China update: our reporter's round-up of the biggest news from the past 7 days

Asia's Tech News Daily

Joe Biden, economic data, upgrading and reinforcing its airbases, left Earth at 12.24am on Saturday, China had “adequate tools”, during their phone call on Wednesday, pledged 1.5 billion yuan (US$232.5 million), sentenced Tang to death, property slump, weak consumer sentiment, soaring raw material costs

Happy Monday!

I’m Amber Wang, a reporter at the South China Morning Post who focuses on diplomacy and defence, with your Monday update on the biggest news items from the previous week, and what to look forward to in the week ahead.

My pick for the biggest news last week: at a party meeting on Thursday, President Xi Jinping hailed China’s political system as a “great creation” and the key to its global success amid intensifying ideological confrontation with Washington.

US President Joe Biden has cast US-China relations as a litmus test of the merits of democracy versus autocracy, but in his address on Thursday Xi strongly defended his country’s system, arguing that real democracy was not about rhetoric and pledges made on the election trail but “for solving the people’s real problems”.

This week, all eyes are on economic data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) today. The country’s GDP grew by 4.9 per cent in the third quarter, just below expectations, and more analysis is sure to come on how the latest headwinds facing China are likely to further affect its recovery.

In other news ….

Military

Satellite images have revealed that China is upgrading and reinforcing its airbases closest to Taiwan along its southeastern coast, indicating Beijing may be stepping up its plans to take the island by force.

Technology

LinkedIn, the Microsoft-owned social media network for job-hunters and recruiters, has announced that it will soon shut down its operations in China, after facing intense criticism for years over its decision to censor politically sensitive posts on its Chinese site. It is the last major Western social network still operating in China.

Science

China’s Shenzhou 13 spacecraft left Earth at 12.24am on Saturday, taking its three-person crew – including the country’s second female astronaut to ever make it to space – to spend the next six months assembling the Tiangong space station.

Economy

While Chinese Premier Li Keqiang acknowledged slowing economic growth, he said on Thursday that China had “adequate tools” to tackle the economic challenges facing the country, including the nation’s current power crisis and high commodity prices.

Diplomacy

Xi called German Chancellor Angela Merkel – due to step down after 16 years at the helm – an “old friend” during their phone call on Wednesday, bidding her farewell and emphasising the solidity of Beijing-Berlin relations as part of a diplomatic flurry designed to steady European ties.

Environment

At the United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP15) on Tuesday, Xi pledged 1.5 billion yuan (US$232.5 million) for a new fund to help developing countries protect the variety of plant and animal life in the world.

Society

The murder of well-known vlogger Lhamo shocked the country and led to a public reckoning about domestic violence last year after her ex-husband Tang Lu set her on fire while she was live-streaming. On Thursday, a Chinese court sentenced Tang to death.

Stat in perspective

China’s economic growth of 4.9 per cent in the quarter that ended in September, compared to the same period last year, was its weakest pace since the third quarter of last year when GDP growth was also 4.9 per cent year-on-year.

China has recovered impressively from the impact of the coronavirus and was one of very few countries that saw economic growth amid the pandemic but it is still struggling with multiple problems, including a property slump, weak consumer sentiment and soaring raw material costs.

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