Against stiff competition, perhaps the single most disappointing aspect of the British economy in recent years has been its export achievement. Although sterling is 25% cheaper on a trade weighted basis compared to 2008, the UK trade deficit was £36 billion, over 2% of GDP. A colossal opportunity is arising in East Asia, but the UK may miss it. China’s economy is changing in a way which ought to suit British firms’ exports. The social insurance improvements being set up against illness and old age in China should ease dependence on savings and stimulate Chinese consumer spending. However, Britain has a reputation as a country hostile to visitors and immigrants e.g. visa restrictions. Although a number of public bodies manage British overseas relationships, only one has an explicit commercial focus. There are trade envoys covering emerging and developing economies but no specific envoy for China. In 2011, David Cameron proclaimed he wanted to double trade with China by 2015, but this was a vision rather than a plan and gains, so far have been small, despite a 35% increase between the first quarters of 2011 and 2013. The UK 2011 trade pact with China covered £1.4 billion in goods compared to a deal between China and Germany ten times bigger. The affair with the Dalai Lama did not help matters.
A diagram shows goods exported to China by various countries: The US about 6.9%, Australia about 3.6%, Germany about 3.5%, Saudi Arabia about 2.4%, Brazil about 2%, France about 1.2%, Canada about 1% and Britain about 0.8%.
Britain’s financial services and business services are more successful and are the third biggest exporter of these to China, notably with the banks HSBC and Standard Charted. However, experts believe there is huge potential, with China’s domestic banks dominating the market. The British banks offer only basic products and have only a small number of branches.
Cultural exports are brighter, especially television formats. This is a market in which Britain has become a leader, with exports of, ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ and ‘Master-Chef’ were worth £1.5 billion. In education, Britain is a leader, but other countries are taking more advantage of China’s changing economic situation. During 2011-12 nearly 79,000 Chinese students studied in Britain, up 60% on five years ago. However, other English speaking countries are doing better; the number of Chinese students in Australia has risen by 124% in the past five years and in the US, the figure is up 187%. In 2012 a visa scheme that allowed foreign students to work in Britain after graduation was close to new applicants, shutting the door on highly trained migrants. (From The Economist 29/6/13)
China is to cut import tariffs on Swiss watches by 60% over ten years as part of a free-trade agreement. Under the pact, to be signed in July, Switzerland will offer zero tariffs on 99.7% of the value of goods from China, while China will allow 84% of Swiss exports to be duty-free. Switzerland will be the first continental European country to sign a free-trade with China. Iceland was the actual first European country to sign a free-trade pact with China. This agreement will benefit Switzerland’s watch makers, especially Swatch Group and Richemont, whose products are particularly popular in China. Lower duties will reduce the price of Swiss watches in China, but it is difficult to work out by how much, because other taxes are also levied. (From The Guardian 28/5/13)
Official data showed that China grew by 7.5% in the three months to June on an annualised basis compared with the same three months a year earlier. That was down from 7.7% in the previous three months. The Beijing government has been aiming for growth of 7.5% this year, which is the lowest expansion since 1991. However, markets responded positively after traders judged the figure better than many had feared. The breakdown of the gross domestic product (GDP) data shows that growth in both imports and exports slowed, with the bigger drop being in seen in exports. Beijing is trying to manage a shift away from a reliance on exports and business investment to domestic consumption. (From The Daily Telegraph 16/7/13)
Cash crisis fears were averted yesterday when the People’s Central Bank (PBoC) injected 17 bn renminbi (£1.8 bn) into the financial system. This move ends a stand-off by the PBoC in which it starved the country’s commercial lenders of liquidity in a warning against engaging in risky banking activities which divert cash away from the real economy. The cash shortage reached fever pitch in June when interbank lending ground to a near halt and borrowing rates between banks spiked as high as 25%. Last month’s cash crunch stoked concerns that certain financial assets which rely on the inter-banking lending market for funding were on the brink of mass default, which could have triggered a Lehman-style crisis. Most onlookers suspect that the PBoC was sending a stern message to the commercial banks and signalling an overall tightening in monetary policy; but it would step in prior to an all-out crisis. (From The Daily Telegraph 31/7/13)
