No. 34 | 09.01.2021

Looking back to the top stories of 2020, moving forward into 2021 and the upcoming lunar new year of the ox.

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Dear readers,
As mentioned last week, today we share the second part of our 2020 retrospective of News on China. We hope this compilation can serve as a useful reference for study and research. As of next week, News on China will resume the regular publication of the weekly news digest, as we settle into a year that hopefully sees the end of the pandemic.
—Dongsheng editorial collective

National Politics

Communist Party of China’s Central Committee announces 14th Five-Year Plan (2012-25), prioritizing technological self-sufficiency and “dual circulation”

Faced with turbulent international situation, high-tech investment and domestic market expansion will be fundamental pillars to economic development, while the country reaffirms its commitment to multilateralism on issues such as environment, public health and international trade

China Daily, 04.11.2020 (Summary of the 14th Five-Year Plan, No.25)

New Chinese “dual circulation” strategy aims to maintain economic growth through expansion of the domestic market, but faces big challenges

Domestic consumption amounts to only 38.8% of GDP (US at 66%), but country foresees increase in middle class (400 to 560 million) and GDP/capita (US $14,000) by 2024-25; high income inequality and aging population may impose limits

China commemorates the 70th anniversary of resistance against US-led forces in the Korean War (1950-1953)

President Xi urged the country to carry forward the great spirit of the Chinese People’s Volunteers – 2.9 million soldiers fought and 197,653 died securing the 38th parallel against the militarily-superior US

China Daily, 20.20.2020 (No.23)

China issued draft antitrust rules to rein in internet-based monopolies, protecting market fairness and interests of consumers

Online monopolistic practices will be outlawed, including forcing merchants to choose between platforms or providing differentiated prices based on customer information; move cost top three giants US $102 billion in market value

Caixin Global, 11.11.2020 (No.26)


China suspends Ant Group’s initial public offering (US $39.67 billion) – the largest in history  due to new financial regulations

Government proposal for stricter rules could force Ant to restructure its app-based microlending business model – 40% of its revenues in the first half-year – and delay new IPO by months

Developing countries, mostly in Asia, will account for 95% of global growth in 2020-2021 and China for 51%, according to the IMF

GDP of advanced economies in 2021 is expected to fall 3.6% below 2019 level; US attempt to isolate China from global trade could have serious consequences for US and developing countries


China participates in global Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) as lender of US $28 billion, maturing in 2020

According to a study, China has never seized assets from debtor countries and has already agreed to renegotiate ¼ (US $94 billion) of its total loans; current largest beneficiaries are Venezuela, Pakistan and Angola (US $19, 14 and 6.2 billion, respectively)

Global Times, 13.10.2020 (No.22)

15 Asia-Pacific countries sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world’s largest free trade agreement

New trade bloc represents ⅓ of the global population (2.26 billion) and GDP (US $26 trillion), lowers trade tariffs, eases restrictions on investment and travel and is seen as a victory for Chinese diplomacy

South China Morning Post, 15.11.2020 (No.27)

China replaces US to become the EU’s largest trading partner between January and July (US $382.5 billion), with 2.6% year-on-year growth

Most European imports come from China, which increased by 4.9% (to 21.9%), while its exports decreased 1.8% (to 10.3%) to the Asian country

China and Russia consolidate strategic partnership through energy and industrial agreements, de-dollarization and bilateral trade

Less than half of China-Russia trade in first quarter was in dollars; in 30-year agreement worth US $400 billion, Siberia natural gas pipeline will supply 38 billion m³ annually (China currently imports 90 billion); Sibur and Sinopec will jointly build massive polymer plant

Science and Technology

Tianwen-1 mission launches Mars probe, which could make China the third country to reach the red planet

Chinese are the first to attempt to orbit, land, and rove on Mars in the same expedition; if successful, research will be the most comprehensive ever done; Tianwen (“heavenly questions”) is named after a 4th century BC poem

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

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

Agriculture and Environment

China could reach 2060 carbon-neutrality goal and cut 0.2–0.3°C from global warming projections, according to US expert

90% emissions reduction, long-term planning and investments would be required for China, which is already leader in renewables with 1/3 solar panels/turbines, 50% of e-vehicles, 98% of electric buses of the world

Third-generation hybrid rice yields record-breaking 23 tons/hectare in Hunan, 10-20% higher than other varieties

One hectare of the high-quality, resilient and easy-to-breed “Sanyou No 1” strain can feed up to 75 people; technique could help safeguard China’s food security, be applied to other grains and be distributed internationally

Global Times, 02.11.2020 (No.25)


Traditional Chinese medicine is strengthened thanks to success as supportive treatment for COVID-19 and revives debate in the country

Only 15% of hospitals and 9% of professionals currently adopt such practices, but the government proposes investments in research and greater integration with Western medicine

People’s Life and Culture

China is expected to have 300 million seniors by 2025 and a shrinking population by 2050

Over last decade, number of retirement and assisted-living facilities increased (40,000-220,000) as the elder population grew (10-18.1% of total), with parents of only-child policy entering their 60s

Global Times, 25.10.2020 (No.24)

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

Youth born during the 1990s onwards are more accepting of China’s early socialist history (1949-1979), popularized on online platforms

Unlike prior generation’s pro-US and capitalist outlook, today’s youth embrace the industrial and social advances led by Chairman Mao, who topped online Q&A poll as greatest modern Chinese historical figure

Selfie with Karl Marx at exhibition celebrating 200 years since his birth, 2018 [Chen Xiaogen/People Visual via Sixth Tone]