China Eye's Sinofile

For forty years SACU has produced a Sinofile column, in our magazine. They comprise a set of short news summary notes that invariably give a keen insight into life in China. Here are some extracts from the most recent issue of China Eye.

China Eye Magazine

China News - Autumn 2016

From the British press

Hinckley Point nuclear power plant

National security concerns are believed to have contributed to Teresa May’s decision to delay the £18 billion project. Mrs May’s close adviser and joint chief of staff, Nick Timothy has condemned China’s involvement in the UKs nuclear sector and is concerned about China’s access to important national infrastructure. In October, on the Conservative Home website he suggested security experts were worried that the Chinese could build weaknesses into computer systems, allowing them to ‘shut down Britain’s energy production at will’ from Beijing. (From I, (Independent) 30/7/16).

Beijing cannot tolerate accusations

In a carefully worded statement appearing in China’s state-controlled media. A spokeswoman said that the delay over Hinckley Point had been, ‘noted’ and hoped that a decision could be made as soon as possible. Xinhua news agency, on its website, warned that China would not accept unwanted accusations and cannot understand the ‘suspicious approach’ that comes from nowhere resulting in the postponement. China can wait for a rational British government to make responsible decisions, but cannot tolerate any unwanted accusations against its sincere and benign willingness for win-win co-operation. (From I (Independent) 2/8/16).

May seeks to reassure China on relations

Theresa May has written to China’s President Xi Jinping to reassure him of Britain’s commitment to strong relations with Beijing. Her letter was handed over by the Foreign Office minister Alok Sharma to his Chinese counterpart during an official visit to the Chinese capital. In her letter, Mrs May has said that Britain looks forward to strengthening co-operation with China on trade and business and on global issues.

Earlier this month, Chinese ambassador to London, Liu Xiaoming voiced concern at the delay and warned that relations between the UK and China were at a ‘crucial historical juncture’. (From I (Independent) 17/8/16)

Hinckley Point delay - a stroke of ‘China phobia’

Xinhua has said that Britain’s national security concerns are as groundless as they are unnecessary. Zhu Junqing, a staff writer at the agency, has pointed out that the Chinese investment is only one-third. The French hold the remainder and thus it is impossible and commercially suicidal for the Chinese to manipulate the project. He says that London’s misgivings over Chinese involvement are yet another stroke of ‘China-phobia’. (From I (Independent) 20/8/16)

China relocates two million of its poor

China will relocate more than two million people from poverty stricken communities to more developed areas this year as part of the plans to eradicate poverty by the year 2020. Lin Yongfu, a member of China’s State Council, or Cabinet believes that it will help them seek a better life. Five percent of China’s 1.4 billion population still live below the poverty level of 2,300 yuan a year (£245). Rural poor citizens will be moved into towns which have relatively mature public services and as a result the poor citizens will have access to health and education facilities. Some will also be moved to ‘economic development zones or industrial parks. (From The Daily Telegraph 11/5/16)

Shanghai Disney is opened

Disney has invested $5.5 billion (£3.9 billion) in its first park on the Chinese mainland. President Obama said that it captured ‘the promise of our bilateral relationship’. Disney owns 43% of the resort which features a theme park and hotel complex. The majority share is held by a Chinese state-controlled consortium. Costs were split between the two.

The Shanghai park is expected to help Disney’s international theme park revenue jump by 43% over the next three years. Disney Hong Kong made a loss last year, whilst Disney Paris is deeply in the red. The new theme park will expose millions of Chinese visitors to Star Wars and other Disney-owned franchises. (From I (Independent) 17/6/16)

Direct air-link to China from Manchester

The economy of northern England is set to benefit from a £250 million trade and investment boost when the first direct flights begin tomorrow between Manchester and Beijing. More than 100,000 people fly to mainland China every year but have had to go via Heathrow or Europe. Business and tourism chiefs welcomed the arrival of the Hainan Airlines flight, while Manchester and Liverpool universities said that it would be of huge benefit to students. Chinese firms are already investing heavily in the north of England such as the £800 million Airport City Manchester business park - one of the biggest developments in Britain since the Olympic Park in London.

