China News - Autumn 2014

From the British Press

A Royal visit to China in 2015?

Sources from Kensington Palace and the Foreign Office have revealed that plans are being drawn up for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to tour China. Officials believe a tour would be a diplomatic coup and help repair the damage caused in 2005 when it was revealed that Prince Charles had described Chinese officials in his diary as ‘appalling old waxworks!

China has vast potential for British business but relations between the two countries have been strained, primarily due to the disapproval by the Chinese of the meetings by David Cameron and Prince Charles have had with the Dalai Lama. China’s foreign ministry said that the prime minister had harmed ‘Chinese-British relations’ and froze high-level diplomatic ties which ended only last year when Cameron led a trade delegation to ‘turn the page’ and ‘reboot’ the relationship with China.

A trip to China by the Royal Couple, neither of whom has been to before, would be likely to reflect their own interests including conservation and the arts. The foreign office is believed to want to capitalise on the goodwill felt towards the younger royals and the skills they have displayed as international ambassadors. (From The Sunday Times 31/8/14)

Deals worth billions, a new era for UK-China relations

On his first visit to the UK as prime minister, Li Keqiang declared that the UK and China were ‘indispensable partners in economic and social development’. Together with David Cameron, Mr Li presided over the signing of £14 billion worth of business deals in London. The target is to increase bilateral trade to $100 billion (£60 billion) by the end of next year. British exports to China had already doubled in the past five years and were growing faster than those of France and Germany, which are both bigger by volume. The UK has exported more to China in the past 18 months than in the past 30 years combined.

Last night, Mr Li joined Mr Cameron at Downing Street for talks with international financial leaders to promote global free trade. Chancellor George Osborne chaired the meeting with Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank and Angel Gurria,, head of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. Later, there was a dinner hosted by the China-Britain Business Council.

Mr Li said that the UK has advanced technology that can be married with China’s vast markets and by doing so, huge energy can be created. He added that we should not only expand our bilateral trade to $100 billion, but also make our cooperation of better quality and greater content.

BP dominated the list of trade deals with a £12 billion agreement to supply liquefied natural gas (LNG) to China’s state energy company, CNOOC. The deal is driven by China’s desire for cleaner energy and will see 1.5 million tons of LNG shipped annually for 20 years, starting from 2019. Royal Dutch Shell also extended an agreement with CNOOC.

Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) were signed between two British departments and their Chinese counterparts. The Department of Transport is committed to cooperation with the Chinese in the rail sector and there is possible Chinese investment in the HS2 project. China’s National Nuclear Corporation could be cooperating with the Department of Energy on nuclear energy: China is already a minor partner in a new nuclear unit at Hinckley Point. In addition, Rolls-Royce has agreed to cooperate more closely with China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation on civil nuclear power.

A memorandum of understanding was signed between Lloyds Banking Group and China Development Bank on cooperation on ‘financial infrastructure’. Other deals included a proposed £1.5 billion investment from China Minsheng Investment Corporation, which is opening its European HQ in London. This investment will target advanced technology, financial services, off-shore engineering, new energy and environmental protection. Two other companies, including ZNShine Solar announced a joint venture to purchase, develop and construct £400 million of UK solar assents.

Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, said that Britain’s brand is recognised around the world and the Chinese have an appetite for high-quality British goods and services. (From The Daily Telegraph 18/6/14)

Remembering Britain’s Chinese allies (WW1)

The 95,000 Chinese farm labourers who volunteered to leave their villages and work for Britain in the First World War have been called ‘the forgotten of the forgotten’. Their contribution was barely recognised at the end of the war and has been almost obliterated since. There is no mention of them on any of the 40,000 war monuments and there are no descendants here, because they were refused any right to settle after the war.

