ECONOMY

H.K. Electoral Overhaul in Focus, Defense Spending: NPC Update

The future of Hong Kong’s electoral system remains in focus as China’s annual National People’s Congress entered its fifth day.

Overnight, U.S. lawmakers urged the Biden administration to use “new tools” created over the last two years to support the people of Hong Kong as the NPC prepares to pass a resolution later this week to overhaul how the city holds elections. Critics say the move will further tighten Beijing’s grip over the financial hub, leaving no room for political opposition.

A local Hong Kong newspaper reported that the city’s Legislative Council election, previously scheduled for September, will be pushed back to December because of the overhaul. A Chinese official in Hong Kong said Tuesday that the changes will be done in a way that ensures broad representation of the public.

While NPC delegates continue with their group deliberation of government reports and legislative revisions, a survey released by the American Chamber of Commerce today shows that its members in China expect growth in their industries this year after the Covid-19 pandemic dented profits in 2020, and nearly half of them see the relationship between China and the U.S. improving.

China’s benchmark stocks are seeing state support amid a recent rout. Shares on the mainland pared losses quickly on Tuesday morning as state-related funds were said to have stepped in to buy stocks. The CSI 300 Index posted the steepest decline since July on Monday.

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Latest developments: (Time-stamps are local time in Beijing)

Upcoming Events: Closing Ceremony, Premier’s Briefing

  • Tuesday-Thursday morning: NPC delegates review work reports and legislative revisions in groups
  • Thursday, 3 p.m.: NPC closing session. Delegates will vote on work reports, 14th Five-Year Plan, and other legislative revisions including decision on overhaul of Hong Kong’s electoral system
  • Thursday afternoon — Premier Li Keqiang to speak to reporters

Electoral Changes to Broaden Representation: Chinese Official (11:07 a.m.)

An overhaul of Hong Kong’s election system will be done in a way that ensures broad representation of the public, said Song Ru’an, deputy commissioner of the Chinese Foreign Ministry Commissioner’s Office in Hong Kong, at a briefing Tuesday.

More Spending for U.S. Conflict ‘Trap’: Top Generals (10:52 a.m.)

China must boost military spending to prepare for a possible confrontation with the U.S., top generals said, in an unusual acknowledgment of the risk of a clash between the world’s two largest economies. The two generals — members of the Central Military Commission led by President Xi Jinping — made the comments during the annual national legislative session in Beijing.

Speeding up Low-carbon Energy Development (10:32 a.m.)

China will promote clean and efficient utilization of fossil energy and actively expand clean energy sector to achieve carbon neutral goals, Zhang Jianhua, head of the National Energy Administration, said in an interview during the NPC and posted on NEA website.

Hong Kong’s Legislative Election in Dec.: Sing Tao (8:20 a.m.)

Hong Kong plans to hold postponed Legislative Council elections in December to account for electoral changes introduced by China, Sing Tao reports, citing unidentified people. The vote for the Chief Executive election committee, whose members will have the power to elect and nominate Legco candidates under the proposed reforms, will be held in September instead of December as its five-year term ends this year.

PBOC Won’t Flood System with Liquidity (7:51 a.m.)

China’s central bank will keep growth of money supply and aggregate financing at a pace that generally matches nominal GDP and curb financial risks, People’s Bank of China Deputy Governor Chen Yulu says in an interview with China Business News. The central bank will not flood the financial system with liquidity, will enhance international coordination of monetary policy and won’t resort to competitive currency devaluation, Chen said.

Premier Press Conference on March 11 (7:46 a.m.)

The NPC confirmed that Premier Li Keqiang will hold his annual press conference on Thursday afternoon. A specific time for the briefing was not included in the short announcement.

U.S. Lawmakers Urge Biden To Support Hong Kong (1:19 a.m.)

A U.S. bipartisan group of lawmakers from both chambers in Congress say changes announced to Hong Kong’s electoral system “will only continue to advance Beijing’s ever tightening grip on Hong Kongers’ autonomy, basic freedoms, and fundamental human rights.” They urge the Biden administration to use “new tools” created under legislation passed over the last two years to “support the people of Hong Kong.”

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