China. In its annual report published in January, the human rights organization Human Rights Watch criticized China harshly. According to the organization, the Chinese authorities had been acting more harshly against regime critics since Xi Jinping took office as president in 2013. The state of human rights in the country was judged worse than in ten years. In December, a new anti-terrorism legislation was passed, giving the authorities increased opportunities to monitor private individuals’ communications. In addition, a national counterterrorism agency will be established and new anti-terrorist forces with extensive powers will be created. The laws were criticized by international human rights organizations for being formulated in a way that they can be used even against political opponents. At one point, however, the government eased control of the citizens during the year. In November it was announced that it will be allowed to have two children. One-child policy has been applied in different ways in the country and ethnic minorities have even previously been allowed to have more than one child.
According to COUNTRYAAH, Beijing is the capital of China which is located in Eastern Asia. Foreign policy was partly characterized by improved relations between China and its neighbors this year. In March, the first high-level meeting on security issues was held between China and Japan. The agenda included, among other things, improved communication between the countries’ military on issues related to disputed islands in the East China Sea. In April, Xi Jinping and Eric Chu, the chairman of Guomindang, met with the ruling party in Taiwan. This meeting was the first at this high level in six years. In November, Xi Jinping also met with Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou in a historic meeting, the first among the country’s presidents of over 60 years.
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In September, Xi also made its first state visit to the United States. Together with US President Barack Obama, he announced that the countries had agreed not to allow cyber espionage against companies in the other country. Xi also announced that China will introduce greenhouse gas emissions trading in 2017 and that it will help poor countries financially reduce their emissions. When it was announced in December that the US had decided to sell weapons, including two warships and advanced weapons systems to Taiwan, this sparked a Chinese protest.
The political battles over how Hong Kong leaders will be appointed in 2017 and which led to popular protests last year continued. In June, the Hong Kong government failed to get a legislative proposal on the issue approved by the Legislative Council. The proposal that fell was that the candidates that the residents should vote in advance must be approved by a committee where members loyal to the central government in Beijing are in the majority. The efforts against corruption initiated by President Xi continued during the year. In January, an investigation was launched against Ma Jian, Deputy Minister of Security, and the same month, the Defense Forces announced that 16 generals were under investigation for corruption.
The country’s economy continued to grow, but growth rates were expected to decline further. In January, statistics were released showing that growth in 2014 was 7.4%, lower than in the past 24 years. In March, the growth target for 2015 was lowered from 7.5% to 7%. During the year, financial markets in the country were also worried and the stock market fell sharply during the summer. In August, the country’s central bank devalued the national currency yuan and lowered the key rate. In connection with the financial turbulence, falling export revenue was also reported.
In July, the so-called BRICS countries – Brazil, the Russian Federation, India, China and South Africa – established the Development Bank New Development Bank (NDB), headquartered in Shanghai. According to the countries, the bank should be seen as an alternative to the US-dominated World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In December, the IMF announced that China’s currency, the yuan, should be added to the Fund’s reserve currencies. This “basket” already contains US dollars, British pounds, euros and Japanese yen. The yuan will become a reserve currency on October 1, 2016.
In August, upwards of 150 people were killed and over 700 were injured in connection with two explosions in a chemical storage facility in the port city of Tianjin. The following month, an attack was made against a coal mine in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region in the northwest of the country. According to official sources, 16 people were killed but other sources mentioned significantly higher death rates. In November, 28 people were identified as responsible for the attack by security forces.
In July, the IOC (International Olympic Committee) decided that Beijing will host the 2022 Winter Olympics, making the city the first to host both the Summer Olympics and the Winter Olympics. In Beijing, among other things, ice hockey and figure skating will be decided. The alpine skiing will be located in Yanqing and cross-country skiing with several sports will be decided in Zhangjiakou, about 25 kilometers north of central Beijing.
1989 Massacre and international isolation
In April 1989, Hu Yaobang died, giving thousands of students the opportunity to meet at Tienanmen Square in central Beijing. In addition to expressing their grief over this leader who was the symbol of liberal change, they objected to the corruption and demanded political change in society and in the party. On the anniversary of the student uprising on May 4, 1919, the students camped at Tienanmen Square. Hundreds of thousands of citizens and workers in Beijing began to express their support for the reform movement. They brought food and other necessities to the students, demonstrated and blocked the intersections when there was a possibility that troops would be deployed against the students.
