No. 18 | 19.09.2020

Peasants in Xinjiang Autonomous Region shifting from manual to mechanized cotton-picking methods, 2020 [Sohu]

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China-India tension show signs of easing after Foreign Ministers meeting in Moscow and constructive engagement is in India’s interest, according to former Indian diplomat

Joint statement outlines five-point consensus reaffirming past agreements, “quick disengagement”, de-escalation of border tensions, dialogue and peace, but Line of Action issue not addressed

China deepens trade and diplomatic relations with the Middle East and aims to secure oil supply and regional political stability

Iraq is the second largest oil supplier to China, which has become a major foreign investor in the region, leads the Afghan peace process, and maintains good relations with Palestine and Israel, Iran and Saudi Arabia

As China leads rare earths industry (US $13 billion), US attempts to revive domestic production but lacks heavy state investment and international cooperation

Declared strategic since 1990, China’s production grew from 27 to 80% of global market due to state planning and integrated supply chain of rare earths, essential for defence industry and electric vehicles

Washington announces restrictions on cotton and clothing imports from Xinjiang due to “forced labor” allegations, but Beijing claims it is “political manipulation”

Xinjiang produces 20% of global cotton and 80% of China’s, but experts say complex supply chain makes it nearly impossible to trace cotton origin

National Politics

Communist Party creates community centres and resumes grassroots work that was weakened during the 1980s-90s

Centers organize cultural programs, leisure activities for children and the elderly, vocational courses, basic social services, and Party meetings, and were important in mobilizing people in the fight against the pandemic

China replaces US nuclear technology with domestic alternative to ensure energy security and minimize geopolitical risks

From the successful technology transfer of the four Westinghouse AP1000 reactors purchased in 2007, the country is building 12 new Hualong One reactors with 85% Chinese components; China set to become world’s largest nuclear power producer by 2026


Retail sales reached US $490 billion in August, the first year-on-year growth (0.5%) since the pandemic

As industrial production also saw year-on-year increase (5.6%) in 2020, GDP is expected to grow up to 5.2% in the third quarter

Foreign direct investment in China is up 18.7% year-on-year in August, reaching US $12.3 billion

Accumulated FDI for the year is US $91.7 billion with a year-on-year growth of 2.6%, notably in high-tech services sector (up 28.2%)

Category Icons

Agriculture and Environment

China reduced air pollution by 33% in 74 of the largest cities through a national program, reaching pre-1990s levels

After peaking in 2013, industry, household and transportation emission reductions led to improvements, but the air quality for 81.1% of the population is still below WHO’s recommended level

China should stop expansion of domestic soybean crops initiated in 2019 and prioritize strategic crops for food security, say experts

Due to scarce arable land and growing soy demand (107.2 million tons in 2020), the country should focus on rice, wheat, corn and specialist non-genetically modified soy production and diversify conventional soy imports (90% of total)

Growing health and environmental concerns boosted plant-based meat sales by 35% between 2014-18, reaching US $9.7 billion

Chinese market attracts foreign companies with more advanced technologies and is popularizing meat alternatives in fast food chains, but imitated flavor and texture still pose a challenge to increasing consumption


China launches prevention and treatment program for depression, which affected 16.6% of Chinese in 2019 and expected to grow after pandemic

The 2022 goal is to popularize knowledge among 80% of the population and increase treatment numbers by 50%, with a focus on adolescents, pregnant women, the elderly and those in high stress jobs

People’s Life and Culture

China recovers Silk Road history and heritage through investment in maritime archeological research, scientific training and the National Museum

After national embarrassment from the 1986 Amsterdam auction of 240,000 Chinese heritage artifacts, Chinese developed maritime archeological strategy and expertise, which could strengthen South China Sea cooperation

PLA soldier-turned-photographer, Cai Dongdong, shifts his camera towards reinterpreting China’s modern history

Having learnt photography as an army propaganda officer during 1990s, Dongdong’s work rereads historical imagery with Western elements, including restaging Goya’s “The Third of May, 1808” in the Chinese civil war context

The Eighth of the Twelfth Lunar Month, 2008 [Sixth Tone/Cai Dongdong] and The Third of May, 1808 by Francisco Goya, 1814 [Wikipedia]