China News - Winter 2009

China sets targets on greenhouse gases

China announced on Thursday that it is aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, relative to economic development, by 40% to 45% from 2005 levels. This announcement came the day after Obama pledged a provisional target for reductions in emissions in the US. Obama met President Hu in Beijing on 16 November and climate change was discussed. China and the US are the two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases and both Prime Minister Wen Jiabao of China and President Obama will attend the Copenhagen international climate meetings at some stage.

The European Commission said it welcomed the 'valuable steps China is taking to tackle climate change'. Obama is expected to announce that the US intends to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 'in the range of 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 and 83% by 2050.' China will measure its reduction by carbon intensity, or the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per unit of gross domestic product, meaning that emissions would still grow, though the rate would slow substantially. China has rejected an absolute reduction arguing that environmental concerns must be balanced with economic growth. Also developed countries must first demonstrate a significant commitment to reducing emissions.

China's current five-year plan, which runs from 2006 to 2010, calls for an improvement of 20% in overall energy efficiency. Provincial and municipal officials are now assessed partly on how they have improved energy efficiency. For example, in Guangdong Province, the 200 largest cities and the 200 largest companies have been required to improve energy efficiency by 20% by 2010.

China has also made substantial investments in alternative energy over the past four years that will help it meet its target. Further installations of wind turbines, solar panels and nuclear power plants are already planned. (From International Herald Tribune, 27/11/09)

Health care in China

This year the Chinese government has announced a plan to spend more than $120 billion on the first phase of a 10-year overhaul of the healthcare system. By 2020, the government wants all its citizens to have access to affordable basic medical services. The intention is to bring the health care system in line with China's economic and social development. Thousands of medical facilities are being renovated and broader state-sponsored insurance coverage is being funded. After a recent push, the government says that 77% of people are enrolled in insurance plans, although the portion of medical expenses is often relatively low and about 300 million people at present have no coverage at all.

It is believed that President Hu and other top leaders, who spent much of their careers working in rural areas, have a better understanding of the rural poor. Unhappiness at grass-roots level could result in social unrest. In a speech last month, Li Keqiang, China's vice premier said that repairing the health care system would have an overall impact on reform, development and stability. It could also make the economy less reliant on exports by stimulating the domestic demand. (From The Wall Street Journal 16-18/10/09)

From the British Press

Christmas in China

This is an excerpt from a report written in April 2006, but it is probably not too much out of date. About 70% of the world's Christmas decorations are made in China and many Chinese view the festival as an unofficial holiday. In cities across China, shopping malls are festooned with Christmas trees. In New China, Christmas is a source of fascination but its real meaning is something of a puzzle. There is a widespread belief that it is somehow associated with modernity. However, some university students sport silver crosses and smart new churches in Chinese cities are packed on Sundays. (From, New Statesman 10/4/06)

Nostalgia and Progress (China's 60th), by Fu Ying, Chinese Ambassador to the UK

Turning 60 is a milestone and this was marked by a big parade in Beijing and a week long holiday. Nostalgia prevailed over an old handkerchief full of food coupons left to her by her mother. For decades, everything from meat to cloth was rationed and Fu Ying grew up knowing hunger. The coupons were kept in case they were needed again - they never were.

In 1949, China's GDP was $18 billion or $50 per capita. In 2008, the figures were $4.3 trillion and $3,260 respectively. In the last 30 years, 200 million people came out of poverty and Chinese society is more open and dynamic. There are nearly 2,000 newspapers, more than 9,000 magazines and 287 TV channels. In addition there are 700 million mobile phones, 300 million internet users and 180 million bloggers. Some 800 international journalists sat in some of the meetings of the National Peoples' Congress this year and asked questions. Also 30,000 journalists covered the Olympic Games.

There has been major progress in developing the rule of law and local democracy. In the last 30 years 223 laws were promulgated and suggestions from public letters, e mails and web comments were received. Elections were introduced at rural level 10 years ago and all of the 64,000 village committees were directly elected. The government is working hard to introduce democratic decision making at all levels to ensure that people's voices are heard.

