Flooding in northern and central China killed around 150 people in July, with Hebei and Henan provinces the worst affected. Beijing announced that CNY 36 million will be spent on geological disaster surveys in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Former vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission, Guo Boxiong, was sentenced to life in prison for accepting bribes. According to climate economists, China’s coal burning continues to decline from its peak activity in 2014. The Chinese government shut-down several online news reporting platforms in an effort to restrict independent reporting. The Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague ruled against Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea. However, President Xi refused to accept the court’s ruling, maintaining that Chinese claims to reefs and atolls confirmed its undisputed sovereignty over these waters. Representatives at the 49th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) failed to address the decision made by the international tribunal, instead, agreeing to continue monitoring land reclamation activities. Following the United Kingdom’s (UK) decision to exit the European Union (EU), the Chancellor of the Exchequer visited Beijing to begin talks over a free trade deal with China. China-Africa cooperation continues to grow, with $46 billion invested in the African economy since the December Summit. China announced plans to construct 30,000 kilometres of train tracks by 2020 which included high speed train networks.