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China

China appoints special envoy to Pacific island countries

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China has named a special envoy to Pacific island countries, adding to its diplomatic arsenal in a region where Beijing increasingly vies with the United States for influence.

China’s government had announced plans for the envoy role in mid-2022, when then-Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Pacific island states after a period of limited face-to-face contact because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Beijing revealed the appointment of Qian Bo – until recently China’s ambassador to Fiji  in response to a question from Chinese state media during a regular press conference at the foreign ministry last week.

As special government envoy, Qian will “make strong efforts to advance further development of the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Pacific Island countries,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters on Feb. 15. 

During the past two decades, China has become a source of infrastructure, loans and aid for economically-lagging island nations in the Pacific as it seeks to isolate Taiwan diplomatically and gain allies in international organizations such as the United Nations.

Some analysts say Beijing also hopes to establish a military presence in the Pacific in a challenge to American dominance. Last year, the Asian superpower signed a security pact with the Solomon Islands, alarming the United States and Australia, which have stepped up their efforts to counter China’s increased sway. 

Four of the 14 countries that recognize Taiwan are in the Pacific. The Solomon Islands and Kiribati switched their recognition to China from Taiwan in 2019.

The appointment of a special envoy shows that greater influence in the Pacific remains a goal for China, according to Mihai Sora, a Pacific analyst at Australia’s Lowy Institute and a former Australian diplomat in the region. 

Beijing is aiming to better coordinate its diplomatic and strategic moves in the Pacific at a time when Pacific island countries have less appetite for large infrastructure loans and have also increased their security cooperation with Australia and the United States, Sora told BenarNews.

China has special diplomatic envoys for several countries, regions and global issues including Myanmar, the Middle East, Afghanistan and climate change and in the past decade has increasingly sought to mediate in conflicts. It already had an envoy to the Pacific Islands Forum, an organization made up of 16 Pacific island nations as well as Australia and New Zealand.

“We’ll all watch with interest. It seems like overkill. But perhaps it is an indication of their intentions to aggressively increase their influence in the region,” said Matthew Wale, leader of the Solomon Islands opposition.

The Mercator Institute for China Studies has said that China’s higher diplomatic profile and attempts at conflict resolution are linked to the Belt and Road Initiative, a sprawling Chinese plan, begun in 2013, to build a global network of Chinese financed and constructed railways, energy pipelines, highways and other infrastructure. 

Through more active diplomacy, China wants to both protect its economic interests and build a reputation as a responsible global power, Mercator said. 

The single armed conflict in the Pacific islands region is between Indonesia and Papuan independence fighters, who want the Indonesian-governed western half of the island of New Guinea to be an independent state, and who have grassroots support in some island nations such as Vanuatu. 

China would not want to get involved as it would draw further attention to its own colonial policies in Tibet and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Wale said. China also has ambitions for Indonesia to be a key part of its infrastructure plans.

“The special envoy is more to see how best to build and leverage China’s relationships at the regional level,” Wale told BenarNews.

Qian, the Pacific envoy, was China’s ambassador to Fiji from 2018. He was formally replaced in February by Zhou Jian, previously ambassador to Qatar and a deputy-director in the Chinese foreign ministry’s Policy Planning Department.

Qian’s role likely has greater clout within the Chinese government than the envoy to the Pacific Islands Forum and he will be able to deal with more complex and substantial issues, according to Wang Yiwei, an international relations professor at Renmin University in Beijing.

“It reflects the increased importance that the Chinese government attaches to the affairs of this region,” he said, according to Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post. 

BenarNews is an RFA-affiliated news organization.

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Lingang New Area in Shanghai Introduces Whitelists for Data Export to Enhance Cross-Border Data Flows

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The Lingang New Area in Shanghai has introduced trial general data lists to simplify data export procedures for companies in automotive, biopharmaceuticals, and mutual funds sectors. This aims to reduce regulatory burdens and facilitate cross-border data flows, following efforts to improve business environment for foreign companies.


The Lingang New Area in Shanghai has introduced trial general data lists aimed at simplifying data export procedures for companies in the automotive, biopharmaceuticals, and mutual fund sectors. These lists outline specific scenarios where businesses can export data out of China with reduced regulatory burdens, bypassing more stringent compliance requirements.

The Lingang New Area of the Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone (FTZ) has released the first batch of trial lists of general data for three sectors, facilitating cross-border data flows for companies operating in the area. This announcement closely follows the release of the Tianjin FTZ’s Negative List, which similarly seeks to facilitate cross-border data flows for companies operating in the FTZ by specifying the types of data that are restricted from being exported without certain approval procedures.

The first batch of general data lists has been provided for the fields of intelligent connected vehicles, biopharmaceuticals, and mutual funds, three sectors with a significant presence in the Lingang New Area. The general data lists are scenario-based, meaning they outline various situations in which data export is required and freely permitted. These include scenarios, such as multinational production and manufacturing of intelligent connected vehicles, medical clinical trials and R&D, and information sharing for fund market research.

The general data lists will be implemented for a trial period of one year from their date of implementation, May 16, 2024.

