China. According to Countryaah.com, China population in 2020 is estimated at 1,439,323,787. Xi Jinping, who took office as president in 2013, made sure during the year to consolidate his power. At the same time, he has to deal with an increasingly violent situation in the autonomous area of Xinjiang, democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong and the fact that in June 25 years have passed since the massacre in Tiananmen Square.
At the National People’s Congress annual meeting in March, Prime Minister Li Keqiang indicated, among other things, the work on environmental pollution, the fight against corruption and the fight against terrorism as important national goals.
The new leadership continued to bring in the hard gloves even against high-ranking corruption-accused politicians and officials. In July, an investigation was launched against Zhou Yongkang, former Minister of Public Security. He was officially charged with “serious disciplinary offenses”, which is considered a paraphrase for corruption. Zhou Yongkang, who has a background in China’s oil industry and was a member of the Political Bureau’s standing committee from 2007-12, is the highest-ranking party member to have been subjected to a criminal investigation since the “gang of four” lawsuit in the late 1970s. Zhou Yongkang had a close relationship with Bo Xilai, who in 2013 was sentenced to life imprisonment for corruption and abuse of power. In December, Zhou was arrested pending trial. He was also excluded from the party.
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The situation in Xinjiang in northwestern China remained explosive. In January, twelve people were killed since Uighur terrorists reportedly fired explosive charges that cost six people their lives. The other deceased are managed by the police. Authorities also accused Xinjiang separatists of marching behind an attack on a railway station in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province in southwestern China, in March, when 29 people were killed and about 140 injured when several people indiscriminately hit travelers with long knives.
Knives as well as explosives were used in an attack on a railway station in Xinjiang’s capital Ür邦mqi in May, when three people were killed and eighty injured. In the same month, two cars were driven into a market in Ür邦mqi and the passengers threw explosive charges and one of the cars exploded. About 30 people were killed.
The bloodiest event in Xinjiang since 2009 occurred in July, when nearly a hundred people were killed following an alleged attack on a police station and public buildings in Kaxgar prefecture in western Xinjiang. According to the official version, the attackers were equipped with knives and axes, but Uighur activists claimed that the police attacked a peaceful demonstration. More than 200 people have been arrested by security forces accused of terrorism. Later, twelve people were sentenced to death for participating in the attacks.
In June and July, a total of 145 people in Xinjiang were sentenced to long prison sentences for terrorist offenses, several of them to life imprisonment. The judges were in line with a statement from the government some time before, when the government declared its intention to strike against separatists and religious extremists. Nearly half of Xinjiang’s population is Uighurs, the majority of whom are Muslims.
At the National People’s Congress it was also announced that the budget for defense spending would be increased by about 12%. China continued its tough line during the year in terms of its claims in the disputed South China Sea. In May, a serious conflict between China and Vietnam arose since Vietnamese vessels tried to prevent China from setting up an oil drilling platform near the Paracel Islands, which both China and Vietnam and the Philippines claim. The islands have been controlled by China since 1974. Vietnam claimed that Chinese vessels hit Vietnamese fishing boats and also used water cannons. In Vietnam, the incident triggered anti-Chinese protests, and Chinese and Chinese companies in the country were threatened. After two Chinese workers were killed and several factories set on fire, China sent five boats to retrieve Chinese from Vietnam.
The relationship with some of China’s other neighboring countries was more constructive. For the first time since 1949, leaders of China and Taiwan met at government level. At the meeting in Nanjing in February, an agreement was reached to create a direct channel through which countries can discuss common issues.
In connection with an APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) summit in Beijing in November, China signed a number of important bilateral agreements, including a free trade agreement with South Korea. China and Japan announced their intention to hold talks on the Diaoyu Islands, which in Japanese are called the Senkaku Islands and which both countries claim. They also announced that they had taken measures to avoid aggravating the conflict. In addition, Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met for talks.
China and the Russian Federation took several steps that brought the countries closer together. Most of the agreements between the countries concerned energy issues. Already in May, an agreement was reached on the construction of a pipeline for export of natural gas from the Russian Federation to China. In addition, the countries will strengthen their military cooperation and, among other things, carry out joint military exercises at sea in the coming years.
Xi Jinping also met US President Barack Obama and together they presented a climate agreement that was described as historic. According to this, China should not be allowed to increase its carbon dioxide emissions after 2030, while the US goal is to reduce its emission levels by 26-28% compared to 2005 levels.
June 4, it was 25 years since the massacre at Tiananmen Square. Already in May, a large number of regime critics were arrested by the police, and while the anniversary itself received a lot of attention in Hong Kong and Taiwan, among other things, it was not commented at all in Chinese media. The security around the square itself was massive in order to avoid manifestations in memory of what is officially considered a counter-revolutionary uprising in China.
In Hong Kong, the desire for freedom and pressure on the authorities for increased democracy was strong. In June, an unofficial referendum on democratic reforms was organized and in July a peaceful demonstration was conducted with hundreds of thousands of participants, of which about 500 were arrested by the police. In August, the authorities announced that the promise of free and general elections in 2017 would not be fulfilled, but the candidates that the voters will be allowed to vote on will first be approved by a special nomination committee. The protests then became more powerful and the protesters, many of whom were students, blocked streets in central Hong Kong beginning in late September. In November, a court ruled that two of the occupied areas would be vacated,
In early December, protesters were urged to suspend protests by leaders of the so-called Occupy Central movement. A few weeks later, the tents were cleared away from the last occupied area.
In August, about 600 people lost their lives in a powerful earthquake in Yunnan.