Time flies! It is with great excitement that we are publishing our 52nd issue of News on China, completing one year of Dongsheng sharing weekly highlights about Chinese politics and society.
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—Dongsheng editorial collective
Beijing announces humanitarian aid to Palestine after Egypt mediates ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, in the biggest conflict since 2014
China announces donation of US $2 million and 200,000 vaccines, support for two-state solution, and call for Israel to lift Gaza blockade, while pressuring US to support UN Security Council position
Presidents Xi and Putin inaugurate construction of four new nuclear reactors in China using Russian technology in US $2.9 billion project
With 4.9 GW of installed capacity – nearly 10% of China’s total nuclear output – the country aims to reduce coal dependency; Russia-China relations have reached their “highest level in history” says Putin
EU parliament votes to freeze ratification of trade deal with China, their largest trading partner in 2020 (US $709 billion)
Vote (599 for, 30 against, 58 abstentions) comes after China issued retaliating sanctions based on Europe’s Xinjiang human rights allegations; halting CAI deal hinders EU companies’ access to Chinese market
Government announces “zero tolerance” against commodity market speculation to curb record-high prices in April
Last month, the producer price index (PPI) rose 6.8% year-on-year, the highest in three and a half years, but announcement of government measures has already lowered thermal coal (15.9%), iron ore (6.5%) and steel rebar (9.4%) prices
State Council announces “crackdown on bitcoin mining and trading behavior” to reduce financial risk and energy consumption
As largest cryptocurrency mining location (65% of total), decision follows China’s aims of reducing fossil fuel dependence and carbon emissions (65% by 2030); bitcoin uses 121.36 terawatt-hours/year – equivalent to Argentina’s national consumption
China accelerates implementation of pilot property tax reform, aiming to boost local government revenues and curb rising property prices
Impact on real estate prices should be limited, but local governments hope to increase tax revenue, totalling US $305 billion (20% of the total) in 2020; Shenzhen and Hainan may test taxation by year’s end
Average wages for urban workers grew 7.7% year-on-year in the private sector (US $8,965) and 7.6% in the public sector (US $15,123)
Highest wages are in the information transmission, software and IT services (US $15,730; +18.7%) and finance (US $12,877; +9%), while hotel and catering wages declined (US $6,636; -3%)
People’s Life and Culture
Exhibition documents 70 years since Tibet’s liberation, as government releases “white paper” on economic and cultural development
Beijing’s “Into the New Era” exhibition includes 86 photographs and artworks; report highlights creation of 7,251 rural and monastery libraries, 6,126 performance groups, 35 protected traditional villages and US $778 million allocated for cultural and infrastructure maintenance
Agriculture and Environment
China generates most plastic waste but per capita consumption (18kg/year) is about a third of Australia’s (59kg) and US’s (53kg)
According to Australian study, Sinopec was third-largest single-use plastics producer (5.3 million tonnes) after ExxonMobil (5.9 million tonnes) and Dow (5.6 million tonnes) of 2019 global total (130 million tonnes)
Highly resistant to scab disease, new Yangmai 33 wheat variant will contribute to China’s goal of increasing grain production by 2%
Wheat scab, which reduces yields and produces toxins, affects ¼ of China’s wheat growing areas (6.67 million hectares); despite molecular breeding breakthrough, scab and immature industry continues to pose a challenge
In honor of Yuan Longping
This week, we honor the life of the agronomist Yuan Longping (1930-2021), the “father of hybrid rice,” who died on Saturday, May 22, at the age of 90.
Motivated by his dream of eradicating hunger, Yuan’s team cultivated the world’s first high-yield, hybrid rice strain in 1973. With an output 20% higher than conventional varieties, hybrid rice feeds an extra 70 million people in China each year.
Yuan also dreamed that hybrid rice could be planted overseas to benefit the rest of the world. His team has trained over 14,000 hybrid rice technicians from 80 countries. Today, hybrid rice is planted on 8 million hectares of paddies across Asia, Africa, and the Americas – with the goal of developing their own food security.
I saw rice plants as tall as Chinese sorghum, each ear of rice as big as a broom and each grain of rice as huge as a peanut. I could hide in the shadow of the rice crops with a friend.— Yuan Longping, recalling a dream he once had.
Yuan Longping (1930-2021) [Wuheqilin]