China-US high-level meeting in Alaska, United States, 18 March 2021 [Cnsphoto/Global Times]‘
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China challenges US unilateralism and hegemony in first high-level bilateral meeting in Alaska since Biden’s election
A tense opening exchange with US counterparts, top foreign affairs diplomat Yang Jiechi disputed US imposition of “universal” values, opposed interference in China’s internal affairs and asserted that US does not “represent international public opinion”
Russian and Chinese foreign ministers reaffirm strategic partnership for technological self-sufficiency and trade de-dollarization in defense against US sanctions
Wang Yi says Western powers can no longer interfere with other countries with “made-up stories” and Sergey Lavrov criticizes “destructive” Cold War tactics; non-dollarized bilateral trade increased from <3% (2014) to 25% (US $107.7 billion, 2020)
South China Morning Post, 22.03.2021
South China Morning Post, 23.03.2021
Beijing responds to coordinated sanctions by Western countries on Chinese individuals and entities for alleged Xinjiang abuses
After first coordinated move by EU, UK, Canada and US since Biden’s election, China condemns Western human rights violations, summons ambassadors and announces countermeasures, sanctioning four EU entities and ten individuals – including Adrian Zenz who falsified Xinjiang research
Agriculture and Environment
China bought four million tons of US corn last week, adding to January and February purchases, fivefold increase year-on-year
Resumption of growth in Chinese pig livestock generated record purchases of corn and soybeans (highest since 1991) this season; US becomes a major supplier again after trade war-induced drop in sales
JPMorgan announces US $410 million stake in China Merchants Bank subsidiary, as China opens financial sector to foreign investment
If approved, deal would be the first time a foreign financial firm invests in China’s asset-management industry, which grew tenfold to US $16 trillion (2010-19); by end of 2020, CMB’s subsidiary managed US $377 billion (+12%)
Government combats predatory online lending that exploits compulsive consumption habits of Chinese youth and increases indebtedness
Since 2010, outstanding credit-card debt from formal banks increased tenfold to US $14 billion (March-September 2020); total debt in the country (households, businesses and government) rose in the last year (246.5%-270% of GDP)
Number of marriages are falling (13.47-8.13 million, 2013-20) while divorce rate grows (0.5-3.4%, 1987-2019)
More years dedicated to higher education and rising property and education costs are causing decrease in birth rate (-15%, 2020) and increasing eldercare burden on children; last year’s marriage registrations were the lowest since 2003
Science and Technology
Discovery of 3,200-year-old gold mask in southwestern China sparks debate on origin of Chinese civilization
Golden mask and 500 ceremonial artifacts unearthed from six Sanxingdui sites (discovered in 1929), traced to an unknown and advanced civilization, challenge theory of Chinese origin based around the Yellow River
People’s Life and Culture
With over 300 million sleep-deprived people, China’s “sleep economy” is expected to grow (US $60-153 billion) by 2030
Due to long work hours, adults – especially born after 1990s – stay up later to “reclaim” time spent at their jobs and sleep less (8.8-6.9 hours, 2013-19); round-the-clock workers (couriers, healthcare, e-retail) sleep the least (3-6 hours)
China’s youth increasingly prefer domestic culture, values and brands over the US’s, unlike previous generations
Top 10 films in 2020 were domestic, with foreign films comprising 16.3% of box-office sales (vs. 35.9% in 2019); favorable view of US is falling (58-39%, 2019-20) as pride in Chinese development grows
Shanghai moviegoers and posters of box-office hits “Detective Chinatown 3” and “Hi, Mom”, 21 February 2021 [VCG/China.org.cn]