President Obama is under pressure to take a tougher stance with Beijing over cyber-espionage at the highly anticipated summit on Friday at the Sunnylands estate in Rancho Mirage. Both presidents’ wives, successful women in their own right, will be there. The official description of the two-day event is ‘informal’, but there are high stakes at play for both sides. High on the agenda is the thorny question of Chinese attacks on US government and corporate facilities. Chuck Hagel, the US Defence Secretary, has directly accused the Chinese of engaging in cybercrime. The Chinese believe they are themselves as much a victim of US cyber-espionage. Other items on the summit agenda are: North Korea, world trade and China’s territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas. (From The Times 3/6/13)
Zhou Shengxian, the environment minister, has said that Beijing will publish a five-year plan shortly which would include a commitment to spend an additional 100 billion yuan every year on the environment. The plan is a package of £180 billion to fight the toxic smog that envelops areas of the country. At the equivalent of 1.7 trillion yuan, the air pollution plan would be more than double the size of the annual defence budget. The plan would focus on slashing the levels of PM2.5 airborne particles which has been linked to a host of ailments, including heart and lung disease. The plan was reportedly approved by the State Council last month and will seek ways to reduce emissions from industry but boost energy efficiency. It will also control pollution from vehicles and improve fuel quality.
Money would also be spent on monitoring and early warning systems to detect pollution. Chinese state media described the plan as a landmark effort in the fight against pollution. Xi Jinping has reportedly pledged to clean up China’s waterways and skies in order to build a ‘Beautiful China.’ (From The Daily Telegraph 25/7/13)
A capsule carrying three Chinese astronauts landed safely on the Inner Mongolian steppe yesterday after a 15-day trip to the Chinese prototype space station. During the trip, China’s second female astronaut conducted China’s first science class in space. This was beamed live to 60 million schoolchildren across the country. (From The Times 27/6/13)
Fosun International, a leading Chinese investor, has joined forces with AXA Private Equity and Club Med management to form a new ownership team which hopes to make Club Med China its second biggest market area within the next two years. Fosun International first bought into the company in 2010 and now is the biggest single investor. Club Med operates 71 resorts, but at present is barely profitable; bookings in Europe are down 5%, but bookings in Asia are up 14%. The new owners want to develop a Club Med ‘Alchemy of happiness’ and aim for new markets. (From The Telegraph 28/5/13)
Yu Ning Ning, president of CITS, China’s oldest and most powerful tour operator, which runs 800 travel agencies, has said that her travel agencies bring fewer than 10,000 Chinese tourists to Britain out of the total of 3.23 million Chinese tourists using CITS. Chinese tourists fill in one Schengen Visa which permits entry into 26 European countries. To visit Britain, they need a separate form and despite some improvements to make it easier for Chinese applicants for a British Visa, Ms Yu believes it has made little difference in persuading more Chinese tourists to come to Britain. The Chinese who have come have complained about inadequate facilities for reclaiming tax on their purchases. Only Heathrow has a desk for this service; other airports simply have a post-box. Last year, the Chinese spent more money than any other tourists in Britain; amounting to $102 billion (£65 billion). (From The Telegraph 12/6/13)
The executive chairman of Alliance Boots, Stefano Pessina, is studying plans for a chain of retail pharmacies in China. He spoke on the sidelines of the Fortune Global Forum in Chengdu and said he was looking for further deals in the country. Since 2007, Boots has had a joint venture with Guangzhou Pharmaceuticals and since last September has had a stake in Nanjing Pharmaceutical. Last month, Boots announced a 6.1% rise in profits just after it completed a £10 billion merger with Walgreens, America’s biggest drugs dealer. Pessina said that he hopes to be able to do other deals, especially for pharmaceutical distribution and wholesale activities. He stated that Boots are not dealing just with products which make life pleasant, but with products which are fundamental to keeping people alive. China has a shortage of adequate healthcare for its ageing population and the existing fragmented medical market presents a gigantic opportunity for foreign companies.
