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 - Spring 2015

From the British press

Ivory trade

David Attenborough has appealed to Xi Jinping, in an open letter, to ban the ivory trade in China. He makes the point that ivory is a luxury product and encourages extravagant consumption and socially irresponsible spending. He also points out that buying and selling ivory belongs in the past and has no place in a modern and prosperous China. There were 32,000 elephants killed illegally in 2012 and they could be extinct in some areas within 10 years.

The appeal has been made at the start of a three-day tour by Prince William, who will visit an elephant rehabilitation centre in Yunnan. The existence of the centre demonstrates the positive steps being taken in China to protect the elephant. (From The Telegraph 24/2/15)

World’s longest train journey

The first train to complete the world’s longest journey has returned home to Yiwu in eastern China after a journey of 16,156 miles. The route was China, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Poland, Germany, France and Spain and the return journey took four months. The train was laden with 82 containers packed with Christmas trinkets and decorations, stationery and craft products and arrived in Madrid on 14 December, just in time for Christmas. (From I (Independent) 25/2/15)

China faces ‘unprecedented’ pollution battle

Chen Jining, a British-educated academic who took office only last Friday, has promised to confront an environmental challenge, ‘unprecedented’ in human history. This was after an online film exposing China’s pollution crisis went viral with 100 million hits in two days. The film, ‘Under the Dome’ was a feature-length documentary film by Chai Jing, a journalist. Ms Chai’s film looks at the science and human faces behind China’s smog problem and is named after a Stephen King novel in which residents of a small American town are trapped by a mysterious barrier that falls from the sky. The documentary has provoked intense debate having already been watched more than 100 million times on video sharing sites such as Youku, China’s YouTube. Another journalist, Fu Jing wrote in the China Daily newspaper, ‘If there is no progress made in the coming five years, the consequences are likely to be irreversible’, which is the stark warning Chai has given.

Prof Dali Yang, the director of the University of Chicago Centre in Beijing, compared the film to Al Gore’s Oscar-winning ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ and predicted that it would have a profound effect on Chinese society and politics.

‘Under the Dome’ takes viewers on a tour of China’s environmental hot spots, including a village that reputedly has the highest rate of lung cancer in the world and a city near the Russian border where buses are said to get lost because the smog is so thick. Zhang Heping, an environmentalist campaigner said she hoped the film would highlight the devastating effects of air pollution, adding that dozens of her neighbours had died of lung cancer in recent years. (From The Daily Telegraph 3/3/15)

William lays to rest the ghost of royal’s China gaffes

The Duke of Cambridge pulled off something of a diplomatic coup and a major thawing of relations between the Royal Family by gaining an audience with President Xi Jinping yesterday. Chinese press had been told that the Duke, as second in line to the throne, would be accorded the status of a deputy prime minister and would meet party officials of similar rank. But after Japan put up their emperor to meet Prince William, the Chinese appeared to reconsider the situation and the prince met President Xi in the Great Hall of the People.

President Xi congratulated Prince William on the impending birth of his second baby and also extended an open invitation to the Queen and other members of the Royal Family to come to China. President Xi said that the British Royal Family holds great influence not just in the UK, but all over the world and it has shown great interest in and support for Chinese-UK relations. President Xi quoted the saying that ‘hearing about something 100 times is not the same as seeing it once.’ He also said that he was sure that the princes’ visit would be a visit of building friendships and go a long way to develop mutual understanding and friendly ties between Chinese and British people.

The Duke responded by personally handing Mr Xi a ‘manu regia’, a message from the Queen inviting him to a state visit to the UK. He thanked the president ‘enormously’ and said it has long been an interest to come and visit China. The Duke is the most senior royal to visit mainland China since the Queen’s visit in 1986, when the Duke of Edinburgh made his ‘slitty eyes’ comment, which has not been forgotten. When The Prince of Wales attended the handover ceremony inHong Kong, he sent his diary to friends calling the Chinese leaders, ‘appalling old waxworks.’ In addition, Prince Charles is a friend of the Dalai Lama. (From The Daily Telegraph 3/3/15)

Fee-paying Chinese help state school cuts

The families of hundreds of youngsters from China are paying up to £15,000 to secure places at some of England’s best state schools. Up to 12 schools are already raising funds by enrolling foreign pupils and many more are considering doing the same according to James Kewin, deputy chief executive of the Sixth Form Colleges Association, which represents nearly 100 sixth form colleges in England. Head teachers say that without the extra income they would have to reduce teacher numbers and cut art, music and sports classes.

