China News - Winter 2014

From the British Press

APEC meeting 5-11 November 2014

China was host to the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) held in Beijing at which many new initiatives were announced. Free-trade agreements between China and South Korea and Australia were declared. There was a promise to eliminate tariffs on information-technology products with the US. A major announcement was the $40 billion investment to cement a new commercial ‘Silk Road’ that will run overland through Central Asia and Russia to Europe and also a maritime route through South-East Asia to the Middle East and Africa.

Xi Jinping urged APEC members to move towards a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP). There is a commitment to study the idea over the next two years, a contrast to the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership sponsored by the US, which is bogged down in negotiations between Japan and the US.

There is believed to have been a ‘meeting of minds’ over disputed islands in the South China Sea, and Japan and China announced a four-point agreement to reduce tension over the Diaoyu Islands.

There were also announcements on greenhouse gases. China and America are the two biggest polluters, accounting for 44% of global carbon emissions. On 12th November Mr Obama announced that America will cut emissions by 26-28% by 2015 compared to 2005 levels. China promises that its emissions will peak at around 2030. The aim is for a big growth in nuclear power and for a fifth of its energy to come from non-fossil fuels.

Mr Xi said that China and the US should become an ‘anchor of world stability and propeller of world peace’. However he admonished a foreign press which has reported on the wealth of some of the country’s leaders and warned the US not to get involved with Hong Kong. (From The Economist 15/11/14)

The rule of law in China

At an annual plenum of the CPC which ended 23 October, the Central Committee promised that a socialist rule of law would be implemented by 2020 and it would lead to ‘extensive and profound’ changes. The Central Committee has decided to make local courts more impartial and to penalise officials for telling judges what to decide. The highest law of all is the constitution.

Officials will now have to swear loyalty to China’s constitution and there is to be a new ‘National Constitution Day’. Schools are to teach its importance. The constitution enshrines property rights and many of the thousands of ‘mass incidents’ of unrest in rural China (believed to be 65%) are related to disputes over the (often illegal) seizure of land.

This initiative has encouraging implications for the anti-corruption campaign and implications for human rights, which are guaranteed in an amendment to the constitution issued in 2004. (From The Economist 1/11/14)

China’s contribution to Ebola crisis

China plans to build a 100-bed medical centre in Liberia to combat Ebola, officials announced on Thursday. In the months to come, China will send 1,000 aid workers to Ebola infected areas; it has already sent 252 people to the three hardest-hit counties, Xinhua reported. China has been criticised for not doing enough. China’s foreign ministry spokesman, Hong Lei, said at a press conference that China will build a 100-bed medical centre and on 9 November, 160 medical workers will set off for Liberia, adding that at a later date a further 320 workers would arrive. The centre is scheduled to open in 30 days. He continued to say that many countries have evacuated their diplomatic personnel and others from affected areas, but there are still several thousand Chinese people working there. The US secretary of state, John Kerry, said last month that the US and China, despite their many differences, hoped to work together to curb the virus. China has sent a total of $122 million to combat Ebola; the US has pledged more than $1 billion. Hong Lei said that China is still a developing country, but is doing everything it can. (From The Guardian 6/11/14)

N.B. The Economist of 8 November reports that China’s contribution (initial amount trebled to $120 million) to combating Ebola is second only to that of the US.

China and Australia agree free trade deal

The two countries have struck a major trade deal to remove tariffs from 95% of Australian goods in return for more investment opportunities for Chinese companies. China will open its borders to billions of pounds of Australian dairy products, meat, seafood and wine. In return Chinese companies will be able to buy Australian firms worth up to A$1.08 billion (£600 million) without coming under government examination.

Last year Australia exported A$52.65 billion of iron ore, A$9.08 billion of coal and A$8.07 billion of gold to China. Australian dairy farmers will get access to the lucrative baby formula market in China, where locals have shunned local brands since the toxic milk incident of 2008.

