nep-cna New Economics Papers
on China
Issue of 2019‒04‒22
eight papers chosen by
Zheng Fang
Ohio State University

  1. A Forensic Examination of China's National Accounts By Wei Chen; Xilu Chen; Chang-Tai Hsieh; Zheng Song
  2. Evaluating the effectiveness of the rural minimum living standard guarantee (Dibao) programme in China By Nanak Kakwani; Shi Li; Xiaobing Wang; Mengbing Zhu
  3. Europe in the midst of China-US strategic competition: What are the European Union's options? By Alicia García-Herrero
  4. The Curious Case of the Missing Defaults By Reinhart, Carmen
  5. Chinese acquisitions abroad: are they different? By Clemens Fuest; Felix Hugger; Samina Sultan; Jing Xing
  6. The Effects of Foreign Direct Investment on Regional Innovation Capacity in China By Paul J.J. Welfens; Tian Xiong
  7. Tariffs and Politics: Evidence from Trump’s Trade Wars By Fetzer, Thiemo; Schwarz, Carlo
  8. Building Bridges or Breaking Bonds? The Belt and Road Initiative and Foreign Aid Competition By Krishna Chaitanya Vadlamannati; Yuanxin Li; Samuel Brazys; Alexander Dukalskis

  1. By: Wei Chen; Xilu Chen; Chang-Tai Hsieh; Zheng Song
    Abstract: China’s national accounts are based on data collected by local governments. However, since local governments are rewarded for meeting growth and investment targets, they have an incentive to skew local statistics. China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) adjusts the data provided by local governments to calculate GDP at the national level. The adjustments made by the NBS average 5% of GDP since the mid-2000s. On the production side, the discrepancy between local and aggregate GDP is entirely driven by the gap between local and national estimates of industrial output. On the expenditure side, the gap is in investment. Local statistics increasingly misrepresent the true numbers after 2008, but there was no corresponding change in the adjustment made by the NBS. Using publicly available data, we provide revised estimates of local and national GDP by re-estimating output of industrial, construction, wholesale and retail firms using data on value-added taxes. We also use several local economic indicators that are less likely to be manipulated by local governments to estimate local and aggregate GDP. The estimates also suggest that the adjustments by the NBS were insufficient after 2008. Relative to the official numbers, we estimate that GDP growth from 2010-2016 is 1.8 percentage points lower and the investment and savings rate in 2016 is 7 percentage points lower.
    JEL: E01
    Date: 2019–04
  2. By: Nanak Kakwani; Shi Li; Xiaobing Wang; Mengbing Zhu
    Abstract: China’s rural minimum living standard guarantee programme (Dibao) is the largest social safety-net programme in the world. Given the scale and the popularity of rural Dibao, rigorous evaluation is needed to demonstrate the extent to which the programme meets its intended objective of reducing poverty. This paper develops new methods and uses data from the 2013 Chinese Household Income Project (CHIP2013) to examine the targeting performance of the rural Dibao programme. The paper has found that the rural Dibao programme suffers from very low targeting accuracy, high exclusion error, and inclusion error, and yields a significant negative social rate of return. It discusses possible causes and argues that the fundamental mechanism has to be redesigned to increase the effectiveness of the programme. The paper makes some recommendations to reform Dibao that will significantly improve targeting and reduce the cost of running the programme, thereby helping China to achieve its goal of eradicating extreme poverty by 2020.
    Date: 2018
  3. By: Alicia García-Herrero
    Abstract: With the trade conflict between the United States and China bringing China-US strategic competition into the open, the European Union faces an urgent question - how to position itself in the competition. This paper reviews the impact of the US-led trade war against China and its immediate consequences for China, the US and the EU. Although protectionism can never be growth enhancing, European companies could see gains if the trade confrontation between China and the US ends up reducing their bilateral trade to the benefit of European companies that export to China. This is because US exports to China are concentrated in sectors that are also key for the EU’s exports to China, with the exception of energy and agricultural products. However, a solution to the US-China trade conflict that artificially increases Chinese imports from the US can only hurt European exporters. A much broader and structural deal which pushes China to reform and open up would not only be beneficial for the US but also for the EU and the rest of the world. Against this background, this paper reviews the EU’s options in the new world of strategic confrontation between China and the US. The most obvious option would be to continue to safeguard multilateralism, but the EU should not be naïve in remaining alone, among major economic blocs, pushing for such an option. The second option would be for the EU to become more reliant on the Transatlantic Alliance. The last option would be for the EU to move its centre of gravity towards China, or at least to remain neutral between the US and China. While it might seem unrealistic today, this last option might need to be explored if the US continues to move away from multilateralism and, to some degree, from the Transatlantic Alliance. For the time being, the European Commission seems to have stepped up its thinking about the necessary conditions for stronger economic cooperation with China, which is already an important step in this direction.
    Date: 2019–04
  4. By: Reinhart, Carmen (Harvard Kennedy School)
    Abstract: In a recent paper on the long coincident behavior of international capital flows, commodity prices, and interest rates in global financial centers, Reinhart, Reinhart, and Trebesch (2016 and 2017) discovered the curious case of missing defaults. Despite the drying up of global capital flows and a sharp fall in commodity prices from 2012 to 2016, sovereign defaults in emerging market and developing economies did not spike higher as predicted by the record of the prior two hundred years. An important new dimension in the latest global capital flow cycle is the surge in Chinese loans to developing countries, notably low-income commodity producers since the early 2000s. A key driver of China's overseas lending boom is its significantly larger global footprint, which expanded at a record clip and helped stabilize global trade especially since the global financial crisis. Furthermore, Chinese official ambition to become a global power led to large official flows to support development projects and other purposes. The key question for policy makers and investors is whether these missing defaults are deferred or defused. There is also evidence to suggest that many developing borrowers are already encountering problems in servicing their recent debts to China (sovereign defaults are mismeasured). This analysis aims to shed light into what is currently one of the most opaque issues in global finance. For researchers a key question is whether this new source of support changes the empirical determinants of global capital flows.