Alan Smithers, professor of education at Buckingham University, said that some state schools are behaving like businesses and taking advantage of fee-paying overseas students. The downside is that British students may be squeezed out of them.

Richard Huish College in Taunton, Somerset, which was recently described as ‘outstanding’ by inspectors, has about 60 overseas students, mainly from mainland China. A new boarding house is being built to increase the numbers to 120. The school received £4,560 a year for a British pupil from state funding, but charged £12,000 for overseas pupils and this will increase to £15,000 next year. The principal of Richard Huish, John Abbott, has said that there are cultural benefits from British pupils learning about Chinese New Year and benefiting from the work ethic of the Chinese pupils. He also said that many other heads have visited him asking how to get started.

According to a survey conducted in 2014, 24,391 non-British pupils whose parents lived overseas were enrolled in the 1,257 schools that were members of the Independent Schools Council. Of these 19.3% were from Hong Kong and 18% from mainland China. (From The Sunday Times 22/3/15)

New Asian Development Bank

China is winning the support of America’s allies, not just in Asia but also Europe as Britain, France, Germany and Italy become founding members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Singapore, Thailand and New Zealand have also signed up. The AIIB is but one of a number of new institutions launched by China, apparently in frustration at the failure of the existing international order to accommodate its astonishing rise. The efforts to reform the International Monetary Fund are stalled in the American Congress and America retains its grip on the management of the World Bank. (From The Economist 21/3/15)

See below: From the Chinese press, ‘China under-represented at IMF’.

Modi/Li ‘selfie’

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi posted a ‘selfie’ photograph with Prime Minister Li Keqiang on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of twitter. Mr Modi was in China for a three day visit in which he signed 24 economic agreements with China. They totalled £6.3 billion and involved projects on issues ranging from railways to scientific research. The two prime ministers agreed that border disputes should not get in the way. The ‘selfie’ was published in i, newspaper (Independent) on 16 May. Other news details was obtained from, ‘The Week’ (London 15 May) via the internet.

Aerotropolitan ambitions

At Zhengzhou, the capital city of Henan province, 20,000 workers are labouring around the clock to build a second terminal and runway for the city’s airport. By 2030, there will be two terminals and five runways handling 70 million passengers and five million tons of cargo - more than three times what Heathrow handled last year. However, this is not all because the overall development will encompass logistics facilities, research and development centres, exhibition halls and factories that will be linked to the rest of China and indeed the world. It will also provide homes and amenities for 2.6 million people and will cover an area about seven times the size of Manhattan.

The idea of airport-centred cities was promoted by an American, John Kasarda of the University of North Carolina, in a book he co-wrote called ‘Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next’. He is now an advisor to the project.

China is building airports at a startling rate: the plan for 2011-15 was for 82 new airports, but in fact more than 100 have sprung up. (From The Economist 14/3/15)

History rewritten for Japanese pupils

Japan’s nationalist government has banned all school textbooks that do not reflect its view of history and has blocked references to notorious incidents such as the Nanjing Massacre and the killing of ethnic Koreans in Japan in 1923. The textbooks also back up Tokyo’s claim to the Diayu (Senkaku) Islands in the East China Sea which are claimed by China. This censorship has renewed accusations that Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, is whitewashing Japan’s wartime misdeeds in the service of his right-wing agenda.

South Korea has put in an official complaint to the Japanese ambassador in Seoul. The South Korean foreign ministry said that the Japanese government seeks to inculcate distortions of history into the minds of the younger generation and is trying to repeat the wrongs of the past.

