No. 72 | 23.10.2021

Chinese-built train in program to update the Cuban railway system, Havana, Cuba, 2019 [Xinhua/Zhu Wanjun]

Dear reader, www

Today, we are delighted to announce the public launch of our latest publication, Chinese Voices. Every Sunday, Dongsheng will bring you a view into the key debates and critical thought guiding Chinese politics and society.

We draw from a broad range of sources, covering the work of important Chinese intellectuals, academics, and public opinion leaders – voices that are rarely published outside of China.

The opinions of the authors are not necessarily shared by the Dongsheng editorial collective, but the goal is to give our international readers a view into the richness of public debate in China today. Subscribe here in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Also, check out Tings Chak’s interview about common prosperity, the private tutoring industry, and climate change with Rania Khalek and Eugene Puryear of BreakThrough News.

Dongsheng editorial collective


Cuba joins the Belt and Road energy partnership, seeking Chinese investments and technology in renewable sector

Energy sector receives 40% of investments in the BRI, whose renewable energy share increased from 39% to 57% (2019-20); Cuba becomes the 4th country in the region (Venezuela, Bolivia, and Suriname) to join the partnership

Global Times, 18.10.2021

China’s state banks lent US $137 billion to Latin American governments and state-owned enterprises (2006-21)

Washington promises investment in the region to regain lost influence, but its “Build Back Better World” project remains without a budget; Venezuela (US $62.2 billion) and Brazil (US $29.7 billion) have been the biggest beneficiaries of Chinese loans

Financial Times, 18.10.2021

China delivered 85% of eight major initiatives and 70% of funds (US $60 billion) committed to Africa, despite pandemic setbacks

To equalize trade imbalance, President Xi pledged more investment and non-commodities imports from Africa in 2018; in 2019, China imported US $95.5 billion of goods (crude oil, base metals, precious stones) and African imports totaled US $113.2 billion (machinery, transport equipment, electronics, textiles)

South China Morning Post, 18.10.2021

National Politics

Property prices fell in 36 of China’s 70 largest cities in September – highest rate since 2015 — and sales plummeted 16.9% year-on-year

With a 0.5% monthly drop in national average prices, sales of the top 100 builders (US $119 billion) plummeted 36.7% year-on-year (20.7% in August); government policies to curb property speculation and builders’ leverage are beginning to show results

Nikkei Asia, 20.10.2021

Nikkei Asia, 19.10.2021


In first three quarters, China’s GDP grows 9.8% year-on-year to US $12.88 trillion, despite COVID-19 outbreaks and energy shortages

In the same period, industrial production grew by 10.6% (US $5.02 trillion) and household consumption by 16.4% (US $4.98 trillion); state-owned companies recovered faster than private ones (+87% vs +34% in profits)

National Bureau of Statistics of China, 18.10.2021

Nikkei Asia, 18.10.2021

China’s foreign trade grows 22.7% year-on-year in first three quarters of 2021, reaching US $4.37 trillion

Despite rising tensions with the US (3rd trading partner), bilateral trade (US $543 billion) increased by 24.9%; ASEAN remains China’s largest trading partner (US $630.5 billion, +21.1%), followed by EU (US $599.3 billion, +20.5%)

CGTN, 13.10.2021

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Agriculture and Environment

China faces challenges of balancing rising coal consumption to boost economy with 2060 carbon neutrality goal

Nearly 70% of the country’s electricity comes from coal, with prices rising over 50% since 2020, causing losses for 70% of thermal plants in June; the government’s goal is to decrease coal to 11% of total energy production by 2050

Nikkei, 18.10.2021

Science and Technology

China sends longest-ever crewed mission to Tiangong space station for six months, carrying out technology tests, construction work, and spacewalks

China’s young space program is advancing with six more missions planned next year, including two crewed ones to complete the “Heavenly Palace” space station; European, Russian, Indian, and Israeli missions have failed in recent years

Asia Times, 17.10.2021

People’s Life Culture

Wang Yaping of Shenzhou-13 mission becomes the first female taikonaut on China’s space station and conduct a spacewalk

Wang is a pioneer in the male-dominated science fields, as government adjusts criteria and prioritizes funding for women; 49% of university degree-holders are women, but comprised only 5.3-6% of academicians in China’s top two science institutions (2019)

Global Times, 15.10.2021

South China Morning Post, 19.10.2021

Public square dancing, emerged during 1990s mass urbanization, is a popular activity among middle-aged and elderly Chinese women

Like Mao-era dance troupes, group leaders organize collective choreography and meet-ups, providing “dancing grannies” an economical way to exercise and find a sense of belonging; popular activity was included in 14th National Games

South China Morning Post, 18.10.2021

“Dancing grannies” in China [Shine]

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No. 67 | 11.09.2021

Dear reader,

In a conversation with journalist Rania Khalek, Dongsheng member Tings Chak speaks about China’s campaign against poverty, the century of humiliation, and recent regulations of Big Tech and more. Watch the hour-long interview in English here or listen to the podcast (Spotify, Apple).