The announcements were made during Xi Jinping’s state visit to Australia immediately after the G20 summit. Mr Xi noted that 200,000 Chinese study in Australia and that China gets more than half its iron ore from Australian mines. He also gave a rare speech to the Australian parliament in which he vowed that China would not use force to achieve its goals and promised cooperation over maritime boundaries. He stated that China has settled boundary issues with 12 of its 14 neighbours through friendly consultation and would continue to work in this manner. (From The Daily Telegraph 18/11/14)

China ban on ‘dirty coal’

The global mining industry risks losing billions of pounds worth of income after China banned ‘dirty coal’ from being used to generate electricity. The move, which took place earlier this year, is to improve air quality in its big cities. Australian producers are looking to see if their product complies with China’s new limits on ash and sulphur content. Some analysts claim that this is protectionism. Although the industry braced itself, the limits are not as tough as expected. Coal which produces more than 16% ash and 1% sulphur will be banned. The limits will be toughened in areas such as the Pearl River delta, the Yangtze River delta, including Shanghai, and some northern cities, including Beijing. It is believed that half of Australian coal producers could be hit by the ban, but Indonesian miners could be hit even harder. Australian miners insist they can cope with the new rules. (From The Times 17/9/14)

Chinese schools ‘get better results’

English pupils are falling dramatically behind their Chinese peers because of an over-reliance on progressive child-centred teaching methods in school, a research report suggests. Primary school children achieve worse results and spend less time ‘on task’ due to major differences in the way they are taught in the two countries. Chinese teachers make more use of ‘whole class’ efforts. This means the teacher delivers a lesson to and interacts with all the children at the same time. In England, children are given more time to work by themselves individually or as part of a small group.

The study by Southampton University gave 19 classes in Southampton and the Chinese city of Nanjing two maths tests. There were 562 pupils aged nine and ten involved. The Chinese pupils scored 83% in the first test, the English scored 56%. In the second test, 10 weeks later, the Chinese children scored 87% compared to the English 66%. The results are being presented to the British Educational Research Association annual conference in London today. Researchers believe the results are due to key differences in the way, the two sets of pupils were taught. They conclude that effective teachers spent longer time on interacting with the whole class rather than with individuals or groups. Teaching the whole class was two-way communication rather than one-way lecturing. They were capable of keeping more pupils ‘on task’. (From The Telegraph 25/9/14)

Chinese name for Stonehenge?

VisitBritain recommends Chinese names for Stonehenge, Glastonbury and other famous sites in the UK to give more affinity to Asian tourists and encourage more to visit. Just under 20 million tourists visited Britain in the period January to July this year and spent £11.3 billion. This was an increase of 7% on last year. VisitBritain has a website on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter. (From The Daily Telegraph 8/10/14)

Innovation in China?

As a proportion of GDP, China’s R & D spending is now close to that of Western Europe and the country has made impressive advances in dual-use technologies with military as well as civilian applications: computation, missiles, satellites, telecommunications and high speed rail. China is emerging from an era in which conformity was imposed into a period where entrepreneurship is not only tolerated but encouraged. The reforms of Xi Jinping may sink into a bog of cultural conformism, but they might also release the pent-up entrepreneurial energies of the most educated and confident generation in Chinese history.

A dozen years ago, Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba, was teaching English at a government university. Entrepreneurs like Tencent’s Ma Huateng and Huawei’s Ren Zhenfei have created firms that are shaking the foundations of the Chinese economy with government blessing. China’s universities may not be producing as many prospective innovators as their Western counterparts, but Chinese firms are hiring Western scientists by the thousand.

China has the benefit of the late adopter. Rather than lay fibre-optic cables into individual homes, China will provide free wi-fi into every city and half of the rural areas by 2020. By 2017 China will have a national electronic system to track every citizen’s credit history, allowing internet finance to compute credit scores and grant retail credit in real time.

In the centre of Shenzhen is a science park that looks like Silicon Valley on steroids, full of new firms built by returning graduates and PhDs of Western universities, intent on producing world-beating innovations. In addition, China’s universities turn out more than twice as many scientists and engineers as the US.

The transformation of China’s social scene may produce the kind of ‘mass flourishing’ that Nobel Laureate Edmund Phelps describes. Household income in China rose risen 16-fold between 1987 and 2013; 600 million people will have moved out of the countryside by 2025 and China will have built the equivalent of all the cities in Europe. This great migration, hunger for wealth and eagerness to work for it is unlike anything the world has seen and has given hundreds of millions of people the impulse to innovate. (From Standpoint Magazine September 2014)

Chinese universities to rival Oxbridge

Ed Byrne, principal at King’s College London has predicted that five Chinese universities are likely to break into the world’s Top 20 within two decades, from which one will emerge pre-eminent. Professor Byrne, in his previous job running Monash University in Melbourne, set up a campus at Suzhou and knows the Chinese educational system. He said that just a decade ago, he doesn’t know if any Chinese university were in the top 200 and very few in the top 500.

