No.36 | 23.01.2021

Construction workers of the Fuzhou-Xiamen high-speed railway bridge, 2020 [Xinhua]

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China’s trade surplus with the US grew 7.14%, reaching US $316.91 billion in 2020

Bilateral trade grew despite the Washington-imposed trade war and sanctions, with China exporting US $451.8 billion to the US (+7.9%) and importing US $134.9 billion (+9.8%); Chinese foreign trade hit historic record (US $4.65 trillion)

Foreign Minister Wang Yi reaffirms cooperation in trade, infrastructure and vaccines to fuel post-pandemic recovery on Southeast Asian visit

In the Philippines, Wang Yi announced infrastructure funding (US $1.34 billion), grants (US $77 million) and vaccine donations (500,000 doses); Indonesia, Myanmar and Brunei also received Chinese diplomat

China’s foreign aid approach aims to shift from loans towards grants and development cooperation for partners already mired in debt

According to new report, between 2013-18, China’s foreign assistance totaled US $41.8 billion (45% to Africa) comprised of grants (47%), interest-free loans (4%) and concessional loans (49%), respectively +11%, -4% and -6% since 2010-12, with US $645 million in debt-cancellation


Overcoming the pandemic, China was the only major economy to grow in 2020 with GDP increasing 2.3% (to US $15.45 trillion)

Recovery was driven by a 4% increase in exports (US $2.77 trillion) and 2.9% infrastructure investments (US $8.0 trillion), but domestic consumption (US $6.16 trillion) dropped 3.9%; economy grew 6.5% in the last quarter

In 2020, China’s output totalled US $1.2 trillion (+3%) in primary, US $5.9 trillion (+2.6%) in industry and US $8.5 trillion (+2.1%) in services sectors

High-tech manufacturing grew 7.1% (robots +19.1%, new energy vehicles +17.3% and chips +16.2%), while software and IT services grew 16.9%.

Science and Technology

Blockchain gains ground in China with increased government support and could become future critical technology

Last year, government created Blockchain Service Network to unify disparate platforms of this technology – a secure digital ledger of transactions – used by 27,500 Chinese companies in 2020 (+52% from 2018) for cryptocurrency, health-tracking, agriculture and digital yuan

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Agriculture and Environment

Nearly 100 million people in East and Southwest China are affected by contaminated tap water, according to Tsinghua University study

Without a national safety standard, per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) exceed US contaminant limits (20 ng/L), originating from textile, paper and pesticides industries — many which relocated to China as Western environmental controls tightened

China launches national carbon-trading scheme to offset CO2 emissions as part of efforts to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060

Pilot guidelines will apply to 2,225 power companies emitting over 26,000 tons of CO2 equivalent and transgressors will be fined (US $3,100-4,650); ShanghaiJiangsu and Guangdong set to achieve peak CO2 emissions by 2025, five years before national target

People’s Life and Culture

“Left-behind children” of migrant workers decreased from nine to seven million (2016-18) due to government policies, but intergenerational difficulties continue

With 1990s mass rural-to-urban migration and permanent residency restrictions (hukou system) for migrants, parents need to leave children to grandparents’ care, but recent reforms saw 8.5 million migrants return home in 2019 (2.4 million in 2015)

Film announced about Chen Wangdao, translator of Communist Manifesto, the first Marxist book in Chinese that inspired a revolution

2021 is the 130th anniversary of Chen’s birth and centenary of the Communist Party of China, which he helped found after returning from studying in Japan and participating in the May Fourth Movement

Commemorative stamp for 100th anniversary of the Chinese edition of the Communist Manifesto, 2020 [Shine]