But there is still much to do. China's GDP per capita ranks 104th in the world (total GDP ranks 3rd), while the UK's ranks 20thand is 17 times higher. Per capital overseas investment in China is only 1/25th that of the UK. Some 135 million people across China live on less than one dollar a day. Any small problem can grow into a huge one if multiplied by 1.3 billion. Any big achievement can become tiny if divided by this number. China will continue to build a strong and harmonious society where every child is at school and everyone has a job, a roof over their head, every sick person is treated and every elderly person is taken care of.

China's rapid progress would not have been possible without close interaction with the world - in particular, the West. Over 30 years, China's trade has increased from $20.6 billion to just under $2.6 trillion - more than 100 fold increase. Over the same time, foreign direct investment has grown from virtually zero to $92.4 billion - the highest in the world. At the end of 2008, China had invested $150 billion in 170 countries of the world. In the past 30 years, 1.39 million Chinese studied in 109 countries and during 2008, 45 million Chinese tourists travelled overseas.

These achievements have not been accomplished by war or aggression, but through exchanges and trade. Seeking friendship and fostering a peaceful and co-operative environment is China's constant objective. China is fulfilling her growing responsibilities from restoring global growth to combating climate change and will continue to partner Britain in this process. Fu Ying will donate her mother's food coupons to the British museum as promised. On the 60th birthday, China celebrates its past and it future. (From The Guardian 2/10/09)

China wants a coalition not a clash of civilisations

Notes from Wen Jiabao's speech in Cairo to the Arab League

Civilisations can be different, but no civilisation is superior to others. Each civilisation embodies the common aspirations of mankind shaped in the course of development and progress. The Chinese civilisation has long advocated the great ideas that 'harmony is most valuable', 'seek harmony in diversity' and 'do not unto others what you would not have them do unto you.' Similarly, the Islamic civilisation values peace and calls for tolerance. The Koran contains more than 100 references to peace. We should build consensus and seek harmony in a world of diversity and push forward development through exchanges. This is the approach all mankind should embrace in civilisation.

Diversity of civilisation is largely reflected in ethnic and religious diversity. China is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country. It is made up of 56 ethnic groups. The indigenous Taoism has long existed in harmony with Buddhism, Islam and Christianity - all religions introduced from the outside. It is the basic policy of the Chinese government to implement and improve the system of regional ethnic autonomy, ensure equality among all ethnic groups and speed up the economic and social development of minority ethnic groups and areas inhabited by these groups. It is also our policy to ensure freedom of religious belief and bring into play the positive role of religious personages and religious believers in promoting economic and social development.(From The Independent 10/11/09)

China and US differ after Beijing summit

Despite warm words on the need for further cooperation, no substantial progress on the major issues was achieved. It had been hoped that Obama's less confrontational approach would improve relations, but at a staid press conference, Mr Obama and Mr Hu read out prepared statements and did not take questions.

Protectionism was high on the agenda, but both leaders chose to emphasise different sides of the debate to address the wide trade imbalances. Mr Obama avoided any mention of protectionism and focussed on the need for the yuan to appreciate against the dollar. Mr Hu did not mention the yuan, but focussed on the dangers of protectionism. Mr Obama said that freedoms of speech and assembly were 'universal rights' and that although the US recognised Tibet as part of China, there should be an early resumption of talks with the Dalai Lama. Mr Hu emphasised the agreed principle of 'non-interference' in each others internal affairs.

There was common ground on North Korea, but not on Iran's nuclear programme: Obama warned of 'consequences' if Iran failed to pursue it for peaceful purposes, whilst Mr Hu maintained that the problem should be resolved through 'dialogue and negotiation'.

