In last week’s Friday missive, dear readers, we predicted that the Shanghai stock market would fall below 3,000, and lo and behold today it did. That was one of three predictions, the other two being that Britain will not exit the EU, and that Hillary will be elected president in November. Brexit is an issue that is going to rattle on for months and even years to come and we have lost interest in British politics, so send us an email when they figure it out.
The US election, however, is so thrilling and unpredictable that it is seriously distracting us from the cut and thrust of Chinese politics, about which, we promise, something in a minute. Trump’s convention was disappointing in its sparse references not only to China, but also to any policies whatsoever. The only substantive change to the party platform that was insisted upon by the Trump people, apparently, was a dilution of the Republican Party’s support for Ukraine against territorial pressures from Russia. To which the only response can be … what? In fact, in the past few days, we have had a number of indications of a relationship between Trump and Putin, which is at best inappropriate under the circumstances. Being so Sino-centric, we admit to having been blithely focusing on the possibility of foreign support for Trump from somewhere else, but whatever there is in that line, it is now completely overshadowed by the Russians. Just when we thought China might be going to take center stage, it gets pushed aside by the Russkies. Damn.
Meanwhile, in Beijing the politburo had a meeting this week to discuss the economy and who knows what other issues, and what emerged on Xinhua news agency was a commitment from the leaders to retire redundant capacity and proceed with reforms of the state-owned enterprise sector and financial institutions. But then again, we have been reading David Shambaugh’s new book China’s Future, which includes a telling list of all the economic reforms promised at the Third Plenum of the 18th Party Congress in 2014 which have not been implemented. Breath not bated as we wait. The indications are still that there is a significant disagreement about how to proceed on these reforms, and it sure is easier to say they will be done than to do them. Have a good weekend!