Boots own products are sold in Thailand and Hong Kong but not in mainland China. However, if a retail deal goes through, brands such as No. 7 cosmetics could be on the shelves alongside the traditional Chinese medicines that Boots sells through its distributors. (From The Times 10/6/13)
Glaxosmithkline is accused by the Chinese police of dispensing some 3 billion yuan (£323 million) in bribes since 2007 in return for business. During a six-month investigation, Chinese police said they had uncovered more than 700 middlemen through which the pharmaceutical giant allegedly funnelled money to health officials and doctors to prescribe GSK drugs. GSK called the allegations serious and added that it was deeply concerned and disappointed by them. The accusations, if proved, could put GSK at risk of enforcement by UK authorities under Britain’s tough bribery laws. (From The Daily Telegraph 16/7/13)
Liu Zhijun, a former Chinese railways minster, was given a death sentence with a two-year reprieve in one of China’s highest profile corruption cases. Liu, 60, who oversaw the high-profile bullet train project, was accused of taking bribes and giving lucrative contracts to associates. After two years, such sentences are typically commuted to life in prison if the inmate is of good behaviour. Chinese leader Xi Jinping has made fighting corruption a hallmark campaign of his term in office so far. (From ‘i’ 9/7/2013)
Zhejiang University has signed an agreement with Imperial College London that could see it become a major partner in a new seven-acre site in White City. The site, previously owned by the BBC, will have a £159 million research centre for as many as 3,000 scientists, according to Imperial College. Zhejiang, one China’s leading universities, is the first Chinese university to try to set up a campus overseas and others are likely to follow suit soon. The president and rector of Imperial College visited Hangzhou to sign a non-binding agreement to discuss the new campus, according to Michael Gow, as expert on Chinese university life. It is believed that a London campus would boost Zhejiang’s standing in China and help it reap more government grants. Imperial College is looking to raise roughly £115 million to help build its new site. Zhejiang university has about 44,000 students, of which about half are post-graduates. It is one of China’s top five universities and already receives handsome government funding for science and technology research.
The Chinese government is keen for its universities to spread across the world, in much the same way as elite American universities, such as Yale, have done in recent years. China’s education ministry has said that it will support its universities to go out and internationalise and that Zhejiang’s foreign campus would pave the way for others. Xiamen University has recently announced that it will set up a campus in Malaysia. (From The Telegraph 20/5/13)
A new law has come into effect in China which makes caring for ageing parents a legal requirement. The ‘Protection of the Rights and Interests of the Elderly Couple’ bill requires that adult children must care for their parents ‘spiritual needs’ as well as their physical needs as they grow older. The law says that those children who do not live with their parents must visit or at least ‘greet them frequently’. If they do not obey, parents can apply for mediation or bring a court case against their offspring. Some have criticised the law as being too vague and too general and think that it is only to encourage people to care for their parents. It is unlikely to be vigorously enforced. (From i (Independent) 2/7/130
China’s leading internet television provider, Shanghai-based BesTV, has acquired the exclusive broadcasting rights for the FA Premier League from 2013 to 2018 on the Chinese mainland. BesTV, which introduced the Premier League to China in 2010, acquired the rights from Super Sports Media Group. (From i (Independent) 2/7/13)
British ministers have been in talks with Chinese nuclear energy firms about the possibility of their building nuclear power stations in the UK. Michael Fallon, the energy minister, confirmed last week that such talks have taken place. The Chinese firms are thought to be the China National Nuclear Corporation and the China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group. The meetings coincide with deadlock in the government’s negotiations with EDF, the French state energy firm, over plans to build a new plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset.