On climate change, Mr Obama believed that a substantial deal was possible despite his being unable to talk specifically about US emissions reduction. Mr Hu believed that any deal must be based on developed nations making larger cuts than they were offering. (From The Telegraph 18/11/09)

Solar power giant comes on stream

China's largest solar power generation project, a 2MW rooftop photovoltaic power plant located in the Hangzhou Energy and Environmental Industries Zone, was recently put into operation. It was funded and built by Zhejiang Energy Conservation Company and has a generation capacity of up to 2 million KWh - sufficient to provide electricity for 1,000 three-person families for a year. From China-Britain Business Review, November 2009)

Chinese Railways long term plan

In 2004 China approved a plan for its railways which was reviewed in 2008. New goals were set to accelerate development to keep pace with the economy. GDP per capita of the year 2000 is expected to quadruple by 2020. At the end of 2008, the length of the national network had reached 80,000 route-km of which 36% was double track and 34.6 was electrified. The new plan will see 120,000 route-km by 2020 and 50% of this will be electrified. Every city with a population exceeding 200,000 will be served by the railways. (From Railway Gazette International, Sept 2009)

China higher education boom

After the devastation of the decade-long Cultural Revolution, China has emerged as the biggest provider of tertiary education. It now has about 23 million students in more than 1,700 institutions and within a decade it is expected to overtake the US as the world's largest provider of research. International academics can see at first hand the developments being made when they gather this week at Shanghai's Jiao Tong University. Government has played a part by focusing funding on a handful of institutions to launch them up the international league tables. Under the '985 project', China has invested 33 billion yuan, (£2.9 billion) in just 36 institutions - 40% of it on the top nine. More investment is planned and China's impressive increase in research has been accompanied by a rise in research collaborations. These presents UK institutions, Oct-4 amongst others, with tremendous opportunities for exciting and lucrative research and teaching partnerships. (From Times Higher Education, 29 Oct-4 Nov 2009)

Holiday revenues up in Beijing and Shanghai

Beijing received 15 million tourists during the 8-day National Holiday in October, which was a 59% increase over the same period last year. They produced revenue of £480 million (5.4 billion yuan). Shanghai saw 5.8 million tourists, an increase over last year of 33%. (From China-Britain Business Review, November 2009)

Africa welcomes Chinese honoured guest

To gauge the importance of the main guest at next week's summit in Sharm el-Sheik one needed only to look at the number of African dignitaries there to greet him - far more than ever attended meetings of the African Union. Wen Jiabao, the Chinese Premier is to meet more than 50 African leaders and foreign and finance ministers to cement his country's place as Africa's most important friend. This illustrates Africa's rapidly changing global relationship which is driven by China's voracious demand for minerals and energy.

Barely a week now passes without Beijing signing a multi-million pound bilateral agreement with an African country. This week it was the turn of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where China plans to build roads and railways in return for copper and cobalt concessions in a deal worth an estimated $3 billion (£2.5 billion). Last month Guinea received a $7 billion lifeline - an investment in its mining sector. Most in Africa see it as a 'win-win' relationship. 'The Chinese are here to invest and in today's world all investors are good news' said Emmanuel Ole Naiko of the Tanzania Investment Centre. 'China is going to be a very important country in years to come. They do not just take, they build infrastructure and are constant. They are good friends and investors'.

Three years ago, at the China-African summit in Beijing, Hu Jintao, the Chinese President put $5 billion on the table in loans and credit. At the summit tomorrow and on Monday, hosted by Egypt's' President Mubarak, China is expected to double that. Despite the world recession, last year China-Africa trade leapt to $107 billion. This was rise of 45% in one year and even beat African trade with the US. Direct Chinese investment grew from $491 million in 2003 to $107 billion in 2008. The results are visible everywhere, Chinese workers are building roads, ports, dams, railways, football stadiums, hotels and office blocks. China's Vice-Minister of Commerce said that China's aid to Africa is based on Africa's needs without imposing any political preconditions. From The Times 7/11/09]

China's Gold Reserves

The appearance of this table was prompted by India's buying of 200 tonnes of gold from the IMF which according to The Economist 'will take it into the top ten gold-holders in the world', presumably approximately on a par with Russia.