China is now concentrating on 30 or so universities out of 3,000 and is putting huge resources into them and all of them are moving forward. Already two, Peking University and Tsinghua are advancing in some rankings, with Fudan, Shanghai Jia Tong ad Nanjing just behind. He says, he cannot believe that 20 years from now several will not be in the Top 20 and eventually two of them will be right up there with Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard. Professor Byrne plans to expand the science and engineering at King’s and to turn its management department into a business school. He also plans a small number of alliances with universities in China and elsewhere. (From The Times 25/11/14)

Duke of Cambridge to visit China

The Duke of Cambridge is to visit China and Japan early next year. He will go on his own because the Duchess is expecting to give birth in April. He is expected to spend three days in each country visiting Beijing, Shanghai and Tokyo. This is the highest profile royal visit since 1986 when the Queen went at the invitation of Deng Xiaoping. The Duke will open the Great Festival of Creativity at the Shanghai Long Museum on Monday 2 March, when 500 British businessmen will have the opportunity to meet their Chinese counterparts. This invitation follows on from the Chinese prime minister, Li Keqiang’s visit to the UK, when he met the Queen at Windsor Castle. Prince Charles, is apparently ruled out because of his links with the Dalai Lama and his leaked diary notes in which he referred to the Chinese leaderas appalling old waxworks! (From The Daily Telegraph 28/11/14)

Activists attacked by ‘triad gangs’

Dozens of masked men launched an attack on pro-democracy protesters camped out on the streets of Hong Kong yesterday. Many were wearing blue surgical masks and some were claimed to be carrying ‘sharp weapons’. The police tried to keep them under control but they were outnumbered. According to witnesses, many of the men spoke Mandarin instead of the local Cantonese dialect. However, there seemed to be ordinary Hong Kongers amongst the anti-protesters, including taxi drivers and lorry drivers who are upset by the protests’ impact on their work. Severe traffic jams have blighted the former colony since students and activists began the so called ‘Umbrella Revolution’ in late September. They want Beijing to allow them to choose their own candidate for the 2017 election leadership election. CY Leung, the current chief executive, said on Sunday that there was zero chance of that happening and warned that the protests had spun out of control. ?(From The Daily Telegraph 14/10/14)

Hong Kong pro-democracy camps declared illegal

At the end of a press conference with US President Obama, Xi Jinping declared the students’ protest camps illegal. Mr Xi said that Hong Kong is exclusively an internal matter for China and foreigners should not interfere in any form or fashion and in any case law and order must be maintained, not just in Hong Kong but elsewhere in the world.

In Hong Kong, the numbers permanently occupying protest sites in Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok have dwindled but the city’s tight geography means that protesters can quickly move on to the streets. It remains unclear whether they will resist or cooperate with police action. Many of the demonstrators are university or secondary school students. One of their leaders said that they have distributed face masks and goggles and told students under the age of 18 that they must get their parents’ permission before they stay. (From The Daily Telegraph 13/11/14)

Putin signs 38 deals with China

Beijing is emerging as one of the beneficiaries of the confrontation between Russia and the West. The fall-out from the war in eastern Ukraine has strengthened China’s negotiating position with Moscow and broken down Russian resistance to granting it privileged access to raw materials and cutting-edge military hardware. Yesterday a delegation led by Chinese prime minister, Li Keqiang, signed 38 deals. In May, two months after the first western sanctions on Russia, President Putin brought more than a decade of haggling to an end and sealed a £250 billion, 30-year gas-supply deal with China. Included in the 38 deals were agreements to swap currencies worth 150 billion ($24.5 million) over three years to ensure that neither suffers from a fall in their own currency and also a tax treaty and deals on satellite navigation, high-speed rail co-operation and finance deals between China and Russian banks. Negotiations appear to have been revived on a deal to sell the new Su-35 combat aircraft. In addition, according to a Russian analyst, China is preparing to buy Russia’s S-400 missile system and possibly its newest submarine, the Amur-1650. Mr Putin appointed one of his most trusted confidents, the billionaire Gennady Timchenko as the head of the Russia-China Business Council on the day after more than a dozen companies linked to him were blacklisted by the US. (From The Times 14/10/14)