There was a giant canvas shown in Paris at the end of the war. It was believed to be the world’s largest painting and showed a victorious France surrounded by her allies. The painting was begun at the beginning of the war in 1914 but was changed in 1917 to include the US. Space was found on the canvas by painting over the Chinese workers. Furthermore, when the Imperial War Museum in London, reopened last month after a £40 million rebuild, there was no mention of the Chinese contribution in the First World War gallery.

Now a campaign has been started by the Chinese community in Britain to create a permanent memorial in London to these men, the Chinese Labour Corps (CLC). Steve Lau, chair of the Ensuring We Remember campaign, was invited to the service of commemoration at Glasgow cathedral on 4 August.

Some 543 Chinese labourers recruited by the French aboard the ship Athos, bound for Marseilles, died when it was torpedoed by the Germans in the Mediterranean Sea. The labourers recruited by Britain came across the Pacific Ocean to Canada, where they were loaded onto sealed trains which took them to the west coast and from there by ship to France via Liverpool and Folkestone. A number who died on the journey are buried in Liverpool. In France, they lived in labour camps and did manual work such as digging trenches, unloading ships and trains, laying tracks, building roads and repairing tanks. They were non-combatants but exposed to the dangers of war and the work was dangerous. At the end of the war, most went home but some stayed on until 1920 clearing live ordinance and exhuming bodies before removing them to war cemeteries. About 2,000 of the CLC are in Commonwealth war graves, but some sources believe 20,000 died.

At the end of the war, the Allies broke their promise to China that the German territories in China would be returned to China. Instead they were given to Japan. (From The Guardian 15/8/14)

NB. See below in, From the Chinese press, Chinese workers in WW1 saluted (in France)

Anti-corruption campaign

On 29 July it was revealed that Zhou Yongkang, the former standing committee member of the Politburo in charge of security in China, was under investigation by the Communist Party for serious violations of discipline. This is an unprecedented event, since it was believed that men of Mr Zhou’s stature in the party were virtually untouchable. Mr Zhou sat atop a network of patronage which included the security apparatus and the oil and gas industry. In recent months prot?g?s have been rounded up allegedly for graft. They include Jiang Jiemin, once head of PetroChina and, last year, of the governing body overseeing state-owned assets. On 29 July reports surfaced of the arrest of Mr Zhou’s businessman son, Zhou Bin, who also has interests in energy.

President Xi Jinping and his able sideman, Wang Qishan, who runs the anti-corruption campaign, appear deadly serious about graft. Since the beginning of 2013, the party says, over 200,000 officials have been punished. These include three dozen ministers, provincial leaders or top executives at state-owned companies. Many officials are reported to have committed suicide. Mr Xi and Mr Wang believe graft poses an almost existentialist threat to Communist Party rule. Ordinary people are disgusted with party corruption and going after corrupt ‘tigers’ underpins Mr Xi’s popularity. In addition they believe corruption frustrates economic proposals and reforms to make state-owned enterprises perform better. They intend to smash the interests resisting reform.

On 30 July the People’s Daily, the party newspaper said that Mr Xi is serious about purifying the party’s ranks and that nobody is safe from scrutiny. Optimists hope that Mr Xi will use his power to push on with economic and social reforms. This week the party announced that it would convene a big meeting in October to discuss the rule of law, an area that was once Mr Zhou’s to define and control. (From The Economist 2/8/14)

Britain tenth in welcoming Chinese

France is seen as the most welcoming European country to Chinese tourists. They were asked to name the most hospitable country in a survey conducted by Worldwide they chose Australia as first, followed by Singapore and then France and New Zealand as equal third. Britain came tenth. (From The Times 16/7/14)

Military spending

China spends about 2% of its GDP on the military. Other countries’ spending is as follows: US 5%, UK 3%, Germany 1%, France 2%, Japan 1%, Israel 7%, Iran 4%, India 2%, Russia 5%, Pakistan 4 %, South Korea 4% and North Korea 21%. As for active military personnel per 1,000 citizens, China has 1.7 persons, US 4.6, UK 3.2, Russia 7.3, South Korea 13.7 and North Korea 48.8. The US spends more than $700 billion each year, which is more than the next 14 biggest spenders combined. (From The Guardian 17/6/13)