Country '000 tonnes of gold
United States 8.1
Germany 3.4
IMF 3.2
Italy 2.5
France 2.4
China 1.1
Switzerland 1.0
Japan 0.8
Netherlands 0.6
Russia 0.6
India 0.6

Source: World Gold Council. (From The Economist 7/11/09)

Qingdao praised for intellectual property protection enforcement

Qingdao has been praised as 'a national intellectual property model city'. A national group of assessors reported that the city had been successful in rapidly developing an infrastructure to enforce intellectual property protection, whilst also being an innovation friendly city. (From China-Britain Business Review, November 2009)

Mao's revolution is now an epic film

A film marking the 60th Anniversary of China's revolution opens in Beijing cinemas today. It stars almost 200 of China's best known actors. The film, The Founding of a Republic, made by the state owned China Film Group, traces the ascendancy of Chairman Mao and is intended as a focal point for celebrations which will culminate on 1 October, China's National Day. Hundreds of stars, including Jackie Chan, Jet Li and the actress Zhang Ziyi will be involved. Such was the pressure for parts that some big names failed to make the final selection. The budget for the film was £6 million, but many of the stars donated their time free of charge. Jackie Chan and Zhang Ziyi play unnamed roles. A lesser-known actor, Tang Guoqiang gives a startlingly lifelike performance as Mao. The film chronicles the birth of Communist China through battles between 1945-49 against Chiang Kai-shek. A 22-year-old sales assistant admitted that she had been attracted by the cast, but said she had also come to learn some history. She acknowledged that without the endeavours of the country's founders, young people would not be enjoying a happy life.

The eldest member of the audience, who is 86, said that the film was a profound trip down memory lane. He was in Tiananmen Square on 1 October 1949. He declared, 'So many people sacrificed their lives for the founding of the republic. We cannot forget history.' (From The Daily Telegraph 17/9/09)

Rocket scientist, Qian Xuesen dies at age of 97 years

Qian Xuesen was a first-class rocket scientist who was initially best known for his contributions to rocket, missile and space technology in the US. He applied to become a US citizen in 1949 but soon after, in the anti-communist witch hunts, he was accused of having communist sympathies. He was deprived of his US security clearance and was detained for a period of time at a low-security prison near Los Angeles. Later he was exchanged for the repatriation of 11 US pilots captured during the Korean War and was allowed to return to China with his wife and two American-born children.

In China he became leader of China's ballistic missile programme and was responsible for the development of, amongst others, the Dongfeng ballistic and Silkworm missiles. His research was used in China's space programme, culminating in the human spaceflight mission on 15 October 2003. He became a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. In 2001 he was awarded Caltech's Distinguished Alumni Award in recognition of his pioneering work in rocket science and in 2008 the US space journal 'Aviation Week & Space Technology' named him as 'Person of the Year.' The deportation of Qian was, in the words of the former Navy Secretary, 'the stupidest thing this country ever did. He was no more a communist than I was, and we forced him to go.' (From The Times 20/11/09)

China Shipbuilding to launch IPO in Shanghai.

China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation, China's largest ship equipment maker, said yesterday that it would raise up to $2.2 billion in an initial public offering in Shanghai. The industry continues to expand in a strong domestic market, and funds are needed to increase production capacity. In the first half of 2007, China overtook South Korea to become the world's largest shipbuilder. China now builds 32.4% of all ships in the world compared to 29.5% in 2007, according to China Association of the National Shipbuilding Industry.

China is the world's second largest home to new listings this year - just short of Hong Kong which has a total of $27.3 billion. Shanghai raised $16.3 billion and Shenzhen, $7.3 billion, according to Dealogic. (From The Financial Times 6/12/09)

Tai Chi can 'easy the pain of arthritis'

Researchers at Tufts University in Massachusetts have tested the effect of Tai Chi on patients suffering from arthritis of the knee, which affects thousands of Britons, especially the elderly. They found that as well as suffering less pain, they could move more easily, were less depressed and overall, were in better health within weeks. A similar size group was asked to practise stretching exercises. This group also felt better, but not as well as the group doing Tai Chi. In addition the pain reduction was only about 20%.

