No. 33 | 02.01.2021

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Dear reader,
As this difficult year marked by the pandemic comes to a close, we would like to thank all of you who followed us during the eight months of News on China. We ring in the new year with some news: the Dong Feng Collective (Eastern Wind), responsible for the publication, is now called Dongsheng (Eastern Voices) and soon we’ll be launching a new website and social media accounts, with new content!
This week and the next, we’re publishing a retrospective of the top stories in 2020, recalling the main achievements of the Chinese people and government, as well as a look into the future.
While nations across the world saw millions experience deeper levels of impoverishment this year, China ended extreme poverty — one of the great accomplishments in human history. To better understand how this was possible, we recommend a documentary jointly produced by the public media outlets of CGTN (China) and PBS (US). Unfortunately, the film was censored in the US. But you can watch it here (also in SpanishFrench)

National Politics

China meets poverty alleviation target in 2020 with 80 million people from 832 impoverished counties taken out of poverty since 2013

Goal was reached through various methods, including job creation, access to education, health, social security, housing and income transfer; Chinese poverty line in PPP is US $2.30/day (World Bank US $1.90)

Between 1995-2018, China made important improvements in women’s education, health and poverty rate, but discrimination remains a challenge

Women’s illiteracy (24.1%-7.5%) and maternal mortality (61.9-18.3/100,000) were reduced, undergraduate (35.4%-51.2%) and graduate students (23.5%-45.8%) increased, but only 25% hold leading positions in companies

Government releases report on developments in employment, labor rights, income and education in Xinjiang from 2014-2019

Employment increased 17.2% (to 13.3 million) and per capita disposable income increased by about 50% (US $5,125 urban, US $1,935 rural); 453,800 students are enrolled in university (up 47.5%)

Complete report (No.19)

Harvard research (2003-16) reveals that public approval of Chinese government has increased in recent years, especially in less developed regions

93% say they are satisfied with the central government (86.1% in 2003) and 70.2% with township administrations (43.6%). Social welfare policies for the working classes and the fight against corruption were decisive factors


At the WHO Assembly, China proposes to make the future anti-COVID-19 vaccine “a global common good”

Xi announces $2 billion donation to fight the pandemic – prioritizing Africa – and proposes G20 to suspend payment of debt services for poor countries

From trade sanctions and fake news to military and diplomatic intimidation, US offensive against China is a reaction to Chinese economic and technological advances

For the first time, US glimpses risk of losing technological superiority, its main advantage in last decades, with Huawei’s 5G technology as the biggest threat

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.) – and bilateral trade reached US $200 billion in 2019

China strengthens Latin American partnership based on three-pillar approach of imports, investment and political solidarity

As the key export market for Chile (32%), Peru (29%), Brazil (28%), Uruguay (27%) and Argentina (10%) in 2019, China also supported Venezuela, Cuba and Bolivia, whose new president Arce indicated continued commitment to lithium cooperation for battery production


China cut tax and fee by US $311.22 billion from January to September, 65% of which helped minimize the effects of COVID-19

Tax departments have also helped exporters’ shift to the domestic market, expanding their income from domestic sales during January–September by 7.7% year-on-year

Average annual salary of workers in the information technology and scientific research industries surpasses that of finance professionals, becoming the highest in the country

Researchers earn US $19,060 and “techies” (telecommunication, software and IT) US $22,998, while financial professionals make US $18,760; the digital economy represents ⅓ of national GDP and ¼ of the workforce.

According to Forbes magazine, China surpasses US in having the most Fortune Global 500 companies with 133 and 121, respectively

With no companies on the list in 1990, China now has 3 of top 10 companies – Sinopec, State Grid and China National Petroleum, behind Walmart’s lead – and 5 of 7 largest internet companies

Agriculture and Environment

After 15 years of “Clear waters, green mountains” policy, China becomes global leader in reforestation since 2000, creating a quarter of world’s new green areas

Pollution-reduction investment quadrupled since 2005 (US $137.7 billion in 2017), and environmental restoration of areas heavily affected by economic development in recent decades has advanced

With high soy demand and limited arable land, China has increased productivity by 83% since 1978 due to technological investment

China produces 200 new varieties annually and publishes most papers globally on soybeans, but still imported 88.5 million tons (over 80% of its consumption) in 2019

Science and Technology

Chinese navigation system BeiDou begins full operation in more than 100 countries, with higher accuracy than GPS and 100% of components manufactured domestically

With 56 satellites outnumbering the US GPS system’s 35, BeiDou serves 100 million users – including Chinese cell phones and iPhone 11 – and value expected to exceed US $57 billion this year

Global Times, 06.08.2020 (No.13)

China surpasses US in the number of scientific papers published for the first time, having invested US $554 billion (PPP) in research in 2018

China published 19.9% and US 18.3% of papers, but US still leads in quality with 24.7% of the 10% most-cited articles, while China has 22%


Owing to “patient zero’s” good memory and cell phone data, Beijing authorities located the coronavirus origin and avoided a massive outbreak

“Grandpa Tang’s” recollections and cellphone payment, chat and navigation records allowed Beijing CDC to discover the Xinfadi market source, declaring its lockdown in less than 24 hours

People’s Life and Culture

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

Between 2011 and 2018, 70% of new university students are the first in their family to access higher education

69.7% of them come from rural areas. Data show signs of Chinese educational progress and fight against inequalities, but students still face challenges

On October 1st, Chinese people celebrated 71st anniversary of the founding of the PRC, Mid-Autumn Festival and post-pandemic recovery

550 million domestic tourists are expected to boost economy during the “Golden Week” – the first long holiday since the Spring Festival lockdown in Wuhan, where 140+ celebration events are planned

Chairman Mao’s 127th birthday was celebrated nationally on 26 December 2020 — here pictured with students from Africa, Asia and Latin America in 1959 [Hou Bo/ChinaFotoBank]