Chinese are also investing in the St Michael’s scheme development of luxury flats, a 5-star hotel and office space, the Middlewood Locks project in Salford and other developments of luxury flats in the centre of Manchester. The new air-link is expected to encourage more business links to China. (From I (Independent) 9/6/16)

China builds fastest supercomputer in the world without any help from the West

China has built this computer using only local components, rather than relying on Western technology as in the past. The Sunway TaihuLight machine captured the No 1 spot in the TOP500 list of supercomputers at the International Supercomputing conference in Frankfurt, where it was formally announced yesterday. Professor Guangwen Yang of China’s National Supercomputing Centre told TOP500 that the computer is based completely on home-grown processors. It will be used for research into climate and weather systems modelling, scientific research, advanced manufacturing and data analytics.

The 500 list is produced twice a year and ranks supercomputers on speed in a benchmark test by experts from Germany and the US.

Steve Furber, a professor of computer engineering at the University of Manchester, said that he was very impressed because the speed of the new computer is three times better than the previous Chinese best and in addition uses slightly lower power consumption. He was not surprised that the Chinese had gone their own way, just surprised at how soon they got there. (From I (Independent) 21/6/16)

Graphene research: Manchester and China

Scientists at Manchester University who discovered graphene in 2004 are teaming up with the Beijing Institute of Aeronautical Materials (BIAM) in a five year project, with Chinese investment believed to be worth about £3 million.

Robert Young, who leads the project, said that the university was looking forward to ‘pooling its expertise’ with its Chinese counterparts. Graphene has been included in China’s latest five-year plan for its economy. BIAM and Manchester University will exchange personnel and carry out joint work. Graphene is the world’s thinnest material and is set to revolutionise every part of everyday life. It could be used in water purification, batteries, wind and solar power as well as in the development of super-light aircraft and high-speed trains.

Chinese president, Xi Jinping, toured the institute in Manchester with former Chancellor, George Osborne. During this state visit, Huawei, the Chinese electronic giant, announced a research partnership with Manchester University. Shadow Home Secretary, Andrew Burnham, a Manchester mayoral candidate, warned that the UK government should give better support to the National Graphene Institute in Manchester amid Brexit concerns. (From I (Independent) 26/7/16)

Demand for IVF soars with ‘two child rule’

China’s decision to allow all married couples to have two children appears to be driving a surge in fertility treatment amongst older women. Liu Jiaen, who runs a private IVF clinic in Beijing, says that more and more women are coming to ask for their second child. He estimates that demand at his hospital has risen by 20% since the relaxation of the single child policy at the start of this year. (From I (Independent) 31/6/16)

Long haul to get to school in Sichuan

The Times on 25 May 2016 published a photograph of a group of schoolchildren, some as young as six years of age climbing down a ladder on an 800-metre rock face, (2,400 ft.) to get to school. These schoolchildren of the village of Atuleer in Sichuan go home only once a fortnight.

China pumps millions into NW England

The economy of northern England will benefit from a £250 million trade and investment boost when the region’s first direct flights to Beijing start tomorrow. More than 100,000 people from the north of England fly to China every year, but up to now have had to go via London or a continental airport. Business and tourism chiefs welcomed Hainan Airlines new direct flights from Manchester airport. Manchester and Liverpool universities have said that it would be of huge benefit to students.

Chinese firms are already investing heavily in projects in the north of England. They include the £800 million Airport City Manchester business park, one of the biggest developments in Britain since the building of the Olympic Park in London. The St Michael’s project to build luxury flats, a five-star hotel and office space involves Chinese money and also input from former Manchester United stars Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville.

Other developments backed by Chinese money include: the Middlewood Locks project in Salford (involving the Hualing Industry and Trade Group); Manchester and Cheshire Construction have agreed a deal with Chongqing Jinstar Real Estate Development Company; and finally the Shanghai-based PGC Capital was close to agreeing to fund luxury flats in Manchester city centre. From I (Independent) 9/6/16)

World’s largest radio telescope to be operative soon

The telescope, costing $180 million (£136 million) and 500 metres in diameter, has been hewed out of a mountain in Guizhou province. Now that construction has finished, scientists are debugging it and hope to begin operating it next month. The enormous dish is made up of 4,450 reflective panels and the whole telescope has taken five years to build.

Zheng Xiaonian of China’s National Astronomical Observatory, which built the telescope, has said that the instrument has the potential to search for more strange objects and to better understand the origin of the universe and boost the global hunt for extra-terrestrial life. The telescope is part of China’s drive to establish itself as a space power. Its space programme includes putting a person on the moon by 2036 and building a space station - work on which is already in progress. (From I (Independent) 4/7/16)

British pupils to be taught maths the Chinese way

Half of primary schools in England are set to copy the traditionalist style of teaching used in south Asia. Children as young as five will have drills to practise sums and exercises and must master each concept through repetition before moving on to the next. The focus will be on whole-class teaching and on pure maths rather than applied maths.

