China has fascinated tourists with its mystique for centuries. History, culture and oriental exoticism are the elements that appeal to Chinese visitors the most.
Official language: Mandarin Chinese
Currency: Renminbi (CNY)
Passport and visa: Finns are required to have a visa to China. Hong Kong and Macao do not need a visa if the visit lasts a maximum of 90 days. The passport must be valid for 6 months from the date of application for the visa.
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Agriculture and fishing
Agriculture has always played an important role in saturating the Chinese population. Even today, about a quarter of the working population is employed in agriculture, although its contribution to GDP has decreased since the mid-1980s.
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During the 2000s, growing exports, together with increased domestic demand for other than cereals, led to an increase in the harvest of fruits, vegetables and oilseeds as well as meat production. However, the majority of farmers still grow cereals, and China’s leaders have not wanted to abandon the ambition that the country should be 95 percent self-sufficient for rice and wheat, a goal that was reached in 2010. Large harvests are achieved with the help of abundant fertilizers and pesticides. At the same time, this has led to eutrophication and other environmental problems (see Natural Resources and Energy). Artificial irrigation of the soil is widespread.
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A trend in the mid-2010s was that smaller farms were merged into larger units, which made it possible, among other things, to invest in agricultural machinery. Cultivation has also become more effective in many places as a result of better technology and decision makers have big plans for artificial intelligence to be used in agriculture, for example through robots that can feed animals, diagnose diseases and protect crops. The hope is to eventually be able to bridge the gap that exists in terms of development and welfare between the countryside and the cities. At the same time, the number of residents who support themselves as farmers has decreased in recent years as many rural residents move to larger cities. For China defense and foreign policy, please check recipesinthebox.
Rice is an important crop that is mainly grown in the south where you can get two to three harvests a year. In the northern part of the country wheat, barley and maize are predominant. Sweet potatoes, asparagus, garlic, potatoes and sugar cane are other important crops. Much of the protein in the diet still comes from soy and other beans, but meat and pork in particular have become increasingly important and production has increased. Own pork production is not enough, but the country has to import from other countries. Pork, poultry and cow’s milk dominate among domestic animal production. Fishing on the coast and in rivers and lakes is significant, but fish farming in ponds plays an even greater role.
The 1978 reforms initiated a thorough transformation of the countryside. When the people’s municipalities disappeared, family farming was resumed. The farmers would supply a quota to the state, while the surplus could be sold at higher prices in the market. Since the peasants do not own their land, but lease it, they do not have much to oppose when local politicians decide to sell the land. In 2008, the Communist Party launched a reform that allowed farmers to transfer or lease their cultivation rights, which on average was no bigger than a football pitch in size.
FACTS – AGRICULTURE
Agriculture’s share of GDP
7.2 percent (2018)
Percentage of land used for agriculture
56.2 percent (2016)
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China holds military exercises with Iran and Russia
Iran, China and Russia launch joint military exercises at sea in the Indian Ocean and off the coast of Oman. The exercises should last for four days. According to the Iranian government, the purpose of the exercises is to “contribute to peace, friendship and retained security through cooperation and unity” which should result “to show that Iran must not be isolated”.
New mass demonstration in Hong Kong
A large number of Hong Kong residents join a new government-critical demonstration. It is the first since August organized by the Democratic Movement Civil Human Rights Front. According to the organizers, the number of protesters amounts to about 800,000, but the police estimate the number to just over 180,000.
Meeting of Foreign Ministers of China and Korea
China and South Korea’s foreign ministers meet for the first time since relations between the countries deteriorated in 2016 in connection with the deployment of the US robotic defense system THAAD in South Korea. At the meeting, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi calls on South Korea to play a “constructive” role in creating regional peace and stability. He also calls the countries “close neighbors, friends and partners”. The meeting also emphasized the need to increase high-level exchanges and closer contacts. Also on the agenda for the meeting was the preparation of a summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-In, Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang and Japan’s Head of Government Shinzo Abe later in December.
