During his big tech address on Friday, Xi Jinping told scientists where to focus their energies (Xinhua 2):
Some context: Beijing’s grand plans for technological self-reliance have been frustrated by weakness in core technologies and basic research.
To address this issue, Xi proclaimed that sci-tech research must adhere to a “problem-oriented approach” and achieve breakthroughs in key areas like:
Xi also identified crucial frontier fields, including:
Get smart: China’s drive for sci-tech ascendancy will fall flat if it can’t strengthen its technical research and manufacturing base.
Get smarter: Washington’s aggressive targeting of Chinese tech companies has given more urgency to the drive to nail down sci-tech fundamentals.
On Monday, at a ceremony in Beijing, the guest of honor lifted a red veil from a metal nameplate to launch a massive new state-owned resources company – China Mineral Resources Group (CMRG).
ICYMI: Rumors about the firm, established to give China more bargaining power over iron ore imports, have been flying for over a month now.
The inaugural meeting’s star-studded guest list included:
Translation: Support for this new company, and its strategy to gain more leverage in the global minerals trade, comes straight from the top.
The meeting’s readout was sparse, but one bit caught our eye: It highlighted that CMRG is “a state-authorized investment institution.”
Get smart: Faced with slowing growth and rising climate ambitions over the next decade, China’s steel sector doesn’t just need to cut costs for iron ore – it needs to consolidate.
Get smarter: Just last week, credible rumors indicated this new company would be called “China Iron Ore Group.”
China keeps adding coal-fired power capacity in the name of energy security.
On Wednesday, Greenpeace dropped a report tracking power plant approvals. It found that (SCMP):
Don’t forget: New capacity approvals plunged 58% y/y in 2021, in part because regulators were getting serious about an energy transition.
It’s no mystery what changed: In Fall 2021, widespread power shortages and output curbs disrupted manufacturing and hit market sentiment nationwide.
Now, as the economy sputters, regulators are terrified of another round of power shortages:
But the real threat to energy security is peak demand – the minutes or hours when power use spikes – not total demand.
What’s really needed to address increasingly severe demand spikes: Investment in energy storage and grid flexibility.
Get smart: New coal-fired plants are an expensive, wasteful way to achieve a temporary sort of energy security.
Get smarter: As Beijing pushes harder for an energy transition, investments will need to flow into systems – like energy storage – that will not only boost energy security, but also support China’s net zero goals.
Achieving China’s ambitious climate goals will require all parts of the economy to reduce carbon emissions.
On Wednesday, the housing regulator (MoHURD) and macro planner (NDRC) released their plan to peak emissions in urban and rural construction.
The new plan promotes green and low-carbon construction.
That means making the entire construction process greener by:
But the plan goes far beyond actual construction, as it also requires:
Get smart: MoHURD will have better luck implementing measures that involve new buildings and upgrading existing ones.
Get smarter: Nobody said achieving peak emissions would be easy.
Climate change is coming, so best get ready.
On Tuesday, several ministries jointly released China’s plan to become a climate-resilient society by 2035.
Some context: This is China’s second climate change adaptation plan. The first was released in 2013.
At the heart of the plan is an attempt to improve forecasting capabilities. China aims to be able to (Gov.cn):
Beijing also wants to see even further into the future:
Get smart: Extreme weather events like last year’s flooding in Zhengzhou will become more common as global warming increases – and Beijing wants to know about them well beforehand.
Get smarter: There’s a limit to how far into the future useful forecasts can be made, so take with a grain of salt the ambitions to forecast more than a month ahead.