China | China Becomes an Economic Power, but Continues to Suppress Personal Liberties
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- War Losses Cause China to Sign Away Sovereignty
- People's Republic of China Is Established
- China Is Condemned for Poor Treatment of Tibetans
- President Nixon's Visit to China Establishes New Relations
- Student Demonstrators Are Killed at Tiananmen Square
- China Becomes an Economic Power, but Continues to Suppress Personal Liberties
- Natural Disasters Ravage China
- China Hosts a Successful Olympics
- Space Exploration, Government Reforms, and Military Crackdowns
- Tension Reignites with Asian Neighbors Over Islands
- Transfer of Power, Bo Xilai Sentenced to Life in Prison
- New Air Defense Zone Declared and Increased Tension with Vietnam
- Chinese Hackers Indicted by the United States
- China Signs Gas Accord with Russia, Faces Hong Kong Protests, Participates in South Sudan Mission
- China and U.S. Reach Landmark Agreement on Climate Change
- China, South Korea, and Japan Hold First Foreign Minister Talks in Three Years
- China Ends One-Child Policy, Meets with Taiwan for First Time in Sixty-Six years
China Becomes an Economic Power, but Continues to Suppress Personal Liberties
Deng Xiaoping's death in Feb. 1997 left a younger generation in charge of managing the enormous country. In 1998, Prime Minister Zhu Rongji introduced a sweeping program to privatize state-run businesses and further liberalize the nation's economy, a move lauded by Western economists.
On July 1, 1997, when Britain's lease on the New Territories expired, Hong Kong returned to Chinese sovereignty, and in 1999, the Portuguese colony of Macao also was returned to Chinese rule.
In Aug. 1999, China rounded up thousands of members of the Falun Gong sect, a highly popular religious movement. The government considers the apolitical spiritual group threatening because its numbers exceeded the membership of the Chinese Communist Party. China severely restricts its citizens' civil, religious, and political rights. The use of torture has been widely documented, and for many years it has executed more people than any other country in the world, carrying out more than three-quarters of the world's executions.
China was admitted to the World Trade Organization in Nov. 2001. Its entry ended a 15-year debate over whether China is entitled to the full trading rights of capitalist countries.
In Nov. 2002, Vice President Hu Jintao became general secretary of the Communist Party at the 16th Party Congress, succeeding President Jiang. Hu Jintao also assumed the presidency in March 2003.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), a worldwide health threat, hit China in March 2003. After coming under fire by the World Health Organization for underreporting the number of its SARS cases, China finally revealed the alarming extent of its epidemic.
Beijing officials angered democracy advocates in Hong Kong in April 2004, when they banned popular elections for Hong Kong's chief executive, scheduled for 2007.
Tension between China and Taiwan intensified in March 2005, when China passed an antisecession law that said the country could use force if Taiwan moved toward achieving independence. “The state shall employ non-peaceful means and other necessary measures to protect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the legislation said. Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian called the bill a “law of aggression.”
In June 2005, the China National Oil Corporation (Cnoc) bid $18.5 billion to take over the U.S. oil company Unocal. The Chinese firm withdrew the bid in August amid strong resistance from U.S. officials.
After months of pressure from the Bush administration, China announced in July 2005 that it will no longer peg the yuan to the dollar. Instead, the yuan is linked to a fluctuating group of foreign currencies.
The police shot and killed about 20 people who were protesting the construction of a power plant in the southern city of Dongzhou in December. Chinese officials blocked the spread of information about the event.
Government officials announced in December that China's economy had grown by 9% in 2005. China is poised to have the world's fourth-largest economy, after the United States, Japan, and Germany.
In May 2006, China completed construction on the Three Gorges Dam, the largest hydroelectric dam in the world. More than a million people will be displaced when the area is flooded. In July 2006, China opened a $4.2-billion, 710-mile-long railway from Qinghai Province to the Tibetan capital of Lhasa. The highest railway in the world, it ascends as high as 16,500 ft, requiring all compartments to have regulated oxygen levels. The railway will increase ethnic Chinese migration into Tibet, which many see as a deliberate attempt to dilute Tibetan culture.
China tested its first antisatellite weapon in January 2007, successfully destroying one of its own weather satellites. Analysts deemed the move a provocative challenge to the United States' supremacy in space-based technology. Others speculated that China is seeking to push the U.S. toward signing a treaty to ban space-based weapons.
In the spring and summer of 2007, dog food and toothpaste products that originated in China were recalled due to the presence of poisonous ingredients, leading many to question the safety of Chinese products and the reliability of its regulatory system. In July, China's former head of the State Food and Drug Administration was executed for accepting bribes from pharmaceutical companies in exchange for favors.