Under the new policy, Japanese head teachers must choose their textbooks from a list approved by the Japanese ministry of education. The ministry says that the purpose is to eliminate obvious bias or factual inaccuracies and must reflect government policy. Publishers whom do not comply with official requests for ‘voluntary’ changes will risk having their books banned from schools.

The Japanese government has also censored passages which have the potential to cause controversy in the US, such as a statement that the post-war trials of Japanese war criminals deprived Japan of pride in their history. (From The Times 8/4/15)

Smaller British entrepreneurs see opportunities

George Osborne has announced £7.5 million of new funding for Trade and Investment to strengthen Britain’s presence in China. Julie Deane, founder of the Cambridge Satchel Company, raised £12.7 million from venture capital to fund markets, especially in the US and China. The company now counts China as one of its top five markets and has said that any extra support from the government is very welcome. Over the last decade, entrepreneurs Ed Holroyd Pearce and Dan Nivern have been building up their China-focused internship business, CRCC Asia, and have placed more than 5,000 young people from 150 countries with large companies in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Hong Kong. About half of these are from the UK and have been placed in companies ranging from small local firms to the Chinese divisions of Diageo and Rolls-Royce. Nivern said that there was a huge rise in the number of young people looking for work experience in China during 2006. They wanted corporate experience, not just to teach English or learn Mandarin.

The British Council placed 165 British students into China through internships last year through CRCC and are looking to help 80,000 UK students take part in programmes in China by 2020. (From The Daily Telegraph 27/3/15)

China may build rail under Mt Everest

This construction project is believed to be under consideration as part of a proposed extension to link China with Nepal by rail. Lhasa is already joined by rail to Qinghai and an extension is being planned at Nepal’s request to the international border with Nepal. The project is expected to be completed by 2020. Extension of the line would forge a crucial link between China and the huge markets of India.

The line will probably have to go through Qomolangma (Mt Everest) and so some very long tunnels would have to be dug. Because of the challenging Himalayan terrain, with significant changes in elevation, any trains on the Kathmandu line would be restricted to a maximum speed of 75 mph (120 km/h). Other ambitious rail schemes have been mentioned, including a rail link to the US via a 125 mile tunnel under the Bering Strait. It would stretch 8,080 miles and be about 1,865 miles longer than the Trans-Siberian railway. (From The Guardian 9/4/15)

NB. This report was written before the recent devastating earthquake in the region. It is not known how this will affect the plan.

China eases rules on bank’s cash reserves

Yesterday, China’s central bank cut the amount of cash that banks must hold as reserves as in the second industry-wide cut in two months. This is to add more liquidity to help spur bank lending and combat slowing growth. The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) lowered the reserve requirement ration for all banks by 100 basic points to 18.5% effective from today. Although the growth in the first quarter met the official target of around 7% for 2015, there is concern in some areas, including industrial and retail.

The intention is to ward off a sharp slow-down in the economy and is expected to release at least a trillion yuan in liquidity. The PBOC believe it will increase the ability of financial institutions to support restructuring. (From The Guardian 20/4/15)

More corn in China

Corn production has increased by nearly 125% over the last 25 years, whist rice production has only increased by 7%. The reason is that the government is encouraging farmers to grow more corn because it uses less water than rice and causes less fertiliser runoff, resulting in less pollution. Between 2005 and 2011, following Chinese Ministry of Agriculture guidance, the use of fertiliser dropped by 7.7 million tons, which cut carbon dioxide emissions by 51.8 million tons.

Another reason for the increase in corn production is the eating of more meat products such as pigs, cattle and chicken. A significant amount of corn is made into animal feed. (From National Geographic May 2015)

China’s wine production soars

China has overtaken France in land area devoted to wine production. China has 799,000 hectares compared to 792,000 in France. Both are lower than Spain with 1.02 million hectares. Since 2000, the percentage of the world’s vineyards in China has jumped from 3.9% to 10.6%, although in actual volume of wine production, France remains the world leader with 47 million hectolitres. France also made more money than any country in selling wine, taking more than 7.7 billion euro. (From The Daily Telegraph 28/4/15)

Beijing to build new ‘Silk Road’ to Pakistan

China has announced a $45 billion deal with Pakistan to develop the power infrastructure and to build a 1,800 km railway to link the two countries. The overall plan is a new Silk Road stretching from China to Central Asia and Afghanistan. The railway will bore through the Himalayas, and some of the highest mountains in the world. At present Chinese goods from Shanghai must travel 15,858 miles by sea through the Straits of Malacca, whilst a road, rail or pipeline through Pakistan would cut this journey to 4,712 km.

