China's key financial authorities held several conferences in January to outline priorities and sound out major themes that will shape the regulatory landscape in the country's banking, securities, capital markets, and futures sectors in 2008.
China Market Intelligence
The groundbreaking for the construction of the new Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway on January 18 kicked off an unprecedented year for investment in China's railroads, according to statements by the PRC Ministry of Railways (MOR).
To meet part of its 2001 accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and 2006 US-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade commitments, China submitted its initial offer for joining the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) in late December 2007.
As 2008 gets under way, several year-end 2007 numbers will emerge and trigger more vociferous calls to "deal with China." First in line are a larger bilateral trade deficit and the pace of renminbi (RMB) appreciation, both certain to receive sustained attention from the US Congress and White House in the new year.
The combined effects of the Beijing Olympics, looming inflationary pressures, and a potential US recession could make 2008 a "turning point" in China's economic growth, similar to those the country experienced during the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis and after the 2001 World Trade Organization entry, said Andy Xie, a leading Asia economist and regular Caijing Magazine contributor.
China's Internet users swelled to 210 million in 2007, second only to the United States' roughly 215 million users, according to year-end figures from the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC).
Medical and healthcare expenses are top concerns for the Chinese public and policymakers, according to a recent survey of Chinese families and the newly published 2008 Blue Book of China's Society.
Following recent personnel changes, China's cabinet, implemented another round of bureaucratic reshuffling. More personnel changes at the ministerial level are expected in the near future.
The US-China Business Council (USCBC) recently released a compilation of outcomes from the three rounds of the Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED) and a series of population maps that compare China's urban population patterns to those of the United States.