In January 2024, the Lingang New Area announced a new system for data management and export in the area, which included the release of two data catalogs, one for “important” data and one for “general” data. This new system will help facilitate cross-border data transfer (CBDT) for key sectors in the area by delineating the types of data that are restricted or subject to additional compliance measures to be exported (through the important data lists) and data that can be more easily exported (through the general data lists).

In March, the area released the Measures for the Classification and Graded Management of Data Cross-border Flow in the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone Lingang Special Area (Trial) (the “Lingang CBDT Management Measures”), which outlined the rules and requirements for this new system, including how companies can use the general data lists.

These developments follow many months of efforts by the central Chinese government as well as local authorities to improve the business environment for foreign companies in particular, a core part of which has been resolving headaches surrounding data export.

This article is republished from China Briefing. Read the rest of the original article.

China Briefing is written and produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The practice assists foreign investors into China and has done since 1992 through offices in Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. Please contact the firm for assistance in China at china@dezshira.com.

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The New Company Law brings substantial changes with implications for new and existing foreign invested enterprises and stakeholders. Foreign investors must assess if adjustments to existing structures

Despite recent economic challenges, many organizations’ China operations provide unparalleled access to one of the world’s largest and most competitive global supply chains. Over the past 30 years, a significant number of foreign invested enterprises (FIEs) have been established in China. As of the end of 2022, the number of FIEs operating in China had exceeded 1.12 million.

Compared to their domestic counterparts, FIEs demonstrate greater caution regarding legal revisions and are diligent in making swift adjustments. This stems not only from the closer scrutiny FIEs face from regulatory authorities but also from their commitment to compliance and maintaining a competitive edge.

Clearly, there has been a shift in China’s corporate regulations—from merely encouraging an increase in the number of companies to focusing on attracting mature enterprises and higher-quality investments. While the transition from a broad approach to a more refined one may cause short-term challenges, it ultimately benefits the company’s long-term development. By returning to the original intent of setting registered capital, it not only protects the interests of creditors but also shields shareholders from the operational risks of the company.

In China’s foreign investment landscape, while most FIEs exercise commercial prudence in determining registered capital—factoring in capital expenditures, operational costs, and setting aside surplus funds—some opt for higher registered capital levels to avoid future capital increase procedures. This typically involves lengthy document signing and registration changes, lasting 1-2 months.

Joint ventures (JVs) often impose stricter payment deadlines for registered capital in their articles of association to ensure both parties’ simultaneous contributions align with operational needs. Conversely, wholly foreign-owned enterprises (WFOEs) tend to favor flexibility in payment deadlines, often allowing full payment before the company’s operational period expires.

Given these circumstances, despite the generally stronger capital adequacy among foreign companies compared to domestic entities, many FIEs could be affected by the new capital contribution rules.

This article is republished from China Briefing. Read the rest of the original article.

China Briefing is written and produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The practice assists foreign investors into China and has done since 1992 through offices in Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. Please contact the firm for assistance in China at china@dezshira.com.

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Foreign Tourist Groups on Cruise Ships Fully Permitted Visa-Free Entry in China

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China will allow visa-free entry for foreign tourist groups arriving by cruise ship at 13 ports along the coast, starting May 15, 2024. Visitors must stay with the same ship and in permitted areas for up to 15 days. This policy aims to boost tourism and facilitate high-quality development in the cruise industry.


China’s immigration agency announced that it will grant a visa-free policy for foreign tourist groups to enter China by cruise at all cruise ports along the coast of China, starting May 15, 2024. The tourist group must remain with the same cruise ship until its next port of call and stay within permitted areas for no more than 15 days.

Effective May 15, 2024, the National Immigration Administration (NIA) has officially implemented a visa-free policy for foreign tourist groups entering China via cruise ships. This progressive move aims to enhance personnel exchanges and foster cooperation between China and other nations, furthering the country’s commitment to high-level openness.

Under this policy, foreign tourist groups, comprising two or more individuals, who travel by cruise ship and are organized by Chinese domestic travel agencies, can now enjoy visa-free entry as a cohesive group at cruise ports in 13 cities along the Chinese coast.

The tourist group must remain with the same cruise ship until its next port of call and stay within China for no more than 15 days. The eligible areas for this policy are coastal provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities) and Beijing.

Furthermore, to support cruise tourism development, seven additional cruise ports—Dalian, Lianyungang, Wenzhou, Zhoushan, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Beihai—have been included as applicable ports for visa-free transit.

The recent implementation of the visa-free policy for foreign tourist groups entering China via cruise ships is poised to have several significant effects. The policy will provide crucial support for the cruise economy and the overall cruise industry. By facilitating smoother travel for foreign tourist groups, it acts as a catalyst for high-quality development in this sector.

Additionally, under this policy, international cruise companies can strategically plan their global routes by designating Chinese port cities, such as Shanghai, Xiamen, and Shenzhen, as docking destinations. This move is expected to attract more cruise ships to Chinese ports, ultimately bringing in a larger number of international visitors to the Chinese market.

This article is republished from China Briefing. Read the rest of the original article.

China Briefing is written and produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The practice assists foreign investors into China and has done since 1992 through offices in Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. Please contact the firm for assistance in China at china@dezshira.com.

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