China Macro Reporter
1. China Never Stopped Managing its Trade

<table class="nl_card" id="19may0401"><tbody><tr><td><table class="multi-block"><tbody><tr><td class="bg-holder"><img src="" alt="CHINADebate"></td></tr></tbody></table><p class="caption"></p><p class="excerpt">So long as the bulk of China's imports from the United States (and many others) are bought by state firms, China has the ability to manage its trade.</p></td></tr><tr><td class="nl-post"><p><strong>&lsquo;One standard criticism</strong>&nbsp;of Trump&rsquo;s emphasis on bilateral trade&mdash;and reducing the bilateral trade deficit&mdash;is that it&rsquo;s leading China back toward a world of managed trade,' writes&nbsp;<strong>Brad Setser of the Council on Foreign Relations</strong>&nbsp;in&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">'China Never Stopped Managing its Trade.'</a></p><ul><li><strong>&lsquo;The argument</strong>, though, misses one critical point: China never stopped managing a large part of its trade.&rsquo;</li></ul><p><strong>&lsquo;Forget</strong>&nbsp;the formal structure of &ldquo;trade&rdquo;&mdash;tariffs, quotas and the like.&rsquo;</p><ul><li><strong>&lsquo;They don&rsquo;t matter</strong>&nbsp;much when the bulk of China&rsquo;s imports are carried out by state owned companies, or by private companies that can only import with a license from China&rsquo;s state.&rsquo;</li><li><strong>&lsquo;When the state controls</strong>&nbsp;the firms that are doing the importing, a few phone calls can have a big impact.&rsquo;</li><li><strong>&lsquo;That&rsquo;s why China</strong>&nbsp;can shut down trade in canola with Canada without formally introducing any tariffs.&rsquo;</li><li><strong>&lsquo;That&rsquo;s why China</strong>&nbsp;can scale back its purchases of Australian coal without filing a &ldquo;dumping&rdquo; or &ldquo;national security&rdquo; tariffs case.&rsquo;</li></ul><p><strong>&lsquo;The reality</strong>&nbsp;is that China&rsquo;s state influence over a wide range of large purchases, including large orders for a range of imports, never really went away, even after China joined the WTO.&rsquo;</p><ul><li><strong>&lsquo;In sector after sector</strong>&mdash;particularly on the capital goods side&mdash;the ultimate buyer is the Chinese state.&rsquo;</li></ul><p><strong>'This is all part</strong>&nbsp;of what makes China a tough nut for imports to crack.&rsquo;</p><ul><li><strong>'China isn&rsquo;t willing</strong>&nbsp;to give up the state&rsquo;s control over the commanding heights of the economy in a trade negotiation.&rsquo;</li><li><strong>'So if China</strong>&nbsp;doesn&rsquo;t want to import something, it has a lot of levers it can use to limit import demand&mdash;even if there aren&rsquo;t the kind of formal controls or taxes at the border that are traditionally part of a trade negotiation.&rsquo;</li></ul><p><strong>&lsquo;The best critique of Trump&rsquo;s deal</strong>&mdash;setting aside the argument that Australia and others have made that the United States is in effect selling out its allies to get a bigger share of a limited import pie &mdash;isn&rsquo;t that it returns China to a world of managed trade, where the state will have to reinsert itself in the economy.&rsquo;</p><ul><li><strong>&lsquo;Rather it is the criticism</strong>&nbsp;made by Kevin Book (and Derek Scissors)' [quoted in NYT&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">&lsquo;China Purchases Could Undercut Trump&rsquo;s Larger Trade Goal'</a>]: &ldquo;If it can be negotiated by government fiat, it can be taken away by government fiat.&rdquo;</li></ul><p><strong>&lsquo;On the other hand,</strong>&nbsp;it isn&rsquo;t realistic to expect China to dismantle the core institutions of its mixed economic model in a trade negotiation.&rsquo;</p><ul><li><strong>&lsquo;And until</strong>&nbsp;China&rsquo;s state divests itself from the commanding heights of China&rsquo;s economy and a lot of big investment decisions, well, China has the institutional structure to manage trade if it wants too.&rsquo;</li></ul></td></tbody></table>

