The Chinese government announced that it would strictly control the total capacity of its coal-fired power sector. This confirms a move already flagged by China’s energy watch-dog. Beijing will halt construction of new coal-fired power stations until 2018 in 15 regions, even for projects previously approved. Also, new projects will not be approved in as many as 18 provinces until 2018.
As part of the Paris agreement (see below), China has promised to bring greenhouse gases emissions to a peak by ‘around 2030’. Coal businesses and coal miners’ jobs, especially in Australia, are likely to be affected.
The government will prioritise power plants that use non-fossil fuel in regions short of energy supply. It will ‘retire’ old coal-fired generators that fall short of efficiency and environmental standards, especially the smaller units less than 300 MW capacity and which have been in service 20 to25 years.
Greenpeace said that if fully implemented, the moves would involve 250 power projects with a total capacity of 170 GW according to estimates carried out in March. (from Reuters 25/4/16)
China and the US together account for 38% of global emissions. China will, in fact, finalise its domestic legal procedures before the G20 Hangzhou summit in September this year. This was stated by Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli at the UN signing ceremony attended by 60 heads of state. The deal commits countries to restrain the global rise in temperature to ‘well below’ 2 degrees Centigrade above pre-industrial levels. However, even if the pact is fully implemented, promised greenhouse gas cuts are insufficient to limit warming to an agreed maximum. (From I (independent) 23/4/16)
Liu Xiaoming, the Chinese Ambassador to the UK published an article in the Daily Telegraph explaining why China is not to blame for the UK steel industry’s problems. He made the point that the steel industry is shrinking in all advanced nations as manufacturing is being replaced by services and finance operations. Also, all countries are having difficulties as they recover from the recent financial crisis.
In China, the steel industry is having even bigger problems than the UK with several millions of job losses expected. In the last three years, the output of Chinese steel fell by 90 million tons and a further 100-150 million tons will be cut over the next five years.
He believes that UK steel is less competitive compared to other countries’ steel, in the global market, because of the high labour, energy and environmental costs in the UK.
In fact, Chinese steel imports to the UK are only a small proportion of the total amount of imported steel. Only 11% by weight of steel imported into the UK is Chinese. In addition, imported Chinese steel is mostly low value products, such as steel rods and plates which are not made in the UK, and these products would have to be imported in any case.
Steel overcapacity is a global problem and has been discussed in depth with Philip Hammond, British Foreign Secretary. In the ‘Golden Era’ of relations between the UK and China, the two countries will work together. The G20 nations are meeting in Hangzhou, China later this year to discuss innovate growth models and enhancing international trade. (From The Telegraph 11/4/16)
Chinese researcher Tu Youyou shared the Nobel Prize for medicine with William Campbell of the US and Satoshi Omura of Japan. The last two named discovered the drug avermectin, which is deployed against certain parasitic worms, which cause filariasis and river blindness.
Tu Youyou’s work was developed from an entry in ‘The Handbook of Prescriptions for Emergencies’ written in 340 BCE by Ge Hong, in ancient China. It gave her useful pointers on how to extract the active ingredient from a plant which has been used for over 2,000 years to treat malaria. The new drug derived from that plant is called artemisinin. The origin of the development was a project to keep the North Vietnamese malaria-free during the Vietnam war. From The Economist 10/10/15)
The EU Parliament has voted against granting China market economy (MES) status by 546 against to 28 for. The vote comes after the claim of dumping of Chinese steel. A report by the Economic Policy Institute concluded that unilateral MES status for China could endanger 3.5 million jobs in the EU, including almost all of its 350,000 steel jobs.
The vote is not binding but it greatly constrains the European Commission in its efforts to push through MES with the backing of Britain and other free market states. The Chinese have a legal claim to MES since their World Trade Organisation accession terms suggested that this was automatic after 15 years, which lapses in December.
