Summary of an article in Newsweek (6/10/80)
On the global financial crisis: Mr Wen said that we must join hands to meet the financial crisis together. The American financial and economic problems will be felt in China and all over the world. The US economy is still solidly based, especially the high tech and basic industries, but something has gone wrong in the virtual economy.
China wants to see sustainable growth in the US because it benefits China. He is concerned about Chinese money in the US (possibly $1 trillion of US treasury bills), but he believes the US is a credible country and at difficult times, China has helped the US and this will help stabilize the entire global economy and prevent major chaos. Cooperation is everything.
On Sudan, Iran and Burma: In Darfur, China was the first country to send peacekeepers and the first country to provide assistance. China also keeps up efforts to engage the leader in Sudan to seek a peaceful solution. China is a justice-upholding country and has always advocated a dual-track approach.
China does not support Iran developing nuclear weapons but Iran has a right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. China supports the use of peaceful talks to resolve the problem rather than the wilful use of force or intimidation. Its like individuals: if you force one individual into a corner, the effect will be counterproductive. China's view is to resolve the problem, not escalate tensions. The efforts made by China to resolve the Korean issue have helped the situation. Although it will take time to achieve a complete solution, the model adopted has proved to be the correct way.
On China's success: The answer is reforms and the opening up policy since 1978. Productivity was emancipated; socialism can practise market economy. The government must play a regulatory role to distribute wealth amongst the people. If most of the wealth is concentrated in the hands of the few, the country can hardly have harmony and stability.
On human rights: By hosting the Olympics, China has become more open. Freedom of speech and media coverage are guaranteed in China. China attaches great importance to human rights and they have been incorporated into the constitution. We don't think we are impeccable in terms of human rights and it is true that in some areas we have problems, but nonetheless we continue to improve.
On political reform: I believe we are moving ahead with economic reform and we need to advance political reform. Three items need progressing. We need to improve the democratic election system so that state power will truly belong to the people and be used to serve the people. The legal system needs to be improved to run the country according to law and have an independent judicial system. In addition, government should be transparent and accept oversight by the news media and other parties.
But we need to take into account China's national conditions and introduce a system that suits China's special features and we need to introduce a gradual approach. It is hard to predict what will happen in 25 years, but I have this conviction that China's democracy will continue to grow. In 20 to 30 years, Chinese society will be more democratic and fairer and the legal system will be improved. Socialism as we see it will further mature and improve. (From Newsweek 6/10/08)
America is rife with over-consumption caused by negative real savings rates and weighed down by debt. China's role in the crisis is less easy to understand. China's domestic consumption was an anorexic 38% of GDP (less than a third of India's) in 2007. The other 62% came from investment mainly on export-orientated infrastructure and exports. China has accumulated huge cash hordes of indeterminate size and ownership.
World Bank economists estimate that that China's gross savings reached a staggering 50.6% of GDP in 2006, up from 40.7% a decade earlier. They calculate that household savings dropped from 20.1% of GDP to 15.3% of GDP during the same period, whilst savings by enterprises nearly doubled to 28.3% of GDP. Some economists believe that rebalancing China's economy is for households simply to spend, spend, spend. In fact China's household saving rate, estimated at 25% of disposable income, is actually fairly normal for countries in Asia, which lack a social security safety net. People save for rainy days. China's factories produced goods which fuelled America's rampant spending but now, Chinese industry faces a painful retooling process and the workforce face uncertainty. (From Newsweek 13/10/08)
China said it plans to enact tougher building codes for schools, hospitals and other public buildings in the wake of the 12 May earthquake, which killed nearly 70,000 - including thousands of school children crushed in their classrooms. The collapse of about 7,000 classrooms and dormitories has become a flash point for parents protesting about allegedly shoddy school construction. In answer to the question as to whether schools collapsed in disproportionate numbers, a top construction official pointed out that many other buildings also collapsed in the 7.9 magnitude quake, China's most severe in three decades. But he did say that quake-proof standards for schools, hospitals and other public facilities need to be improved. (From International Herald Tribune 5/6/08)
Zhai Zhigang, commander of the Shenzhou VII (Divine Vessel) spaceship emerged from the heat-charred craft after 68 hours spent orbiting the earth. He said, 'The mission was glorious and full of challenges but the result was perfect. I feel proud of my country'.
