Late last week and through the weekend, the Communist Party Central Committee was locked in debate over what China's policy response to the global financial crisis should be. Premier Wen Jiabao has pledged to adopt "flexible and cautious" policies to maintain stability in China's own financial markets. He explained this approach to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown yesterday.
An editorial in the People's Daily newspaper, the party mouthpiece, shows that opinion within the party remains sharply critical of American excesses and praises the tight control the government has exercised over the economy:
The advantages are increasingly evident. Western countries are mired in low growth and the United States severe financial crisis is a manifestation of the dead end of liberalism and the destruction of the myth of American institutions.
China Investment Corporation, the country's $200 billion sovereign wealth fund, is trying to withdraw a rumored $5.4 billion investment from the Reserve Primary Fund, a U.S. money market fund that in September became the first such fund to report losses in 14 years. Meanwhile, other Chinese experts suggest that using China's vast U.S. dollar reserves to invest in U.S. companies may actually be in the interests of both countries.
American-style free markets have been the biggest experiment of the last 30 years in China and hardliners may be tempted to declare the experiment dead after witnessing the collapse of the U.S. financial system. However, financial innovation has certainly been a central component in China's tremendous growth and the country is likely to take a course similar to that of the Europeans: cautious liberalization, tempered by new regulation.
At a Communist Party Central Committee plenary session on Sunday, a plan was passed to give farmers control over the state-owned land on which they farm. Party leaders hope that such a measure can boost rural productivity and income and help shield China from a downturn in the global economy. They hope to double rural disposable income by 2020.
Recent tests have turned up no new melamine cases in batches of milk powder across the country. White Rabbit candy, the famous milk-based sweets, are back on the market with new green labels to show they are melamine free.
The government of Hong Kong plans to introduce minimum wage legislation.
A senior adviser to the Communist Party Central Committee says that there will be "public democratic involvement at all government levels" by 2020. One member of the Party's Politburo echoed this in more subdued tones, promising new systems for accountability and the redress of grievances with the government.
Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou pledged closer ties with the mainland last Friday on the occasion of Taiwan's "National Day." He hopes to increase mail, trade, and transportation links.
Business & Economy
Higher interest rates, housing policy, and perhaps a case of post-Olympic hangover have sent the Beijing housing market into a downturn.
The completion of a merger between telecommunications firms China Netcom and China Unicom is the largest such transaction in the country's history. The $24 billion deal creates a company with 260 million subscribers that offers both wireless and fixed-line services.
Science & Environment
Scientists have completed the sequencing of the panda genome. Mysteries they hope to solve: Why do pandas eat bamboo? Why do they have black circles around their eyes? And why don't they mate more?
The government plans to build 750 hydro-electric dams across Tibet to help raise living standards.
Wait till the McCain campaign gets their hands on this one: a sex education book in China that is being used by first graders.