No. 16 | 05.09.2020

A herdsman receives his salary from the village animal husbandry collective in Bangbug, Tibet autonomous region, 2020 [Zhan Yan/Xinhua]

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After sanctions, Chinese invest in research, hire Taiwanese engineers and turn to Russian alliance to develop state-of-the-art chips without US technology

As manufacturers warn Trump that sanctions will hurt US industry, which could decrease its revenue by 37% and market share to 30%, reduced investment capacity may threaten their hegemony in the long run

China reached agreement with half of the 20 low-income countries that requested debt suspension

Most anticipated agreement is with Angola, which owes China US $43.2 billion (29.1% of Africa’s debt) and could save equivalent of 3.1% of GDP; eligible countries for the agreement still spend US $92 million/day on debt payments

Australia to pass law granting foreign minister veto power over agreements with foreign countries

Having countless partnerships with China that could be vetoed, such as Victoria’s participation in Belt and Road, opposition criticizes escalating tensions with China, which purchased 48.5% of Australian June exports

National Politics

Autonomous Region of Tibet celebrates eradication of extreme poverty 61 years after the Chinese Revolution abolished Lama-controlled serfdom

During the feudal theocracy, 5% of the population owned 95% of the wealth but since 1959, illiteracy has been virtually eradicated (95% to 0.52%) and life expectancy almost doubled (35.5 to 68.2 years)

“Racial genocide” refuted by local government in Autonomous Region of Xinjiang, where family planning policy privileges ethnic minorities

Between 2010-2018, Uygur population growth rate (25%) was the highest, compared with Han Chinese (2%) and overall Xinjiang (14%), while birth and mortality rates have been declining with socio-economic development


Alipay app leads the e-payment market, processing US $17 trillion in 2020, and expands its mobile financial services

First half-year’s profits (US $3 billion) from the app’s loan, investment and insurance offerings surpassed 2019 total, and from 2015-2020, the company’s market value quadrupled to US $200 billion

Profit of the six major Chinese banks fell 11.2% year-on-year (US $82.7 billion) in first half-year due to measures to contain pandemic effects

Decline stems from government policy to encourage economic recovery, including coverage for non-performing loans and lowered interest rates and bank fees

Employment in services sector grew for the first time since the pandemic with Caixin/Markit purchasing managers’ index reaching 54.0 in August

Official services and construction PMI reached 55.2, led by recovery in leisure activities (hotels, restaurants, flights and duty-free shopping) that resumed to pre-pandemic rates

Science and Technology

Ministry of Commerce’s new export restrictions on Chinese technology expected to complicate TikTok sale in US

Without proprietary algorithm, Chinese app becomes less appealing; restrictions list added 23 items that includes data analysis and artificial intelligence technologies and drones, which will affect other companies such as DJI (70% of global drone market)

Despite last year’s 12.5% growth in research and development investment (US $319 billion), basic research spending still behind

Though crucial for technological innovation, China invests only 0.12% of GDP in basic research (US invests 0.47%), meanwhile Chinese patents account for less than 5% of global intellectual property revenue

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Agriculture and Environment

China plans to implement a system of 10 national parks in 12 provinces to preserve endangered species and encourage ecotourism

Ecotourism attracted 128 million people and generated US $3 billion revenue last year; plan based on “eco-civilization” — written into Constitution in 2012 — that balances economy and environment

China decreased use of synthetic fertilizers (6%) and pesticides (16%) since 2015, owing to agricultural technical advancement and government subsidies for organic fertilizers

Rural Rejuvenation Strategy to modernize rural areas by 2035 includes research investment to increase productivity and ecological conservation, but low agricultural wages limit development of talent

People’s Life and Culture

China’s 200 million unmarried are driving the “single economy”, especially in rental housing and food

With average marriage age increasing (5 years from 2005-2015), more millenials are living alone (90 million by 2021) and dining solo (Alibaba sold 2.3 million “mini electric appliances” on last year’s Singles’ Day)

China commemorates 75 years since its victory over Japanese invasion, which was decisive in ending WWII

Holding back most of Japan’s forces during 14-year war, China suffered 20 million deaths (⅓ of total; USSR 24 million, US <0.5 million) and US $600 billion losses

People gather to celebrate the victory in the war against Japanese aggression in Zhangjiakou, northern Hebei province, 1945 [NetEase]