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中國相關新聞三則 – 開欄文
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以下轉載三篇最關於中國經濟近況的報導請至原網頁觀看原文所附照片/圖片我在此分別略做評論。  

1. 
中國經濟現況

商業內》雜誌這篇文章極力唱衰中國經濟。此文是否客觀持平不是我有能力分析。暫時姑妄聽之。CNBC今年04/17的報導 則稱中國經濟第一季成長率為4.5%。其內容和《商業內幕》此文大異其趣。孰是孰非可以等到第三季或年終再來回顧評判。

我能夠提醒的是中國並非根正苗紅的市場經濟」;從而,評估和預或歐、美經濟體的「理論模型」未必完全適用。其次,如第二篇對深中通道報導的分析指出中國政府的經濟政策和相關措施,其「政治加持作用」不是歐、美評論名嘴或蛋頭學者所能想像。從而,評估中國的經濟政策和相關措施需要依據長期的整體功能,不宜拿一、兩季的指數和短時間情況做為說嘴基礎。

2. 
深中通道

CNN
這篇報導也是寓揶揄於報導該通道能不能發揮預期的功效;會不會沉淪為「蚊子工程」;有待時間來驗證。但這種巨無霸型基礎建設,在增加就業機會;提高地區性經濟繁榮;加速通貨循環;維持地方社會穩定等方面已經取得階段性成果。

3. 
冀城市群計畫

冀城市群是涵蓋北京天津、和河北境內鄰近城市的經濟圈。這個構想與規劃不能不說是大手筆」。如果計畫成功,可以依樣畫葫蘆的在全國推廣。提升全國實力,釋放全民潛能後,勢必使中國如虎添翼。



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China plans for 'Jing-Jin-Ji' world-class industrial cluster

路透社 05/23/23

BEIJING, May 23 (Reuters) - China plans to build world-class advanced factory clusters in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region focused on products such as electric vehicles and robots, it said on Tuesday, as the country seeks to confirm its global competitiveness.

As tensions have mounted with the United States, Chinese leaders have pledged to build a modern industrial system and achieve technological breakthroughs to win the "strategic initiative".

Over the last decade, China has sought to integrate the economies of the cities of Beijing and Tianjin and the surrounding Hebei province, known as Jing-Jin-Ji (
京津冀城市群), which could also reduce income gaps in the region and curb pollution.

"Faced with new situations, new tasks, and new requirements, as an important industrial development highland in China, the task of promoting coordinated industrial development in Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei is even more urgent," the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said in a statement on Tuesday.

It said the region's development will focus on sectors such as integrated circuits, network security and power equipment and biopharmaceutical industry.

It will also develop industries in new energy vehicles, intelligent connected vehicles, biomedicine, hydrogen energy, robots, as well as research on artificial intelligence, life sciences, and aerospace technology, the ministry said.

In 2017, President Xi Jinping announced plans to build the Xiongan New Area (
雄安新區) as part of a state-driven campaign to integrate the economy of the Jing-Jin-Ji region and ease congestion and pollution pressures in the Chinese capital.

Earlier this month, Xi, during a high-profile visit to Xiongan - about 100 km (60 miles) southwest of the capital - pledged to move more state firms and other institutions from Beijing to the flagship city.

Beijing has already moved some its universities, government departments and industrial firms to Xiongan, which is tasked with taking on some of Beijing's "non-capital" functions. (Reporting by Kevin Yao; editing by Barbara Lewis)


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深中通道-野心與困難的象徵 - Chris Lau
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This 15-mile, $6.7B bridge is a symbol of China’s ambitions, and its problems

Chris Lau, CNN, 05/23/23

Even in a land known for gargantuan, record-breaking infrastructure, this project is turning heads.

At 15 miles long (24 kilometers), eight lanes wide and featuring artificial islands and an undersea tunnel, China’s $6.7 billion Shenzhen-Zhongshan Bridge is nothing if not ambitious.

To much fanfare in the country’s state media, the bridge’s builders recently claimed a new world record by paving in a single day more than 243,200 square feet (22,600 square meters) of asphalt, the equivalent of more than 50 basketball courts.