About $37 billion, however, will be allocated to nuclear and coal-fired power stations. The power improvements should end the chronic power cuts and black-outs prevalent in Pakistan, which are claimed by many to contribute to crime and terrorism.

In return, Beijing wants assurances that Islamists will be blocked before travelling into China, potentially to support Uighur terrorists. (From The Times 21/4/15)

Soaring rents threaten London’s Chinatown

Independent traders in London’s Chinatown have joined forces to fight for fairer rents. They have formed the West End Tenants’ Association and will share information on leasing, rent processes and rent reviews. DeVono Property, a commercial property agency that represents tenants only, is working with the group. Apparently some tenants agree to unduly high rents and set a precedent for others, the rents being often shrouded in secrecy. Large retailers know the system, but smaller tenants are often naive and fall victim. Jon Man was paying £66,000 a year rent 18 months ago and has seen his rent rise to £244,000. The next rent review in 2017 could see it rise to £300,000, in which case he would have to leave. Some of his fellow tenants have already gone. The area’s survival is at risk because of these soaring increases. (From The Times 13/4/15)

From the Chinese press

China’s ‘new normal’

The economic growth target for 2015 will be 7%, the lowest for 20 years, as China shifts from high speed to medium-to-high speed growth. This is in line with middle to long-term plans and reflects mediocre performance in the international market, paucity of new consumption hotspots, high risk of deflation and the general economic downturn. A Chinese government Work Report also pointed out that China will still be at the primary stages of socialism for some time to come. Economic development is the central task and reforms are needed to promote scientific development and accelerate transformation of the economy to realise high quality and sustainable development. The focus will be on quality rather than speed of economic growth.(From China Today April 2015)

China’s ‘Year of the Green’

China will promote clean industrial production in 2015 by encouraging green technology and more economic resources to protect the environment. China’s central government will initiate a programme to reduce pollution, cleanse industries and prompt sustainable development this year. Industry will consume four million fewer tons of coal by the end of 2015 by using new technology. Emission reductions of sulphur dioxide will total 70,000 tons and nitrogen oxides reductions will total 60,000 tons. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) also said that there will be 40,000 fewer tons of other industrial fumes and 20,000 fewer tons of volatile organic compounds. The areas with most smog, Beijing, Tianjin , Hebei province and regions in the Yangtze River Delta, will be prioritised. (From Beijing Review 12/3/15)

Government Work Plan for 2015

Li Keqiang delivered the government’s report for the coming year at the National People’s Congress on 5 March. The focus will be to maintain a medium-to-high level rate of development. There is a need to drive development by popular entrepreneurship and innovation combined with increased supplies of public goods and services. The objective will be to achieve better quality and more efficiency without weakening momentum. China will continue to implement a proactive fiscal policy and prudent monetary policy.

China will increase spending on research and development, raise total factor productivity, improve quality standards and brand-building and strengthen the service sector. At the same time China will encourage people to start their own businesses and innovate. This will not only create more jobs and increase personal incomes but will also improve social mobility and social equality.

The economic and social development targets for 2015 will be:
Increasing the GDP by about 7%
Keeping the consumer price index (CPI) increase to around 3%.
Ensuring urban unemployment is kept under 4.5%
Creating over 10 million new jobs in urban areas
Increasing imports and exports by about 6%
Ensuring that personal incomes increase in step with economic development
Achieving a basic balance of payments
Cutting energy intensity by 3.1% and continuing to reduce the emissions of major pollutants.
(From Beijing Review 12/3/15)

Fighting corruption

Premier Li Keqiang declared in a report to the Third Session of the 12th National Peoples’ Congress that, ‘We will shed powers to make the government cleaner... our tough stance on corruption is here to stay; our tolerance for corruption is zero.’ This mantra is China’s ‘new normal’ in the war on corruption. Fighting corruption not only gives China a handle on the construction of a clean government, but lends it strong impetus for the rule of law.