To learn more about how China managed to eradicate extreme poverty in a country of 1.4 billion people, read Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research’s study Serve the People: The Eradication of Extreme Poverty in China (English, Spanish, Portuguese), co-authored by Tings.

Dongsheng editorial collective

National Politics

To reduce high housing costs, China caps rent increases to 5% annually, plans housing construction, and revisits property tax

Since January, the average square-meter property price fell 8% in the country, but increased 3.3% in large cities; the sector represents 13% of GDP, but the government aims to make housing more affordable towards achieving “common prosperity”

GuangdongMacao cooperation zone plan expands “one country, two systems” and diversifies Macao’s economy (70% of GDP from casino industry)

Guangdong mainland with the former Portuguese colony Macao, allowing its residents to work cross-border and businesses will enjoy lower income taxes (15%) in the mainland Hengqin zone

Vice premier Liu He vows firm support of the country’s private sector amid government measures regulating business practices, from within Big Tech to celebrity culture

Liu reassures the sector and the role it will play in stabilizing growth and employment, which already contributes to taxes (50%), GDP (60%), technological innovation (70%), and urban employment (80%) of the country’s total


Government creates stock exchange in Beijing to help small and medium enterprises and announces US $46.4 billion in loans for the sector

The backbone of China’s economy (80% of the urban labor force, 50% of government tax revenues), SMEs face rising production costs, indebtedness, and the effects of Delta outbreaks; measures aim to ease access to financing

Science and Technology

Amid global supply crisis, China’s largest chipmaker SMIC will invest US $8.87 billion in a new Shanghai factory

The plant’s goal is to manufacture 28-nanometer and older-generation chips used in the automotive and electronics industries; since 2020, SMIC has been under US sanctions, preventing the company from developing more advanced technologies


Russia more than doubles its agroexports to China (US $4 billion, 2017-20), seeking to reduce Chinese dependence on imports from US

Russia’s Far East territory (6.5 million hectares), with favorable climate and soil, is the country’s bet to expand agricultural production; China leases hundreds of thousands of hectares in the region, which could replace US soybeans over next years

Agriculture and Environment

China’s biodiversity protection policy achievements receive recognition at World Conservation Congress, held in Marseille, France

Launched three years ago, China’s Ecological Conservation Red Line has demarcated protected areas in 15 provinces and municipalities (2.4 million km²); policies have rescued more than 100 endangered species, such as the Asian elephant and the Yunnan snub-nosed monkey, but compliance remains a challenge

Chinese juncao technique that innovates mushroom growing without fertilizers has been implemented in over 100 countries and adopted by the UN since 2017

Cultivation preserves nature, requires little labor and can produce 1,200kg of mushrooms in 10m², generating up to US $300,000 annually/hectare; China invests in spreading the technique to BRI countries

People’s Life and Culture

In Tokyo, China tops the Paralympics medal tally for the fifth time in a row

251 athletes (53% female) participated in the Games, winning 96 gold, 60 silver, and 51 bronze medals, highlights included wheelchair basketball, badminton, marathon running, and track and field; Team China’s success is thanks to increasing livelihood support for people with disabilities

In a long tradition, Chinese society places emphasis on the morality and responsibility of celebrities, expected to be social role models

The expectation of celebrities to be public educators is rooted in Confucian tradition and emphasized after the 1949 Revolution; wrongdoing of celebrities and their fan groups today, amplified through the internet, are now the target of government’s industry regulation

Chinese women’s wheelchair basketball team won the silver medal in Tokyo [VCG via Global Times]

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No. 65 | 28.08.2021

Common Prosperity

President Xi announces a new cycle of reforms to address social inequalities in the country and build “common prosperity”

Following recent measures in education, housing, and the tech sector, government will formulate public policies that reconcile economic efficiency with the strengthening of the welfare state, such as taxes (property, income, and inheritance), social security reforms, and encouraging philanthropy

Government’s centennial goal of “common prosperity” continues the work of reform and opening-up of Deng Xiaoping

Letting a “few get rich first” of the Deng-era was seen as a transitional phase in building socialism, while developing the productive forces to create conditions for more people to share in society’s material and cultural wealth

