After a year in power, China’s new leaders are settling in and chilling out. And it’s about time. Premier Li Keqiang delivered his work report to the National People’s Congress this week, confirming China’s 7.5% growth target. But before the No. 2 honcho could get too far, Minister of Finance Lou Jiwei asserted that the GDP goal was flexible, more like guidance, really just something to keep in mind this year or whatever.
Experts say the “relax and have fun” policy is really taking hold throughout the party apparatus, making notoriously rigid organs like the People’s Liberation Army look more like the Central Party School, where the carousing has been going hard for decades. The military said it will boost its spending by 12% this year, focusing on its coastal defense. What that means is billions of yuan are about to pour into China’s beach-ball, barbeque and squirt-gun sectors.
State firms have finally given up on upholding entry barriers to their industries. Companies like Sinopec and PetroChina are welcoming outside investors into the firms as long as they show up with an ice chest full of brewskies. A corporate bond defaulted today for the first time and financial regulators were heard saying, “Let’s just see what happens,” instead of anxiously micromanaging the whole situation.
Just a few months ago, stubborn technocrats at the People’s Bank of China had pushed the country’s interbank rates to unbearable heights. Today, the rates are at a 20-month low. Word is Governor Zhou Xiaochuan is teaching a morning yoga class on Mondays and Wednesdays. And now the value of the yuan could go down, up, maybe just stay the same for a while. We’ll see.
But don’t forget your “Three Represents:” The Party leads the way in everything. So just relax like President Xi Jinping. When Russia took over Ukraine this week, Xi told Vladimir Putin, “Yeah, sure, you take care of it, Vlad.” Instead of getting stressed out, Vice Premier Wang Qishan recommends curling up with a bowl of popcorn and watching “House of Cards.”