China / by Alistair Galloway

China’s forty-year old, one child policy officially ended on 1 January 2016, following its announcement at the National Congress of the Communist Party of China in October. Just days after being constructed, a 37 metre tall, gold-painted statue of Chairman Mao Zedong in Tongxu County was removed. On 29 January, after 36 days underground, four Chinese miners were rescued from a collapsed gypsum mine in the eastern Shandong province. The Chinese government has continued its crackdown on corruption. Kevin Garratt, a Canadian man held in China since 2014, was formally charged with stealing state secrets this month. On 26 January, Peter Dahlin, a Swedish activist who had been detained and accused of damaging Chinese national security was released and deported. A suspected arson attack on 5 January in the northern province of Nigxia claimed the lives of seventeen people. Chinese activity on the artificial island, Fiery Cross Reef, which lies in a disputed area of the South China Sea, prompted a reaction from the international community. The Pentagon released a statement on 30 January confirming that a United States (US) warship sailed near to the disputed Triton Islands, which are part of the Paracel Islands) in the South China Sea. Both China and the US have pressed for a new UN resolution against North Korea. Following talks between the Iranian and Chinese Presidents in Tehran, both countries agreed to strive to secure closer economic and political ties. The Chinese Environmental Minister announced that increased numbers of wildlife from Zimbabwe will be exported to China this year. On 4 January, trading on Chinese stock markets was suspended as the market plunged, triggering a system that was introduced to limit market volatility. The latest film in the Star Wars saga, The Force Awakens, broke Chinese box office records, taking $53 million in ticket sales on its opening weekend. China is experiencing its slowest period of economic growth within the past quarter of a century. China’s customs office reported on 13 January that African exports decreased by almost 40 per cent in 2015.