Safeguarding Private Investment
A major highlight of the macroeconomic figures in May is the surge in private investment. During the first five months, China's private fixed-asset investment increased by 26.7 percent year on year, accounting for 60 percent of total fixed-asset investment. Private investment is playing a bigger role in sustaining economic growth.
In February, the State Council set a deadline for concerned departments to issue implementation measures for bolstering private investment. In May, the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Railways and State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission consecutively released those regulations, which enable private investment to enter more sectors. In a bid to accurately reflect the development and distribution of private investment, the National Bureau of Statistics issued a regulation at the beginning of 2012 that promises to release statistics on the private fixed-asset investment each month starting in May. The above-mentioned moves indicate the acceleration of the transformation from government-driven investment to private investment.
In the short run, encouraging private investment can help resume the indigenous momentum of economic growth because it can reduce the influence of policy adjustment on the macroeconomy. In the long run, the attitude towards private capital helps define the roles and boundary of the government and the market. This has far-reaching significance to China's future development.
The global financial crisis has misled the world. In 2008, all governments, with abundant money in hand, conducted Keynes-style expansion. Developed countries tried to mitigate the wealth decline by providing stimulus policies to financial departments, citizens and enterprises and shifted the debt of private sectors to government departments.
However, the result shows that government-driven economic recovery will add to government debt, weakening the government's ability in coping with the crisis. Because of the large-scale stimulus policies, developed countries were mired in a larger fiscal deficit, with their debt soaring. By 2011, the global sovereign debt surpassed $40 trillion. Compared with European countries and the United States, China had a lower public debt-to-GDP ratio. But after the anti-crisis efforts in 2008, China's debt-to-GDP ratio has also increased substantially. Risks are still simmering in the aftermath of government-driven economic growth.
For a long time, the development of private investment has been restricted in many areas, including investment, financing and taxation, resulting in its slow development and low efficiency. Now, the 36-clause regulation for promoting private investment indicates the reform has entered a new phase. But a fixed power system has been formed because of monopoly in resources. Whether private capital can gain equal access to the market and compete with state-owned enterprises fairly remains to be seen.
Government-led economic stimulus can never be an effective buffer against crises. The key lies in cultivating indigenous momentum for economic growth. In order to encourage and promote private investment, we should not only loosen restrictions for private capital in the short run, but also have overall institutional arrangements for encouraging, promoting and protecting private investment. Besides loosening restrictions, setting up private financing institutions and lowering interest rates, the government should formulate a private investment promotion law, to offer legal assurance for the free investment of private capital.
Instead of relying on government nurturing, a good institution breaks up monopolies and makes more factors of production flow freely. The newly released stimulus measures not only loosen private capital, but also loosen government itself.
This is an edited excerpt of an article by Zhang Monan, an associate researcher with the State Information Center, published in the Economic Information Daily
Airlines Raising Money
China Eastern Airlines, the country's second largest carrier by passenger numbers, plans to issue up to 8.8 billion yuan ($1.39 billion) in corporate bonds.
The bonds will have a maturity of up to 10 years. The proceeds will be used to purchase aircraft, replace bank loans, optimize financing and replenish operating capital, according to a company statement on June 13.
China Eastern Airlines aims to reduce its debt-to-asset ratio to below 70 percent by the end of 2015 from its current 80.27 percent, said Liu Shaoyong, chairman of the company.
China Eastern Airlines is not the only Chinese carrier searching for capital, as many airline companies are determined to increase their fleet size despite the sluggish world economic recovery. On June 11, China Southern Airlines, the country's largest carrier, said it would raise up to 2 billion yuan ($316.4 million) to repay bank loans.
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., China's e-commerce giant, has launched a book-selling service through its B2C platform Tmall.com.
The new online service was opened on June 14, promising 1.3 million titles through more than 1,000 online booksellers that market their stores on the site.
Tmall will provide reference books, novels, and business-related books online, and its main customers are aged between 20 and 35.
Alibaba's new move puts it head-to-head with competitors including bookseller-turned e-commerce operator E-Commerce China Dangdang and the Chinese branch of Amazon.
Industry watchers said they were looking forward to witnessing some fierce competition, as the main players fight for their share of what is already a cut-throat online book marketplace in China.
In May, China's domestic car brands sold 237,700 cars, up 3.14 percent year on year.
In May, the top 10 automakers sold 595,400 cars, 66.65 percent of the total sales volume.
In May, sales of the top 10 car models totaled 210,800 units.
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