No Bailouts for China's Indebted Local Governments: NPC Update

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National People's Congress Begins Under Trade War Clouds

The National People’s Congress, China’s rubber-stamp parliament, opened its annual two-week session on Monday. Lawmakers are expected to enact sweeping changes that would allow President Xi Jinping to rule indefinitely and possibly approve the biggest regulatory overhaul of the $43 trillion finance-and-insurance sector in 15 years.

Xi Jinping

Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

We follow developments here. Time stamps are Beijing:

Telecom Stocks Hit by Plan to Cut Mobile Fees (3:55 p.m.)

Chinese telecom stocks fall after Premier Li Keqiang said that the government plans to reduce mobile Internet service fees by at least 30 percent.

Local Government Must Be Responsible for Debts (3:06 p.m.)

China’s central government won’t bail out regional debts, Huang Shouhong, head of the State Council’s research office, said in Beijing.

‘Green’ Farming to Reduce Fertilizer Use (2:51 p.m.)

China aims to push for “green” farming by reducing the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers as the country updates its agricultural production, Agriculture Minister Han Changfu told reporters Monday on the sidelines of the NPC.

War Risks Rising, PLA Daily Commentary Says (2:34 p.m.)

China faces rising risks of war and new challenges in safeguarding territorial integrity, according to a commentary in the PLA Daily posted on the website of the Ministry of National Defense.

New Central Bank Governor to Be Named March 19 (1:49 p.m.)

Lawmakers will vote to appoint a governor to run the People’s Bank of China on March 19, according to a National People’s Congress agenda.

Foreign Investment Welcomed in SOEs (11:21 a.m.)

China plans to increase mixed-ownership reform of state-owned enterprises, Xiao Yaqing, chairman of State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, said in Beijing on the sidelines of the NPC.

More Economic Exchanges With Taiwan Coming (10:44 a.m.)

Li Keqiang

Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

Premier Li Keqiang said that China would ensure “people from Taiwan come to enjoy the same treatment as mainlanders when they pursue study, do business, work or live on the mainland.”

The Work Report in English, and Key Points (10:42 a.m.)

Here’s a quick summary of the most important sections, from tariff and tax cuts to moves to cool down the property sector. And links to the whole report in English, including Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

China to Cut Steel, Coal Production Capacity (10:25 a.m.)

China plans to reduce steel capacity by 30 million tons in 2018, and coal production by about 150 million tons, according to the government work report.

Greater Bay Development Plan Gains Traction (9:58 a.m.)

China aims to announce and implement a Greater Bay Area development plan this year to fully integrate economic development of the mainland, Hong Kong and Macau, according to the government work report.

The Yuan Is Stable, Central Bank’s Yi Says (9:10 a.m.)

Yi Gang

Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

PBOC Deputy Governor Yi Gang told Bloomberg News the yuan was stable and decided by the market, in response to a question on whether a possible trade war between China and the U.S. would put depreciation pressures on the currency.

Defense Spending Accelerates (8:13 a.m.)

China said defense spending would increase at the quickest pace in three years, as Xi pursues a “world-class” military capable of projecting force further from the country’s coasts. The central government’s military outlays are expected to rise 8.1 percent to 1.11 trillion yuan ($175 billion) this year, the Chinese Ministry of Finance said Monday in its annual report to the national legislative session in Beijing. Last year’s budget called for an increase of 7.1 percent, the slowest pace since at least 1991.

China Targets Lower 2018 Budget Deficit (8:05 a.m.)

China plans to run a budget deficit of 2.6 percent of GDP this year, lower than the 3 percent goal for 2017, the Ministry of Finance says in a report.

GDP Target Set at About 6.5% (8:03 a.m.)

China set a 2018 growth target of around 6.5 percent, omitting an intention to hit a faster pace if possible, as leaders intensify their push to ensure financial stability. The target was released Monday ahead of Li’s report to the NPC. While a target of 6.5 percent is equivalent to last year’s goal, the statement didn’t include an objective for output growth to be “higher if possible in practice” as it did in 2017.

— With assistance by David Tweed, Dandan Li, Peter Martin, Xiaoqing Pi, Heng Xie, Jun Luo, and Tian Chen

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