IMF urges China, US to negotiate over trade

File photo of US President Donald Trump with Chinese President Xi Jinping

International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde has called on China and the US to resolve their looming trade disputes through the use of existing multilateral provisions and organizations.

Both countries have been locked in a war of words and threats over US President Donald Trump’s decision to impose substantial tariffs on Chinese goods entering US markets. China has responded by doing the same, largely focused on agricultural industries in the American heartland.

Trump responded by increasing the scope of Chinese products to be hit with tariffs – to $150 billion – in a tit-for-tat exchange between the two economic powers.

In recent weeks, however, both countries have hunkered down with neither moving forward on their threats as economists warn that a trade war would be a lose-lose scenario for both countries.

A trade war would be disastrous for global economies as well; these have only now started to show sustained growth following the global financial crisis on the back of the sub-prime mortgage crisis in the US.

Lagarde said that the United States and China should work on the basis of free trade and within the framework of the rules-based multilateral institutions.

Meanwhile, Chinese officials with the Ministry of Commerce have welcomed reports that the U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is considering making a trip to China to discuss economic and trade issues.

“I did meet with the Chinese here. The discussions were really more around the governor’s actions at the PBOC (People’s Bank of China) and certain actions they’ve announced in terms of opening some of their markets, which we very much encourage and appreciate,” Mnuchin told reporters on the sidelines of an IMF meeting in Washington on Saturday.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

China to expand renewable energy development

China will account for more than one-third of the world’s use of renewable energy by 2040 [By Kenueone [CC0 or CC0], via Wikimedia Commons]

With the US opting out of the Paris Accords on Climate Change, many have turned their focus to China to spearhead efforts to curb green house emissions and move from fossil fuel to renewable energy.

The potential for growth in the latter in China is usge says a British Petroleum Energy Outlook report for 2018.

The report says that not only is reliance on coal as a major energy source declining in China – forecast to fall from 62 per cent consumption in 2016 to 36 per cent in 2040 – but it will also account for 31 per cent of the earth’s renewable energy consumption by the same year.

The UN has commended China for leveraging decreased manufacturing costs and increased investment to boost trade in renewable trade products.

In addition to curbing the use of vehicles and applying stricter pollution controls to construction sites and those that use coal as an energy source, the government is fast-tracking the manufacturing of “green” cars.

In 2017, nearly 800,000 such “green” vehicles were sold on the Chinese market.

“New energy vehicle production jumped 53.8 per cent to 794,000 units last year, up 53.8 per cent from the previous year,” the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) said.

This comes as the Chinese government seeks to adopt a two-tier approach to environmental safety and boost its automotive industry.

Beijing is also going to reclaim forests that have been transformed to agricultural lands

The New Development Bank (NDB) launched by the BRICS countries has been part and parcel of the bloc’s drive toward clean and renewable energy.

In July 2016, it issued its first bonds worldwide to raise funds for clean energy projects in member states.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

China presses Kim on denuclearization

Kim’s surprise visit to Beijing is being seen as preparation to a North Korean-US Summit [Image released by North Korea’s KCNA]

China’s national news agency Xinhua is reporting that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s trip to Beijing yesterday was focused on discussions with President Xi Jinping to find a way to dismantle Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons.

The three-day visit, which wasn’t reported until the third day, was the first such trip for Kim Jong Un and came at the invitation of Xi to de-escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Kim said he felt a moral obligation to inform his Chinese counterpart of recent events on the Peninsula.

“We are willing to work together with DPRK comrades, remain true to our original aspiration and jointly move forward, to promote long-term healthy and stable development of China-DPRK relations, benefit the two countries and two peoples, and make new contribution to regional peace, stability and development,” Xi said.

Kim, meanwhile, addressed the issue of prospective talks with US President Donald Trump in May.

“The issue of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula can be resolved, if south Korea and the United States respond to our efforts with goodwill, create an atmosphere of peace and stability while taking progressive and synchronous measures for the realization of peace,” said Kim.

As North Korea’s only friendly neighbor, Beijing has long pressured Pyongyang to denuclearize and refrain from making threats against South Korea.

But it has also warned Washington that belligerent statements from the White House are counterproductive. China also warned the Americans against schemes of regime change in North Korea.

Kim has been quickly making peaceful overtures to South Korea, which has reciprocated since the thawing of relations during the Winter Olympics in South Korea’s PyeongChang.

The North Korean leader is expected to meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in at a summit of the Koreas in April.

South Korea’s Moon Jae-in said the anticipated meeting is “miraculous”.

Speculation is rife that China will host the anticipated North Korean-US summit.

This is where China’s central mediation comes through. Both the US and North Korea would find a Chinese venue as opportune, with Beijing reaping all the diplomatic accolades.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

Beijing on orange alert for smog

In some Chinese cities in recent years, the concentration of airborne particles, called PM 2.5, averaged nine times the safe level defined by the World Health Organisation [Xinhua]

As winter quickly approaches, the Chinese capital Beijing once again finds itself in the throes of an air pollution crisis as authorities signal an orange alert for smog for the second consecutive day.

China’s color code alerts include red – as the most dangerous and lethal, followed by orange, yellow and blue.

The red code is triggered when the city anticipates four consecutive days of heavy air pollution, including two days of severe air pollution.

A red alert is also issued if the city’s Air Quality Index (AQI) reaches 500, local media have said.

The authorities are now encouraging residents to curb the use of their vehicles while more pressure is applied to construction sites to implement stricter pollution controls.

The winter months are particularly more dangerous as millions of Chinese resort to coal as a primary heating source.

The Chinese government has earmarked a plan to help some 700 villages turn to clean energy rather than coal, as well as shut down hundreds of polluting factories.

