The year 2008 has been a colorful year for China, with a lot of events to highlight the country all year round. The Olympic Games was one of its most successful endeavors for the year. But the country also had its share of controversies this year, like issues on food contamination and many more. Before the Olympic Games kicked off, one of the issues being discussed was the quality of China’s air. It is very important since the Olympic Games is a major sports event. In an article from BBC News, China has confirmed that the air quality of the host city Beijing has been good (Bristow).
The pollution level of the area was able to meet the expected standards on every day that the event and this is the output of extensive measures done in order to reduce the emissions during the Olympic Games. Another historic event for China was the country’s first successful spacewalk, which was a part of a 68-hour voyage in space. All three astronauts successfully returned to the Beijing Aerospace Center after their three day mission in outer space(Yinan). China was the third country to conduct a spacewalk, behind the United States of America and Russia.
The crew of Shenzhou VII safely landed in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, marking the end of their space escapade which has started on September 25, 2008. In relation to the two previous news articles, China had enough reason to celebrate its National Day last Monday because of their hosting of the Olympic Games in Beijing and the country’s first ever spacewalk. In a Yahoo! News article, China highlighted on these two events as their biggest triumphs for the year, despite other issues like natural calamities, ethnic problems, and food safety scandals (Chang).
In Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s address, he touched lightly on the calamities and problems but gave focus on China’s ability to take care of all these issues. The 59th founding anniversary of the People’s Republic of China is this coming Wednesday, and it would also mark thirty years of economic reforms, turning the country into one of the world’s largest factory floors. One of the calamities that shook China this year was a 7. 8 magnitude earthquake last August 12.
In a BBC News article, it was reported that almost 900 students are buried in a school building that collapsed when it was hit by the killer quake (BBC News “‘Hundreds Buried’ by China Quake”). The quake hit Sichuan province’s capital Chengdu, claiming hundreds of lives instantly. The rubbles of the Juyuan Middle School’s building buried a lot of teenagers, some of which are still alive and desperately crying for help. President Hu Jintao immediately ordered an all out effort to help and rescue the victims of the killer earthquake.
In another BBC News article dated August 10, 2008, seven militants and a security guard immediately died after a series of bombings hit west China, specifically in the northwest area of the Xinjiang region (BBC News “Deadly Violence Hits West China “). These acts of violence targeted a police station and other populated areas. Xinjiang has a large population of Muslim Uighurs, and some of them are separatists, fighting for independence and waging low level campaigns against the Chinese rule for several years already. In the aspect of foreign affairs, China also had its share of problems.
In a Yahoo! News article dated September 29, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jabao said that there is a need for more negotiation regarding Iran’s nuclear program, rather than pressuring them more (Yahoo! News). He regarded that major powers like China should focus more on pursuing peaceful talks to countries such as Iran, rather than resorting to the use of force and intimidation. He is more focused on the resolution of the problem in a peaceful way, rather than being rash and using force, which would just heighten the tensions between the countries.
According to the Prime Minister, Iran has the right to develop and utilize nuclear energy under the norms set by the international community, as long as they don’t build weapons of mass destruction like atomic bombs. The Prime Minister also suggested that these actions should be under close observation by the UN’s atomic watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency. China was also affected by the increasing oil prices. In a BBC News article, China’s trade surplus was greatly affected by the increasing oil costs, wherein it fell 10% in May (BBC News “Oil Costs Hit China Trade Surplus”).
The main reason for this is the drastic increase in the cost of imported energy such as oil, and other raw materials being used by the country. However, reports showed that despite Chinas surplus is slowed, it still remains high compared to other countries. This is a manifestation of Chinese economy’s resilience despite some slowdowns in other countries like the United States. Experts said that export components were expected to slow down throughout the year because of the increasing cost of oil, but so far China has been doing well.
In the Health aspect China has experienced several problems throughout the year. In a Los Angeles Times article dated May 4, 2008, China issues a virus alert after 23 people were killed and left 4,000 others sick (Demick). The Chinese Health Ministry issued a nationwide alert so that people would be informed and to fend off the possibility of a cover-up. The cause of the problem was the Enterovirus-71, which has also claimed lives in neighboring countries like Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and Vietnam.
This virus is a perennial case in Asia, especially in the hot and humid summer months. More deaths are expected, as the disease usually peaks in the Months of June and July, as the Health Ministry warned. This has caused a lot of people to be cautious, wherein very few children or infants are seen on the streets, and even adults are even afraid to go out of their houses as they greatly fear the killer disease. The virus is characterized by occurrence of fever, and the development of sores in the mouth and facial area, and with blistery rashes.
According to the World Health Organization, most cases are not fatal, as long as the people maintain a good hygiene. One of the most controversial issues faced by China this year was substandard food and other products that they import. In an article in The Guardian, dated April 22, 2008, China issues jail threat in their new food safety law (Branigan). This newly drafted law states that the manufacturers who produce food items which are substandard could be facing a life behind bars if proven guilty.
This is the government’s response to allegations that the country is lenient in the aspect of food safety, that’s why producers would often take advantage of the situation and produce fake baby formula, drugs, and even toys with dangerous materials. This law would encompass not only food products but also cosmetics in order for them to boost the confidence of domestic consumers. The latest of China’s substandard products scandals was the discovery of melamine in various food items, especially in milk products.
Melamine is a binding agent for boards and fibers, and is also an ingredient in making fertilizers. In an article in the M&C Health News dated September 19, 2008, Chinese health inspectors found melamine in fresh milk of three leading manufacturers in the country (M&C Health News). This testing and inspection was a government response to the contaminated milk scandal which has claimed the lives of several infants in the previous days. This has lead to nationwide inspection of milk and milk products, and many companies have already ordered a recall for their products in the world market.
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uk/world/2008/apr/22/china. food>. Bristow, Michael. “China Jumps Olympics Air Hurdle “. 2008. BBC News. September 30 2008. <http://news. bbc. co. uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7569876. stm>. Chang, Anita. “China Marks Olympics, Spacewalk for National Day”. Yahoo! News. September 30 2008. <http://news. yahoo. com/s/ap/20080929/ap_on_re_as/as_china_national_day_1;_ylt=AsuspoNIir4UxptPKYoiYqNPzWQA>. Demick, Barbara. “China Issues Virus Alert after 23 Die”. 2008. Los Angeles Times. September 30 2008. <http://articles. latimes. com/2008/may/04/world/fg-virus4>.
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