Yet strange as it may sound, this is not the world’s longest sea bridge. That honor belongs to its 34-mile long neighbor, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge – just 20 miles away.

To some observers, the building of these giant bridges in such close proximity is testament both to China’s growing ambitions on the global stage and the problems it faces in realizing them.

Like its sister bridge in Hong Kong, when the Shenzhen-Zhongshan Bridge opens to traffic next year after eight years of construction, it will form a central plank in China’s master plan to develop its Greater Bay Area, one of the world’s largest and most populated urban areas, into an economic and technological hub that can rival San Francisco, New York or Tokyo.

It’s an ambition that, like the bridges themselves, is simply massive in scale. The Greater Bay Area is home to 68 million people, covers 21,800 square miles and encompasses 11 cities: Hong Kong, Macao and nine others including Zhongshan and Shenzhen. Shenzhen alone is home to more than 12 million people, not to mention scores of multibillion-dollar firms such as drone-maker DJI and social media company Tencent that have helped to earn it the moniker of “China’s Silicon Valley.”

Beijing hopes that the bridges can help bring together the cities in this huge and diverse area both physically and conceptually. Travel times between Zhongshan and the Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport – mainland China’s third busiest, which hosted over 37 million passengers in 2019 – are expected to be cut from two hours (using current roads) to 20 minutes.

But many observers believe the bridges are also meant to serve another, more political purpose, by subsuming what are at present quite disparate regions – Hong Kong is a former British colony, Macao a former Portuguese one – into a single Chinese identity. And, according to some critics, the scale of this undertaking dwarfs even that of the bridges.

Making a statement

Austin Strange, who specializes in Chinese foreign policy at the University of Hong Kong, said the new bridge would no doubt bring “real economic value” by drastically reducing commute times between the cities while also cutting traffic.

But he said there was a secondary dimension, too, likening it to China’s efforts with its Belt and Road Initiative, in which Beijing is spending billions on funding infrastructure projects like ports and roads in countries across the world.

That project is widely seen as an effort by China to boost its economic and political clout on the world stage, with some critics accusing it of gaining leverage over smaller countries by extending loans they cannot hope to repay.

While no such debt concerns exist with the bridges, which are being built on Chinese territory, observers say the scale of the project sends a message nonetheless.

“China’s government is clearly advertising the bridge as a world-class accomplishment,” Strange said. “Infrastructure is a core part of China’s reputation in global development, and is also a key link between how China approaches domestic and international development.”

Still, how profound an impression the bridge will make on the rest of the world will depend in part not only on its size, but how successful and popular with travelers it ultimately proves.

Otherwise, it risks opening itself to a criticism often leveled at some of the more grandiose Belt and Road projects – that is an expensive white elephant. Finance professor He Zhiguo from University of Chicago said that, just like the bridges that link up the coasts of the San Francisco Bay, the Chinese mega project was likely to slash travel times.

However, he said only local citizens in Zhongshan were likely to emerge as winners, with the laid-back city, known neither as a business hub nor tourist hotspot, providing few incentives for others to visit.

He also said estimates about the effect on travel times and costs should be taken with a pinch of salt as projects could easily get bloated. “That’s my worry. But without knowing more, I think it’s not a bad idea,” he said.

Bridges over troubled water

Ambitious though Beijing’s vision of the Greater Bay Area is, there have already been plenty of bumps in the road.

The idea was first raised in 2009, but experts say development has been hampered because of the disparate nature of, and barriers between, some of the cities involved.

The region incorporates three borders – with the Chinese mainland and the former colonies of Hong Kong and Macao, which are now semi-autonomous Special Administrative Regions of China, each maintaining separate immigration systems, separate legal systems and even separate currencies.

Additionally, residents carry three different passports and identity cards, and speak two different forms of Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin).

They even drive on different sides of the road, all of which means there are plenty of obstacles to those hoping for a carefree road trip between them.

Critics say some of these problems were in evidence when the Shenzhen-Zhongshan Bridge’s sister project, the $20 billion 
Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macao Bridge, opened in 2018.