In the past year, several ‘tigers’ have been ensnared in the anti-graft web. The most prominent has been Zhou Yongkang, a former member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo, who was expelled from the Party and handed over to prosecutors. A total of 637 local officials was deposed in 31 provinces in China during 2014. In addition, 1,709 tip-offs alleging misconduct of officials at director-general level and 5,570 complaints about officials at divisional director level were investigated. Reports say that these measures have improved the government’s work style and boosted morale. According to the Canton Public Opinion Research Centre, 80% of respondents said that extravagance had been muted and 70% had noticed a decrease in expensive banquets and luxury gifts. (From China Today April 2015)

Beijing to bid for 2022 Winter Olympics

The International Olympic Committee inspected Beijing and the city of Zhangjiakou in Hebei province last month and believed it is possible that the Chinese cities are capable of hosting a successful Winter Olympics in 2022. The evaluation team raised about 150 questions on 15 items for the Beijing bid committee and visited all the proposed venues in downtown Beijing, Yanqing county and Zhangjiakou. They were accompanied by the bid officials and athlete representatives. One pressing issue was the Beijing smog, but Wang Anshun, the bid president, who is also Beijing mayor promised that if the bid was successful, a series of tough measures would be taken to ensure ‘Olympic Blue’ skies in time for the games. (From China Daily (via The Daily Telegraph) 28/4/15)

First ethnic Chinese MP in UK

Alan Mak, aged 31, has become the first ethnic Chinese MP to be elected to the UK parliament. He is the son of Hong Kong working-class migrants and won the seat of Havant for the Conservatives. Mak was selected from 24 Conservative Association candidates and has said that he is a Thatcherite, patriot, local champion and national voice who will work tirelessly for the people of Havant.

In this general election there were 11 ethnic Chinese candidates, including two women, but only Mak was successful. In the last general election in 2010, seven ethnic Chinese stood, but none got in.

Christine Lee, founder and chairwoman of the British Chinese Project and a leader of the Chinese Community in Britain, warmly congratulated Mak. She said that this is an historic moment and that Mak is setting a good example for the younger generation of Chinese in Britain. Most of the candidates in this election are of a similar age. They have grown up understanding the UK political system and want to make a difference. Five of them were Conservative candidates; they included two mainland Chinese migrants. The Liberal Democrats had three ethnic Chinese candidates, the Labour Party, two and the Greens had one. (From China Daily 9/5/15, via the internet)

KMT Chairman meets Xi Jinping in Beijing

On 4 May 2015, Kuomintang (KMT) Chairman Eric Chu met Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People, making Chu another KMT Chairman to visit the mainland. The 1992 Consensus of one China was reaffirmed and it was agreed that the high-level meeting will strengthen cross-Straits ties.

Xi said that both sides should build a community of shared destiny and settle differences through consultation as equals. Xi did not exclude the possibility of cooperation with other political parties on Taiwan, but warned that any acts aimed at independence would harm all Chinese people.

Taiwan leadership elections are due in early 2016 and the KMT are losing support to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

This meeting may help the KMT in the elections because of future opportunities in newly approved free trade zones in Guangdong and Fujian provinces on the mainland, which are close to Taiwan. In addition, Taiwan’s application to join the new AIIB is welcomed; the details are still under discussion.

Business and personnel exchanges resumed between the mainland and Taiwan in 1987 and in 1992, a Consensus was reached acknowledging that the mainland and Taiwan both belong to one and the same China. This Consensus has been the basis for all cross-straits interaction. Direct air, sea and postal communications were established in 2008 after the KMT won the elections. Since then trade agreements and commercial links resulted in $198.32 billion in trade between the two sides in 2014. Taiwanese entrepreneurs had invested $61.6 billion on the mainland by the end of March this year.