    Date: 2019–01
  5. By: Clemens Fuest; Felix Hugger; Samina Sultan; Jing Xing
    Abstract: In recent years Chinese acquisitions abroad have increased significantly. This paper uses a large dataset on cross-border M&A deals to investigate whether Chinese foreign acquisitions differ from acquisitions coming from other countries. We find that Chinese acquirers buy targets with lower profitability, larger size, higher debt levels, and more patents. However, private and state-owned Chinese investors differ in preferences for location in offshore financial centers, industry diversification, natural resources and technology. Chinese state-owned acquirers are similar to government-led acquirers from other countries in pursuing target firms in the resource extraction industry. Policy initiatives like the Belt and Road Initiative and Made in China 2025 influence investment patterns of Chinese state-owned acquirers but not those of private investors. Surprisingly, for acquisition prices, we find that Chinese investors pay less for firms with similar observable characteristics than investors from other countries.
    Keywords: cross-border M&A, China, government acquirers
    JEL: G34 G38 F02
    Date: 2019
  6. By: Paul J.J. Welfens (Europäisches Institut für Internationale Wirtschaftsbeziehungen (EIIW)); Tian Xiong (Europäisches Institut für Internationale Wirtschaftsbeziehungen (EIIW))
    Abstract: Foreign direct investment (FDI) has been widely considered as an essential channel contributing to a host countries’ innovation development through knowledge and skill spillover effects. In recent years, China has become the second biggest FDI recipient in the world and continues to promote its domestic innovation ability. Here, the question of how FDI affect the growth of regional innovation in China is posed. By applying an alternative knowledge production function (KPF), we investigate the effects of FDI on the development of self-innovation capacities in 31 Chinese provinces using a fixed-effects specification panel data analysis covering the period from 2000 to 2015. Our findings on the contribution of FDI to the growth of different kinds of patent applications in different regions are mixed. Significant results were mainly found for invention patents in the eastern region. Concluding, we suggest potential policy implementations.
    Keywords: Regional Innovation Capacity, Patent, Foreign Direct Investment, China
    JEL: O33 O34 F21 R11
    Date: 2018–06
  7. By: Fetzer, Thiemo (University of Warwick); Schwarz, Carlo (University of Warwick)
    Abstract: Are retaliatory tariffs politically targeted and, if so, are they effective? Do countries designing a retaliation response face a trade-off between maximizing political targeting and mitigating domestic economic harm? We use the recent trade escalation between the US, China, the European Union (EU) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) countries to answer these questions. We find substantial evidence that retaliation was directly targeted to areas that swung to Donald Trump in 2016 (but not to other Republican candidates running for office in the same year). We further assess whether retaliation was optimally chosen using a novel simulation approach constructing counterfactual retaliation responses. For China and particularly, for Mexico and Canada, the chosen retaliation appears suboptimal: there exist alternative retaliation bundles that would have produced a higher degree of political targeting, while posing a lower risk to damage the own economy. We further present evidence that retaliation produces economic shocks: US exports on goods subject to retaliation declined by up to USD 15.28 billion in 2018 and export prices have dropped significantly. Lastly, we find some evidence suggesting that retaliation is effective: in areas exposed to retaliation Republican candidates fared worse in the 2018 Midterm elections, and similarly Presidential approval ratings, especially among Democrats, have declined.
    Keywords: trade war, tariff, targeting, political economy, elections, populism JEL Classification: F13, F14, F16, F55, D72
    Date: 2019
  8. By: Krishna Chaitanya Vadlamannati (School of Politics & International Relations, University College Dublin); Yuanxin Li (School of Politics & International Relations, University College Dublin); Samuel Brazys (School of Politics & International Relations, University College Dublin); Alexander Dukalskis (School of Politics & International Relations, University College Dublin)
    Abstract: China’s renewed prominence is the most important development in international relations in the 21st century. Despite longstanding rhetoric of its own “peaceful rise”, China is increasingly viewed as a long-term strategic competitor, especially in the United States. Foreign aid is one arena where this competition may be playing out. While Western foreign aid principles have emphasized coordination and harmonization, the rise of China as a major development partner has raised the specter of a return to competitive foreign aid practices. Most notably, China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), has received a wary reception by some who view it primarily as a geostrategic effort. We test if the BRI is inducing a competitive foreign aid response by evaluating if countries involved in this initiative are more likely to receive US support for loan packages from the major, Western, multilateral development banks (MDBs). Using an instrumental variable approach, covering 6975 project/loan packages in 16 MDBs from 157 countries during 2013-2018 period, we find that the United States is more likely to vote for MDB packages to countries that have signed on to the BRI, predominantly when the actual amount of Chinese aid flowing to those countries is still low, suggesting the US is competing for “in play” countries.
    Date: 2019–04–09

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