Donald Trump may be making China’s economy great again. Just two days after the US Senate paved the way for potential tax cuts, Beijing floated its own supply-side rejoinder.

Finance Minister Xiao Jie told the South China Morning Post of plans to reduce the burden on businesses to the tune of US$150 billion through a new value-added-tax scheme and lower fees.

Xiao didn’t highlight Trump’s tax plans, but then he didn’t have to. Chinese officialdom has been in a whirl since January, when the billionaire-turned-politician moved into the White House.

If Trump cuts corporate taxes, Beijing fears it’ll lose investment to America and suffer a potential capital flight. A rush by Chinese manufacturers to invest in the US, Beijing fears, would slam the competitiveness of mainland exports.

Hence China’s apparent move to match Trump’s Reaganomics moment.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. By passing President Trump’s budget blueprint, all lawmakers did was set the stage.

Taxes are an extraordinarily complicated mix of competing and conflicting priorities – a Pandora’s box on steroids. There’s a reason Washington hasn’t pulled off anything like what Trump envisages since 1986.

The chaos surrounding the Trump White House makes legislative wins an even tougher slog. The odds of Trump repeating president Ronald Reagan’s feat are much lower than the bulls think.

The chaos surrounding the Trump White House makes legislative wins an even tougher slog. The odds of Trump repeating president Ronald Reagan’s feat are much lower than the bulls think.

China bulls, meanwhile, should take their own deep breath. It’s great that President Xi Jinping wants to reduce corporate tax burdens. It’s grand that Beijing is mulling a ceiling on local-government debt to manage risks.

We’ll even accept a little allegorical hyperbole from Deputy Finance Minister Hu Jinglin when he talks of Beijing’s desire to “provide water for fish.”

The trouble – and the 800-pound fish in the room – is too much talk of epochal change and not enough details.

Xi’s words about transforming China into a top-echelon power are plenty sweeping. Case in point: “Our country is approaching the center of the world stage and making continuous contributions to humankind. The Chinese nation is standing tall and firm in the East of the World.”

The financial system below it is neither tall nor firm. Expanding Communist Party control over all aspects of life doesn’t make the economy any more innovative, productive or globally influential.

Size matters, of course, and at about $11 trillion, China’s gross domestic product is double Japan’s. But bold progress matters more.

“Supply-side structural reform” is a favorite slogan of Xi’s China. Missing from the 19th Party Congress that just concluded were clear plans to achieve it over the next five years.

No specifics on building a balanced, healthy and competitive economy. No blueprints or timelines for reducing the state’s dominant role, shifting growth engines from exports to services and scaling back the shadow-banking system.

Nor is Beijing forgoing its annual GDP target. Any serious effort to remake China Inc will drive growth well below the current 6.5% goal.

Nor is Beijing forgoing its annual GDP target. Any serious effort to remake China Inc will drive growth well below the current 6.5% goal.

Two developments in Beijing this week raise yellow flags. One is Xi renaming key ally Liu He to the Central Committee, a signal that continuity trumps significant changes in direction or emphasis.

The second is a Bloomberg report that the securities watchdog directed companies about to announce earnings losses to delay quarterly reporting this week. Frankly, this is more the stuff of the Trump White House than Reagan’s.

Strongman Xi has been surprisingly timid about giving markets a “decisive” role. Machinations in Beijing offer few hints the next five years will see the deregulatory big bang Asia’s biggest economy needs.

Now that Xi has won exalted Mao Zedong-like status, having “Xi Jinping thought” enshrined in the party constitution, he should be squashing vested interests and telegraphing shake-ups at state-owned enterprises and in the shadow-banking industry.

Such hints – or lack thereof – take on heightened significance as Xi may be settling in for a long stay.

While unveiling his new leadership lineup, he didn’t signal a clear heir for 2022, as is the custom. “From now on,” says Yanmei Xie of Gavekal Research, “the Chinese Communist Party rises and falls with Xi Jinping.”

Xi can turn things around. But there’s nothing “supply side” about the crackdown on the press, the Internet and mobile-phone chat apps.

Reaganomics would have no time for the opaque wheels of credit spinning to sustain party legitimacy via rapid GDP growth.

The challenge confronting Xi’s team, says Shen Jianguang of Mizuho Securities Asia, is somehow balancing three priorities: maintaining solid growth, avoiding a debt reckoning and not creating new risks by slow-walking economic retooling.

Continuity isn’t enough. Reformists might feel better if People’s Bank of China governor Zhou Xiaochuan weren’t on the way out. Zhou, who turns 70 in January, has for 15 years been the most powerful voice for modernizing the financial system, liberalizing the capital account and increasing transparency.

In sum, the 19th Party Congress was more coronation than reform brainstorming session.

In this context, cutting the tax burden on business is a step in the right direction. But it’s a baby one lost in the broader shuffle of an economy putting party power over change.