China state television covered the event minute by minute and there was a sign of relief as cameras showed the module floating down towards the grasslands of Inner Mongolia held up by a huge red and white striped parachute. There had been a 30 minute silence as the spaceship lost contact with ground control as it re-entered the Earth's atmosphere.
The Beijing Youth Daily paraphrased Neil Armstrong, the first man on the Moon, by declaring, 'This is one small step for a man, but one giant leap for the country'. Mr Zhai Zhigang was the taikonaut chosen after a decade of training to show China's technological mastery with a 15 minute space-walk on Saturday. Mr Zhai is an air force colonel whose own personal rags-to-riches story mirrors his country's own transformation.
He and his two fellow taikonauts, also colonels and fighter pilots, tottered slightly as they took their first steps back on Earth. Wen Jiabao, the Chinese Prime Minister was at mission control in Beijing for their return. He shook hands with staff and described the trio as heroes. He said, 'The people will remember your historic contributions forever'. He also emphasised that China's involvement in space was purely for peaceful purposes. (From The Times, 29/9/08)
An interview with Major General Qian Lihua has appeared in the Western press. This was held at the Chinese Defence Ministry building in Beijing. This follows the establishment of a defence spokesman's office and a number of events in the past few years in which international media have been allowed to visit and interview PLA units. During the interview, the Major General asked reporters, 'Am I open enough?' China has nearly 2,000 personnel from engineering, transport and medical units engaged in nine international peacekeeping operations. He said that China hopes to send combat troops, 'soon'.
In the past few years, the US and some EU nations have called on Beijing to commit units with heavy equipment such as armoured helicopters to peacekeeping missions. The major commented that he thought it unreasonable for China to be asked by the US and EU to send troops to peacekeeping missions, whilst imposing an arms sales embargo on to China. (From the Financial Times, 17/11/08)
As well as hosting and organising the largest Olympic Games in history, China was also number one in the medals table for both the regular Olympics and also the Paralympics. The final tables of each are below.
Every four years since 1988, The National Peasant Games have taken place specifically for China's peasants. This year, 750 million were represented by 3,500 farm workers competing in the southern city of Quanzhou. Events include the '60 metre snatch the grain and get it into storage' (loading a 'harvest' of sandbags into tricycle carts and sprinting for the tape), the tyre-pushing race, and the 'water carrying contest to protect the seedlings amid drought'. There are also more conventional sports including table tennis and basketball.
A record number of athletes is competing this year in more than 180 events and the 32,000 seater Haixia stadium is one of 15 new venues built at a cost of one billion yuan (£90 million). Xinhua news agency said that the games place more emphasis on recreation and less on the results - unlike games which highlight the limits of physical strength and competitiveness. The week-long games also reflect the increase in income for Chinese farmers who have benefited from the 30 years of reform. Many have done so well that they arrived for the bicycle event by motorcycle. (From The Times 30/10/08)
China is sending out anti-corruption squads to ensure that the £400 billion made available to help the economy is spent properly and not squandered on extravagant buildings, statues and perks for high officials. Twenty four 'inspection teams' led by a vice-minister and made up from officers from the National Audit Office and the Party Central Commission for discipline have been assembled. (From the Daily Telegraph 23/11/08)
China is on the verge of becoming the world's largest investor in green energy. China spent £6 billion on renewable energy projects last year, just slightly less than Germany, the world leader. But this year, the Chinese Communist Party has vowed to redouble its efforts. Li Junfeng, an energy expert at the National Development and Reform Commission has said that in terms of the 'overall scale of renewable energy development' China has already led the way. Greenpeace believes that shortly China can produce half of its energy from renewable sources.