2. A dash of stimulus helps stabilize China’s wobbly economy

<table class="nl_card" id="19may0402"><tbody><tr><td><table class="multi-block"><tbody><tr><td class="bg-holder"><img src="" alt="CHINADebate"></td></tr></tbody></table><p class="caption"></p><p class="excerpt"></p></td></tr><tr><td class="nl-post"><p><strong>'China was a frequent topic</strong>&nbsp;of discussion at the International Monetary Fund (IMF)/World Bank spring meetings held April 12-14 in Washington,' reports&nbsp;<strong>David Dollar, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution,</strong>&nbsp;who was the U.S. Treasury&rsquo;s economic and financial emissary to China and World Bank country director for China, in '<a href="" target="_blank">A Dash of Stimulus Helps Stabilize China's Wobbly Economy.'</a></p><p><strong>ECONOMY.</strong>&nbsp;'The IMFmarked down the 2019 growth forecasts for every major economy except China.'</p><p><strong>'In Q1, China</strong>&nbsp;clearly shifted from worrying about deleveraging to stabilizing growth.'</p><ul><li><strong>'The March credit data</strong>&nbsp;&mdash; new yuan loans, total social financing and growth of the money supply &mdash; all surprised on the upside.'</li></ul><p><strong>STIMULUS.</strong>&nbsp;'The government has announced a cut in the value-added tax, which will make most goods and services cheaper for households and should spur consumption.'</p><ul><li><strong>'To that stimulus</strong>&nbsp;has to be added increases in local government bond issuance to finance approved infrastructure projects'.</li></ul><p><strong>'The overall stimulus</strong>&nbsp;seems to be about 1.5 percent of GDP, much smaller than the big stimulus after the global financial crisis but apparently enough to already have had a positive effect on the economy.'</p><ul><li><strong>'While there was a general consensus</strong>&nbsp;on the sidelines of the IMF meetings that the stimulus would be sufficient to stabilize growth in the 6.2-6.3 range for the year, there was less optimism about the medium term.'</li></ul><p><strong>'With the additional stimulus,</strong>&nbsp;even though modest in scope, leverage will naturally rise, as will financial risks.'</p><ul><li><strong>There are reports</strong>&nbsp;of medium-sized banks &mdash; mostly under the control of local governments &mdash; facing serious rising non-performing loans.'</li></ul><p><strong>BANKS</strong>. 'The big five commercial banks that make up more than half of the system seem to have adequate capital and provisioning.'</p><ul><li><strong>'The Chinese government</strong>&nbsp;can afford to resolve small banks that are insolvent, but it will be a political challenge to carry this out smoothly.'</li></ul><p><strong>TRADE DEAL</strong>. 'Around Washington, attitudes toward the U.S.-China trade dispute have a similar character: optimism that a near-term deal will be struck, reducing risks for the global economy in 2019, but pessimism that a deal will stick.'</p><p><strong>'The two sides</strong>&nbsp;seem motivated to reach an agreement in the next few weeks. The parameters of a deal are likely to include Chinese commitments to':</p><ul><li><strong>'purchase more</strong>&nbsp;U.S. products (the number leaked is $1.2 trillion over six years)';</li><li><strong>'open additional markets</strong>&nbsp;to imports and inward investment (eg, autos, financial services and now discussion of cloud computing)'; and</li><li><strong>'take steps to eliminate</strong>&nbsp;forced technology transfer and intellectual property rights (IPR) violations.'</li></ul><p><strong>'Each element</strong>&nbsp;faces risks over the medium term: Some of the purchases may not materialize because of problems on either side of the Pacific; and/or the U.S.-China trade deficit may rise despite the purchases because U.S. imports from China have been growing rapidly (up 17 percent between 2016 and 2018).'