No. 35 | 16.01.2021

President of Seychelles, the first African nation to vaccinate its population with a Chinese vaccine [Ministry of Health Seychelles]

Subscribe: The digest is published every Saturday in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and French.


Five African nations deepen bilateral cooperation with China during Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s first tour of 2021 in 31-year tradition

DRC and Botswana join BRI (totalling 46 African partners), Tanzanian rail contract (US $1.3 billion) was awarded to Chinese firms and Seychelles received 50,000 Sinopharm vaccine doses; vaccine cooperation, economic recovery and development are 2021 priorities

Russia and China expand energy partnership in coal, petrochemicals and gas amid political tensions with US, Europe and Australia

New joint venture will see 30 million tons of Russian coal exported to China in 2023, replacing Australian (25% of 2019 imports) and US coal; Presidents Xi and Putin aim to double their bilateral trade to US $200 billion by 2024

China releases report on international development cooperation based on vision of “global community of a shared future” and emphasis on South-South relations

Between 2013-2018, China contributed US $41.8 billion in donations (47.3%) and subsidized loans mostly to Africa and Asia, canceled debt (US $646 million) for least developed countries and dispatched 27,484 medical workers

National Politics

China will offer free Covid-19 vaccines to whole population, beginning with 50 million people by Spring Festival travel season

Over nine million people from high-risk groups were vaccinated, including one million in Beijing and nearly 140,000 in neighboring virus-hit Hebei province with reportedly 334 cases (2-8 January)


As the pandemic boosts manufacturing automation, Beijing invests in robotics subsidies to increase productivity and minimize growing labor costs

In 2020, nearly 170,000 new industrial robots were installed country-wide (+17% from 2019); “robot density” increased from 68 to 187 per 10,000 workers (2016-19), but China still depends on Japanese and EU imports

Spurred by the pandemic and 5G investment, China’s digital economy should account for over 40% of GDP (2020), up from 36.2% (2019)

This month, cities including Shenzhen and Suzhou unveiled plans to boost digital economy, which penetrated China’s agriculture (8.2%), industry (19.5%) and service (37.8%) sectors (2019), but experts caution against rushed expansion

Science and Technology

Yangtze Memory Technologies Corp aims to double monthly output of high-end chips, rivaling global leaders and decreasing reliance on foreign technology

Supported by the state chip funding program, China’s first domestic NAND chipmaker – crucial for computer memory and storage – should produce 100,000 wafers (7% of global output) by Q3

Category Icons

Agriculture and Environment

Yangtze River Economic Belt balances ecological and economic development in region responsible for 46.6% of country’s GDP (January-September 2020)

The vital waterway for global trade (US $1.96 trillion in January-November 2020) covers 11 provinces and municipalities; between 2016-2020, water quality improved (12.8 percentage points) and 8,091 chemical enterprises were relocated, upgraded or suspended

China deepens agrarian reform to modernize agriculture, balancing market needs with protection of peasants’ rights

Country faces challenges of employing surplus rural labor (210 million people) and revitalizing underutilized arable land (173 thousand km²), which could contribute to 60-70% of economic growth over the next 15 years

People’s Life and Culture

Government subsidizes five-year training program for middle-school graduates to bring educators back to the countryside

Targeted training programs in specific fields – medicine, agriculture, national defense – began in 1980s to attract workers to underdeveloped areas, but education challenges remain for China’s seven million “left-behind children” of migrant worker parents

Training program graduate, Fay, teaching in her hometown [Cindy Liu/World of Chinese]