UK issues £300 million bond in Chinese currency

The UK has become the first country to issue a sovereign bond in China’s currency, the renminbi. The 3billion renminbi bond (£300 million) was bigger than anticipated by traders. Chancellor George Osborne said: ‘We need to export to fast-growing economies like China and attract more investment to the UK. In order to accomplish this we need to make sure China’s currency is used and traded here. This will be good both for China and for British jobs and investments’. (From The Daily Telegraph 15/10/14)

Chinese car-makers closing the gap

Chinese domestic car makers are closing the gap on foreign manufacturers. JD Power, the Californian market research company use the measure of faults per 100 vehicles reported by 21,000 drivers. On this rating the gap between foreign cars and Chinese-made cars is now only 36 faults. When China overtook the US as the world’s largest car maker in 2008, the figure was 145 faults. It is anticipated that by 2018, the gap will have closed. The Chinese car market is the most competitive in the world, with twice the number of brands and three times the number of models as the US. Whilst US buyers trust brand names, the Chinese tend to distrust them. (From The Financial Times 3/11/14)

Return of Chinese moon orbiter

The Chinese moon orbiter returned to earth on Sunday, having completed eight days of circling the moon. China’s plan is to send a vehicle to the moon to collect samples in 2017 and a manned mission by 2025. Xinhua has reported these events and says there is no space race. The US Congress in March 2013 enacted a law forbidding NASA to cooperate with China and last year, a Chinese scholar at Yale was refused entry to a conference on planets beyond our solar system because it was held in a NASA building. (From The Financial Times 3/11/14)

MI5 warns of Chinese honey-traps

Britain’s defence officials have been warned to beware Chinese women seeking friendship. A security manual detailing how to avoid honey-traps has been issued to leading members of Britain’s defence establishment. The Ministry of Defence document warned that China’s attempt to cultivate ‘friends’ is subtle and long term, adding that its intelligence agents are ‘expert flatterers’ who are well aware of the softening effect of food and alcohol. It said that China and Russia may attempt to blackmail officials through knowledge of marital infidelity or sexual activity.

The document reported in the Sunday Times said that China did not target specific information but instead had a ‘vast and indiscriminate appetite’ for information. ‘They do not run agents’ they make friends, the article said. Although there are Chinese intelligence agents, both civilian and military, these fade into insignificance behind the mass of students, businessmen and locally employed staff working, at least part-time on the orders of various parts of the state intelligence-gathering apparatus’ The MOD refused to comment. (From The Times 10/11/14)

Chinese football

Marcello Lippi has retired from management after leading Guangzhou Evergrande to a third successive Chinese league title. He says he is too old at 66; he will become the club’s technical director. Lippi won the 2006 World Cup with Italy and the Champions League with Juventus. (From Metro 3/11/14)

From the Chinese Press

China to build underground Neutrino Laboratory

China plans to build a large underground laboratory for neutrino experiments in Jiangmen, in southern Guangdong province, by the end of this year. The project is led by China with more than 200 scientists from over 50 research institutes and universities around the world. This is the second Chinese neutrino project and will be 700 metres underground and more than 100 times larger than the Daya Bay project. It is expected to open by the end of 2019, with a planned running time of 20 years. It is hope that the new laboratory will make major contributions to quantum physics, cosmology, astrophysics and geophysics. (From China Today September 2014)

China expands world’s deepest ‘dark matter’ laboratory

Work has begun on expanding this laboratory in Sichuan province in southwest China. This is the second phase of the laboratory and was launched by Tsinghua University and Yalong River Hydropower Development Company. The work is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2015 and will increase the laboratory area to 120,000 cubic metres from the present 4,000 cubic metres. It is 2,400 metres below Jinping Hydropower Station and began operating in December 2010. The extreme depth is necessary to block interference from cosmic rays and to provide, a ‘clean’ space for scientists to explore the secrets of the universe, including the invisible substance known as ‘dark matter’. Although giving priority to domestic scientists, the laboratory is expected to attract overseas scientific talent. (From China Today September 2014)

Chinese Auto Policy

On 21 July, China’s State Council cabinet issued guidelines to promote new-energy vehicles to highlight the construction of charging facilities and the elimination of regional protectionism. The guidelines want layouts of charging facilities to be mapped and technological standards to be established . Non-governmental funds should be encouraged to participate. Amongst the 25 specific policies, seven aim to improve charging facilities through urban planning, discounted electricity prices and technological improvements.

