News roundup: Letting China’s farmers sell their land

Business & Technology

Top China news for November 3, 2016. Get this daily digest delivered to your inbox by signing up at

Letting China’s farmers sell their land

Xinhua News Agency and the People’s Daily, the two most authoritative state media organs, focus on two different stories today. Xinhua leads with a story about President Xi Jinping meeting with Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak in Beijing, with the English version titled Xi vows to cement all-round strategic partnership with Malaysia. The People’s Daily headlines the launch of China’s most powerful rocket, the Long March 5, which can carry up to 25 tons into low earth orbit.

But perhaps the most important news of the day has received little coverage in both Chinese and foreign news media: Reuters reports that “China has relaxed rules to allow farmers to transfer their land rights to help promote more efficient, large-scale farms.” If the new rules work as intended, they will financially empower China’s rural residents, modernize the country’s agricultural sector, and have a significant impact on the Chinese economy. Reuters has a good summary of the planned reforms; this 2013 Economist article explains some of the issues at play.

More China stories to watch are linked below.


Thanks to the busy lives of young shoppers, e-commerce sales of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) are growing seven times faster in China than in the U.S.

Wang Jianlin, Wanda’s chairman, “has come to be seen simultaneously as Hollywood’s most coveted business partner and, to some, an interloper of alarming power,” Patrick Brzeski writes.


The $2.26 billion deal reveals China’s “widening economic footprint” in Africa.


Arguing that the deal would “amount to nothing less than a dynamiting of Chinese Catholicism,” Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry writes that “China’s government still officially pledges fealty to the ideology of communism, which Catholicism professes to be opposed to everything Christians are supposed to believe.”

A British television show about the dark side of technology featured a character who was denied access to a flight seat based on her “social credit score,” a strikingly similar situation to the 4.9 million Chinese citizens now unable to purchase flight tickets due to poor credit or outstanding debt.

This incident was part of a pattern where “South Korea’s coast guard vessels regularly chase Chinese boats for fishing illegally off the country’s coast, at times sparking violent confrontations.”


Texts such as this one, which features English pronunciation spelled out in Chinese characters, are said to have “gained popularity in Chinese port cities during the 19th century.”

The veteran director’s social satire of a classic novel was set to be released in September, but delays possibly connected with China’s film censorship board have moved its premiere to November 18.

Wang Deshun, known as “China’s hottest grandpa,” walked the runway for the first time last year.