Japan recognises this claim and so does an internal finding by the Commission’s legal services. The US and others do not. (From The Daily Telegraph 13/5/16)
Factory activity was just above break-even point, but services showed positive results. Services have outperformed manufacturing as Beijing seeks to shift from heavy industry. Expansion of manufacturing was supported by increased spending and a recovering housing market. Overall the first-quarter GDP growth was 6.7% which met expectations. (From The Times 2/5/16)
Following the failure of certain ‘magic’ rituals to cure his wife’s ailments, a man in Sichuan province allowed two witch doctors to steam his wife alive to drive out ‘ghosts’. Whilst she was screaming in agony, the witch doctors said it was the sound of demons leaving her body. She did not survive the ordeal and the two witch doctors ran away to the mountains, but were later arrested by the police.
In another incident in Hainan island, three brothers were charged with murdering their mother. To cure her painful joints a ‘legendary doctor subordinate to the Jade Emperor, Taoist ruler of Heaven’ force-fed the woman with a mixture of distilled liquor and the blood of pigs, chicken and dogs. He then ordered the brothers to beat her to death, burn the body and bury it. He promised that their mother would then rise from the ground.
These incident shows that belief in such rituals and superstitions still exist in China, especially in rural areas. The government is waging a war against superstition and has vowed to eradicate poverty and improve education in remote rural areas. (From The Daily Telegraph 16/5/16)
More than two million people will be relocated from poverty-stricken areas to more developed regions this year in the plan to reduce poverty. This will be the first stage of a proposed plan to move 10 million from rural backwaters in the effort to eradicate poverty by the year 2020.
The State Council believe the relocation will help the poor seek a better life. Five percent of China’s 1.4 billion people still live below the poverty line of 2,300 yuan (£245) per year. They will be relocated to towns with ‘relatively mature public services’ to provide access to health and education facilities. Some will be moved to economic zones or industrial parks. (From The Daily Telegraph 11/5/16)
The Chinese drone maker, Ehang, claims individual sky travel is already possible. The company has unveiled the drone, Ehang 184, an eight-rotor aircraft which is able of lifting a person 500 metres into the air and flying him or her to any point on Google Maps. It is claimed that it will automatically avoid colliding with objects and safely take-off and land thanks to integrated software. Experts believe that this will become a common mode of travel by the year 2065. (From Metro 11/3/16)
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The Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings show British universities to have slipped slightly. Cambridge was second in the world in 2015, but is now ranked fourth. The figures for Oxford are 3rd in 2015 and fifth now. Harvard in the US is in first place as it has been for the past six years. Beijing’s Tsinghua university is in the top 20 for the first time and other universities in China, Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan are all making progress. (From I (Independent) 5/5/16)
Researchers who breed and release millions of mosquitos on an island in south China claim that their sterilisation technique can assist the global fight against malria, dengue fever and the zika outbreak in Brazil. After a decade of research and a year of tests at the world’s biggest ‘mosquito factory’, China says that the experiments have achieved an elimination rate of mosquito larvae of almost 100%.
The research was to initially combat dengue fever, which is often fatal in southern China, but the technique can also tackle other diseases carried by mosquitoes. Xi Zhiyong of Sun Yatsen University in Guangzhou has said that if support from the Brazilian government is forthcoming, they are willing to set up a ‘mosquito factory’ in Brazil to control zika.
The ‘mosquito factory’ laboratory can breed 20 million mosquitoes a week and the focus is on males carrying the wolbachia bacterium which makes them sterile. These males are released and when they mate with females, the larvae produced will not hatch. On the island so far all but 3% of larvae have been eliminated. Brazilian researchers are also believed to be experimenting with genetically modified mosquitoes including those that carry wolbachia as they try to control zika. (From The Times 18/3/16)
Li Keqiang said yesterday that China will not suffer a hard landing and meet its still high growth rate and thereby deliver a ‘warm breeze’ to the world. He also mentioned the great potential in the Chinese market and the enormous creativity amongst the Chinese people.