New-energy vehicles should make up no less than 30% of the total newly purchased vehicles in governmental departments in the coming two years. Consumers will enjoy tax cuts in buying new-energy vehicles from 1 September 2014 to 31 December 2017. (From Beijing Review 31/7/2014)

Help for migrant workers

China’s central government hopes to offer more quality jobs to migrant workers to help them adjust to urban living. The plan is to provide professional training to 20 million surplus rural workers per year to 2020. The goal is to boost work conditions, ensure pay schedules and to ensure that they are covered by social security. Official data showed that China had 174 million migrant workers who are defined as those coming from rural areas and work in low-skilled jobs not requiring professional qualifications. According to guidelines published by the State Council, migrant workers will enjoy the same social security as urban residents and by 2020 migrant workers will be entitled to equal access to basic public services in cities, which will include education, community hospitals and public housing. (From Beijing Review 16/10/14)

China’s competitiveness

The World Economic Forum, a Geneva-based non-profit organisation, announced its Global Competitiveness Report for 2014-2015, which assessed the competitive landscape for 144 economies. For the sixth year in a row, Switzerland led the pack, followed by Singapore and the US. China ranked 28th, which is the highest of the BRICS countries. The report is based on data collected by the UN, the World Bank, the IMF and WEF. (From China Today October 2014)

New-energy buses

China released a plan on 22 October to require Beijing, Tianjin and cities in Hebei province to use more new-energy buses to reduce pollution. The plan is to promote the use of 20,222 new-energy vehicles in the region’s transport system from 2014 to 2015. By the end of 2015, new-energy vehicles should make up no less than 16% of the total number of buses in the region. The Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region on average suffered from unacceptable levels of air pollution during 45% of the days in the third quarter, according to data issued by the Ministry of Environmental Protection on 21 October. From Beijing Review 30/10/14)

Reduced pollution

Emissions of four major pollutants in China have dropped year on year during the first half of 2014. The chemical oxygen demand index, a measure of water pollution decreased by 2.26%, while the volume of sulphur dioxide reduced by 1.87%. Ammonia nitrogen decreased by 2.67% and nitric oxide fell by 5.82% from the same period last year. (From Beijing Review 9/10/2014)

China’s most polluted province to clean-up

Hebei, north China’s most polluted province is to take a string of measures to clean up rivers, lakes, mines, forests and groundwater. This province, which surrounds Beijing and Tianjin, will plant 530,000 hectares of forest to increase coverage from 28% in 2013 to 34% by 2017. The goal is that no rivers should have water quality below grade V. The water in China is graded in six levels, from I to V and inferior to grade V. Water below grade III is unsafe to drink. Hebei will address 664 open-pit mines close to railways, highways and towns within two years. In 2014, 10 illegal mines, 46 licensed mines and 32 mining firms are to be closed and a further 251 mines that have failed to meet environmental protection requirements will halt production for refurbishment. Total expenditure of the projects will exceed 60 billion yuan ($9.7 billion). Hebei is under heavy pressure to cut emissions and to tackle pollution. It had seven of the ten most polluted cities in China as of the first six months of this year. (From Beijing Review 16/10/14)

Cutting coal use

To cut greenhouse gas emissions, China will order power companies to upgrade coal conservation technology and eliminate outdated capacity. An action plan for the 2014-20 period was released by the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the National Energy Administration on 19 September. The action plan came after the Central Government approved climate change goals to be met by 2020, when carbon emissions per unit of GDP will be cut by 40-45% from the 2005 level. The plan will also bring the proportion of non-fossil fuels to about 15% of primary energy consumption by 2020. With these stricter environmental protection standards, China will lower coal-fired generation of electricity to under 62% of the national total. (From Beijing Review 2/10/14)

