Just before the weekend, a notice came out from the government saying that it was opening key sectors of the economy to private investment for the first time.
According to Xinhua, the sectors include water projects, power generation, mining and logistics. The statement repeated that the education, transport infrastructure, telecoms, public utilities, welfare, affordable housing, cultural and energy industries would also be opened up further.
The government promised to improve access to financing for private companies and simplify the admin.
I even caught sight of this paragraph: “Private companies were welcomed to participate in the reform of state firms through asset acquisitions or increasing their holdings in them,the statement said.”
I’m pretty skeptical, of course, that these words will be translated into action, but there was one note on Xinhua that made me sit up.
"Private capital is encouraged to enter the oil and gas exploration and development field and cooperate with state-owned oil companies to carry out oil and gas exploration."
Does that mean that foreign oil and gas majors will be allowed to start doing more business in China? There have been rumours for years that BP is “on the verge” of doing a big deal in China. In January, Sinopec said it was talking to BP about a possible joint venture to look at China’s shale gas fields. Last year, there were rumours that the two companies might join up to build refineries in coastal cities. It will be interesting to see if the latest bit of rhetoric heralds the announcement of a bigger deal.