The Chinese Ministry of Public Security has listed pollution among the top five threats to China's peace and stability. The solution will be a combination of stringent environmental laws, severe punishments for provincial governors who fail to clean up the mess and a reliance on a thriving market for renewable technology. The Urumqi-based Goldwind, the world's largest wind turbine maker, has seen 100% growth in each of the past eight years. China is also the world's largest maker of solar panels and has also pioneered a new solar hot-water heating system.
It is widely believed that wind power will be able to compete with coal generation as early as 2015. Coal at present accounts for 70% of China's power generation. The target for wind power has been raised to 10 gigawatts by 2010 after the previous five gigawatt target was met three years early. The government has pledged that 15% of its energy will come from renewable resources by 2020 and dire punishments have been threatened for insufficiently motivated bureaucrats.
In the countryside, thousands of surveyors are measuring the precise amount of fertiliser and pesticides being used. China uses three times the amount per hectare as the US. Livestock excrement and sewage is also being recorded to produce a comprehensive rural map. (From The Daily Telegraph 17/9/08)
According to Beijing Municipal Committee of Communications, traffic restrictions have been re-introduced because residents miss the clean air and reduced traffic congestion. Each car in Beijing will be kept off the road for one day a week, resulting in a reduction of 800,000 cars each day. (From China-Britain Business Review November 2008)
The UK and China make perfect partners for scientific research. The UK is an extremely productive research nation, producing over 13% of the world's most cited papers, whilst China is developing its research base faster than any other country in history. In 2002 the two countries produced less than 1,000 joint research publications, but by 2007, the figure exceeded 2,000. The UK Research Councils (RCUK) are funded by the UK Government and last year opened an office in China, the first outside of Europe.
The objective is to strengthen collaboration between UK and Chinese research institutions and enable young researchers and students make contact with excellent researchers from both countries at the start of their professional careers. The RCUK China Office will also support about 10 joint UK-China scientific workshops each year. (From China-BritainBusiness Review November 2008)
According to Transparency International in their annual Corruption Perception Index of 2008, Denmark, New Zealand and Sweden are the least corrupt countries in the world. A selection of the other countries' rankings are; Canada 9th, Germany 14th, Britain 16th, the US 18th, France 23rd, Italy 55th, China is 72nd, Brazil 80th, India 85th, Russia 147th and Somalia 180th. Perceptions of corruption change only slowly, but the report notes improvements in Georgia, Nigeria, South Korea and Turkey. It also detected a significant drop in standards in some rich countries such as Britain and Norway. (From The Economist 4/10/08)
Reports in The Times on 9 October give a league table of world universities. Harvard and Yale top the list with Cambridge and Oxford number 3 and 4. These reports do not actually publish the places of Chinese universities, but they make the point that, 'As a result of huge investment in higher education and science in recent years, China already looks set to overtake the UK very soon in terms of total research publications, and its universities have been steadily climbing up international league tables.' Elsewhere in the same edition, it is mentioned that Chinese research and development have been rising by 20% a year over the last five years. Also the University of Hong Kong has made the top 50 for the first time. (From reports in The Times 9/10/08)
Yesterday, Airbus broke out of its European fortress when it opened a $600 million (£325 million) final assembly line in China for its best selling A320 aircraft. Airbus committed itself to buying $1 billion of locally made components by 2020. The plant is the most modern of its kind in the world and is designed to establish a foothold in China's booming aviation market, which is growing at 14.5% a year. Airbus executives believe it will see orders for more than 3,000 new planes over the next 20 years as China develops the world's second largest aviation market after the US. There is also the future possibility that Airbus will cooperate with China to build their own aircraft. (From The Guardian 29/9/08)
Beijing's new class of home buyers has been hit by the property slump. The Chinese capital saw a major building boom in the seven years before the Olympic Games - and an explosion in the prices people were prepared to pay to get on the housing ladder. Companies are offering instant discounts of 15 and 20% and there are still not enough buyers. One of Beijing's best known estate agents, I Love My Home, is predicting an overall drop in sales by a third. It is believed to be more for new homes, because the developers are facing a cash shortage. New developments, mostly of apartments, comprise more than half the market in Beijing as the city has been rebuilt over the past seven years. Families pooled their savings to buy as modern a flat as possible - often for the only child.
