eg Chinese Voices
No. 42 | 24.04.2022
Chinese President Xi Jinping visits a seed laboratory to learn about seed industry innovation in Sanya, Hainan province, April 10, 2022. [Xinhua]
How China is developing Chinese seeds to ensure food security
Qian Qian
Qian Qian (钱前) is an academician at the Chinese Academy of Science
Zhong Kang
Zhong Kang(种康) is an academician at the Chinese Academy of Science

Context

President Xi Jinping recently stressed that seeds are the key to China's food security and the country needs to achieve self-reliance in seed technology and independent control of seed sources. China has basically achieved self-sufficiency in rice seeds and has also exported seeds to the Global South. However, China's forage plant breeding related to livestock products (meat, milk and eggs) has fallen behind that of agricultural producing countries. Qian Qian and Zhong Kang analyze China's latest development and the challenges in seed industry and breeding research.

Key points

  • With a stable rice planting area of more than 30 million hectares, China's average rice yield reached 474 kg per mu (or 31.6 kg/hectare) in 2021. Among the world's top 10 countries with the largest rice planting area, China has the highest yield level.
  • China has experienced three leaps in rice breeding: dwarf breeding, heterosis utilization, and super rice breeding, resulting in a premium seed coverage rate of more than 96 percent. China leads the world's scientific research in rice breeding and rice breeding technologies. Some new varieties using molecular design that are high quality, high yield, and disease-resistant have been widely developed in southern China.
  • Germplasm resources are the basis for innovation in breeding and agricultural technology. To achieve seed self-reliance, China has effectively protected more than 520,000 resources – most of which are its own resources – including plants and 340 crops such as grain, cotton, and oil.
  • The demand for meat, eggs, milk and other high-protein food is gradually increasing in China, and thus it is urgent to breed high-quality forage varieties needed for the livestock industry. At present, only 619 new forage varieties have been approved in China, compared to more than 5,000 varieties in Europe and the US during the same period. In China, the newly-introduced varieties and introduced improved varieties made up two-thirds of the total varieties.

Summary

Qian Qian points out that China needs to strengthen the innovation of core technologies for germplasm resources and overcome the US control (70 percent) on global core patents for agricultural biotechnology. China's per capita rice consumption has declined, but people's demand for high-quality food, and nutritious rice has increased significantly. To promote the upgrading of the seed industry, the focus should be on strengthening the identification and evaluation of germplasm resources, especially wild rice resources, so as to accelerate the process of breeding utilization and genetic improvement. With regard to the current situation where the level of forage breeding significantly lags behind that of grains, Zhong Kang believes that China needs to draw on its experience in basic biology and breeding research of rice to design and create superior forage germplasm.

How the Russian-Ukrainian conflict affects global powers and the Taiwan Strait
Huang Renwei
Huang Renwei (黄仁伟) is Executive Vice President of the Institute of Belt and Road & Global Governance (BRGG), Fudan University

Context

As the Russian-Ukrainian conflict escalates, Western media are fueling speculation that Taiwan could be the 'next Ukraine'. Seizing this opportunity, the US sent two delegations with a third planned led-by US House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, which was canceled after she tested positive for COVID-19. Huang Renwei analyzes the global impact of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and the situation in Taiwan from the perspective of the global "strategic triangle".

Key Points

  • Before the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian war, three of the strategic triangles that shaped the world included "China-US-Europe", "China-US-Russia", and "US-Europe-Russia". The Russian-Ukrainian war has revealed a strategic goal of the US: focus on knocking Russia out of the great power triangle and exclude it from the international community as much as possible.
  • The US goal, however, will not be achieved. Militarily, it is possible for Russia to control eastern Ukraine. Economically, sanctions are unlikely to destroy Russia. Politically, Putin still has the support of most of the Russian people. And growing numbers of people in the international community, even Western allies, believe that Russia's military action is to defend itself against NATO's eastward expansion.
  • The EU has suffered as much as Russia economically from the sanctions. It faces energy and food crises, and vicious stagflation will further weaken the euro's position. The US "defense of Ukraine" is just an empty phrase. Its economic sanctions on Russia and weaponization of the SWIFT system can damage the hegemony of the US dollar in the long run.
  • Taiwan is not Ukraine. Ukraine is a sovereign state and Taiwan is a part of China. China is not taking advantage of the crisis in Ukraine to launch a military campaign for reunification with Taiwan; but it needs to be prepared for any movement towards "Taiwanese independence".

