No. 64 | 21.08.2021


Taliban takes over Afghan capital after 20-year US-led war, while China is expected to play a key role in country’s reconstruction

Costing over US $2 trillion and hundreds of thousands of lives, the war has left Afghanistan in turmoil; Beijing maintains its embassy operations and dialogue with Washington and the Taliban, stressing cutting ties with East Turkestan Islamic Movement linked to Xinjiang terrorism

Months after Xinjiang cotton boycott, Adidas and H&M suffer decline in sales (16.3% and 28.1%, respectively), while Chinese sports brands grow

Propelled by data-driven marketing, first-half year profits expected to grow for Li Ning (nearly 200%) and Xtep (65%), while Anta’s market share (16.6%) nears Adidas’ (17.4%); US threatens sanctions on these companies

Science and Technology

China leads in artificial intelligence research quality, receiving more citations (20.7%) than the US (19.8%) for the first time in 2020

Global leader of AI publication volume since 2012, China is focusing on developing domestic talent; Beijing Academy of Artificial Intelligence team created Hua Zhibing, an AI “person” who can write poetry and draw

National Politics

Government suspends English final exams in Shanghai elementary school in another educational reform to ease pressure on students

Math and Chinese final exams will be given only in third (9 years-old) and fifth (11 years-old) grades, while other evaluation forms will be encouraged; English has the same weight as math and Chinese in the gaokao (entrance examination)

Ride-hailing app Didi will improve payment transparency for its 13 million drivers, while government announces cap on share of platform’s earnings

Newly-launched feature allows drivers to view earning proportion for each ride over the past day and week; with 493 million users (90% of market), Didi was removed from China’s app store after July national security probe


Economic opening boosted net FDI in China*, rising from US $80,000 to US $149 billion (1979-2020), second to the US (US $156 billion)

Foreign trade grew from US $20.6 billion to US $4.64 trillion (1978-2020), and the main export shifted from primary to mechanical and electronic products for 230+ trading partners

*Gross FDI in China (US$163 billion) becomes world’s largest for the first time in 2020

As global trade recovers, shipping costs hit record high, increasing nearly tenfold since the pandemic began

Costs to ship a container from China to US west coast (US $15,800) increases 50% in one month; container shortages and pandemic restrictions at key Chinese ports push freight costs and times up, disrupting supply chains and posing inflation risks

Agriculture and Environment

China promotes agricultural digitization, but agribusiness technologies only benefit large-scale farms

Modern Agriculture Platform, from seed and pesticide giant Syngenta, provides crop-monitoring and other services for over 773,000 hectares of farmland; with focus on more profitable large-scale farms, expanding services to the country’s majority small peasant economy will be difficult

People’s Life and Culture

Thousands helped to save relics after floods in Henan, home to 65,500 heritage sites (one-tenth of China’s total)

Over 1,500 museum workers, soldiers, and volunteers helped reinforce the river dam in historic Xunxian county after 3,600 year-old ancient city walls were flooded, while 1,000 cleaned up the Longmen Grottoes UNESCO World Heritage site

Museum culture thrives in China, fueled by investment in new facilities, TV programs, and consumer products that popularize cultural heritage

From 2016 to 2020, an average of one museum was opened every two days (totaling 5,788); despite the pandemic, last year’s 29,000 exhibitions and 225,000 educational activities received 540 million visitors

Visitors at the Nanjing Museum in Jiangsu Province, 22 August 2019 [Visual People via ChinAfrica]

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