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Malaysian plane crash MH370

26 Mar

The recent plane crash that occurred over the South-Indian ocean on its way to Malaysia had many passengers on board, many of which were Chinese. The plane crashed only a few weeks ago and since a huge enquiry into where it actually went down has begun. Using complicated remote sensing methods, experts were able to narrow the crash down to a small section over the South-Indian ocean and have since been searching it for any wreckage or evidence of the plane. The Chinese government have reacted angrily to the way Malaysian authorities dealt with the crash, saying that more could have been done in a shorter space of time to identify exactly what happened. Whilst this has been happened, family members of the passengers have been accusing Malaysian officials of withholding information relating to the crash which is very serious in itself. The current situation is that we are waiting for news of recovered wreckage of the plans and families of the passengers have been told by Malaysian authorities to assume that there were no survivors, which has once again prompted more uproar

                                                      By Joss Woodhead





Improved relations between China and the USA

20 Mar

Michelle Obama has recently begun her week long ‘non-political’ trip to China that will stop off in Beijing and Chengdu. She has decided to focus her trip on “the power and importance of education”  and will write a blog on this subject.

The reason as to why this visit is so interesting is because it comes as such a crucial time in regards to relations between the two countries with issues such as Crimea and China’s relationship with North Korea being at the top of the agenda. Although it has been claimed by The White House that this trip is not political, it is believed that the purpose is to prove that relations between the two countries are not just through leaders and are through the people also, as supported by a statement put out by the deputy national security advise for security communications, Ben Rhodes. This trip will hopefully improve relations between the two countries so that disputes over major and minor issues can end

                                                                                                                                                               By Joss Woodhead



Unrest in China

4 Mar

In order to thrive whilst the economic crisis hit the rest of the world, the Chinese government injected a multi-billion pound stimulus into its economy. However, this investment is purely debt-fuelled and because of this, it is highly unsustainable. The primary aim of this package was to retain China’s growth at 10% and with its growth only decreasing to 8%, it can certainly be classified as a success.

Recently, a massacre took place in Kunming at a train station when Muslim separatists attacked a group of Chinese public and killed 29 whilst injuring a further 130. The attack took place at 9pm on Saturday and police shot dead three male and one female suspect with a further female suspect being captured. The violent attack was described as been ‘organised and premeditated’ and with violent pictures circulating around the internet so soon after the attack, it has without doubt sent shockwaves across China and the rest of the world.

This attack demonstrates the ethnic separation and hostility around the country, and particularly in the different regions of China. This problem has been occurring for many years throughout China and has been attempted to be combatted through various aggressive economic development and tighter controls. Since 2009, the security budget has quadrupled to $1billion and restrictions on religious areas have increased. They appear to have chosen this strategy as opposed to simply trusting the general population which means although security has greatly increased, hostility has also increased as the ethnic minorities feel segregated.

Further examples of these ethnic attacks have been present in recent times when 16 border police officers were killed in an attack just before the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the following year nearly 200 people died when Uighurs assaulted the Han Chinese in revenge attacks. The Chinese government views these incidents as proof that there is a sophisticated and lengthy terrorist network whose aim is to wreak havoc in eastern Asian provinces. This may be true but it seems difficult to associate a few attacks with a generalised plan that may or may not even be in place and many view it as a diversion tactic by the Chinese government.

It is believed that the recent attack that took place in Kunming is not a result of the attackers gaining plans and tactical ideas from overseas due to the limited contact these militants have with foreign groups overseas. It has also been widely suggested that the aforementioned stimulus package injected by the Chinese government has backfired and that the policies that have been enforced to increase incomes have actually created dissatisfaction amongst the population. This huge increase in development since the economic crisis of 2008 has caused much friction across China and what with the constant demolitions as a result of changing environments, this only worsens the tensions between different ethnic communities as it is their old towns that are being demolished.