Summary

The author sees two possible endings to the Ukrainian crisis. The first possibility is that the three strategic triangles will remain, but Europe and Russia will be damaged economically and politically while the US and China will become stronger. The strategic competition between China and the US will become more intense. The second possibility is a deterioration in the situation. The failure to achieve an armistice could lead to serious consequences for a direct military confrontation between the US and Russia. Such a sudden change in the international order would bring about a change in China's external strategic environment and a change in the way the question of Taiwan is resolved.

The prospect of Chinese-Russian space cooperation
Chen Lan
Chen Lan (陈蓝) is an independent analyst and co-founder of Go Taikonauts!, an English e-magazine and website on China’s space program

Context

Due to the US-led sanctions against Russia, US-Russian space cooperation has been adversely affected. Dimitry Rogozin, Director General of Russia's National Space Group, stressed that no further cooperation is possible for the International Space Station (ISS), led by the US and Russia, until sanctions are lifted. Russia already announced last April that it would officially withdraw from ISS after the cooperation agreement expires in 2024. Chen Lan analyzes the possibility of future Chinese-Russian cooperation on the space station and its significance for both sides.

Key points

  • Russia has been planning for years to build its own space station after it withdraws from the ISS. The latest plan is a short-term visit to the polar-orbiting space station, the Russian Orbital Service Station (ROSS). But the size and capability of its space industry is shrinking. Cracks on Russia's old modules launched to the ISS, Zarya and Zvezda, caused air leaks, making them unusable.
  • The Ukraine war and the international sanctions on Russia will impact the country's economy, and thus limited funds will be focused on military uses, making further development of civilian space programs more difficult. Cooperation with China, as Rogozin mentioned, has become an attractive idea. China's space station, due to be completed by the end of the year, can also be extended to include Russia's modules.
  • At a faster pace and lower cost, docking Russia's launching module onto China's space station could rebuild Russia's space station scientific capabilities and continue its crewed space program until its own space station is built.
  • As the first country to launch a space station, Russia's 50 year-long space station experience is valuable to China. Russia still holds the record for the longest single stay (437 days) in space.
  • Russia and China have signed a memorandum of understanding to build an International Lunar Research Station (ILRS) and want to launch a crewed spacecraft to land on Mars. These future explorations are a common endeavor for humanity and require more international cooperation. China will gain experience through Chinese-Russian space cooperation.

Summary

Chen Lan believes that Chinese-Russian space cooperation is beneficial to both sides, but it is also necessary to pay attention to and control the risks. Each country's needs should be fully considered at the beginning of the cooperation, accounting for worse-case scenarios and preparing back-up plans. Ideally, it would start with a single Russian module docking to China's space station, gradually adding more modules, and eventually evolving into a combined module capable of working independently. When necessary, Russian modules could also be separated and co-orbited with the China's space station. Such a model of space cooperation would maintain mutual independence and support, similar to the current political relationship between the two countries.

How grassroots women’s organizations contribute to public service: Case studies on three ethnic minorities in Yunnan Province
Zhang Liming
Zhang Liming (章立明) is a professor at Yunnan University

Context

China's 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) outlines a new direction for social organizations – the country's mass-based civil society organizations. The Plan proposes a development shift from focusing on quantitative growth to improving service quality, so they can fulfil their role in helping build a modern, comprehensive socialist country. Zhang Liming selects three rural grassroots women's organizations of ethnic minorities in Yunnan Province to explain the active role they play in providing public services.

