H.K. Electoral Overhaul, Beijing Expects Pollution: NPC Update

The future of Hong Kong’s electoral system remains in focus as China’s annual National People’s Congress entered its fifth day.

Hong Kong’s Legislative Council election is reported to have been pushed back to December from the previously scheduled September. The city’s top legal official on Tuesday warned residents to steer clear of criticisms of the government that stray too far from the facts.

China’s capital city is likely to see heavy pollution in the final two days of the top legislators’ event. The Beijing government issued an alert today for heavy air pollution during in the next two days and said the city will halt some industrial production from tomorrow.

While China lays out its medium-to-long term green goals from the NPC, a $10 billion coal-to-chemicals plant was approved by Ningxia Baofeng Energy Group Co.’s board last Friday, more evidence that coal will still play a major role in China’s energy mix for the foreseeable future. The company said the plant, set to be completed by 2023, will promote innovative and efficient use of coal.

Elsewhere in Beijing, the city’s no-fly zone apparently includes drones. Some retailers in Beijing were ordered by the government not to sell the flying robots until the two sessions conclude. A store in the eastern part of the city removed SZ DJI Technology’s drones from its shelves and stuffed its latest gadgets into boxes, as staff explained this is due to local government orders. DJI, a top drone maker based in Shenzhen, didn’t immediately reply to an email seeking comment. Online sales were normal at vendors on JD.com and Alibaba’s Taobao.

What to Know:

  • Click here for more coverage of this year’s NPC
  • Full Reports from the NPC: Work on Legislative Affairs; Top Court
  • A QuickTake explainer on the NPC
  • Five-Year Plan in Numbers
  • Bloomberg Intelligence reaction to GDP goal; policy implications for banks
  • A look at China’s green goals

Latest developments: (Time-stamps are local time in Beijing)

Upcoming Events: Closing Ceremony, Premier’s Briefing

  • Wednesday-Thursday morning: NPC delegates review work reports and legislative revisions in groups
  • Wednesday 3 p.m.: Closing session of CPPCC, the political consultative body’s conference
  • Thursday, 3 p.m.: NPC closing session. Delegates will vote on work reports, 14th Five-Year Plan, and other legislative revisions including decision on overhaul of Hong Kong’s electoral system
  • Thursday afternoon — Premier Li Keqiang to speak to reporters

Cheng Warns Against ‘Oblivious’ Criticism of China (3:32 p.m.)

Hong Kong Justice Secretary Teresa Cheng said in an interview Tuesday that opinions were “no more than an utterance of no value” if the facts weren’t established. Cheng was answering a question about what kind of criticism would be legal in the former British colony.

Mega-Refinery in China’s Shandong (2:27 p.m.)

A mega-refinery at Yulong Island in Yantai is expected to start by the end of 2022, according to Li Xiangping, the deputy chairman of Shandong Provincial Federation of Industry and Commerce. Phase I construction started in October, Li said in a written reply to questions on the sidelines of the National People’s Congress; he is also chairman of refiner Shandong Dongming Petrochemical Group.

Incoming Heavy Air Pollution in Beijing (1:06 p.m.)

The Chinese capital will halt some industrial production from March 10 because of pollution expected in next two days, according to a statement on the website of the Beijing Municipal Ecology and Environment Bureau.

Top Refiner Proposes Tax on Some Fuel Products (12:32 p.m.)

An NPC delegate with the nation’s biggest refiner Sinopec proposed a consumption tax on certain fuel products that have tax loopholes among independent refiners, a group of fledgling refineries that won oil import quota since 2015. The proposal was made by Huang He, party secretary of Sinopec’s Hunan Oil Sales Unit. Such a tax could put them in a level playing field with the state refiners amid an oversupplied domestic fuel market.

Electoral Changes to Broaden Representation: Chinese Official (11:07 a.m.)

An overhaul of Hong Kong’s election system will be done in a way that ensures broad representation of the public, said Song Ru’an, deputy commissioner of the Chinese Foreign Ministry Commissioner’s Office in Hong Kong, at a briefing Tuesday.

More Spending for U.S. Conflict ‘Trap’: Top Generals (10:52 a.m.)

China must boost military spending to prepare for a possible confrontation with the U.S., top generals said, in an unusual acknowledgment of the risk of a clash between the world’s two largest economies. The two generals -- members of the Central Military Commission led by President Xi Jinping -- made the comments during the annual national legislative session in Beijing.

Speeding up Low-carbon Energy Development (10:32 a.m.)

China will promote clean and efficient use of fossil energy and actively expand the clean energy sector to achieve its carbon neutral goals, Zhang Jianhua, head of the National Energy Administration, said in an interview during the NPC and posted on the NEA website.

Hong Kong’s Legislative Election in Dec.: Sing Tao (8:20 a.m.)

Hong Kong plans to hold postponed Legislative Council elections in December to account for electoral changes introduced by China, Sing Tao reported, citing unidentified people. The vote for the Chief Executive election committee, whose members will have the power to elect and nominate Legco candidates under the proposed reforms, will be held in September instead of December as its five-year term ends this year.

PBOC Won’t Flood System with Liquidity (7:51 a.m.)

China’s central bank will keep growth of money supply and aggregate financing at a pace that generally matches nominal GDP and curb financial risks, People’s Bank of China Deputy Governor Chen Yulu said in an interview with China Business News. The central bank will not flood the financial system with liquidity nor resort to competitive currency devaluation, and will enhance international coordination of monetary policy, Chen said.

Premier Press Conference on March 11 (7:46 a.m.)

The NPC confirmed that Premier Li Keqiang will hold his annual press conference on Thursday afternoon. A specific time for the briefing was not included in the short announcement.

U.S. Lawmakers Urge Biden To Support Hong Kong (1:19 a.m.)

A U.S. bipartisan group of lawmakers from both chambers in Congress say changes announced to Hong Kong’s electoral system “will only continue to advance Beijing’s ever tightening grip on Hong Kongers’ autonomy, basic freedoms, and fundamental human rights.” They urge the Biden administration to use “new tools” created under legislation passed over the last two years to “support the people of Hong Kong.”

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