China’s nuclear industry is huge with 17 power stations already in operation, 28 under construction and even more planned. Fallon has also had some dealings with the Russian state nuclear company, Rosatom. (From The Sunday Times 30/6/13)
Dalian Wanda Group, China’s supremely ambitious property and hotel conglomerate, has bought the One Nine Elms site, which stretches along the South Bank from Vauxhall to Battersea Power Station. It has planning consent for two towers of 45 and 60 stories. The chairman of Wanda, Wang Jianlin, said that his group wanted to bring ‘branded Chinese luxury to the global market where it has long been absent’. A residential tower will be 670 feet (205 m) tall and will contain scores of luxury flats and also a five-star hotel, which will be the first Chinese luxury hotel outside China.
Chinese investment in London property is well-established; much of Canary Wharf is Chinese owned via a Chinese sovereign wealth fund and ABP, another Chinese developer, signed a deal to build a £1 billion business park near London’s City Airport. The American cinema chain AMC was bought for $2.6 billion by Wanda last year. (From The Times 20/6/13)
Work has started on The Sky Tower, which is being built in the outskirts of Changsha, Hunan province. It will be 2,739 ft tall, cost 5.25 billion yuan (£560 million) and is scheduled to be completed by April 2014. It will overtake Dubai’s Burj Khalifa - at present the world’s tallest at 2,716.5 ft. There will be 1.05 million square metres of space, 202 levels above the ground with six underground. Also in the complex will be a ‘vertical farm’ for growing food, a hospital, 90 lifts and it should house 30,000 people.
Mr Zhang Yue, the chairman of the builders, Broad Group, says the development should take 2,000 cars off the road, because the residents will be able to find most of their needs in the building itself. (From The Daily Telegraph 22/7/13)
Beijing’s Advanced Business Park (ABP) want to sign a deal that will develop an area north of the Royal Albert Dock in London. The £1 billion project would create thousands of new jobs and would create a 24 hour park that would target Asian companies which want a base in London. Boris Johnson has made attracting investment from China a priority to help pay for London’s infrastructure and to support growth. The ABP business park in Beijing contains 50 buildings. (From The Times 28/5/13)
An official government report comparing the educational performance of poor children from various ethnic backgrounds has shown that Chinese outperform all others. The report lists the percentage of pupils on free school meals who obtained five good GCSEs (including English and maths).
|National average (all pupils)||54.2||63.6|
These figures are taken from the first report for 10 years by the schools inspectorate into the academic gap between the poorest pupils and those from affluent families. In the early 1990s poor children from ethnic minorities in the big cities were the least likely to do well. Today the worst schools for the poorest pupils are in the east and southeast of England. (From The Sunday Times 16/6/13)
One of China’s biggest TV stations, Phoenix, opened a section on its website inviting viewers to vote on whether the child would look like William (Wei Lian) or Kate (Kai Te). Beijing News stated that, ‘Whether it’s a boy or girl, it will become heir to the throne.’ And on Sina Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, one person wrote; ‘Kate is about to give birth, the whole world is watching. No matter if it’s a boy or girl; it will be the most fortunate baby in the world. Bless!’ (From Malcolm Moore in Shanghai in The Daily Telegraph 23/7/13)
India’s most widely read newspapers, ‘Dainik Jagran’ and ‘The Hindu,’ on 20 May likened Premier Li’s trip to ‘A Handshake across the Himalayas’ linking more than one third of humanity. Indian Premier stressed that China and India are partners, not opponents. During the visit, eight agreements to expand cooperation were signed in areas such as economics, trade, agriculture and the environment. China is strong in manufacturing whilst India excels in IT, banking, outsourcing and biomedicine and has minerals; the two economies are broadly complementary. Two-way trade amounted to $66.5 billion last year, but both sides believe the potential is much greater and the objective is to attain a trade volume of $100 billion by 2015.