These ethnic minorities strongly believe that they have not benefitted from the stimulus package/economic growth at all and that the jobs are going to the indigenous Chinese population and as a result of this, this pressured situation is only growing worse. If this state of affairs continues for the foreseeable future, as looks likely, the Chinese government may have to bring in more stringent measures to deal with this yet must be careful as any policies that appear to directly target ethnic minorities may cause further disruption.

            By Joss Woodhead



Is social networking in China changing?

25 Feb

Social networks have famously been under strict monitoring in China as a result of the dominant regime of the Chinese government. Sina Corp, the owner of the site in China that is very similar to twitter, known as Weibo, has experienced a huge increase in both revenue and number of users.

It claims that is has over 500million registered users over the world and the company also reported a $44.5million profit in the October to December period of 2013 (BBC News). This comes as a huge surprise as in the pat the Chinese government have threatened to monitor search engines such as google and totally eliminate all forms of pornography over the internet. Companies across China have noticed this increase of popularity of Weibo and have taken it upon themselves to begin to advertise on this website, which in itself has opened another aspect of advertising. This has further boosted the revenue of other companies and has therefore lead to a direct increase in China’s economy which should also be considered when reading my previous article ‘Why has China grown during the economic crisis?’

On the other hand, it has recently been reported that the number of Weibo users has actually decreased in 2013 and that 28million people actually left the site which came as a surprise to the company (BBC News).

This newfound ability to freely speak within China was taken up immediately by the Chinese people and it is likely something similar to this will take place in the future. Numerous laws, including those that actually jail microbloggers, are passed by the Chinese government to try to limit the occurrence of events like this. However, if will is strong enough, the internet users of China will continue to find ways to air their opinions on a widely-read platform.

                                         By Joss Woodhead



Why has China grown during the economic crisis?

18 Feb

China have unquestionably become a major player in the financial world in the past few decades as a result of their cheap labour, high workforce and frequent government legislation that puts in place schemes to encourage foreign direct investment. Its banking sector alone has more than doubled from $10 trillion in the beginning of 2008, to somewhere in the region of $25 trillion in 2014 (Peston, 2014) and these trends are no accident.

Similarly to the United States, China is in huge debt that it is unlikely to realistically fully pay back. This is a result of the consistent borrowing and spending schemes put in place by the Chinese government that, although do admittedly directly contribute to economic growth, come at a price. Since the economic reform in 1978 in which China enforced its ‘open door’ policy, urbanisation has increased from 22% in 1983 to 33% in 1999 and there have been an additional 24 cities now classified as megacities (Cheng and Masser, 2003). Yet, China suffered majorly due to the worldwide financial crisis in 2008 and its factories seemingly closed overnight when spending halted. This is illustrated by that before the economic crisis, investment in the Chinese economy was roughly 40% of gross domestic product (GDP), around three times as much as other developed countries. However, this investment actually increased to 50% after the economic crisis, which is very uncommon. This is a result of a monumental investment by the Chinese government directly into infrastructure around the country, and an example of such investment is the pumping of over £200 billion into the city of Wuhan alone. 


The city of Wuhan is known predominantly as being the site of 72 year-old Chairman Mao’s swim across the Yangtze River during Wuhan’s 11th annual Cross-Yangtze competition, on July 16th 1966. Though heavily guarded and surrounded by portraits of himself in the water, Chairman Mao swam this race in order to demonstrate his ability to still be a vigorous leader and to emphasise to the Chinese population he is the one to take them forward (Strong and Keyssar, 1985). The city of Wuhan has already a population of over 10 million people and if the current rate of infrastructure building continues, it is likely to challenge Shanghai for the title of the second biggest city in China. The central business district of the town is being demolished for the building of a £3 billion skyscraper that will surpass double the height of The Shard, London. As a whole, China has built over 30 new airports, constructed 10s of new metros in already thriving cities and dramatically increased the length of both high speed railway lines and motorways across the country. This ‘never seen before’ spending plan has been put in place by the Chinese government and will undoubtedly bring the economic growth rate back up to levels before the financial crisis which will result in an increased number of jobs and generally greatly benefit the country. However, the economy and the Chinese government alike cannot expect to see a return of anywhere near the amount of income that has been injected into it purely because of the sheer scale of the capital. Therefore, this will only lead to increased debt and may well have have far reaching negative impacts in the future. The investment that has taken place can fundamentally be described as ‘toxic’ in an economic sense due to the increase in debts the Chinese government has had to absorb in order to gather funds to return its economy to its pre-crisis state. The country’s debts have been rising at a rate of 15% per annum and this is totally unsustainable for a country that is swiftly becoming one of the economic superpowers of the modern world. These statistics present a worrying future for the economy of China and the recent small negative events that have occurred in the Chinese market over the past 12 months could foreshadow something far more serious.