Teachers will be offered training, textbooks and advice on how to adopt the ‘Shanghai maths’ method. This move comes after tests revealed that 15-year olds in China’s biggest city are three years ahead of those in England in their ability to solve maths problems and levels of innumeracy are much lower. (From The Times 12/7/16)

Shanghai claims greenest skyscraper

The new Shanghai Tower in Shanghai’s financial district is the tallest in China and the second tallest in the world at 632 metres with 128 storeys. It is the first super-tall building to receive the top green rating by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (Leed) and is a sign of China’s growing green credentials.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, China accounts for 47% of global coal consumption and has problems of both air and water pollution. However, the government has tree planting programmes and is controlling car use in cities as well as investing in green technologies. China is now the largest user of renewable energy twice that of the US. China also has almost a third of the world’s wind turbines. Although at present green buildings make up a small part of the total, only 1%, the Chinese State Council wants 30% of new construction projects to be green by the year 2020.

The Shanghai Tower generates 10% of its own electricity needs, collects rainwater and reuses waste water. It has an integrated cooling and heating system and via 40 other mechanisms, the developers claim the building reduces its annual carbon footprint by 34,000 tonnes. The building is wrapped in two layers of glass for cooling and ventilation and claims that a third of the site is ‘green space’ including 24 sky gardens. (From The Guardian 24/8/16)

Investment in Scotland

SinoFortone (see below in Chinese buying into European football) in March agreed a green energy and affordable housing scheme investment with the Scottish government. SPL leader, Nicola Sturgeon, signed the contract, which might eventually be worth £10 billion. (From I (Independent) 16/6/16)

Chinese Super League to become leading football player by 2021?

Investment in football is one of the latest directives of the Chinese government. Of the 660 million fans Manchester United claim to have worldwide, one in six is in China. Television rights in China could be worth £3.25 billion to the Premier League. LeSports have exclusive rights to broadcast all Premier matches in China to their 1.5 million subscribers paying about £67 annually for all 380 matches live. They estimate that 60% of their viewers will be watching games on mobile devices. With their £308 million five-year contract they promise to embrace all forms of new media including virtual reality broadcast which, one day, will give viewers, wearing special goggles the sensation of being on the field. The Chinese can learn much from the Premier League, but the Chinese can possibly teach the English something.

Chinese President Xi Jinping wants to host a World Cup by 2030 and to win it by 2050. The plan is to create a domestic sports economy worth £600 billion by 2025. (From The Sunday Times 31/7/16)

Chinese village shames those who fail to care for their parents

A Chinese village is naming and shaming people who neglect their parents by putting their pictures on noticeboards and announcing plans to broadcast details of their omission on loudspeakers. In Huangfeng village in Sichuan province, Mr Zhang Yiping, the local Party village secretary, said that village chiefs will try to talk to offending children, but if they continue to treat their parents badly, their photographs and details of what they have done wrong will be put on to a public noticeboard. From January, the plan is to announce the details on loudspeakers. The plans were approved by the village committee and are considered legal and not violating peoples’ rights to privacy.

China is one of a handful of countries which has laws that allow the elderly to force their adult children to care for them. Observers have criticise these measure as being difficult to enforce and there are no legal definitions of how many times people are expected to visit their parents.

Encouraging filial piety, by including the virtue in national policy, is a key indication of the level of concern in Beijing about who cares for China’s growing ranks of elderly. (From The Daily Telegraph 1/8/16)

US security watchdog approves Syngenta takeover

The proposed $43 billion takeover of the Swiss pesticide and seed giant, Syngenta, has cleared a major hurdle after it was approved by a US national security regulator. The state-owned China National Chemical Corporation, also known as ChemChina, offered $465 a share and a special dividend of five Swiss francs for Syngenta in February. However, Syngenta has a substantial presence in the US and the deal needed to be examined by the US committee on foreign investment which has the power to block deals considered a threat to national security.