There is huge potential in cooperation on Indian infrastructure and mutual investment. It is widely known that the backward infrastructure of India has become a bottleneck in the country’s pursuit of rapid development. There were two big blackouts last year in India affecting 360 million and 680 million people. China is already the largest overseas project contractor in India, but there is still plenty of scope for additional projects. China at present has advantages in manufacturing, but there are pressing problems of rising material and labour costs in the domestic market. However, India has a growing young population and will have about 130 million extra workers available by 2025 and so it makes sense to transfer manufacturing business to India.
Points of contention between China and India include the border dispute (especially since the 1962 conflict), India’s hosting of the Dalai Lama, China’s close ties with Pakistan and India’s $28.87 billion trade deficit with China. The two sides, however, will work to maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas and to expand border trade through the Nathu La border port. Also, the China-India-Myanmar-Bangladesh economic corridor will be developed. China and India will improve ties between Chinese enterprises and the Indian IT industry and a trade agreement on the supply of buffalo meat - potentially worth $1.5 billion per year, could help redress the trade balance. Other items included expanding civil nuclear energy programmes, enhancing cooperation on maritime security and holding joint military exercises, all of which should help promote mutual trust. (From Beijing Review 30/5/13)
Li Keqiang visited Pakistan on May 22 and was the first foreign leader to visit the country after the general elections. The visit marked the continuation of the long-term friendship between the two countries dating back to 1951. Pakistan was the first country in South Asia to acknowledge China’s market economy status and sign a free trade agreement. At present, the trade between the two counties does not match their close relationship. Bilateral trade hit a record high of $12.4 billion in 2012, but it is expected that the target for 2015 of $15 billion will be reached ahead of schedule. During the visit, Li suggested the two sides begin formulating a long-term plan for the China-Pakistan economic corridor project to boost regional development. Chinese investment stands at $25.26 billion but power and energy shortages have put off some Chinese companies. More Chinese support for energy development in Pakistan is suggested because a better developed Pakistan will help China’s west development policy and also benefit west and central China. (From Beijing Review 30/5/13)
Auditing, the first step in cracking down on state owned enterprises (SOE) mismanagement. The National Audit Office (NAO) has found that poor financial management is rampant amongst SOEs along with inaccurate and incomplete financial statements. Although similar audit results by SOEs are disclosed every year, poor fiscal management prevails. Experts say that measures are needed to boost transparency in the financial management of the SOEs and more powers should be vested in the NAO. It should be able to force companies to make changes. Some corrections, however, are under way and after auditing, some SOEs have released corrected versions of their reports. (From Beijing Review 30/5/13)
China had nearly 263 million migrant workers at the end of 2012, up 3.9% from the previous year according to the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics. Last year more than 163 million of the migrant workers sought jobs away from home lasting at least six months, marking a year on year increase of 3%. Most of them were from less developed central and western regions of China. At the end of 2012, the migrant workers monthly income was 2,300 yuan ($375) - an increase of 11.8% over the previous year. The transportation and construction workers’ pay was higher than that of those in the service, catering and manufacturing sectors. The average age of migrant workers was 37 years and 66% were males. (From Beijing Review 6/6/13)
Papers by Chinese research workers in Nature branded journals increased by 35% in 2012 over the previous year, according to the Nature Publishing Index (NPI). The report, published on May 29 as a supplement to Nature, shows that papers from Chinese research institutions contributed 8.5% or 303 papers in 2012. This was an increase of 7.0% over 2011. In the year 2000, just six articles published in Nature had Chinese authors from Chinese institutions. The NPI showed that, although China is traditionally strong in physical sciences, China is making progress in high quality life sciences research. (From Beijing Review 6/6/13)
