China leadership

China said on Tuesday it will tighten curbs on journalists to prevent the disclosure of state secrets, commercial secrets and “unpublicised information” as the administration of Xi Jinping reinforced controls over information amid outpourings of anti-Beijing sentiment in Hong Kong.

Xinhua, the Chinese official news agency, said that rules published by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television prohibit disclosure of “various information, materials and news products that journalists may deal with during their work, including state secrets, commercial secrets and unpublicised information.”

None of the key terms used – including state secrets, commercial secrets and unpublicised information – were defined, leaving them open to interpretation by China’s army of censors both within media organisations and in several state bodies charged with regulating information industries. 

We are nearly eight hours into the decade-long rule of Xi Jinping, so it seems a perfect time to pass definitive judgment on his record as China’s leader.

Ok, maybe it is a bit soon. But that is not stopping the punditocracy – yes, including, us here at the FT – from making predictions about what Xi and his colleagues will accomplish over the next ten years. However, the evidence available is so limited that it can be interpreted in two diametrically opposed ways. 

Here, unveiled on Thursday for all the world, are China’s new leaders, the seven members of the Communist Party of China’s Politburo Standing Committee, headed by Xi Jinping (top).

In the middle, left to right are: Li Keqiang, Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng. At the bottom: Liu Yunshan, Wang Qishan and Zhang Gaoli.

While they were welcomed by the audience in Beijing’s the Great Hall of the People, the market reaction was less than enthusiastic. 

Is it China’s worst-kept secret? Or its cleverest bluff?

With less than 24 hours to go before the Chinese Communist party unveils its new leaders, a very detailed list of who they are and what jobs they will do has spread widely in political circles and on the internet in Chinese. 

By Michal Meidan of Eurasia Group

At the end of the week, China’s new leaders will step out onto the stage at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing in order of seniority. Their policy choices will have an impact that extends far beyond China’s borders and yet for now, no one knows who they are, and how they view China’s future.

Indeed, even though Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang are virtually assured to assume the presidency and premiership, respectively, all the other positions are still open. The final makeup of the Politburo Standing Committee, and the order in which China’s new leaders will take the stage, will hold a number of clues regarding their ability, and appetite, to pursue economic and financial sector reform. 

For the residents of Beijing, life has been less than convenient over the past few days as the Communist party’s national congress has covered the city in propaganda banners, flooded streets with police and slowed the internet to a crawl. But they have been compensated with an unexpected amount of entertainment at what turns out to be a huge show. 

As China’s Hu Jintao (left) and Wen Jiabao make way for the new leadership, it is clear that they have presided over a great decade for China’s economy. GDP and incomes have risen at a great speed, with Hu committing China to doubling incomes again by 2020 from 2010 levels.

But for portfolio investors, it’s a less interesting story. Chinese equities failed to keep pace with the Chinese economy in the Hu/Wen era – and with other emerging markets. Chart of the week takes a look. 

Some good economic data from China. But not good enough to dispell investors’ post-election concerns about the US and its fiscal cliff.

Markets were intially bouyed by the numbers from Beijing on Friday, showing bigger-than-expected gains in retail sales, industrial production and fixed asset investment. But one month’s figures don’t say much about the pace or duration of any rebound – especially as they coincide with the Chinese Communist party’s congress. No Beijing statistician will have wanted to deliver bad news right now.