The ChemChina bid came after an unsuccessful takeover bid by Monsanto. This resulted in months of uncertainty, but Syngenta shares closed yesterday at 422.8 Swiss Francs, the highest since May. The dip in price was because of concern that the deal would not be allowed by the US watchdog. (From The Times 23/8/16)

China resisting obesity

Chinese broadcasters have refused to make their own version of ‘The Great British Bake off’ because they believe it encourages obesity according to a senior BBC executive. While Chinese viewers are obsessed with British shows such as Sherlock Holmes and Downton Abbey, Kate Phillips, the BBC entertainment chief said the Chinese would not follow the 23 other nations that had produced their own native version of the baking show. She said she tried to sell the show to China but was told, ‘We don’t have formats that make you fat.’ (From The Daily Telegraph 25/8/16)

World’s longest and highest ‘glass-bottomed’ bridge

This 430 metre bridge, which is 300 metres above the valley between two mountains at Zhangjiajie, Hunan province, has been opened to the public. Toughened glass allows visitors to look down - if they dare! (From I (Independent) 22/8/16)

From the Chinese press

Chinese implications of Brexit

If Britain is no longer part of Europe’s single market, it must enhance trade ties with other regions and against this backdrop, strengthening Chinese relations would be a lucrative option for Britain. Britain would be able to talk to China on free trade and bilateral investment without the restrictions imposed by EU laws. According to the Lisbon Treaty, EU members are not allowed to reach free trade agreements or bilateral investment deals alone with any third party.

China would lose Britain as a gateway to access the EU market and to promote the use of China’s currency, the renminbi, in Europe. Britain might be less attractive to foreign investment after withdrawing from the EU but it would not lose its competitive advantage in industry. China’s direct investment in Britain might be influenced negatively, but it should not fall too sharply.

Brexit will not fundamentally change the China-UK partnership and Britain may attach greater importance to developing bilateral relations with China in the future. (From Beijing Review 7/7/16)

Improvements in air-pollution in Beijing

A recent UN Environment Programme report lauds Beijing’s efforts to curb air pollution. It said that the city’s experiences are worth sharing with other developing countries. Although smog remains a major concern, Beijing’s air quality has improved significantly over the last 10 years. This has been achieved despite the population increasing by 70%, car ownership increasing by 303% and energy consumption growing by 77% during the period from 1998 to 2013.

The key to the improvement lies in efforts to restructure the local economy, optimising the energy consumption mix and transforming production methods and lifestyles. The authorities have also worked together with neighbouring cities to control pollution discharges. Awareness is also likely to be a factor: several years ago few people had heard about PM2.5. This is a measure of fine particles in the air which are less than 2.5 microns in diameter and are a health hazard. Now the PM2.5 density has become a gauge for air quality. As the demand for better air quality becomes more specific, the government’s efforts to curb pollution need to improve proportionately. (From Beijing Review 9/6/16)

China’s urban jobless being addressed

The registered unemployment rate in Chinese cities stood at 4.05% at the end of June, slightly up from 4.04% at the end of March. China created 7.17 million new jobs in the first half of 2016, down by 10,000 from the same period last year. The Chinese government aimed to create 10 million new jobs this year. Statistics show that 71.7% of this target was completed in the first six months. The registered unemployment rate is calculated from the number of unemployed people who register with human resource authorities or employment service institutions. (From Beijing Review 21/7/16)

China’s sovereign wealth fund growing

The China Investment Corp. (CIC), China’s sovereign wealth fund announced on 22 July that its total assets had grown to over $810 billion at the end of 2015. When it was founded in 2007, it was $200 billion. The fund is based in Beijing and was established as a vehicle to diversify China’s foreign exchange holdings and seek maximum returns for its shareholders with a tolerable amount of risk. CIC enjoyed a cumulative annualised return of 4.58% in overseas investments. CIC ramped up 2015 investments in assets that generated stable returns such as real estate and infrastructure. (From Beijing Review 4/8/16)

China to lead in science and technology (S&T)

Xi Jinping has set the target of China becoming a leading power in S&T by the middle of this century. He made this statement at a national conference of China’s two top think tanks - the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Engineering and the China Association for Science and Technology. He said China should establish itself as one of the most innovative counties by 2020 and a leading innovator by 2030 before becoming a world-leader in S&T innovation by the centenary of the founding of the PRC in 2049. He stressed the role of S&T as a bedrock upon which China relies for its power, its enterprises, its victories and a better life for its people. (From Beijing Review 9/6/16)

