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Despite being a short work-week, the first days of 2019 were anything but slow. News of economic stimuli, a combat readiness order, and internet crackdowns were just some of the top stories of the last few days.

 


Premier Li Keqiang speaks at a symposium at the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission on Jan 4, 2019. [Photo/gov.cn]

 

China's central bank announced on Friday that it will further encourage financial institutions to support private enterprises, especially small and micro-sized firms in 2019. According to their statement released after a work conference of the People's Bank of China (PBOC), local governments are encouraged to set up financing funds for private enterprises, and supportive tools for equity and bond financing for private firms will also be promoted. Stronger support will also go to high-tech firms, emerging sectors, and manufacturers undergoing structural upgrading. (1)

The announcement came on the same day that Premier Li Keqiang spoke at a symposium at the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission where he stated that China will further cut taxes and fees to support private and smaller firms' financing. (2)

 


Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers speech at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Jan. 2, 2019. (Xinhua/Li Tao)

 

Earlier in the week President Xi Jinping said China must be and will be reunified, as he addressed a gathering in Beijing on Wednesday to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Chinese mainland's Message to Compatriots in Taiwan.

Xi said the principles of "peaceful reunification" and "one country, two systems" are the best approach to realizing national reunification. Promising that the way of life in Taiwan will be fully respected, and the private property, religious beliefs and legitimate rights and interests of Taiwan compatriots will be fully protected after peaceful reunification is realized, he also stressed that the "Chinese don't fight Chinese," however, he added that... "We make no promise to renounce the use of force and reserve the option of taking all necessary means," and that the Taiwan question is China's internal affair and allows no external interference. (3)

Just two days later, Xi ordered the Chinese armed forces to enhance their combat readiness at a Central Military Commission (CMC) meeting held in Beijing, where he also signed a mobilization order for the training of the armed forces. "The world is facing a period of major changes never seen in a century, and China is still in an important period of strategic opportunity for development," he said, warning that various risks and challenges were on the rise. Xi ordered all work, forces and resources to focus on military preparedness and ensure a marked progress in this regard. Party and government departments and agencies at the central and local levels are required to support the defense and military development. (4)

 

 

Xi's announcements came just days after Trump signalled US commitment in the region by signing the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act on the last day of 2018. According to the act, the US will reaffirm security commitments to its allies in the Indo-Pacific region and spend US$1.5 billion annually for five years to improve its regional presence and to “to counter efforts to change the status quo and to support peaceful resolution acceptable to both sides of the Taiwan Strait.” The act also authorises the US to impose penalties on entities and governments for stealing intellectual property. (5) (6)

 

 

Also on Friday, China's foreign ministry refuted a Level 2 travel advisory issued by the United States on Thursday, and said China always welcomes foreign citizens and protects their lawful rights.

"China always welcomes foreign citizens, including U.S. citizens, to visit China, and protects their security and legal rights, including freedom of entry and exit," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang told a press briefing. 

"We hope the U.S. side will make more efforts to promote exchanges and mutual trust between Chinese and U.S. people rather than the opposite," Lu said. (7)

 


Illustration: Reuters/Thomas White

 

On a lighter note, China's top internet watchdog announced on Thursday that at the start of this year, it had launched a six-month crackdown on harmful and illegal information targeting 12 kinds of problematic information, including rumors and those related to pornography, violence, terrorism or gambling, on websites, smartphone applications, messaging tools or livestreaming platforms. (8)

 

Refereces: 

  1. China's central bank vows more support for private enterprises
  2. China to cut taxes, fees to support firms
  3. Xi says 'China must be, will be reunified' as key anniversary marked
  4. Xi orders armed forces to enhance combat readiness
  5. United States ups the ante in China rivalry with Asia Reassurance Initiative Act
  6. S.2736 - Asia Reassurance Initiative Act of 2018
  7. China refutes US travel advice
  8. Authority launches crackdown on harmful information

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