China to boost consumer spending, curb monopolies in 2021



China has already been on its way to boost consumer spending and counter monopolies, and it will continue to go further next year.

Suggested in this year's Central Economic Work Conference held from Wednesday to Friday in Beijing, the two moves will go along with six other ones as China's major economic tasks next year.

In the annual conference that happened at the end of the year, Chinese leaders discuss the country's economic performance in that year and chart the course for the economy in the next year.

As China and the world have been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, the meeting this year is around China's gradual recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic goals in its latestFive-Year Planstarting in 2021.

Expanding domestic demand

China's economic data shrank dramatically when the COVID-19 pandemic swept the country in early February. The total retail sales of consumer goods from January through February only reached 5.2 trillion yuan ($728 billion), a 20.5-percent dive compared to the same period last year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

While controlling the spread of the coronavirus, the country has started to boost its consumption throughpromoting prepaid vouchersandcutting benchmark lending ratein earlier this year, which together drove China's consumption to recover from the COVID-19.

The latest retail sales growth quickened to 5 percent in November from a year earlier, reaching 3.95 trillion yuan, maintaining a growing trend for four consecutive months.

Graphic by CGTN's Chen Yuyang

In the key economic meeting, Chinese leaders vow to insist on expanding domestic demand on the basis of promoting employment, improving social security, and expanding middle-income groups.

"Increasing wages is really the key," said David Blair, Vice President of Center for China and Globalization, in the way to expand domestic demand.

"If you have increased wages, people demand stuff," explained Blair.

Li Wei, Senior China Economist at Standard Chartered, told CGTN consumer-related industries will be the key growth drivers for 2021.

"We think there's going to be a recovery in service sectors, for example, accommodations, catering, international travels, and those sectors are likely to be key growth drivers for 2021," said Li.

Li added car sales, housing sales, and investment are the key drivers for 2020, but next year, he expects consumer spending and some of the service sectors will be the key growth drivers.

Counter monopolies

In the meeting, top Chinese officials again vow to strengthen anti-monopoly efforts and prevent the disorderly expansion of capital in 2021.

The anti-monopoly has come to the table since early November when the planned $37 billion share market listing of e-commerce giant Alibaba affiliateAnt Groupwas suspended after regulators warned its lucrative online lending business faced tighter scrutiny.

Last month, China unveiled draft anti-monopoly rules relating to the country's online economy, including detailed information about disclosure requirements. The State Council then approved the establishment of an inter-ministerial committee, aiming to enhance efforts to combat unfair competition.

Several platform giants are facing greater oversights. On Monday,China's market regulator saidit will fine Alibaba Group, Tencent-backed China Literature, and smart locker company Hive Box 500,000 yuan each for not reporting deals for anti-monopoly reviews.

The increasing number of reports on platform monopoly indicates that there are some competition risks and hidden dangers in the development of the online economy. One of the problems is that some internet platform companies have not declared the concentration of operators in accordance with the law, said the State Administration for Market Regulation.

Although the fines are relatively low, the country's market regulator emphasized that this was "a signal to society that anti-monopoly supervision in the internet field will be strengthened."

Bai Ming, deputy director of the international market research institute of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, told CGTN fair and ordered competition is needed in China.

"Capital is profit-seeking. This is a normal phenomenon," said Bai, "but it has to follow the rules and laws."

According to the meeting, China will improve relevant anti-monopoly laws and regulations, and noticed the financial innovation "must be carried out under the premise of prudential supervision."

(Cover image: People are shopping at a shopping mall in Shanghai, China November 28, 2020. /VCG)