14 January 2020
XI URGES MORE EFFORTS AGAINST GRAFT IN GOVT
Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, ordered officials on Monday to make consistent efforts against graft to secure victory in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and fighting poverty.
Xi, China's president and chairman of the Central Military Commission, spoke at the fourth plenary session of the 19th Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the CPC.
The annual session of the top anti-corruption agency was attended by all seven members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee.
Xi stressed upholding and improving the Party and State supervisory systems, saying that the efforts would ensure that the Party's policies are faithfully implemented.
Since the Party's 18th National Congress, which was held in late 2012, the CPC has strengthened its supervision over the exercise of power and made historic achievements, Xi said.
Guided by scientific theories, the CPC has set up systems to remain true to its original aspiration and keep its mission firmly in mind, Xi said, adding that the whole Party's belief in fulfilling the Chinese dream has been strengthened.
Party unity has been strengthened and the CPC has punished corruption with an iron fist in recent years, Xi said.
The Fourth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee, which concluded in late October, made strategic plans to promote the modernization of the country's governance system and governance capability, Xi said, adding that anti-graft authorities should implement the requirements of that session.
He attached great importance to the supervision of poverty reduction tasks, saying problems that harm the people's interests in poverty-stricken areas must be addressed.
Xi called for tough measures against officials who undermine the law by providing protective umbrellas to mafia-style gangsters, and he told anti-graft authorities to continue to fight both tigers and flies — meaning both senior officials and those at lower-levels. Those who did not cease their misbehavior after the Party's 18th National Congress must be punished severely, Xi said.
Anti-corruption agencies should also keep an eye on State-owned enterprises, corrupt activities hidden in local government debt, cheating in the healthcare system and State-owned assets overseas.
The CPC Central Committee's eight-point rules on frugality should be further enforced and supervision of the chief officials of Party organizations at all levels must be enhanced, Xi said.
The disciplinary and supervisory authorities should take the lead in enhancing Party building, he said, adding that they should be loyal to the Party and be brave about fighting corruption.
CHINA OFF US 'CURRENCY MANIPULATOR' LIST
The United States on Monday removed the label of "currency manipulator" from China, a move experts said is "just recognizing reality" and will be welcomed by investors.
The US Treasury Department said in a report to Congress that no major US trading partner currently meets the relevant legislative criteria for currency manipulation.
Noting that the department assessed developments over the last several months with China and its currency practices, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement that "China has made enforceable commitments to refrain from competitive devaluation, while promoting transparency and accountability."
The announcement came five months after the Trump administration designated China a "currency manipulator" in August.
A report released by the International Monetary Fund in early August did not support the designation, saying that China's real effective exchange rate in 2018 was estimated to be at the same level as warranted by fundamentals and desirable policies.
"China has not been manipulating its currency, so this is just recognizing reality," said David Dollar, senior fellow at the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution.
Mark Sobel, US chairman of the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum, an independent think tank, also said China shouldn't have been designated to start with.
"Designation was blatant/errant political act," Sobel tweeted Monday.
In a recent statement, the People's Bank of China, the central bank, said China will continue to let the market play a decisive role in exchange-rate formation and keep the renminbi's exchange rate generally stable at a reasonable and balanced level.
Yi Gang, the central banker, said in Washington in late October that the exchange rate of China's renminbi, or yuan, is "at an appropriate level", judging both from economic fundamentals and from market supply and demand.
The US' dropping of the currency manipulator designation came the same day that a Chinese trade delegation, led by Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He, arrived in Washington for the signing of a phase one trade deal at the White House, scheduled for Wednesday.
Andrew Karolyi, a professor of finance at Cornell University, said investors will welcome the action largely because it appears to be tied to an impending agreement set to normalize trade relations with China.
"These steps individually and together help to reduce global trade policy uncertainty, something markets have been craving for months," Karolyi told China Daily.
"It is more than just symbolic, as lower trade policy uncertainty likely means more trade flows and greater cross-border portfolio and corporate investment flows, all of which stimulates more economic growth," he said.
Following the US Treasury announcement, the central parity rate of the renminbi reached a five-month high on Tuesday.
The central parity rate strengthened 309 pips ("point in percentage", or a single-digit move in the fourth decimal place in a currency pair) to 6.8954 against the US dollar, which was its strongest level since Aug 1, according to the China Foreign Exchange Trade System.
The US Treasury Department under the Trump administration previously released five semiannual reports on major trading partners' exchange-rate policies — including one in May 2019 — none of which labeled China a currency manipulator.
FM: CROSS-STRAITS UNITY INEVITABLE
State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Monday that the one-China principle cannot be changed by local election results in Taiwan and will not be shaken by the erroneous statements and actions of Western politicians.
The rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and cross-Straits reunification is a historical inevitability, Wang said on Monday during his seven-day visit in Africa.
Any move that goes against the trend will run into a dead end, and those who divide the country will be doomed to eternal infamy, he said.
Wang said the governments of the countries he visited since arriving in Africa on Jan 7 have clearly stated that they adhere to the one-China principle and that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China.
Experience shows that the one-China principle is not only the unanimous position of African countries, but has also been widely accepted by international community, he said.
Wang wrapped up his five African nation tour on Monday. The trip took him to Egypt, Djibouti, Eritrea, Burundi and Zimbabwe, and he also inspected the construction and operation of the Mombasa-Nairobi railway during a stop in Kenya.
