China politics

By Alastair Campbell and W. John Hoffmann, Exceptional Resources Group

The “rule of law” is set to dominate China’s key Communist Party plenum in October, Xinhua, the official news agency, has said. The rule of law is a “must” if the country is to attain “economic growth, clean government, cultural prosperity, social justice and a sound environment”, Xinhua added.

Many observers would agree. Some may even believe that China is about to embrace a Western-style system in which all actors – the government, institutions, companies and individuals – become subservient to an independent legal code. But what, in practice, is the renewed focus on rule of law likely to mean for China’s development? Continue reading »

By Bo Zhuang of Trusted Sources

Overhauling state-owned enterprises (SOEs) is key to the Chinese growth story for the next 10 years. But, while the approach being taken by the Xi Jinping leadership acknowledges the need for change, it also stresses the parallel need to strengthen the Communist Party State. This could mean reform will take a rather different form to the assumptions of markets, which have risen on the back of expectations of market-friendly change. Continue reading »

By Jonathan Fenby, Trusted Sources

There’s nothing like an acronym or a catchy label when it comes to emerging markets. The master alchemist, Jim O’Neill, set the pace with the formulation 13 years ago of the four-nation BRICs (with or without a final capital S for South Africa). Fidelity followed that with the MINT collection of Mexico, Indonesia Nigeria and Turkey constituting MINT.

Then Morgan Stanley chipped in with Fragile Five, which – such are the vagaries of nomenclature – includes five members of the previous two aggregations.

Now, a new and potentially more durable grouping is emerging – even if it does not lead itself to an acronym that trips off the tongue. The best I can come up with is CIMI – or, if you twist it to give Mexico rather than China first place, the marginally more memorable MICI, though that would invite too many columnists to compare them to Disney’s mouse. Continue reading »

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. Continue reading »

By Stephen Green, Standard Chartered Bank

Dangerous things can lurk in the shadows of a financial system. We know this because when the US banking system almost burnt down in 2008, the stuff in the shadows was the fire’s accelerant. The highly-leveraged, off-balance sheet vehicles loaded with securitised debt meant made the banking crisis were far worse than it would have otherwise been.

Knowing the problems that lurked in the US, the idea of shadow banking in China freaks people out. The sector seems to have grown fast, in an economy already known for its tendency for asset bubbles and bad lending. We have spent time poking around in the shadows. We believe that much of the fear is misplaced. Continue reading »

The ingenuity of Chinese netizens seeking to commemorate the 1989 Tiananmen massacre in defiance of the country’s “Great Firewall” of censorship is reaching new heights.

Armed with little but the remarkable flexibility of Chinese characters, the more daring among 618m internet users are finding an endless string of linguistic ruses to outfox – at least temporarily – the world’s most formidable forces of online control to get their messages out. Continue reading »

By Gavin Bowring of Asean Confidential in Astana, Kazakhstan

One of the biggest talking points on the sidelines of the recent Asia Development Bank (ADB) Annual Meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan, was China’s proposal to effectively create its own “ADB”, a regional infrastructure finance lender known as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), with start-up capital of US$50bn, the majority of which would come from China.

The initiative’s political undertones have become somewhat awkward. Although discussions with the EU, Malaysia, Singapore, and Australia on AIIB’s creation have been underway for a year, neither Japan, India, nor the United States have yet been invited. This stems in part from China’s frustration over their dominance of the ADB bureaucracy, despite China having become a major capital provider to the organization. Continue reading »

China, the US’s biggest geopolitical rival, is emerging as a new power in a region long considered America’s backyard. Robin Wigglesworth, capital markets correspondent, looks into why Caribbean nations find it hard to resist Beijing’s advances.

Everything in China is political, even when it might not be.

A series of seemingly unrelated corruption scandals in China all share a common thread that has got the political class in Beijing very excited and boosted speculation that an elite power struggle is under way within the ruling Communist party.

The connections seem tenuous at first but spend enough time in the Byzantine world of Chinese politics and the logic starts to appear compelling. Continue reading »

When the White House created a petitioning website in 2011, it surely didn’t count on Barack Obama being asked to invade China, rule on the flavour of tofu and investigate a two-decade old Chinese poisoning case.

But that is exactly what has happened over the past week as Chinese people, motivated variously by a sense of justice, powerlessness or just plain humour, have flooded the White House “We the People” websiteContinue reading »

What’s the connection between China, Christie’s, two bronze heads and the portfolio investor?

Quite a lot, actually. There’s a lesson for everyone doing business in China in the recent settlement of the long-running row between Beijing and the international auction house over the heads of a rabbit and a rat that once adorned the Emperor’s Summer Palace. Continue reading »

By Julie Zhu and Stefan Wagstyl

A Chinese local government official caught entertaining guests to a lavish meal has suffered a spectacular humiliation – thanks to president Xi Jinping’s austerity drive, the internet, and the fury of local people.

Zhang Aihua’s party was broken up by scores of people who invaded the party in an industrial park reception centre. They filmed the scene and watched as he knelt on a dining table and delivered a public apology. His weekend debacle was complete when the clip was distributed on the web (see below). Continue reading »

Margaret Thatcher, who died on Monday, was more popular abroad than she was at home – and the emerging markets were no exception.

Beijing had a particularly soft spot for her after she agreed to hand back Hong Kong to China without much fuss under the 1984 Sino-British joint declaration.

So, it’s no surprise to see that the tributes to her in the Chinese official online media have been especially fulsome. But it’s still a touch ironic to see the champion of free markets lauded by the People’s Daily, the Communist party mouthpiece. Continue reading »

Is it party time again for Chinese distillers? It has been a rough few months for the makers of China’s fiery baijiu spirits. Their sales and stock prices slumped after Xi Jinping, the incoming president, railed against corruption and banned the boozy banquets loved by officials across the country.

But like a passed-out drinker getting a second wind, the distillers picked themselves off the floor in rousing fashion to end the week. The share prices of many of China’s biggest brands – Kweichou Moutai, Wuliangye and Jiugui – leaped 4-10 per cent over the last three days of the week, while the broader Chinese stock market fell 5 per cent, its worst week since mid-2011. Continue reading »

Shujie YaoBy Shujie Yao of Nottingham University

In less than two months since the 18th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), China has investigated five big cases of corruption involving high-level political leaders in Chongqing, Guangdong and Sichuan.

But simply launching investigations won’t be enough. China’s leaders must also reform their political, economic and social systems to root out the causes of corruption. Continue reading »