Key points

  • The Lianchi Hui (莲池会 lián chí huì)of the Bai people(白族 báizú) in Zhoucheng village, Dali city, is composed of middle-aged and elderly women who partake in shared local religious activities. The women's community organizes temple renovations, fundraising, and prayer services and sacrifices during the main festival. The activities not only boost the reputation of Zhoucheng but serve as a platform for social interaction among the elderly, greatly alleviating their vulnerability to spiritual crises such as loneliness and helplessness.
  • The service area of the Women's Anti-Drugs Joint Defense Team is located in the Golden Triangle on the China-Myanmar border and is a transit and consumption point for drugs. The organization was originally founded in 2000 by 45 women and 17 men of the Jingpo people (景颇族 jǐngpǒ zú) from the Erkun village.
  • By July 2008, new drug addiction was eliminated in Erkun Village. The Erkun's women's anti-drug team out-performed the men's team who have been unable to stop new drug addictions.
  • Originally, the Tibetan Sisterhood of Jia Bi Village was a self-funded recreational organization that provided services for women in the village so they could participate in activities such as Buddha worship and festive dinners.
  • In 2007, however, the Tibetan Sisterhood received funding from some civil organizations for specific activities such as the installation of home water and solar energy systems and providing microloans for farming. The Sisterhood has quickly transformed into a comprehensive village organization, capable of providing public services, and has become an important force in promoting the village's development.

Summary

Zhang concludes that the grassroots women's organizations play an important role in rural women's skill management enhancement and personal growth. They fill the gap created by inadequate rural public goods provisions, creating space for women to participate in the male-dominated public sphere.

Mao Zedong’s “On New Democracy”: Innovating Marxism-Leninism in China
Wang Haibo
Wang Haibo (汪海波) is an honorary member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

Context

How can the Chinese revolution avoid a capitalist future? By applying Marxism-Leninism to the Chinese reality, the question was answered by Mao Zedong's theory of New Democracy in the late 1930s to early 1950s. In this article, Wang Haibo analyzes the process and main implications of New Democracy, comparing the economic paths that the PRC had in the early years of its founding, under the guidance of the CPC and the Soviet Union.

Key points

  • From the end of 1939 to the beginning of 1940, when the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression was at a stalemate, Mao answered a series of questions about the nature, objectives, and dynamics of the Chinese revolution, and also discussed the political, economic, and cultural development after the victory of the Chinese revolution. Mao gradually developed two different theories, the New Democratic Revolution and the New Democratic Society.
  • Mao pointed out that the Chinese revolutionary struggle was a "New Democratic Revolution", i.e., "an anti-imperialist and anti-feudal revolution of the masses under the leadership of the proletariat". It was "part of the world proletarian-socialist revolution". The semi-colonial and semi-feudal nature of China's society determined that the Chinese revolution was a "two-step process": it was started with a democratic revolution and then followed by a socialist revolution.
  • According to Mao, the New Democratic Society was an historical stage. After the victory of the New Democratic Revolution, China could not immediately eliminate capitalism due to the inadequate productive forces. China had to go through a special stage of development first, the New Democratic Society, in order to "gradually and steadily transition to socialism".
  • The theory of the New Democratic Revolution was decisive for the proletarian socialist world revolution and served as ideological guidance for the national democratic revolutions in the colonies and semi-colonies, which made up the majority of the world's population.
  • The theory of the New Democratic Society, different from the Marxist-Leninist theory of the "transitional period" from capitalism to socialism, explored useful experiences for the colonial and semi-colonial countries on how to move to socialism after the victory of a democratic revolution.

Summary

The theory of New Democracy is an epoch-making achievement of Sinicization of Marxism, and has matured through the experiences of "The Chinese Revolution and the Chinese Communist Party", as crystallized in Mao Zedong's "On New Democracy" and "On Coalition Government". Under its guidance, the New Democratic Revolution achieved a comprehensive victory, and the national economic recovery from 1949 to 1952 proceeded smoothly, laying a good foundation for the establishment of the socialist system in China.

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

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