Construction projects in less developed regions

Feasibility reports have been approved on five new airports and three railway projects in the provinces of Jilin, Qinghai, Yunnan, Guizhou and Inner Mongolia. The airports, planned investment totals 5.49 billion yuan ($896 million) and the railway projects’ investment total is 144.52 billion yuan ($23.6 billion). The objective is to boost infrastructure in central and western underdeveloped regions of China. (From Beijing Review 30/10/14)

China’s atomic clock approved internationally

A Chinese atomic clock has been accepted by international authorities as a primary basis for high-precision international atomic time. The caesium atomic clock known as NIM-5, developed by the National Institute of Metrology, is accurate to one second in over 20 million years. Approval by the Paris-based International des Poids et Mesures has made China the eighth country in the world to calibrate international atomic time, after, France, the US, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and Russia. (From China Today October 2014)

Pilots needed

China will need 98,000 more pilots and 101,000 maintenance technicians in the next 20 years, according to the latest estimates from Boeing. For the whole Asia-Pacific region over the same period, the forecast is 216,000 and 224,000 respectively. From now to the year 2033, the Asia-Pacific region will account for 39% of the world’s total requirements for new commercial airline technicians, which is more than Europe and North America combined. This region also leads the world’s demand for new commercial aircraft over the next 20 years, with 13,460 new aircraft needed by 2033. (From Beijing Review 2/10/14)

Statistics on building a clean government

The central government has released statistics revealing that more than 53 billion rmb ($8.6 billion) of public funds have been saved since the launch of the anti-graft campaign last June. More than 100,000 people handed over illicit cash or gift cards worth 520 million rmb. The public funds earmarked for official trips abroad, official vehicles and official hospitality has been reduced by more than a quarter (53 billion rmb). More than 114,000 government vehicles have been taken off the road and over 96,000 officials have been refused overseas trips. In addition, 457 luxury entertainment clubs in historic building and parks have been shut down. In addition, about 3,000 officials have been prevented from attending expensive training courses.

The campaign is to improve the flagging relationship between Communist Party Officials and the general public by eliminating undesirable work practices such as formalism, bureaucracy, hedonism and extravagance. (From China Today November 2014)

Continued effort to combat poverty

On 17 October, China’s first Poverty Relief Day, Chinese leaders called for continued efforts to fight poverty. President Xi Jinping called upon authorities to mobilise all social forces to join the war against poverty as the most arduous task in building a well-off society.

Although China lifted about 660 million people out of poverty from 1978 to 2010, some 82 million were still in poverty in rural areas as of the end of 2013. Rural people with an annual net income of 2,300 yuan or less are classified as being poor under standards adopted in 2011. Premier Li Keqiang stressed the task of relieving poverty has entered a new stage that requires deeper reforms and innovative mechanisms. (From Beijing Review 30/10/14)

Improving the Rule of Law in China

Since the 18th CPC Central Committee, the Party has indicated its commitment to reforms aimed at advancing the rule of law, including incremental changes designed to improve transparency and judicial independence. In one sense, the dramatic anti-corruption drive, the new leadership style and culture seem to indicate that the Party has been searching for the right combination of reform as it advances along the path of socialist reconstruction. (From Beijing Review 30/10/14)

Chinese tourist industry, booming but concern about incoming visitors

There has been a vigorous growth in outbound tourism with significant amounts of Chinese money spent abroad, but the same cannot be said of inbound tourism. The Chinese tourist authorities reported that there will be a $100 billion tourism deficit this year. In 2014 about 116 million Chinese citizens are expected to travel overseas and spend a total of $155 billion, up 20% from last year. Visitors from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan count as inbound tourists and vice-versa. Last year, 2013, inbound tourists made a total of 120.08 million trips to China, down 2.51% on the previous year. This year, 102.78 million tourists are from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan and 26.29 million from foreign countries. Last year, the largest number of inbound tourists was from South Korea, Japan, Russia, the US, Viet Nam, Malaysia, Mongolia, the Philippines, Singapore and Australia. More than 70% of tourists spent $501 to $3,000; however, Chinese tourists overseas spent almost three times this amount. (From Beijing Review 6/11/14)

Land reclamation in China

Numerous construction projects are changing the shape of China’s 18,000 km mainland coastline in response to exploding demands for land for rapid industrialisation and urbanisation. In 2013, a total of 200 sq km was reclaimed from the sea and from 2002 to 2012, the total was more than 1,100 sq km. There were nearly 240 sq km of land per year reclaimed per year on average between 1949 and 2000, totalling 12,000 sq km. An area the size of Singapore, 700 sq km, was reclaimed in the five years between 2006 and 2010.

