No. 38 | 06.02.2021

Workers laying an underwater fiber optic cable in Wenzhou City, Zhejiang Province, 13 November 2019 [Tiantian Kuaibao]

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Digital Silk Road expands internet connectivity, linking Africa to Europe and Asia with 15,000 km fiber optic cables

Final stretch being completed in Pakistan – making Gwadar port economically viable – brings internet to remote areas, increases data transmission speed and security in the regions, while circumventing reliance on Western and Indian telecoms companies

A global telecoms leader, Sweden’s Ericsson opposes ban of competitors Huawei and ZTE from 5G auction and threatens to leave the country

Company fears losing access to growing Chinese 5G market (15.9% of its global sales in 2019) if Beijing retaliates; in the last quarter, profits increased 60% year-on-year (US $850 million)

National Politics

Over 1,500 COVID-19 cases reported in northern and northeastern China in January, caused by international arrivals and frozen food imports

Government measures of quarantining millions of people, mass testing and travel restrictions helped control outbreaks in Hebei (900+), Jilin (100+) and Heilongjiang (500+), where rural areas have weak medical infrastructure and containment systems


Government expenditure (US $3.8 trillion) increased 2.8% while tax revenue (US $2.8 trillion) decreased 3.9% in 2020

To combat the effects of the pandemic, the government increased health spending (+15.2%, US $293 billion) and granted US $877 billion in tax exemption to more than 45 million small businesses

Guangdong (US $1.7 trillion), Jiangsu (US $1.5 trillion) and Shandong (US $1.1 trillion) provinces account for 27% of national GDP in 2020

Less developed central and western provinces grew more, led by Tibet (+7.8%), while Hubei – the center of the pandemic – dropped 5%; Shanghai (US $600 billion) and Beijing (US $560 billion) lead among cities

Science and Technology

Chinese electric car battery producers invest US $5.3 billion in German factories, responding to surge in demand

With German state subsidies, electric cars accounted for 13.5% of total car sales in 2020 (3%, 2019); currently 90% automated, local production reduces environmental costs in shipping and increase renewable power sources

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Agriculture and Environment

Central government reproaches its national energy regulator for failure to control coal-power pollution in energy-rich eastern region

Inspections in three provinces detected 121 coal mines producing 30% more fuel than approved, contravening national plan to reduce carbon emissions; agency has 30 days to rectify situation

As China adopts stricter environmental laws, green industry grows 26-31% between 2005-2015 to US $154 billion (2016)

2019 survey found 92% of 11,229 companies provided services in air, water, and waste treatment and environmental monitoring – <2% specialized in soil remediation; since 2020, government shifted focus from solving immediate problems to environmental restoration

People’s Life and Culture

“Two-sided” marriage sparks public debate on patriarchal family traditions in a rapidly changing marital landscape

Liangtou hun eliminates wedding dowries, gives children maternal and paternal surnames and splits child and elder-care among both families; decades-old tradition in Jiangsu and Zhejiang unlikely to become widespread despite growing concerns about elderly care, lineage and inheritance for “one-daughter families”

Beijing exhibition celebrates He Xiangnang (1878-1972), artist, revolutionary and organizer of China’s first International Women’s Day in 1924

Resisting patriarchal tradition of “footbinding” in childhood, He joined Sun Yatsen’s anti-monarchist organization Tongmenghui, mobilized women in struggle against imperialism and feudalism and painted the spirit of socialist development till her death

He Xiangning painting in her later years [He Xiangning Art Museum]