China’s 15 operational nuclear power reactors are in a safe state, said a report by the Chinese government Ministry of Environmental Protection issued on 4 June. The report referred to aspects of nuclear safety and radiation protection. China has 29 nuclear power reactors under construction and the quality of construction is being well controlled, the report said. A further 19 nuclear reactors built for civil research purposes are also in good condition. China is aiming to upgrade the security of its nuclear facilities and means of prevention and treatment of radioactive contamination in the period 2011 to 2015, with a further vision for 2020. (From Beijing Review 13/6/13)
News.cn has reported that about 87% of professionals regarded as top talent in the science and engineering sector have chosen to emigrate out of China. The source cited was the Office of Central Talent Work Coordination Group. On the other hand, nearly a million Chinese overseas students have returned to China through the Recruitment Program of Global Experts (1,000 Talent Plan). These included 20,000 highly qualified overseas professionals. A senior official of the office believes that more flexible talent development policies and mechanisms are needed to attract more talent to come back. (From Beijing Review 13/6/13)
China’s first Jumbo Jet, the C919, is expected to make its maiden flight in 2014, according to its chief designer, Wu Guanghui, who is also vice-general manager of the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC). The company will complete a series of technical reviews and conduct over 40 wind tunnel tests in 2013. The new plane has 150 seats, will have a range of 4,075 km and already has more than 200 orders from a dozen Chinese companies. It will compete with Boeing and Airbus in the medium-range sector, which accounts for 70% of the Chinese market. (From China Today, May 2013)
The Sunday Times of 23/6/13 adds more details. The world plane maker market is worth $4.8 trillion. COMAC has assembled an all-star cast of western aerospace companies including Honeywell, United Technologies Corporation, Bombardier, Parker Aerospace and General Electric to work on their C919 plane. It takes many billions of pounds to develop a new aircraft - a huge hurdle that has given Boeing and Airbus a stranglehold on the market, but COMAC has the Chinese government behind it. Tom Williams of Airbus is taking the challenge very seriously and believes COMAC will make a good product, so Airbus cannot be complacent or dismissive.
A ban imposed five years ago has reduced consumption by at least 67 billion plastic bags, saving an equivalent of six million tons of petroleum, according to China’s National Development and Reform Commission. Since the ban was implemented, use of plastic bags has dropped by two thirds. China banned the practice of offering free plastic bags in supermarkets, departmental stores and grocery stores and in addition prohibited the production and use of plastic bags thinner than 0.025 mm from 1 June 2008. (From Beijing Review 13/6/13)
The draft of the Law on Environmental Protection Tax has been sent to high polluting and high energy consuming industries e.g. steel, electricity, non-ferrous metal and coal. The proposed law incorporates China’s first carbon tax into the existing environmental protection taxation system. To soften the initial blow, the taxation will at first cover certain regions and circumstances that have established mature technical standards and are in need of greater control. Later, the system will be extended to cover the whole country. However, with tax cuts in other areas, the new policies should not increase the overall tax burden. However, the power industry claims that it will be unable to make ends meet under the new levies. This law has been devised in the light of China’s climate change responsibilities and international regulations. In addition, pollution discharge fees have been increased. (From China Today July 2013)
Beijing intends to close most of the coal-fired boilers in central Beijing by the end of 2015 to reduce pollution from particulate matter, especially during cold weather. Last year coal usage was reduced by 700,000 tons and this year, another 1.4 million tons are to be cut. According to the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau, Beijing will use no more than 21.5 million tons of coal in 2013. (From Beijing Review 6/6/13)
Developed by Chinese scientists, Tianhe-2 is the fastest supercomputer in the world, according to TOP500 on 17 June. The TOP500 project is a biannual ranking of the 500 most powerful computer systems in the world. Tianhe-2 (Milky Way-2) clocked 33.86 petaflops and performed 54.9 quadrillion operations per second at peak capacity, according to the its builder, the National University of Defence Technology. Tianhe-2’s predecessor, Tianhe-1A, was the world’s fastest in 2010. (From Beijing Review 27/6/13)
The estimated cost reached 2.89 trillion yuan ($473.5 billion) at the end of 2012 - an 18.8% rise over the previous year. China added 503,000 medical staff and 565,000 hospital beds in 2012, with respective totals having reached 9.12 million and 5.16 million.
