China policy round-up: tariffs postponed, Hong Kong airport chaos, Shanghai to allow foreign workers access A-share stock options
In this round-up, the Office of the US Trade Representative postponed imposing 10% tariffs on selected Chinese imports, protesters paralysed Hong Kong airport for two days and Shanghai said it would allow foreign employees to receive stock options on the A-share market.
On Tuesday evening, the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) said that it would delay plans for 10% tariffs on an additional $160bn of $300bn Chinese goods until December 15. These products include smartphones, laptops, and children’s toys. The USTR also removed certain products from the tariffs list.
The move followed US president Donald Trump’s abrupt announcement to impose new 10% tariffs on $300bn of Chinese goods on August 1. The tariffs were due to take effect on September 1.
Tuesday’s statement came after Chinese vice premier Liu He talked with US trade representative Robert Lighthizer and treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin on the phone on Tuesday, according to a Tuesday late evening statement from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.
The two sides are planning more calls in the next two weeks.
Meanwhile, on Thursday evening, the Chinese State Council Tariff Committee issued a short statement in which it said that Trump’s decision to add the 10% tariffs was a “serious violation of the consensus” reached in Osaka in June. The committee added that China “has no choice but to take necessary measures to retaliate.”
Protesters in Hong Kong took over the city’s airport on Monday and Tuesday. As a result, more than 1,000 flights have been cancelled since August 9, according to press releases from the airport authority on Wednesday.
Among those, 421 flights were cancelled on Monday, accounting for more than 30% of the total number of flights for the day.
On Monday, the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office issued a statement saying that “signs of terrorism were emerging” from the protest.
On Tuesday evening, a small group of demonstrators beat up a man they claimed to be an undercover mainland police officer. They were also reported to have attacked a reporter from Global Times, a Chinese state media newspaper.
On Wednesday, the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office published another statement, calling the acts in the previous night “almost terrorism”.
Meanwhile, pictures of People’s Armed Police forces gathering across the border in Shenzhen spread globally.
Trump provided his own contribution to the situation via a tweet on Thursday morning: “I know President Xi of China very well. He is a great leader who very much has the respect of his people. He is also a good man in a ‘tough business’. I have ZERO doubt that if President Xi wants to quickly and humanely solve the Hong Kong problem, he can do it. Personal meeting?”
Media assumed that the “personal meeting” was referring to the potential for a meeting between Trump and Xi.
Trump clarified what he meant on Thursday evening via another tweet, in which he said: “If President Xi would meet directly and personally with the protesters, there would be a happy and enlightened ending to the Hong Kong problem. I have no doubt!”
In separate news, the projection for Hong Kong’s 2019 GDP growth was lowered to 0%-1%, the Hong Kong Financial Secretary announced on Thursday afternoon. At the beginning of the year, the estimate for GDP growth was 2%-3%.
Shanghai is planning to allow foreign employees by regional headquarters of multinational companies to receive stock options on the A-share market, the municipal government said in a statement on Wednesday.