Opinions sought on regulation for ethnic minorities

An amendment to a regulation concerning ethnic minorities has been drafted and opinions have been invited. The objective is to help ethnic minorities assimilate into local communities and better protect them from discrimination. Authorities should deal promptly with complaints and ensure that ethnic minorities suffer no injustice. The regulation was first introduced in 1993 but was not effective because of new problems which emerged as a result of the mass migration of people. (From Beijing Review 4/8/16)

Sheffield’s partnership with Chengdu

Leaders of Sheffield city council announced on 21 July a 60-years partnership with Sichuan Guodong Construction Group of Sichuan province worth over £1 billion ($1.32 billion). Chengdu is Sheffield’s sister city. The first tranche of funding is worth $292 million and will fund four or five Sheffield city centre projects over the next three years. The total funding is the biggest Chinese investment in any British city outside London. (From Beijing Review 4/8/16)

Chinese-style maths in British schools

Half of the total number of British schools - about 8,000 are to implement ‘Chinese style maths’. This is an extension of a pilot scheme which began in 2014 and involves £41 million. The method involves teachers teaching the whole class, building a deep understanding of mathematical structures and using high quality textbooks. The ‘Chinese method’ is widely used in Singapore, Hong Kong and on the Chinese mainland. Tests have indicated that the percentage of 15 year olds who cannot perform basic calculations is 10% lower in these areas than in England. Chinese students tested were placed three years ahead of their English counterparts.

The number of UK teachers trained in the new method will increase from the current 140 to 700 in this attempt to raise the UK’s position in OECD rankings, which is currently 26th out of 34. (The OECD is the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, currently with 34 members.) (From China Report 1/8/16)

Volunteer service

The Chinese government has vowed to support the growth of non-profit volunteer organisations (VSO) with financial and registration assistance. China has over 180,000 VSOs supported by 66 million volunteers, but only 25,000 have registered with the local authorities. A guideline has been issued to review requirements of VSOs in terms of registered capital, numbers of full-time employees and location and also to encourage them to register with local authorities. The guideline called on local authorities to outsource social services such as care of the elderly, disaster relief and medical assistance to VSOs. (From Beijing Review 4/8/16)

Anti-dumping probe

Chinese mining firms are calling for an anti-dumping probe into iron ore imported from Australia and Brazil. The application is on behalf of 20 major Chinese mining companies who claim overseas miners have been selling large qualities of iron ore ‘at low prices,’ which is causing substantial harm to the domestic industry. Less than 65% of Chinese iron ore miners are still in business; nearly 85% of iron ore used in China is imported. (From Beijing Review 4/8/16)

Family doctors in China

China is planning to extend family doctor services to the entire population by 2020 and ensure more convenient health services for those who have signed contracts with such doctors.

In 2016, 200 Chinese cities, which are piloting public hospital reforms, will introduce family doctor service contracts. It is expected that other regions will be encouraged to conduct similar pilot programmes. Priority groups include senior citizens, pregnant women, disabled people and patients with chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, tuberculosis and severe mental disorders.

By 2017, more than 30% of the entire population, including over 60% of the priority groups mentioned, will have contractual services from family doctors. (From Beijing Review 16/6/16)

Free health insurance for orphans

More than 60,000 orphans were granted free health insurance on 1 June. These are the latest to benefit from a programme launched in July 2009. The insurance, which is covered by donations, lasts for at least 12 months and is for underprivileged children and Ministry of Civil Affairs-registered orphans. More than 440,000 orphans have benefitted from the programme since its inception. The China Children Insurance Foundation has already issued more than 1.2 million insurance contracts for orphans from 24 provinces. The premium is 50 yuan and covers each child for 100,000 yuan. (From Beijing Review 16/6/16)

Xinjiang doctor awarded World Health prize

Palize Mehmett, who focused on basic public health initiatives in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, was awarded the United Arab Emirates Health Foundation Prize on 27 May by the World Health Organisation. Over the last 30 years, the 52-year old doctor has spread knowledge throughout Xinjiang about nutrition, breast-feeding and drinking water by translating books into Uygur and visiting some 300 villages to deliver lectures. She has also trained thousands of medical workers in the use of low-cost nutritional treatments. (From Beijing Review 9/6/16)

