Li’s ‘Consumption Obstacles’ Reveal Grim State of China’s Economy

September 15, 2020 Updated: September 20, 2020

Commentary

On Sept. 9, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang convened an executive meeting of the State Council and mentioned the obstacles to consumption demand, a major economic issue that was first mentioned last year at the closing address of the Two Sessions, the annual rubber-stamp legislature meetings.

“Consumption obstacles” seem to refer to the severe downturn of China’s domestic economic environment.

“Obstacles” is literally translated as “chokepoints” in Chinese as in Li’s address.

Demand Hampered by Unemployment

According to a report by Chinese state media Xinhua, key points were mentioned during the Two Sessions meeting: Consumption this year has been severely affected by the pandemic and has become a weak link in economic recovery; it’s necessary to break through the “consumption obstacles” that restrain economic growth; and it’s essential to spur domestic demand and strengthen the momentum for economic recovery and growth.

It also was reported that five measures were proposed to boost consumption demand.

Consumption demand slowed down due to mass unemployment that was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters.

The shift in supply chains has led to unemployment, and the pandemic has also caused a large number of companies to close down. The lack of effective assistance measures has further deepened unemployment. As many as 8.74 million college graduates this year are faced with fewer job opportunities.

China’s economy has entered a vicious cycle.

There’s no sign of an end to the pandemic in China—rounds of lockdowns and closures of cities and activities continue, and no financial subsidies are in place to help businesses.

In addition, nearly three months of floods have caused huge economic losses in areas surrounding the Yangtze River and Yellow River basins. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) tried to conceal the damages as officials “inspected” the affected areas.

A sudden strike of typhoons, which are rarely seen in northeast China, has devastated the area and caused huge losses in corn crops. Of course, the CCP media won’t report about the situation.

The so-called economic reforms that Party leader Xi Jinping recently ordered are actually empty slogans and can’t solve the problems encountered in China’s economic recovery. Xi’s so-called domestic economic boosting tactics involve an inward economic shift (a reliance toward its domestic economy), and dual-cycle development pattern (reliance on both domestic and international economic cycles, with the domestic cycle being the mainstay).

Li’s domestic consumption “chokepoint” describes the fact that China’s economy is hard to restart.

Xi Mentions ‘Chokepoint’

Xinhua reported on Sept. 9 that Xi presided over the eighth meeting of the Central Finance and Economics Committee to study the issue of “smooth” national economic circulation and the construction of a modern “circulation system.” The meeting echoed Li’s consumption chokepoint, indicating that the economic circulation is stuck.

“The modernization of the circulation system is still not high, and there are still many blocking points that need to be solved urgently,” Xinhua reported.

Li, along with Wang Huning and Han Zheng, the top Politburo members of the CCP, were present at the meeting.

Considering the international economic activity, Germany has recently announced it would join the Indo-Pacific strategy to remove its dependence on China. After all, it’s all about supply and demand in a healthy economy. The supply chains of the United States, Europe, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan are bound to migrate on a larger scale. Hong Kong has lost its international status as a financial hub for China and can’t protect itself. What can the Chinese economy rely on?

Both Xi and Li know that China’s economy is actually “choked” in every channel, but the meeting emphasized that “implementation should be done from a political perspective” and that “major decisions made by the Party Central Committee must be translated into specific policies and regulations in a timely manner … supervision and inspection of implementation should just be withheld,” Xinhua reported.

As usual, the top CCP leaders continue their tactics of solving problems with political slogans, while the sustainability of the Chinese economy is highly doubted.

In fact, vigorously supporting and protecting the private economy is the real driving force for economic development, and the market economy is the real solution to China’s economic problems. But that’s exactly the opposite of the dictatorship of the Chinese Communist regime. Xi still insists on the so-called Marxist economics and the so-called state-owned economy as the main body.

The CCP is afraid of losing control of the economy and the interests that serve China’s elite.

The CCP’s wealthy and powerful classes all claim to support a proletarian regime and adhere to the socialist system. In fact, CCP officials are actually the capitalists, property owners, and privileged classes described in Karl Marx’s socialist ideology. The majority of the Chinese people have been sucked dry by the privileged class of the CCP.

CCP Leaders Continue to Play Mask Game

While the pandemic isn’t over, on Sept. 8, the CCP honored the “frontline heroes” with national medals and senior officials deliberately removed their surgical masks during the event.

The next day, state broadcaster CCTV’s report of Xi’s financial meeting and Li’s State Council meeting were only available with subtitles. That suggests that both meetings were held via video conference and the leaders weren’t seen in public due to the pandemic.

Zhao Leji, another key member of the Politburo and who rarely makes a public appearance, also played a similar game. On Sept. 9, Zhao attended a symposium to commemorate the birthdate of the late Gen. Yang Baibing. CCTV’s footage showed that during the symposium, Zhao wore a surgical mask, but he took it off during a group photo, just like everyone else there.

Yang, who died in 2013, wasn’t an elite CCP member, but he was the key figure whom Deng Xiaoping placed in the army to monitor Jiang Zemin, who eventually rose to become Party leader. This abrupt and high-profile commemorative event once again staged the CCP’s infighting drama. The Party media deliberately described Yang as a “firm believer, loyal to the Party.”

A series of “struggle” actions by the CCP’s senior leaders around consumption obstacles, economic recovery, and pandemic containment efforts is actually a struggle for power within the CCP. The farce will only grow more intense as the CCP is at the brink of collapse.

Zhong Yuan is a researcher focused on China’s political system, the country’s democratization process, its human rights situation, and Chinese citizens’ livelihood. He began writing commentaries for the Chinese-language edition of The Epoch Times in 2020.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.