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News from China
Critical portion in World Bank’s report removed
6th July 2015

 THE World Bank has removed a sharply critical portion from a recently released report on China’s economy that called for reform of its financial system, saying the section had not been adequately reviewed and that its wording was inappropriate.

On Wednesday, the Washington-based institution released its China Economic Update report in Beijing, which included a section urging the country to accelerate reform of its state-dominated financial sector.

In blunt language, the World Bank warned that failure to address the issue could end “three decades of stellar performance” for the world’s second-largest economy.

“Wasteful investment, overindebtedness, and a weakly regulated shadow-banking system,” had to be addressed for China’s broader reform agenda to succeed, it said.

The organization, however, said in an update to the report that the section had been removed as it had not undergone proper vetting procedures.

Contacted for further comment yesterday, the World Bank provided a statement by Bert Hofman, its country director for China.

“The decision to withdraw this section of the report was taken because it did not fully follow our internal review and clearance processes and therefore its tone was not consistent with our standard of discourse with member governments,” Hofman said.

“To ensure full transparency, we disclosed the change on our website and in the updated report. We will continue to provide analysis and advice on China’s financial sector going forward.”

Hofman also said the World Bank has previously identified financial reform as “critical” for China’s development.

He added that China has acted on decisions taken at an important Party meeting in 2013 by pursuing changes including liberalizing lending rates, taking steps to curtail so-called shadow banking practices and providing more access to foreign investors to the country’s capital markets.

“Taken together, these are critical reforms that move China toward a more market-based allocation of capital,” he said.

The expunged section of the report had noted that the Chinese state exerts strong control over a majority of commercial bank assets, “making it an outlier by international standards.”

In some cases, the report added, authorities were simultaneously owners, regulators and customers of banks.

“Financial reform will only prove effective if it removes the distorted incentives and poor governance structures that have affected how financial resources are mobilized and allocated,” the report said.

“As now seen, a fundamentally reconfigured role of the state in the financial system is essential to change these incentives and structures.”

China is engineering a transformation of its growth model whereby consumer demand becomes the main driver rather than investment.

Source: Shanghai Daily, July 6, 2015
Prudent policy stays, alert to risks
3rd July 2015

 CHINA will continue to implement a prudent monetary policy and at the same time guard against financial risks, the central bank governor reiterated yesterday.

“We should continuously improve the monetary macro-control framework, carry out prudent monetary policy and promote sustained and healthy economic growth,” Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People’s Bank of China, said at a seminar.

Meanwhile, he urged the PBOC to “hold fast to the bottom line that no systemic or regional financial risks should occur.”

His remarks came as China’s economy showed signs of stabilizing while the country’s stock market spiraled downward.

The manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index, a key measure of factory activity in China, posted 50.2 in June, flat from May and in growth territory for a fourth straight month, according to official data published on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, HSBC’s version of manufacturing PMI, which is more focused on small and medium-sized firms, posted 49.4 in June, up from 49.2 in May.

The PBOC has cut interest rates four times since November to bolster the real economy, with the latest round announced over the weekend.

Despite liquidity-easing measures, China’s stock market has tumbled in the past few weeks, with the Shanghai Composite Index plunging 24.29 percent from June 15 to yesterday.

Source: Shanghai Daily, July 3, 2015
Servce PMI shows improvement in June
2nd July 2015

 CHINA’S service sector activity improved in June, an official monthly survey showed yesterday.

The purchasing managers’ index for the non-manufacturing sector expanded to 53.8 in June, up from 53.2 for May, and 53.4 for April, according to a report released jointly by the National Bureau of Statistics and the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing.

The rise ended three months of straight drops since March, when the non-manufacturing PMI began to fall as services that had boomed during the Chinese New Year holiday in February waned.

The non-manufacturing PMI tracks the activities of services and construction firms. A reading above 50 indicates expansion.

Zhao Qinghe, a senior analyst at the bureau, said the reading showed the non-manufacturing sector grew at a faster pace.

Source: Shanghai Daily, July 2, 2015
Apparent oil need up as demand grows
1st July 2015

 CHINA’S apparent oil demand in May rose 8.2 percent from a year earlier to 43.8 million tons on the back of growing market across all oil product categories, according to a latest Platts analysis of Chinese government data.

“This was the fastest pace of growth since June 2013, when demand grew by 11.53 percent,” said Mriganka Jaipuriyar, Platts analyst for Asia oil. “Demand for all key products showed year-on-year increase in the month.”

During the first five months of this year, China’s total apparent oil demand averaged 10.45 million barrels per day, up 5.2 percent from the same period of 2014. This marked the fastest pace of year-to-date growth since 2011 and defied a weak macro-economic outlook.

China’s refinery throughput in May averaged 10.38 million barrels per day, up 7.4 percent from 2014, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed.

On the other hand, China was a net oil product exporter of 120,000 tons in May, according to latest data from the General Administration of Customs.

Demand for gasoil, the most widely consumed oil product in China, has been hit in the last three years because of declining economic growth. Yet apparent demand in May grew by a robust 7.4 percent annually to 15.39 million tons.

Source: Shanghai Daily, July 1, 2015

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