xinhua tells us that:
“A total of 9,697 imported cases had been reported on the mainland by the end of Thursday. Among them, 9,324 had been discharged from hospitals following recovery, and 373 remained hospitalized. No deaths had been reported among the imported cases. The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on the mainland had reached 97,605 by Thursday, including 1,129 patients still receiving treatment, 37 of whom were in severe condition. A total of 91,840 patients had been discharged from hospitals following recovery on the mainland, and 4,636 had died as a result of the virus.”
But none of this is getting into PD. Instead, we have a report about vice premier Han Zheng urging organisers of the upcoming Olympics to make pandemic prevention and control a priority in the final stages of preparation. He wants a “simple, safe and splendid Games.” The report also says that Cai Qi and Sun Chunlan are part of the Winter Olympics Work Leading Group.
While on the subject, do check out this thread by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China.
A lot of PD today was about CIIE related propaganda, and while it did not include this, I think it’s worth noting what the Chinese foreign ministry is saying about the European Parliament’s first official delegation to Taiwan meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen.
Wang Wenbin said:
China strongly deplores and firmly opposes the visit to Taiwan by certain members of the European Parliament and has lodged solemn representation to the European side. As a universally recognised norm governing international relations and the consensus of the international community, the one-China principle is the political foundation for the establishment of China-EU diplomatic relations and development of ties. No official interaction with the Taiwan authorities in any form is an inherent requirement of the one-China principle. The European Parliament is an important official organ of the EU. It follows naturally that its members should fully recognise the complex and sensitive nature of the Taiwan question, stay true to the commitment made by the EU, prudently and properly handle Taiwan-related issues and keep the political foundation for China-EU relations intact. China urges the European side to redress its mistake and avoid sending wrong signals to "Taiwan independence" separatist forces, lest it should cause a serious impact on China-Europe relations. I would also like to point out that the DPP authorities in Taiwan tend to whitewash their "Taiwan independence" separatist acts under the disguise of democracy and human rights. But however hard they try to cover it, their true agenda of seeking independence is laid bare. Nor will they make a dent in the indisputable fact that Taiwan is part of China. The clumsy show of a few people won't shake in the slightest the international community's universal and firm commitment to the one-China principle or the inevitable trend of reunification of China. Their plot is doomed to fail.
Wang also commented on US Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley’s remarks about US having the capability to defend Taiwan from a potential Chinese attack if asked to do so. Wang said:
For some time, the US has been acting with negative and erroneous words and deeds on Taiwan, which has emboldened the ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces and heightened tensions across the Taiwan Strait. The Taiwan question bears on China's sovereignty and territorial integrity and concerns China's core interests. No one should underestimate China's firm determination and will to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity. We will never allow anyone or any force to separate Taiwan from the motherland in any way. The US should pursue a real one-China policy, instead of a fake one; fulfill its commitments to China faithfully rather than treacherously; truly implement the one-China policy and put it into action, instead of saying one thing and doing the opposite. We urge the US to fully recognize the highly sensitive nature of the Taiwan question, abide by the one-China principle and the stipulations of the three China-US joint communiques, prudently and properly handle Taiwan-related issues, and avoid sending any wrong signal to ‘Taiwan-independence’ separatist forces to prevent seriously hurting China-US relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.
Also noteworthy is this interaction on Taiwan with the State Department’s Ned Price:
QUESTION: So this is Ines Pohl from Deutsche Welle. I have a follow-up question to China, as there is a certain ambiguity between what President Biden says in the White House. How far would the United States go to protect Taiwan?
MR PRICE: We have been very clear about that. There has been no change in our policy towards Taiwan. Our defense relationship with Taiwan is and has been guided by the Taiwan Relations Act. We will uphold our commitments under that act. We’ll continue to support Taiwan’s self-defense, and we’ll continue to oppose any unilateral actions that seek to change the status quo. We remain committed to our “one China” policy, which itself is guided by the six assurances, the three joint communiques, and the Taiwan Relations Act that I mentioned before.
QUESTION: What precisely would that mean? Would this include military action? I mean, this is one big question.
MR PRICE: Under the Taiwan Relations Act, we have a commitment to continue to support Taiwan’s self-defense, and we will continue to oppose any unilateral actions that seek to change the status quo in cross-strait relations.
QUESTION: Does this include military action? This – you didn’t answer that question.
MR PRICE: The Taiwan Relations Act spells this out. We will continue to act consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act.
QUESTION: Ned, you said “our ‘one China’ policy.” So is that an indication that it’s different than China’s “one China” principle?
MR PRICE: We have a “one China” policy that is distinct from the PRC’s version of it.