Similar demonstrations were held in other cities, and signs began to emerge from the workers at the official news media, from trade unions and from various sectors of the party. Autonomous political groups emerged that challenged the party’s four decades-long total control over all mass organizations.
On June 4, 89, the government intervened violently and decisively. It sent troops into the center of Beijing to remove the protesting workers and students. Hundreds were killed and thousands injured. Many people were killed as the armored carriages plowed through the barricades. Following the Beijing massacre, the leaders of the student groups and the autonomous labor movements were persecuted nationally. Many were sent to prison, subjected to severe torture or executed. Significant changes were also made at the political level and Li Peng was inaugurated as new Prime Minister. (See: Tienanmin Massacre)
The international reaction to the events set China’s expectations of greater economic trade with the outside world. The United States did not decisively want to worsen relations with China, and instead allowed Denmark to criticize the annual meetings of the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva. China responded again by cooling down economic relations with Denmark, which hurt a number of export companies.
The first western country to break this isolation of China was England, which in Beijing in September 1991 signed an agreement with the Chinese government on the construction of a new airport in Xianggang (Hong Kong). The agreement was part of the ongoing negotiations on the transfer of Xianggang to China in 1997.
While one-third of state-owned enterprises provided deficits and a rising state-budget deficit, structural reforms were needed. The CCP had to resume the process of economic liberalization initiated by Deng. Despite his 87 years, he re-entered the political scene. At the same time, his successor in the post of Secretary-General, Jiang Semin, advocated “open thinking” and criticized his predecessor, Zhao Ziyang. Yet, after a period of time, he was once again held accountable for the events leading up to the Beijing massacre, and his rehabilitation was postponed for an uncertain future.
The Paris Agreement on Cambodia in October 1991 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union accelerated the normalization of China-Vietnam relations, which in November of that year resumed diplomatic relations. That same month, the United States broke the diplomatic isolation China had been exposed to after the events of 89, and received Beijing’s commitment to respect an international agreement to reduce missile exports. At the same time, for the first time since the war, a senior government official visited South Korea’s capital, Seul, to attend the third annual Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) annual meeting. With the inclusion of China, Taiwan and Xianggang in this cooperation, it will comprise half of the world’s population and production.
At the end of November 1991, the government released two student leaders who had been leading the Tiananmen Democratic protests. Nevertheless, it was estimated that in the provinces of Xinjiang, Qinghai and others, there were somewhere between 50 and 80,000 political prisoners. The following year, Amnesty International condemned the presence of 20,000 political prisoners.
In 1992, China joined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. In the United States, George Bush gave the government the highest priority for its trade relations with China. At the CCP’s 14th Congress that same year, Deng Xiaoping’s leadership position and the direction of the economy were confirmed. In the wake of the Congress, one of the greatest purges in the history of the party was carried out. The party’s right wing was sent out into the cold, the central committee’s Politburo closed down. Its leader, Chen Yun, was the main representative of this trend. At the same time, senior officers of the People’s Liberation Army were removed.
At the annual congress of the People’s Congress, the CCP Secretary-General, Jiang Semin, was appointed President of the Republic. He thus became the first person since Mao’s death to hold the posts of both Head of State, Secretary General of the CCP and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. Furthermore, Li Peng was confirmed as prime minister.
In April 1992, the decision to build the dam at the Three Gorges across the Yangtze River was approved. The disputed project was only completed in 2009 and will cause flooding of areas where 1.3 million people live, 10 cities and 800 villages will be flooded. The ecologists immediately objected to the project and criticized it for destroying habitats for a number of endangered species, and for exposing millions of people to earthquakes, landslides and tidal waves. Furthermore, they considered that the hydropower plant would not be profitable.
In September, the government hinted that Tibet’s independence efforts would be “tacitly condemned”. In the economic field, a savings plan was initiated in the state apparatus and the taxation of the peasants was increased. But a series of protests and demonstrations forced the government to retreat. The new taxes against the country’s 800 million peasant population had to be removed.