Inequality between countryside and city, social classes, and regions increased in recent decades, decreasing social mobility

Despite China’s economic success, the wealth share of the top 1% increased (20.9% to 30.6%) over the last 20 years, with average disposable income in Shanghai (US $9,843) exceeding Gansu and Tibet’s (US $2,620); medical expenses remain the main cause of “illness-induced poverty”

Tech giant Tencent Holdings donates US $7.7 billion towards “common prosperity” after Xi’s announcement

Funding to support low-income groups, rural revitalization, and healthcare and education comes after the company’s April commitment (US $7.7 billion) towards “sustainable innovations for social value”; Tencent’s revenues rose 20% (April-June) year-on-year, with daily profits of over US $77 million

National Politics

China’s new Personal Information Protection Law sets international standard, defending national security and rights of Chinese citizens

Effective November 1, provisions govern the collection and use of personal data, limit practice of “automated decision-making” (e.g. targeted marketing), and regulate cross-border data transfers, while requiring companies to undergo regular third-party audits


Argentina and China reactivate agreement to build the fourth nuclear plant in the South American country, using Chinese technology Hualong

The 1,200 MW reactor project will receive Chinese financing (ICBC) – with 8-year grace period – for 85% of the cost (US$ 8 billion) and technology transfers; the two countries reinforce “comprehensive strategic alliance”


Fearing risks of real estate and financial markets crises, government requires Evergrande – country’s largest developer – to resolve debts (US $300 billion)

Regulators asked the construction company to reduce leverage after a series of court orders to freeze assets in loan disputes or suspend sales of real estate projects; Evergrande discusses the sale of assets ranging from shares in other companies to buildings

Agriculture and Environment

China halves rice growth cycle to 60 days through groundbreaking controlled “factory” environment

Precisely regulated artificial lighting, temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide, and nutrients provide optimal conditions for year-round growth; one dwarf-variety among the six tested yielded the equivalent of 43.3 kg/hectare, with two others showing high-yield potential

China plans to plant 33.33 million hectares of forest and grassland by 2025 to achieve carbon neutrality goals

Having created the world’s largest planted forests that increased coverage from 12% to 23% (1980s- 2020), China plans to further increase forests to 24.1% – including national parks (18% of land area) – and grasslands to 57% by 2025

Science and Technology

Government subsidies aim to boost Chinese companies in the domestic industrial robot market, which doubled between 2016 and 2020

The goal is to increase the domestic industry’s market share from 30% to 50% (2020-25); Chinese robots cost about 30% less than Japan and Europe’s, which are more advanced and own nine of the top 10 brands in the Chinese market

Student with robot at an expo in Zhengzhou, Henan Province, 27 May 2017 [Photo/VCG]

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No. 64 | 21.08.2021


Taliban takes over Afghan capital after 20-year US-led war, while China is expected to play a key role in country’s reconstruction

Costing over US $2 trillion and hundreds of thousands of lives, the war has left Afghanistan in turmoil; Beijing maintains its embassy operations and dialogue with Washington and the Taliban, stressing cutting ties with East Turkestan Islamic Movement linked to Xinjiang terrorism

Months after Xinjiang cotton boycott, Adidas and H&M suffer decline in sales (16.3% and 28.1%, respectively), while Chinese sports brands grow

Propelled by data-driven marketing, first-half year profits expected to grow for Li Ning (nearly 200%) and Xtep (65%), while Anta’s market share (16.6%) nears Adidas’ (17.4%); US threatens sanctions on these companies

Science and Technology

China leads in artificial intelligence research quality, receiving more citations (20.7%) than the US (19.8%) for the first time in 2020

Global leader of AI publication volume since 2012, China is focusing on developing domestic talent; Beijing Academy of Artificial Intelligence team created Hua Zhibing, an AI “person” who can write poetry and draw

National Politics

Government suspends English final exams in Shanghai elementary school in another educational reform to ease pressure on students

Math and Chinese final exams will be given only in third (9 years-old) and fifth (11 years-old) grades, while other evaluation forms will be encouraged; English has the same weight as math and Chinese in the gaokao (entrance examination)

Ride-hailing app Didi will improve payment transparency for its 13 million drivers, while government announces cap on share of platform’s earnings

Newly-launched feature allows drivers to view earning proportion for each ride over the past day and week; with 493 million users (90% of market), Didi was removed from China’s app store after July national security probe


Economic opening boosted net FDI in China*, rising from US $80,000 to US $149 billion (1979-2020), second to the US (US $156 billion)

Foreign trade grew from US $20.6 billion to US $4.64 trillion (1978-2020), and the main export shifted from primary to mechanical and electronic products for 230+ trading partners

