No. 40 | 27.02.2021

Spring Festival street celebration in northeastern Laobei City, Liaoning Province, 14 February 2021 [Yang Qing/Xinhua]

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Dear reader,
This week, we’re sharing an article by a member of our editorial team, Tings Chak, on the “Red Detachment of Women,” written for Globetrotter and circulated on various websites.
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US study of over 1,000 Chinese loans refutes allegations of “debt-trap diplomacy” and seizure of African assets for unpaid loans

Between 2000-19, China cancelled US $3.4 billion in debt and restructured/refinanced 26 loans; holding 20% of Africa’s debt, China’s bilateral negotiations offer tailor-made solutions, with 20 countries receiving debt relief in 2020

A major step towards digital yuan launch, China’s central bank announces joint venture with global financial transaction system SWIFT

After successful domestic trials, Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DCEP) system will turn China into the first major economy with a digital currency – strategic to internationalizing the yuan, reducing dollar dependency and combating money laundering 

China surpasses US to become EU’s largest trading partner in 2020 (US $710 billion), while bilateral CAI agreement undergoes approval

Chinese exports (US $463 billion) grew 5.6% year-on-year and imports (US $245 billion) by 2.2%, while US-EU trade (US $670 billion) fell 10%; Chinese trade surplus with Europeans (US $219 billion) grew 9.9%

Despite political pressure and state subsidies, Japanese multinationals refuse to decouple from China and continue to bet on Chinese market

Only 7.2% of Japanese companies consider leaving China (9.2% in 2019), where unrivaled combination of market size, skilled labor and sophisticated supply chain attract global leaders such as Panasonic (home appliances), Murata (electronic capacitors) and Nidec (electronic motors)

Nikkei Asia, 10.02.2021

National Politics

Government announces rural revitalization plan to ensure food security and expand achievements in fight against poverty

Plan aims to increase agricultural self-reliance by creating high-quality arable land (6.67 million ha), securing grain production (650 million tons/year) and developing seeds with advanced technologies, while strengthening grassroots organizations


China’s “stay-at-home” economy booms over Spring Festival in consumer spending, logistics and box office

Retail and catering sales surged to US $127 billion (+28.7% year-on-year), couriers sent 660 million parcels (+260%) and e-payments through UnionPay bank card processor (US $182.6 billion) and box office sales (US $1.2 billion) broke records

Xinhua, 19.02.2021

As tax revenues face first decline (-2.3%) in 44 years, local governments rely on real estate to boost economy and repay debt

State land sales revenue totaled US $1.3 trillion (+16%) in 2020, occupying 55% of total revenue (26% in 2015); several cities relax residency rules (hukou) to attract rural and professional workers and stimulate property market

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Agriculture and Environment

China boosts biodegradable plastics industry, with one company set to nearly triple global output of plant-based polylactic acid (PLA)

Spurred by China’s plastic waste ban and state subsidies, BBCA Group will expand its PLA production by 2023 (50,000–700,000 tons/year); major PBAT and PBS bioplastics producers will increase output by 4.8 times (+1.24 million tons/year)

People’s Life and Culture

Hi, Mom film tops Spring Festival box office (US $661 million), sparking online campaign to celebrate mothers

Jia Ling’s directorial debut (based on her own mother-daughter story) ranks fourth in all-time Chinese cinema sales, surpassing Hollywood’s Avengers: Endgame; social media hashtag “Photo of My Mother When She Was Young” received 120 million Weibo views

Century-old story of China’s first all-women’s Red Army brigade continues to be told through popular culture

Founded in 1930s Hainan, “Red Detachment of Women” was featured in 1961 film, national ballet-opera performed over 4,000 times – including during US President Nixon’s 1972 visit – and features in nightly spectacles for thousands in latest Sanya theme park (US $185 million)

People’s Dispatch, 06.21.2021

Social media trend inspired by Hi, Mom film, 2021 [What’s On Weibo]