Barry Phelan, a former British Tai Chi champion who teaches the art in Kent, said that he had seen at first hand the effect that Tai Chi could have on arthritis patients. He said that he has an 83-year-old woman in his class who at first could not move her arms above her head. Now she can lift her arms and touch her toes and has become very lively and active.

Researchers believe that the exercises work by conditioning muscles and increasing suppleness as well as increasing patient's overall feelings of wellbeing. Dr Chenchen Wang who led the study at Tufts called for more research to understand exactly how Tai Chi works so that other patients with other conditions could benefit. The findings were published in the journal 'Arthritis Care & Research'. The NHS performs 65,000 knee replacement operations each year, many on arthritis patients. (From The Daily Telegraph 29/10/09)

From the Chinese Press


The 60th Anniversary Parade in Beijing

Chinese President Hu Jintao rode in an open topped car and saluted troops along Chang'an Avenue, 'Greetings Comrades!' to which they replied, 'Greetings, leader'. 'You are working hard' the President said and the response was, 'We serve the people!' The proceedings triggered excitement amongst the 200,000 spectators in Tiananmen Square which was transformed into a sea of colours as 60 big red lanterns waved between 56 National Unity Poles, which represent the 56 ethnic minority groups.

This was the 14th full-dress National Day military parade since 1949. Fourteen formations of units from China's army, navy, air force, armed police force, militias and reserve forces marched by accompanied by 30 mobile sets of new weapons manufactured independently by China. They included new generation tanks, sophisticated radar and unmanned aerial vehicles and intercontinental ballistic missiles. More than 150 jet fighters, helicopters, early warning and control aircraft flew overhead.

The military parade was followed by a mass procession of 100,000 civilians in 35 formations, who escorted 60 brightly decorated floats while marching under different themes. The floats commemorated the great changes and achievements of the past 60 years. They were decorated with landmarks of the 31 provinces and autonomous regions, municipalities as well as Macao, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Local characteristics were highlighted as well as economic achievements. The five floats from the autonomous regions of Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang Uighur, Ningxia Hui, Tibet and Guangxi Zhuang provided a distinct flavour of ethnic minority groups, with performers dressed in ethnic costumes dancing to local music.

The celebration's audience was as diverse as the multi-coloured parade floats, coming from all walks of life, many of whom were excited to see the National Day parade for the first time. In another 40 years, when New China celebrates its 100th Anniversary, it will be prosperous, democratic and civilised and reflect a harmonious modern socialist country. (From Beijing Review8/10/09)

The 12th China-ASEAN summit conference

During the Association of East Asian Nations conference from 23rd to 25th October 2009, Wen Jiabao, the Chinese prime minister offered suggestions on fighting the financial crisis by enhanced regional cooperation. The proposals addressed both immediate and urgent issues as well as longer term strategic planning.

Actual cooperation between China and its ASEAN partners has increased. Since 1991, close trade, economic and political relations have been established together with cultural exchanges. Key cooperative areas include agriculture and telecommunications, but there are 30 other areas of working together. The objective is to make the most of the China-ASEAN free trade area, which is expected to be up and running by 2010.

China is to increase investment in ASEAN member countries and protect intellectual property rights and trade barriers are to be eliminated. Other proposals include accelerating infrastructure construction and helping ASEAN members increase food productivity. Beijing also plans help in environmental protection and the use of clean energy. China hopes to work with ASEAN countries on A/HIN1 flu prevention, defence, culture, tourism and cracking own on cross-border crime. (From Beijing Review 5/11/09)

China progresses in competitiveness

The Chinese mainland's ranking rose one place over the last year from 30th to 29th in the Global Competitiveness Index for 2009/2010. This information was in a report issued by the World Economic Forum. China's increasing competitiveness mainly comes from its rising innovative capability.

