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Post-Covid China Banks on Economic Recovery After Lunar New Year Holiday

How Is the Year of the Rabbit Kicking Off? What pandemic? Beijing’s strict zero-Covid policy spelt disaster for too many Chinese firms. But not Henan Mine, a crane manufacturer in central China. To reward the staff who raked in sales revenue of $1.36bn in 2022, a 23% jump on 2021, the boss had $9m stacked on stage, in bundled banknotes, for their Lunar New Party on January 17. The cash mountain was handed out to 40 sales managers as year-end bonuses. The top performers needed colleagues’ help to haul their loot home. Video of the stunt went (predictably) viral, as intended: new orders are flooding in, so we must hire aggressively, and calls to our HR department haven’t stopped, publicity manager Feng Xiaobei told The Paper. For most companies, and the citizens who power them, the third year of the Covid era was brutal. China’s economic growth in 2022 slumped…

China Seals the Xi Supremacy

Markets shocked after Party Congress grants Xi greater power For all the economic and social dynamism of recent decades, China under Communist Party rule remains tightly bound by a system of long meetings and slogan-heavy speeches, led by a Party of study. In the Party-state calendar, no meeting ranks above the five-yearly Party Congress. There its general secretary delivers a political report which ranks as the mother of all policy documents for the following five years. In October, the much-anticipated 20th Party Congress followed the precedents laid down by a century of Maoist-Leninist practice since the founding congress in 1921. Gen. Sec. Xi Jinping (whose Party post far outweighs his Presidency) kicked off with a two-hour speech. And even that was an abridged version of his full report. Yet despite all the hype – and the generally dull reality of this mostly closed-door, seven-day event – the congress, and the…

Taiwan still the flashpoint for US-China relations, as Biden still awaits face time with Xi

Standing on the deck of an US Navy destroyer, at Japan’s Yokosuka naval base, US Vice President Kamala Harris directly challenged China on September 28. She accused it of “disturbing behaviour” and “provocations” around Taiwan. Harris said Washington would in response “deepen our unofficial ties” to the self-governed island that Beijing considers part of its territory. The US will also “continue to fly, sail and operate, undaunted and unafraid, wherever and whenever international law allows”, including the Taiwan Strait, she added. Washington “does not seek conflict with China”. But “we anticipate continued aggressive behaviour from Beijing as it attempts to unilaterally undermine the status quo.” Taiwan Fifty years on from the President Nixon visit to China that kickstarted decades of co-operation and tension, the Biden administration is increasingly standing up to China on the one bilateral issue that threatens a conflict even worse than Ukraine. President Joe Biden said on…

Pelosi’s Flying Visit to Taiwan Sends US China Relations into Tailspin

Beijing launches massive war games and cancels Sino-US talks “Welcome to China!” With those three words, or some six Chinese characters, the PRC might have landed a PR masterstroke just as US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi touched down in the ROC on 2 August for a fleeting but highly consequential Taiwan visit, one that US President Joe Biden, let alone Beijing, didn’t want her to make. Hunkered down in Zhongnanhai’s Situation Room (one imagines – Beijing doesn’t release White House-style crisis photographs), Xi Jinping ignored Twitter users’ free advice and jokes about managing Sino-US relations. Instead, China’s Party boss and commander-in-chief had his military and foreign ministry go big on outrage, to warn the US against supporting “Taiwanese independence”, and to remind the island’s residents that his Party will never let them go. China had warned of “serious preparations” ahead of Pelosi becoming the most senior US official…

Sharpen those quills: US sells “porcupine” Taiwan $19bn of arms (2017-2022) (Infographic)

As China ratchets up pressure, US wants Taiwan to avoid Ukraine’s fate Tanks, torpedoes, planes, parts – and plenty more. The US government has approved arms sales to Taiwan worth $19.3bn over the past five years (June 2017-June 2022), to help the self-ruled island deter the rising threat of invasion by China. From Donald Trump to Joe Biden, the US has stayed committed to arming Taiwan with enough weaponry to prevent or at least slow down a Chinese attack. The policy has taken on greater urgency in 2022 as Beijing has supported Moscow throughout Russia’s war on Ukraine, although has refrained to do so militarily. Like Vladimir Putin and Ukraine, China views Taiwan as lost territory to be recovered at all costs. In the military sales infographic below, Enodo Economics sets out what was bought when. The latest sale ($120m of warship parts approved in June 2022), and the experience…