Beijing rival to World Bank

Beijing is pushing for a bank as a rival for the existing World Bank, which is seen as too close to the US and the Asian Development Bank in Manila. The latter bank has had a Japanese president since its inception in 1966 and is also seen as too close to the US. So far 22 countries across the Middle-East, which China call, West Asia, have shown interest in the new bank which will initially focus on a new ‘Silk Road’ infrastructure including a direct rail link between Beijing and Baghdad. China is likely to go ahead on its own even if nobody else joins them. (From The Financial Times 25/6/14)

Mixed-race couples on the rise, especially Chinese

Almost one in ten of all couples living together in England and Wales are of mixed ethnicity, latest figures have revealed. Around 2.3 million married or cohabiting partners are in an inter-ethnic relationship, the Office for National Statistics found - a rise of 2% since 2001. The younger generation make up the majority of those in mixed relationships, many of whom had parents from different ethnic backgrounds. The percentage of people by ethnic group living in interracial relationships show; 4% of white in 2011and the figure for 2001 was 3%: for Indian the figures were 12% and 0%; for Pakistani 9% and 9%; for African 23% and 22%; for Caribbean 34% and 43%; for Chinese 25% and 31%. The biggest difference between the sexes in 2011was in the Chinese group, with Chinese women almost twice as likely as men to be with someone from a different ethnicity; 20% of males compared to 39% of females. (From Metro 4/7/14 and The Daily Telegraph 4/7/14)

Chinese couples flock to UK for wedding snaps

The latest craze amongst Chinese professionals is travelling to Britain before their wedding to pose before iconic landmarks such as Big Ben, London’s Tower Bridge, Edinburgh Castle or Blenheim Palace. Those that cannot afford the trip are posing in front of big screens showing the sites. Official figures show the number of Chinese visitors is rising by 20% annually and is expected to reach 650,000 by 2020. Despite being associated with death, white is replacing red as the choice of colour for Chinese brides and wearing wedding dresses is so popular that middle-class college students are paying £10 to rent them for graduation ceremonies. (From The Daily Telegraph 6/7/14)

China and the Arctic

In April, China arranged for two pandas to go to Copenhagen zoo. This is probably because China is one of the biggest investors in mining in Greenland, which Denmark partly administers. Offshore oil is being explored with Rosneft of Russia. In addition there is a Chinese presence in northern Norway and on the island of Svalbard where Mr Huang Nubo, a Chinese tycoon, is planning a resort for tourists. There is already a Chinese research station on the island. A China-Nordic research centre opened in Shanghai last December.

China is also to launch a new $210 million ice-breaker and is exploring the Northern Sea Route to Europe via the Arctic. In 2010 four ships travelled the route; last summer 71 ships made the journey, but each ship must at some stage be accompanied by an ice-breaker. Some Arctic researchers however, believe the Arctic Ocean could be ice-free by the middle of this century. The Arctic route cuts the sea distance between Shanghai and Rotterdam by 22% and the Polar Research Institute of China has predicted that by 2020, 5-15% of China’s international trade will use the Arctic route. However, some western researchers believe that is optimistic and ‘overblown’ because of weather conditions and environmental sensitivities. (From The Economist 12/7/14)

Fracking in China

China has 30 trillion cubic metres of recoverable shale gas, the largest in the world and 70% more than the US. However initial results are disappointing because China’s deposits are mostly in inhospitable regions and deeper than those in the US. Even with American help fracking has proved difficult. The rocks in the areas worked resist the American fracking techniques.

China’s two biggest state oil companies, Sinopec and China National Petroleum, have been fracking furiously but so far only Sinopec has a commercially viable project in Sichuan’s Fuling district. Sinopec claims the field will yield five billion cubic metres next year, compared to a national total of 200 million cubic metres in 2013.

