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.
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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 detained.
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.
According to 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 full capacity.
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.