The number of outpatient visits in 2012 also increased by 9.9%. However, the relative costs of healthcare services are still lower than in other developing countries. China’s total cost was only 5.15% of GDP, lower that that of Brazil (8.8%) and South Africa (9.2). (From Beijing Review 27/6/13)
Shenzhen, in Guangdong province, on 18 June launched China’s first market for compulsory carbon trading. The scheme covers 635 industrial companies and some public buildings that account for about 40% of the city’s carbon emissions. Under the trading programme, those that emit below their quotas could sell their excess to other emitters and even investors for profit. The carbon intensity, or the amount of carbon produced per unit of GDP of the 635 industrial companies, in 2015 will slump 32% from levels in 2010. Eight deals (21,112-ton carbon quotas) were traded on the launching day at prices ranging from 28 yuan ($4.6) to 32 yuan ($5.2) per ton. (From Beijing Review 27/6/13)
China will invest 4.7 trillion yuan ($767 billion) in road building by 2030 which will strongly boost the domestic economy. By then there will be more than 400,000 km of national roads compared to the 173,000 km in 2012. About 2.5 trillion yuan ($408 billion) will be allocated for highways, with the remainder going to non-toll roads. The plan was approved by the State Council in May. So far about 900 of China’s counties are not linked to national roads. (From Beijing Review 27/6/13)
Water from the Bohai Sea will be desalinated and piped into Beijing in three years, according a Beijing Enterprises Water Group Ltd. The daily capacity of the company’s project plant at Caofeidian, Hubei province, is expected to reach a daily capacity of one million tons of water, which will be transported to Beijing through a 270-km pipeline. This water will meet the requirements of five million residents and represents a third of total daily consumption of the city. (From China Today, May 2013)
In the year 2000, the United Nations made a declaration to ‘spare no effort to free our fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty... we resolve further to halve, by the year 2015, the proportion of the world’s people whose income is less than one dollar a day.’ With less than two years left and before all the results are, it looks like the world can congratulate itself early as poverty is on the back foot worldwide. Fulfilment of the UN’s Millennium Declaration is owed largely to one country, China. The World Bank reports that China has lifted 600 million people out of poverty since the initiation of market reforms in 1978. Statistics from the UN Deportment of Economic and Social Affairs show that over the past two decades China has accounted for 70% of the decline in world poverty.
Relief of poverty remains high on the agenda of the Chinese government and recently an outline has been set for minimum standards to be achieved by 2020. With free education, basic medical care and housing and other measures, the rural-urban income divide is already beginning to narrow. Today, about 90% of villages in China’s most impoverished counties have access to roads, electricity, telephones, TV and safe drinking water. (From China Today May 2013)
The Chinese government will raise 3 billion yuan ($489 million) in lottery funds to support the construction of 100,000 rural nursing homes over the next three years. The nursing homes will be managed by local villager committees and provide accommodation for rural senior citizens. China has nearly 50 million senior citizens in rural areas that need both physical and mental care. As of 2012, there were 33,000 such institutions for rural senior citizens. (From Beijing Review 27/6/13)
David and Victoria Beckham’s visit to China has been met with much excitement. They arrived last week and large numbers of fans have been turning up to see them at various public appearance including sports events and hospitals. At Shanghai University, there was a stampede to get a closer look at them and to take photographs. They have also appeared on Chinese Central Television and gave an interview. Beckham was officially in China to promote football - and unofficially, brand Beckham! (From i (Independent) 24/6/13)
A White Paper detailing the progress made in human rights in 2012 has been released by the government. It stresses the improvement in living standards and the expansion of opportunities for citizens to express their opinions. The report says that China, after years of unremitting efforts, has reached a higher level of living standards, democracy and rule of law, cultural development, social security and environmental protection. Economic development is the key to solving existing problems and furthering the progress of human rights in China. The priority has been people’s rights to subsistence and benefiting from economic development. Efforts have also been made to improve economic, social and cultural rights and civil and political rights in a comprehensively and balanced manner. (From China Today July 2013)
SinoFile is compiled by Walter Fung.
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