China’s main planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission declared in 2012, that China would be producing between 60 billion to 100 billion cubic metres of shale gas by 2020. At present coal accounts for 70% of China’s energy and despite the rapid growth in renewable sources, gas is the only cleanish energy that could displace sufficient coal to rein in carbon emissions rapidly. (From The Economist 30/8/14)

China develops facial recognition security techniques

Staff at the Chongqing Institute of Green and Intelligent Technology believes their system could replace online credit card payments. Academics announced that the system will allow users to make online transactions authenticated by a photograph of their face. They plan to launch an app which will link users’ credit cards and bank accounts in the second half of next year. The software is designed to factor in physical changes such as weight gain. Even if the Chongqing institute achieves its target however, it will not be the first in this field because Uniqul, a Finnish company, offered a similar system last July, but it has not been launched widely. (From The Times 30/8/14)

China’s high-speed rail network

The total length of high-speed railway in operation in China is 11.028 km with another 12 lines, totalling a further 5,323 km, to be added this year. This will bring 300 km/hour (186 mph) trains to most Chinese cities of any size. In addition, Li Keqiang, China’s Prime Minister, issued a pledge that China would help connect all of Africa’s capital cities to each other by bullet train. This is an ambitious plan as 13 African countries at present have no railway at all. (From The Times 20/5/14)

China cracks down on religious cults

Amid fears that a new strain of zealots is appearing who may kidnap, seduce or mutilate to recruit followers, China has announced a national crackdown on cults. This seemed to be triggered by the horrifying murder of a woman earlier this month. Wu Ting, a 23-year old mother, was beaten to death by six members of the Almighty God cult as she waited in a branch of McDonald’s for her husband. Images of her death were seen by millions of Chinese. The government said that police operations in two parts of the country had resulted in the arrests of 1,500 cult members. This figure includes a less intensive crackdown that began in 2012.

About 800 of the arrests announced yesterday were alleged members of the Almighty God order, one of 14 cults regarded by the authorities as dangerous and whose recruitment methods have, say experts on China’s cults, have turned increasingly violent. Another 580 arrests were from the Disciples sect which has also been linked to bloodshed. Changes in the membership and behaviour of China’s cults have been noticeable in rural Henan, where the Almighty God cult emerged and where the population has been highly susceptible to new religious movements. The reason is possibly the migration of millions of people, predominantly young men, to the cities, leaving behind large numbers of women who feel a great emptiness. (From The Times 12/6/14)

Burberry sales rocket, especially in China

Sales in Burberry rose by 12% in the last three months, ahead of City expectations of 8%. The performance was driven by double digit increases in China and Hong Kong. Burberry appears to have escaped the worst effects of a slowdown in the luxury market as the authorities crackdown on corruption and gift-giving. City analysts warned however that while Burberry is leading the way in the luxury industry in terms of sales growth, its margins are being squeezed. (From The Daily Telegraph 11/7/14)

National take-away chain?

James Liang, founder and managing director of Hotcha, the Bristol-based takeaway chain, plans to expand from 10 to 100 branches in the next three years, in a ‘flat-out’ effort to become the UK’s first national take-away brand. The founder has said he wants to compete with big pizza brands such as Domino’s and Papa John’s. Mr Liang is a businessman and chemistry graduate, who moved to the UK from China in his early teens. He spent three years consulting with Chinese take-away owners and ‘taking apart every component’ of the business to find a model which could go national. Hotcha has appointed Andrew Emmerson, former business development director at Domino’s, as an advisor. A poll in April found Chinese had overtaken fish and chips as the UK’s favourite takeaway. (From The Daily Telegraph 22/7/14)

China’s cut-flower industry blossoming

From a standing start about 30 years ago, the cut-flower industry has grown steadily with about 30 species now produced commercially, many for export. Nearly 90,000 farmers are involved in the industry in Anhui province. (From The Times 3/7/14)

From the Chinese Press

Reform of China’s household registration system (hukou)

China’s State Council, on 30 July unveiled new guidelines to reform the hukou system. Urban and rural residents will no longer be registered separately. This is a move to put to an end a dual household registration system that has divided the nation into rural and urban populations since the 1950s.

