We’ve been so busy with the AZAD that we’ve forgotten a little about the blog, but worry not we are back!
An article appeared to be reporting that the Ministry of Environmental Protection was unhappy with the cuts announced by Binzhou government 10 days ago, and would order Hongqiao to take further cuts.
But a careful reading of the article showed that the opinion was not that of the MEP – it was really an opinion from some in the marketplace that the MEP should be outraged. We have not seen or heard of any more notices being issued. The Binzhou government would not have issued its announcement without higher approval.
The article looks to us that it was really designed to troll those who had or have long positions. In the parlance, it struck us as being nothing more than clickbait. I am not going to bother providing a link to the article, as that would only promote the suspected agenda. But it is no surprise that these sorts of stories would circulate – some people with long positions are pretty keen to see the price supported and boosted.
New era means new level and new leaders
Communist Party Secretary General Xi Jinping has achieved a rare honor – the Constitution of the Communist Party will be adjusted to include “Xi Jinping thought”. The only other person to have his thoughts added to the CPC constitution while he was still alive was Mao Zedong.
Xi Jinping thought was largely explained to us in his headline speech last week. Launching a new era in Chinese history, Xi foresees a China at the center of the world and leading the world with its “superior” model of socialism and economics. To my mind, Xi has been the lucky recipient of perfect timing, as well as a natural gift for being a strong leader. The USA is relinquishing its role as leader of the free world, By stepping into the vacuum, Xi is not simply emulating the American model. He is offering a new vision based on the expectations of his constituents.
By elevating Xi to the level of author of its thought, the Party is putting him in an unassailable position. He was a strong leader before this week, but will likely emerge from the Congress even stronger…
But it doesn’t appear that he will get everything his way. There are strong signals today that Wang Qishan will retire, and will not be in the lineup when it is presented tomorrow. We will likely never know if this was a trade-off, or whether the speculation about Wang staying on was never founded on fact. It will be very interesting to see who gets the job of running the anti-corruption campaign if Wang is gone.
Does this move to solidify around Xi bode well for the world and for the aluminum market? It is too early to tell, though we will get a good signal tomorrow. One thing is for sure though. In his first 5 years, Xi brought the PLA under his command, he unleashed the anti-corruption campaign, he hobbled the media’s ability to think for itself and he has been building a China-only version of the internet. If he was able to take all these revisionist steps in his first 5 years, the next 5 are likely to be even tougher for those of us doing business in China.
You surely cannot have missed it, but China today unveiled the leadership for the next 5 years. All 7 members of the Politburo Standing Committee are over 60 years of age, leading many including me to speculate that Xi Jinping intends to stay on through to 2027. As expected, Chen Min’Er gets a gig in the top 25, so there does seem to be a backup plan in case xi is not able to continue past 2022. Overall. it strikes me that Xi paid a price for having “Xi Jinping thought” added to the Party’s constitution. Several members of the Politburo are from other factions, meaning that Xi will have some pushback to his plans. But when you have been elevated to a level matching that of Mao Zedong, you have the clout to get your way.
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