The plan to achieve GDP growth of at least 6.5% over the period 2016-2020 was approved. Mr Li pledged to cut industrial overcapacity, but avoid mass lay-offs. He said that there may be ups and downs but the government will employ innovative means to regulate economic performance. China will make its financial system more market-orientated and will improve regulation. Acknowledging concerns about rising debt levels and potential bad loans, he said China is well-placed to defuse financial risks due to high savings rates and strong reserves at banks. The premier also said that he had asked ministers to engage more with the media, instead of avoiding them. (From The Times 17/3/16)
China punished 300,000 officials last year for graft. Among those charged were 200,000 who were given ‘light disciplinary ’punishments and another 82,000 handed ‘severe disciplinary punishments and major demotions’. Ten centrally appointed officials were given ‘drastic demotions’ for serious violations against the Communist Party’s code of conduct. (From The Telegraph 8/3/16)
In a major article on democracy, important facts were revealed about China. When the US was growing the fastest, it doubled living standards every 30 years. By comparison, China has doubled living standards every decade for the last 30 years.
China’s critics condemn the Chinese government’s control of the media, but paradoxically, this leads to that government paying close attention to public opinion. China’s leaders have been able to tackle some of their biggest problems of state-building that can take decades to accomplish in a democracy. For example, in just two years China has extended pension coverage to an extra 240 million rural dwellers, which is far more than the total number covered by America’s pension system.
Many Chinese are prepared to put up with their system if it delivers growth. The 2013 Pew Survey of Global Attitudes showed that 85% of Chinese were ‘very satisfied’ with their country’s direction, compared to 31% of Americans with their government’s direction. (Economist 1/3/16)
The 14th May Economist reports that Chinese rising rural incomes are making China more equal. Official figures report that the Gini coefficient has fallen every year for the last seven years; from 0.49 in 2008 to 0.46 last year. Other sources state different figures, but still indicate a trend of ‘lessening equality’. (Gini measures a country’s inequality; 1 means one person owns everything; 0 means everyone has the same income.)
Jack Ma, the Alibaba tycoon and China’s second richest man, is teaming up with World Rugby to fund a Chinese bid for international rugby success. The objective is to train one million rugby players in China in ten years to prepare them for success at the Olympics now that the seven-a-side version has been readmitted. ‘Ganlan qiu’, the Chinese name for the sport - based on the shape of the ball is not well-known in China, but it was played by expatriates in Shanghai as early as 1875. It was also taught to Chinese schoolchildren in the 1920s and 1930s by missionary teachers, like Eric Liddell, the Olympic runner who was also a Scottish rugby international player. The sport was banned by Mao because of its foreign bourgeois origins, but was revived by an enthusiast at the Chinese Agricultural University in Beijing in 1990. An agreement between Alisports - a subsidiary of Alibaba - was signed at the Hong Kong Sevens tournament. Alisports will fund schemes to entice youngsters into the sport and will be allowed to broadcast high-profile matches on its internet platforms in return. (From The Daily Telegraph 15/4/16)
Authorities in Beijing will extend leave for mothers and fathers according to state-run China News Agency. Fathers will get 15 days’ paternity leave; elsewhere they will get three to 10 days. Mothers in Beijing can extend their leave to seven months - 30 days longer than now.
This appears to be a move to encourage families to have more children and to address a looming crisis that couples will not exercise the right to have two children because of the worries about the cost of raising them. (From I (Independent) 26/3/16)
China has confirmed that it is to build a second railway line to Tibet. It will stretch from Chengdu to Lhasa. Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province has long been the gateway to the Tibetan plateau. The first line completed in 2006 was one of the engineering feats of the age and its trains traverse 1,200 miles in two days, crossing passes 16,400 feet high. Trains on the new line, part of a five-year development programme, will make the 1,120-mile journey in 13 hours. (From I (Independent) 19/3/16)
Residents of Shanghai who do not visit their elderly parents could find themselves on a credit blacklist under new regulations, which come into effect in May. The rules say that family members who live apart from elderly parents have a responsibility to visit them and ensure that they are cared for. (From I (Independent) 9/4/16)
The Chinese state media admitted last week that there was panic amongst the public, whilst Prime Minister, Li Keqiang vowed ‘severe punishment’ for those responsible. The perpetrators sold out-of-date or badly stored vaccines for diseases such as flu and rabies over five years in 24 provinces across China. They colluded with corrupt officials in the public health services.