One objective of the reform is to help about 100 million migrant workers and other rural residents to settle in towns and cities by 2012. This will allow them to enjoy public services on a par with city residents. The new system will be more efficient and is expected to facilitate social management and the provision of public services as well as guaranteeing citizens’ rights. Official statistics show that China had 174 million farmers working in cities and towns away from their home at the end of June 2014.

Official statistics show that from 1978 to 2013, the percentage of permanent urban residents in China rose from 17.9% to 53.7%. Currently, residents with urban hukou only make up 36% of the total population. These figures suggest that currently 17.7% of the total population are living in urban areas but not entitled to welfare and other benefits which are exclusive to those with local urban hukou.

The urbanisation trend is expected to continue and it is estimated that by 2020, 60% of the population of China will be living in cities or towns. (From Beijing Review 14/8/2014)

New non-stop flight to Washington DC

Air China has begun non-stop flights between Beijing and Washington DC four times a week (from 10 June 2014). The outward flight leaves Beijing at 1.00pm, Beijing time and arrives at 2.35 pm, Washington time. The return flight is expected to depart Washington at 4.35pm and arrive back in Beijing at 6.15 pm the next day. The US is a popular travel destination for increasingly affluent Chinese tourists and the number is expected to reach 4.7 million a year by 2018 according to US marketing sources. (From Beijing Review 12/6/14)

Further financial reform in Guangdong

Guangdong’s provincial government said on 4 June that it will deepen financial reforms and encourage more private capital into the financial market. Social capital and provincial enterprises will be supported in participating in the capital increase as well as share expansion and restructuring of local financial institutions such as rural and urban commercial banks or rural credit cooperatives. Plans are also in hand to push forward integrated and innovative development of financing, science and technology and manufacturing. Financial services for small businesses will be improved and innovative online financing will be promoted. At the end of 2013, the added value of the financial industry accounted for 6.1% of Guangdong’s GDP and this is forecast to reach 9% in 2020. Guangdong was a forerunner in China’s opening up and reform policies over 30 years ago and it has vowed to continue to implement further reforms. (From Beijing Review 12/6/14)

Chinese ‘Green Cards’

China is considering relaxing its green card policy by lowering the application and approval threshold, in a move to attract more foreign professionals. In China as a whole, about 5,000 foreigners from 91 countries and regions have been granted green cards since the scheme was launched in 2004. The highest numbers come from the US, Japan, Canada, Australia and Germany. The benefits of holding a green card include entering and leaving China without a visa, being able to purchase houses and having the same rights as Chinese nationals when dealing with financial services such as banking, insurance and securities. In addition, their children can attend local schools. (From Beijing Review 12/6/14)

Revision of environmental protection laws

The Standing Committee of the 12th National People’s Congress (NPC) voted on 24 April to adopt revisions to the Environmental Protection Law. The new law will go into effect on 1 January 2015 and is the first major change in 25 years. With 70 articles, compared to 47 in the original, the revised law further defines governmental obligations to monitor and manage the environment but gives more responsibility to enterprises to prevent and control pollution; however there will be harsher punishments for violations. It improves the legislation on fundamental environmental protection systems concerning the ecological ‘red line’ emissions-levels control, environmental monitoring and assessment, cross-regional collaboration on pollution prevention and response and other issues. The revised law also has provision for information transparency on the part of government and business as well as public participation in environmental protection. (From China Today June 2014)