China and US: Risks Persist That Cold War Turns Hot

Beijing and Washington Swap Competing Visions of Taiwan’s Future An overpowering neighbour threatens invasion to “recover” territory and defend its citizens there. Sounds familiar? Nope, Beijing continues to insist, China and Taiwan are nothing like Russia and Ukraine. But the US sees a strong and alarming parallel, even as Washington vows its opposition to a new Cold War. At the Shangri-La Dialogue in mid-June, a global talkfest on military matters, Chinese Senior Colonel Zhao Xiaozhuo took offence at “aggressive” US comparisons between rising cross-Strait tensions and the war in Ukraine. Lloyd Austin and Wei Fenghe US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin had told the Singapore-based forum that the US would continue to stand by its allies, including Taiwan. “That’s especially important as the PRC adopts a more coercive and aggressive approach to its territorial claims,” said Austin. His Chinese opposite number left no room for doubt about Beijing’s commitment to backing…

Shanghai Lockdown Speeds China Slowdown

Tough Omicron measures persist despite economic growth impact The Chinese economy’s just fine, thanks. Don’t talk down China GDP, or blame our zero-Covid tactics for slowing growth. Beijing remains publicly committed to maintaining the world’s toughest response to the pandemic, now over two years old. This approach, locking down millions and stifling key ports, still succeeds in keeping China’s Covid death toll at world-beating low levels, but at an increasingly high cost to the domestic and world economy. So the authorities have reverted to another tried and trusted tactic: silencing the naysayers. In recent days, outspoken economists and prominent investors have been silenced on social media in China. Beijing is tightening its grip on online speech amid mounting economic pressure and controversies surrounding its zero-Covid policy. Hong Hao, one of China’s highest-profile market strategists, has left his state-owned employer after his social-media accounts were censored. Based in Hong Kong, Hong’s…

As Russia Wages War in Ukraine, Taiwan Fears China Invasion

Vladimir Putin’s brutal war on Ukraine continues to shock the world and move markets everywhere. These global tremors also highlight the difficult but crucial relationship between two non-combatants, the USA and China, who may one day face off over Taiwan. A conflict over Taiwan is the lightening rod that investors can no longer ignore. For Beijing views the self-ruled island off its southeast coast very much as Vladimir Putin sees Ukraine: sovereign territory that has broken away but must be returned to the motherland. And the USA will likely defend Taiwan against a mainland Chinese invasion. When US President Joe Biden flew to Europe on March 23, to meet allies and keep setting the agenda on the war in Ukraine, China’s perceived support for Russia’s war was expected to feature at all his meetings with the European Council, NATO and the Group of 7 nations. In Brussels, Biden reiterated his…

Chinese New Year 2022

What to expect in the Year of the Tiger? On February 1, as firecrackers deafen and delight families across East Asia, the Chinese New Year festival marks the shift from the Year of the Metal Ox to the Year of the Water Tiger. You may not set great store by zodiac traditions, and Chinese New Year animals, but those who do say: ‘buckle up for a bumpy ride’. In the Chinese horoscope, the Tiger symbolises bravery and confidence but also unpredictability. Like Tiger people, the year ahead may prove dynamic and emotional. Expect action, adventure and the unexpected. The Water element may calm the fiery king of beasts, just as Metal grounded the Ox to steady, hard work in 2021. Like a bold and powerful tiger, China has stood up with confidence and assertiveness in recent years, forging its own development path and carving its place in global affairs. But…

China to Taiwan: “You Can’t Fight Us”

China’s ever-growing military might make the possibility of China Taiwan invasion the biggest geopolitical risk facing investors. China to Taiwan – given China’s growing military power, a potential armed conflict poses the greatest geopolitical risk for investors. And the latest news from the troubled Taiwan Strait offers little hope that both sides can avoid a China Taiwan war. Also that Taiwan could resist invasion, even with US support. On January 11, Chen Yi, 28, the Taiwanese pilot of an US-made F-16V fighter, completed a series of simulated missile launches before his Lockheed Martin jet abruptly nosedived into the sea off the island’s southwest coast. Chen’s death marked the latest tragedy in at least eight major accidents involving F-16s in Taiwan since 1998. President Tsai Ing-wen asked the defence ministry to swiftly investigate the cause of the crash. This dealt a blow to Taiwan’s hopes of using its most advanced warplanes to beef…

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