March 27, 2018

China (中国) Today

Events Review (19.03–25.03.2018)

 

I. Major Events and Trends in the Development of the Situation in and Around China

March 20, 2018, the closing meeting of the first session of the 13th National People's Congress was held in Beijing, which became the main political event in the country since the beginning of 2018.

President of the PRC Xi Jinping made a closing speech in which he called on the Chinese leadership and people to focus on achieving the strategic goal of the revival of the Chinese nation within the framework of transforming the country into a prosperous and powerful, democratic and civilized, harmonious and modernized socialist state by the middle of this century.

According to Xi Jinping, the implementation of these plans requires taking concrete measures to comprehensively deepen the reforms and expand openness to the outside world, implement a new concept of development, as well as to create a modernized economic system. Besides, the President of China emphasized the need to strengthen socialist democracy and the unity of the CPC, increase the role of the people as the master of the country and ensure the rule of law in governing the state.

Xi Jinping draw special attention to the development of Chinese culture, raising the standard of living of the population, promoting social equality and justice, improving the quality of education and health care, and protecting the environment.

At the same time, the President of the PRC pointed out the country's peaceful foreign policy, which is aimed at building a common world with shared destiny for all humankind. According to him, the development of China does not pose a threat to any state.

President of the PRC Xi Jinping made a closing speech at the first session of the 13th National People's Congress
President of the PRC Xi Jinping made a closing speech
at the first session of the 13th National People's Congress

Xi Jinping's speech was supplemented by Premier of the State Council of China Li Keqiang who focused on the Chinese government's tasks in the economic sphere. The main ones were the simplification of the administrative management system, improvement of the business climate, stimulation of market activity, implementation of innovations, including the development of the digital economy and trade, as well as creation of new jobs.

 

II. China's Strategic Initiative “The Belt and Road” in the Context of Chinese and Regional Interests

Chinese Ambassador to the European Union Zhang Ming
Chinese Ambassador to the EU Zhang Ming

One of the key directions of the development of “The Belt and Road” is other countries and regions' joining it, which is of mutual interest. Thus according to the views of Chinese Ambassador to the EU Zhang Ming in his article to Euractiv, China and Europe are natural partners for mutually beneficial cooperation. Thanks to the joint efforts, the Chinese initiative “The Belt and Road” was successfully combined with the European development strategy, which formed the basis for intensifying the negotiations on the establishment of a free trade zone between the PRC and the EU. In particular, within the framework of “The Belt and Road”, China has already signed intergovernmental agreements in trade and economic sphere with 11 EU countries. At this, Zhang Ming expressed China's readiness to continue the steps in this direction.

 

At the same time, there are plans to deepen interaction in “The Belt and Road” and the African Union formats. This issue became one of the points on the agenda of the African Union Extraordinary Summit on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which was held on 17–21 March 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda, to consider the prospects for creation of a continental free trade area. According to Thomas Kwesi Quartey, Deputy Chairman of the African Union Commission, to date China is one of Africa's main partners in the region's economic development. Besides, through the PRC, African countries have access to other regions, first of all along “The Belt and Road”. Taking this into consideration, T. K. Quartey emphasized the AU's intention to expand the scope of cooperation with the participants of the Chinese initiative.

African Union Extra Ordinary Summit on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)
African Union Extra Ordinary Summit on the
African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)

III. Other Trends and Developments Influencing the Situation in and around China

3.1. Politics. Development of China's International Cooperation

Having been re-elected to the post of President of the People's Republic of China, Xi Jinping had telephone conversations with the leaders of the world leading countries, in particular, with German Chancellor A. Merkel, Prime Minister of India N. Modi and President of the Russian Federation V. Putin. During the talks, the parties reaffirmed their intentions to further develop constructive relations in different spheres and formats. First of all, in the given context, were mentioned the joint construction of a multipolar, safe and open world, resolving international problems, as well as deepening trade and economic relations. At this, among multilateral formats, they favoured cooperation within the framework of the United Nations, the G 20 and “The Belt and Road”. In addition, Xi Jinping received congratulations from the leaders of most other countries.

