China. The year as a whole was quite calm for China, whose leadership devoted much to international diplomacy. Prime Minister Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao both seemed more prone to smiling connectivity and were more Western than their predecessors.
According to CountryAAH, major public holidays in China include Independence Day (October 1) and New Year (January 1). China’s unparalleled rapid economic recovery lasted. In August, the World Bank adjusted its annual forecast for the growth of China’s GDP from 9.5 to 10.4%.
China’s huge foreign exchange reserve – estimated at $ 1,000 billion – shook the world’s stock exchanges towards the end of the year, worrying that Beijing would suddenly sell off its large dollar assets, which would lower the value of the currency. Now the unrest caused a sell-out with other players that just led to such a race.
China’s trade surplus rose more than ever before in the year – by 74% to a record US $ 177 billion. Exports increased by 27%, while imports increased more modestly – by 20% according to official accounts. Economists felt that the communist regime should use the foreign exchange reserve for investment in education and on improved social conditions for China’s poor. If the state pays for education, Chinese savings for consumption will be released, which would give China further push forward, the assessors considered. President George W. Bush, too, wanted China to consume more – especially goods from the United States. He made this clear when he received President Hu Jintao in Washington in April. China’s trade surplus in 2005 amounted to $ 200 billion against the US and grew in 2006. In connection with the visit, China ordered 80 Boeing planes.
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But all is not carefree in China. Two Canadian investigators published a study this year with testimony that imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners are deprived of their organs – corneas, kidneys, hearts – in a hair-raising but profitable transplant trade in Chinese healthcare.
Religious interest is growing in China. Above all, Buddhists are growing; In Shanghai, 25 new temples have been renovated or rebuilt since 2000. But also Christians are increasing and are now up to 68 million. Sects and varieties occur: “The Lightning in the East” is a strange movement that believes that Jesus was incarnated in a woman. The sect is said to force followers through brainwashing. The stated goal is to defeat the Red Dragon, the Communist Party. 20 members of the sect have been murdered. Leaders of another Christian movement, Three Degree Servants, were identified as guilty and three of them executed despite being forced to admit torture, according to the defense attorney.
People involved in civil rights are also being persecuted. The blind self-taught lawyer Chen Guangcheng, who revealed forced abortions and forced sterilizations, was sentenced to several years in prison as well as Gao Zhisheng, Falun Gong defender and union activists.
The protest movement in the countryside was widespread. This was partly due to the growing gap between poor and rich, and partly to local authorities ‘sales at high prices of farmers’ land. Almost all the money disappeared on the way to the landowners. Particularly noteworthy were the protests in the village of Panlong, where a 13-year-old girl died during police abuse. Concerns for the contradictions prompted Hu Jintao to pledge to invest in the countryside in February. “If the villages are stable, society will also be stable,” he said. Wen Jiabao confirmed at the People’s Congress in March that the government should invest in smoothing the income gaps. “A new socialist countryside” will be created, he said. About 800 million residents live in the country under difficult conditions, while a rich upper class has developed in the cities.
The fact that there are very rich Chinese became clear when it became possible to buy a space flight from the airline Virgin. Although the ticket cost the equivalent of more than SEK 1 billion, 23 Chinese searched, of which one will be allowed to travel when it becomes 2008.
In the coal mines, the accidents triggered each other as in previous years. Each year, about 6,000 workers die in mining accidents. China’s energy needs make it difficult to close the mines, which gives many private owners a good return.
The need for energy prompted Beijing to venture out into the world in search of even more oil. Bands were tied to Africa, where the Prime Minister visited in June, among other things. Tanzania, Ghana, Uganda and Angola, China’s largest oil supplier. China oil is also sourced from Sudan and Nigeria. An agreement with Zimbabwe was signed in June to help organize coal mining and build power plants. In November, African leaders were welcomed at a summit in Beijing where Hu Jintao promised to double aid.
Trade with Africa has increased sharply, from $ 10 billion in 2000 to $ 40 billion in 2005. But China is strongly criticized for dealing with the dictatorships of Sudan and Zimbabwe.
In Australia, Wen Jiabao signed an agreement in April to buy uranium. Prime Minister John Howard talked about a “remarkable transformation” in relations.
As the biggest power in the world defined by Digopaul, China sought investment abroad. Chinese oil company CNOOC tried to buy American oil company Unocal. The deal encountered stiff political opposition in the US Congress and therefore could not be implemented.
At the same time, with the screaming need for energy, China felt great environmental problems, especially in the form of smog in the cities and emissions in the rivers. Hu Jintao spoke about this before the party’s Politburo in March. He promised that China will reduce its energy consumption per capita by 20% by 2010 and that the environment will be better even if it means a slowdown of the economy.
A nagging rock in the shoe was North Korea, which partly shot up seven robots during the summer, and partly carried out its first nuclear test on October 9 in a mountain near the border of China. China’s feelings for dictator Kim Jong Il cooled and the country voted for a UN resolution on sanctions against North Korea. But after all, the bands kept. The same was true of Iran, whose leaders worried the West with its reprocessing of uranium. Concerns that Iran will acquire nuclear weapons have prompted the US and the EU in the UN to impose sanctions on Tehran. But both China and Russia opposed this and instead advocated dialogue.
With Japan, relations heated up somewhat. The irritation was great during the first half of the year over Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s visit to the Yasuku Temple, symbol of Japan’s militarism, as Japanese war criminals are kept in remembrance there along with millions of other Japanese war dead. Koizumi’s successor Shinzo Abe has also visited the temple, but not yet as prime minister. China and South Korea both wanted to see a chance for a new start in relations. It also started well: Abe visited Beijing on October 8 and Seoul the following day – while North Korea blew its first nuclear charge. The terror over North Korea’s actions brought the three countries closer together. In November, Japan and China decided to form a group to study the common history to create consensus on obscure points.
China increased its military budget by 15%, which worried the US. Foreign Minister Condoleezza Rice called for greater transparency about the intentions of the initiative.
Earlier than expected, Three Ravines’ dam was completed. In May, the 2,309 m long and 185 m high dam wall was completed. The construction has meant that about a million people have been forced to relocate. But Beijing hopes that Chang Jiang’s floods will now be prevented and much-needed energy extracted with the help of turbines that are being installed.
China’s struggle to save the giant pandas from extinction was expressed in the fact that the black and white half-bears had to look at mating acts between pandas on TV to inspire the rather stubborn one-offs to do the same. To some extent, it is said to have succeeded.