This unsustainable growth can result in one of two outcomes occurring. The first would involve a controlled reconstruction of the economy and although this would take a considerable amount of time, a disaster would be prevented. The second, taking place amongst a continued high lending rate, would end in a major economic crisis that will affect the whole world due to the role China plays in the world market (Peston, 2014). Admittedly, the government of China have put in place economic reforms designed to combat this impending doom and Charles Liu, a successful Chinese investor, believes that although China’s growth rate will fall, it is possible to lessen the consequences if careful, and possibly unpopular, measures are put in place (Peston, 2014). Yet, these economic reforms are still very young and not only will the positive effects of these not be felt for many years, but it is impossible to know if they will in fact be successful at all.

The potential collapse, or at least slowing, of the Chinese economy would have negative consequences for its people by lowering living standards and increasing the unemployment rate. Yet, this possibility would still have some positive impacts on Western economies, such as ours, by removing some of the power China has. This increase in Western power could be used positively in ways such as lobbying to reduce the impacts of climate change through forcing major polluters, such as China, to either introduce more environmentally friendly methods or shut down entirely some of its factories. Nevertheless, the negatives categorically outweigh the positives due to the impact the failing economy would have on the people of China. This is most likely to be present by increasing polarisation, as is always common when a disaster strikes, by making the rich richer and the poor poorer.  

By Joss Woodhead


–       Cheng, J., and Masser, I., 2003, Urban growth pattern modeling: a case study of Wuhan city, PR China. Landscape and urban planning: 62(4), 199-217.

–       Peston, R., 2014, Will China shake the world again?, BBC News,, Accessed 18th February 2014.

–       Strong, T. B., and Keyssar, H., 1985, Anna Louise Strong: Three Interviews with Chairman Mao Zedong. The China Quarterly: 103, 489-509.

China’s Solar Push

14 Feb


China has consistently been dubbed one of the world’s largest polluters of greenhouse gases. It is a perfect example of a highly developing economy that is being driven by primary industry and factories that emit large quantities of pollution. It came to light in the public view primarily before the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics when measures were put in place by the Chinese government, involving closing factories for periods of time, to reduce pollution and therefore increase the air quality so that the games could take place.

However, what isn’t known about China is that it is the largest provide of solar power in the world. It has recently announced goals involving the production of 14 gigawatts of energy and providing major incentives if this target is reached. If this goal is met, China will remain at the top of the solar-producing table which will provide much needed positive press regarding the environment. 

Moreover, it has been noted by Deutsche Bank Equity Research that precise targets for individual regions of China have been set with eastern provinces such as Shandong and Jiangsu being set goals of 1.2 gigawatts each. 

Overall, this aim is a fantastic prospect for China. Currently, as aforementioned, China is viewed as one of the major polluters of the world. However, although this is the case, pollution per person is actually incredibly low in China and is one of the reasons that when global environmental meetings are held, it demands that it should not be treated in the same category as countries such as America and the United States as it is in fact a very low polluter. Articles such as these continue to get very little press which results in the continued perception of China by the rest of the world as a poorly managed country when it comes to pollution; though this is clearly not the case. 


By Joss Woodhead