*Gross FDI in China (US$163 billion) becomes world’s largest for the first time in 2020

As global trade recovers, shipping costs hit record high, increasing nearly tenfold since the pandemic began

Costs to ship a container from China to US west coast (US $15,800) increases 50% in one month; container shortages and pandemic restrictions at key Chinese ports push freight costs and times up, disrupting supply chains and posing inflation risks

Agriculture and Environment

China promotes agricultural digitization, but agribusiness technologies only benefit large-scale farms

Modern Agriculture Platform, from seed and pesticide giant Syngenta, provides crop-monitoring and other services for over 773,000 hectares of farmland; with focus on more profitable large-scale farms, expanding services to the country’s majority small peasant economy will be difficult

People’s Life and Culture

Thousands helped to save relics after floods in Henan, home to 65,500 heritage sites (one-tenth of China’s total)

Over 1,500 museum workers, soldiers, and volunteers helped reinforce the river dam in historic Xunxian county after 3,600 year-old ancient city walls were flooded, while 1,000 cleaned up the Longmen Grottoes UNESCO World Heritage site

Museum culture thrives in China, fueled by investment in new facilities, TV programs, and consumer products that popularize cultural heritage

From 2016 to 2020, an average of one museum was opened every two days (totaling 5,788); despite the pandemic, last year’s 29,000 exhibitions and 225,000 educational activities received 540 million visitors

Visitors at the Nanjing Museum in Jiangsu Province, 22 August 2019 [Visual People via ChinAfrica]

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No. 27 | 20.08.2021

Chinese and Eritrean doctors prepares an operation for a hydrocephalic child in Asmara, Eritrea, 23 May 2008. [Xinhua/Zhu Xiaoguang]

Dear reader,

News on China: Africa Weekly has looked back on key stories we’ve published over the last few months, as we transition towards discussing weekly news in our new podcast.

In part two of our retrospective, we share stories that deal with some of the prevailing narratives around Africa-China relations. We also share stories that give a general overview of the historical development of key Africa-China relations and collaborations.

If you have any comments or questions, please let us know at

Dongsheng editorial collective

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2020 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) marks 20 years of strategic partnerships in trade, infrastructure projects, and political relations

Chinese infrastructure investments total US $110 billion – boosting industry on the African continent (16,000 km of roads and railroads, 20 ports, 80 power plants, etc.) – with bilateral trade reaching US $200 billion in 2019


US study of 1,000 Chinese loans refutes allegations of “debt-trap diplomacy” and seizure of African assets for unpaid loans

Between 2000-19, China cancelled US $3.4 billion in debt and restructured/refinanced 26 loans; holding 20% of Africa’s debt, China’s bilateral negotiations offer tailor-made solutions, with 20 countries receiving debt relief in 2020

Agriculture and Environment

Belt and Road infrastructure investment plays key role in climate change response in Africa, where 45% of people lack electricity access

Beyond energy financing (US $3 billion, 2019-20), China is pursuing a “green silk road” and low-carbon development, but to facilitate this in Africa, it is necessary to strengthen domestic institutions and invest US $120 billion (2020-30) to broaden electricity access

Science and Technology

Africa advances space cooperation with China, which launched 59 satellites in 2020 to provide TV, navigation, and meteorological services

Mozambique joined 115 countries and regions (1,200+ people trained) using Fengyun meteor technology; Ethiopia launched second Chinese-backed satellite and 19 African countries (8,162 villages) completed project acceptance for satellite TV in 2020″


China’s ‘Health Silk Road’ (2020) to facilitate international cooperation on pandemic control is grounded in nearly six-decades-long medical internationalism

Since sending a medical team to newly-independent Algeria (1963), over 23,000 Chinese medical personnel have been sent to Africa, where proactive healthcare delivery (targeting rural settings and seeking out patients) has characterized their work

People’s Life and Culture

Boomplay expands music streaming to 47 African countries, as sub-Saharan Africa expects 475 million mobile internet users (2025)

Launched by Transsion, Chinese app partners with Universal Music Group, aiming to become the largest African music streaming service, investing (US $1 million) in local artists; Transsion’s Tecno holds 48.2% share of Africa’s smartphone market (Q4 2020)

Moment in History

China’s development model and international relations have the potential to help Africa break historical underdevelopment and poverty

From supporting national liberation movements to agricultural training centres (1950s-1990s) to contemporary relations such as funding 6,200km of railway and over 5,000km of roads (2017), claims of China’s role in Africa being “colonial” are unfounded

No. 63 | 14.08.2021


Over 30 major business organizations appeal to Biden against tariffs on imports from China (US $550 billion/year), which have fueled US inflation

With imports from China equivalent to ¼ of US manufacturing output (US $2.4 trillion), ending the 20% tariff applied to half of imports from China could reduce durable goods cost by 2% in the US

Science and Technology

Chinese companies and mobile payment apps boost Africa’s fintech sector, serving populations without access to formal banking

Offering insurance, loans, funeral cover, and remittances on e-banking apps compatible with non-smartphones on 2G networks, hundreds of locally and foreign-funded fintech companies serve unbanked Africans; Huawei powers TeleBirr (Ethiopia) and M-Pesa (Kenya), which transacts more than most banks

National Politics

Alibaba Group will lose tax breaks given to high-tech companies, adding US $1.7 billion to its taxes this fiscal year

Key enterprises pay less taxes (10-15%) than the country’s average (25%); China’s top e-commerce platform warned investors that its total tax burden will increase (from 18% to 23-25%), amid government’s targeted suspension of the sector’s tax benefits

Government issues national fitness plan to promote public health, driving sports industry to US$773 billion by 2025 (+72% from 2019)

Plan includes creating 2,000 fitness venues within 15-minutes walking distance, making a sports instructor available for every 500 residents, and ensuring 38.5% of people exercise regularly, with two hours/day of sports for students

Agriculture and Environment

Record algae bloom covers 60,594 km2 of Shandong’s coast, diminishing oxygen levels essential for marine life

Believed to originate from neighboring Jiangsu’s seaweed farms – which expanded from 29,751 to 102,961 acres (2004-19) – Qingdao’s government has deployed 12,686 vessels to collect what could total one million tonnes of Ulva prolifera


China’s industrial production increased from 2.7% to 25.4% of global total (1990-2020), totaling US $4.8 trillion in 2020

China’s manufacturing surpasses the US, Germany, and Japan’s combined; China leads in high-tech exports (US $715.8 billion) – followed by the US (US $156.1 billion) – but still relies on imported strategic inputs, such as chips

China’s 2020 household debt hits record high, reaching 130.9% of disposable income and hurting domestic consumption growth

In June 2020, credit cards bills over six months overdue totaled US $13.1 billion, ten times more than a decade earlier, with total household debt equivalent to 62% of GDP

People’s Life and Culture

China’s competitive, test-oriented education system fueled for-profit tutoring industry boom (2010-18) reinforcing social classes

Due to pressures on only-children to “get ahead”, over 30% of primary and middle schoolers participated in extracurricular classes in 2018, doubling parents’ spending (US $51 billion) since 2016; experts warn industry overhaul could result in underground tutoring

China’s elderly who use the internet are happier, using digital tools to maintain relationships and access services

Rather than being “digital refugees”, Tsinghua research of 200 elderly (2018-20) found higher levels of happiness for those online, using technology to create relationships that mirror close-knit rural society; online scams and fake news are common problems

Women fill labor shortages in construction and transportation sectors, spurred by China’s declining working-age population and new rural revitalization initiatives

In 2018, 9.5 million women worked in construction, comprising 14% of construction workers (from 10%, 2014); in some projects, ⅓ of city construction workers are women (from near-zero in 1980s), despite gender wage gap

Women maintenance road workers in Beijing, 2016 [Xinhua/Li Xin]

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No. 26 | 13.08.2021

A visitor at the China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo in Changsha takes selfies with a Ugandan staff member, 28 June, 2019 [ Xinhua]

Dear reader,

For the next two weeks, News on China: Africa Weekly will share retrospectives covering some of the key stories we’ve published over the last few months.

As we look back at recent headlines, it is clear that there is so much yet to uncover and understand of the multiple existing relations between Africa and China, and their dynamic realities. Too often, mainstream reporting provides a limited or partial scope. Many times, distortions are offered in place of complex realities and relationships.

The following stories make humble steps towards understanding these relationships, which is in the interest of all humanity.