That bridge connects the mainland Chinese city of Zhuhai with gambling hub Macao and leading financial center Hong Kong.


Even by 2019, a year after its launch, it was still struggling to draw in traffic, logging just 4,000 trips per day, according to Hong Kong’s Transport Department. (By comparison, the Channel Tunnel in Europe, which connects France and Britain, drew more than 8,000 vehicles on average per day in March this year, according to its website.)

Experts put the lukewarm response down to the need for travelers to obtain different visas and vehicle registrations to travel between the three places – especially because high-speed ferries already crisscross the three cities on a daily basis, leaving from central terminals that are often more accessible than the border areas where the bridges begin.

Traffic on the Hong Kong bridge plunged to just hundreds of vehicles a day during the Covid pandemic, as each of the three regions sealed off their borders as part of a strict “zero-Covid” policy, though usage has since increased. During the Labor Day holiday period this month state media reported up to 9,000 vehicles crossing daily.

Meanwhile, the controversy over the bridges goes beyond purely financial matters.

Some see the bridges as a political act. Opponents have criticized the Hong Kong bridge as a means by which to force assimilation and exert control on the city, which was rocked by pro-democracy protests in 2014 and in 2019.

Don’t worry, ‘there will be traffic jams

Still, the bridges have their fans, too.

Xiao Geng, director of Institute of Policy and Practice at the Shenzhen campus of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said the Shenzhen-Zhongshan Bridge would help to level up the two areas.

“The west side of the coast is not as developed as the east side of the coast, and there is also a huge discrepancy in property prices between the two sides,” Xiao said.

He also said the bridge was different to its predecessor, which had been beset by the “fundamentally different” systems of the three places, which had put people off by raising the cost of travel.

The latest bridge would connect two mainland Chinese cities that were already under the same regulations, he pointed out.

“You don’t have to worry. There will be traffic jams,” he said.

Additional reporting by CNN’s Sarah Lazarus.

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中國經濟糟透了 -- F. De Mott
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China's economy has turned rotten and its reopening boom is a 'charade,' market expert says

, 05/23/23

China's economic rebound narrative is not what it seems, Ruchir Sharma wrote in the Financial Times.

Many indicators of growth are underwhelming, the chair of Rockefeller International said.

"A growth model dependent on stimulus and debt was always going to be unsustainable, and now it has run out of steam."

Confidence that China's economy can rebound from Covid restrictions is untethered to economic realities, Rockefeller International chair Ruchir Sharma wrote in the 
Financial Times.

"Something is rotten in the Chinese economy, but don't expect Wall Street analysts to tell you about it," he said, listing several indicators that point to underlying weakness.

For example, Wall Street's assumption of 5% GDP growth would suggest corporate revenue growth of 8%, but it rose by 1.5% in the first quarter.

In fact, corporate revenue is slower than GDP in 20 of the country's 28 sectors, and the MSCI China stock index down 15% from a January peak, he added.

Imports — a strong indicator of consumer demand — dropped 8% in April, and credit growth last month was half as fast as forecasts. In addition, youth unemployment hit 20% and is rising.

"These facts point to the source of the rot," said Sharma.

Since 2008, China's economic model has been driven by government stimulus and rising debt, especially in property markets, he explained.

But now Chinese debt service already accounts for a third of disposable income, excess savings in China are equal to 3% of GDP compared to 10% in the US, and China's growth potential is only half of its 5% target due to a shrinking population.

"A growth model dependent on stimulus and debt was always going to be unsustainable, and now it has run out of steam," Sharma added.

Instead of becoming the main drivers of growth, the property market has fallen into a debt crisis. The increasing inability to finance the debt has reverberated across markets, with industrial sectors slowing at a quicker rate than consumer-related firms.

Despite this, Western observers continue to hold out that China's rebound narrative is still within reach, which Sharma finds detrimental to eager investors.

"'Boomy' chatter has contributed to investors' loss of hundreds of billions of dollars in China in just the past four months," he said. "Further, global growth may prove weaker than expected in 2023, since the hope is that a US downturn will be countered by the China reopening boom, which may never come. It is time to expose this charade before the fallout gets worse."


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