Russia and China inaugurate gas pipeline
The over 300-mile-long pipeline runs from eastern Russia to the Chinese province of Liaoning and has been dubbed “the world’s largest construction project” by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russia and China agreed to build the leadership in 2014 and it is seen as evidence of the good relations between the two major powers. Russian gas giant Gazprom runs the project, which will annually export 38 billion cubic meters of Russian gas when it is in full swing from 2025.
Former Xinjiang chief sentenced to life imprisonment
Nur Bekri, who was most recently head of the National Energy Agency, is sentenced to life imprisonment for corruption. Nur Bekri is an ethnic Uyghur and has also held several high positions in the Xinjiang region, including as deputy party secretary. He has received over 79 million yuan in bribery.
China is avenged against US for Hong Kong law
The new Hong Kong law in the US (see November) is met by countermeasures from China. Beijing announces the imposition of sanctions on American NGOs, including Human Rights Watch, which are believed to have acted “badly” in connection with the protests in Hong Kong. It is unclear what the sanctions mean. Beijing is also facing a halt to US warships’ visits to Hong Kong.
Outrage in Beijing over new US Hong Kong law
After US President Donald Trump signed a new law on Hong Kong that was enforced by Congress, China’s government warns against countermeasures. The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act requires that Hong Kong’s status as a favored trading partner must be renewed every year. If human rights are considered to be threatened in Hong Kong or its self-determination, it could mean withdrawing trade benefits. The Hong Kong government is also negative to the new law and accuses the United States of meddling in Hong Kong’s internal affairs.
Occupation of university completed in Hong Kong
After several days of clashes between police and protesters at the Polytechnic University of Hong Kong, the last remaining protesters finally leave the area. They have been called on by police and Hong Kong Government Carrie Lam to cancel the campaign. More than a thousand people have been arrested by the police
Grand victory for pro-democracy parties in Hong Kong’s local elections
Parties supporting Beijing and incumbent Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam suffer a setback in the elections to Hong Kong’s 18 district assemblies. The largest party in the Beijing-friendly camp, DAB, receives only 21 seats in total. Pro-Democratic parties, on the other hand, win a majority of seats in 17 of the parishes, which corresponds to about 400 of a total of 452 seats. Over 70 percent of Hong Kong residents vote in local elections, which is a record-high turnout, which is believed to be rooted in Hong Kong’s desire to express their views on Carrie Lamb’s handling of the protests over the past six months. The district assemblies deal with local issues in their districts, but 117 of the members of these assemblies are, according to Hong Kong’s constitution, also included in the special election committee that appoints Hong Kong’s head of government.
Beijing criticizes Swedish minister
The Chinese government has criticized Amanda Lind’s cultural minister since she participated in the award ceremony of the Swedish Pens Tucholsky Prize, when it was awarded to Swedish-Chinese publisher Gui Minhai. China demands respect for its legislation, according to a statement at a press conference at the Beijing Foreign Ministry. Earlier, the Chinese Embassy in Stockholm threatened with difficulties in relations if the prize was awarded and the ambassador said that Amanda Lind and Prime Minister Stefan Löfven may be prevented from entering China. Gui Minhai is still imprisoned in an unknown place in China (see January 2018).
Clashes at university in Hong Kong
Violence erupts as police attempt to enter the Polytechnic University of Hong Kong, which has been occupied by hundreds of protesters. The police had given activists a deadline for when they had to cancel the occupation at the latest. Some of the activists leave the area, while others take gasoline bombs and shoot the police with home-made weapons like bows. Activists trying to leave the area are being held back by police who want to arrest them. According to the police, the protests at universities can be defined as “riots”, which by law can be punishable by 10 years in prison. During November, the demonstrations in Hong Kong, which have been going on for six months, have escalated and become more violent. Two people have been killed after being injured in connection with protests.
Macron on state visit to China
During a state visit to China, French President Emmanuel Macron will agree with President Xi Jinping on trade deals worth around $ 15 billion. Macron’s group includes around thirty French business executives. The two leaders also make a joint statement in support of the Paris Agreement on measures to stop climate change. The statement comes after it became known that the US had requested to leave the agreement.