The Global Competitiveness Index is based on 12 categories including items such as institutions, infrastructure and macroeconomic infrastructure. Over the year China made progress in sub-indicators such as commercial maturity (38th - an improvement of 5 places) and innovation (26th - an improvement of 2 places). The report also indicated shortcomings which China should address. These included maturity of financial markets, technological readiness and higher education.

This year, the US fell by one place, ranking second after Switzerland. This was because of the weakening financial market and macroeconomic instability in the US. (From China Today, November 2009)

China's pledges at the September UN summits

Hu Jintao spoke at the 64th Session of the UN General Assembly on 23 September 2009. He said that the growing economic globalisation has linked all countries closely together. The world is undergoing major development changes and adjustments, and uncertainties and instability in the international landscape, loom large posing severe challenges.

Climate change, food security, energy efficiency and public health are among the many global challenges faced by all. Thus the international community has a responsibility to build a harmonious world of enduring peace and common prosperity to contribute to the noble cause of peace and development of mankind. Hu believes we should be more tolerant and live together in harmony. We should view security in a broader perspective, take a more holistic approach and pursue cooperation with a more open mind. Most important, we should acknowledge differences in cultural traditions, social systems and values and respect the rights of all countries to independently choose their development paths.

Being the largest developing country, China's destiny is increasingly linked with that of the entire world. Mr Hu said that China will stick to its path of peaceful development that leads to mutual benefits and win-win results. He noted that China has lived up to its role as a world citizen by extending assistance to 120 countries, writing off outstanding debts to 49 less developed countries and at the same time offered zero-tariff rates on goods from more than 40 counties. In assisting other developing countries, Beijing will increase its support for nations hardest hit by he global crisis by implementing relevant financing plans, intensifying trade and investment cooperation and helping raise their capacity to resist risks and achieve sustainable development. China's development is an opportunity, not a challenge and a contribution, not a threat to the world. (From Beijing Review 8/10/09)

Tracing lost treasure

Chinese researchers have begun a journey to identify and archive artefacts overseas. At least 1.5 million items were believed to have been taken away from the Old Summer Palace in Beijing. They went into museums and private collections both in China and abroad. The Old Summer Palace (Yuanmingyuan) was burned and looted in the 1860s during the Second Opium War. On 18 October this year, the Yuanmingyuan Administrative Office launched an initiative to trace the palace's lost relics overseas. A team of historians and experts from this office and Tsinghua University will visit more than 2,000 museums, libraries and private collections in the US, UK, France and Germany. The team will then visit Japan and other Asian countries. The objective is not repatriation of the items, but to identify and document them. Chen Mingjie, Director of the Yuanmingyuan Administrative Office stressed this, but said that he hoped that some previously unknown relics might surface and that some might be returned to China during the tracing effort.

Statistics from UNESCO show that more than 164 million Chinese artefacts are retained in 47 museums worldwide. The British Museum has the most with 230,000 items from the Old Summer Palace.

A British Museum spokeswomen, Esme Wilson, said that they would be happy to cooperate. However, it remains unclear whether the museum will allow Chinese researchers access to 90% of its collection, which has remained behind closed doors. China would be entitled to reclaim these looted items under the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import and Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. (From Beijing Review 5/11/09)

Chinese government begins research to identify and cope with ageing citizens

Vice-premier Hui Liangyu launched the programme on the eve of Chong Yang - a day when people pay respects to the elderly - calling for close attention to the ageing issue. He said it concerned people's livelihoods, long-term economic development and the nation's lasting peace and social stability.