There are notable individual projects involving reclaiming land from the sea. An airport is being built at Dalian over the next five years, which will be the largest on-sea airport in the world. Tianjin is building an international shipping centre which will be on 320 sq km of land reclaimed from the Bohai Sea. A famous project is the Caofeidian project in the city of Tangshan in Hebei province which so far has reclaimed 210 sq km of sea area and is still growing. A large deep-water port is being built here. Caofeidian used to be a small island 18 km from the shore, where Cao, an imperial concubine of Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty was buried.

However concerns over possible ecological destruction because of land reclamation has led the Chinese Government to introduce controls. All coastal provinces and municipalities must now take responsibility for managing their local ecosystems. (From Beijing Review 6/11/14)

Ebola virus testing

Chinese researchers have worked with the France-based Pasteur Institute in developing fully portable kits to help with Ebola virus testing. The kits use a diagnostic method based on viral RNA detection and are easier to use than laboratory testing, according to Li Dexin, a research fellow at the National Institute for Viral Disease Control and Prevention. The kit is expected to significantly help with prevention and control of the epidemic both in West African counties and China. China has investigated over 80 suspected cases of Ebola, but infection has been ruled out in most of them. (From Beijing Review 2/10/14)

New surveillance satellites

A new ‘constellation’ of marine surveillance satellites will be launched in 2019 to monitor ships, oil rigs, marine disasters and land-based resources. The new satellites, the HY-3 cluster, will employ synthetic aperture radar technology, capable of operating day or night and in all weather conditions. They will be able to see metre-long objects from space and generate high-definition imagery of both land and ocean surfaces. The satellites will be used to monitor ships and drilling platforms, marine oil spills, sea ice, ocean waves and surface winds, amongst other capabilities. (From Beijing Review 16/10/14)

China-Germany industrial park

China and Germany have jointly set up an industrial park in Shenyang, capital city of Liaoning province. It will be a 120 square km park and will contain a wide variety of industries including automobiles, chemistry, medicine, electronics and assembling. The objective is to enhance cooperation and exchange, with both parties focusing on emerging industries such as high-tech machine tools, robotics, and 3D printing. Bilateral trade between China and Germany is closer than ever. By the end of 2013, some 400 German enterprises had opened branches in Liaoning, creating $21 billion of foreign capital. (From Beijing Review 13/11/14

China’s TCM watchdog

The ‘watchdog’ has found 12% of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) materials and tablets, in a random check, to be substandard. Irregularities including artificial colouring, weight-increasing practices and contamination by counterfeit or substandard ingredients were found in 93 out of 772 batches checked. TCM is sold by weight and is mostly processed from plants and animal parts. It was found that the ingredients are frequently bulked up by deceptive practices such as soaking them in salt water to increase the weight and by mixing with similar but cheaper and less effective materials. The products checked were obtained from TCM manufacturers, sellers and users across the country. Those groups responsible for questionable products will be duly penalised by local drug administrators. (From Beijing Review 9/10/2014)

China’s astronauts win international awards

Wang Yongzhi, former chief designer of China’s manned-space project, received the Crystal Helmet Award at the 27th annual congress of the Association of Space Explorers. Yang Liwei was awarded the Leonov Medallion and Wang Yaping, sole female astronaut on the Shenzhou-10 space mission, was also honoured. The six-day event attracted 91 astronauts from 18 countries. The next ASE congress, the 28th, will take place in Sweden. (From China Today November 2014)

Aged population economy (‘Silver Hair’ industry)

The 2014 domestic market for services and products for China’s ageing population is estimated to be worth 4 trillion yuan ($650 billion), or 8% of GDP. This is expected to increase to 33% of GDP by 2050, according to the China Report on the Silver Hair Industry, released on 23 September. The report covers older peoples’ needs in the four areas of finance, appliances, services and real estate. China will become the largest market for businesses serving senior citizens by 2050, when its aged population will account for about one fourth of the global total. Total consumption for this market is expected to reach 106 trillion yuan ($17 trillion). (From Beijing Review 9/10/2014)

SinoFile is compiled by Walter Fung.

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