Human gene editing

Chinese scientists will initiate the world’s first genetic-editing trial on humans later in August in an attempt to find a cure for lung cancer. A group of oncologists at the West China Hospital of Sichuan University in Chengdu will inject patients with cells modified using the gene-editing technique known as CRISPR-Cas9. CRISPR, which is short for ‘clustered, regularly interspaced, short palindromic repeats’ was named the ‘2015 Breakthrough of the Year’ by the US journal, ‘Science’. The technique allows scientists to selectively edit genome parts and replace them with new stretches of DNA, thus allowing the alteration of genetic patterns by genome modification. (From Beijing Review 11/8/16)

Innovative finance

The Chinese Government has pledged to give more budgetary support for technological innovation. Budgeting for research projects will be simplified, there will be increased incentives for researchers and the management of equipment purchases will be relaxed. In addition, research and development institutions will enjoy preferential treatment in land use. (From Beijing Review 16/6/16)

More satellites to be launched

China will launch five new satellites into space within the next five years or so as part of its fast-expanding space programme. The five satellites, including a Sino-European joint mission, will focus on the observation of solar activities and their impact on the Earth’s environment and space weather, analysis of water recycling and probing of black holes. The Director of the National Space Science Centre (Chinese Academy of Sciences), Wu Ji, said that they ‘expect to make major breakthroughs.’ (From Beijing Review 16/8/16)

China buying into European football.

There is a surge of interest following Xi Jinping’s wish for China to have a sports economy worth nearly $850 billion by 2025. Xia Jiantong’s Recon Group has paid a reported $102 million (£70 million) for Aston Villa. A Chinese Group is negotiating to buy AC Milan from Berlusconi’s Finivest Group for about $778 million. One sticking point is that Berlusconi wants to remain club president for another three years, but there are other details to sort out. Zhang Jindong’s Suning Commerce Group is believed to be in a late stage to buy Inter Milan.

Wang Jianlin’s Dalian Wanda paid 45 million euros just over a year ago for a 20% stake in Athletico Madrid and the Chinese company Chinese Media acquired a 13% stake in the company that controls Manchester City.

In a report in I (Independent of 16/6/16), the Chinese investments group, SinoFortone is attempting to buy Liverpool from the US Fenway Sports Group for £700 million. The Chinese have already explored a new stadium in Liverpool docklands and are refurbishing Melwood, the club’s training ground. SinoFortone is also thought to be open to the possibility of part-investment in Liverpool, offering Fenway a medium to long-term exit strategy. However, Fenway have confidence in Jurgen Klopp and want to be around to share the success.

Resident permits granted

Chinese police issued about 746,000 unregistered citizens with household registration permits in the first five months of this year. The permit entitles the holder to social welfare such as medical insurance and access to basic education. This household registration, or hukou, is in accordance with long-term place of work and residence factors. The intention to register unregistered people was announced during December 2015 and will apply to about 13 million people.

It was also reported that police have confiscated three million duplicated hukou and more than 1.7 million IDs that have duplicated numbers. Some of these were because of honest administration errors, but others due to illegal issue by police officers for personal benefit. (From Beijing Review 23/6/16)

Housing for growing elderly population

At the end of 2015, there were about 116,000 nursing homes and elderly care facilities in China, a 23.4% increase year-on-year, according to a report issued on 11 July by China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs (MoCA). China is trying to provide its oldest citizens with sufficient facilities at a time when the elderly population continues to balloon and a growing number of adult children are choosing not to observe the tradition of sharing their homes with their parents.

The number of people in China aged 60 or older had risen to 222 million by the end of 2015, representing 16.1% of the total population. The MoCA announced on 19 July that it plans to further enhance community and in-home services for the elderly in several pilot cities.

The MoCA report also provided information on China’s orphan population. There were about 502,000 orphan children in China at the end of 2015. The country’s 753 orphanages housed 92,000 and the remaining 410,000 were living in foster care. In 2015, 22,000 families registered to adopt orphans. Of these families, 179 were from Hong Kong, Taiwan or Macao and another 2,942 were from foreign countries. (From China Report 1/7/16)

More development zones for innovation.

On 8 June, the Chinese government announced two more development zones to encourage innovation. They will be in Fujian and Anhui provinces. In the past, zones such as Beijing’s Zhongguancun and Shanghai’s Zhangjiang hi-tech zone have pioneered the concept and this needs to be replicated across the country. The government has vowed to cut red tape and provide better services so that they help rebalance China’s economy. (From Beijing Review 23/6/16)

Targets for technical progress

China expects knowledge-intensive services to contribute 20% of its GDP in 2020, up from 15.6% in 2015. The total factor productivity (TFP) of which technological progress is a key sub-section, aims to account for 60% of China’s economic growth in 2020, which is a 55.3% increase from 2015. The TFP is the measure of the efficiency of all inputs to a production process.