 

The development of China's relations with the countries of different regions, including Central and Eastern Europe, continues. March 22, 2018 Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Deputy Foreign Ministers of the Visegrad countries in Beijing. Representatives from Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary expressed their willingness to become “gateways” for China's wider access to the European market through participation in the Chinese initiative “The Belt and Road”. Besides, the sides discussed the prospects of cooperation between China and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe in the format “16+1”.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi meeting with Deputy Foreign Ministers of the Visegrad countries
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi meeting with
Deputy Foreign Ministers of the Visegrad countries

Against this background, another complication of the Sino-American relationship took place, which was the result of US President D. Trump's decision to impose import duties on goods from the PRC for a total of 60 billion US dollars. Among the reasons for such intentions are the trade deficit with China of 504 billion US dollars and intellectual property theft situation going on, which likewise “is hundreds of billions of dollars”. In response, the leadership of the People's Republic of China expressed its readiness to take all necessary measures to “protect their legitimate rights”. In this regard, the Ministry of Commerce of China has issued a list of 128 products imported from the United States that may be subject to customs duties.

 

3.2. Economy. Some Aspects of the Economic Situation in China

The positive development of the Chinese economy, as well as the Chinese government's efforts to improve the investment climate in the country, create a stable tendency to increase the volume of revenues of foreign capital to China. Thus, in January–February 2018, foreign direct investments in the PRC has grown by 0.5 % compared to the same period last year to about 22.1 billion US dollars. At this, foreign direct investments in the high-tech industries of the Chinese industry increased by 27.9 % year-on-year and amounted to 19.5 % of the total amount of such investments. During the same period, 8848 enterprises with foreign capital were registered in the country, which is almost by 130 % more than in the first two months of 2017.

Foreign direct investments in the PRC in January–February 2018
Foreign direct investments in the PRC in January–February 2018

Proceeding from the economic achievements of the PRC, the country's leadership plans to implement a set of measures to improve the quality of life of the Chinese people. In particular, it is going:

  • To raise the level of incomes of the population, including through increasing salaries, pensions and subsidies and reducing the income tax on individuals;
  • To increase the amount of basic health insurance and to enlarge the population groups to which free medical care will be provided;
  • To optimize the educational process in the interests of providing higher education with simultaneous decrease in the burden on schoolchildren;
  • To develop home, community and mutual support of the elderly, as well as to expand services in this sphere, including in rural regions;
  • To intensify the struggle against the pollution of the environment, first of all emissions of harmful substances into the air.

 

3.3. Security and Law Enforcement Agencies

Situation around the Korean Peninsula. The United States and their partners in the APR are seeking ways to make North Korea abandon nuclear weapons. This issue was discussed during the meeting of US National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster, National Security Advisor for the President of the Republic of Korea Chung Eui-Yong and Japanese National Security Advisor Shotaro Yachi in San Francisco on March 17–18, 2018. As a result of the talks, an agreement was reached to continue coordinated pressure on Pyongyang to make it take real steps to meet the demands of the international community.

Meeting of Senior National Security Advisors of South Korea, the USA and Japan took place took place in San Francisco
Meeting of Senior National Security Advisors of South Korea, the USA and Japan took place took place in San Francisco

Against this background, the first meeting of the leaders of the DPRK and South Korea is being prepared. March 16, 2018, the first meeting of the joint working group with the participation of representatives of the two countries was held in Seoul. Issues to be addressed at the highest level were discussed, including denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, dismantling of military tension, building long-term peace in the region, and promotion of a new shift in relations between the two Korean states.

The first meeting of the joint DPRK-South Korea working group
The first meeting of the joint DPRK-South Korea working group

Major Events in the Region in the Military Sphere.

