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Workers repair the roads after Lingshi county, Jinzhong city, Shanxi province, China, was badly hit by floods, 12 October 2021. (CNS)

China's mammoth task of upgrading its transport system

Chen Hongbin notes that roads, highways and expressways have mushroomed in China and the country’s overall road connectivity has improved tremendously. What were once far-flung villages now enjoy relatively easy accessibility. That said, more can be done to improve the road systems so that every citizen can have a convenient means of transport. What has China done to improve connectivity in its counties, villages and cities?
Residential buildings are seen in Beijing, China, on 17 September 2021. (Greg Baker/AFP)

How China’s housing market landed in the deep freeze

Policymakers have imposed a series of measures to limit rampant borrowing by developers and tighten standards for mortgage lending since Chinese President Xi Jinping declared in 2017 that “houses are for living in, not for speculation”. Following this, developers are experiencing a sharp drop in home sales, which adds to their financial burdens. In spite of this, industry experts opine that Beijing’s determination to reduce dependence on real estate investment will not change easily.
In an aerial view, shipping containers and a container ship are seen at the Port of Los Angeles on 20 September 2021 near Los Angeles, California. (Mario Tama/AFP)

The truth behind the US’s huge trade deficit

Economics professor Zhang Rui notes that the US’s huge trade deficit cannot be looked upon in isolation from the dominance of the US dollar; when exporting countries hold more US dollars, they are more able to purchase US debt and support the US in issuing national debt and get US dollars to flow back to the US. This suggests that looking beyond the surface of its large trade deficit, the US's fundamentals remain strong and with the advantages it has in the capital account and services trade, there is little chance that its leading position in global trade can be usurped.
This file photo taken on 24 May 2021 shows people walking past the temporarily closed of 300 metre SEG Plaza (centre) in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China. (Noel Celis/AFP)

Why China is bringing super skyscrapers down to earth

In the last few years, China has implemented policies to ban or impose strict restrictions on building supertall buildings. The government is acutely aware that provincial competition to outbuild each other may hurt the country’s overall economy. Not only that, high investment costs aside, the finished buildings may end up as energy-guzzling white elephants.
The US Capitol in Washington, DC, US, on 7 October 2021. (Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg)

Why credit rating firms stay silent on the US's recurring sovereign debt woes

So far, Fitch is the only one of the “big three” credit rating agencies to release a statement raising the possibility of a review of the US sovereignty rating with negative implications. Financial commentator Tan Haojun says that the three agencies are giving the US a lot of leeway that would probably not be given to other countries, when they should be impartial and fair in giving a rating.
This aerial photo taken on 7 September 2021 shows a view of cars at Lianyungang Port in Lianyungang in China's eastern Jiangsu province. (STR/AFP)

Chinese academic: Less exports, more wealth redistribution needed in China

China’s imports and exports of goods totalled 18 trillion RMB in the first half of this year, 27% higher than the same period last year. However, instead of rejoicing over soaring numbers, Chinese academic Peng Shengyu warns that huge exports also point to a great loss of domestically created material wealth flowing overseas. He says by unreservedly supplying China-made goods to the US who has the power to print money in abandon, and leaving wealth accumulation in the hands of individuals, the Chinese government has not done enough to improve the lives of its people, especially the poor.
China's official app for digital yuan is seen on a mobile phone next to 100 RMB banknotes in this illustration picture taken on 16 October 2020. (Florence Lo/Illustration/File Photo/Reuters)

China’s central bank digital currency has huge potential, but be careful of overregulation

Central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) can potentially optimise and vastly improve the central bank’s monetary policy transmission with preset conditions to incorporate forward-looking and counter-cyclical features. This means that central banks can accurately control the amount, direction and intensity of liquidity or money supply flowing to the desired industries, thereby allowing industries to achieve an optimal level of production and reduce the risk of inflation or deflation. Earlier this year, China tracked and paid wages to builders in Xiong’an using its digital RMB, e-CNY. Is this a harbinger of things to come?
Travellers walk past Chinese flags ahead of China's National Day and Golden Week holiday, at Shenzhen Baoan International Airport in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China 30 September 2021. (Aly Song/Reuters)

CPTPP: How China’s membership could be a win-win

The combined output of members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is about US$13.5 trillion or 14% of global GDP, and will be even larger if China joins. From the economic perspective, there is much for all members to gain with China’s entry, but they would also be wary of certain aspects such as threats to their domestic industries and issues concerning intellectual property standards and regulatory non-tariff barriers. Cai Daolu looks at the reception China will be expecting to get to its CPTPP bid.
This file photo taken on 15 September 2021 shows a worker walking in front of the Evergrande headquarters in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China. (Noel Celis/AFP)

High debts, big money: Can Evergrande continue its high life by living on the edge?

China's Evergrande Group has agreed to sell a 20% stake in Shengjing Bank Co. to the local Shenyang government for 10 billion RMB (US$1.55 billion) to settle debts with the lender, according to a Bloomberg report. But the sale will do little to help Evergrande pay its massive debts to bond holders and homebuyers, many of whom camped outside its Shenzhen headquarters since news of its possible bankruptcy was reported more than two months ago. In fact, Evergrande missed paying its bond interest due on 29 September, in its second unpaid offshore debt payment in a week. Caixin journalists investigate the "high risks, high rewards" modus operandi of the Evergrande Group and its executives who lived on high debts, high financing costs but also big profits. Can Evergrande's high life continue or will they become "China's Lehman Brothers"?