However as inflation rose last year, the government increased interest rates and ordered banks to rein in lending. They also curbed luxury property development and ordered more housing for the mass market. Consequently prices for luxury housing have continued to boom, while a glut of cheaper flats developed. This is good news for some. Yesterday, a couple were signing a deal on a new apartment paying the relatively modest price of £125,000 for a two-bedroom flat. They were able to knock £4,200 off the price. (From The Telegraph 13/10/08)
China is already the world's sixth largest producer of wine. It has the right soil, low labour costs and soaring domestic demand. It could take the world by storm in both the volume wine (under £10) and also the fine wine sectors according to 'The Future of Wine' report drawn up by leading wine merchants Berry Brothers and Rudd to speculate on the state of the industry in 50 years time. China has the vineyards, but not yet the technical expertise, but if people from wine producing countries think there is an opportunity to make wines in China, they will go there and invest. The report predicts China's present 400 wineries will increase at least 10-fold. It is entirely conceivable that in such a vast country there will be pockets of land with a terroir and micro climate well suited to the production of good quality wines. (From The Guardian 9/5/08)
Thirty years ago in the village of Xiaogang village, Anhui Province, eighteen peasants signed a contract that divided their commune land into individual parcels to be farmed by each family. This was in defiance of the Mao commune system but they were desperate, being unable to feed their children. If any of them was arrested they also undertook to look after each others' children until they were 18 years old.
Their timing could not have been better because Deng Xiaoping was about to launch his 'open and reform' programme at the December Communist Party Plenum Meeting. The Communist Party has launched a 30 years Anniversary event to commemorate the peasants and other pioneers of change. There is now a sculpture of the 18 peasants in the Xiaogang village museum.
Peasant co-operatives established after the 1949 revolution were amalgamated into communes each comprising 10,000 to 20,000 people but agriculture stagnated as peasants abandoned their small plots of land. After reform, agriculture was revived as peasants were allowed individual plots of land on which they could grow whatever suited them. (From The Times 24/11.08)
Chinese collectors are expected to spend £140 million at an auction that will see the work of local artists in Hong Kong fetching record prices. The sale opens next week and shows the new distribution of wealth as the West suffers. In recognition of the rise of a new generation of Asian super-rich, eager to own Asian cultural artefacts once traded in London or New York, Sotheby's has shifted its sales of Asian art to Hong Kong.
The Chinese contemporary category is the most rapidly appreciating segment of the global art market. In five days of sales, the auctioneer expects to sell a local record of £140 million. Quek Chin Yeow believes that China's new wealth has coincided with a creative blossoming. He said, 'All great art needs a great movement'. In China's case that was provided by the transformation of society as it emerged from the strictures of Maoism in the 1980s. A lot of Chinese collectors are buying Chinese art. Mary Dinaburg, who promotes the Asian art trade through her company, Fortune Cookie, says, 'This is the beginning of China's modern art history'. When they buy these works what they are doing is collecting their own history. The appetite for Chinese contemporary art is so frantic that the record price for a work has been broken three times in the past year and currently stands at £5.2 million, paid for Zeng Fanzhi's Mask Series 1996 No 6 at Christies' in Hong Kong in May. It is not only contemporary art that will be going under the hammer. Chinese antiques - long prized by Western connoisseurs - now do better in the East. (From The Telegraph 29/9/08)
|World as a whole||3.9||3.8||2.9|
Source United Nations (2008 figures are estimates) (From The Times 5/9/08)
About 13,000 children remain in hospital after developing kidney stones from milk powder tainted by melamine. Compared with China's booming economy in the past few decades, the development of its social ethics is rather slow. Many enterprises have failed to install sound corporate ethics and the sense of responsibility. To quickly improve China's food safety situation, the government must take active measures to keep enterprises practising self-discipline and supervise them rebuilding their corporate ethics.