During his visit Eric Chu laid a wreath at the Beijing Memorial Hall to Sun Yat-sen, the founding father of the KMT. (From Beijing Review 14/5/15)

Licensed lawyers

China had more than 271,000 licensed lawyers working in 22,000 law firms at the end of 2014. About 90% are full-time professionals; the others are in companies or government agencies. About 74,000 are members of the Communist Party. In 2014, they handled more than 2.8 million lawsuits and handled 360,000 cases needing legal assistance. There were also 3,006 notary services employing 12,960 notaries. (From Beijing Review 16/4/15)

China likely to export nuclear technology

Two new units of the Fuqing Nuclear Power plant in Fujian province using third-generation nuclear technology, known as the Hualong One-reactor design, have been approved. This is a further step forward in the export of Chinese nuclear technology. Permission from the State Council is still needed and this will assist the bidding process to export the technology as it will show confidence in the new developments.

China currently has 22 nuclear power stations with an installed capacity of about 17 gigawatt. A further 26 units are under construction, which will provide a further 30 gigawatt. After the Fukushima disaster in Japan, China suspended approval for nuclear power plants in order to revise its safety standards. The ban was lifted at the end of 2012, but during 2015, approval will only be given for projects in coastal areas. (From Beijing Review 16/4/15)

Cheaper electricity

China will lower prices of electricity generated by coal for industrial and commercial purposes. This is to reduce business costs amid reduced production activity and also to reflect lower coal prices.

However, the government will continue to charge more for large energy-consuming and polluting processes. China cut coal-fired power prices in 2013 and 2014 to encourage power plants to take more de-nitration, de-dusting and other environmental technologies in electricity production. (From Beijing Review 16/4/15)

Social improvements in Xinjiang

The Uygur Autonomous Region will invest more in social welfare projects in 2015 to improve the lives of the people there. The government will allocate more than 72 billion yuan ($12 billion) to be spent in 100 projects involving housing, employment, agriculture and environmental improvement. Priority would be given to the 9,611 villages in the region, each of which will benefit from 500,000 yuan ($80,000) for transportation, agriculture, environmental protection and utilities. The government will continue to build new houses, create jobs and bolster the economy at the village level. Twelve rural projects will be initiated this year to establish homes for the disabled and the elderly and also for educational campaigns. (From Beijing Review 5/4/15)

Body donation

Guangzhou has passed a regulation to allow donors to bypass family consent requirements. This removes a provision that permission had to be obtained from all direct relatives before a body was donated. The family consent provision, which has been adopted in a number of Chinese cities, is thought to have led to donations not being made because traditionally minded family members can veto the wishes of deceased donors. The traditional belief that one’s body must remain complete after death has long hampered organ donation in China. Many medical students have had their training limited because of a lack of donated bodies. (From Beijing Review 16/4/15)

Corrupt officials extradited back to China

China’s Ministry of Public Security has reported that from July to December 2014, 680 suspects have been apprehended in 69 countries and regions. This number equals the total of the previous five years. This sends a message that any corrupt person will be caught no matter where he hides and his illegal gains will be recovered. The US and China are working together and a more streamlined process has been agreed to repatriate Chinese nationals, but will be handled in accordance with American laws and values. Even where no bilateral agreement exists, fugitives can still be removed through other channels, such as immigration proceedings. There have also been meetings with Russian officials regarding cooperation and a number of other countries, including Australia, France and Canada have expressed willingness to help China combat corruption. At the G20 Leaders’ summit held in Brisbane, Australia in November 2014, China concluded 39 extradition treaties and 52 criminal judicial assistance treaties with other countries. (From Beijing Review 23/4/15)

Beijing’s forest coverage

By the end of this year, 41% of the area of Beijing will be forest, according to an announcement on 11 March. The Beijing Greening Committee claims that a total of 197 million trees have been planted in the city since 1981 and 88% of these have survived. During the past 34 years, more than 86 million people have been involved in tree-planting campaigns and by the end of 2014, nearly 47.4% of Beijing had foliage, with public green space per capita reaching 15.9 square metres. Forestation has reduced sandstorms in Beijing, which still has problems with air quality. (From Beijing Review 19/3/15)

China under-represented at IMF

Country2013 GDP of world total (%)IMF voting rights (%)IBRD voting rights (%)
US16.4516.7515.13
China15.843.815.29
UK2.284.294.09
Japan4.586.238.19
Germany3.455.814.59
India6.652.343.08
Brazil2.961.721.71

Despite now having an almost equal share of World GDP with the US, China has a very low entitlement to voting rights at both the IMF and also the IBRD (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development).

