28th February 2024: Economic priorities for 2024

This episode contains segments on:

  • the recent State Council executive meeting on economic priorities for 2024;
  • the twelfth EU-China Industrial Policy Dialogue;
  • the 2023 report of Office of the United States Trade Representative on China’s WTO compliance and
  • the revised Law on Guarding State Secrets.

From the Chamber’s side: join us on 7th March online or in person in Shanghai to hear influential business leaders’ insights on closing the gender gap and guidance to those seeking to advance in their careers.


We’d love to hear your feedback. Contact us at website@europeanchamber.com.cn.

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RUI: Hello and welcome to China ShortCuts,

MARIANN: the European Chamber’s weekly catchup on China’s business landscape.


RUI: On 23rd February, the State Council held an executive meeting chaired by Chinese Premier Li Qiang, during which economic measures were proposed, including some aimed at better attracting foreign investment and mitigating risks associated with local government debt.

MARIANN: At the meeting, the State Council designated stabilising foreign investment as a focus for economic work in the year ahead, and pledged efforts to restore foreign investor confidence, create greater market access and level the playing field for foreign companies. State Councillors also vowed to find ways to relieve some of the inconvenience that foreign visitors experience with payment services in China.


RUI: The twelfth EU-China Industrial Policy Dialogue was held on 23rd February in Beijing, with vice minister of industry and information technology Xin Guobin jointly presiding over the annual dialogue with Kerstin Jorna, Director General of the European Union’s Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs.

MARIANN: According to a statement released by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the meeting’s participants went over the progress in EU-China cooperation in areas including the automotive industry, green industrial development and the establishment of an early warning mechanism for key raw materials. The two sides confirmed their willingness to continue strengthening their practical cooperation in areas where it has already proved fruitful. One day before the dialogue took place, Director General Jorna and her team met with representatives of the EU SME Centre and the IP SME Helpdesk who provided them with an overview of their respective projects, as well as with an overview of the on-the-ground experiences of European SMEs. Later the same day, DG Jorna attended a dinner with representatives of the Chamber’s Advisory Council, led by Chamber Vice President Stefan Bernhardt. Vice president Bernhardt raised several issues relevant to European business in China, including the ongoing contradiction between China’s desire to attract foreign investment and its increasing focus on security; China’s economic slowdown; and the Chamber’s forthcoming report on de-risking.


RUI: Also on 23rd February, the Office of the United States Trade Representative released its annual report on China’s compliance with the terms of its World Trade Organization membership, calling the country the “biggest challenge to the international trading system established by the WTO”.

MARIANN: The report highlights that although China joined the organization 22 years ago, it still maintains a state-directed approach to the economy and trade, which only increased in the past decade. This approach is characterised as relying, quote, “heavily on interventions in the market by the Chinese government” unquote. Furthermore, the report finds that China’s central planning has increasingly been used to expand the market share of Chinese enterprises both in domestic and global markets, with the playing field becoming more and more skewed against foreign enterprises as a result.


RUI: On 27th February, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress passed a revised version of the Law on Guarding State Secrets, which will come into effect on 1st May.

MARIANN: The revised law introduced the concept of “work secrets” which it broadly defined as items that departments have access to as part of their normal operations, which do not belong to the category of state secrets but if leaked would cause an adverse impact. The law said that rules on the management of work secrets would be provided separately, but no timeline has been provided so far. The revised law was passed shortly after a series of new or revised national-security-focused legislation came into effect last year. The European Chamber has been vocal about the trend of China’s increasing focus on national security, highlighting that it is raising more uncertainty for business. The scope of issues deemed ‘sensitive’ seems to be constantly expanding, which makes it more difficult for companies to access information necessary for making investment decisions related to their China operations.


RUI: Gender equality is a business issue as much as it is a social issue. Numerous studies have consistently demonstrated that gender diversity in leadership leads to enhanced financial performance for companies and plays a crucial role in achieving sustainable development, peace and democracy in society.

MARIANN: In a world facing multiple crises that are putting immense pressure on communities, achieving gender equality is more vital than ever.

RUI: Join us online or in person in Shanghai on 7th March to hear influential business leaders’ insights on closing the gender gap and their guidance to those seeking to advance in their careers.


MARIANN: Thanks for listening, and don’t forget to tune in again next week.

RUI: In the meantime, please find useful links in the episode notes.

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