The food guarantee system must be improved or even revised to ensure food producers are under effective scrutiny. In addition to enforcing existing state statutes, the quality watchdog should focus on loopholes in the system to eliminate all public health risks. The mechanism should be constantly updated and a 'zero tolerance' approach adopted.
According to Xinhua, the milk powder scandal clearly shows the deficiency of current dairy quality inspection methods. The method is unable to distinguish between natural protein and toxic chemicals such as melamine. Relevant government departments are now working on standard methods for determining melamine content in food.(From Beijing Review 3/10/08)
The Central Military Commission (CMC), the top military organ and commander of China's armed forces, recently issued a five-year plan (2008-12) to prevent and punish corruption in the army. The plan sets out policies, basic principles and objectives. The CMC and the General Political Department of the People's Liberation Army issued a decree requiring all military units to study the plan. Anti-corruption has long been a prime concern of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China to strengthen its governance capacity. (From Beijing Review 2/10/08)
In September, 108 Wal-Mart stores in China signed a collective agreement after two months of negotiation between the All-China Federation of Trade Unions and Wal-Mart management. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. of Bentonville, Arkansas set up the first trades union in Fujian Province in 2006. Since then, collective agreements have been signed. The contracts protect the interests of employees, establish a minimum starting wage and salary increase rates. (From Beijing Review 2/10/08)
A group of Chinese scholars are proposing to redefine the Four Great Inventions (currently identified as paper, printing, the compass and gunpowder) as papermaking and printing (merged as one), silk, bronze and porcelain. The proposers say that that these could more scientifically exhibit the most advanced and most influential scientific contributions of ancient China as opposed to previous items selected by Westerners.
There has been controversy on the authenticity of the concept of the Four Great Inventions since it was finalised by Joseph Needham in the 1940s. Needham had also compiled a list of 26 other major ancient Chinese inventions that he believed had had equally enormous impact on Western culture as the 'Four'. Other inventions which the scholars say are more eligible for inclusion in the 'Four' are Chinese medicine, the equator co-ordinating system, the decimal system, woodblock printing and the Chinese lunar calendar.
China used to be a leader in science and technology. For more than 1,000 years after the 5th century, the large number of inventions in China contrasted sharply to the situation in Europe. However, after the Renaissance and especially after the Industrial Revolution in Europe, China was overtaken. (From Beijing Review 28/8/08)
* Note; some historians turn the question around by not asking 'why did it not happen in China', but 'why did it happen in the West?'
Central government leaders ordered a swift rescue of victims of the 'biggest subway disaster in China' amid allegations that the general contractor of the collapsed tunnel in Hangzhou neglected signs of danger. Seven people were killed and 14 others are missing after a road above the tunnel caved in on Saturday afternoon, producing a 75 metre long hole that engulfed at least 11 vehicles.
