China. In January, Chinese President Hu Jintao made his
first state visit to the United States since 2006. Both
countries signed trade agreements worth about $ 45 billion.
US President Barack Obama issued a cautious call on China to
respect human rights. Jintao replied that China does not
allow itself to be pressured by other countries on issues
that are seen as the country's internal affairs. In front of
the White House, a demonstration was held against China's
Tibet policy. Otherwise, the state visit was framed by pomp
and stand, unlike 2006 when China found this lacking.
In February, Liu Zhijun was dismissed from his post as
railway minister because of corruption suspicions.
Authorities said the minister would be investigated for
suspicions of "serious disciplinary crimes", terms that have
previously been used in a corruption context. Zhijun was
also allowed to leave the post of secretary of the Communist
Party. He had been Minister since 2003 and was responsible
for a multi-billion program for investment in China's rail
network. In 2007, China established a special authority to
combat corruption. In a 2010 report, the authorities
admitted that corruption was still widespread. Therefore,
the same year, new laws were introduced that compel members
of the Communist Party to account for their income and
assets. However, critics said that corruption cannot be
stopped by new rules because it is built into the system.
The Arab Spring - the protests with democracy demands
that took place in several Arab countries in the winter and
spring of 2011 - led to tight control of political activists
in China from February. Anonymous calls on the Internet for
peaceful demonstrations prompted the Chinese authorities to
act to prevent the spread of the Arab Spring. The coverage
in Beijing was particularly tightened before the National
People's Congress annual meeting in March. The authorities
increased control over the Internet and banned foreign
journalists from filming in several public places in the
capital. The police intervened politically active. Some of
them were released with restrictions while others were
On March 25, democracy activist Liu Xianbin was sentenced
to ten years in prison for overthrowing activities. He had
written articles on increased democracy and criticized the
political system in China. This was the third time that
Xianbin was sentenced to prison for political activities
since the peaceful protests took place at the Tiananmen
Square in Beijing in 1989. Xianbin participated in those
protests and, like Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo,
signed the 2008 political manifesto Charter.
Internationally known artist and human rights activist Ai
Weiwei was arrested in early April when he was boarding a
plane to Hong Kong, accused of tax evasion. The arrest led
to strong criticism from the outside world because it was
believed that his political activism was the cause of the
arrest. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticized
China for what she called the "worsening situation" for
human rights following the arrests of political activists.
Ai Weiwei is known for having designed Beijing's National
Stadium "The Bird's Nest" but in recent years mainly for his
criticism of Chinese censorship and the lack of freedom of
expression. In June, he was released on bail because,
according to authorities, he suffered from diabetes and had
admitted tax violations. Ai Weiwei was demanded $ 1.9
million in taxes and fines.
Countryaah official site, Central China was hit by the worst drought in 50 years in
May because it rained much less than normal in the area in
the spring. Over 4 million people suffered from a lack of
drinking water due to the drought, which also meant a lack
of water for the animals and water for watering crops.
According to the authorities, the water level in China's
longest river, Chang Jiang, was well below normal. There are
huge rice farms in the area that require a lot of water. In
order not to damage the rice crops, the world's largest dam,
Three ravines' pond, was emptied of more water than ever
before. But then there was a risk of electricity shortage as
the dam's hydroelectric power plant could not be used at
In June, violent riots broke out in the city of Zengcheng
in the southern province of Guangdong, the center of China's
textile export industry. The protests began because security
guards, according to witnesses, had pushed a pregnant street
vendor to get her to move her booth. The incident angered
many of the migrants in the area and eventually protested
around a thousand people by lighting fires on cars,
attacking government offices and police with stones and
bottles. Police dispelled the crowd with tear gas and
arrested at least 25 people. In July, eleven of them were
sentenced to prison.
The conflict over the Sprat Islands in the South China
Sea was heated again during the summer, when Vietnam had
launched a military exercise with sharp ammunition in the
area. China accused Vietnam of violating China's
sovereignty. China has annexed the Sprat Islands, but also
Vietnam and the Philippines with several countries claim the
archipelago and the sea area where they are located. The
Sprat Islands consist only of small uninhabited copper and
inserts, but it is believed that there is oil in the area.
In October, China and Vietnam signed a new cooperation
agreement that, at least temporarily, resolved the conflict.
Eighteen people died in clashes at a police station in
the troubled autonomous region of Xinjiang in northwest
China on July 18. According to the Chinese authorities, it
began with a group of Uighurs attacking the police station,
killing a guard, taking hostages and setting fire to the
police station. In addition to the guard, a policeman and
two civilians died in the attack, but it was unclear how.
Police shot 14 of the attacking Uighurs. Authorities called
it a terrorist attack organized by militant Uighur
Islamists. According to the Uruguayan World Congress (WUC),
the Uighurs took hostages to try to get the police to
release young people from the neighborhood who had been
arrested by police in previous protests.
Violent clashes have been common in recent years in
Xinjiang, where Uighur Muslims used to be in the majority
but where the influx of Han Chinese has been great, which
has created ethnic tensions. In August, China sent a special
counter-terrorism group to Xinjiang to curb the unrest. In
September, four Uighurs were sentenced to death for the
attack on the police station.
In December, the Chinese authorities again regained
control over social media. According to the new rules that
were introduced then microbloggers must state their real
names before posting. Microblogging has become very popular
in China since 2009 when the authorities began to block
Twitter and Facebook.
Two famous regime critics and human rights activists were
sentenced at the end of December to prison in various
trials. Both were convicted of community outrage: Chen Wei
to nine years in prison and Chen Xi to ten years. Both men
participated in the protests at Tiananmen Square in 1989 and
have since continued to criticize the regime, including in
articles on the Internet.