China to join ‘high-income country club’ by 2020

At a news conference on the drafting of the 13th Five-year plan (2016-20), Xu Lin, director of the Department of Development Planning of the National Development and Reform Commission said that China hopes to approach or surmount the ‘high-income country’ threshold by the end of the period. By World Bank criteria, countries with a per-capita gross national income (GNI) of more than $12,616 are categorised as high-income. With a $5,720 per-capita GNI in 2012, China is in the middle-income range, however 42 cities in China already have attained the high income standard. (From China Today June 2014)

Year of South Africa in China launched

On 29 April 2014, the Year of South Africa in China was launched in Beijing. More than 50 events relating to South Africa will be held in China over the next year, including trade seminars, art programmes and educational projects. Xi Jinping and his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma exchanged congratulatory messages on the programme. The exchange programmes will enrich the content of the comprehensive strategic partnership, show a confident and diversified South Africa to the Chinese people and demonstrate the friendship and close cooperation between the two countries.

Events will be organised in both countries and it is hoped that these will facilitate developments in the economy, education, culture and society of both nations. (From China Today June 2014)

Danish Queen Margrethe II visits China

President Xi Jinping held talks with the Queen of Denmark in Beijing on 24 April 2014. He said that Sino-Danish relations have never been better and that China has become Denmark’s largest trading partner in Asia and the second largest overseas destination for investment. China is now at an important stage of in-depth development of new industrialisation, urbanisation and agricultural modernisation whilst Denmark has rich experience and technological advantages in many areas. Both sides should cooperate and enhance people-to-people and cultural exchanges with the objective of jointly promoting Sino-European relations. The Queen was deeply impressed by the developments she saw and hopes her visit would strengthen the close relationship between both countries. (From China Today June 2014)

Now 848 million mobiles in China

China’s mobile internet users reached 848 million in April, up 5% over the same period last year. Of these users, 811 million accessed the internet via cell phones, while 334 million used 3G networks. (From China Today July 2014)

Improvements in life expectancy

Human life expectancy increased by six years over the past 22 years globally and with China’s progress on a par with the world average, according to the World Health Organisation’s report of 2014. Chinese life expectancy is amongst the highest in developing countries. Expectation of life has increased from 35 years to the current 75 years in China over four decades. This big jump has been achieved thanks to remarkable advances in China’s public healthcare.

A national vaccination programme launched in 1978 has slashed the incidence and mortality rate of six deadly diseases i.e. measles, whooping cough, diphtheria, polio, tuberculosis and tetanus by more than 99%. From 2000 to 2013, China’s maternal mortality rate fell by 56.2% to 23.2% per 100,000 and the infant and child mortality rate (for under five years old) were down 70.5% and 69.8% to 9.5 per 1,000 and 12 per 1,000 respectively. (From China Today July 2014)

Neurological database

Chinese scientists announced on 28 June that they are planning to compile a catalogue of neurological symptoms and disorders in a bid to identify clues that could help tackle cerebral diseases and related disorders. The data base will be useful for scientists around the world who are involved in brain research. One of the main objectives will be to find treatments for conditions such as autism and Alzheimer’s disease. According to official figures about one million Chinese children are affected by autism and by 2050 there could be as many as nine million elderly people in China with the condition. (From Beijing Review 10/7/14)

Homes for pensioners

China has begun a pilot scheme that allows home owners over 60 years of age to deed their houses to an insurance company or bank, which will then grant them a certain amount of money each month depending on the value of the house and the person’s life expectancy. The pilot scheme will run for two years and is taking place in Guangzhou and Wuhan. The objective is to expand funding channels and improve the quality of the elderly care system. Some regard the scheme as innovative, others believe that they could lose their inheritance. Latest official data shows that the number of people above 60 years of age in China has reached 202.43 million. (From Beijing Review 3/7/14)

New university in Kashgar

This new university which is under construction will provide courses in science, arts, business administration, tourism and hotel management and international trade. This southern region of Xinjiang currently only has two higher learning institutions. This region is mainly inhabited by Uygur people, has a population of about 10 million and borders on Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikstan. (From Beijing Review 3/7/14)