Imprisoned Uighur human rights activist receives the Sakharov Prize
Ilham Tohti, an Uighur academic who has been serving a life sentence in China since 2014 (see October 2014), receives the Sakharov Prize for 2019 by the European Parliament, which awards the prize. The President of the European Parliament, during his speech, called on China to release Ilhamn Tohti and to show respect for the rights of minorities. Tohti has long worked to improve the situation of Uighurs in China and to establish a consensus between Uighurs and the Beijing regime, and had, among other things, a website where he wrote on both Uighur and Chinese on social issues. Recently, in September, he also received another prestigious award, the Vaclav Havel Prize, for giving “the whole Uighur people a vote”.
Meeting between Xi Jinping and the Prime Minister of India
An informal meeting between President Xi Jinping and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is held at the resort of Mahabalipuram in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is the second time in 18 months that the two leaders meet. The two leaders pay tribute to the relations between the two countries, but the concrete results of the meeting seem to be few. The purpose of the meeting is, among other things, to try to reduce the tensions that escalated when India declared in August 2019 that Ladakh in the Himalayas, at the border with China, should be its own Union territory, which means that New Delhi will increase its influence over the area. At the meeting, Xi and Modi reiterated a promise from the previous meeting in Wuhan, China, that “both sides should deal with their differences of opinion with judgment and not let either of them lead to conflicts”.
The United States blacklists Chinese security companies
The US faces a ban on 28 Chinese companies and security agencies in Xinjiang to buy US goods. Companies and government agencies must have been involved in abuses against Uighurs and violations of their rights in Xinjiang. Among the companies there is, among other things, a video surveillance company and two technology companies dealing with artificial intelligence. The next day, the United States also limits the possibility of obtaining visas for Chinese government and party officials who are alleged to have been involved in abuses directed at Uighurs and other Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang, including so-called retraining camps. China’s foreign ministry calls for the US to stop the measures, claiming that the US is untrue about Xinjiang.
Ban on face masks in Hong Kong
Hong Kong Government Carrie Lam faces a ban on protesters in Hong Kong wearing face masks. The Hong Kong Executive orders the ban with reference to special exemption legislation that makes it impossible to raise the issue in the Legislative Council. The law has not been used for 52 years. After the ban was published, new street protests and clashes between police and protesters erupt.
China celebrates 70 years of great military parade
The People’s Republic of China’s 70th birthday is celebrated in Beijing with a record military parade. About 15,000 soldiers along with missiles, bandwagoners and drones are part of the parade to showcase China’s military force. President Xi Jinping also gives a speech in which he points out, among other things, that “the Chinese dream”, where China will regain its glory and status from ancient times, is about to be fulfilled.
Claws in Hong Kong for 70 years of celebration
Activists clash with police in the streets of Hong Kong in conjunction with the demonstration of the 70th anniversary of the formation of the People’s Republic of China. Hong Kong protesters call the Chinese National Day on October 1 “Sorrow Day”. The clashes are more violent than in several weeks and the police use water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets against the protesters.
New airport opens in Beijing
A new major airport, Beijing Daxing, opens in the Chinese capital. President Xi Jinping inaugurates the airport, which is planned to be one of the world’s largest. The airport will have the capacity to receive 45 million passengers in 2021 and up to 100 million in 2040. Beijing’s current international airport, Beijing Capital airport, is already the world’s second largest, but it is difficult to handle the large stream of passengers – over 100 million last year.
Hong Kong leaders withdraw legislative proposals
Following the summer’s mass demonstrations and unrest, Hong Kong’s head of government Carrie Lam announces that the controversial bill that triggered the protests will be withdrawn. According to the proposal, suspected criminals could be extradited to the Chinese judicial system on the mainland. In the protest movement, some feel that the decision to withdraw the proposal is not enough to end the mass protests, but that other, new, demands from the protesters must also be met. For example, it is about releasing protesters (see also June, July and August).