PRC. March 19, 2018, the PRC Armed Forces (PLA) began large-scale trans-regional trainings of the PLA Marine Corps involving 10,000 marines. As part of the training activities, the military units were transferred by rail, sea and air to two training facilities in the southwestern province of Yunnan and the eastern Shandong province at a distance of 2,000 km from the place of permanent location. According to the training plans, they are going to master more than 30 tasks in conditions of subtropical mountainous terrain and jungle.

USA, DPRK. The United States and South Korea have agreed to resume the annual combined exercise Foal Eagle, which was deconflicted with the schedule of the Olympic Games, the Pentagon noted. Joint drill would involve about 11,500 US troops and 290,000 South Korean forces. The exercise is expected to resume April 1, 2018, at a scale similar to that of the previous years.

 

3.4. Science and Technology

The PRC began tests of the ship's version of an electromagnetic railgun
The PRC began tests of the ship's version
of an electromagnetic railgun

The development of China's scientific and technological potential creates a wide range of opportunities for the development of modern types of weapons and military equipment in the country. In March 2018, the PRC began tests of the ship's version of an electromagnetic cannon — i.e. of a railgun. “Railgun” is a fundamentally new kind of weapon and is based on the principles of dispersal of the projectile by an electromagnetic field. As a platform for a prototype is used Type 072III “Haiyang Shan” landing ship, which has a powerful power plant capable of launching an electromagnetic cannon. Today there are no such weapons in any other country.

 

At the same time, China continues implementation of other scientific and technical programs, in particular development of outer space, energy and artificial intelligence systems, including for the management of unmanned aerial vehicles.

Last week China officially launched a project to create a satellite system to ensure the uninterrupted operation of the Internet throughout the country, as well as to get quick access to computer networks in other regions. It is planned to launch 80 small satellites in total. The implementation of the program will contribute to the development of the digital economy and Internet commerce in the country.

Along with this, the use of various kinds of unmanned vehicles is becoming more widespread. March 22–23, 2018, in Beijing was held the “Civilian UAS Development International Forum”, hosted by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). According to Deputy Director of the CAAC Li Jian, who took part in the event, in the coming years the scale of the market of unmanned vehicles in the PRC will increase by more than 30 %. To date, more than 180,000 drones have been officially registered in China, 90 % of which are owned by individual buyers.

“Civilian UAS Development International Forum” was held in Beijing
“Civilian UAS Development International Forum” was held in Beijing

The development of the production infrastructure, testing and maintenance of unmanned aerial vehicles is also under way. In particular, they are going to create an experimental base for testing non-driving cars in Guangdong province. In addition, on the seaside of the same province, they began constructing the world's largest testing ground for unmanned vessels.

 

IV. Plans and Prospects for Cooperation between China and Ukraine

An important direction of Ukrainian-Chinese cooperation is the scientific and technical sphere. According to expert estimates, this first of all concerns the creation of joint techno-polises and technology parks, as well as scientific laboratories, centers, scientific-educational and research-and-production integrated structures in various innovative fields. Based on the experience of other countries, the participation of scientists and specialists of both countries in the implementation of joint economic projects will facilitate the revival of Ukrainian-Chinese investment cooperation, which today does not fully meet the needs of Ukraine and the capabilities of China. At the same time, Ukraine is able to help China expand the presence of Chinese companies in European markets, which increases the PRC's being interested in Ukraine's integration into Europe.

 

There continues deepening of the cooperation between the PRC and Ukraine at the regional level. In particular, last week the Poltava regional state administration and representative office of the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) signed a memorandum of cooperation in the construction of a number of highways. Among them — the motorway M-22 Poltava-Alexandria on the section of the Kremenchuk bypass with a bridge across the Dnieper. Earlier, the CRBC corporation in Ukraine signed an agreement with Ukravtodor to maintain roads of state importance.

The Poltava regional state administration and representative office of the Chinise CRBC signed a memorandum of cooperation The Poltava regional state administration and representative office of the Chinise CRBC signed a memorandum of cooperation
The Poltava regional state administration and representative office of the Chinise CRBC
signed a memorandum of cooperation