</p><p><strong>'On market access</strong>, the sectors to be opened all involve heavy regulation, so it remains to be seen if these markets are truly opened.'</p><ul><li><strong>'And strengthening</strong>&nbsp;of IPR protection is inherently a slow and institutional process.'</li></ul><p><strong>'Hence,</strong>&nbsp;it is easy to imagine the U.S. declaring at some point that China is not rigorously implementing the deal.'</p><ul><li><strong>'The consensus</strong>&nbsp;among China experts is that President Xi Jinping is not going to dramatically open and reform the economy, and hence the possibility of disillusionment on the U.S. side, somewhere down the road, is very high.'</li></ul></td></tr></tbody></table>

3. 'May 4th Movement': Happy 100th anniversary

<table class="nl_card" id="19may0403"><tbody><tr><td><table class="multi-block"><tbody><tr><td class="embed-responsive embed-responsive-16by9"><iframe class="embed-responsive-item" src=""></iframe></td></tr></tbody></table><p class="caption"></p><p class="excerpt"></p></td></tr><tr><td class="nl-post"><p><strong>Today</strong>&nbsp;is the 100th anniversary of the 'May Fourth Movement.'</p><ul><li><strong>Summing up</strong>&nbsp;the event is a&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">good short video</a>&nbsp;(1m 48s) with archival footage.</li></ul><p><strong>In graduate school,</strong>&nbsp;a year of 'Modern Chinese History' was required.</p><ul><li><strong>I don't recall</strong>&nbsp;how much class time we spent on or how many books and articles we read about the May 4th Movement. I just remember a lot.</li><li><strong>I also remember</strong>&nbsp;how when we began to study May 4 it seemed that all we had learned about before May 4 was prelude and a good deal after derived from it.</li><li><strong>That is to say</strong>&nbsp;that May 4 is a pivot point that some call the Birth of Modern China.</li></ul><p><strong>&lsquo;Thousands of Chinese students</strong>&nbsp;took to the streets in Beijing 100 years ago Saturday, in a famous uprising against Western colonialism that still resonates today,' write&nbsp;<strong>NYT's Chris Buckley and Amy Qin</strong>&nbsp;in&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">'Why Does a Student Protest Held a Century Ago Still Matter in China?'</a></p><ul><li><strong>&lsquo;The protest became known as the May 4 Movement.'</strong></li><li><strong>&lsquo;Here is why</strong>&nbsp;the movement matters, and why both supporters and critics of the Communist Party claim inspiration from it.&rsquo;</li></ul><hr /><h2>What happened on May 4, 1919?</h2><p><strong>&lsquo;China had sided</strong>&nbsp;with the Allies in the First World War.&rsquo;</p><ul><li><strong>&lsquo;Many Chinese expected</strong>&nbsp;that negotiators in the postwar peace talks would agree to hand back colonial territory in Shandong, an eastern Chinese province, that Japan had seized from Germany near the start of the war.&rsquo;</li><li><strong>&lsquo;Instead,</strong>&nbsp;the Western powers let Japan keep the territory.&rsquo;</li><li><strong>&lsquo;That decision ignited fury</strong>&nbsp;among Chinese students, who saw it as a betrayal by Western nations and by China&rsquo;s leaders, whom they accused of bowing to Japan.&rsquo;</li></ul><p><strong>&lsquo;Anger spread</strong>&nbsp;in universities and colleges across Beijing, and on May 4, 1919, students from 13 campuses in the capital came together in protest.&rsquo;</p><ul><li><strong>&lsquo;About 3,000 students</strong>&nbsp;joined the demonstration near Tiananmen, the &ldquo;Gate of Heavenly Peace.&rdquo;&rsquo;</li><li><strong>&lsquo;The students marched off</strong>&nbsp;to present their demands to Western diplomatic legations nearby.&rsquo;</li><li><strong>&lsquo;Protesters</strong>&nbsp;moved on to the home of Cao Rulin, one of the ministers they accused of acceding to Japan&rsquo;s demands, and some ransacked and burned it.&rsquo;</li><li><strong>&lsquo;Some</strong>&nbsp;protesters were arrested.&rsquo;</li><li><strong>&lsquo;But the upsurge</strong>&nbsp;in nationalism spread to other cities in China, inspiring strikes and boycotts.