Even Native Chinese Speakers Aren't Sure What The Government Said About Market Reform

China’s ruling Communist Party wrapped up its so-called “3rd Plenum” meetings today. And there wasn’t anything too exciting that came out of it.

Early media reports suggested that the China’s leaders wanted the markets to play a bigger role in the economy.

But Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Ting Lu warned that it was extremely unclear if they actually said anything new. From Lu’s note:

Not so meaningful semantic change on the role of “market”

The communique changes the role of “Market Economy” from “基础性 (Jichuxing)” (used in the past 20 years) to “决定性 (juedingxing)”. For native Chinese speakers like us with years of intensive training in Chinese (and we did well on the gruelling GRE too), we found it very difficult to tell the real difference. Bloomberg translated ” 基础性 (Jichuxing)” to “basic”, but we think it could be translated to “fundamental (foundational)” or “essential” as well. Regarding “决定性 (juedingxing)”, it could be translated to “deciding”, “determining” or “decisive”. We suspect the Chinese people won’t interpret too much from this change.

No matter how you interpret it, it’s clearly not a game-changer.

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