Beijing outbreak pressure increasing; Follow in Xi’s footsteps on the way to the 20th Party Congress; Xinjiang, US-China audit deal prospects
Today’s essential Eight items:
Shanghai slow reopening, Beijing pressure increasing, Tianjin and Xi’an to test everyone - Shanghai’s slow and bumpy reopening continues, Beijing is intensifying epidemic control after Sun Chunlan’s guidance, and Tianjin and Xi’an have announced they will test all their residents starting March 25.
Follow in Xi’s footsteps on the way to the 20th Party Congress - In the last day Xinhua, CCTV and People's Daily have all launched variations of a new series about following in the footsteps of Xi Jinping. Returning to the rumors circulating about troubles for Xi as Li Keqiang is in ascendance, it looks like a safe assumption that Xi controls the barrel of the gun 枪杆子 and the pen 笔杆子, aka the military and security services and the propaganda system, what does Li Keqiang control? Does anyone inside the system think there is career upside in “following in the footsteps of Li Keqiang”?
Regulators tell banks to lend more - The signals this week from the State Council and now the People's Bank of China (PBOC) and the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission show the policymakers are getting extremely worried about the state of economy. It is hard to see how these measures really work so long as the sword of dynamic zero-Covid is hanging over the economy.
Low expectations for Xinjiang visit of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet - The propaganda organs were on hand to watch Bachelet accepting a copy from Wang Yi of Xi’s new treatise on human rights.
Leak of Xinjiang police files - Nicely timed to drop during Bachelet’s visit, the speeches, photos and documents are horrifying.
Wang Yi going on a South Pacific tour - Wang will sign several agreements with the Solomon Islands.
Xi’s letter to an “old friend” in Iowa - This led the Tuesday CCTV Evening News. Seems a bit random, then again they like to push Xi’s Iowa-related connections whenever things in US-China relations seem especially grim, but I am not sure anyone on the US side really cares about the Iowa history anymore.
Time running out for a US-China audit deal - Leaks from the PRC side to Western journalists notwithstanding, a deal to prevent US-listed PRC firms from having to delist seems increasingly unlikely. It is politically very difficult for the US side to make any PRC-specific concessions, and it is politically very difficult for the PRC side to compromise too much on national security. The US has a ton of leverage right now, losing access to the US markets would be a big blow to PRC firms and their executives, though American banks and exchanges would also be sad, so there is a chance the PRC caves.
The US State Department confirmed today that Secretary of State Blinken will give the long-awaited speech on US policy towards China this Thursday, May 26.