Democracy activists arrested in Hong Kong
Three well-known activists are said to have been arrested by the Hong Kong police. Joshua Wong was one of the leaders of the 2014 protests, the so-called Umbrella protests. He belongs to the Demosisto political party, as well as Agnes Chow, who has also been arrested. They are both accused of pushing others to participate in a June 21 demonstration held without the permission of the authorities. In connection with the protests, the police headquarters were blocked for several hours. Wong is also suspected of organizing the protest. Another activist has been brought in for questioning, Andy Chan, founder of the Hong Kong Nationalist Party who wants Hong Kong to become independent. He, in turn, is suspected of injuring a police officer and of participating in rioting.
Beijing can ship new duties to the United States
Beijing suggests that the sanctions against the United States that China warned about a few days ago may be suspended. The duties were to be imposed in response to the new US customs duties on Chinese imports, which the US plans from September 1 and December. According to Beijing, the trade war is hurting the world economy.
Hong Kong: mass protest banned
A planned mass demonstration for democracy is prohibited by the police. The demonstration, scheduled for August 31 – five years after Beijing opposed political reforms in Hong Kong, is suspended for security reasons. According to police, some protesters fear resorting to violence. Last weekend, police used water cannons to stop violent activists.
Australian citizen detained in China
According to Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, the writer and academic Yang Henjun, a former Chinese diplomat and now Australian citizen, has been formally arrested in China on suspicion of espionage. Australia, since Yang Henjun was arrested in China in early January this year, tried to get Beijing to release the popular blogger and critic of China’s political system.
China is planning criminal charges against the United States
According to the China Customs Authority, penalties will be imposed on imports of US goods on September 1 and December 15. The duties will be worth $ 75 billion and will be introduced in response to the new Chinese import duties that the US plans to introduce on the same date (see August 1).
Suspended flights after demonstrations in Hong Kong
Demonstrations in Hong Kong continue after a short break and have now been going on for over ten weeks. (see July and June). The popular protests have now increasingly evolved to become a call for democratic rights. After activating a terminal at Hong Kong International Airport for four days, several flights are canceled. According to media reports, representatives of the Beijing regime have said the protesters are showing “early signs of terrorism”.
The US will introduce new duties
Additional customs duties on goods from China worth $ 300 billion will be imposed, President Trump announces. The reason is that China has failed to fulfill its promises to buy more US agricultural goods, according to Trump. The message that is giving negative echoes on the stock exchanges means that soon all goods trade between the countries will be covered by new barriers to trade. Trump states that 10 percent tariffs will be imposed from September 1 on mobile phones, computers and some shoes and clothing, among other things. But barely two weeks later, he changes his mind and postpones duties on some of the goods until December 15.
China invests in military top technology
A new national defense plan will be published, the first since 2012. According to the plan, China’s defense force will be equipped with state-of-the-art technical systems for a growing international focus on “intelligent warfare”. Only the United States, considered by China to “undermine global stability”, has higher defense spending than China, and Chinese spending is expected to increase by 7.5 percent in 2019. Continued efforts against “separatists” in Xinjiang and Tibet are foreseen in the plan. At the same time, more independence in Taiwan, also called “separatists,” is described as the biggest threat to China’s peaceful reunification.
The protesters in Hong Kong noble peace invitation
In an attempt to put an end to the protests against the controversial bill that had previously been put on ice, Hong Kong’s Prime Minister Carrie Lam announces that the proposal “is dead” and calls the attempt to introduce the law a “complete failure”. The proposal concerned the extradition of prisoners to China. Lamb’s outstretched hand, however, does not calm the protesters who say the protests will continue until all their demands have been met. The protesters demand, among other things, the departure of Lamb, that all who were arrested during the protests are released and that the police’s actions are investigated.
Government building storms during mass protest in Hong Kong
In conjunction with new mass protests on the anniversary of when Hong Kong transitioned from British to Chinese rule, protesters stormed the building where the Legislative Council (LegCo) sits. They spend several hours in the building where they break furniture and spread slogans on the walls, before the police force forces them out. Both Beijing and Hong Kong head of government Carrie Lam condemn the incident in vigorous terms, saying that those involved have legal penalties to wait. The protesters continue to demand that the disputed extradition law be withdrawn completely, despite the government putting it on ice a couple of weeks earlier.
