This episode covers China’s top leadership new line-up; the resumption of all types of Chinese visas issuance; production and retail sales data in January and February; as well as producer and consumer prices and urban unemployment rate in February. From the Chamber side, join our events on the implications of the Two Sessions on 22nd March in Shanghai and 31st March in Beijing.
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Announcement on the resumption of issuing visas (in Chinese):
January-February official macroeconomic data (in Chinese)
Official February CPI/PPI (in Chinese)
European Chamber events on Two Sessions outcomes
RUI: Hello and welcome to China Shortcuts,
RUI: The annual meetings of China’s top legislative and advisory bodies, referred to as the ‘Two Sessions’, concluded on 13th March, with the new line-up of China’s top leadership being announced.
MARIANN: As expected, Li Qiang, the former Communist Party chief of Shanghai, succeeded Li Keqiang in the role of China’s premier. He has promised renewed support for private businesses and pledged greater opening up of China’s economy. Several leading officials, including the ministers for finance, commerce, industry and technology, as well as the governor of the central bank, retained their positions. Such continuity is especially important at a time when the country is faced by a host of domestic headwinds, and with geopolitical tensions running high. Many signals have been given as to what can be expected in the next five years, but European businesses are focussed on tangible actions taken by the new Chinese cabinet.
RUI: On 15th March, China resumed the issuance of all types of visas to foreigners, ending the almost three-year long suspension of people-to-people exchanges.
MARIANN: The decision was announced just a day ahead of it taking effect by the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Department of Consular Affairs. Visa-free entry for certain groups has also resumed, including for foreigners travelling in groups from Hong Kong and Macao to neighbouring Guangdong Province.
RUI: In January-February, China’s large industrial firms logged a 2.4 per cent increase in their production compared to the same period last year, and retail sales also showed sharp improvement.
MARIANN: According to the breakdown based on ownership, foreign companies’ productivity was still in decline in the first two months of this year. Out of the 41 surveyed sectors, production increased in 22, with manufacturers of transportation equipment registering significant improvement. Meanwhile, retail sales grew for the first time since last September, and at the fastest pace since August. Increased demand was especially noticeable in the catering industry, where sales rose 9.4 per cent in the first two months of 2023 after a 14.1 per cent drop in December.
RUI: China’s producer prices dipped further, while consumer prices increased at a slower pace year-on-year in February, according to fresh data released on 9th March by the National Bureau of Statistics.
MARIANN: The producer price index showed the sharpest decline recorded since November 2020, although the statistics bureau pointed to the high base from last year as the main factor behind the 1.4 per cent drop. On a monthly basis, factory prices remained unchanged from January. The slower growth of consumer prices was largely due to the impact of the Chinese New Year holiday’s changing date: while last year it fell in February, this year its stimulating effect on consumption pulled prices up in January. The surveyed urban unemployment rate stood at 5.6 per cent in January-February, with 18.1 per cent of young people between the ages of 16 and 24 out of a job in China’s big cities.
RUI: At this year’s Two Sessions, delegates and party members discussed key political issues and made central decisions that will set the agenda for the year ahead.
MARIANN: Some of the key outcomes of the meetings included setting the economic targets for 2023 as well as the decision to advance the reform of State Council institutions, including restructuring financial industry regulators.
RUI: For in-depth analysis and insights into the implications of the Two Sessions on businesses, the economy and the future of China, join our events on 22nd March in Shanghai and on 31st March in Beijing.
MARIANN: Thanks for listening. Tune in again next week.
RUI: In the meantime, find useful links in the episode notes.