A mother and daughter are amongst 130 people arrested; the mother, a former pharmacist, carried out the crimes even though she had a suspended sentence for similar crimes. The WHO are concerned that parents might lose confidence in vaccines and set back the so far successful programmes of routine immunisations for children. Rates of nearly 100% have been achieved for measles and Hepatitis B. (From The Sunday Times 3/4/16)
McDonalds is to open more than 1,500 new restaurants in China, Hong Kong ad South Korea by 2021. It already has 2,800 outlets in these three areas and it is seeking partners. The objective is to be 95% franchised. (From The Daily Telegraph 1/4/16)
China has demanded an urgent explanation from Argentina after a coast guard vessel opened fire and sank a Chinese trawler fishing illegally in its waters. The coast-guard vessel chased the trawler for several hours before it turned and tried to ram the coast-guard boat, which then opened fire and blew a hole in the Lu Yuan Yu 010 causing it to sink. The ship’s captain and four others were rescued by the patrol boat; 28 others were picked up by other Chinese vessels in the area.
China has 2,460 trawlers fishing in waters distant from China. Greenpeace reported last year, that 74 Chinese vessels were fishing illegally off west Africa. China expressed serious concern about the incident, but appeared not to question that the ship had been fishing illegally. Apparently 6.,000 comments were posted on a Chinese micro-blogging site, with many considering the Argentinian action reasonable. (From The Times 17/3/16)
Airbus, Europe’s largest aircraft manufacturer, started construction on a new facility to deliver wide-body planes in China. Airbus’s biggest rival is Boeing of the US. CEO Fabrice Bregier and Chinese officials officially broke ground at a ceremony in Tianjin for the completion and delivery centre that will produce two A330 planes every month. (From I (Independent) 4/3/16)
The American owner of Aston Villa, Randy Lerner, has sold the club for £60 million to Dr Tony Xia, a Chinese businessman. The deal is subject to Football League approval. Dr Xia decided to buy an iconic football club as the cornerstone of his Sports, Leisure and Tourism Division. He has been a fan of the club for many years and is delighted at the opportunity to become the new owner. (From I (Independent) 19/5/16)
Life expectancy in Beijing increased slightly last year to reach 81.95 years in 2015. The infant mortality rate was 0.21%. The most common fatal illnesses were cancer, heart diseases and cerebral vascular diseases. The information was presented in the annual report of the Beijing Municipal Commission of Health and Family Planning. (From Beijing Review 10/3/16)
A number of objectives were set out in the proposals for the 13th Five-year plan 2016-2020. These included maintaining medium-high economic growth ensuring balanced, inclusive and sustainable development. The national GDP and per capita income of both urban and rural citizens are planned to double by the year 2020. More high-tech industrial products are expected and domestic consumerism will rise significantly. The number of registered urban residents will increase at a faster rate than before.
Agriculture will be significantly modernised, raising people’s standard of living. A target to eliminate poverty, in both urban and rural areas has been set. Quality of life will improve and there will be progress in cultural activities. In addition, environmental and ecological progress will be achieved and progress is planned to modernise and improve in the nation’s governance mechanisms. (From China Today March 2016)
These were listed: 50 million new jobs, 45% of China’s population registered as permanent urban residents, a total of 18,640 miles of high-speed railway, linking 80% of big cities, a one-year increase in average life expectancy, and the environmental factors of a 23% reduction in water consumption, 18% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP and 15% reduction in energy consumption. (From China Watch (distributed with the Daily Telegraph) 29th March 2016)
Dyson has been trading in China for three years and is enjoying strong demand for its vacuum cleaners and humidifiers. It is Dyson’s fastest growing market with revenues up 222% last year.
The company is planning to invest further into new longer-lasting batteries after a 20% rise in profits thanks to the tripling of revenues in China. The growth in 2015 was driven by battery-powered purifiers, fans and vacuum cleaners. Asia has overtaken Europe and is now Dyson’s biggest market.
