No. 42 | 13.03.2021

Arrival at the Great Hall of the People for the “Two Sessions”, 5 March 2021 [Xinhua]

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Dear reader,

Between 4-11 March, the “Two Sessions” (Lianghui) took place in Beijing — the biggest annual political event in China. The legislative National People’s Congress (NPC) and the advisory Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CCPPC) gathered 5,000 political and social leaders to make proposals and discuss the country’s direction.

Learn more about the “Two Sessions” here and find a summary of the main topics discussed this year, here.

Accordingly, we dedicate a good part of this week’s News from China on the country’s strategic debates, which begins the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), amid huge geopolitical tensions.

—Dongsheng Editorial Collective

P.S. Read News on China: Africa Weekly in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and French.

National Politics

China expects 6% growth in 2021, while relying more on industry and household consumption than financial and real estate sectors

Measures to increase consumption include raising incomes, lowering spending on housing (8%-13% of household income, 2002-18) and expanding domestic consumer goods industry (food, pharmaceuticals, cars, tourism, culture, etc.) 

Nikkei Asia, 04.03.2021

China is the largest industrial power by value (US $4.8 trillion, 30% of global total), but lags behind level of US and Germany, says ex-minister

Major limits are foreign technological dependence, weaknesses in key sectors, and manufacturing’s premature declined share of GDP (37.8%, 2020); country will increase R&D investment 7% annually to US $580 billion (2025)

South China Morning Post, 08.03.2021
CGTN, 08.03.2021

China’s defense budget (US $209 billion) maintains steady growth, with an increase of 6.8% for 2021

Chinese military spending accounts for 1.22% of GDP, lower than the global average (2.6%), its neighbors Russia and India, and the US (3.4%), with a budget (US $740.5 billion) more than three times China’s

CGTN, 07.03.2021

National People’s Congress votes for Hong Kong electoral reform to safeguard “one country, two systems” and develop democratic system

To protect national sovereignty, Election Committee for electing the city’s leader will expand from 1,200 to 1,500 members, adding a fifth sector of 300 Hong Kong deputies to top national legislative (NPC) and advisory (CPPCC) political bodies

South China Morning Post, 11.03.2021
Xinhua, 11.03.2021


57-year history of Chinese medical exchanges and support in Africa refutes accusations of “vaccine diplomacy,” according to Washington Post

21,000 Chinese doctors have treated 220 million patients in 48 countries and 130 medical facilities were built with Chinese assistance (1963-2018), playing a major role in the fight against malaria, Ebola and Covid-19

Washington Post, 05.03.2021
Xinhua, 21.01.2021
Read the study here


In January-February, China’s foreign trade (US $834.5 billion) surged 41.2% year-on-year due to strong foreign demand and fiscal policies

Even with low comparison base (a year since pandemic in China), numbers are still high – trade with USA (+81.3%, US $109.8 billion), ASEAN (+41.9%, US $120.5 billion) and EU (+49.6%, US $119.6 billion)

Global Times, 07.03.2021
Yicai Global, 08.03.2021

Category Icons

Agriculture and Environment

China invests US $13.3 billion in creating high standard farmland (5.59 million ha) and irrigation systems (1.6 million ha)

“High standard” is defined as flat and contiguous arable land with complete agricultural facilities, reliable electricity supply, ecological protection, disaster resistance, and high and stable yields in floods or droughts

People’s Daily, 09.03.2021

China seeks self-sufficiency in genetic technology, seed supply, and livestock breeding to reduce high import dependence

Country’s corn and soybean (non-GMO) production is half of the US’s (GMO) and 70% of pigs are foreign breeds; new national and world’s largest bank for germplasm – “chips of agriculture” – starts operating this year

Global Times, 03.03.2021

People’s Life and Culture

Mental health awareness and services increase in China but remain far from meeting country’s needs

Rehabilitation “clubhouses” and national “686 Program” (2003) to expand basic mental health care are a start for country where 2/3 of counties lack access (2015), 57% of 16 million Chinese with serious illnesses are poor (2014) and families are primary caregivers

The World of Chinese, 05.03.2021

In the 1950s, government created urban working class “cultural palaces”, which declined with 1990s market reforms

During early socialist period, feudal and colonial spaces were reappropriated to provide political, cultural and technical education for workers; leisure time and accessible spaces have become rare for today’s workers, while culture becomes increasingly commercialized and digitalized

Sixth Tone, 03.03.2021
Sixth Tone, 26.02.2021

China’s Mao-era cultural “palaces” for workers [Sixth Tone]