The number of Chinese patent applications submitted, under the Patent Cooperation Treaty, in 2020 is expected to be double the number submitted in 2015. Government priorities over the next five years include directing resources to key and long-term strategic areas, fostering domestic creativity, creating a favourable policy environment and removing barriers to innovation. The plan lists measures to improve legislation in connection with scientific and technological research, streamline fund-raising procedures and raise government efficiency. (From Beijing Review 18/8/16)

More help for poverty stricken residents

A string of new measures has been announced to provide more medical aid for citizens. They will receive more reimbursement when they are hospitalised and will be covered by critical illness insurance. A health and medical data platform will be built across the country to improve healthcare services. This will be a key component of China’s supply-side structural reform. (From Beijing Review 23/6/16)

China’s population statistics (mainland)

According to a sample census taken on 1 November 2015, the population of China’s mainland is 1.37349 billion. It has risen by 2.52% or 33.77 million over the sixth national census of 1 November 2010. Males and females account for 51.22% and 48.78% respectively. The male to female ratio is 105.02 down from the 105.20 in 2010.

Breakdown by age shows: 16.52% for the age group 0-14 years, 67.33% for the age group 15-59 and 16.15% for the 60 years and over. Urbanisation has increased and urban residents account for 55.88% of the mainland population. (From China Today June 2016)

Communist Party of China (CPS) statistics.

As of 2015, there are 88.758 million members of the CPC. Of these 25.1% are women, 7.0% are from ethnic minorities and 44.3% have at least a college standard education. The Party includes a high proportion of younger people; 25.4% are aged 35 years or younger,20.1% are between the ages of 36 to 45, 28.0% are middle aged between 46 and 60 years and there are 26.5% aged over 61 years.

Categorised by occupation 26.025 million are farmers, herdsmen and fishermen, 12.945 are professionals, 7.244 are workers, 2.034 are students, 16.581 are retired, 7.485 million are functionaries in Party and state organs, 9.112 are administrative staff and a further 7.330 million are in other occupations. (From Beijing Review 14/7/16)

Wrongly imprisoned nurse compensated

Qian Renfeng, now aged 31, who spent 13 years in jail, was freed and awarded 1.72 million yuan ($258,300) in compensation after the Higher People’s Court of Yunnan province ruled in December 2015 that there was insufficient evidence. She was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 2002 for allegedly mixing food with rat poison in the nursery where she worked. She claimed that her confession was made under duress and continued to petition her innocence. She has found a job and works in Guangzhou. (From Beijing Review 18/8/16)

Traffic laws

China’s top legislature will start a nationwide inspection on the enforcement of the Road Traffic Safety Law. Four teams of senior lawmakers will be dispatched to eight of the country’s provincial-level regions in August and September. The regions include Beijing, Zhejiang, Jiangxi and Shandong provinces. The National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee announced this step on 12 July. The committee gave the remaining 23 provincial legislatures permission to manage their own inspectors.

Fatal road accidents are a serious problem in China as the highway network expands and the number of new drivers grows. Traffic laws are regularly flouted. The average annual increase of new vehicles and drivers hit 15 million to 20 million since the Road Traffic Safety Law went into effect 12 years ago. Road deaths in China account for 80% of all fatalities in all kinds of accidents.

Road safety affects economic and social development as well as people’s lives and property. The inspection teams will report back to the NPC in December. (From Beijing Review 21/7/16)

Chinese outward tourism growing

From 2001 to 2015, Chinese outward-bound tourism grew by more than 18% a year and is projected to reach 600 million people in total in the next five years. In the early days travel was related to work and business. Now more than 90% of trips are for leisure. This year, the number of outward bound tourists is expected to exceed 130 million.

More of the travellers are likely to be from central and western regions of China, especially from the smaller cities and rural areas. The improved high-speed rail network of 42 lines stretching a total of 20,000 kilometres will allow people from once isolated areas to travel. The growth of urbanisation - 58% of the population now live in cities will contribute to the growth of outward bound tourism. (From China Daily, European Weekly 3-9/6/16)

SinoFile is compiled by Walter Fung.

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