In neighboring Shanxi province, which lies southwest of Beijing, authorities are considering shifting their economy toward technology and away from coal production.

Currently, Shanxi is becoming one of the country’s mobile phone manufacturing hubs.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

Xi promises modernized, ‘more open’ China

Tackling the issue of rising mortgage’s Xi said “houses are for living in, not for speculation”[Xinhua]

The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) concludes tomorrow following week-long sessions in which President Xi Jinping outlined his priorities for the next five years.

The Communist Party’s 2,000 delegates on Tuesday inserted Xi Jinping “Thought” into its constitution, effectively making the president the most powerful man in China.

Xi Jinping Thought is the president’s principles on the CPC’s contribution in governance and includes issues of development and reform.

The delegates also concluded the composition of top governing entities in the party, including the Central Committee and the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

While combating corruption and eradicating poverty remain central themes in his vision, Xi has promised to modernize the economy by principally unloosing restrictions on foreign investors entering Chinese markets.

This he says will strengthen market forces to play a greater role in price evaluation, particularly in the financing industry, and help refocus the economy on high-quality growth.

In effect, he is promising a “wider” open-door policy.

“Living in such a great era, we are all the more confident and proud, and also feel the heavy weight of responsibility upon us,” he said.

China will “clean up rules and practices that hinder a unified market and fair competition, support development of private firms and stimulate vitality of all types of market entities,” Xi said.

The president also stressed that China should take its place center-stage among other nations, implementing “socialism with Chinese characteristics”.

He would like to see China become “a modern socialist prosperous society” in 30 years.

The economy has in the past three quarters grown by 6.8 per cent and this will likely be the overall figure for the year, largely riding a surge in property investments.

Xi’s challenge will be how to curb the skyrocketing housing prices and mortgages, which threaten to increase household debt, without putting a dent in GDP growth which has lately been reliant on these sectors.

During his speech at the CPC National Congress, Xi said: “houses are for living in, not for speculation”.

Economists are worried about the specter of an unforseen drastic drop in asset prices after sustained GDP growth, which would have been largely sparked by debt or currency pressures.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

China, US in dispute over S China Sea ‘incursion’

File photo of a Marine patrol ship “Haixun 31” sails out of the Chinese port of Sanya for the South China Sea, Feb. 28, 2013 [Xinhua]

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has filed a formal complaint with US authorities in protest of a US naval destroyer crossing into territorial waters claimed by Beijing in the South China Sea near the Xisha Islands.

“China sent military vessels and planes to investigate and identify the US military ship and warned it to leave,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said Wednesday said at a regular news briefing.

China has been in control of the Xisha Islands, also known as the Paracel Islands, since 1974, but announced the the baseline of territorial waters there in 1996.

Beijing says that guided missile destroyer the USS Chafee, entered its territory on Tuesday and carried out “freedom of navigation” maneuvers without Chinese consent.

“China urges the US side to respect Chinese sovereignty and security interests as well as the efforts of regional countries to maintain the peace and stability of the South China Sea,” Hua added.

But US officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to US media, said that the Navy does not declare ahead of time its intent to carry out such missions.

They said that the USS Chafee approached to a distant of 30 kms from the islands as part of a US military strategy to “challenge Beijing’s excessive maritime claims”.

The US does not recognize China’s sovereignty over the Xisha Islands and says they are contested by Vietnam and Taiwan.

Beijing claims 90 per cent of the South China Sea, a maritime region believed to hold a wealth of untapped oil and gas reserves and through which roughly $4.5 trillion of ship-borne trade passes every year. In addition to Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have contesting claims on these waters.

Maritime disputes between China on the one hand and the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan on the other have caused tensions in the region and often led to a war of words between Beijing and Washington.

Beijing has long accused Washington of meddling in the South China Sea. The US conducts periodic air and naval patrols near the disputed islands that have angered Beijing.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

Xi: Campaign against poverty is ‘toughest battle’

China aims to significantly reduce poverty by 2020 [Xinhua]

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday called the campaign against poverty the “toughest of all battles” and that the country should exert all efforts to eradicate it.

His statement comes ahead of the UN earmarked International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on October 17.

Two weeks ago, Beijing upgraded a new mechanism to help local governments and municipalities target poverty reduction through a 100-point assessment system that measures the efficacy of funds allocated to this pursuit.

How effective the funds have been will be marked out of 62 points; fund allocation is 10 points; supervision of the funds is 20 points and the remaining 8 points covers capital input.

Beijing wants local governments to reach 90 points or more in the new assessment mechanism. Below 60 is considered a failed approach.

The latest success story in the campaign against poverty is east China’s Jiangxi Province where the capital Jinggangshan has now been officially declassified as an impoverished area.

Through a number of local programs such as poverty relief projects and government assistance to start businesses, boosting rural infrastructure and creating employment opportunities for the less privileged, Jinggangshan managed to reduce the number of people living under the poverty line to just 1.6 per cent of the population.

The countrywide standard is two per cent.

According to official figures, there are 55 million people currently living in poverty.

One of the cornerstones of the current National People’s Congress 13th five-year plan is that it aims to significantly reduce poverty by 2020.

Elsewhere in Hunan province, for example, the local government has pledged to repeat its fund allocation from 2016, which helped lift more than a million people out of poverty.

Officials in Hunan, which is located in central China, say they want to eradicate poverty completely by 2019, bringing a total of five million out of poverty since 2014.

The Hunan provincial initiative, mimicked in other provinces such as east China’s Shandong and the southwest’s Sichuan, falls in tandem with the strategies of the National People’s Congress 13th five-year plan.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies