eg Chinese Voices
No. 37 | 20.03.2022
Jia Wenqi and Jia Haixia, both who have physical disabilities, planted 13,000 trees over 14 years [Photo/NEWS.CN]
How China became the world’s largest contributor to forest growth
Liu Min
Liu Min (刘珉) is a researcher at the Economic Development Research Center of the National Forestry and Grassland Administration
Hu Angang
Hu Angang (胡鞍钢) is professor and director of the National Research Institute of Tsinghua University

Context

China's rapid economic development has been accompanied by environmental problems that have been the subject of much criticism. On March 12, the 44th Arbor Day in China, Liu Min and Hu Angang used detailed data to show the lesser well-known achievements of China's forestry industry and the reasons that drove them.

Key points

  • From 1990 to 2016, the world's forest area and carbon sink – the ability of forests to absorb and store carbon dioxide – entered a period of sustained decline. During the same period, China increased its forest area by a net 553,000 square kilometers, equivalent to 3.8 times that of OECD countries, while the Global South countries (excluding China) decreased their forest area by a net 2.202 million square kilometers. China's contribution to the world's forest area growth reached 41.8 percent, and its actual contribution to the world's forest carbon sink capacity was as high as 247.1 percent.
  • China's forest cover reached 22.96 percent in 2020, with eight provinces exceeding 60 percent, significantly exceeding the average for EU countries (39.8 percent). China has taken the lead among developing countries in moving from a forest deficit to a forest surplus.
  • China has initiated long-term efforts to plant forests and reforestation. For example, the "Three Northern Projects" (1978-2050) have afforested 46.1 million hectares and become the "Great Green Wall" in the north of China.
  • The reforestation plan allows natural forest resources to rest and recuperate. After the 1998 floods were allegedly linked to deforestation, China introduced the strictest land management system and measures to protect forests and grasslands.
  • Under the framework of the five-year plan, national investment in ecological construction has been increasing. By 2020, China had invested 430 billion yuan in forestry, 400 times more than at the beginning of the reform and opening up in 1978.
  • Beginning in 1982, China launched a nationwide voluntary tree-planting campaign , and as of December 2021, 78 billion trees have been planted, revealing the superiority of the socialist political system.
  • China has actively promoted forestry reform to develop ecological productivity. The reform of the collective forestry rights system grants property rights to individuals by issuing forest rights certificates or paper share certificates and inspires peasants' enthusiasm; the 70-year contract period of forest land allows farmers to plant trees without worrying about ownership.

Summary

The authors point out that China has experienced a development path from mainly logging, to both harvesting and planting, to making incredible contributions to the world's forests through ecological protection and afforestation. There are painful lessons and successful experiences. Adherence to the improvement and development of the socialist system with Chinese characteristics and the continuity of central decision-making have played a key role in creating a green miracle in China's forestry. The authors estimate that between 2020 and 2060, the carbon sink of China will increase by 22.74 billion tons, making it the world's largest.

The global energy landscape behind the Russia-Ukraine war
Bi Jingyue
Bi Jingyue (毕竞悦) is an economist and researcher at China Energy Investment Corporation (China Energy)

Context

As the recent Russia-Ukraine conflict continues to heat up, the world energy market is experiencing huge tensions. The author points out the stark reality of the global energy landscape behind the war and the urgency for developing countries to build a united community in order to address the issues of global energy equity and justice and the race for influence in the sector.

Key Points

  • Within the previous global framework, capital flowed from rich to poor countries while resources moved in the opposite direction. However, the flow of energy is reversing due to the growth of emerging economies. BP, an oil industry company, estimates that developing countries are expected to account for over 90% of global energy demand by 2030.
  • The disruption in the global energy market has created more challenges for developing countries. Both surging energy costs and consequent labor cost increases have negatively impacted their market price advantages.
  • The developed countries, led by the United States, are leveraging their superiority in global affairs to set new rules for their energy security. Meanwhile, although developing countries have become richer, they have yet to find a voice in the international arena.
  • Developed countries have transferred sunset and energy-intensive industries to developing countries, which have improved their living conditions, but have also put developing countries under increased environmental and energy pressure.
  • Energy security is based on the political and military power that a state can exercise. International negotiations and consultations feature political elites whose views are not likely to be reconciled with the situation of the poorest and the most vulnerable.
  • People might verbally support environmental protection, but such moral persuasion would weaken when it comes to their survival and developmental interests. The right to subsistence is prominent in this dilemma.

Summary

The author believes that while globalization is intended to "integrate resources and markets," it has instead created resource nationalism and developing countries lack the right to speak in international trade. Globalization is about coercing developing countries to join in and play by the rules of the game of developed countries. Local justice must prevail before global justice is possible, and a united community should be built to give voice to the developing countries.

Why China prioritizes food security?
Shi Lei
Shi Lei (石磊) is a professor of Economics at the School of Economics, Fudan University

Context

China's total grain production achieved its 18th consecutive bumper harvest in 2021, reaching 1.37 trillion jin (685 billion kilograms), though only a 2 percent increase from 2020. Meanwhile, China's grain imports increased by 18.1 percent in 2021. The Government Work Report released during the "two sessions" this year again stressed the importance of ensuring national food security and of guaranteeing over 1.4 billion Chinese people are fed. In an interview, Shi Lei said China's food security is not in danger, but still faces challenges.

Key points

  • China's total grain production is decelerating and some products are excessively dependent on the international market. In addition, food quality risks, such as the safety of genetically modified food, and the serious shortage in Chinese arable land per capita, are the reasons why the Chinese government attaches great importance to food security.
  • China is basically self-sufficient in staple foods, but some categories such as soybeans (85.5 percent, 2021) and corn are highly dependent on imports; other categories are overly dependent on certain geographic regions, which puts China in a risky position should geopolitical conflicts occur. For example, soybean imports are heavily dependent on the United States, and wheat is largely imported from Canada.
  • Besides staple food (carbohydrates), protein-rich food such as meat, milk, and eggs, as well as food substitutes like some vegetables and fruits, should also be incorporated into the national food security system.
  • Despite China's strict adherence to the red line of 1.8 billion mu (120 million hectares) of arable land, some rural land is still left uncultivated. In addition to providing subsidies, local governments should protect and utilize the land, combining technology, capital, and labor to promote agricultural production and increase peasants' income.

Summary

In 2014, China established a national food security strategy based on "domestic grain production, guaranteed food production capacity, moderate imports, and technological support". Shi Lei points out that although these aspects are still in progress, an imbalance still remains. For example, some local governments focus on the growth of GDP and investment attraction and are not actively engaged in agriculture to ensure stable grain production. In addition, due to the low efficiency of grain production, grain prices in the Chinese domestic market are 40-70 percent higher than prices in foreign domestic markets. Some believe that China does not need to emphasize self-sufficiency in grain production but solve the problem through foreign trade. Shi refutes the concept that food security is only a matter of economics, but rather it is the foundation of national security.

US-Funded biolabs in Ukraine and their disgraceful history
The Liaowang Institute
The Liaowang Institute (瞭望智库) is a public policy research centre focused on economic and social policy as well as global issues; it is part of Xinhua News Agency

Context

Russia recently announced the discovery of 30 US biological laboratories and related documents in Ukraine. On March 8, Victoria Nuland, the US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, admitted that Ukraine has "biological research facilities". The Liaowang Institute reveals information about more than a dozen US biological laboratories in Ukraine and the dangerous "history" of developing offensive biological warfare weapons and conducting extensive human tests since the beginning of the 20th century.

Key points

  • Information from the US Embassy website in Ukraine indicates that the US has invested a total of more than $24 million in 12 US biological laboratories in Ukraine located by the Xinhua News Agency's satellite news laboratory. Although Ukrainian government agencies are also partners in these biolabs, the US Department of Defense is the principal owner.
  • The website also shows that the US "Biothreat Reduction Program" at the Ukrainian biolabs includes research related to highly lethal viruses such as Congo hemorrhagic fever and hantavirus. Information released by the Russian Ministry of Defense shows that the US R-781 program at the Kharkiv laboratory near Russia also includes research on bacterial and viral pathogens transmitted from bats to humans. According to the WHO report, COVID-19 is associated with other coronavirus known to be transmitted in bats.
  • Currently, the US military has more than 200 biological laboratories in 25 countries around the world engaged in research and development of biological weapons such as dangerous pathogens. The US is also the only country that has so far strenuously blocked the reopening of negotiations on a verification protocol for the Biological Weapons Convention.
  • The United States has been actively developing offensive biological warfare weapons and has conducted numerous unethical human experimentations. On the eve of the Tokyo War Crime Trials after World War II, in exchange for exoneration of their war crimes, the Japanese provided the US with a large amount of information on Japan's Unit 731 bacteriological warfare and human testing.
  • In order to maintain its "absolute superiority," the US has long practiced double standards: on the one hand, it actively promotes biochemical weapons arms control and disarmament by other countries; on the other hand, it vigorously develops biological warfare capabilities under the pretext of "biodefense" to evade international arms control and disarmament.

Summary

The article discusses how the US has disregarded international law and norms and has conducted dangerous biological experiments in countries around the world, including Ukraine, which is not only an extremely immoral and unethical act, but puts all countries in a dangerous and risky situation. In this regard, all countries in the world must be highly vigilant, and strongly urge the US to restart negotiations on the verification protocol of the Biological Weapons Convention, sign the relevant agreement as soon as possible, and accept the audit as stipulated therein.

War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the formation of Mao Zedong Thought
Shi Zhongquan
Shi Zhongquan (石仲泉) is former deputy director of the Party History Research Office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China

Context

Mao Zedong Thought was initially formed during the establishment of the revolutionary base in Jinggang Mountain, matured through the revolutionary practice and systematization of the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression. It was formally established as the guiding ideology of the whole Party at the Seventh Party Congress in 1945. Shi Zhongquan explains the reasons and main manifestations of the development of Mao Zedong Thought, seen as the first great leap in the history of the Sinicization of Marxism, during wartime.

Key points

  • From the establishment of the Party to the War, the twists and turns during the Chinese Great Revolution (大革命 dà gé mìng) (1924-1927) and the Agrarian Revolutionary War (1927-1937) laid the historical foundation for the development of Mao Zedong Thought.
  • After the outbreak of the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, the contradictions between Japanese imperialism and the Chinese nation became the principal conflict, while the discord between various internal classes and political factions intensified. Mao Zedong Thought was the theoretical summary of these concrete experiences.
  • Mao Zedong Thought was the theoretical basis for the people's army and people's war. He emphasized the principle that the Party commands the gun. After the war against Japan began, he stressed the military strategy of active defense including three forms of warfare: movement warfare, position warfare, and guerrilla warfare.
  • Mao developed the theory of the united front. He stressed the principle of independence, insisted on the revolutionary leadership of the proletariat, proposed "developing progressive forces, striving for middle forces, and opposing stubborn forces", and adopted the strategy of unity and struggle, seeking unity through struggle against the Kuomintang.
  • Mao put forward a complete theory of New Democracy. He emphasized the importance of developing industry, the economy, and productivity, "The Japanese imperialists dared to bully China because China did not have strong industry, and if we could not solve the economic problems, establish new types of industry, and develop the productive forces, the people would not necessarily support us."

Summary

"Seeking truth from facts" is the "essence" of Mao Zedong Thought, which Deng Xiaoping advocated, "We relied on this in the past to fight wars, and now we have to rely on this for development". Deng also stressed, "We must not violate Marxism-Leninism, and the basic principles of Mao Zedong Thought any time". More than 70 years have passed, Mao Zedong Thought still guides the construction of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era, and it will always be the most valuable spiritual wealth of the Party, the whole army, and the Chinese people.

(Chinese Voices will continue to interpret the historical context and developmental logic of Marxism's Sinicization)

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