What China’s big party congress this week means for the economy

Chinese President Xi Jinping gave a speech Sunday that outlined the Communist Party of China’s priorities for the next five years.

China News Service | China News Service | Getty Images

BEIJING — The twice-a-decade Chinese leadership meeting this week has significant implications for which parts of the economy will receive support or continued pressure, Natixis analysts said Thursday.

Chinese President Xi Jinping gave a speech Sunday that outlined the Communist Party of China’s priorities for the next five years. An official version of that report is set to be published after the party’s 20th National Congress ends on Saturday.

The congress’ implications for different sectors “are a big boost for industrial policy,” analysts from the French investment bank said. They pointed to Xi’s frequent mention of the need for innovation.

“Green transition and semiconductors will continue to benefit,” they said.

China has announced it aims to reach peak carbon emissions in 2030.

What it means for tech and property

Tensions with the U.S. escalated in the last few years, most recently with new U.S. export controls this month targeted at China’s chip industry.

“The most worrisome thing from the Chinese perspective is these restrictions are increasingly difficult to bypass,” Gary Ng, senior economist for Asia-Pacific, thematic research at Natixis, said during a webinar. “From the industrial policy perspective, China will step up its subsidies, step up its support.”

China could expand its domestic market to reduce reliance on exports, says Standard Chartered

Ensuring national security, especially in food and energy, was another theme Xi reiterated in his speech.

“The focus on national security points to the continuation of zero-Covid policies and pressure in internet platforms,” the Natixis analysts said. “Real estate will still feel pressure since any relaxation was hardly mentioned in the speech.”

Real estate, which accounts for about a quarter of China’s GDP, has struggled as home sales plunged this year amid Beijing’s crackdown on developers’ high reliance on debt.

Read more about China from CNBC Pro

In his speech, Xi also emphasized China’s focus on “modernization,” which would encompass “high-quality development” and common prosperity — moderate wealth for all rather than just a few. Xi also spoke of promoting a “healthy” online environment.

Analysts have linked China’s crackdown on internet companies last year to policymakers’ renewed emphasis on common prosperity.

Future growth hinges on Covid

However, Xi did not state whether the country’s stringent Covid policy would end or continue.

China’s Covid controls helped the country quickly return to growth in 2020. But the controversial controls on business and social activity tightened this year, prompting investment banks to repeatedly slash growth estimates for China.

“China’s economy in 2023 highly depends on whether it will open up,” Alicia García Herrero, chief economist for Asia-Pacific at Natixis, said during the webinar.

This week, China’s National Bureau of Statistics suddenly delayed its release of third-quarter GDP and other data that were originally due out Tuesday morning.

Why China shows no sign of backing away from its 'zero-Covid' strategy