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China policy round-up: Trump warns of tariffs again, two US senators push for Hong Kong bill, China to tighten ties with Greece

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By Rebecca Feng
15 Nov 2019

In this round-up, US president Donald Trump threatened to raise tariffs on China if the phase one deal is not reached, two Republican senators took action to speed up the passing of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act and Chinese president Xi Jinping wrapped up a state visit to Greece.

The US will increase tariffs if the phase one deal on trade with China is not reached, Trump said on Tuesday at the Economic Club of New York.

“If we don’t make a deal, we’re going to substantially raise those tariffs,” he said. “And that’s going to be true for other countries that mistreat us too.”

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Jim Risch and Marco Rubio, two Republican senators, started a fast-track process for the US Senate to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. If they are successful, the bill can pass as early as next Monday.

This legislation would require the secretary of state to certify at least once a year that the SAR still has enough autonomy from Mainland China to be given special US trading consideration. The move comes as protesters paralysed Hong Kong, including the financial centre, all of this week. 

China’s Xi, meanwhile, made a public statement on the situation in Hong Kong during his visit to the Brics summit in Brazil. He said that ending the violence and restoring order are the top priorities of the SAR government. He also warned that the continuation of violence is “a blatant challenge to the bottom line of the ‘one country, two systems’” principle.

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Xi arrived in Athens for a three-day state visit on Sunday evening.

The visit went well and Xi summed up the relationship between China and Greece with this comment: “A thousand glasses of wine is not enough when you have met someone who knows you”. 

The two sides signed 16 agreements including exporting Greek kiwi fruit and saffron to China and moving forward with Chinese state-owned shipping giant Cosco’s investment plans in the Port of Piraeus, according to state-owned media Xinhua news.

As a souvenir, both Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Bank of China obtained approval from Greek regulators to open branches in Greece, according to respective announcements by the two banks.

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Three top officials from the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) said on Tuesday.that the regulator will tighten liquidity risk management for small banks.

Two small banks, Yingkou Coastal Bank in Liaoning province and Yichuan Rural Bank in Henan province, saw their customers withdrawing cash last week and in late October respectively.

Liu Rong, vice chief of the city commercial bank department at the CBIRC, said that the banking industry is very sensitive.

The government takeover of Baoshang Bank in May, followed by liquidity crunches at a number of regional banks, has triggered fears about the health of China’s small- and medium-sized lenders,” Trivium, a consulting agency, wrote in a Monday note.

“China’s banking sector is going through a painful, but necessary transition,” Trivium added. “When it’s over the wheat will (hopefully) be separated from the chaff.”

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On Tuesday, the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party and the State Council published an outline for implementing "patriotic education”.

“The essence of patriotism is to adhere to the unity of patriotism, love for the Party, and love for socialism,” according to the guideline.

The guideline also mentioned that the government will develop and promote literature, animation, audiobooks and games online with patriotic content.

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The Ministry of Finance transferred 10% of its stake in China Life Insurance to the state-owned Social Security Fund, according to a Monday announcement on the insurer’s website. Before the transfer, the MoF owned 100% of China Life Insurance.

By Rebecca Feng
15 Nov 2019