&rsquo;</li></ul><p><strong>&lsquo;The unrest forced</strong>&nbsp;the government in Beijing to release arrested students, and Chinese negotiators in Paris refused to sign the peace treaty.&rsquo;</p><ul><li><strong>&ldquo;May 4&rdquo;</strong>&nbsp;entered history as a watershed for China.&rsquo;</li></ul><hr /><h2>Why does the Communist Party celebrate May 4?</h2><p><strong>&lsquo;The May 4 protest</strong>&nbsp;became part of the Chinese Communist Party&rsquo;s founding story.'</p><ul><li><strong>&lsquo;After Western powers</strong>&nbsp;ignored China&rsquo;s pleas in 1919, more students and scholars looked to Russia&rsquo;s Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 as a promising path toward national renewal.</li><li><strong>&lsquo;Some embraced Marxism</strong>&nbsp;and helped to found China&rsquo;s Communist Party in 1921.'</li><li><strong>&lsquo;And May 4</strong>&nbsp;has entered the party&rsquo;s iconography.'</li></ul><p><strong>&lsquo;Since Mr. Xi</strong>&nbsp;became chairman of the party in 2012, he has promoted a nationalist vision of making China a more prosperous and powerful country and restoring it to its ancient glory.'</p><ul><li><strong>&lsquo;The party has cast itself</strong>&nbsp;as the rightful heir to the patriotic legacy of May 4 as one way to strengthen its legitimacy.&rsquo;</li><li><strong>For a great account of this,</strong>&nbsp;see 'How the Communist Party seized the legacy of May Fourth,' in a post below.</li></ul><hr /><h2>Why are some critics of the party also inspired by May 4?</h2><p><strong>&lsquo;Successive generations</strong>&nbsp;of student protesters and dissenting intellectuals have also claimed inspiration from the May 4 era, including the students who occupied Tiananmen Square in June of 1989 to demand cleaner, more accountable government.&rsquo;</p><p><strong>&lsquo;Back in 1919,</strong>&nbsp;commentators linked the protests with the New Culture Movement, the name they gave to a flux of ideas that had spread in Chinese universities, newspapers and literary circles.</p><ul><li><strong>'Such ideas</strong>&nbsp;included anarchism, socialism, feminism, artistic experimentation and reforming written Chinese.&rsquo;</li><li><strong>&lsquo;This iconoclastic spirit</strong>&nbsp;was summed up at the time in a slogan calling for &ldquo;Mr. Science and Mr. Democracy.&rdquo;</li><li><strong>&lsquo;The idea of science</strong>&nbsp;&ldquo;then stood for &lsquo;modernity&rsquo;, the &lsquo;West&rsquo; and a generally distanced and iconoclastic way of approaching Chinese tradition,&rdquo; Elisabeth Forster, of the University of Southampton said. &ldquo;1919 really was a year that changed China.&rdquo;</li></ul><p><strong>&lsquo;So the New Culture and May 4 movements</strong>&nbsp;have both been evoked by Chinese scholars and students as lodestars for intellectual independence and enlightenment.'</p><ul><li><strong>&ldquo;May 4 cannot be put to rest</strong>&nbsp;because the question is still screaming out: can you have science, technology and wealth without democracy?&rdquo; said Vera Schwarcz, of Wesleyan University.&rsquo;</li></ul></td></tr></tbody></table>

4. 'How the Communist Party seized the legacy of May Fourth'

<table class="nl_card" id="19may0404"><tbody><tr><td><table class="multi-block"><tbody><tr><td class="bg-holder"><img src="" alt="CHINADebate"></td></tr></tbody></table><p class="caption"></p><p class="excerpt"></p></td></tr><tr><td class="nl-post"><p><strong>&lsquo;The march marked</strong>&nbsp;the birth of the storied May Fourth Movement, a national cultural and political awakening that, over the past century, has come to symbolize the birth of modern China,.&rsquo; writes&nbsp;<strong>Dan Xin Huang</strong>&nbsp;in a terrific&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">essay in Foreign Affairs.</a></p><p><strong>Beginning in the Qing Dynasty,</strong>&nbsp;through the 1911 revolution, and then into the Republican Era, &lsquo;For the fledgling nation&rsquo;s educated and elite, saving China was foremost on everyone&rsquo;s mind.