May 2018 News Round Up

These article are taken from the Focus magazine by CBBC in May 2018.

Xi opposed to life-long rule

After China’s constitution was amended in March to allow leaders to stay on beyond the two-term limit, President Xi Jinping has said that he is “personally opposed” to life-long rule, adding that foreign observers have “misinterpreted” the amendment. According to the Financial Times, Xi justified the decision “in terms of needing to align the country’s three top government and Communist party jobs. Mr Xi’s two more powerful posts — party general secretary and chairmanship of the party’s Central Military Commission — are not subject to term limits.” 

China opens up financial sector

According to Reuters, China has pledged that it will be opening its financial sector to more foreign investment by the end of 2018. The move aims to fend off criticism about unfair competition in the sector. At the recent Bo’ao Forum, People’s Bank of China (PBOC) Governor Yi Gang said that China would allow foreign firms to compete on an equal footing with domestic companies in the financial sector, giving foreign banks more business scope in the country. Current plans say that:

  • China will allow foreign firms to invest in trust companies, financial leasing, auto finance and consumer finance, plans that were announced last year.
  • China will raise foreign ownership limits to 51 percent in securities, fund management, futures and life insurance companies “over the next few months”, according to the PBOC website. The current ownership cap for securities, futures and fund management firms is 49 percent and the cap for insurance companies is 50 percent.
  • The government will also not set foreign ownership limits for investment in wealth management companies set up by commercial banks by the end of 2018.

The PBOC also confirmed it aims to launch a planned trading link between its stock markets and London by the end of 2018.

Space station re-enters earth

China’s Tiangong 1 space station re-entered the earth’s atmosphere last month and burnt up over the middle of the South Pacific. The remnants of the station landed northwest of Tahiti but Beijing said it was unlikely that any large pieces reached earth.

“Small bits will definitely have made it to the surface,” Brad Tucker, an astrophysicist at Australian National University told Reuters, adding that about 90 percent would have burnt up in the atmosphere and just 10 percent would have made it to the ground.

Step closer to the petrodollar?

The Shanghai International Energy Exchange has launched the first crude futures contracts priced in Chinese renminbi, in what could be argued is a bid to reshape the global oil market. China is the world’s largest oil importer, buying around nine million barrels of oil every day and would like to use its own currency to price the world’s most-traded commodity.

Currently, the US dollar is the preferred currency for trading oil and oil future contracts, however, China now wants to play a bigger role in global oil trading. Experts believe it will be some time yet before the petrodollar loses its dominance but by establishing a benchmark that will reflect Chinese consumption it is a step in that direction. However without a freely convertible currency the RMB doesn’t look likely to become the petroyuan just yet.

Kim comes to Beijing

Kim Jong-un visited China for the first time since he has been in power last month. The visit to meet with China’s President Xi Jinping came amid increasing concerns about the growing nuclear threat in the region. During his visit Kim and his wife were shown how Virtual Reality works at the China Academy of Science. American CIA chief Mike Pompeo was also reported to have travelled to North Korea to meet with Kim ahead of a meeting between the North Korean leader and Donal Trump.

Bad translation

A competition has been launched in Beijing to try to improve the quality of English on public signs in the capital. The ‘2018 Online Correction of Erroneous Public Sign Translations’ exercise is being launched in a bid to tidy up poorly translated information in the run up to the 2022 Winter Olympics. The public can report poor translations at a webpage where they are asked for the location of the sign, their personal details and are asked if they want to offer a better suggestion of the translation.

Beijing Brain Park

A brain-science centre will be opening in Beijing that will rival some of the world’s largest neuroscience organisations, it has been announced. The Chinese Institute for Brain Research was officially launched at the end of March and will be one of the first concrete developments in the national China brain-research project. In 2014 the EU’s €1-billion Human Brain Project (HBP) and the United States’ $1-billion Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative launched a collaboration to try to fully understand the working of the brain. Since then, Japan and South Korea have also launched their own brain research projects. China’s own project is expected to also link up with the existing brain projects globally so information and resources can be shared. The collaborative project will work on high-throughput single-gene sequencing, precise genome editing and big-data processing.

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