China and US resume trade talks
President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Donald Trump agree to resume trade talks between the countries. Trump is also making concessions: US companies will resume sales to Chinese telecom giant Huawei (see May 15, 2019), and new $ 300 billion tariffs he previously threatened will not be introduced. The deadlock in the negotiations between the two trade giants is considered to have had a dampening effect on world trade. The meeting between Trump and Xi takes place in conjunction with a G20 summit in Japan.
President Xi visits North Korea’s leaders
President Xi Jinping meets with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Un during a brief visit to Pyongyang. It is the first Chinese state visit to North Korea in 14 years. For its part, Kim Jong-Un has already been to China four times since last year. Assessors believe that the visit is a way for China to show to the outside world and not least the United States, which Beijing has influence over Pyongyang and to reach a solution to the nuclear conflict. For its part, North Korea wants to signal China’s support.
Controversial bill is put on ice in Hong Kong
Hong Kong Head of Government Carrie Lam decides to postpone the debate on a system for extradition of suspects to China indefinitely. But the proposal is not completely withdrawn, leading to hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong residents once again taking to the streets to protest.
Dozens injured in new unrest in Hong Kong
New mass demonstrations on the streets of Hong Kong lead to the Legislative Council (LegCo) postponing a meeting on the draft law on extradition of criminals to the rest of China (see previous listing in June). Protesters surround the building and refuse to release the members. Police use tear gas and rubber bullets against the activists and 79 people are reported to have been injured. Hong Kong head of government Carrie Lam declares that the protests are “organized” and firmly adheres to the decision to bring up the controversial LegCo bill. Demonstrators in Hong Kong receive support from parts of the outside world. The EU calls on the Hong Kong Government to take into account the protesters’ concerns and to protect the rights of the Hong Kong people.
Mass demonstrations in Hong Kong
Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong residents protest against the bill to allow criminals to be extradited to China. There is concern among some Hong Kong residents that an extradition agreement with China should allow Beijing to access democracy activists and political opposition. At the same time, the Hong Kong government has tried to reassure the protesters with promises that only serious criminals would be released. The bill will be debated in the Legislative Assembly during the week (see also May 2019).
Detained Canadians formally arrested
The two Canadian men who have been in detention since December last year (see December 2018) are formally arrested. Former diplomat Michael Kovrig, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, is suspected of “having collected state secrets” while businessman Michael Spavor is supposed to have “stolen and illegally offered state secrets” abroad.
US ban strikes against Huawei
15th of May
US President Donald Trump has declared national emergency to protect US communications networks from “foreign antagonists”. The decision is considered not least directed at Chinese communications giant Huawei and represents yet another escalation in the trade war with China. Trump’s decree prohibits US companies from cooperating with foreign telecommunications companies that are considered a threat to national security. Huawei is strongly critical of the ban. Concern is also strong in several other countries that Huawei’s products can be used by China for monitoring.
The trade war with the United States is escalating
Just a few days after the announcement that the US will introduce new tariffs on Chinese goods, China responds by announcing that the tariffs on US goods will also be raised to a value of $ 60 billion as of June 1. According to the Chinese Ministry of Finance, there are over 5,000 different goods that will be subject to increased tariffs of between 5 and 25 percent, including beef, lamb and pork and some other foods.
US introduces new tariffs on China
The US introduces customs duties on imports from China worth $ 200 billion, and China threatens countermeasures. Until recently, it seemed as if the two trade giants were moving towards relaxation in their war on customs, but now there is a huge escalation instead. The increase in tariffs from 10 to 25 percent on some 5,700 goods is implemented by the United States after China is said to have made major changes to a draft agreement negotiated by the countries. Trump has threatened to raise further tariffs in the near future if no agreement is reached.
Mass protests in Hong Kong
The local government’s plan to allow suspected criminals to be disclosed to authorities and judicial bodies in China has been met by outrage and protests in Hong Kong. At a meeting of the Legislative Council, crowds arise when members begin to argue in conjunction with discussions on the proposal. And in late April, tens of thousands of people marched on the streets of Hong Kong in protest of the plans – the biggest demonstrations since the so-called Umbrella Demonstrations in 2014.