Source: World Economic Outlook Database, October 2014 (via China Today April 2015) NB See above in From the British Press New Asian Infrastructure Bank.

Overseas students in China

During 2014, a total of 377,054 overseas students from 203 countries and regions studied in China. This was an increase of 5.77% year on year from previous years. They attended 775 colleges, research institutions and other institutions across 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions. A total of 164,394 international students are studying for degrees; this includes 47,990 graduate and doctoral students. The Republic of Korea, the US and Thailand were the major sources of students. (From Beijing Review 26/3/15)

Clean cars in China

In the effort to save energy and combat pollution, 300,000 purely electrically powered cars will be on the roads by 2020, China’s transportation authority announced on 18 March. China will create a favourable environment to foster quicker growth in the new clean energy vehicles by intense government led promotion. (From Beijing Review 26/3/15)

China’s satellite navigation makes progress

Precision service infrastructure for China’s Beidou satellite navigation system will be built on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau by 2018 as part of the establishment of a nationwide high-precision navigation and positioning system. The infrastructure will be built in Xining, capital city of Qinghai province. Beidou is the Chinese equivalent of the US.NAVTAR Global Positioning System - more commonly known as GPS and Russia’s Global Navigation Satellite System. Currently Beidou has 20 satellites. The system began to provide precision positioning, real-time navigation, location reporting and short message services for users in the Asia-Pacific region in December 2012. It is hoped to be a global system by 2020. (From Beijing Review 5/3/15)

China’s patents applications

China had more patent applications than any other country in 2014 for the fourth consecutive year. The number filed at the State Intellectual Property Office was 928,000, which was 12.5% higher than 2013. The office authorised 233,000 patents, 163,000 of which were from Chinese applicants. China has seen a rising number of patents as part of the drive to upgrade the economy. However, experts say that China’s invention patents still lack a competitive edge. One of the government’s priorities has been to boost innovation by improving protection of intellectual property rights. (From Beijing Review 5/3/15)

Microsoft to partner Chinese companies

Microsoft is to jointly develop smart devices with Lenovo and Xiaomi to run the latest version of its Windows operating system. The new Windows 10 will operate on computers, tablets and smartphones and is planned to be launched this summer. Lenovo is the parent company of Motorola Mobility and Xiaomi is the third largest maker of smartphones in the world. Microsoft announced this initiative in a two-day conference held in Shenzhen. (From Beijing Review 26/3/15)

Cement development with Australia

A new Australian process that converts blast furnace waste into an ingredient for cement is being trialled for commercialisation in China. The Dry Slag Granulation process reduces the amount of water and greenhouse gas emission in cement production. It is the focus of a research partnership between Australia’s chief scientific body, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and Beijing Equipment Research and Design Corporation. This is just one of the CSIRO developments that will have global benefits in reducing water and energy use and also reducing greenhouse emissions. (From Beijing Review 26/3/15)

Chinese involvement in the world’s largest radio telescope (SKA)

The design of the first phase of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) has been completed. Construction of two complementary world-class telescopes in Australia and South Africa will start in 2018 and will cost $700 million. The SKA is designed to monitor and map the sky in unprecedented detail and speed and aims to improve our understanding of the universe and the fundamental laws of physics.

The project is currently being supported by 11 countries: Australia, Canada, China, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden and the UK. More than 100 companies and institutions in 20 countries are involved in the work, including, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the China Electronics Technology Group and many Chinese universities. (From China Today April 2015)


SinoFile is compiled by Walter Fung.

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