&rsquo;</p><ul><li><strong>&lsquo;Once conceived</strong>&nbsp;as the center of human civilization, the Chinese empire had entered the twentieth century limping, crippled by an unrelenting succession of crises.&rsquo;</li><li><strong>&lsquo;Barely a decade</strong>&nbsp;into the new century, the Qing dynasty collapsed, replaced by a flawed republic that quickly succumbed to corrupt warlords and foreign aggressors.&rsquo;</li></ul><p><strong>&lsquo;Out of these conditions,</strong>&nbsp;however, rose a generation of writers and scholars, trained in Japan and the West, who balked at the shackles of Chinese tradition and looked abroad for tools of progress.&rsquo;</p><ul><li><strong>&lsquo;Beginning in the 1910s,</strong>&nbsp;hundreds of new journals and magazines printed their first issues, wrestling with the most pressing subjects of their time, their insatiable appetite for modernity reflected in titles such as&nbsp;<em>New Youth, New Tide, New Life, New Epoch, New Society, New Literature and Art</em>&mdash;new everything.&rsquo;</li><li><strong>&lsquo;The collective fervor</strong>&nbsp;came to be known as the New Culture Movement, a swirl of ideas and activity that spurned the past, contested the future, and elevated the individual to a prominence not seen before or since.&rsquo;</li><li><strong>&lsquo;Culture was politics,</strong>&nbsp;and politics was culture.&rsquo;</li><li><strong>&lsquo;The nation brimmed</strong>&nbsp;with new plans for structuring life and society, while systems that had dominated for millennia were left in the dust.&rsquo;</li></ul><p><strong>&lsquo;If the visionaries of New Culture</strong>&nbsp;readied the kindling, the students on May 4, 1919, lit the fire.&rsquo;</p><p><strong>&lsquo;Out of the movement&rsquo;s bonfire</strong>&nbsp;leapt one ember that would catch and ignite into its own great flame.&rsquo;</p><ul><li><strong>&lsquo;Taking inspiration</strong>&nbsp;from the Russian Revolution, China&rsquo;s early Marxists began as a fringe study group on the campus of Peking University, steadily disseminating the language of class struggle and revolution to a national audience.&rsquo;</li><li><strong>&lsquo;In July 1921,</strong>&nbsp;around a dozen Marxists gathered for a secret meeting in Shanghai.&rsquo;</li><li><strong>&lsquo;Buoyed by support</strong>&nbsp;from the Soviet Comintern, they formally established the Communist Party in China and presided over its first party congress.&rsquo;</li></ul><p><strong>&lsquo;Among the delegates</strong>&nbsp;was a local cell leader named Mao Zedong.&rsquo;</p><ul><li><strong>May Fourth had catalyzed</strong>&nbsp;a turn in Mao&rsquo;s worldview: sensing the need for a more structured politics, he abandoned his previous anarchism and plunged into Marxist&not;-Leninist theory.&rsquo;</li><li><strong>&lsquo;It was,</strong>&nbsp;he later reflected, &ldquo;a critical period of my life.&rdquo;</li></ul><p><strong>&lsquo;Ever since,</strong>&nbsp;the Chinese Communist Party has rooted its origin story in the romance and defiance of May 4.&rsquo;</p><ul><li><strong>&lsquo;The party&rsquo;s official history books</strong>&nbsp;trace a direct line from its founding back to the movement, which is credited with &ldquo;wakening the Chinese national consciousness&rdquo; and &ldquo;preparing the fundamental conditions of the founding of the CCP.&rdquo;&rsquo;</li><li><strong>&lsquo;Mao hailed the movement</strong>&nbsp;as the party&rsquo;s &ldquo;chief landmark,&rdquo; which produced in China &ldquo;a brand-new cultural force . . . that is, the communist culture and ideology guided by the Chinese Communists.&rdquo;&rsquo;</li><li><strong>&lsquo;According to party lore,</strong>&nbsp;the spirit of May 4 was finally realized in 1949, when the communists declared victory in the nation&rsquo;s civil war, announcing the establishment of the People&rsquo;s Republic of China.&rsquo;</li></ul></td></tr></tbody></table>