More optimizing on the road to reopening; Politburo on economy; Bad trade data; Xi in Saudi Arabia
Summary of the Essential Eight:
More optimizing on the road to reopening - The Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism (JPCM) of the State Council announced ten new optimization measures. While they do not officially declare an end to “dynamic zero-Covid 动态清零” there is no mention of that policy, and the measures loosen things so much that it appears the authorities have clearly shifted to “living with the virus” if not actually “letting it rip”. The path towards reopening was already starting before the protests, beginning in early November with the 20 optimization measures. A sudden pivot just to assuage protestors seems risky, from humanitarian, health system and economic perspectives as well as the potential to “embolden” people into thinking that protests work. The protests likely did accelerate the shift, which could end up being very dangerous if the new measures were not fully considered beforehand. Regardless, it is an indictment of the policy of the last few months, even if no one will be allowed to admit it, and instead the Party will continue to “move from victory to victory 从胜利走向胜利”. Neither the Politburo meeting readout today, the JCPM press conference or the long Xinhua “review” of the achievements of the fight against the pandemic since 2020 mention “dynamic zero-Covid”.
Xinhua reviews the battle against the epidemic - A Xinhua "review" -"Winning the Strategic Initiative through Persistence——A Review of our country's Fight for Epidemic Prevention and Control in the Past Three Years" - details the success of the fight against the pandemic over the last almost three years. It does not mention "dynamic zero-Covid 动态清零“. It is almost like the authorities now want everyone to forget it was ever even a policy. There is also no mention of the Shanghai lockdown earlier this year. I hope they are correct that they have "survived the most difficult moment 最艰难的时刻，我们挺过来了".
Politburo on the economy - The Politburo did meet before Xi flew off to Saudi Arabia. The readout did not mention dynamic zero-Covid or anything about real estate but in general makes it sounds like there is going to be more policy support coming soon. We may know more from the Central Economic Work Conference which will probably convene sometime next week.
Bad trade data - The November trade data surprised to the downside in a sign of how much the domestic and external economic environments are deteriorating.
Xi to Saudi Arabia - Xi is in Saudi Arabia until December 10 on a state visit to the kingdom and to attend the first China-Arab States Summit and the China-Gulf Cooperation Council summit.
More US support for Taiwan - The "Taiwan Enhanced Resilience Act 2022" is included in the annual National Defense Authorization Act that will likely pass and be signed by President Biden into law before the end of the year. Beijing will not be pleased, even though it has stripped out some of the more "inflammatory" sections in a previous version.
Politburo meeting on corruption and discipline - The Politburo meeting also discussed discipline and anti-corruption work, and set the date for the 2nd Plenum of the 20th CCDI - January 9-11.
This week’s episode of the Sharp China podcast went live earlier today - New Narrative on Covid, Jiang Zemin, Relationships in the Pacific, mRNA Vaccines as a Red Herring.
Today’s sections: Business, Economy and Trade | Politics and Law | Foreign and Defense Affairs | Hong Kong | Tech and Media | Society, Arts, Sports, Culture and History | Energy, Environment, Science and Health