Here are our 10 biggest stories from 2014 about what happened in China, or events that significantly affected Chinese people:
1. Flight MH370 Disappears
Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 went missing on March 8 with 154 Chinese nationals on board. The Chinese government tried to pressure the Malaysian government into revealing more information about what had happened, but the fate of the plane and its passengers remains unknown as no wreckage was found. Many people have put forward ideas on what happened, including conspiracy theories.
2. PLA General Investigated
Recently retired general Xu Caihou was arrested on March 15 for corruption, including taking massive bribes in exchange for promotions. It was later revealed that over 1 ton of cash was found in his basement. It took a week to count it, and 15 trucks to take it all away along with piles of jade, emeralds, and ancient paintings. Xu is the highest official to be investigated in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
3. Zhou Yongkang Investigated
The corruption probe of ex-security chief and Politburo member Zhou Yongkang was announced on July 29, which also happened to be International Tiger Day. Zhou is the most powerful official caught so far in Party chief Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign, and was formally arrested and expelled from the Chinese Communist Party on Dec. 6. Xi has promised to go after top cadres (tigers) as well as small ones (flies), although many are skeptical that only political opponents are being targeted.
4. Operation ‘Fox Hunt’
Alongside the domestic anti-graft campaign, the Chinese government signed an agreement with some countries to chase down corrupt Chinese cadres who have fled overseas with large amounts of capital. As of December, over 400 fugitive officials have been arrested or surrendered.
5. Gao Zhisheng Released
After three years in prison, rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng was released on Aug. 7, but remains under heavy surveillance by communist authorities. He was imprisoned for writing open letters to the Communist Party about its persecution of the Falun Gong meditation practice.
Gao now has difficulty talking and eating due to being tortured.
6. The Umbrella Revolution
Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement started on Sept. 27, and lasted 79 days. It was preceded by student protests calling for universal suffrage, with plans for a peaceful demonstration called Occupy Central. However, its more popular name was dubbed after demonstrators defended themselves with umbrellas from police using tear gas.
7. APEC Blue
Prior to the APEC international summit meeting in Beijing, authorities imposed restrictions to reduce smog levels and portray a cleaner image for the capital. Local industries were shut down, traffic reduced, and staff given paid leave. Bloggers made jokes about “APEC Blue” meaning that it was something good that wouldn’t last because the government only cared about making Beijing look good to foreign leaders, and not about the people who live there. Their comments were deleted by Internet censors.
8. US-China Visa Arrangement
On Nov. 12, the U.S. government enacted a reciprocal visa arrangement with China, allowing multiple visits for 10 years. It covers tourist, student, exchange, and short-term business visas.
9. Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect
This cross-border investment channel was launched on Nov. 17, and investors in the mainland and Hong Kong to trade in specific listed stocks in each other’s markets, strengthening the financial connection between the two regions. However, after a month of operation, there are much fewer transactions than expected, and little foreign investment was made in the Chinese market.
10. Chinese-Australia Free Trade Agreement
After the G20 Conference in Australia on Nov. 17, China and Australia signed a new agreement called ChAFTA that means Australian agricultural products, and dairy produce will be sold duty-free to China. It was part of 14 commercial agreements made between the two countries, estimated to be worth over $16 billion.
Research by Mona