News on China from April 3rd and 4th: headlines are in no particular order, excerpts are all sections I have highlighted from the articles and put into my own words.
Despite Growing Pains, Megacities Rise in Urbanizing China (Caixin Global)
//The authorities want farmers to move out of the country side to free up farm land, and relocate into the cities. But the Hukou system still prevents farmers from gaining the social benefits of moving to a city, producing a caste-like society; only 41% of Chinese hold urban hukou. Nanning, Qingdao, Shijiazhuang are all expected to see a major grow in population, with the third city to join Jing-Jin-Ji super city cluster before 2030. While speculation on city growth is leading to a dramatic increase in neighboring property values, potentially creating a bubble, local government and restate agencies are pocketing lots of cold cash and have an incentive to keep this process going.
//New Special Economic zone 100km south of Beijing called Xiongan New Area. Saturday’s announcement caused a flood of buyers to rush into the area, doubling property prices, and causing the government to temporarily stop the sale of properties to prevent a bubble. Seems unlikely to become another ghost city, due to its proximity to Beijing and incorporation into the Jing Jin Ji super city movement.
China’s ‘bad banks’ thrive as alternative lenders (Finical Times)
//State-owned banks tasked with managing bad-debt and nonperforming loans in the 90s, have profited immensely from low interest rates and lending to other companies at more than double or triple rates to restructure bad loans in the “restructured distressed assets” market.
//Protesters planning to throw themselves in front of Xi’s motorcade in Florida; they are also aware that their families back in China will be harassed and intimidated by hired thugs.
//Interviews of students produced a common theme: political issues were not important in their lives as much as the pressures put on them by their families who are living vicariously through them and who depend on them as the parents get old. Young adults complain about the lack of independence; the author speculates that only those who have independence can afford to care about politics.
Hong Kong’s next leader Carrie Lam having difficulties forming cabinet, says ex-campaign chief (Hong Kong Free Press)
//Chief executive Carrie Lam is having trouble putting together her cabinet and some bureau chiefs will be leaving.
//Chinese travelers more likely to come to the USA under the Trump administration, citing interest in the political climate, potential fear of not being permitted to come in the future, and being security conscious. Trumps travel ban has impacted the Asia Pacific the least, which has had an increase in tourism. China is the fifth largest tourist market to the US.
More violence erupts as thousands protest in streets of Paris over police shooting of Chinese man (Shanghaist)
//6000 organized protesters in Paris turned violent for an hour in reaction to the police shooting of a Chinese man last week.
//Xi has a slew of events lined up in preparation for the 19th party congress: Trump meeting in April, OBOR imitative in May, PLA military parade in August, and BRICS revitalization in the fall; Xi needs this meeting with Trump to go well and to not be embarrassed. Some economic/job concessions by Xi are expected to give Trump an easy win. Xi will seek assurances on the status quo of One-China and SCS development, end U.S. arm sales with Taiwan, and prevent a trade war. Experts suggest some linkage between North Korea, South China Sea, trade, and U.S. participation in OBOR.
China Army Carries Out Drills on Burma Border Amid Tensions (China Defense Blog)
//PLAAF and PLA carry out drills on the border with Myanmar amid ethnic conflict.
Why Beijingers aren’t taking to electric vehicles (China Dialogue)
//Electric vehicles are not taking hold in China despite government incentives. 85% didn’t purchase an EV after being permitted to do so. Public is citing lack of public confidence in government promises that fell through in 2014 for more charging stations, battery safety, depreciating values compared to conventional cars, lack of charging infrastructure, lack of parking spaces for the salaried class, and poor car technology/user reviews.
Maoists for Trump? In China, Fans Admire His Nationalist Views (New York Times)
//Trump finds support in ultra-leftist “Maoist” group who see Trump as a populist because he represents the working class and is anti-establishment. They specifically liken Trump to Mao citing their disgust with western democracy.
Trade is front and center as Trump and Xi meet (Brookings)
//David Dollar’s suggestions for Trump on Chinese economy are to negotiate greater openness for American investments in previously close sectors, encourage Chinese consumption and reduce their savings rate, and restrict SOE mergers in the U.S. until China allows the U.S. to conduct similar actions in China as an alternative to high tariffs.