According to the UN, a society is officially ageing when one-tenth of its population is 60 years or older and 7% is 65 years or older. The Chinese mainland passed these markers at the 2000 census, which placed the former criterion at 10.5% and the latter above 7.1%. By the end of 2007, these figures had increased to 13.59% and 9.29% respectively according to The China 2008 Statistical Yearbook. It is anticipated that by 2030, the number of 65+ citizens will have more than doubled from 100 million now to more than 235 million. In the urban areas, by 2025, one person in five will be over 65, a rate of ageing only found in Japan and Italy.

A rapidly ageing population and a shrinking workforce (contributed to by the single-child policy) will cause tax revenue to contract while expenditure on pensions and health care will increase and undermine the fiscal position. A senior economist with the Asian Development Bank believes that the nation's leadership, society as a whole and the business community were ill-prepared to cope with the challenges ahead. The ageing society is coming much earlier than expected. (From SCMP 26/10/09)

China and India sign a memorandum of understanding on climate change

China and India vowed to step up cooperation on climate change yesterday (21 October 2009) in a symbolic move aimed at strengthening the stance of developing countries in the lead up to the Copenhagen conference. The five year pact signed in New Delhi would give developing countries a bigger voice. India and China have made no secret of their opposition to binding targets for developing countries which could hinder them in their quest to alleviate poverty. Developing countries say that the industrialised developed countries produced most of the harmful gases in recent decades and should bear the costs of fixing the problem.

A huge gap exists between rich counties who are reluctant to pay the fiscal and lifestyle costs of deep cuts in their emissions and the developing countries, who say that they should be allowed to increase emissions, so that their economies can catch up. The China-India agreement covers cooperation for action to reduce gas emissions, technology transfers, energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Meanwhile Chinese prime minister Wen Jiabao pledged China would step up cooperation on renewable energy and environmental protection with the US during a meeting with former US vice-president Al Gore who was at a clean-energy forum in Beijing. (From SCMP, 22/10/09)

Restricting pesticide pollution

The number of China's pesticide companies will be cut by 30% by 2015 in an effort to reduce pollution, according to the draft of the Industrial Policy for the Pesticide Industry that was released on 3 November by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. The plan is that the largest 20 companies will account for 50% of the production by 2015 and 70% by 2020. By 2015, the industry should be producing 30% less waste and recycling 30% of the by-products. This figure is projected to rise to 50% by the year 2020. (From Beijing Review 12/11/09)

Improving military ties

China and the US appear poised to strengthen their troubled military exchanges. Despite a prosperous boom in the diplomatic, economic and cultural exchanges between the two countries, bilateral military ties have not developed as smoothly. Frictions and confrontations have occasionally happened, with both sides criticizing each other. In October 2008, China cut military exchanges with the US, objecting to the latter's proposed $6.5 billion arms package to sold to Taiwan. This was an action viewed by China as a violation of the Sino-US Joint Communiqué signed in 1982.

A Senior Fellow in China Studies at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies said, 'The distrust between the Chinese and US military is deeply rooted'. The US and China have different political systems and different values and are in potential competition around the world. The Vice-Chairman of China's Central Military Commission, Xu Caihou made a 10-day visit to the US, where he visited the Pentagon and was received by the US Secretary of Defence, Robert Gates. Xu said that China's Peoples Liberation Army is not a threat to other countries, certainly not the US. Its purpose is to serve the people. Seven items for military cooperation, which included promoting high level exchanges, were agreed.

In the year 2000, the US Congress put restrictions on exchanges between Chinese and US armed forces in 12 areas. The US doubts China's strategic intentions and the legitimacy of its military growth. On the other hand, US warships and planes carry out operations in China's exclusive economic zones.

In recent years, the US has substantively upgraded its military relations with Taiwan and provided it with sophisticated weapons. China's view is that compromises are impossible on issues concerning the country's core interests such as sovereignty, territorial integrity and security. Chinese President Hu Jintao and US President Barack Obama have reached a consensus on advancing military-to-military ties during their meetings in London in April and in New York in September. (From Beijing Review 5/11/09)

Sino File is compiled by Walter Fung with some input for From the Chinese Press by Teresa Ray.

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