The company spent £206 million on product development last year and plans to increase this to £260 million this year (£5 million per week). (From The Guardian 21/3/16)
For the fifth year in a row, China led the world in number of new patents. More than 60% of the applications in China were in connection with high-speed trains, nuclear power, 4G mobile telecommunications technology and ultra-high-voltage electricity transmissions, according to Wang Zhongyu, head of the China Enterprise Confederation. However, he did point out some weaknesses such as the lack of top level talent and key technological breakthroughs.
He called on enterprises to implement an innovation-driven development strategy to promote industrial transformation and upgrading. (From Beijing Review 28/4/16)
Last year, the number of rural poor fell by 14.42 million to 55.75 million. However, the rural-urban gap is still significant across the country, but is narrowing. Urban incomes were 2.73 times higher than rural ones. Deducting price factors, the per capita disposable incomes of urban residents rose 6.6% in 2015. At the same time, that of rural residents increased 7.5%. The net income of rural residents last year was 10,772 yuan ($1,657). (From Beijing Review 10/3/16)
Over 17 million urban residents received minimum living allowances at the end of 2015.
On 26 February, six senior officials of special committees of the National Peoples’ Congress (NPC) pledged allegiance to the Constitution under the supervision of NPC Standing Committee Chairman, Zhang Dejiang in the Great Hall of the People, Beijing. Newly appointed officials at all levels must take a public oath of allegiance to the Constitution when assuming office, as stipulated under a resolution of the NPC Standing Committee that took effect on 1 January. (From Beijing Review 10/3/16)
Reports from the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate (SPP) submitted to the National People’s Congress on 13 March are to improve human rights protection. Courts upheld the principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ and worked to protect defendants’ legal rights. The report revealed that 1,039 suspects were found not guilty and in addition a number high-profile wrongful convictions were overturned last year.
Nationwide efforts were made to enforce procedural matters. Protests were lodged against 6,600 criminal court rulings and 3,500 civil rulings. The police were pushed to drop about 10,000 cases and steps were taken to prevent them abusing their power and illegally collecting evidence in about 31,000 cases.
About 25,000 suspects were not prosecuted due to lack of evidence or because of circumstantial evidence, according to the SPP report. The SPC reported vast improvements in the safety and well-being of women and children. There were 5,400 cases of trafficking and sexual assault of women and children last year - those convicted were punished with more severe sentences. (From Beijing Review 24/3/16)
China has about 26 trillion cubic metres of shale gas reserves, the largest in the world. Shanxi province is considering mass exploitation of its shale gas reserves as it is facing pressure to drastically cut pollution levels. After more than two years of surveying, geologists estimate that the province has 4.44 trillion cubic metres. The first shale gas exploration well was drilled in October 2013 in Xixian county. Use of shale gas will help reduce the dependence on coal and cut carbon dioxide emissions. (From Beijing Review 17/3/16)
The largest Chinese New Year party outside of Asia took place in London with over 700,000 attending on 14th February, with the Monkey King and the Chinese God of Wealth prominent. British dignitaries and the Deputy Minister of the State Office for Overseas Chinese Affairs, Mr Tan Tinxing, were in Trafalgar Square for the occasion. British Prime Minister David Cameron pre-recorded a greeting and spoke of the bond between Britain and China and of the ‘golden era’ in the relationship between the two countries. Cameron mentioned the almost £40 billion worth of commercial deals and the new visa pilot scheme for Chinese visitors to the UK. Between January and September 2015, 214,000 Chinese came to the UK and this is expected to be exceeded in the future. (From the China Report 1/3/16)
The discovery by US scientists of gravity waves, predicted by Albert Einstein raised the question, why are so many scientific breakthroughs made in the West? A poll showed that 77% of those polled believed that China should spend more on fundamental scientific research. The remainder, 23%, voted against this; many thought that China’s strongest area of expertise should be a market-focused approach. (From the China Report 1/3/16)
Construction of China’s single-aperture spherical telescope FAST began in March 2011 with an investment of 1.2 billion yuan ($188 million). When complete in 2016, the 500-metre telescope will the largest in the world, overtaking Puerto Rico’s Arecibo, which is 300 metres in diameter. It will also be 10 times more sensitive than the steerable 100-metre telescope near Bonn in Germany. The feed cabin supporting system of the Chinese telescope was tested at Qiannan, Guizhou province on 21 November 2015. (From Beijing Review 3/12/15)
