China's Emily Dickinson
Yu Xiuhua, a disabled rural poet, was elected vice president of the writers association of her hometown, Zhongxiang, central China's Hubei Province, in late January owing to the popularity of her poetry on the Internet.
Yu, 39, was born in a small village of Zhongxiang. She suffers from cerebral palsy, caused by a lack of oxygen during her delivery. Known as China's answer to U.S. poet Emily Dickinson (1830-86), Yu has written more than 2,000 poems despite a lack of formal education in the craft. Yu became popular recently with her poem, Crossing Half of Big China to Accost You.
Some consider Yu's poem a rare example of modern poetry that expresses enthusiasm for rural life, while others have questioned the poems' artistic value, believing that the poet shot to fame simply because of her physical condition. In spite of the divided opinion on her works, Yu will see two collections of her poems published in February.
New Environment Supervisor
Environmental scientist Chen Jining recently came into the limelight following his promotion from president of Tsinghua University to Party chief of the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
Chen was born in Lishu County, northeast China's Jilin Province, in 1964. He studied at Tsinghua University from 1981 to 1988, obtaining a master's degree in science. He went on to earn a PhD from Imperial College London. Chen joined the Tsinghua faculty in 1998 as vice dean of the Department of Environmental Engineering. In 2012, he rose to the position of president of Tsinghua University.
As an owner of more than a dozen patents and registered environmental software products, Chen has served as a member of the National Environmental Advisory Commission and as deputy chairman of the Science and Technology Committee of the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
Media reports speculate that he is likely to succeed retiring Zhou Shengxian to become minister of environmental protection.
"China will continue to face frequent trade friction."
Sang Baichuan, a professor at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, discussing the country's harsh international trade environment in a recent interview with China Daily
"China has accelerated railway construction to fulfill its annual targets in 2014 and this construction drive will continue into 2015."
Sheng Guangzu, General Manager of China Railway Corp., announcing on January 29 that China put a record 8,427 km of new railways into operation last year
"The RMB breaking into the top five world payments currencies is an important milestone."
Wim Raymaekers, head of banking markets at the Belgium-based Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, commenting on the RMB's rising status in the global banking market
"When the West labels Chinese aid and infrastructural projects in Africa as neocolonial, it is a question of sour grapes."
Munene Macharia, a lecturer of international relations with the Kenya-based United States International University, refuting accusations from Western media in a recent interview with Xinhua News Agency
National Security Matters
According to an annual report compiled by the Beijing-based University of International Relations, new measures were taken to strengthen national security last year. For example, China passed the Counterespionage Law on November 11, 2014. Replacing the National Security Law, the Counterespionage Law includes new measures that grant greater power to national security departments.
Traditional security threats remained prominent in 2014. The problem of corruption, which concerns political security and represents a significant traditional threat, has been listed in the report for three consecutive years. The Ministry of Public Security launched its Fox Hunt campaign last year, which expanded the country's anti-corruption efforts abroad and attracted attention worldwide. In addition, territorial disputes in the South China Sea indicate that China is facing unprecedented threats in terms of maritime security.
The security of the people is being accorded utmost importance. For example, the problem of smog has entered the list of the 10 most important security events over the past two years. Smog harms people's health, which in turn, it could be argued, jeopardizes national security. The disappearance of the MH370 flight, which carried 154 Chinese on board, also made an appearance on the list for last year.
The report called on the government to pay greater attention to national security given the increasingly complex challenges in this sphere.
Looking Deeper Into the Palace Museum
This year marks the 90th anniversary of the establishment of the Palace Museum. The complex, first built in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), functioned as the imperial palace of the Ming and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. It was turned into a museum in 1925. It's the world's largest wooden-structure palace complex and the only museum in the world that attracts in excess of 10 million visitors every year.
The museum will open more sections to the public in 2015, including the Palace of Benevolent Peace and Donghua Gate. The area open to the public is envisioned to increase from its present 52 percent to 65 percent of the whole museum, and is further expected to reach 80 percent by 2020.
The museum, which occupies 1.12 million square meters, has 35 departments and 1,500 formal staff members. All of its treasures and relics are taken care of by particular departments. There are three kinds of exhibitions in the museum: those that display palaces and halls as they were in ancient times, permanent exhibitions and themed ones.
By the end of December 2010, the Palace Museum had finished an audit of its collections, the fifth in its history. The project took seven years in total. There were altogether 1,807,558 antique pieces registered in the museum, 600,000 of which were ancient documents, accounting for the largest category among the items.
Beijing Youth Daily
The news that a total of eight prisoners serving their terms in a prison in Ganzhou, east China's Jiangxi Province, dropped dead from 2008 to 2014 shocked many. To make things even worse, the prison refused to provide surveillance videotape footage to the families of the deceased.
One cannot help but wonder why eight people would have lost their lives in one single prison within a six-year time span. What has happened? Although prisoners have been deprived of such rights as personal freedom owing to the crimes they committed, their right to life is protected by the law. The truth behind their deaths should not be obscured by the high walls surrounding the prison.
Most of the eight prisoners in question died a sudden death. Some ex-convicts have said they have seen prison staff bully and beat prisoners and that the problem of overwork is endemic. Some Chinese prisons can be seen as functioning in much the same manner as a factory. The prison guard occupies the twin roles of law enforcer and manager of the factory, while prisoners could be construed as the factory's workers. Under such a system, it's hard to guarantee that the prisoners' rights will be effectively safeguarded.
The Department of Justice of Jiangxi Province has established an investigative team to look into the case and has promised to reveal the team's findings to the public. It is expected that the truth will surface soon.