If you have any comments or questions, please let us know at

Dongsheng editorial collective

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African nations strengthen agency through infrastructure projects and leadership visits to China (222 trips; 2009-18)

From Zimbabwe’s parliament buildings (US $140 ­million) to the African Union’s headquarters (US $200 million), African governments leverage diplomatic relations for Chinese-funded government facilities and more advantageous trade relations; China tops diplomatic visits to Africa, with 82 trips to 40 countries (2009-18)

China overtook US as Africa’s top trading partner and largest source of investment (US $106.7 billion, 2013-19), in two decades

US share of Africa’s foreign trade fell (15.5% to 5.6%), while China’s share jumped (4% to 25.6%) of the total in 20 years; Biden promises to resume investments in the continent without concrete plans


Chinese direct investment in Africa (US $49.1 billion) increased tenfold and contributed to more than 20% of GDP growth from 2000-19

Faced with rising domestic consumption and an aging population, China bets on the growth potential of Africa’s population (2.5 billion, 2050) and middle class (350 million, 2020), but intra-continental economic obstacles remain

Agriculture and Environment

Hybrid rice scientist Yuan Longping (1930-2021) remembered for contributions against global hunger, including 16 grain pilot programs in Africa

In Madagascar, seed technology and innovative methods tripled transplanting speed (to 0.3 hectares/day) and yields (to >7.5 tons/hectare) from 2006 to 2019; China trained 14,000+ technicians in 80 developing countries

Science and Technology

Transsion leads Africa’s growing mobile market (+14% year-on-year, Q1), with low-priced handsets (US $35-100) and features customized to African consumers

Shenzhen-based manufacturer of the Tecno, Infinix, and Itel brands leads the African smartphone market (44.3%), overtaking Samsung (22.9%), with four-chip phones and keyboards in local languages (Amharic, Swahili, Hausa)


Chinese pharmaceuticals will supply 550 million COVID-19 vaccines to COVAX by mid-2022, while African manufacturers (Egypt and Morocco) start production

110 million Sinopharm and Sinovac doses will be immediately available; five African countries are involved in vaccine production and will meet <1% of the needed doses for the continent, where only 2% of the population is fully vaccinated

People’s Life and Culture

“C-Dramas” draw ten million African subscribers in 30 countries due to shared values and expansion of streaming services

With 300 African voice-actors, media giant StarTimes has dubbed over 20,000 episodes of Chinese series into 11 local languages (including Swahili and Yoruba) since 2011; some African viewers prefer Chinese themes and styles absent in Western productions

Moment in History

With the death of independence leader Kenneth Kaunda (1924-2021), Chinese-supported Tanzania-Zambia railway built under his leadership remains a symbol of internationalism

With interest-free loan (US $500 million), 56,000 Chinese (1970-76) alongside African workers constructed 320 bridges, 22 tunnels, and 93 stations of the 1,860km railway, reducing dependency on neighboring colonial states; >60 Chinese died in the process

Led by Kenneth Kaunda (1924-2021), Zambia was the first southern African nation to establish relations with China in 1964 based on international solidarity

No. 61 | 31.07.2021

National Politics

China overhauls private tutoring sector (US $125 billion), banning for-profit, foreign, and listed companies in school-curriculum teaching

New regulation targets institutions teaching school curriculum content to address unequal access to education, lower costs and children’s workloads, and improve public online education; enrollment grew from 202.6 to 325.3 million students (2015-9)

Government announces new guidelines to improve delivery workers’ wages, safety, social security, and working conditions

Increasing oversight concerning Big Tech, policy guidelines address controversial outsourcing practices, formalizes employment agreements, and prohibits platforms from using stringent algorithms to complete deliveries; national trade union federation encourages the creation of local unions in the gig economy

Online music player Tencent receives government orders to end exclusive copyright deals within 30 days

Acquiring China Music Corporation in 2016, Tencent Music holds 66 million licensed tracks (80% of total) and over 622 million monthly active users (2020); Tencent Holdings was fined US $77,143 and their fintech businesses are under separate scrutiny


Xinjiang exports to EU grow 131%, reaching US $373.2 million in first half-year

Main goods include tomato-based products, cotton goods, components for artificial fibers, and wind energy equipment; despite US sanctions, Xinjiang’s exports to Germany (+143%) and Holland (+187%) grew well above China’s total exports (+35%) to the EU


US companies lead foreign direct investment in China (US $13.9 billion, Q2), despite escalating diplomatic tensions

Led by acquisitions for controlling stake in financial, real estate, and logistics sectors – topped by Blackstone’s two acquisitions (US $4.3 billion) – Q3’s main investments came from North America (US $6.8 billion) and Asia (US $6.1 billion)

Agriculture and Environment

“Once in a millennium” floods in Henan province kill at least 99 and affect 13.91 million people

A year’s worth of rainfall fell in three days (617.1mm), devastating transportation, power, and telecoms systems in Zhengzhou, a “sponge city” whose intensive urban drainage is designed to capture 70% of rainfall only in cases of moderate precipitation

Henan flooding kills millions of animals and affects 1,678 large livestock farms and 972,100 hectares of crops fields

The province produces nearly ⅓ of China’s wheat – already harvested – and about 10% of corn, vegetables, and pork, which are vulnerable to damage as Ministry of Agriculture works to ensure seed supply

