“China’s Xi lays out vision for ‘new era’ led by ‘still stronger’ Communist Party.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday laid out a confident vision for a more prosperous nation and its role in the world, stressing the importance of wiping out corruption and curbing industrial overcapacity, income inequality and pollution.
Opening a critical Communist Party congress, Xi pledged to build a “modern socialist country” for a “new era” that will be proudly Chinese and steadfastly ruled by the party but open to the world.
The twice-a-decade event, a weeklong, mostly closed-door conclave, will culminate in the selection of a new Politburo Standing Committee to rule China’s 1.4 billion people for the next five years, with Xi expected to consolidate his control and potentially retain power beyond 2022, when the next congress takes place.
On the economy, Xi said China would relax market access for foreign investment, expand access to its services sector and deepen market-oriented reform of its exchange rate and financial system, while at the same time strengthening state firms. During Xi’s first term, China disappointed many investors who had expected it to usher in more market-oriented reforms, especially in the debt-laden state sector.
The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China said it welcomed commitments to open wider the door and treat all companies equally, but said European companies operating in China continued to suffer from “promise fatigue”.
In what was probably an indirect reference to U.S. President Donald Trump’s “America First” policy, Xi promised that China would be fully engaged with the world, and reiterated pledges to tackle climate change. Trump this year opted to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate pact.
Xi has overseen a sweeping crackdown on civil society, locking up rights lawyers and dissidents and tightening internet controls as he has sought to revitalise the Communist Party and its place in contemporary China.
“Oil Rises on Demand Signs After Goldman Flags Geopolitical Risks.”
Oil extended gains as signs of declining U.S. stockpiles pointed to healthy demand while investors weighed disruptions to supply because of global geopolitical tensions.
Futures in New York rose as much as 0.8 percent after adding 2.5 percent in the past three sessions. Flows of crude from northern Iraq through the Turkish port of Ceyhan have slumped, a port agent said Wednesday, a sign that fighting between the Baghdad government and Kurdish forces may be having a larger-than-expected impact on output in the oil-rich Kirkuk region. An industry report showed U.S. inventories fell last week, with government data Wednesday forecast to show a fourth straight drop.
Iraq is just one of the oil market’s geopolitical risks, with uncertainty also growing over tensions between Iran and the U.S., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said Tuesday. The Persian Gulf nation said it would support an extension of OPEC output cuts to the end of 2018 and insisted its production plans won’t be disrupted by U.S. President Donald Trump’s disavowal of the nuclear deal that’s boosted its exports.
While Iraq’s government is clashing with Kurdish forces in the north of the OPEC nation, raising the prospect of output disruptions in the region, both sides have an incentive to keep oil flowing due to low production costs and “high revenue” available per barrel, according to Goldman Sachs.
“Trump backs away from bipartisan Senate healthcare bill.”
U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday backed away from a bipartisan deal on healthcare reached by two senators a day earlier, saying he could never support legislation “bailing out” insurance companies.
On Tuesday, Trump appeared to embrace the deal struck by Republican Senator Lamar Alexander and Democratic Senator Patty Murray as “a short-term solution so that we don’t have this very dangerous little period,” apparently referring to possible premium spikes in the wake of his recent decision to cut off subsidy payments to insurance companies.
But in a tweet on Wednesday he took a different tack on the bill, which would continue the cost-sharing subsidies that lower premiums for lower-income Americans, writing: “I am supportive of Lamar as a person & also of the process, but I can never support bailing out ins co’s who have made a fortune w/ O‘Care.”
The Alexander-Murray proposal would meet some Democratic objectives, such as reviving subsidies for Obamacare and restoring $106 million in funding for a federal program that helps people enroll in insurance plans. In exchange, Republicans would get more flexibility for states to offer a wider variety of health insurance plans while maintaining the requirement that sick and healthy people be charged the same rates for coverage.
“Spain warns Catalonia on self-rule as deadline looms.”
Spain will move to suspend Catalonia’s autonomy unless the region’s leader drops his push for independence, the deputy prime minister says. Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría gave the warning a day before a Spanish deadline to Carles Puigdemont was due to expire.
Catalonia’s government has insisted it will not meet Madrid’s demands in the wake of a disputed vote on secession. There have been protests over the detention of two leaders of the separatist movement. Jordi Sánchez and Jordi Cuixart are being held while they are investigated for sedition – a move which many on the pro-independence side see as politically motivated. The men were leading figures in the 1 October independence vote, which Madrid branded illegal.
Prime Minister Rajoy has given Mr Puigdemont until Thursday to come up with a definitive answer on the independence question or face the implementation of direct rule under Article 155. «All I ask of Mr Puigdemont is that he acts sensibly… to put the interest of all citizens first,» Mr Rajoy told the Spanish parliament on Wednesday. But if the separatist leader does not provide a satisfactory response by 10:00 local time (08:00 GMT) on Thursday, he «will provoke the application of Article 155», Ms Saenz de Santamaria said.