Plans were announced on 26 February to improve the water quality of the Yangtze River as part of wider measures to balance economic activities and environmental protection along the river. In the years up to 2020, China will work to ensure that over 75% of water in the Yangtze River economic belt will at least meet Grade lll standard. China classifies water quality into six levels. Level l is suitable for drinking after minimal treatment up to Level Vl which is severely contaminated. The National Development and Reform Commission aims to make over 97% of the water from sources along the Yangtze belt Grade lll before 2020. (From Beijing Review 10/3/16)
A new national database has been launched which is part of the Sky Eyes project. This undertaking will eventually launch seven linked high-definition earth observation satellites into space; three are already in orbit. The data obtained will contribute to more accurate decisions by the government. Companies will also be able to apply to access information. Industries such as land and resources, agriculture and meteorology will also benefit from the project. When complete, it will provide an alternative to the US-operated Global Positioning System. At present, Chinese satellites are providing 80% of the satellite data used in China. (From Beijing Review 24/3/16)
The China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC) started the construction of a 10 billion-yuan ($1.54 billion) smart-equipment manufacturing centre at the Kaiping Development Zone in Tangshan, Hebei Province on 27 March. The park covers an area of 120 hectares and will be a hub for energy-saving and smart-equipment manufacturing industries. The centre will work on new energy equipment, will act as an export base for Central and Eastern Europe for research and development and also water treatment equipment. CRRC is the world’s largest supplier of rail transit equipment and its products have been exported to about 100 countries and regions. (From Beijing Review 7/4/16)
More than 30 counties and regions are waiting to join the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, which already has 57 founding members. The bank is a not-for-profit organisation and will unveil its first projects during the first half of this year. It is possible that Hong Kong SAR could become a sub-sovereign government member based on the Articles of Agreement. The bank’s president, Jin Liquan, said that Hong Kong, as a major international banking centre, will have a significant role to play.(From Beijing Review 7/4/16)
The Chinese ministries of Civil Affairs, Education and Public Security are jointly conducting a survey of rural left-behind children and forming the results into a database. The targets are rural children under 16 years of age whose parents are away from home, or children whose single parent is unable to provide proper care. A conservative estimate of such children under the age of 14 is believed to be over 43.9 million, but the All-China Women’s Federation report that the figure is 61 million - one fifth of the total in China. The information is to devise policies and steps to improve the children’s positions. (From China Today May 2016) China forges strategic partnerships with Switzerland and the Czech Republic
President Xi Jinping held talks with President Milos Zeman of the Czech Republic in Prague on 29 March 2016. The two sides agreed to develop cooperation and the Czech Republic will become a gateway for China to the EU as a transportation, logistics and financial hub. The China-Czech cooperation will form part of the Belt and Road Initiative. They will endeavour to push the development of the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership and implement the China-EU 2020 Strategic Agendas for co-operation for peace, growth, reform and civilisation.
President Xi met the visiting Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann and issued a statement on 8 April 2016 to promote common development and prosperity. The items suggested were renewable energy, modern eco-agriculture, energy saving, environmental protection and medicine. (From China Today May 2016)
The Chinese Football Association together with several Chinese Government agencies have announced plans in a 14-page document to develop Chinese football. At present China is rated 81 by FIFA.
By 2020, 70,000 football pitches will be built, which will provide facilities for 50 million people to play football regularly. The Chinese government will support 20,000 schools to specialise in football. It is expected that this will enable 30 million youngsters in elementary and middle schools to obtain football education and training. The hope is that within 15 years, Chinese football teams will be amongst the best in Asia. (From CCTV via the internet 13/4/16)
SinoFile is compiled by Walter Fung.
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