Chinese smartphones

Sales of Chinese-brand smartphones have skyrocketed to 33.8% of the world’s total in the past year from almost zero in 2010. Home-grown brands dominated the domestic market in 2013, accounting for 72% of all the handsets sold in China - up from a mere 16% in 2010. China produced 870 million smartphones in 2013, a year-on-year increase of 74%. By January this year, 838 million Chinese, nearly two thirds of the entire population, were using mobile internet, according to official statistics. (From Beijing Review 24/7/14)

Chinese workers in WW1 saluted

Li Zhaoxing, a Chinese government envoy and former foreign minister, visited Noyelles-sur-Mer on 15 July to commemorate 884 Chinese labourers who are buried there. White roses were placed on each grave as Chinese and French officials recognised their sacrifice and to mark the friendship that now exists between the two countries. The Chinese workers dug trenches, buried the dead, worked in munition factories, and at the end of hostilities cleared the battlefields of shells and grenades. However, at the Treaty of Versailles, the German concession ports in China were given to Japan, which sparked off protests which contributed to the May 4 movement, which in turn contributed to the rise of the Communist Party of China. A short film and article about these events was presented at Chatham House by independent film producer Helen Fitzwilliam in June. She said that she felt emotionally attached to the story of the Chinese labourers. (From China Watch 29/7/14 via The Daily Telegraph)

Additions to China’s World Heritage sites

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation decided at its meeting in Doha, Qatar last month to add two new World Heritage Sites to China, bringing the total to 47. This makes China second only to Italy (which has 50) in the number of World Heritage sites. The Grand Canal and the Silk Road are considered to be ‘of outstanding value to humanity’. The Silk Road site includes locations in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. (From China Watch 29/7/14 via The Daily Telegraph)

Free museums in China

A total of 2,780 museums will have been opened to the public free of charge by the end of 2013. This is 80% of all registered museums, according to the Ministry of Culture’s 2013 Statistical Bulletin of Cultural Development. (From China Today July 2014)

Latest CPC statistics

At the end of 2013, there were 86.69 million members of the Communist Party of China (CPC), up 1.8% year on year. Of the total, 21.09 million were female, accounting for 24.3% and 22.38 million members were at or below 35 years old. Ethnic minority groups were well represented with 5.95 million members, 6.9% of the national total. Included in the total were 36.07 million members with a junior college education or above.

The intake last year was down compared to previous years because the CPC is attempting to improve its quality and optimise its structure, according to Xin Ming, a professor at the Party School of the CPC Central Committee. At its birth, the CPC had only about 50 members, which had grown to nearly 4.5 million at the foundation of the PRC in 1949.

A recent document issued by the General Office of the CPC Central Committee stated that the net annual growth rate for new CPC members would be kept at about 1.5% for the next ten years.

On the other hand, the CPC has been exploring ways to phase out unqualified members, who have not actually violated laws or party discipline, but whose conduct is nevertheless poor. For example, a party member in Yichun City, Jiangxi province, was expelled because he joined his son in abusing inspectors checking on an unauthorised construction built last year. It is believed that some people’s discontent towards the CPC might stem from incompetent CPC members around them. (From Beijing Review 17/7/14)

China tightens control on Antarctic

In order to avoid damage to the environment, the Chinese authorities have tightened control over individuals and organisations going to the Antarctic. The new rules restrict travellers from bringing animals, plants or micro-organisms that are not indigenous to the area as well as activities such as hunting, picking plants, erecting structures and recovering meteorites. Anyone who wants to go must first obtain approval from the State Oceanic Administration. The objective is to regulate travel to the area to protect the legitimate rights and interests of individuals and legal organisations and to uphold China’s national image. (From China Today July 2014)

SinoFile is compiled by Walter Fung.

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