China’s Change of Course and Xi Jinping’s 3 Signals

China’s Change of Course and Xi Jinping’s 3 Signals

The promises made in Davos, the 700 billion big techs (and the liberated Marvel superheroes): three signs of a possible change of course by Xi Jinping

Can one credit a political speech and two such superhero films for China really opening up to the world again? Several analysts are beginning to hope that Xi Third (who was crowned Secretary-General for the third time at the Congress in October) has decided to surprise the world on the upside. We see the signs. Vice Premier Liu He, the pragmatic tsar of Mandarin economy and finance, presented himself on the stage of the World Economic Forum in Davos yesterday. Message: China will return to normal in 2023, economy will restart after the disappointing +3% in 2022, still hurt by unsustainable Covid-Zero policy, imports will increase significantly, market rules will be strengthened. Liu He’s words are not to be underestimated, because they add up to further encouraging signals from Beijing: in particular, the end of the great purge of Internet platforms, as the authorities call Chinese big tech companies. Banca del Popolo just announced that the corrective campaign that had subjected Alibaba, Tencent, Didi, Meituan and a dozen other e-commerce and services giants to heightened political scrutiny, billionaire fines and stews since the fall of 2020, based on almighty apps basically ended.

The party-state’s declaration of an end to hostility, added to the end of lockdowns and quarantines, has given investors confidence: Tech stocks, led by Alibaba and Tencent, have rebounded around $700 billion in the stock market since December.

And then there’s the case of two American Marvel movies. Productions by Disney-controlled studios were banned from China in 2019 without justification. Big disappointment for millions of Chinese fans of Hollywood superheroes, which grossed hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office in Beijing. Behind their blackout were the US-China politico-commercial Cold War and Chinese censorship, which did not take kindly to scenes with LGBTQ protagonists and images of the Statue of Liberty in New York. Without any explanation, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania are now back on the bill. Great excitement in Chinese social networks, where fans are already demanding the reprogramming of all blockbusters “Spider Man no way home”, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” and other blockbusters lost since 2019.

January 18, 2023 (Change January 18, 2023 | 3:00 p.m.)