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China’s Lunar Rover Mission to the Dark Side of the Moon

According to Chinese official media, the successful landing of Chang’e 4 is the first touchdown of a spacecraft on the far side of the moon in human history, the first Earth-Moon Lagrange Point 2 relay and exploration, and the first moon based low-frequency radio astronomical observation. It is also the first time in China for the measurement of the nighttime lunar soil temperature.

The China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) conducted the mission. The lunar rover carried a list of equipment to the Von Kármán Crater on the moon, including a topographic camera, a landing camera, a low-frequency radio spectrum analyzer, a panoramic camera, an infrared imaging spectrometer, and moon-receiving radar.

Source: The Paper, December 9, 2018

Deutsche Welle: Cemetery Prices in China Are Higher Than the Price of Housing

On December 3, Deutsche Welle reported that, not only are housing prices in China’s metropolises rising rapidly, but cemetery plots have become increasingly expensive and scarce. The price of a cemetery plot has soared due to the lack of land. This is true not only in Beijing, but also in many other coastal cities in China. Whether it is Shanghai, Shenzhen, or Hong Kong, cemeteries are becoming fewer and fewer. The article stated that in the capital, Beijing, there are only enough available cemetery plots to last for six years. Hong Kong residents have to wait in line to purchase a cemetery plot. In cities like Beijing or Shanghai, the cost per square meter is over 100,000 yuan (US$14,526) which is higher than the price of housing and it is impossible for an average working class family to afford. The Chinese government hopes to achieve nearly a 100 percent cremation rate, but so far not everyone has responded positively to the government’s call because it is against people’s traditional beliefs in Chinese culture.

Source: Deutsche Welle, December 3, 2018

The 13th Confucius Institute Conference

On December 4 and 5, the 13th Confucius Institute Conference was held in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. During the two-day session, the conference held two panel discussions, eight presidents’ forums, and 20 workshops. According Hanban, the global headquarters of the Confucius Institute, more than 1,500 representatives from more than 150 countries and regions attended the conference.

Sun Chunlan, Vice Premier of the State Council and Chairman of the Headquarters Council of the Confucius Institute, attended and delivered a speech at the opening ceremony. Chen Baosheng, the Minister of Education and Vice Chairman of the Headquarters Council of the Confucius Institute, hosted the opening ceremony. Vice Minister of Education Tian Xuejun attended the closing ceremony and delivered a speech. Forums and workshops had 460 participants who made a total of 220 speeches.

At present, 154 countries and regions have established 548 Confucius Institutes, 1,193 Confucius Classrooms in primary and secondary schools, and 5,665 Chinese teaching centers. 46,000 full-time and part-time teachers have been teaching the Chinese language to 11 million students.

Source: Hanban, December 5, 2018

China Established Online Game Ethics Committee

According to China’s official Xinhua News Agency, under the guidance of the Communist Party’s Central Propaganda Department, an online game ethics committee was recently established in Beijing. Shortly after its establishment, the committee reviewed the first batch of 20 “morally problematic” online games and decided to disapprove of nine of them.

According to official media reports, the establishment of the online game ethics committee is an important measure to follow the guidance of CCP’s National Propaganda and Ideological Work Conference held in August, and to enrich the ideological and cultural contents of online games. The committee consists of experts and scholars from regulators, universities, professional institutions, and news media. Information such as the people and the organizational structure is not known. The committee was entitled to conduct an ethical review of online games and related services that may or may not have produced moral controversy and public opinion discussions.

The news itself has caused controversy among Chinese netizens. Some commented, “Whether a game is ethical or not, it should be judged by the majority of players and the whole society, instead of a few unidentified experts sitting at a desk.” Others voiced worry that such a so-called official “ethics committee” will appear in other areas of society in the future. Some netizens believe that such a unified approval model will limit the diverse and innovative development of the Chinese game industry.

Source: Radio France International, December 7, 2018

China’s Ambition to Dominate the World’s Lithium Market

China’s Tianqi Lithium acquired a 23.77 percent stake in Chilean lithium giant Chemical & Mining Co. of Chile (SQM) for US$4.0 billion. China is therefore one step closer to having a monopoly position in the lithium mining market. This rare metal has the reputation of being the “oil of the 21st century” because it is indispensable for the batteries that charge virtually every electronic product, computers, cell phones, and electric cars.

SQM is the world’s largest lithium producer, accounting for nearly a quarter of all global production. Tianqi Lithium also has shares in Australia’s Albemarle Corp., the world’s second-largest lithium producer. If added to the production of Tianqi Lithium itself, the Chinese company would control 70 percent of the global market for this precious metal.

For China, it is important to control such an important raw material around the world. Liu Ying, a researcher at the Chongyang Financial Research Institute of Renmin University of China, believes that the demand for lithium in the future can only grow. The world will gradually abandon oil and switch to new energy sources, mainly electricity. Nothing has been found to replace the lithium which is necessary for the production of storage batteries. A monopoly of the lithium market would have a very attractive future.

Sputnik News, December 6, 2018

A Former Politburo Member Rumored to Retire in the United States

According to Hong Kong based Apple Daily, a senior Chinese official is now retiring in the United States. Jiang Chunyun once served as a member of the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee, Vice Chairman of the National People’s Congress, and Vice Premier of China’s State Council. He has now settled in the United States. The Politburo, or Political Bureau, is the leadership organization of the CCP Central Committee, a collection of the top 25 some most powerful senior CCP cadres in China. The news was widely spread via the Internet and was not confirmed. There have been quite a few rumors about former Chinese officials living in the United States, but the exact number is not known.

Jiang became the secretary of the Shandong Provincial Party Committee during the period in of Student Movement in 1989. After the 14th National Congress of the CCP, he was promoted as a member of the Politburo of the CCP Central Committee, while still serving as CCP secretary of Shandong. In 1994, he became a member of CCP Central Committee Secretariat. A year later, he was appointed as the vice premier of the State Council in charge of the agricultural economy.

Source: Radio France International, December 2, 2018