“Sponge cities” aim to make China’s 126,000 km² of coastal areas resilient to rising sea levels from climate change

Since 2014, thirty pilot sponge cities were named, using permeable water systems and green infrastructure to manage floods, replenish water supplies, and restore ecosystems, though experts continue to stress importance of reducing carbon emissions

Science and Technology

China deploys drone to restore communication services and map damages in hardest-hit areas by the Henan flooding

The Wing Loong 2H captures satellite signals and ensures telephone and internet access for thousands of people in the affected area, including in a Zhengzhou hospital; telephone company sends SMS to warn of drone’s arrival

People’s Life and Culture

Across China, people use social media to express support for Zhengzhou flood victims, circulate crucial information, and facilitate rescue operations

Weibo and WeChat users share videos of rescue efforts, while hundreds of people contribute to an online spreadsheet that crowdsources, organizes, and prioritizes data to connect rescuers with those trapped by floods

Flooding rescue efforts in Zhengzhou, Henan Province [People’s Daily]

Moment in History

In the early years of the CPC, the Party developed a “patriotic financial system” to support its activities, expand the revolutionary army, and support workers and peasants. Proposed by Mao Zedong, the first Peasant Bank (1926) was established in Hunan, creating convertible currencies that promoted agricultural production, solved material difficulties, and provided an alternative financing to loan sharks (50-100% interest rates) for peasants.

“Red finance” initiatives during the Civil War period (1927-37, 1945-49) helped break the Kuomintang’s economic blockade and build trust among the peasant base. This included secret institutions, the first state-bank (1932), the Red Army’s first bank (1937), and the People’s Bank of China (1948). The Party’s ability to lead the economic sector during this period built the foundation for China’s economic system post-Revolution.

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No. 60 | 24.07.2021


China commits to playing a “constructive” role for regional stability, as US troops withdraw from Afghanistan after 20-year war

China is a leading investor in Afghanistan, which shares 90-km border with Xinjiang, is key to the region’s BRI projects, reportedly holds the world’s largest unused energy and mineral reserves (US $1 trillion), and is a member of regional security Shanghai Cooperation Organization

South China Morning Post, 18.07.2021
Global Times, 17.07.2021


China ranked first in port cargo (14.55 billion tons) and container throughput (260 million TEUs) last year

With eight of the world’s top 10 ports (in cargo throughput) and 95% of trade delivered by sea, China’s foreign trade volume reached US $2.8 trillion in first-half of 2021 (+27.1% year-on-year)

Beijing Review, 16.07.2021
China Briefing, 19.07.2021

70.8 million transactions totaling US $5.3 billion in digital yuan trials were made since 2019, according to Central Bank report

China will continue trials through the Winter Olympics in Beijing (2022), expecting to launch next year; research on monetary and financial impacts advances, while improvements in data security and legislation creation will be needed

Nikkei Asia, 17.07.2021
Central Bank, July 2021

Category Icons

Agriculture and Environment

China’s national carbon trading market reaches US $32.48 million on opening day, with participation from 2,225 power-generation companies

Representing 40% of China’s energy-related carbon emissions, over 4.1 million tons of quotas were traded – averaging US $ 7.92/ton vs. EU’s US $38.60/ton in 2020 – in what will become the world’s largest carbon market

Global Times, 17.07.2021
Caixin, 15.07.2021

Science and Technology

Huawei more than doubles Chinese market share in cloud computing, tying with Tencent (11%) and trailing behind Alibaba (40.6%, Q4 of 2020)

Shifting from hardware to services (less affected by sanctions), Huawei Cloud grew 168% last year; cloud services grew 50% in China to reach US $19.4 billion (2020), behind the US

Nikkei Asia, 16.07.2021

China boosts training of domestic semiconductor engineers, towards adding 230,000 workers to the sector (total of 745,000) by 2022

Amid US sanctions, “chip schools” across China are partnering with industry heavyweights like Huawei, SMIC, and US-based Synopsis to meet growing industry needs and achieve technological self-reliance

South China Morning Post, 16.07.2021
Nikkei Asia, 07.07.2021

National Politics

Chinese big tech companies sign anti-monopoly agreement, including “self-discipline”, fair competition, and consumer protection, amid government’s regulatory push

Alibaba, Tencent, and Bytedance are among the 33 companies that made the pledge at Beijing’s China Internet Conference; companies like Kuaishou and Tencent have begun to reduce overtime in controversial 996 culture (9am to 9pm, 6-day workweeks)