Second Summit on the Silk Road Initiative
Xi Jinping holds a second summit on the country’s prestigious commitment to new “silk roads” between Asia, Europe and Africa, also called the BRI (Belt and Road Initiative), which was first launched in 2013. The first summit on the giant project, which is not just a purely financial investment but also a part of China’s foreign policy, held in 2017. Leaders from 37 countries participate in this year’s meeting, including Russia, Southeast Asian countries and seven EU countries (Austria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Italy and Portugal). In addition to these, more than 100 countries send representatives to the meeting, however, the US and India have chosen not to attend. In his opening speech at the meeting, President Xi promises to ensure that the Chinese market is further opened to foreign investors.
New investment law is adopted
At its annual meeting, the National People’s Congress adopts a new law on foreign investors. It should no longer be mandatory for foreign companies cooperating through joint venture agreements with Chinese companies to share technology linked to the companies and there should also be protection against government interference. The Chinese government hopes that the law will help attract more foreign investors to the country.
Military commander sentenced to life imprisonment
A general is sentenced by a military court to a life sentence for corruption. Among other things, Fang Fenghui has received bribes. He is one of hundreds of thousands of Chinese government and party apparatus employees, including the military, which has been the subject of the country’s extensive anti-corruption campaign in recent years.
The United States is suing Huawei
The US Department of Justice is prosecuting Huawei and its chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, which is expected to increase the contradictions between Washington and Beijing. The US accuses Huawei of violating US sanctions on Iran, as well as fraud, obstruction of justice and attempts to steal corporate secrets from a competitor (see December 2018). Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada in December 2018 and the United States has requested her extradition there.
Imprisonment for human rights defenders
A well-known lawyer who defended political activists, Wang Quanzhang, is sentenced by a court to four and a half years in prison for community outrage. He was abducted in 2015 along with another 200 lawyers and activists and was indicted in January 2016. After spending two years in custody, Wang was eventually given his prison sentence following a December 26 trial in Tianjin. Shortly thereafter, a human rights activist is sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for social destruction. Liu Feiyue had founded an important Chinese website for human rights issues, including police interference and government-level corruption.
Australian-Chinese writer abducted in China
Yang Hengjun, author, democracy activist and former Chinese diplomat, is abducted by the Chinese security service during a trip to China. Yang has been an Australian citizen since 2000, but currently works at Columbia University in New York, USA. According to a spokesman for the Chinese government, Yang is suspected of being involved in criminal activities that threaten China’s national security. The Australian government demands that China show “transparency and justice” in the case.
Detained lawyer receives German-French human rights award
Yu Wensheng was abducted a year ago by authorities suspected of revolting against the Chinese state. Yu had written an open letter calling for five constitutional amendments, including the introduction of presidential elections with several candidates. According to Yu’s wife Xu Yan, who received the Human Rights Award on her husband’s behalf, Yu Wensheng has not been able to meet with a defense lawyer.
Death sentence in China blocks tensions with Canada
A Canadian man, Robert Schellenberg, who was arrested in 2014, is sentenced to death by a Chinese court. As recently as November 2018, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison for involvement in drug smuggling. He appealed against the verdict, and in the new trial, Chinese authorities claimed that new evidence has emerged that Schellenberg played a more significant role in international drug trafficking than previously thought. The new trial ends after just one day and the verdict is pronounced after one hour of deliberation. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau laments the death sentence and accuses China of acting arbitrarily, saying that Canada will do everything it can to prevent the verdict from being enforced. The case is expected to ease the tensions that have arisen since Meng Wanzhou, senior manager at Huawei’s Vancouver office, was arrested in Canada at the end of 2018 (see December 2018).
President Xi: Taiwan will reunite with China
President Xi Jinping said in a speech celebrating Beijing’s first approach to Taiwan in 1979 to improve relations that it is “inevitable” that Taiwan will reunite with the Chinese mainland. Xi says Beijing does not make “promises to give up the use of military force and reserves the right to use” all necessary means “to achieve the goal of reunification. Taiwan is to be included in China in accordance with the “one country, two systems” principle.