News roundup: Will China eat rice from the sea?

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Top China news for November 4, 2016. Get this daily digest delivered to your inbox by signing up at

Will China eat rice from the sea?

Today’s top news story on all major Chinese-language state media platforms is the coming into force of the Paris Agreement on climate change. President Xi Jinping sent a letter of congratulations to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to mark the occasion (the People’s Daily report in Chinese is here).

Another news item prominent in Chinese media but not reported in any major Western source is an announcement about a new type of rice from Yuan Longping, the 86-year-old agricultural scientist often called the “father of hybrid rice” in China. In the early 1970s, he led a team that perfected a process to create and reproduce new species of rice with very high yields, which was a significant contribution to ending famine in China and around the world.

Yuan remains a key figure in the world of Chinese science. He is in the news again this week for a new project to create rice species that can be grown in seawater and brine. According to the state-run China Daily, Yuan said that “China has plenty of saline-alkaline wasteland that can be put into use” and that “more than 13 million hectares of such wasteland could potentially be used for sea-rice farming,” possibly yielding “an additional 50 million tons of grain.”

Other news items from China to note are summarized and linked below.


  • China’s big aerospace ambitions are delayed / The Economist
  • “Making military jets is one thing, but mastering complex production systems to produce relatively large numbers of passenger aircraft that must meet the extremely high quality and reliability standards demanded by international airlines is quite another.”

  • After stealth fighters and jumbo jets, China’s ‘secret weapon’: aero engines / Reuters
  • “While the country has made great strides in high-speed rail and nuclear technology by acquiring the know-how from overseas partners or reverse engineering products, it has found it more difficult to break into the secretive engine sector, whose technology is heavily guarded by governments and original equipment manufacturers.”

  • China’s Wanda Group to buy Dick Clark Productions for about $1 billion / WSJ
  • “Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin is moving a step closer to his goal of becoming a dominant force in global entertainment — but he may also be making himself a target for those who think China is playing too big a role in Hollywood.”

  • Opinion: Is China repeating Japan’s missteps? / Bloomberg
  • “The sad case of Japan should serve as a cautionary tale for China’s policymakers,” writes Michael Schuman. “Beijing pursued almost identical economic policies to Tokyo’s to generate its rapid development. Now China’s leaders are repeating the missteps the Japanese made that tanked Japan’s economy and thwarted its revival.”

  • Trade on once-bustling Mekong grinds to halt / Caixin
  • “An alternative land route, Chinese efforts to curb the upstream smuggling of frozen-meat products, and government restrictions on the export of wood and stone in Myanmar and Laos have brought the river’s shipping trade to a screeching halt.”

  • China’s high-end retail emporium / Bloomberg
  • Walmart’s Sam’s Club in China targets a somewhat broader demographic than in the U.S., offering $1,700 bottles of Lafite wine and $295,000 diamond rings in addition to bulk groceries and other discount products.

  • China’s fast-growing delivery companies aren’t global players…yet / CNBC
  • “The enthusiasm about these companies should really be enthusiasm about China’s growth and economy and not about these companies and them going global,” says Scott Kennedy, deputy director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.