South China Morning Post, 15.07.2021
South China Morning Post, 25.06.2021

Government launches pilot project of “common prosperity” in Zhejiang province to address regional inequalities and expand middle class

By 2025, the province of 65 million people aims to increase GDP/capita by 30% (to US $20.340), as well as invest in education, health, and advanced technology; after eradicating poverty, reducing inequality is a national goal

Global Times, 19.07.2021
CGTN, 28.06.2021
Caixin Global, 11.06.2021

People’s Life and Culture

Grandparents who move to cities to raise grandchildren comprise 43% of elderly migrant population, which grew from 5 to 13 million (2000-15)

In keeping with traditional values, retirees hope to support their adult children, but challenges include differences in language, social habits, and opinions about child-rearing, and feelings of isolation and homesickness

The World of Chinese, 17.07.2021

China’s successful space program begins to challenge US hegemony over space exploration in the popular imagination

Fashion, toys, fast food, and cinema reference the country’s space program, which makes use of Chinese mythology, such as Chang’e lunar mission named after moon goddess; Liu Cixin and other science fiction writers gain international fame

The Conversation, 26.06.2021
The Diplomat, 26.03.2021

Mars rover “Zhurong” (God of fire) takes a selfie [CNSA via CGTN]

No. 58 | 10.07.2021

National Politics

Government investigates ride-hailing app Didi for national security risks, shortly after US $4.4 billion IPO on Wall Street

Didi (90% of Chinese market) is the first big tech investigated since Data Security Law passed in June, followed by US-listed Full Truck Alliance and Boss Zhipin; China may revise foreign investment criteria for domestic tech companies


China produces 80% of the silicon used in solar panels worldwide, half of them in Xinjiang province, the target of US sanctions

Low-priced Chinese panels (80% of global production) have helped industry grow, but price increase (+20%) in the last year raises concern; White House imposed arbitrary sanctions on four Chinese companies producing silicon

China proposes cooperation with Germany and France for Africa’s development and aims to reopen investment deal with EU

President Xi tries to persuade Chancellor Merkel and President Macron out of shared commercial interests; between January and May, Chinese trade with Germany (US $92.8 billion) grew 36% year-on-year and France (US $32.9 billion) rose 44%

Science and Technology

Huawei responds to US sanctions and accelerates global hiring, with plans to increase R&D budget by “several billion dollars”

Chinese giant seeks to hire hundreds of engineers in Europe and Canada to develop chips, software, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, etc.; meanwhile, supercomputer running on Huawei’s AI system wins two world championships


WHO certifies malaria eradication in China, which shares disease-control experiences with African and Asian countries

Prior to 1949, China recorded 30 million cases and 300,000 deaths annually; anti-malaria efforts began in 1956 with distributing medicine and reducing breeding areas, advancing with the discovery of the artemisinin drug by Nobel Prize-winning scientist Tu Youyou (2015)


In the first quarter, the Chinese renminbi’s share (US $287.46 billion) in global reserves rose to the highest (2.45%) since 2016, according to IMF

Driven by appreciation, renminbi is still outpaced by the euro (20.57%) and the dollar (59.5%), which has fallen from 71% (1999) to its lowest rate in 25 years

Agriculture and Environment

After US $43 billion acquisition by ChemChina in 2017, Swiss-based Syngenta applies for record US $10 billion IPO in Shanghai’s STAR Market

World’s leading pesticide producer and third largest seed supplier will use IPO proceeds towards domestic growth and acquisitions, while its Modern Agriculture Platform (MAP) helps farmers maximize yields through 900 demonstration farms and 365 training centres

Community seed banks are preserving China’s agrobiodiversity, involving 260 million smallholder farmers across 691,510 villages

Seed banks protect farmer livelihoods, improve food security, and help preserve crop diversity – which decreased from 11,590 to 3,271 in China’s grain varieties (1956-2014); neglect by formal policies and national genebank system remains a challenge

People’s Life and Culture

Record-breaking female student wins car mechanic contest, sparking debate on gendered division of labor and value of vocational education

17-year-old Gu Huijing attends one of China’s thousands of vocational/technical secondary schools and colleges, which the government promises to expand (35 million students, 2020-21) to stabilize job market and increase rural and migrant worker skills

70 years ago, construction began on China’s first socialist workers’ village to rebuild war-torn Shanghai and house its growing working class

1,002 “model worker” families were selected nationwide to live in Caoyang New Village, including housing, a hospital, a market, and shops; community has since gone into decline, but local government hopes to preserve

Oil painting by Yin Chengzhong, “Workers Moving Into the New Village”, 2014 [China Art Museum via Sixth Tone]

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