Premier Wen Jiabao and two vice-premiers instructed officials to spare no effort to reach the missing and treat the injured. Workers who survived the cave-in said that they had seen cracks on the road one month before the incident. The Ministry of Construction issued a note in April forbidding subway construction work to be subcontracted to unlicensed firms over safety concerns. The Hangzhou authorities are investigating to see if negligence was a factor. (From South China Morning Post 18/11/08)
Venues which include the National Aquatics Centre and the National Stadium will be open during the weeklong National Day holiday beginning 1 October. They will appear as they did during the games and an aquatic amusement park project will start to operate at the National Aquatics Centre at the end of the year, said Vice Mayor of Beijing Chen Gang. So far 80% of the media village flats have been sold and buyers are able to move in by the end of the year. (From Beijing Review 4/9/08)
The First World Mind Sports Games opened in Beijing on 3 October 2008. More than 3,000 competitors from 143 countries and regions competed for 35 gold medals in Chess, bridge, draughts (checkers), Go and Xiangqi (Chinese chess). The theme of the games is 'Civilisation Varied, Wisdom Unbounded.' (From Beijing Review 16/10/08)
Yu Youjun, a former governor of Shanxi Province has been expelled from the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) according to a communiqué of the plenum meeting of 9-12 October. In addition, his party membership has been made subject to a two-year probationary period. Yu, 55, was vice-minister of culture during 2007-2008 and held several high-ranking local government posts including mayor of Shenzhen, vice-governor of Hunan Province and governor of Shanxi Province. According to reports in Nanfang Daily City News and Jinan Daily he was involved with a power-for-money scandal in connection with the construction of several local highways in Shenzhen. (From Beijing Review 23/10/08)
Chinese and Russian diplomats unveiled boundary markers for the eastern section of the two countries on Heixiazi Island on 14 October 2008. After 40 years of negotiation the two countries finished demarcation work in July 2008 and the additional protocol and its appendix have finally taken effect. The island is known as Bolshoi Ussuriysky in Russian is at the confluence of the Heilongjiang and Wusulijiang Rivers that serve as the natural border between Russia and China.(From Beijing Review 23/10/08)
China denied the possibility of sending troops to Afghanistan. Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said that China supports the efforts of the Afghan government and its people to maintain stability, promote economic development and realise peaceful reconstruction. He continued by saying that China never sends troops abroad except for the UN peace-keeping operations approved by the UN Security Council and that the media reports about China sending troops to join the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) are groundless. He was responding to media reports that Gordon Brown suggested China participates in the ISAF. (From Xinhua 17/11/08)
Luo Zhongfu, at one time the richest Chinese on the mainland, has been sentenced to ten and a half years in prison for abuse of forestland and illegal logging. The Guiyang Intermediate People's Court in Guizhou Province gave the final ruling on 29 September. Luo, 57, is the most severely punished individual since a criminal law was amended in 1997 to crack down on environment-related crimes. Luo, Chairman of property developer Fuhai Company, topped Forbes Magazine's China Rich List in 1994 and 1995. He was accused of masterminding the illegal occupation of 1.2 hectares of forestland and unlicensed felling of nearly 3 hectares of forest in Guiyang City to build commercial housing. (From Beijing Review 16/10/08)
Shanghai is rolling out a three-year action plan for environmental protection to present a cleaner city for 2010 World Expo. The government is planning to inject about $10 billion into environment protection over three years starting from next year. A decision has been made that the investment will be no lower than 3% of GDP generated in the year, the mayor of Shanghai, Han Zheng said. The carbon dioxide discharge will be reduced by 26% over the range 2005 to 2010. All newly registered cars will be required to meet the Euro IV emission standard from the second half of next year.
Han also said that further efforts will be made to eliminate pollution sources. About 500 activities will be shut down this year and a further 700 will be closed next year. In addition, the metro underground network is to be expanded substantially. By 2012, the total mileage will be 500 km, which is more than double its current length. Control on private cars will not be lifted and more public green land will be added. (From China Daily 4/11/08)
Chinese scientists revealed their first full map of the lunar surface on Wednesday, about a year after their first lunar probe, Chang'e-1. Scientists created the map with the image data obtained by the satellite-borne cameras on the Chang'e 1 vehicle. It is the most complete image of the moon's surface and the also the richest in detail compared with similar pictures published so far, according to experts. China plans to launch its second lunar probe, Chang'e 2, before the end of 2011. A moon rover is planned for about 2012 and a returning rover with lunar soil and stones is planned for about 2017. (From Xinhua 12/11/08)
There are 10 times as many Chinese newspapers and magazines than there were 30 years ago at the start of the reform and opening-up policy. Figures from the General Administration of Press and Publications show that there were 186 newspapers and 930 magazines in China in 1978.
Today the figures are 2,081 and 9,363 respectively. In addition, official figures show there are 600 publishing houses producing nearly 300,000 titles every year. (From Beijing Review 16/10/08)
Sino File was complied by Walter Fung with some input for 'From the Chinese Press' supplied by Theresa Ray.
Sino File is compiled by Walter Fung with some input for From the Chinese Press by Teresa Ray.
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