Dear friends and colleagues,
Still far from full strength, so another abbreviated newsletter this week.
I will be stopping through Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong over the next two to three weeks; if any of you would like to meet, let me know. I’m particularly interested in understanding how the rhetoric on environmental protection is being translated into action, and what effect it is having on business. If you’ve got thoughts on the matter, make sure to get in touch! Old issues are always available at www.chinapoliticsweekly.com.
The bloodshed in Kunming on Saturday night is the latest in a string of worryingly frequent attacks carried out by Uighurs over the past year or so. At the same time, Tibetan immolations continue unabated. The bomb attack on Communist Party offices in Taiyuan and the Beijing Airport bomber remind us that the violence is not confined to ethnic minorities.
Xi is beefing up the internal state security apparatus in response. This week he also chaired the first meeting of the Internet Security and Informatization Leading Small Group, which likely means that China will increase oversight of the media and online content, while also spending more resources to monitor electronic communications.
The Party appears to be looking increasingly at anti-Japanese nationalism to promote its legitimacy and a sense of social cohesion. This week the government created two new national holidays, one to commemorate defeat of Japan in 1945, the other to memorialize the victims of the Nanjing Massacre perpetrated by the Japanese.
All of this is making China look like an increasingly risky place to do business. Domestic terrorism is never good for business; increasing nationalism could spur anti-foreign sentiments that damage multinationals.
The business of government
By the time you read this, China’s biggest political event of the year, the lianghui (Two Meetings) will have gotten underway with the opening of the CPPCC’s annual session on Monday morning. The real fun starts on Wednesday when the NPC opens its annual session. If the program is unchanged from recent years, then on Wednesday Premier Li will deliver the government work report, NDRC Chairman Xu Shaoshi will deliver the social and economic development plan, and Minister of Finance Lou Jiwei will present the national budget.
The lianghui is always a fun time for China watchers. There will be a lot of ink spilt on the GDP target and the amount of military spending, but the real substance will be in the details of the work reports. Make sure you do a deep read to see how your sector is likely to be affected.