At a news conference with Zimbabwe's Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Sibusiso Moyo in Harare on Sunday, Wang said there are three reasons for Africa being the destination of all Chinese foreign ministers' first overseas visit each year for the past 30 years.
First, he said, there are the special feelings of friendship from generation to generation and sharing in prosperity and misfortune between China and Africa. Second, it is based on the realistic needs of deepening bilateral cooperation and common development, he said, adding that China and Africa are natural partners with complementary advantages and have unlimited room for cooperation and potential. And finally, he said, there is the important mission of strengthening international cooperation and safeguarding of common interests between the two sides.
The world is becoming less peaceful, especially in recent years, as unilateralism and power politics have prevailed and the Cold War mentality has resurged, Wang said, adding that developing countries, including African nations, have suffered greatly from this.
There is an urgent need to strengthen communication and coordination between China and Africa, demonstrate the power of solidarity and speak in a unified voice in order to safeguard the legitimate rights of the Chinese and African people to oppose external interference, pursue fairness and justice, and lead a better life.
Efem N. Ubi, a senior research fellow and head of the division of International Economic Relations at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, said in an article posted online by China Global Television Network that the visits indicate that Africa occupies an utmost important position in China's foreign policy and to a considerable extent further demonstrate that the African continent in China's view is the equal of other continents.
The visits create an opportunity bilaterally for one-on-one communication in various areas between China and the host countries, he said.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum. Wang said at the news conference that the forum has become an important platform for dialogue and an effective mechanism for practical cooperation, and that it maintains a leading position in international cooperation with Africa.
Trade volume between China and Africa exceeded $200 billion last year, and China has become Africa's largest trading partner for 11 years in a row, Wang said.
China's direct investment in the continent has reached $110 billion, and more than 3,700 Chinese enterprises have invested and operated in Africa, he said.
China has built over 6,000 kilometers of railways and roads in Africa, as well as nearly 20 ports and more than 80 large power plants, all of which has promoted industrialization in Africa and enhanced its ability for independent development, he said.
Motivated by China-Africa cooperation, other foreign countries have also increased their attention to Africa, bringing more opportunities for the continent's development, he added.
CHINA'S FOREIGN TRADE RISES 3.4% TO 32T YUAN
China's foreign trade volume in 2019 stood at 31.54 trillion yuan, growing 3.4 percent year-on-year, data released by the General Administration of Customs show.
The country's exports rose by 5 percent to 17.23 trillion yuan and imports grew by 1.6 percent to 14.31 trillion yuan last year, while its trade surplus increased by 25.4 percent to 2.92 trillion yuan.
In the meantime, the European Union, ASEAN, the United States and Japan remained China's top four trading partners.
NEW ENERGY VEHICLE SALES SLOW IN 2019
As new energy vehicle sales in China fell by 4 percent last year, the segment's first decline in the country, industry experts have urged new measures, especially non-monetary ones, to fuel its development.
Chinese and international carmakers delivered 1.206 million electric cars and plug-in hybrids in China last year, down from 1.256 million in 2018, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.
"The fall was primarily the result of a cut in government subsidies in late June 2019," said Chen Shihua, deputy secretary-general of the association.
"Due to the small scale of the segment, new energy carmakers are losing money. The sharp fall following the subsidy cut shows the segment is still in need of policy support, at least measures to facilitate their use," said Chen.
At an industry forum on Saturday, Miao Wei, minister of industry and information technology, said the government will not reduce the subsidies substantially this year to stabilize the market and ensure the segment's healthy development.
China started to finance the segment in 2009 and has been phasing out since then.
Miao said the ministry is working on guidelines for the segment's development and will promulgate them soon.
Despite the temporary setback, Miao said China's new energy vehicle industry has gained a lead globally and the country will continue the strategy to consolidate the momentum.
"There is no change in the sound and long-term development of new energy vehicles," he said.
China overtook the United States as the largest market for new energy vehicles in 2015. Since then, annual sales in China have accounted for more than half of the global total.
By the end of last year, there were around 3.8 million electric cars and plug-in hybrids in China, according to data from the Ministry of Public Security.
CHINA FACING UP TO TERRIBLE TREBLE
China's quest to widen its international sporting prowess has hit a "big-ball" bump after defeats in volleyball and soccer left the nation facing up to an embarrassing triple whammy of Olympic qualification failures.
Just two weeks into the Olympic year, China's men's volleyball and soccer teams saw Tokyo tickets slip from their grasp at their respective 2020 Olympic qualifying tournaments, with the nation's men's basketball squad widely expected to follow suit at their qualifying event in June.
At the AFC Under-23 Championship in Thailand on Sunday, a 2-0 defeat to Uzbekistan ended China's hopes of booking a spot in the men's soccer tournament in Tokyo. Combined with an opening 1-0 loss to South Korea, the result means China cannot emerge from its group to reach the quarterfinals of the tournament, where only the top three finishers earn qualification for the Tokyo Games.
China has competed at the Olympics' soccer tournament twice-in 1988 in South Korea and in 2008 in Beijing.
About two hours earlier, China's men's volleyball team also missed out on the Games-for the first time since competing as host in 2008-by losing 3-0 to Iran in the final of the Asian zone qualifying event in Jiangmen, Guangdong province.
China's men's basketball team look set to complete a hat-trick of failures in June when it faces global heavyweights Canada, Greece and Turkey at a six-team qualifying tournament where just one Tokyo spot is up for grabs.